Gang of Five, Champagne and Pinot Tasting 29/05/1997 (RJB)
Each member of the group brought two bottles, the wines then served blind. Numbers in brackets indicate ranking in the flights as an average of the five scores. Here are the Champagnes . . .
- Cattier 1982 Chigny les Roses (2) Slight coarseness, but some bottle age. A touch short, but on the whole good. 89
- Jacques Selosse Grande Reserve NV (5) Good fizz, nice acidity. Rather unbalanced and lacking complexity. Apparently this is usually a lot better than this. 84
- Layton's Champagne NV (4) A wine merchant's fizz. Modernish with a touch of greeness. Lightweight. 85
- Noble Cuvee de Lanson 1981 (3) Good structure, liquorice nose with elegance and some length. 90
- Louis Roederer Brut Premier Rose (1) Apparently with 11 years in Paul's cellar. A touch of maderisation with oldish Chardonnay coming through. Lots of acidity. Very pleasant. Lovely old Champagne. 92
. . . and here are the Pinots:
- Cristom Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Reserve 1994 (5) Fragrant beetroot and parma violets. Hot and not together. A sweetness similar to artificial sweeteners. This might have been an odd bottle. 72
- Ruchottes Chambertin 1985, Armand Rousseau (3) Lovely old Burgundy. A bit edgy, but nice sweetness and touches of coffee. One of the best bottles I've had of this. 89
- Pommard 1992 Clos des Epeneaux, Comte Armand (4) Dull at present, leathery and spicey. Cardboard nose (so perhaps a bit faulty). 84
- Chambolles Musigny Les Cras 1993, Michele and Patrice Rion (2) Smokey and minty (I guessed it Old world, but everyone else was going for New World). Good wine. 88
- Calera Mills Mt Harlan Pinot Noir 1992 (1) Initially lovely, but really, In suspect, a bit simple. Dullish and short. It came first out of the Pinots so some must have liked it, but not me. 85
- Chateau be Baun Pinot Noir Chateau Rouge(?) 1993 Hot and Horrible cheapo Californian thrown in at the end (should have thrown it out).
- Pinot d'Alsace 1990, Zind-Humbrecht Strangely not as good as the half bottles I've had of this recently. This would seem to suggest that the standard bottles need more time. However, the wine appears to be in decline. Buttery/vegetal and blousy. 84
- Cornas 1995 Domaine de Saint-Pierre, Paul Jaboulet Aine Wow! Lovely crushed currant nose with plenty of zing (curiously more reminiscent of some of the young Californian Syrahs I've had of late - for example Edmund St John's special vineyards stuff - than of French Syrah). Closed up on the palate, but with good tannin levels. Seems rather hollow (my only reservation), but the nose and overall structure would suggest this will fill out with time. (Indeed, a very small dreg the next day was much more silkily Rhonish and showed no bad signs of being left out overnight.) 92?
- Notarpanaro 1988, Taurino A good bottle of this - much more body and fragrance than the bad bottles. 87
- Nelson's Late Harvest Rhine Riesling 1989, Redwood Valley Estate From a half. I was anticipating that this would be past it. However, it is standing up well, with fairly viscious amounts (too much) of citric acidity. Waxy and lemony. 84
- Herrenweg Riesling 1989, Zind-Humbrecht Perhaps not hugely complex, but still a delicious bottle of maturing Riesling. I can't remember whether this had a touch of sweetness in youth, but it's dry now. A couple more years to be at its best? 88+
- 1994 Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Kabinett, Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Good acidity and fruit - slightly coarse. Needs time. 86
- Grandin Brut, Ingrandes-sur-Loire Cheap fizz - probably Chenin. Honeyed and good acidity. I'd rather have this than Cavas or cheap Oz sparklers. 83
- Chateau La Faviere 1990, Bordeaux Superieur Good wine for this level, with textbook cedarwood and currants. A bit leafy. 84
- Bellingham 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon, Coastal Region Well made South African (without the hot flavours so often affecting these wines). Soft and warm and probably with the structure for a few year's aging - but difficult to judge. 87?
