The Diary - October 2000
- Bernkasteler Doctor Riesling Kabinett 1996 (Dr. H. Thanisch)
Lime and sherbert closed Riesling nose. Tight youthful wine that's beginning to open up. Touch of sweetness (almost Spatlese level I'd guess). Lovely acidity at the finish.
- Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Spatlese 1999 (Dr H Thanisch)
Peaches and lightly liquorice on the nose. Youthful spritz (which should disappear). Gently sweet and charming with the acidity a bit disjointed at the finish. Grapefruit flavours coming through. possibly more with time.
- Napa Valley Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon 1985 (Caymus)
Nose of mature claret with hints of artichoke hearts (I'd certanly guess Bordeaux if I were drinking it blind - possibly 1985 Cru Bourgeois). Palate, though, dying with a touch of VA (although, rather mysteriously, this disappeared with time - and left a pleasant mature wine).
- Coteaux du Layon Saint-Aubin 1996 (Domaine Cady)
Typical Chenin nose of singed hair and dry apricot. A touch stalky and with an odd caramel finish. just
- Chateau Pradeaux, Bandol 1985
Good old colour and a liquorice nose. Dry and quite high toned. Mid palate lacking.
- Vouvray demi-sec, Cuvee Gaston Dorleans 1998 (F. Bourillon)
Give me a cheapish, well made Chenin ahead of many a Sauvignon Blanc at two or three times the price. Back label for this suggests aging up to 20 years - I think though that that would be pushing it. Youthful and enjoyably easy drinking.
- Gruner Veltliner 1986 halbsuss (Mantlerhof)
Almost like an aged Oz Semillon - that same waxy nose with a resiny finish. Touch of sweetness at the end. Intriguing stuff.
- Gruner Veltliner 1995 (Brundlmayer)
From a one-litre bottle (is this a first for these pages?). Green pepper and floral nose with the aspects of a Riesling zinginess. Good refreshing acidity, and no real signs of its age. Gruner Veltliner often has signs of nobility, but never gets the elegance or charm to be great (and often has a slightly musty, damp tea towel feel to it). This wine is good interesting drinking that gives the impression that it might improve to a limited extent with another five years.
- Champagne demi-sec (Veuve Cliquot)
Not my preferred style of Champagne, but an interesting fresh style - sugary peaches, but with length. The more I drink of it, the fonder I become.
- Coteaux du Layon Chaumes SGN les Tetueres 1996 (Chateau de la Genaiserie)
From a two-third. Good botrytised Chenin nose. Perhaps a touch of oxidation in the background, but not unpleasantly so. Waxy, medium weight sweetness. Could do with more concentration. Just a touch dirty at the finish.
- Cuvee Eric Pelle Vendange de Novembre 1997 (Henry Pelle)
Nose of regular Sauvignon Blanc, but flabby and out of kilter on the palate. Thin and dull.
- Gewurztraminer 'Hugel' VT1990 (Hugel)
From a half. Rather sharp apple-acidic nose. Rose petal perfume - but watery.
- Sainte-Croix-du-Mont 1996 (Chateau La Rame)
Fairly standard sweet Bordeaux. Soft orange nose (without acidity). Not as good as this property used to produce.
- Sauternes 1996 (Chateau Guiraud)
From a half. Golden (excessively so for the age?) Burnt caramel nose and flavours. Out of balance. Soft.
- Botrytis Semillon Zirilli Vineyard 1996 (Cranswick Estate)
From a half. Deep colour. Smells and tastes artificially acidified (or at least there is an out of balance acidity present). Marmalade. Just
- Tokaki Aszu 5 Puttonyos 1992(Disznoko)
From a two-third. Beautiful golden alive colour. Oranges and peaches kernel. Good medium dry style wine with acidity.
- Le Sponde Recioto di Soave 1998 (Coffele)
Nicely balanced wine. But lacks the complexity.
