The Diary - June 2001
- Chateau Monbousquet (St Emilion) 1998
Very fruity, cherry cinnemon and clove nose (gingerbread later). A bit light-textured on the palate - those spices again, from wood perhaps - dominating the fruit. Fruit drops away in the finish: possibly it will fill out a shade, but I suspect this is as good as it will ever be. A bit flashy - not my sort of wine. (34.99)
- Cotes de Blaye Cuvee Viva 1998 (Gigault)
Deep cassis nose. Monolithic at the moment, lots of good tannins, good finish. Expensive for the appelation, but this is quite a serious wine. Possibly even (14.99)
- Chateau Fontenil, Fronsac 1999
Closed on the nose - hints of the sea. Quite dry and austerely wood-influenced on the palate. Good length suggests quality. May turn out well - hard to tell. At least (12.99)
- Chateau Bourgneuf, Pomerol 1998
More cabernet blackcurrant nose. Rather simple, undemanding palate. Scrapes (19.99)
- Chateau Faugeres, St Emilion 1998
Plummy nose, hints of flowers. Fruitcake palate with excellent acidity. A well-balanced, well-structured, serious wine. I don't know the property but I will keep a look out for it in future. (14.99)
- Clos du Marquis 1998
Refined, pencily nose, which I suppose you might hope for from the second wine of the great Las Cases. Medium weight, good length. (22.99)
- Quilceda Creek 1997
Complex, sexy, slightly minty, blueberry nose. Mouthfilling. Won't improve much. Striking and obviously not claret - the ringer easily spotted! Scrapes (43.99)
- Chateau Kirwan 1998
Dense marmite (or perhaps bovril - it's meaty too) nose. Dry palate, quite chewy at the moment but the fruit is there. It does seem as though this property is beginning to make proper wine again! (19.99)
- Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1998
Very slightly sulphur-masked. Big, currently monolithic, with hints of that lovely lead-pencil flavour - tightly wound, concentrated and long. Quite big for Lafite with quite a hit of fruit. Clearly excellent - I would love to taste this in ten years. (99.99)
- Chateau d'Armailhac 1998
Gingery marmite nose with a hint of cooked fruit. Curious spicy palate. Mellows on returning to it later. I am a bit unsure about this, but for now (14.99)
- Brunello 1991 (Argiano)
Rather lovely fragrant nose. Good weight of fruit on the palate, no very long finish which suggests to me that it is time to drink this despite the fairly marked tannins. Good effort in an indifferent vintage. A good
- Riesling 1995 (Rolly-Gassmann)
Grapefruit nose and nice acidity, flavour and balance. Good for a basic level wine. Top
- Chasse Spleen 1983
Pleasant mature claret, fruitcakey, not particularly fine. Very decent, but I am not convinced by the view that this property should clearly be a classed growth. Scrapes I guess.
- Valpolicella Superiore 1995 (Dal Forno)
Fine blackberry liqueur nose, concentrated, silky fruit hiding substantial tannins and a lot of new oak ageing. Good acidity, long finish. One of the most prestigious Valpolicellas and the the price is correspondingly high. Certainly very good. May even improve.
- Brancaia 1997 (La Brancaia)
A Super-Tuscan Merlot and Sangiovese blend. Good, deep colour, complex berries and chocolate nose, lovely pure fruit hides the depth and structure. Good acidity and a long finish. Very good, perhaps even
- Banyuls Rimage Mise Tardive 1993 (Clos de Paulilles)
Good blackberry and dark cherry flavours, nice balance with a good level of sweetness. Not unlike a really good LBV port.
- La Cuvee Mythique 1998 (Les Vignerons du Val d'Orbieu)
Simple well made red from the Pays d'Oc. Red fruits, herbs and olives. Some good tannins at the finish.
- Pinot Blanc 1998 (Louis Sipp)
Reliable Alsace pinot blanc - light to medium weight. Easy drinking.
- Champagne NV (Chimere)
OK basic, but goodish Champagne. Minerality and a powdery finish.
- Ungsteiner Honigsackel Kabinett Trocken, Pfalz 1991 (Muller-Reprecht)
Slightly over the hill, but good acidity and a touch of aniseed.
- Nussdorfer Bischofskreuz Kabinett, Pfalz 1994 (Otto Pressler)
Goodish acidity, but the wine showing distinct signs of oxidation.
- Chateau Siaurac, Lalande de Pomerol 1995
Fairly run of the mill claret - light to medium weight, and already signs of fading. High cabernet franc content I'd guess.
- Chateau Paveil de Luze 1998, Margaux
The sort of dilute, characterless claret that presumably drives people away from Bordeaux. This isn't the most expensive claret in the World (I got this bottle for under a tenner), but it's hard to believe there's any real excuse for such a dull wine. The wine is cleanly made, but I've had mineral water with more fruit character!
- Pinot Blanc 1998 (Trimbach)
Nice easy wine without huge complexity, but enough going on to make it an enjoyable pre-dinner drink.
