- Chateauneuf-du-Pape Vielle Vignes 1997 (Villeneuve) Lovely "cherry cough sweet" concentrated Grenache nose, medium-bodied with nice "old-vines" texture to the fruit. Good finish. Opens up further after a while, showing real class.
- Gewurtztraminer Kessler 1989 (Schlumberger) Well into double figures now, brash youthful gewurtz. character gone, but plenty of attractive fruit, lovely texture in the mouth and a good finish. This has always been off-dry and without very marked acidity. In a way it comes in to better balance as the sweetness moderates with age. Pleasant drinking.
- Gigondas 1989 (Domaine St Gayan) Rather worried that this cellared oddity would be shot. But no: lots of cassis and blackberry fruit, still some notable tannins, but a pretty pleasant drink. Probably not going anywhere exciting after this, and not to my mind rating quite the extravagant Parker score (91) I just discovered, but very pleasant. Just about scrapes for me.
Wine group @ DW's 22/05/2000 (TNB)
- White port NV (Niepoort) Sherry-like salty nose. Liquorice and chocolate palate. Less acidity than Madeira (say). A pleasant aperitif.
- Arbois Chardonnay 1998, Jura (Grandmaison) A bit cloudy. Slightly woody. Perhaps faulty.
- Cotes du Jura 1995 (Rolet) Peachy fruit, very vinegary on the palate. Not really my sort of thing.
- Savagnin 1993 Arbois Sherryish, decent length, marked acidity, that curious peachy fruit again. Not bad, in a way.
- Redoma white Reserva 1995 New oak. A shade soft. Longish. Got a bit slaughtered by what was tasted before it, but seems pretty good.
- Pinot Noir 97 (Dry River) Rich, slightly medicinal, lush nose. Lots of character, in some ways quite Burgundian. One of the best New World Pinots.
- Pinot Noir 1997 (Rochioli) Quite a lot of lush fruit, but if you pay attention to it, it seems rather simple. Pretty drinkable, but not remarkable given that this is (I believe) quite a sought after estate. (This is their basic wine, I think there are other cuvees.)
- Volnay 1995 (Coche-Dury) Very fine fruit and structure. Excellent for a village wine.
- Volnay 1994 (Coche-Dury) Medium weight, a bit less of everything than the excellent 95, but this is very nice too, and a particularly good effort for the vintage.
- Volnay Clos des Chenes 1992 (Lafarge) Forward fruit, yet quite tannic. Built to last a while, quite dry (perhaps just the style, or maybe starting to dry out just a shade). Good. Let's say
- Volnay 1993 (Coche-Dury) I prefer this to the excellent 95 because the fruit is very fine, and there is excellent structure. Perhaps just an example of how good this vintage is.
- Maury 1975 Cuvee Special (Mas Amiel) Vibrant, nice acidity. Chocolatey. Not stunningly complex, but rather good.
- Colheita 1937, bottled 1995 (Niepoort) Lovely green rim. Words fail me: absolutely lovely, fantastic complexity, good acidity and stunning length. To die for!
- Verdelho 1934 VJH Quite a long way off dry, almost aggressive acidity, with those in-your-face medicinal Madeira flavours. Pretty good, but suffers in comparison with the Colheita.
- Champagne Blanc de blancs 82 (Dom Ruinart) I must say I've always preferred some pinot in my champagne, but this is rather fine and very elegant.
- Spanna, Castello di Montalbano 1967 (Vallana) Levels, etc, looked good, but one bottle oozing a bit and completely oxidised. Another quite fresh in some ways, with the powerful fruit of the estate, but also some odd oxidation flavours. Dodgy storage, I wonder?
- Chateau Sociando Mallet 1985 I wondered from this half whether this wine is going anywhere now. It might need drinking. I'll retaste soon.
- Rosado 1998 Gran Caus Spanish rose, quite fragrant (that so-typical aroma of roses, or is it just the closeness of the words that always suggests it)? Slight spritz. Pleasant summer drink.