- Bastor-Lamontagne 1986 The flavours not quite as weighty as I remember and the wine not quite as sweet. (this was a full bottle, not a half). Nice enough, but a bit simple (although some more time won't hurt it). 85
- Bruno Paillard Premiere Cuvee Brut Champagne Goodish traditional-style Champagne, but perhaps rather obvious and lacking togetherness. 87
- Clos Floridene 1990 Graves Sec The youthful exuberance and fragrance have disappeared to leave a simple lychee flavoured wine. A wine to have young. 84
- Meursault 1988 Jean Germain Nice steely, gently austere Chardonnay. Refreshing and still drinking well. 86
- Cocheimer Goldbaumchen Riesling Eiswein 1983, J. Koll From a half. Corked.
- Domaine de la Cessane, Saint Chinian Grenache/Syrah 1994 Decently made, soft and leathery. 83
- Aussay 1991 Brut Reserve Personelle, Cremant d'Alsace The base wine seems to have improved over the last year, but the fizz is fading. Went well in the stock for 'chicken and porcini'. 79
- Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 1993, Baron Cornacchia Last year's fruitiness is fading to leave a good, but at present 1-D wine. Maybe the structure isn't there for any more than a year or so's keeping. A fair amount of dusty sediment. 85
European Reds at OFW 15/05/1997 (TNB)
- Branaire Ducre 89 Forward, pleasant, only reasonably concentrated. 87. (32.99)
- Coltassala 93 (Castello di Volpai) Nutty, bitter cherries, nice Sangeovese style, perhaps a bit sweet. 88 (15.49)
- Nuits St Georege Boudots 92 (Meo-Cauzet) Excellent sweet deepraspberry fruit - amazing for a dodgy vinatge. Very long. If one had to criticise, it tasted slightly sugared. Balance excellent though. 90
- Clos de Vougeot 92 (Meo-Cmuzet) Far drier, more austere, perhaps simply not as good as the Nuits St G. Perhaps there is something hiding there - it certainly has an interestingly spicy component. 88 (36.99)
- Castillo Ygay 87 Second time I've had this -- very acidic, even volatile. I'm not convinced! 84 (15.99)
- St Joseph Cuvee prestige 94 (Dom. Cheze) Boiled sweet beajolais nose, and rather dilute. Not my sort of thing at all. 80 (11.99)
- Cornas Dom. St Pierre 95 (Jaboulet) Stunning! Blackcurrenty nose, with a distinct Bordaux-like complexity. In the mouth very concentrated amd long, with excellent underlying structure. The best young Cornas I've ever had. 94. (18.99)
- Recioto della Valpolicella (Allegrini) Port-like nose, with Italian nutty cherries. In the mouth, a rather cloyingly sweet finish l;ets it down. 86
At 5 St. Bernard's Crescent with D.L., E.McC., Z.M., 12/05/1997 (TNB)
St Emilion and Pomerol dinner. All the reds showing very well, and well above the luke-warm assessments RP gives to these wines. No notes taken at the time, so no point scores!
- Riesling Schonenberg VT 78 (Dopff au Moulin) Excellent spicy mature riesling. Perhaps an under-rated vintage in Alsace?
- La Grave Trigant 81 Lovely hit of sweet blackcurrenty fruit on the nose. Excellent medium weight, elegant claret.
- Le Tertre Roteboeuf 82 Excellent meaty (no pun intended) young wine. Will be really excellent.
- Vieux Chateau Certain 83 Quite Medocy, but very, very classy. The wine of the evening, perhaps.
- Vieux Chateau Certain 78 Maturer, and not quite the same concentartion as the 83, but still damn good!
- Magdelaine 78 More closed, but agaion a delicious wine.
- Soutard 61 From a half, this was a joy to drink. Good colour, vibrantly alive, complex, and just starting to drink.
- Dorsheimer Goldloch Auslese 90 (Schlossgut Diel) Searing Nahe acidity, but good concentartion. Needs a good few years!
