The Diary - May 2002
- Riesling Smaragd Kellerberg 2000 (F. X. Pichler)
Smelling very youthfull, but also clearly classy on the nose. Slight spritz and a touch of residual sugar. Nice acidity at the finish.
- Pouilly Fuisse Vers Cras 2000 (Domaine Cordier )
90% new oak. A rich nose: some hazelnut and minerals, and with a good texture. Elegant limey fruit and acidity. Well made. Needs time.
- Tarantella 1999 ( Sine Qua Non)
39% Rousanne, 33% Chardonnay, 28% Viognier. Nutty, oaky nose - some lees characteristics. Pleasant dry and oily and with a big length. Touches of honey and passion fruit.
- Gewurztraminer Clos St Imer Goldert Vendange Tardive 1996 (Ernest Burn)
Elegant Gewurztraminer nose and a lovely balance and minerality. Good length. A top, top Gewurztraminer. plus
- Roll Ranch Syrah 1999 (Ojai Vineyards)
2-3% Viognier in this. Floral, liquorice and dark fruits. Youthfully closed and with big structure. Ripe tannin and a dy finish.
- Chateauneuf-du-pape Reserve 1999 (Le Clos du Caillou)
45% Grenache, 40% Mourvedre and then mostly Syrah. Olive bread nose and soft. Alcohol coming through at the moment. A touch volatile. Is this on the best of form?
- Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1996 (Fox Creek)
Maturing nicely with balance and good tannin. Some mint. A bit unknit, but it will come together.
- Shiraz Hanisch Vineyard 1998 (Veritas Winery)
Big wine with a reduced feel to the nose. Blackcurrants and acidity on the finish.
- Schilfwein Tradition Strohwein 1999 (Nekowitsch)
From a half. This is a blend of Welschriesling, Gruner Veltliner, Scheurebe and Traminer. This is not quite in balance: overly sweet to my mind. Creamy and with acidity.
- Pinot Gris 2001 (Grove Mill)
Grapey, mothballs. Notably off-dry but with reasonable acidity and decent varietal character. A bit too sweet for the fruit quality perhaps.
- Pinot Noir 2000 (Grove Mill)
In-your-face, warm cassis spicy cherry nose. Herbal notes emerge. Flimsy and unstructured on the palate - soft fruit and oak, it doesn't offer any sort of challenge. I'm not very keen.
- Santenay Gravieres 2000 (Roger Belland)
Lifted cherry nose, cardomon perhaps. In the mouth, light but not lacking in fruit in some sense. Dry and austere. Slightly troubling - perhaps it will open out and merit another star, but for now
- Pinot Noir, Knights Valley 1998
Cherry and undergrowth nose - also meaty mushrooms - quite attractive. Pleasant enough fruit with a slightly sweet edge. This is a cheaper bottling from Peter Michaels. At least a good
- Pommard Les Vignots 1998 (Baron de la Charriere - Girardin)
Leathery blackberry nose. Violets perhaps. Scented, dry, balanced. Structured. Good.
- Langhe Rosso Pafoj 1999 (C. Icardi)
Deep, slightly leafy, slightly cooked nose. Cassis hints, red fruits and honey - fascinating but hard to describe. Dry, long, rich, plummy palate. This is an interesting wine from an estate I was not aware of. I will be trying a bottle of this 100% Nebbiolo properly at some point. easy
- Barbaresco Asili 1998 (Michele Chiarlo)
Intense, blackberry-liquor, meaty nose. Seems a bit insubstantial at first - a bit hollow in the mid-palate - but it has a decent finish. Will it fill in? I think it might and on that basis
- Cos d'Estournel 1988
Slightly orange colour - looks a bit muddy. The nose is leafy, rustic, perhaps not absolutely clean. Irony. Lacking freshness. This is not how I remember Cos 88, but I can't decide if this is an odd bottle or if it is going through an odd period. There is some class there though so lets say for now.
- Chateaux Margaux 1997
Dry, sumptuous, yet strict. Floral nose and great length. Quite forward - sensible for the vintage I guess. Lots of concentration for the vintage too, but at least now it doesn't seem to be the last word in fineness. Perhaps that will emerge - I hope it hasn't been sacrificed for the concentration.
- Tokay Pinot Gris Grand Cru Rangen VT 1996 (Schoffit)
Off-dry. Orchard fruits. Pleasant luxurious finish. It was the end of a heavy evening and I was concentrating more on the Margaux. This probably scrapes a
- Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru Sous le Puits 1996 (J-C. Bachelet)
I bought a few bottles of this having tried it last year in a restaurant. I thought at first this was an error since it seemed very thin on opening straight from the cellar. But white Burgundy must be not be drunk too cool and as it warmed a little a lovely mineral oily hazelnut Puligny character emerged together with an excellent finish. Very tightly wound at the moment with excellent acidity, this needs a few years. Probably scrapes
- Chardonnay 2000, Vin de Pays du Jardin de la France (Bougrier - The Wine Society)
Basic stuff - clean, decently concentrated and pleasant. I tend not to choose Chardonnay for my plonk (possibly because it inevitably sets my mind off towards grander things) but this is perfectly decent.