- Shiraz 1993, Western Australia (Capel Vale) This has aged beautifully, and in a fairly Rhonish peppery fashion. At peak. Perhaps just
- Merlot 1993, Western Australia (Capel Vale) This, however, has not kept well. Distinct signs of drying out (in fairness, the back label said keep for five years so I was pushing it a bit).
- Old Bush Vines Carignan 1999, Mont Tauch, V. de Pays du Torgan Cheap, rough and lacking.
- Riva Sangiovese Umbria (Co. Vi. O. Scarl) Refreshing cheap food wine with fruit and some structure.
- Pommard Poutures 1988 (Lejeune) Cough-sweety fruit (not meant as a criticism), lots of tannins, and perhaps in danger of drying out in the not too distant future. A good drink, but a way behind the lovely 87 Rugiens from this domain.
"First growths" at Oddbins Fine Wine 11/05/2000 (TNB)
First growths from 88 (except Latour which was an 89) shown by Oddbins. They confirmed 88 as at least a vintage for me: always classic and good acidity.
- Chateau d'Yquem 1990 Huge brown sugar nose and palate. Bags of botrytis fruit. No great acidity (enough, I guess) but stunning length.
- Chateau La Conseillante 1996 A Pomerol, so as to get a clean sweep of the major appellations. Brambly, plummy fruit. Fruity and tobaccoish nose. Leafy, almost stalky. Lacks the plummy voluptuousness that one might hope for. I'm not wild about this, but possibly it's just a bit closed. 59.99
- Chateau Cheval Blanc 1988 Good colour. Intriguing nose. Tight. Crisp. Iodiney finish. Lovely, lots of character, if a bit idiosynchratic at this stage. 116:99 At least
- Chateau Margaux 1988 Floral (almost) nose, certainly perfumed, lots of tannins, closed at the moment, but promises a lot. Not quite greatness though. 132.99
- Chateau Latour 1989 Excellent colour. Capsicum, walnuts, '89 tannins are there but not disjointed like some of the vintage. Another excellent wine, but I don't think it has the density of a great Latour. 139.98
- Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1988 Very deep and young colour (the sort of wine that has you guessing it's 3 years old). Flashy and oaky, but this has settled into something fine, if still hedonistic more than intellectual.
- Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1988 Fantastic colour. Lovely subtle lead-pencil and cassis nose. Amazingly compact but infinitely varied palate. Absolutely gorgeous - my sort of claret! Sheer class.
- Chateau Haut Brion 1988 Excellent young colour again. Has much of the complexity and excitement of the Lafite '88, but this is rather more forward. I suspect it is only that it is more forward, and that this is a wine close to the Lafite in quality. (I wonder if R.P.'s 90 points, grouping it with the Margaux rather than the Lafite, might under-rate it.)
- Chateau Haut Bages Liberal 1996 Lots of fruit and quite a lot of (perhaps a bit flashy) oak. Quite forward, almost drinkable now, but doubtless not at best for at least a few years.
- Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 1995 (Cecchi) Quite a lot of juicy Chianti fruit. Pretty pleasant.
- Tokay Vielle Vignes 1989 (Zind-Humbrecht) I've been a bit bored by Z-H's highly extracted style recently, but this has aged rather well with residual sweetness less evident, long finish to the concentrated fruit and an unctuous texture. Like so many Z-H wines it is still for sipping rather than drinking, but it is impressive in its way.
- St Veran Tete de Cuvee 1998 (Verget) Fairly standard lightly oaked (if at all?) Chardonnay. Not a lot going on.
- Pouilly Fuisse 1997 (Verget) A step up from the St Veran, but still rather a simple wine with closed flavours.
- Macon Clesse Quintaine Cuvee Tradition 1996 (Domaine de la Bongran) Chardonnay made in an Alsace residual sugar style - not really my cup of tea / glass of wine. Oily, medium dry palate.
- Elston Chardonnay 1996 (Te Mata Estate) Better fruit than the three Burgundies above, and not too overpowering. Good oak balance, but all in all a bit tiring after the first glass or two.
Burgundy Tasting, Oddbins Cambridge, 03/05/2000 (RJB)
- Chablis Premier Cru Vaucoupin 1997 (Brocard) (11.99) Still some youthful esteriness - mineral, slatey nose. Steely and with lime acidity keeping it tight. Toffeed on the mid-palate. Not too lean - what Premier Cru Chablis should be.
