The Diary - November 1997
A couple of wines, not noted very carefully:
- Chablis 95 (Brocard)
"Domaine something" but not premier cru, if I remember rightly. From a half at Nick Nairn's new place in Glasgow (strongly recommended, by the way). Perfectly decent young chablis.
- Mountadam chardonnay 90
My impression is that these vary in the extent to which they've gone cheesy and vegetal. This one was not particularly attractive. Write out 100 times "I will drink all the (small quantity of) New World Chardonnay I buy within one month of purchase"! (One might possibly make an exception for Petaluma, which can age gracefully.)
- Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Vigna Coste 95 (Cornacchia)
Very blackberry, brutally tannic still. Might amount to something in a few years - I wonder?
- Vinas del Vero Cabernet Sauvignon 1995, Somontano
I was so impressed with this cheap (4.99 Oddbins) Spanish wine earlier in the week that I thought I would give it another go; I wasn't disappointed. This wine has fruit and structure that would put many wines at double the price to shame. Only time will tell whether it ages harmoniously, but it certainly is well balanced and possesses good tannin. 88+
- Onix Vi Negre 1996, Vinicola del Priorat
Umm, not so sure about this wine - simple and hot climate heavy. RP rates this highly I believe, but my bottle didn't have the saturated black/purple colour he writes about. 85
- Les Clos de Paulilles, Rimage Mise Tardive, 1993, Banyuls
Sweet raisiny red that could do with more grip for my taste. 87
Banfi is apparantly a fairly new, large operation
built with American money. The Brunello is a fairly average old-fashioned
style, that spends far too long in wood. This works (up to a point)
in concentrated vintages, but is a bit of a disaster in average ones.
We were wondering if we might lauch a "Save the 94" campaign to
get it put in the bottle before it fades completely. It's probably too
late, and it might be better to work on the 95!
- Brunello 1994 (Castello Banfi)
Deep healthy colour. Intense blackberry nose, less strong in the mouth. Quite promising, but it is still languishing in cask.
- Brunello 1993 (Castello Banfi)
Slightly lighter colour, vanillan blackberry nose. Quite dry and austere. (I suspect the wood aging develops these rather austere tannins.) Just bottled. Supposedly a better vintage than 94, but not showing it. Perhaps a barrel sample a year ago would have looked better.
- Brunello 1991 (Castello Banfi)
Hints of that old-fashioned Italian chestnut brown colour. Spicy, dry, slightly woody. Not very attractive.
- Brunello 1990 (Castello Banfi)
Chestnutty brown, spicy, dense, tannic. A good wine in this style.
- Brunello 1986 (Castello Banfi)
Either slightly corked, or dodgy barrel (others disagreed). Slight "wet wood" aromas. In any case, unattractive.
- Brunello 1985 (Castello Banfi)
Same style as the 90 and 82, but not as strong an effort.
- Brunello 1982 (Castello Banfi)
A genuinely interestingly spicy nose, decent fruit (in as much as this type of thing can have), decent length. Good but tiring to drink.
- Summus 1993 (Castello Banfi)
Fresher fruit, toasty oak (in that slightly "corrupt" way). Doesn't sing (at least to me).
- Summus 1990 (Castello Banfi)
The fruit is there, but the whole effect is a bit anonymous.
- Summus 1988 (Castello Banfi)
Quite a refined and interesting complexity - easily the best of the Summus. Like many of the Banfi wines, it doesn't finish so well.
- San Angelo Pinot Grigio 96
"Second prize, two bottles of Italian Pinot Grigio", as the old joke has it. Anonymous.
- Centine Sant' Antimo 96
Slightly dull commercial red.
- Mandrielle Merlot 95
Difficult to taste with the food, but this seemed to have reasonable fruit, and I suspect it's quite cheap.
- Ricciardello Moscadello frizzante 96
A bit like Moscato d'Asti, but lacking the freshness of the best. Decent.
The Summus is some sort of Sangiovese - Bordeaux blend.
New oak, etc., but despite that, there are hints of "oxidative handling" that
makes it more similar to the Brunello than one might guess.
