The Diary - May 2001
- Tenute Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva 1997 (Antinori)
I was expecting more from this wine given the vintage and so on. Medium weight, highish toned. Nice acidity and bitterness - well balanced. But is the fruit quality all it might be? I think I prefer the cheaper Villa Antinori from this vintage.
- Chianti Classico Riserva 1997 (Fonterutoli)
Top Chianti. Absolutely superb stuff. Excellent firm acidity backed up by up-front crushed berry fruit. This wine really does need time to be at its best, but what a wine it should be when it gets there! It really isn't showing any signs of maturity at the moment. A joy to taste at present, and hopefully a complete joy to drink in five years or more. Easily
- Chianti Classico Castelpolo Riserva 1997 (San Polo in Rosso)
Rather thin and simple. maybe
- Rancia Chianti Classico Riserva 1997 (Felsina Berardenga)
I have a feeling this bottle wasn't in top condition - it might possibly have had a touch of corkiness. Rather woody and lacking fruit.
- Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico 1997 (Barone Ricasoli)
Fine Sangiovese with good acidity held in check by classy fruit. Give it a few years. plus
- Chianti Classico Riserva Rocca Guicciarda 1997 (Barone Ricasoli)
Good Chianti from a top vintage. Almost a gamey maturing edge to the wine - perhaps hinting of joys to come. Warm depth of fruit. Lovely Chianti structure, but with unexpected richness. I would guess that in three to five years this will be delicious. [Had this wine again shortly after - showing younger - no gamey edge - and with good acidity.
- Casalferro 1997 (Barone Ricasoli)
An IGT from a great vintage for Chianti, whose label states, rather mysteriously, that it is 'mainly produced with sangiovese grapes', as though the other grapes used were too disreputable to mention. Bitter cherries and well used wood - seemingly a bit high in alcohol to start with, but this disappeared with time.
- Pieve della Fontana 1997 (Avignonesi)
A blend of Prugnolo Gentile, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot aged in 'barrique and traditional oak casks'. I'm not quite sure what to make of this. On first opening it was rather unknit and one-dimensional (perhaps the site of a synthetic 'cork' coming out of the bottle rather put me off). A few hours later though the wine had really come round with fleshy fruit and soft tannins.
- Asinone Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 1997 (Poliziano)
Lush wine - silky smooth, but perhaps lacking the stuffing of greatness.
- Nipozzano Riserva 1997 Chianti Rufina (Frescobaldi)
Rather undistinguisued Chianti. Lacking fruit and body - a weak effort. just
- Chianti Rufina Riserva 1997 (Villa di Vetrice)
Leathery rustic stuff for drinking young.
- Mclaren Vale Sparkling Shiraz
A co-operative effort from local winemakers, apparently. Bubblegum fruit and fizz. Quite nice in its curious way, but it's not cheap and what do you drink it with? (49.99 per magnum)
- McRae Wood Shiraz 1997 (Jim Barry)
Big, ripe, fruity, minty nose. Simple, jammy, cassis fruit - hot finish. A bare (14.99)
- Magill Estate 1997 (Penfolds)
Smoky nose and palate. Nice balance although it still has that slightly sweet New World finish. (24.99)
- Stonewell Shiraz 1995 (Peter Lehman)
Leafier, less over-ripe nose with an odd hint of mango! Mintyness emerges. Good length. Some well-integrated structure. A bit more French in its style than the other wines. (19.99)
- Grange 1995 (Penfolds)
Heavyweight nose. Monolithic, long and increasingly port-like in the glass. Complexity hiding in all this and it will be very good in its way. Grange often tastes to me as though the winemaker is trying to produce the largest and most dramatic possible wine and it lacks a sense of character as a consequence. Impressive though! (99.99)
- St Joseph L'Amarybelle 1997 (Cuilleron)
Slightly masked nose - by what I'm not sure. Reasonably long, balanced, concentrated palate. Scrapes (12.99)
- Cote Rotie 1998 (Bonnefond)
Ripe nose, quite floral and elegant but diffuse and rather insubstantial. I suppose it might put on a bit of weight but for now (16.99)
- Hermitage La Chapelle 1998 (Jaboulet)
Elegant red fruits and chocolate oranges nose. Savoury palate - so chocolatey. Medium weight but very, very stylish. (39.99)
- Cornas St Pierre 1998 (Jaboulet)
Red fruits, meaty animal nose. Good balance and structure all the way through, but savage compared to La Chapelle's elegance. A good (29.99)
- Riesling Herrenberg spatlese 1989 (Maximin Grunhaus)
Fine, forward (for the estate), good concentration, rich and excellent acidity.
- Chablis Premie Cru Butteaux 1998 (Raveneau)
Creamy texture, very mineral, long finish. Fairly approachable but will be excellent - perhaps even
- Puligny Montrachet Combettes 1994 (Boillot)
Rich Grand Cru quality Burgundy (good vineyard and great producer more than offsetting an average vintage). Lovely texture. Very fine indeed.
- Corton Charlemagne 1990 (Rollin)
Still very tight and backward. Fine, but needs time. Probably
- Pinot Noir 1999 (Dry Gully)
Authentic pinot flavours but rather simple picnic stuff. Scrapes
- Cotes du Rhone, Ceps Centenaire 1999 (Gramenon)
Crushed red fruits. Long and seductive. This doesn't have quite the super-star quality of the 98 but will be very good. It is guessing rather but this may well rate four stars in time.
- Pascal 1999 (Gramenon)
Slightly sweeter darker fruits and a sweeter finish too in this late-harvested Grenache. Raisiny. You might rate this very highly if you like the style - I am a bit less keen.
- Leoville Barton 1985
Very classic cedary claret. Beginning to drink, but this will benefit from a few more years.
- Lafaurie Peyraguey 1986
Fruity, decadent, luscious and bold. This is now drinking rather well. From a half, probably scrapes
- Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot 1991 (Raveneau)
Honey and minerals with lovely slightly vegetal character. Very fine, concentrated and long. Opened up so well in the glass that it was almost worth five stars.
- Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru Sous le Puits 1996 (J-C Bachelet)
Very tight hazelnut Puligny nose. Fantastic acidity, excellent concentration and impressive length. An excellent long-term prospect.
- Volnay Premier Cru Clos des Chenes 1989 (Lafarge)
Stunning, almost Jayer-like voluptuous fruit. It explodes and fills the mouth with fruit in the mid-palate, without being brash. Really lovely and at peak now.
- Volnay Premier Cru Clos des Chenes 1966 (Potinet-Ampeau)
Gamey, pretty fresh, silky, graceful old wine. Very easy to enjoy. Objectively perhaps worth a star less, but I will go with
- Riesling Ried Pfaffenberg Beerenauslese 1998 (Knoll)
Spicy, rich and long, not very sweet and with very fine acidity, like a top Alsace VT (or even SGN), this Austrian dessert wine is a class act.