The Diary - March 2002
- Chablis Terroir de Poinchy 2000 (Verget)
Clean, fruity, restrained, fairly simple nose. Similarly on the palate - clean and youthful. Good acidity. Needs a year or so perhaps. Good basic Chablis.
- Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons 1999 (Verget)
Nose a bit more butter and honey - also vanilla (oak), the latter rather obtrusive on the palate. A bit in-your-face "international Chardonnay". Possibly just a youthful lack of balance, but more likely just over-made.
- Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Champs Gain 1999 (J.-N. Gagnard)
Slightly charred, oak-influenced nose. Showier fruit than the Carillon wines below. Dry brazil nut palate. This is all a bit rustic and lacking balance but probably worth
- Chassagne Montrachet 1999 (Carillon)
Buttered fruit nose - not so forthcoming. Middle-weight, balanced, in fact rather seriously concentrated - but a bit anonymous now. Will open out and be rather good, I think.
- Puligny Montrachet 1999 (Pascal)
Pale colour. Unforthcoming, slightly toffeed, honeysuckle nose. The fruit quality is a bit flabby even though there is plenty of acid. A bit dusty too. Bare
- Puligny Montrachet 1999 (Carillon)
A slightly austere, almost Chablis-like nose. Opens out to give a hint of mineral and some complexity with nicely balanced fruit. Not very long term but very drinkable.
- Trio Pinot Noir 2000
From Chile. Horribly intrusive blackcurrant nose. A bit of sulphur blows off. Much too much like a child's drink for me!
- Pinot Noir 1998 (Kent Rasmussen)
Slightly leafy, minty - pinotish fruit in a New World way. Pleasant enough but despite the reasonable price I would not buy it in preference to Burgundy.
- Capcanes Mas Torto 1998
Could almost be Port or something on the nose. Big but slightly simple banana fruit. Dry tannins. Huge
- Capcanes Cabrida 1999
Fantastically tannic. Slightly cooked fruit. Has a bit of a class about it, but also an air of having been designed to please Robert Parker. I would like to try this again but for now
- Les Sorceres, Cotes du Roussillon 2000 (Clos des Fees)
Forward, ripe cherry and plum nose. Mouthfilling, modern-styled with a peppery finish that stops it being at all cloying. A good
- Gressier Grand Poujeaux 1970
I bought a few of these a year or two ago - I remember the salesman trying to encourage me by claiming it came from the cellar of somebody associated with the royal family. They have on the whole disappointed (the bottles that is, not the royals) - I can remember one going down the sink, but were we drinking too well that evening, or is this a better bottle? Once it has been in the decanter a while this one emerges from its shell of acidity and has a pleasant scented nose with a bit of Claret cigar box. Rather classic - possibly even
- Cotes du Rhone Reserve Syrah 1989 (Chateau de Fonsalette)
Youthful colour. Big cedary nose (yes, I didn't spot what this was blind). In the mouth, huge, liquorice fruit (a bit monolithic still) and lots of quite dry tannins. A very serious wine still a way from peak.
- Cotes du Rhone Reserve Syrah 1988 (Chateau de Fonsalette)
A bit muted compared to the 89 - a bit less concentration and structure. Quite fine, but a stain on the bottle and the state of the cork make me wonder whether this is in the best condition. Say plus
- Larrivet-Haut-Brion 1996
This has one of those funky-gamey-smoky noses that I find hard to describe better than that. Ripe fruit and a backbone of tannins - sexy, spicy, quite modern in style - probably reasonably early drinking. Possibly may deserve an extra star in time but for now a good
- Cadet Piola 1988
Fruitcake at first, cherry menthol as it opens up. Nice acidity and tannins, very typical of the vintage. Perhaps overall a shade too rustic to be really good.
- Cote Rotie 1985 (Guigal)
I take a middle line on Guigal which I feel this wine justifies. On the plus side it is in fine condition (as I suppose it should be since 85 is a fine Cote Rotie vintage), has good raspberry fruit, scented, and with a touch of bacon-fat - in short it has real Cote Rotie quality. On the down side, I think it lacks a bit of elegance - it doesn't have much of the silky fruit or that lovely floral quality that sets the variety-bores off on guessing whether it may contain a small percentage of Viognier. That I suppose is the price you pay for producing what is usually a crowd-pleasing wine.
