The Diary - June 2002
- Langhe, Pafoj 1999 (Icardi)
Good colour, big berry and black cherry nose - a hint of tar perhaps, knowing that it is Nebbiolo. Chocolate on the palate and a bit of cranberry - high-toned and notable tannins with spicyness from a not excessive dose of new oak. Rather good Nebbiolo in the modern style.
- Don Darias Tinto NV
This bottom-end NV offering is an oddity, with its old-fashioned "large oak barrel" vanilla flavours. Quite drinkable in its way. Top
- Volnay Vendage Selectionnees 1997 (Lafarge)
You would expect something forward and fruity from this vintage, but that is not Lafarge's way. This has a perfumed nose and a meaty palate - quite savoury, probably best with food at the moment. At the moment it is a bit hard and there are notable tannins. Despite being a lower level wine from a forward vintage, this needs a year or two.
- Vin de Pays des Cevennes, Cuvee Fontanilles 1997 (Domaine de Baruel)
I have had wines from this estate once or twice but not always paid full attention. This Syrah wine has ripe raspberry fruit, scented, quite classy in its texture. A fair amount of tannin still evident and there is a quality of green capsicum giving the fruit an edge. Pretty good.
- Petit Faurie de Soutard 1985
One of the many generally good St Emilions that one sees only occasionally. This is no lush 85, rather it is scented, dry, with quite high acidity. It lacks interest rather and judging by the way it went rubbery over night it seems to be a bit past it. One could hope it is just a poor bottle, but for now just
- Bandol La Migoua 1999 (Domaine Tempier)
Provencal herbs nose and the same savoury character in the fruit. Something slightly smoky/gamey too (Mouvedre perhaps). Nice acidity - quite high-toned - good balance too all the way through. Needs a good few years to show its best - the next day it was in good condition and showing that classy undergrowth character. Probably scrapes
- Langhe 1996 (Paolo Scavino)
Pretty serious colour, initially a strong chocolate character on the nose which opens out to rose-scented Nebbiolo fruit. Oak apparent on the palate I think with quite high acidity giving it a juicy quality. Tannins, as ever with this grape, as well - the whole package probably needs a couple of years and probably just about deserves
- Cotes du Rhone La Sagesse 1999 (Domaine Gramenon)
Very medicinal (intensely so at first) raspberry fruit with liquorice. High-toned, long and silky, super ripe tannins - this needs to mellow a bit but is very fine. Easy
- Beaucastel rouge 1986
A tricky vintage this, but this wine is now quite pleasant: spicy berries, mushroomy, rustic and leathery in that very typical Beaucastel way. Quite high-toned - that has perhaps led to it keeping well. Time to drink though.
- Prosecco NV (Valdobiadene)
Almondy, creamy, off-dry. Pleasant Summer fizz. Top
- Blanc de blancs 1996 (Deutz)
Nutty, autolytic - the fruit cloys a shade in this reasonably pleasant New Zealand fizz.
- Champagne NV (Henri Harlin)
Straight, correct Champagne but a shade rough - perhaps what one expects from the bargain end of the market. Just about
- Champagne NV (Billecart-Salmon)
Complex, very fine and elegant - James Dodson of Oddbins was remarking on hints of white chocolate and strawberry and I don't disagree. Shows very clearly what you get on moving up to a top house. A very top
- Vin der Table white 2001
From South Africa - very aromatic (a mix of grapes including Gewurz and Muscat, so not surprising). A shade flat and clothy on the palate to my mind, but decent.
- Muscat 1999 (Albert Mann)
Lovely and grapy. Clean, dry, appetising. A nice aperetif. Probably makes
- Pinot Grigio 2001 (Bidoli)
Clean, dry Italian - very typically showing reasonable concentration but quite unassuming in character. A pleasant food wine. Top
- Marlborough Riesling 2001 (Grove Mill)
Medium-dry and a bit syrupy. The fruit quality and acidity just aren't up to making this sort of wine. A bare
- Sancerre 2000 (Comte Charme)
Varietal, not vegetal. No great concentration but pleasant enough.