- Bourgogne Aligote 1997 (Ramonet) (11.99) Stinky, almost vegetal nose to start with. Not together - feeling thin and dilute with oak in the background. Liquorice/aniseed nose develops with time.
- Bourgogne 'Chardonnay' Cuvee Gerard 1998 (Etienne Sauzet) (9.99) Not quite as good as last time - toffeed edge, but seeming a bit thinner. Cloves and an unwelcome apple character. Needs some opening out.
- Saint-Romain 1997 (Domaine du Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet) (12.99) Slightly sulphurous to start with. Nicely done lightly toasted oak nose. Short on palate and a disappointing soft buttery finish. Looks like this wine is on the way down.
- Pouilly-Fuisse 'Les Combettes' 1997 (Chateau de Fuisse) (16.99) Flinty - good texture and length. Some structure, needs time.
- Pouilly-Fuisse 'Les Combettes' 1996 (Chateau de Fuisse) (16.99) Vegetal nose, palate not got the acidity. Length not there. The majority at the tasting thought this better than the '97 and more age-worthy - I completely disagree!
- Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru 'Morgeot' 1997 (Ramonet) (29.99) Stalky nose to start with. Traditional wine - goodish length, but with an over oaky finish and dull hazelnut length (something I usually associate with cheap old Oz Chardonnay). Not together. Flabby finish. ?
- Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru 'Les Vergers' 1997 (Ramonet) (32.99) Ah! Better. Not for the long haul, but good peach and hazelnut oil nose and flavour. finesse and freshly mature.
- Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru 'Champs-Canet' 1997 (Ramonet) (43.99) Closed on the nose, but the best of the wines on show. Good fruit and structure, and excellent acidity (almost too much?). Should age well for the next 5 years or so.
- Moulin a Vent Domain des Drus 1998 (Sylvain Fessy) (7.99) Thinnish Gamay form someone who sounds like a character in a Harry Potter Book (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Nothing?) - I think I'd rather drink Nouveau. just!
- Mercurey 1er Cru Les Champs Martin 1997 (Domaine Lorenzon) (12.99 or 19.99?) (Some confusion as to prices of this wine and the next - and whether they were VVVs - Vielles Vignes Versions - or not. I think this one was the VVV, but the next wasn't). Simple plum skin nose, earthy and austere on the palate. Pretty mucky, green tannic finish.
- Mercurey 1er Cru Les Champs Martin 1996 (Domaine Lorenzon) (12.99 or 19.99?) Better than the '97, but still astringent tannins.
Rolly Gassmann at The Atrium with Raeburn Fine Wines 01/05/2000 (TNB)
Second day running for tasting this Estate, but this time with dinner. The domain is trying to make very serious wine, and it is all interesting, and the good stuff is very good indeed. (All the Rieslings tasted come in that last category, and there's some lovely Gewurtz. too. Then there was the SDGN Tokay yesterday....) A estate, perhaps even more.
- Muscat Moencreben 1996 (Rolly Gassmann) Dry, elegant (not too extravagantly grapey), pleasant.
- Auxerrois Reserve 1990 (Rolly Gassmann) Sweetish, full-bodied, moderate length. Impressive in a way, but the total effect for me just a bit flabby.
- Riesling Pflaenzerreben 1990 (Rolly Gassmann) Evolved spicy nose (petrolly in an entirely delicious way). Good acidity. A very fine Alsace Riesling, now drinking well.
- Pinot Noir Reserve 1997 (Rolly Gassmann) Beetrooty, almost heavy in a way (unusually for an Alsace Pinot Noir). A good effort for Alsace, but I'll stick to Burgundy myself!
- Tokay VT 1990 (Rolly Gassmann) Seems very closed but well-balanced and everything is there. Perhaps it just struggled (as almost all wines seem to) accompanying cheese. May be rather good, but I need to retaste. For now,
- Gewurtztraminer VT Oberer Wein 1990 (Rolly Gassmann) That excellent balance again. Finer and more exciting than the VT Tokay, this is a really good dessert wine.