- Roederer Rich NV Sweetish champagne. Well made, I suppose, but it does cloy rather. Perhaps it goes well with the right food.
- Mountadam Chardonnay 90 Perhpas the fruit is holding up, in a somewhat ungainly way. I'm still not convinced this is really an ager - and it is a bit vegetal. 85.
- Cousino Macul Antiguas Reserva 86 Opened mainly for cooking. It has that rather obvious charred smokeyness over some reasonable fruit. 83.
- Montepulciano d'Abruzzo La Coste 94 (Cornacchia) Again mainly for cooking, but this is an enormous fruity wine, already generating bags of sediment. 87(+).
- Hugh Hamilton 1995 Unwooded Chardonnay, McLaren Vale Dull Oz Chardonnay with little to recommend it. This certainly could have done with some oak to give it some flavour. 78
- Moet et Chandon Premiere Cuvee From the same source and with similar bottle age (ten years) as the Lambert mentioned in my last note. This thankfully much better. Elegant and with light toasted nuttiness. Moet does stand up very well to keeping (indeed it improves it). 89
- Wynns Coonawarra Riesling 1993 Good liquorice-flavoured Riesling. Simple but refreshing. 83
- Cousino Macul Antiguas Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 1983 I'm apt to be a bit unfair about this wine producer nowadays - after all a wine at this price level that has kept its fruit and is maturing very gracefully after 14 years can't be all bad. Pleasant. 85
- Champagne Brut, A J Vincent A very drinkable growers Champagne with good acidity and reasonable (but coarse) fruit. 84
- White Burgundy 1992 Chardonnay, Georges Desire A gold medal winner at the International Wine Challenge a year or so back. Good quality for a very basic wine although the fruit is beginning to fade. 81
Peidmont with the Wine Group 11/05/1997 (TNB)Tastings with producers
Sandrone Barbera and barolo is barrique aged, but otherwise fairly traditional. Good aging wines with real nebbiolo character.
Marcarini Very traditional wines, combining elegance and power. The Brunate is usually more structured, spicey and ageworthy, the La Serra more scented. Lovely Barolo! Some of the best 94s we tasted.
Aldo Conterno Old-style, in that no barriques are used for the Barolo. Very clean, pure style, as one might expect from the amazingly neat (and very extensive) cellars.
De Forville Barbaresco house producing wines in a traditional way.
Ceretto Large operation with very smart offices, has been using barriques for at least 10 years and is aging recent top barolos entirely that way.
- Dolcetto 1997 (Sandrone) Very pure cherry fruit, not terribly voluptuous yet, but only recently bottled.
- Barbera 1996 (Sandrone) Blackberry fruit, quite tannic (from the oak, presumably). Nice balance.
- Nebbiolo Valnagiore 1996 (Sandrone) Very scented rose fruit and young wine esteryness. Good length. Will be pretty nice if it fills out a bit more. Possibly even
- Barolo Cannubi Boschis 1995 (Sandrone) (Not yet released.) Smokey, deeply flavoured nose. Tannic and long. Again, one imagines it will fill out and be excellent.
- Barolo Cannubi Boschis 1994 (Sandrone) Light orangy colour, and quite light on the palate. A fairly pleasant wine emerges, but not my favourite 1994.
- Barolo Le Vigne 1993 (Sandrone) Rich, delicious, well structured and long. Lovely. (A blend from different vinyards.)
- Dolcetta Fontanazza 1997 (Marcarini) Big, fruity, tannic nose with hints of sage. Good finish. Excellent example.
- Nebbiolo Lasirin 1996 (Marcarini) Straightforward wine from young vines, with no cask ageing. Well made, but not wildly exciting.
- Barolo La Serra 1994 (Marcarini) Nice floral, rose-scented nose and nice fruit. A good
- Barolo Brunate 1994 (Marcarini) Less floral and more spicey. Tarry and well-structured.