- Cornas les Ruchets 1994 (Colombo)
Hmmm, not sure about this. Holding together quite well with mushroomy maturing flavours. perhaps
- Goldackerl Beerenauslese 1998 (Willi Opitz)
From a half. The end of a half bottle in fact in a restaurant - good acidity and limey fruit.
An Oddbins Fine Wine event with Peter Gago from Southcorp presenting the wines.
- Chardonnay The Valleys 1999 (Penfolds)
Fresh and fruity, supple oak. Slightly clothy finish.
- Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 1999 (Penfolds)
Ripe fruit and a fairly traditional Ozzy character (quite a lot of soft oak) - will perhaps go vegetal.
- Yattarna Chardonnay 1998 (Penfolds)
Closed nose, sweet-seeming palate again not giving up a lot, at least at the moment. I can't see this is that interesting but it does have good length. It might make an extra star in time, but for now
- Coonawarra Shiraz Bin 128, 1998 (Penfolds)
Lifted berry fruits and a slightly insubstantial mid-palate. Pretty drinkable, but the cool Coonawarra climate doesn't seem to lead to any real terroir character: does the famous Coonawarra soil really give much character to a wine? A good
- Kalimna Shiraz Bin 28, 1998 (Penfolds)
Spicy mulberries. Warmer climate than the Coonawarra shows in the richness. Scrapes
- Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 407, 1998 (Penfolds)
Soupy warm-climate cabernet nose. Palate a bit hollow and leafy. This is the sort of New World Cabernet that I really don't find very interesting.
- Cabernet Shiraz Bin 389, 1998 (Penfolds)
There's a certain style to this unfashionable traditional Australian blend. This has complex fruit, decent length and good structure. A way ahead of the previous wines.
- St Henri Shiraz 1997 (Penfolds)
Pure fruit, and quite different in style from the other wines since it sees only large old oak barrels. Certainly interesting as a consequence and with some nice complexity but it seems a little flat in the mouth. The finish is pretty long, but sweet. This might turn out to be worth an extra star in time, but I'll stick with a conservative
- RWT Barossa Valley Shiraz 1998 (Penfolds)
Back to 100 per cent new oak, and this is a pretty classy, spicy wine. Certainly it is good, but I don't get any real sense of character. Possibly
- Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 707, 1998 (Penfolds)
Lovely, arrestingly complex nose that had me coming back to it several times. A good palate too but without the same compelling interest. I don't really see this going anywhere in the long run, but for the nose:
- Macon Solutre 1999 (Maison Auvigue)
Evolved and rather soupy. I'm not keen.
- Meursault Vieilles Vignes 1997 (Paul Garaudet)
Quite rich and full. Decent Burgundy
- Chateau Beaumont 1994
Usually a reliable property, but this wasn't particularly good - scrapes
- Chateau Fourcas-Loubaney 1994
Quite savoury and Graves-like. Moderate weight. Good
- Chateau Marbuzet 1994
This seemed a bit leafy and unripe to me, but perhaps it will come good.
- Chateau Guillot 1994
Decent, but unremarkable.
- Chateau La Croix du Casse 1994
Juicy and attractive, also decent structure.
- Chateau Beausejour-Duffau-Lagarrosse 1994
Altogether more structured and serious than the preceding wines. Good.
- Bernkasteler Doktor Riesling Auslese 1982 (Lauerburg)
Rather nice auslese, ready for drinking. Surprisingly good for the vintage. A top
- Chateau Pontet Canet 1990
Ripe, cedary, slightly dusty, fairly evolved. Good, but not really "classed growth in a great vintage" good.
- Chateau La Louviere 1994
Smoky, real Graves character. Nice balance. A good
- L'Hospitalet de Gazin 1995
Second wine of Gazin: Rich, gummy, fairly serious but not excessively so for a second wine. Another top
- Reserve de la Comtesse 1995
Second wine of Pichon Lalande: supple, cedary, nice nose but no great weight. Quite good, but perhaps not in the context of the asking prices for the top second wines these days.
- Nuits St Georges 1982 (Leroy)
Gamey, real pinot nose, has a sugary chaptalised feel to it though. A bare
- Bourgogne Rouge 1996 (Coste-Caumartin)
Subdued nose but bags of fruit. Decent.
- Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Beaune 1996 (Rollin)
Light but savoury and juicy.
- Old Vines Grenache, Blewitt Springs Vineyard 1997 (Clarendon Hills)
Real old vine Grenche medicinal cherry cough sweets. Slightly sweet New World finish, but very good.
- Old Vines Grenache, Clarendon Vineyard 1997 (Clarendon Hills)
More herby than the Blewitt, a bit finer I think, and rather long.
- Old Vines Grenache, Kangarilla Vineyard 1997 (Clarendon Hills)
Weighty in the mouth: its good that these three vineyards have recognisably different characters. All very good wines though.