- The Noble 1997 Riesling (d'Arenberg)
From a half. In balance, on the whole, but again that acidity that seems unclean.
- Muscat Show Reserve DP 63 1998 bottling (Seppelt)
From a half. Treacle and spice and gingerbread. Goodish, but lacking finesse.
- Visanto Boutari 1995, Greece (Boutari)
From a two-third. Pink tea colour. Tannins and sweet balance. Different and interesting. Almost like chewing lightly mentholed cough sweets. plus
- Matuselum Oloroso Dulce (Gonzales Byas)
The usual good stuff. plus
- Dulce Monastrell 1996 (Olivares)
Lovely sharp berry concentrated, olive nose. Meaty Ribena. Easy glugging stuff. But deep. Probably age so
- Pouilly-Loche 1998 (Domaine Cordier)
Melony, almost new-world style, Chardonnay nose. Good balance, but fat rather than fine. (12.49)
- Meursault Les Narvaux 1998 (Dom. Borgeot)
Sulphur dioxide masked nose. Tropical fruit palate with excellent acidity. Fairly classy. Could develop OK but might age quite quickly. perhaps more. (22.99)
- Corton Charlemagne 1997 (Chapuis)
So much sulphur dioxide on the nose it is completely impenetrable to me. Why do they do it - is there somethig about white Burgundy that needs more sulphur or are they just careless? Underneath there is a lean and gingery wine. Classy for the vintage. (35.99)
- Saumur Champigny Marginale 1997
Lead pencils, lots of tannins, moderately good finish. Good, but I'm not sure where this will go. (13.99)
- Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Beaune 1998 (Jayer-Gilles)
Basic, raspberry fruit overlayed with bags of new oak. Tasting blind, once we had penetrated to the fact that it was Burgundy it was easy to guess the grower. To my taste you need fruit twice as good as this to take even half this new oak. (14.99)
- Beaune Clos du Rois 1996 (Rapet)
Strawberry nose. Firmly structured, not so complex, but it will doubtless improve a bit in a year or two. Infinitely preferable to the last wine in my opinion. (17.99)
- Cote Rotie Les Rochains 1998 (Bonnefond)
Very ripe cherry fruit. Nicely balanced, but over the top in a way - perhaps the vintage. Good, but a shade soft perhaps. (19.99)
- Les Tourelles de Longueville 1996
Very ripe, capsicum all the way. Forward, cunningly made, accessible but not lacking grip. What you might hope for from a second wine (this is Pichon Baron's) in a good vintage. Scrapes perhpas. (17.99)
- Haut Bages Averoux 1996
The second wine of Lynch Bages. Quite reserved, hard to assess, backwards or just a shade light? (17.99)
- Tokay Pinot Gris Vendages Tardives 1997 (Schoffit)
Quite sweet, straw-flavoured, pleasant but not so long. (19.99)
- Clairette de Die Tradition NV (J-P Archard)
Floral, estery, grapey, off-dry. Pleasant summer day stuff. (9.25)
- Cotes du Ventoux blanc 1998 (Ch. Valcome - Fonquerle)
There were a couple of different wines from this producer that got confused so I will not give a rating. They were rich, possibly even New World style, flashy perhaps but not blowzy. I liked them, and they seemed reasonably priced for the quality. This estate has been hyped by Parker apparently, and both prices and the number of cuves are unfortunately on the way up.