- Barolo Brunate 1990 (Marcarini) Slightly rustic and medicinal. (Is this what people call tarry?) Lovely cherry fruit, long and structured. Needs at least a few more years. Lovely!
- Barolo La Serra 1989 (Marcarini) (Afterwards, at a cafe.) Like a smaller-scaled version of the above, but with lovely scent. beginning to drink nicely.
- Moscato d'Asti 1997 (Marcarini) Fresh grapey fruit, perfumed, refreshing (a shade drier than many). An excellent example of the style.
- Barbera Conca Te Pile 1996 (Aldo Conterno) Deep young colour, lovely chocolatey fruit on the nose. Lots of acidity and a creamy underlay of oak. Very lovely.
- Dolcetto 1997 (Aldo Conterno) (Sample.) Rich, and very fruity.
- Barolo Bussia Soprana 1994 (Aldo Conterno) Healthy (if fairly light) colour, velvety balanced sweet fruit. Very different in colour and taste to the bottle tasted in Scotland two days before (but seemingly not unlike RJB's recent one)! A good
- Chardonnay 1996 (De Forville) Pure, unoaked, melony fruit. Quite tight and refreshing.
- Chardonnay 1997 (De Forville) Currently estery, but underneath similar to the 96, but perhaps a shade more mouthfilling.
- Dolcetto 1997 (De Forville) Nice plum and blackberry nose. Perhaps a bit less "fruit-driven" than some examples.
- Barbaresco 1995 (De Forville) Quite deep old-fashioned colour. Rose-scented, and some tanniny notes on the nose. Slightly tarry. Fairly concentrated fruit and reasonable length. A good
- Barbaresco 1993 (De Forville) Fairly light colour and pleasantly scented fruit. Reasnable length.
- Barbaresco 1989 (De Forville) Deepish colour with hints of chestnut. Quite tarry and rustic. Fruit soft (almost despite the tannins) decent length but drying slightly in the mouth. About time to drink. A good
- La Bernardina Spumante 1994 (Ceretto) Champagne grapes - light floral nose slightly sweet yet bitter on the palate. Not a success.
- La Bernardina Monsordo 1996 (Ceretto) 100% Viognier apparently. Pleasant peachy nose - rather simple and light in the mouth.
- Blange 1997 Arneis (Ceretto) Cerettos biggest selling wine, I think we were told. This carries Italian white wine neutrality to new heights!
- Barbaresco Asij 1995 (Ceretto) Vanilla nose and medium weight cherry fruit. Luncheon Barbaresco, you might say.
- Barolo Prapo 1994 (Ceretto) Bags of creamy oak - quite light on the palate, but decent length. Well made wine, but a bit "international" perhaps.
- Barbaresco Faset Bricco Asili 1993 (Ceretto) (With lunch the day before.) Toffeed nose (oak again?) but a good perfume emerges. Nice in the mouth - beginning to drink well. (Magnum)
- Chardonnay Printanie 1996 (Aldo Conterno) Again, like a reasonable unoaked Chablis.
- Langhe La Villa 1994 (Elio Altare) Blend (barbera/nebiolo, I think). Heavily oaked (but pretty integrated) decent concentration (although no great complexity) of fruit. Decent length. A rather internationally styled wine for my taste, but others thought highly of it.
- Barbera 1987 (G.D. Vajra) Good colour, nice barbera acidity, pleasant slightly medicinal nose. (Magnum)
- Barolo Cannubi 1989 (Scavino) Great colour, very deep slightly closed fruit, super ripe and concentrated fruit with fantastic tannins. Lovely - will be great.
- Barolo 1982 (Rinaldi) Gamey, rosey nose - mainly resolved in the mouth. Not quite clean and very slightly volatile. Time for drinking.
- Barbera Pian Romualdo 1995 (Prunotto) Rich round fruit, and not as high acid as usual. Rather good.
- Barbaresco Tenuta Roncaglia 1993 (Poderi Colla) Fine bouquet - nicely perfumed. Rather empty in the mouth however.
- Langhe Chardonnay 1995 fossati roscaleto (R. Voerzio) Pleasnat lightly oaked melony fruit.