- Chateau des Trois Chardons 1994
This small Margaux property is owned by the Chardon family who made the great wines of Palmer until recently. This is proper claret: dry and savoury, scented, not very showy, good concentration but not over-extracted (or over-concentrated by the technology of reverse osmosis, etc., which is turning many Bordeaux wines into "show wines" these days). This is tightly wound at the moment, nice acidity, just the right sort of tannins, and the complexity is there. Could even be
- Syrah Le Fauve Vin de Pays d'Oc 2000 (Terroirs Club)
Lots of fruit, quite gutsy, succulent tannins. Not bad.
- Champagne Reserve Brut (Raymond Boulard)
The first of three Champagnes from this house. This had obviously had some bottle age (a look at the cork gave that away, but the nutty caramel mature nose confirmed). Good length, good body.
- Champagne Grand Cru Mailly (Raymond Boulard)
For me the best of the three on show. Clean medium weight creamy stuff. Good structure. Lovely.
- Champagne Anee de la Comete 1986 (Raymond Boulard)
It could well be that this was an odd bottle of this. On the night it showed loads of acidity and was a touch vegetal and a touch harsh (odd for something that was recently disgorged) I won't score.
- Gewürztraminer Clos Windsbuhl 1992 (Zind-Humbrecht)
Fresh, light, medium weight and elegant (don't write that about ZH very often). Softish finish and a bit alcoholic perhaps.
- Chardonnay 1991 (Cloudy Bay)
Some vegetal age on the palate, but a good aged Chardonnay with good acidity. Good oak, and the fruit is surviving. One of the best mature non-Burgundy Chardonnays. (just)
- Roxburgh Chardonnay 1997 (Rosemount)
Big, blousy and past it (so young as well!). Oak juice and oxidised fruit was my note from the evening.
- Tinto 1998 Emporda Costa Brava (Oliver Conti)
Possibly the first Costa Brava wine to appear here (but my geography isn't great, so who knows). Had this blind and wrote highish toned and needing time. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, but seemed a bit more Mourvedre based. Well made - good fruit and structure.
- Chateau Leoville Barton 1988
Tannic and austere. Needs time, but I'm not sure that it's a top Leoville Barton.
- Chataeu Talbot 1988
More mature than the Leoville Barton (maybe not technically, but in taste). Touch of mushroom, nicely balanced.
- Chateauneuf-du-Pape 1989 Cuvee Reserve (Domaine de Pegau)
Oh, the joys of blind tasting. Coming after the two clarets people thought this another claret (I didn't, but then again it was my bottle). Perhaps more sweet than a mature claret would be, but anyone who thinks it's always easy to spot French wine regions especially when the wines are mature should think again. Lovely mature wine but in a simple fashion.
- Victoria Cabernet Sauvignon (Dalwhinnie) 1992
Not really showing its age and drinking rather well. This wine hides its size well.
- Barossa Shiraz 1991 (Charles Melton)
Another Oz wine not really showing its age. Good blackcurrant fruit, but rather obvious.
- Lafaurie-Peyraguey 1988
Beautiful wine with time clearly needed before it will be at its best. Lovely balance and with a layered texture.
- Rabaud-Promis 1986
Good botrytised wine, although perhaps not as promising as previous bottles have been - the acidity didn't seem quite as good (or perhaps just shown up by the Lafaurie-Peyraguey above which is more classically structured and for the longer term). plus
- Port 1963 (Grahams)
I remember having this wine at one of the first Port tastings I went to (a long time back - pre FWD). It was in a line up also containing the 1966, 1970, and 1977 all of which I preferred. This is sweet and rather obvious seeming - it's good enough, but lacks grip and texture.
- Sauvignon blanc 2000 (Cloudy Bay)
Immediately recognisable as New Zealand Sauvignon - obvious gooseberry and asparagus flavours. As so often, rather vegetal and simple. I can't see the appeal of this.
- Weisskirchner Achleiten Gruner Veltliner Smaragd 1994 (Prager)
Honey and minerals, hint of black pepper, slight sweetness on the palate, good finish. Very good
- Campanaro 1999 (Feudi di San Gregorio)
I took against this a bit at first with its fat fruit supported with oak. But the peachy/apricoty fruit is rather attractive and the whole package is not unlike Condrieu. A good
- Art Series Chardonnay 1997 (Leeuwin Estate)
Very, very in-your-face. I don't much like this sort of assault on the senses - it lacks any sort of subtlety. I can't see it lasting long either. Bare
- Chablis Grand Cru La Moutonne 1992 (Long-Depaquit)
Old-fashioned - probably not quite clean, mineral, perhaps fading a shade - disappointing for the quality level, but (though widely disliked) I thought it was pretty drinkable.