- Rully 1er Cru Les Cloux 1998 (Baron de La Charriere - Girardin)
Melons and tropical fruit in a nicely restrained way. Nutty. Good weight and acidity.
- Puligny Pucelles 1992 (O. Leflaive)
Nice nutty, smoky fruit, even if the blowsyness of the vintage is a bit present.
- Chassagne Montrachet Les Caillerets 1989 (J.-N. Gagnard)
I've been drinking this wine from my own cellar over the last five or six years - I don't always put up notes since nobody wants to see six notes on the same wine. This has gone from a luscious, brazen, tropical bomb through a period when oak was a bit too apparent to a graceful state now when I think it is drinking at its peak - vanilla-custard oak married with nicely eveolved fruit. There is something just a shade rustic and heavy-handed that stops it being an absolute star, but it is a lovely drink now. This half just about worth
- Chardonnay 1992 (Cloudy Bay)
I was expecting this to be rather past it - actually it has aged quite gracefully although fans of fruit might want to have drunk it sooner - even I might have enjoyed it more a year or two ago. Compared to a "slightly past its best Burgundy" there is not quite the same interest in its secondary and tertiary flavours. Pleasant though.
- Sauvignon Vin de Pays d'Oc 2000 (Dom des Fontanelles)
Varietal, OK but a shade clothy. Decent
- Gewurztraminer 2001 (Villiera)
A rather good bargain bottle from South Africa: pretty much dry, but with a hit of exotic Gewurz fruit that some will think suggests sweetness. Nice balance: adequate acidity and just a hint of the pepper that helps keep the potential flab of the variety at bay. A top at least.
- Tokay Pinot Gris Vieilles Vignes 1994 (A. Mann)
My penultimate bottle of a half-case I bought some years ago. It was quite flashy in its youth, but it has mellowed rather nicely while remaining a quaffing wine. Hard to put a name to the flavours (often is with this grape I think). Just about .
- Cupidone Chasan 2000 (Hautes Terres de Comberousse)
Chasan is apparently a cross between Chardonnay and Palomino (one of the Sherry varieties). I might place this in Italy blind, with its fairly dry, almondy fruit which doesn't have any particularly assertive flavours. Actually it is a Languedoc property that the Wine Society are selling. Decent balance - nice food wine. Top
- Pouilly-Fume 2000 (S. Dageneau)
Very correct and drinkable. Good
- Riesling Vom Stein Federspiel 1998 (Nikolaihof)
I drink a lot of wine, and for those evening when the palate is jaded, a top Wachau riesling is just the thing: bone-dry, zingy, mineral, stony fruit. It might yet improve but for now
- Muscat Goldert 1989 (Zind-Humbrecht)
This has been lurking in the cellar a while and I have been resisting opening it, expecting it might be past it (not the best of reasons, I admit). Well, I opened it and it was past it: not oxidised or anything, just a rather neutral "shell" around what was probably once reasonable fruit.
- Bornheimer Adelberg Kabinett 1995 (Graf von Spee)
Resinous nose and palate - no fruit. Rather poor.
- Bornheimer Adelberg Kabinett 1989 (Graf von Spee)
Softer nose - sweeter palate - again, no fruit. Cardboardy - possibly faulty.
- Haut Cotes de Nuits blanc, Clos St Philibert 1996 (Meo-Camuzet)
Toasty nose, round green-pea fruit - opens up (or warms up) to show classic, dry, taught high-acid quality. A very good wine for its level.
- Haut Cotes de Beaune 1995 (Jayer-Gilles)
The nose is so toasty it is charred - to a degree that I am inclined to think a fault! Hint of hard-boiled egg. Reasonable fruit under all this.
- Haut Cotes de Beaune 1994 (Jayer-Gilles)
- Chateau Pontensac 1996
Pronounced meaty Bovril/Marmite nose. Blackberry fruit, succulent tannins. A good wine lacking only a bit of fineness.
- The Cabernets 1996 (Skillagalee)
Minty, fruit-driven cassis/blackberry nose. Soft berry fruits, off-dry finish.