- Barbaresco San Stefano 1988 (B. Giacosa) Slightly dumb at first, but lovely nebbiolo fruit of a richness not often achieved. Lovely structure. Just starting to drink. Very fine indeed.
- Barolo 1964 (Mascarello) Deep old chestnut colour - reasonably healthy looking. Slightly oxidised, but sweet fruit and nice meaty flavours. Died badly in the glass in about an hour. (This was from a magnum, decanted into two separate bottle decanters. Oddly, one of these seemed rather better than the other!) On average
- Vin Santo 1985 (Marchese Antinori) Fresh sherry nose, but a bit light and dull.
- Gosset Excellence The usual good wine, but an odd overlying metallic note - very curious.
- Barbaresco Santo Stefano Riserva 1978 (Castello di Neive) Rich old orangy brown colour, nice perfume and rich flavours. Stared to dry a bit in the glass.
- Barbaresco Crichet Paje 1978 (Roagna) Very light and delicate spring flower nose with some meatiness in the mouth. I loved it - but not universally admired.
- Barbaresco Vigna Rabaja 1978 (Cantina del Glicine) Healthy and long - good weight, objectively best of the 78 Barbarescos.
- Moscato d'Asti 1997 (S. Stefano) Fruity and refreshing.
- Lambert Champagne Grande Reserve Extra Dry "Reserved for Great Britain" I believe this bottle had been kept for at least ten years, and I'm afraid it showed it. Some of the (good) "stagnant river" smell that old Champagne can have but also maderised.
- Mas des Bressades Cabernet-Syrah 1994 This didn't have the mature notes and was more closed up than the last time I tried this wine. Depth seems to be missing. Difficult to judge its quality after one superb bottle and this less good one. Maybe it just needs a bit of time. 87
- Mas des Bressades Costieres des Nimes 1994 Lovely fragrant and leathery Syrah/Grenache (I'm guessing here) wine. 88+
- J. M. Gremillet Chardonnay 1988 Brut This Champagne had lost nearly all its fizz. The base wine, however, seemed of a high standard with good clean acidity.
- Michel Loriot Brut Champagne Rose Appropriately a bottle of pink fizz for the first day of the new Government. This is a good rose Champagne with raspberry flavours. Well made. 87
- Sanford 1992 Barrel Select Pinot Noir, Sanford and Benedict Vineyards A really pure expression of Pinot - silky and sensuos. Impressive, but ... lacks the complexity (the added je-ne-sais-quoi) of top Pinot. 88
- Notarpanaro 1990, Taurino A new vintage of this. Rather warm and lacking complexity. Some nutty sweet fuit. Not as good as the good bottles of the '88. 84
- Marsannay "Les Longeroies" 1988, Bruno Clair From a half. For the record: corked.
Dinner at St Bernard's Crescent with DL and EMcC 03/05/1997 (TNB)
- Hattenheimer Hassel Spätlese 71 (Schloss Rheinharthausen) Nice old Rheingau orangyness and spicy old riesling fruit.
- Puligny Montrachet Folatieres 90 (Pernot) Puligny class with nose of hazelnuts. Quite oak dominated but good. Probably not going anywhere. 87.
- Chambolle Musigny Veriolles 89 (Barthod) Medium weight, elegant, pleasant burgundy.
- Grands Echezaux 83 (DRC) "Smoke and fish" says DL, and indeed it does have a distinctly iodine note on the nose. Long and impressive, with a sort of burgundain metallicness. Lovely. 91(+).
- Cornas 83 (Jaboulet) Slightly odd, cloying, synthetic sweetness, and rather simple. Not impressed. 83.
- Gruner Veltliner Auslese 86 (Mantlerhof) Given blind. Fairly simple, but decent weight. Pretty good for Austria! 85.
- Vouvray Clos de Bourg Molleaux 76 (Huet) Nice old Loire -- really quite dry. Grassy and honeyed. Perhaps quite advanced for a quality Vouvray. 90.