- Gewurztraminer Les Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre 1983 (Trimbach)
Lychees and pepper very evident and very fresh too considering the age. Lovely mature wine. A good
- Cuvee Columelle, Cotes de Provence 1998 (Domaine Richeaume)
Quality, silky fruit, very ripe but not cloying, nice tannins. Probably not for the long term. Solid
- Cuvee Marie, Coteaux d'Aix en Provence 1997 (Domaine de Paradis)
Toffee blows off the nose, then lots of coffeee and high-toned raspberry/blackberry fruit. I quite like this.
- Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru Les Serpentieres 1996 (M. Ecard)
Solid colour - very classic raspberry pinot nose. Good balance, structure and length (typical of the vintage). A good
- Chateau Musar 1991
Rustic fruit, rather soft, some sweetness that seemed a bit detatched from the fruit. Quite odd and not very typical of the property.
- Cote Rotie 1989 (Burgaud)
Red berry fruit, quite dry and savoury. High quality wine, but it lacks for me much of a sense of place. A bare
- Leoville Barton 1975
Healthy colour, cedary, dry, classic claret - a good mature wine with none of the dry, sandy tannins that disfigure some of the 75's. Just about makes
- Barolo Riserva 1971 (Borgogno)
Lots of round soft fruit - a bit vague and unstructured, but pretty good colour and freshness for its age. Not to my mind very typical Barolo. At least a good
- Annette's Reserve Zinfandel 1997 (Rosenblum Cellars)
Moderately sweet, intense blackberry flavoured sipping wine. Pretty good in its way.
- Wehlener Abtei Riesling Eiswein, Kloster Machern 1983 (Schneider'sche Weingutverwaltung)
Quite light, good balance, not so rich for Eiswein but a good desert wine. Pleasant.
- Chateau Suduiraut 1983
A lot of the 83's, including this one, seem to be showing some age now. Good mature Sauternes.
- Tokaji Aszu Eszencia Nyulaszo 1975 (Gabor Orosz)
Pretty good concentration - lovely brown-sugar flavours.
- Banyuls, Mas Blanc Cuvee St Martin 1981 (Dr. Parce)
Moderate weight and fairly dry with pleasant chocolatey character. Food-friendly, and a good way to finish a meal - a slightly lighter alternative to port.
- Condrieu Cote Chatillon 2000 (Bonnefond)
Pale colour. Floral nose. Vanilla, quite a weighty texture. Decent length. Authentic Condrieu
- Beaucastel blanc 2000
Deeper colour. Not unpleasantly vegetal, honied nose. Very big in the mouth, greengage character. Low but adequate acidity. There's a bit of a mid-palate gap - will that improve?. I'm a bit ambivalent. (just)
- Rousanne Vielle Vignes 2000 (Beaucastel)
Reasonable colour. Slightly tropical nose - a bit closed perhaps. A rather Chardonnay-like character makes this a bit more internationally styled than the standard Beaucastel blanc. Rich but perhaps not really so complex. A slightly ambivalent (again)
- Cornas 1999 (Jaboulet)
Good deep young colour. Brambley mouth-watering nose. Lots of fruit all through. A bit simple in the end perhaps but good.
- Cote Rotie Rochains (Bonnefond) 1999
Deep colour, deep, soft, nose. Velvety, cunningly made. Slips down far too easily for me. I am sure that New World lovers will rate this highly, but I am not that keen.
- Hermitage La Chapelle 1999 (Jaboulet)
Hints of cassis on blackberry - prominant acidity. Nice palate - characterful but not too weighty. High-toned and peppery. Not a monster La Chapelle but very good.
- Cote Rotie Les Jumelles 1999 (Jaboulet)
Forest fruits - violets. Succulent balanced raspberry palate. Good length. Fairly forward - drinkable now but will probably be more so in a few years. Classy. Like many balanced wines it will probably last well too. Top
- Cornas St Pierre 1999 (Jaboulet)
A bit animal - farmyard - interesting. Hints of ginger and Bovril. Slightly austere finish, lots of tannins, at least currently. Meaty on the palate as well as on the nose. There is a lot of character here, less refined than the La Chapelle, and wilder. An exciting glass full.
- Beaucastel rouge 1999
Burnt honey - but almost green fruit (in a nice way) on the nose. This sounds incoherent but it does seem an odd mixture at the moment. I find this a bit stalky. It may just be at an awkward stage. Judgment should perhaps be reserved but I'll rate it (with a question mark).