- Casa del Valla Brut, Chile
Down from 6.99 to 4.99 at Oddbins, and now I know why. This is terrible wine. The back label claims that it is made, with the help of Mumm, from classic grape varieties (Thompson's seedless no doubt). Imagine home-made elderflower wine strained through a much used dish cloth. 67
- Chablis 1996, CVC
Good value Chardonnay (4.99 Majestics). Lightly buttery and gently textured. Some steely acidity. 86
- Pinot Blanc Auxerrois Cuvee Caroline 1996, Schoffit
Fattish wine with a nose of toned down exotic fruits. Slight metallic edge. 87
- Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 1996, Barone Cornacchia
The least successful of the last three vintages of this wine - brambly maturing fruit and a gently bitter finish. Good food wine. 85
- Vinas del Vero Cabernet Sauvignon 1995, Somantano, Spain
Superb value Cabernet (4.99 Oddbins). Excellent colour and a youthfully subdued nose. The palate reveals juicy fruit and good tannic structure. I would guess that 4 to 5 years wouldn't hurt this wine at all. 88+
- Edmunds St John "L'Enfant Terrible" Mourvedre 1994, California
Clearly well made wine, and an excellent way of getting to know what Mourvedre can do, but it does make you realise why Mourvedre is usually part of a blend: it needs something to zing it up a bit. Mushrooms and compost. 86
- Campbell's Limited Release Merlot 1994, Rutherglen, Australia
OK, but a bit simple. Nicely balanced acidity and softish fruit, and not too overblown. 86
- Chateau La Rame 1993, Sainte-Croix-du-Mont
(8.99 at Majestics) A light vintage for this wine, which is reflected in the low price, but apart from a mustiness (that disappears with vigorous swirling) a good, waxy and tangerine flavoured mouthfull. Not as sweet (or as big) as previous vintages. 86
- Con Class 1996 Sauvignon Blanc, Rueda
Cheap (3.49) from Oddbins. Dry, varietal wine. Good value. Slightly sulphureous, but I think this will disappear. 84
- Domaine des Pourthie 1995 Merlot, Vin de Pays d'Oc
thin and cardboardy. 75
- Redwood Trail 1994 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sterling Vineyards, California
Initially good fruit on the nose, but this disappeared to leave a fairly charmless wine. 82
- Glenloth Private Bin 108, South Eastern Australia
Easy drinking - peppery, sweet and jammy. 82
- Mont Gras Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 1995, Chile
Well-made wine that has hints of cedarwood, soft blackcurrant fruit and flavours of maturity. Good early drinking while waiting for the next wine to reach its peak. 87
- La Sirene de Giscours 1995, Margaux
Ah! Classic structured, medium-weight Margaux. Good second wine at a reasonable price (11.99 Oddbins Fine Wines). It should be drinking well in four to five years time. 88+
- Cavas de Weinert 1989, Bodegas Weinert, Mendoza, Argentina
Not showing as well, nor as young looking, as the last bottle I had of this (perhaps bad storage has caused early maturing). But still a good Bordeaux lookalike. 87
- Mount Langi Ghiran Cabernet Sauvignon 1991,Victoria
Good mature Cabernet - mushrooms and sweet fruit. 87
- Trincadeira 1995, Herade Do Esporao
(6.99 Oddbins Fine Wines) Portuguese wine with varietal labelling (although I didn't realise at the time!). I had this over three nights: on first opening it seemed clean, but tough; on the second day it had developed a charming bouquet of plum skins and rose petals; on the third day it had opened out a bit further with no signs of deterioration. A difficult style of wine to judge (mainly because it is differently-styled), but it could be very impressive with some bottle age. 86-89+
- Corton Bressandes 87 (Tollot-Beaut)
An initial impression of slight thinness is replaced as it opens out by a a lean, stylish, moderate weight wine with quite sweet burgundian fruit and grand cru sophistication. Not bad. 87.
- Pommery 55
Gracefully maderised, creamy, biscuity, and a sufficient core of fruit. Rather pleasant!
- Corton Charlemagne 84 (Tollot-Beaut)
Slightly austere front, but quite reasonably long melony fruit. Definite grand cru refinedness. From a magnum.
- Echezaux 87 (J. Jayer)
Slightly "metallic" in the way good burgundy is. Refined, sweet fruit. Fine interesting nose that one keeps wanting to come back to.
- Echezaux 87 (Rouget)
Fresh fruity, extrovert yet balanced, almost sweet, not very typically 87, luscious, oaked, "H. Jayer style" burgundy. Very accessible, but it has taken a few years to get to this stage! Most preferred this, but I slightly prefer the J. Jayer of these two first rate wines for its grip.
- Annaburger Scheurebe spatlese 71 (Stump-Fitz)
Vineyard not recalled. This apparently great grower dissapeared some years ago. This is about as good as one could imagine scheurebe getting: floral, grapefruity (in moderation), balanced, long, very much alive.
Also a charming Marsala, 62 vintage, otherwise details not recalled!
- Pinot Noir 1995, Trapiche, Mendoza
Thin plummy wine 78
- Athlone Pinot Noir 1996, South Africa
Slightly stewed, but recogniasbly Pinot. 80
- Cono Sur Selection Reserve Pinot Noir 1996, Rapel Valley, Chile
Smooth oaky wine, but no great structure. 83
- Vinas del Vero Pinot Noir 1995, Somontano, Spain
Impressive for 5.99 (Majestics). Rather like a good lower level Burgundy. Given the structure and the tannins, this should age well for four to five years. 86+?