- Chateau Pontensac 1995
Blueberry and hint of chocolate on nose. Very dry, less forthcoming than the 96 right now, (but is the fruit tending towards cooked?) good length. (just)
- The Cabernets 1995 (Skillagalee)
Minty again. Blackberry. Sweet berry fruits - too much!. Slightly troubling harshness in the finish. Bare
- Tokai Aszu, 5 puttonyos1972
Rounded orangy flavours - mature character hard to put in to words. Pleasant drinking. Impossible to discern the producer of this wine, or the next. Top
- Tokai Aszu 6 puttonyos 1972
Dried apricot and brown sugar. Rather luxurious. Good
- Bandol 2000 Cuvee Classique (Domaine Tempier)
Intense cherry fruit, medicinal In a good way. Lovely spicy character, nice balance. (just)
- Bandol La Tourtine 2000 (Domaine Tempier)
Lovely depth of ripe fruit - cherry again with extra spice. Very nice. Scrapes
- Bandol 1999 Cuvee Classique (Domaine Tempier)
Quite tannic and closed compared to the 2000. Possibly just closed down. plus?
- Bandol 1999 Cuvee Speciale (Domaine Tempier)
Compared to above, more fruit (ripe cherry again). Classy.
- Bandol La Tourtine 1999 (Domaine Tempier)
Compared to Miguoa below, more rustic, farmyardy, more tannic, a slightly more obvious hit of fruit, and a shade more backward. I slightly prefer the elegant stylishness of the other but this still scrapes
- Bandol La Migoua 1999 (Domaine Tempier)
Nuts, mushrooms, underbrush - gorgeous nose. Savoury, long, excellent acidity.
- Bandol 1998 Cuvee Classique (Domaine Tempier)
Bags of fruit, very tannic too. Shows the extra richness of the vintage.
- Bandol 1998 Cuvee Speciale (Domaine Tempier)
Cherry-menthol fruit - very long on the palate and still quite structured. Very good length. Still quite backward. just.
- Bandol La Tourtine 1997 (Domaine Tempier)
Fine ripe fruit. Others will prefer this to the Migoua below but just.
- Bandol La Migoua 1997 (Domaine Tempier)
Splendidly elegant, relatively early drinking (the vintage). A bit of forest floor again.
- Bandol La Migoua 1991 (Domaine Tempier)
Absolutely lovely: mineral complexity, high-toned nose and long palate. (In magnum)
- Bandol La Cabassou 1988 (Domaine Tempier)
Dark chocolate - rich - like Tourtine but purer. Long herby finish. Bare
- Bandol La Migoua 1981 (Domaine Tempier)
Lighter, that lovely mineral quality again - sweet fruit - lovely finish. "Blockbuster" fans won't like this so much I suspect, but I do! A top
- Bandol La Tourtine 1982 (Domaine Tempier)
Very savoury - in splendid condition (like all the other wines tonight, come to think of it). The Tourtine rusticity tamed now and drinking very nicely. I wonder what Migoua was like in this excellent vintage?
- Champagne Brut Tradition NV (Gobillard)
Yeasty, savoury, good length. A real Champagne at close to Supermarket prices from a small grower. (12.99)
- Champagne 1er Cru NV (Gobillard)
A bit richer than the standard bottling, but on a quick tasting it seemed a little short and if anything a shade less exciting than that wine. Still a good Champagne. (15.99)
- Tokay Pinot Gris 1999 (Cave Vinicole de Hunawihr)
Pretty correct with a hint of that fat bacon quality. A very good (6.99)
- Gewurztraminer Vieilles Vignes 2000 (Cave Vinicole de Turckheim)
A big hit of lychee fruit here, but not over-blown. Very drinkable. Top (approx 7 pounds and a bargain!)
- Riesling 1998 (Rolly Gassman)
A bit more challenging: restrained, opens up in the glass though to a fine if basic riesling. (9.89)
- Chardonnay Reserve 1999 (Yering Station)
Real in-your-face stuff: smoky (to excess perhaps - almost charred) with fat fruit. Not to my taste, but some will like it. (18.59)
- Cotes du Rhone Vinsobres 1999 (Chaume-Arnaud)
There's a lot of well-priced wine coming out of Southern France these days - this is "modern wine" in a way I guess with lots of fruit, but done quite well in that there is enough structure to stop its being cloying and to hold it together for a few years. (6.99)
- Pinot Noir 2001 (BWC - Barefoot Wine Co)
South African Pinot, and a pretty good example of a non-Burgundian Pinot being neither jammy nor insubstantial. Authentic flavours. Top (8.99)
- Reserve Malbec 1999 (Terrazas)
As Richard Meadows remarked as we tasted these wines, Malbec is probably a man's grape - meaty, hefty structure, but with a decent hit of fruit. A good example. Top (8.99)
- Chateau Musar 1991
That old stand-by (often reasonably priced on otherwise exorbitant restaurant lists). Very, very rustic as always but also very much alive. An interesting drink, as usual. A top (22.00)