- Merlot 1997 (Clarendon Hills)
Rather odd, very herby wine. I am not so keen.
- Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 (Clarendon Hills)
This seems rather soupy, fruit-drink New World Cabernet: I much prefer the Grenache wines.
- Shiraz 1997 (Clarendon Hills)
On this (insufficient) evidence, I would pull up the Cabernet and Merlot at Clarendon Hills in favour of Grenache, but I would keep the Shiraz: this has balance, structure and length.
- Bourgogne Blanc 1996 (Mortet)
Very nice clean, tight, chardonnay with pretty fine fruit for a basic wine and good acidity.
- Bourgogne Blanc 1996 (P. Morey)
Sound, but lacking the extra quality of the Mortet.
- Bourgogne Blanc 1996 (Leroy)
Richer, but perhaps a shade less fine than the Mortet. Still a good wine.
- Coltassala 1993 (Castello di Volpaia)
Red fruits, cassis hints, smoky edge. Nicely maturing fruit. Quite dry and structured, which I like even though I don't think this will improve much. A top
- Chianti Classico Riserva 1997 (Fonterutoli)
Good bramble fruit and nice structure with suggestions of some new oak. Very good, but I seem to like this a shade less than Richard to judge by his recent notes. For me a good
- Haardter Herrenletten Grauburgunder Auslese trocken 1990 (Muller-Catoir)
Rather flat: possibly a poor bottle, more likely just a bit past it.
- Chateaux St Pierre 1987
Pleasantly cedary, fruit perhaps fading a shade but a good effort from a weak claret vintage. Scrapes
- Brancaia 1998 (Mazzei)
Sangiovese and merlot cepage evident on nose, slightly unknit now. Nice balance and finish.
- Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 1999 (Cornacchia)
Subdued, slightly vegetal nose, brambly fruit. Pleasant.
- Champagne 1989 (H. Blinn)
Quite pleasant, mature, bready and yeasty champagne. It's lack of pedigree hinted at by a slight flatness, but very drinkable. From a magnum.
- Coudoulet de Beaucastel 1988
Pleasant berry fruit with some cough-sweet grenache character. Pleasant, but probably starting to fade a shade. Time to drink up!
- Meursault Poruzot 1995 (Rodet)
Very tight, slightly gamey, austere. Interesting, but very good rather than great.
- Meursault Poruzot 1989 ( Jadot)
Richer than the Rodet wine, but showing its age a bit - slightly fading at the edges.
- Chateau Figeac 1990
Cedary, smoky, complex nose. Irony, slightly unbalanced at the moment, severe almost bitter finish. Old-fashioned. Is this the first closed up 90 I have had or has this wine always been this way? In any case it will be rather good in time - probably
Californian versus Southern Rhone Rousanne an interesting match, with Bonterra showing well if not quite in the Beaucastel class. Argentina easily wins the Malbec battle against Cahors
since one of the latter was corked and the other past it! There will be a discussion in the next FWD Newsletter.
- Marsanne 1998 (Chateau Tahbilk)
Slightly cheesy, ripe, forward seeming. Lots of acidity slightly adrift from the fruit. I wonder whether it will end up like the wine below. A decent
- Marsanne 1990 (Chateau Tahbilk)
Big nose. Ripe, rich, slightly vegetal. Slightly sweet. This has evolved into something quite interesting, dramatic rather than fine. A very good
- Rousanne 1999 (Bonterra)
Californian Roussanne. Peachy fruit, dry, nice balance. Well made wine with a bit of character.
- Roussanne 1998 (Bonterra)
Tea on the nose. Herby. Again nice. Good length. Top
- Beaucastel blanc 1998
Fatter than the Californian wines and oilier, a bit more interesting to me but I feel not everybody would like it. Herby again. Pretty long.
- Rousanne Vieilles Vignes 1998 (Beaucastel)
Similar character to the Beaucastel blanc, but notably more depth and complexity, particularly evident in the long finish. Lovely.
- Malbec Reserve 1996 (Valentin Bianchi)
Meaty but perhaps a little simple. A good
- Alto 1998 (Alta Vista)
Ripe berry fruit. Lots of guts. Structured, but I suspect it won't age particularly interestingly.
- Malbec 1997 (Catena)
Big, juicy, sweeter, softer. An attractive mouthful.
- Cahors 1996 (Ch Pineraie)
- Cahors 85 (Chateau du Cayrou)
- Malbec 1994 (Weinert)
Moderate weight. Characterless in a way (Malbec seems to have plenty of fruit but it does seem a bit anonymous in most realisations). Some good mature flavors. Showing well.
- Malbec 1996 (Finca la Anita)
Rather middle of the road. Decent but a bit dull.
- Condrieu Ayguets VT 1997 (Cuilleron)
Sweet, rich, pretty fine, but I do have reservations about doing this with Viognier. Still, this example is at least a top
- Condrieu Eguets VT 1997 (Cuilleron)
Very fizzy! A fault, presumably!