- Giesen Pinot Noir 1996, Canterbury, New Zealand
Pure Pinot, but simple for it. 85
- Marsannay Les Ouzeloy 1994, Joseph Roty
A touch volatile and charmless in some ways. 85
- Rutz Cellars Pinot Noir 1994, Russian River Valley
Coffee flavoured maturity and unbalanced sweetness. Initially it feels as though it should be good, but it isn't. 82
- Coldstream Hills Reserve Pinot Noir 1993, Australia
Always one of the best Australian Pinots. This is elegant and with sweet mushroomy maturing flavours. 88
- Monica di Sardegna, Cantina Sociale Dolianova
The bird-watching school of wine tasting - another grape variety ticked off. Cheap supermarket wine that is slightly rough and ready. Although there are signs that Monica could make more serious Iberian-style wine. 80
- Moet & Chandon Premiere Cuvee
As I have mentioned on these pages before, Moet with bottle age can be very enjoyable. This has had about ten years in a private cellar. The fizz is fading, but the base wine is gloriously honeyed and elegant. 90
- Mountadam 1989 Eden Valley Chardonnay
Big alcoholic wine that is all buttered vegetables at present. It doesn't seem to have changed much in the last few years. 84
Some astonishingly lightweight Italian fizz whose name (and tastes, if any)
escape me, and also a Lungarotti "Beaujolais". In between:
- Meursault Poruzots 95 (Ch. de Puligny)
Chateau de Puligny made an excellent P-Montrachet Folatieres in 95, and a good St Aubin En Remilly, but this is a bit mean and one dimensional. Quite cheap (approx 18.00) at Oddbins Fine Wine, but nonetheless not really a bargain.
- Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Hameau de Blagny 95 (Pascal)
Quite oily, oaky, reasonable fruit, decent wine, but a bit heavy. 84 (19.99)
- Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru Folatieres 95 (Pascal)
Very different, not heavy, but the more you look the less you see. Just a bit thin. 83. (21.99)
- Chassagne Montrachet Morgeot 95 (Pillot)
Slight sulphur problem, but decent if a bit 1-dimensional Chassagne. 86 (21.99)
- Chassagne Montrachet Vide Bourse 95 (Pillot)
Slight sulphur problemn again. Slightly sour, but underneath a sensible wine. 85 (21.99)
- Chassagne Montrachet Morgeot 95 (Ramonet)
Has that characteristic Ramonet intense gingeryness, citric, complex, long, balanced. Lovely wine! 91(?+) (22.99)
- Chassagne Montrachet Les Ruchottes 95 (Ramonet)
Much more difficult wine, tightly wound, austere, hidden. Strong core though, and will be excellent. 90(?++) (27.99)
- Batard Montrachet 94 (Sauzet)
Fresh oak. Pretty good concentration. Refined, decent length. Pretty good for the vinatge. 88 (54.99)
- Batard Montrachet 93 (Fontaine-Gagnard)
Possibly a shade lighter, but clearly something Grand Cru about this wine too. (Hard to appreciate to the full after the Ramonets from a first rate vintage.) 87 (49.99)
- Muscat de Rivesaltes 1996, M. Chapoutier
From a half (4.49 Majestics). Very fine Muscat with flavours of yeast and tangerines. Elegant yet powerful (15% alchohol), but not overblown and not aggressively sweet, this probably needs a few more months to be at its best and may even age well in the longer term. This goes very well with soft cheese. 90+
- Syrah 1996, Vin de Pays d'Oc
I'm not too sure who makes this wine, but it's 2.99 at Majestic. Thin, but with noticeable Syrah fruit. 79
- Correas Syrah 1996, Mendoza
Reasonable black cherry style Syrah. 84
- Crozes-Hermitage La Petite Ruche 1995, M. Chapoutier
Initially showing some lightly maturing berry fruit and some volatility on the palate. Later in the evening, the wine became pretty feeble. 83
- Crozes-Hermitage Petite Ruche 1996, M. Chapoutier
Presumably the same wine from a different vintage, although the 'La' in the title has disappeared. This wine is clearly younger than the 1995, with a pronounced purple to the colour and an odd stalky youthful nose. This still seems a bit thin. I am afraid that these Chapoutier wines do not impress. 81
- Mas des Bressades 1995, Costieres de Nimes
Serious wine at a good price (6.99 at Majestics) - a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault (I think). Real structure, with leathery overtones and gently maturing fruits. This should continue to age well. Think of it as Chateauneuf at two-thirds the price - it even boasts an embossed bottle, although why it should appear to be a crocodile having a splash I don't know. 90
- Mas des Bressades 1995 Cabernet / Syrah
Perhaps more elegant than the Nimes, but on this showing not quite so successful - perhaps just going through a alightly unknit stage. 87
- Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz 1995
As expected initially, with biggish sweet flavours. However, there is a nasty green/astringent tannic finish. 80
- Marietta Cellars California Syrah 1994
Good colour and a subdued nose. The flavours are very good - juicy, silky and leathery. Rhone structure, but with New World fruit. This is the most impressed I've been by a Marietta wine. 89
- Champagne Grande Millesme 85 (Gosset)
Lean but long, classy, medium weight (not quite as full bodied as one might expect). possibly needs time. 91.