- Viognier Chardonnay 2000 (Comte Cathare)
This is "modern wine" perhaps but attractive, fragrant, forward and fruity but balanced. Interesting and unusual. A bargain from the South of France. (almost more)
- Chablis 2000 (Brocard)
Clean, dry authentic - slight toffee. Top
- Chardonnay 1999 (Quiltro)
Horrible in-your-face assault on the palate, showy but little underlying concentration or complexity. I am not keen.
- Ygay Capellania Reserva blanco 1996 (Murrieta)
Sherryish old-fashioned food wine. Not universally liked I noticed, but I enjoy the style.
- Pinot Noir 1998 (Knights Valley)
The second time I have had this recently. Beetroot - real pinot but different aromatics from Burgundy in a hard to describe way. Rich and ripe but just about avoids jammyness. Good length - oak influenced. This is a Sonoma wine - probably the best area for Pinot Noir outside of Burgundy.
- Les Cotes Sauvage 1996 (Edmund St John)
Herby, dry, structured. Dark cherry - a shade cooked perhaps, quite Southern Rhone in style. This is rather a bargain at 12.99
- McRae Wood Shiraz 1998 (Jim Barry)
This is quite another style of New World wine, and one I am not so keen on - the fruit is very soft, it would be silky if it had a bit more grip. Liquour blackberry character. Too much a "fruit drink" for me.
- Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 (Quiltro)
Essence of cassis - a child's drink rather than a wine, to my palate.
- Vin der Table red 2001
Quite a pleasant, fruity BBQ wine.
- Tre Uva Ultima NV
Pleasant (except a bit sulphury) - lots of fruit, unsurprisingly a bit more European than the last.
- Chateaux Paveil de Luze 1999
Two bottles of this Margaux -one slightly faulty one reasonable I think - heavy going at first but it seemed to open up a bit to a traditional raspberry lifted Margaux character. (maybe one more in time)
- Rioja Reserva 1996 (Campo Viejo)
Herby - odd medicinal finish. I am not quite convinced by this. just
- Secession Red 2000 (Xanadu)
New world fruit, forward, gluggable, pleasant. Reasonably priced too.
- Shiraz 1999 (Penny's Hill)
Lifted medicinal liquor quality. McLaren Vale often seems to give rise to these wines with concentrated but not very well-defined fruit. Odd, but some will like it.
- Champagne Grande Sendree 1990 (Drappier)
Coming back at the end of the evening to write my note on this (Is the considered view thereby obtained better than the immediate impression of the unsullied palate? Discuss.) I note that with only a little willing help from my wife the bottle is finished. It must be a good sign. Lots of bubbles (even quite cold from the cellar), yeasty nose, pleasant fruit, and is there a touch of smokyness or am I being influenced by the name? On the down side, there is just a hint of "flatness" about the palate to me, but still a top
- Champagne Brut Reserve Mis en Cave 1994 (Charles Heidsieck)
A bit "in your face" green-pea Chardonnay, and a slightly coarse mousse - OK but unremarkable. Not the best of these Reserve wines that I have had.
- Champagne Brut Reserve, Mis en Cave 1992 (Charles Heidsieck)
Nice balance, good ripe fruit (some 1990 in this perhaps) with an attractive slightly vanilla finish. Rather good. Perhaps scrapes
- Champagne dry monopole NV (Heidsieck & Co)
Yeasty, fruity - pretty pleasant if a shade coarse. Good
From Forth Wines, Alexander Wines, Euroworld Wines and Wine Importers.
- Valformosa Extra Seco NV
Coarse, neutral off-dry.
- Cava Rosado NV (Vilarnau)
Touch of rose-scent. Pleasant.