- Macon Clesse 96, 95, 94 (fut de chene), (R. Michel)
The 96 has good apricoty fruit (old vines apparently). The 95 is oilier, more striking, but perhaps a bit much. The 94 (the only oaked one) was pretty good too, with quite hefty use of wood more or less integrated. Over all, quite a good showing for the producer.
- Macon Clesse, Bon Gran 89 (Thevenet)
Served blind, people were groping around in Chassagne. Possibly at peak. 87.
- Romany St Vivant 95 (Dom de Forges)
Lovely young burgundy with that slight hint of smoked fish. Long and dry. From Dieter Boermann's negociant business. 90+.
- Beaune Theurons 62 (T. Bassot)
According to ZM, Bassot's old burgundies are often good. Others differ. This had a lovely smokeyness with light, but nice quality fruit. Pleasant to drink, but seemed to die a bit in the glass. 89.
- Beaune 1er cru 62 (Moingeon)
More or less dead.
- Gevrey Chambertin En Pallud 83 (Maume)
A good 83, with plenty of fruit, but still that slight harshness in the mid-to-late palate. 87.
- Barbera 61 (Pio Cesare)
Alive, but quite one dimensional. Pleasant enough. (Possibly shaken up a bit in transport.)
- Sassicia 80
Nice cabernet, a bit Loireish perhaps, not so terribly long.
- Trincadeira 1995, Herade Do Esporao
Lifted redcurrenty fruit. Possibly slightly bitter. A bit of a compromise perhaps between traditional Portugal and the (doubtless on the whole disasterous) invasion of "modern winemaking". Good value though. (6.99 Oddbins Fine Wine)
- Beaucastel 79
Lovely rustic mushroomy farmyardyness. Delicious. 90.
- Liewener Laurentiaslay BA 71 (Rey)
Bright colour, searing acidity, lovely balance. Gorgeous drinking, but if I were to criticise, is it quite as concentrated as BA suggests? 91.
- Rieussec 86
From a half, the usual almost OTT oily nuttyness. nice to drink, of course!
- Dow 70
Pruney, liquoricey, chocolatey. Rather good the next day, but my first impression the night before was that it was a bit unbalanced. In retrospect, I think it's just quite lean, in a good way. 91(?+)
- Piemonte Chardonnay 1995, Castelvero
Clean pineapple and melon nose, but thin and short on the palate. Good wine if you want to know what unoaked Chardonnay smells of. 80
- Altura Chardonnay 1996, Vina Torcanal, Chile
A Chilean white with some guts for once. A bit unbalanced, but fullish flavours. 81
- James Herrick Chardonnay 1996, Vins de Pays d'Oc
Nicely made clean lightly steely wine - rather like a scaled down Pouilly Fuisse. 84
- Villa Maria Private Bin 'Lightly Oaked' Chardonnay 1995, Marlborough
Simple wine with gentle oakiness. 83
- Vinas del Vero Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 1995, Somontano, Spain
Classy toasty oak, but much too dominant at present. Is there wine underneath? 85+
- Rosemount Estate Chardonnay 1996, Hunter Valley
A pretty awful effort from a winery that should do better. Blousy and unbalanced sweet fruit. 81
- Thelema Chardonnay 1996, Stellenbosch
Good wine - unfortunately, though, Thelema has suffered a hike in prices (12.99). Fine fruit and oak integration, with lees flavours in the background. Long flavours and a rounded feel in the mouth. Probably the best South African white I've had. 89
- Chablis Premier Cru Vaillon 1988, Vielles Vignes, E. Defaix
Lovely maturing Chablis. Steely and with a slight vegetal and nutty edge - good acidity. After most of the other wines, it's pleasant to have something that is not trying to be an 'international' Chardonnay (those that can be found in the 'easy drinking' section of many wine shops). This wine is good value (9.99 WIne Rack). 89