- Premum white 2000 (J.M. de Fonseca)
Dry, fairly modern - distinctive almondy finish. A mix of Arinto, Pinot Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. Scrapes
- Rioja Blanco Seco 2001 (Caceras)
Colorless but clean. Unremarkable. Decent
- Rioja Viura 99 (Beronia)
Reasonable dry white - but very oak-dominated.
- Rioja Rosado 2001 (Caceras)
Flat - lacking freshness, which is fatal for a Rose.
- Tempranillo 2000 (Altozano)
Berry fruits - pleasant.
- Primum red 2000 (J.M. de Fonseca)
Some depth and length - bitter hints. Pleasant quaffing red. Just about worth
- Rioja Crianza 1998 (Beronia)
Respectably fresh, but dull. (just)
- Tempranillo 1999 Elaboracion Especial (Beronia)
Hint of game - reasonable length.
- Valdepenas Gran Reserva 1993 (Vegaval Plata)
Pleasant resolved - getting a bit old but it has done it gracefully. Light, but pleasant.
- Rioja Gran Reserva 1995 (Valformosa)
One bottle very flat, another less poor, but typical of some of the carelessly made pseudo-traditional stuff that gives Spain a bad name.
- Cuvee 21 Cava Brut NV (Bodega Parxet)
Full flavoured fizz. Not bad.
- Sauvignon Blanc (Con Class) 2001
Clean, dry, pleasant but prhaps a shade vegetal.
- 362 Viura Chardonay 2001 (Conca de Barbera)
Authentic fruit - good at the price (five pounds).
- Rueda blanco 2000 (Marques de Riscal)
Lemony, dry. Nice balance - if a touch clothy on the palate, at least at a first impression. Top
- 362 Tempranillo/Cabernet 2000 (Conca de Barbera)
Warm fruit - bit of oak - pretty drinkable at the price (five pounds again).
- Tempranillo 2000 (Marques de Riscal)
Sweet red fruits - much higher-toned. Bit of structure. Pleasant. Top
- Gotim Bru, Coster del Segre 1998 (Castell de Remei)
Deep warm blackberry/cassis nose. Nicely textured if a bit international-oaky.
- Tinto Crianza Campo de Borja 1998 (Gran Campellas)
A bit anonymous on nose, perhaps just closed since it has good silky frut and a nice touch of bitterness. This is traditional versus the previous wine being more modern, and I like it a bit more. An interesting wine from close to Rioja. Solid
- PX Solera Superior (Valdespino)
Intense brown sugar. Big but straightforward on the palate as these wines sometimes are. Good
- Rioja Dry white 2000 (CVNE)
Grassy, dry, pleasant. No oak.
- Blanco verdejo sauvignon blanc 2000 (Mantel)
Nice mix - like softening Sauvignon blanc with Semillon. Clean. Pleasant. A rather good
- Rioja monopole 2000 (CVNE)
Lemon vanilla and grass. Pleasant. Scrapes
- Rioja tinto 1999 (CVNE)
high-toned raspberry/cranberry nose. Modest weight - quite evolved. Drinking nicely.
- Rioja Reserva 1997 (CVNE)
Intense raspberry and herbs. A noticeable step up from the previous wine. Soft and ready.
- Rioja Vina Real Reserva 1994 (CVNE)
Traditioanlly made, fresh, without much noticable wood at least at this stage. Nutty raspberry nose. Long dry palate. This has evolved nicely and is drinking well now.
- Mas Rabell white 2000 (Miguel Torres)
Fresh, fruity, clean dry 100 per cent Paradas. Early drinking.
- Chardonnay Gran Vina Sol 2000 (Miguel Torres)
Very creamy (from malolactic probably). Nice fruit. Unashamedly modern but decently done. Top
- Vina Esmerelda 2001 (Miguel Torres)
Fruity Muscat, near dry and pleasantly drinkable.
- Mas Rabell Red 1999 (Miguel Torres)
Spicy cherry and toffee - quite oak-dominated though, to a degree I don't entirely like. Does Grenache really take to it? This wine is more or less the well-known Sangre de Torre plus some new oak and I expect I might prefer the original.