- Chateauneuf-du-Pape blanc 1998 (Chante Cigale)
Pleasant if anonymous nose, reasonable acidity, some length. A bit nondescript, but attractive in a way. Perhaps others will see more in this. (12.50)
- Collines Rhodaniennes: Le Grand Terroir Viognier 1998 (G. Vernay)
Honeysuckle nose, quite closed but good peachy fruit particularly in a rather fine finish. I suspect this needs a month or two to open out. Declassified Condrieu or from just outside the appelation - I can't remember which. (13.50)
- Cotes du Rhone Rasteau 1998 (Saint Gayan)
Red cherry grenache fruit. Some gamey overtones. Well structured. A rather good (7.25)
- Crozes Hermitage 1998 (Graillot)
Burnt rubber and blackberry nose. Quite pure fruit, dry and nice acidity. I'd like to try the special cuve "LaGuiraude". This wine is possibly even (11.25)
- Saint Joseph 1998 (J-L Grippat)
A sort of old vine nose and texture - not a very obvious varietal character. Some cassis notes. I'm a bit confused by this. (13.95)
- Chateauneuf-du-Pape 1998 (Le Vieux Donjon)
Intense nose of ripe grenache with nutty overtones. Complex, long, slightly medicinal (in a good way), rather special. (15.75)
- Marquis de Terme 1983
Good colour, slightly floral blackberry and blackcurrant nose. Chocolatey palate, in a rather chunky way that lacks real fineness. Quite tannic and young looking, but I suspect it's not really going anywhere.
- Champagne Grand Cellier NV (Vilmart)
Yeasty nose, ripe fruity, chardonnay dominated palate, but with good acidity. Lots of bubbles, but foamy rather than prickley, so pleasant. Decent finish.
- Madeira Bual 15 year old (Henriques & Henriques)
Old enough to have that attractive green rim. Pleasantly medicinal, nutty, off-dry but with lots of acidity. A good thing to have in the cupboard since it keeps for ages after opening. Perhaps even
- Bandol 1985 (Ch. Pradeaux)
Good, herby blackberry fruit. Still quite tannic, but the fruit seems fully mature. Bags of acidity. Quite a stern, old-fashioned wine, best with food. For drinking fairly soon.
- Vouvray 1989 (Chateau Gaudrelle)
I believe this property makes a single basic wine that comes out sec or demi-sec, as the vintage dictates. This is a rich demi-sec just emerging into a good full-bodied, honeyed maturity. I worried initially that it was over-mature but I changed my mind when it had been open a while. A top
- Monthelie Sur la Velle 1993 (Chateau de Monthelie, de Suremain)
Healthy colour, crushed red fruits nose with earthy undertones. Dry, quite tannic, good acidity, nice texture. For drinking in the next few years though.
- Cornas 1994 (Verset)
Very pure, peppery, raspberry fruit. A slightly austere wine with a dry finish. Will improve a bit too, I suspect. It may well turn out better, but for now
- Champagne 1982 (R de Ruinart)
Honeyed, fairly evolved, finish a shade dull. Good, but not a strong 82
- Gewurztraminer Herrenberg 1990 (Zind-Humbrecht)
Spicy, peppery, rich nose. Unctious but reasonably balanced in the mouth with good length. A bit OTT of course, but impressive in its way.
- Haardter Herrenletten Grauburgunder spatlese trocken 1993 (Muller-Catoir)
Zesty fruit, but losing it a bit, I think. The last of a few bottles bought a while ago.
- Gewurztraminer Pfersigberg 1988 (Keuntz-Bas)
Hints of pepper on a charming fruity nose. Nice texture, weight and balance. It's too easy to forget this house. (Although I've not tried anything younger than this, so I don't know if this sort of quality is still in evidence here.)
- Fourcas Hosten 1983
I bought a few bottles of this very cheaply ten or so years ago. Approaching it now with some trepidation I find a wine with good colour and a fruitcakey nose. Nice acidity and notable tannins still, but this won't improve - it is a rustic wine that will never be in perfect balance. This is a pleasant wine that easily rates
- Puligny Montrachet Folatieres 1995 (Chateau de Puligny)
The last of a few bottles bought a couple of years ago. Now very evolved and unlikely to improve although there is no great hurry to drink. It has a real Puligny character of oily, buttery nuts and it is in good balance. It has evolved very quickly though and like most such wines it is a bit simple. I suppose this is about what the winemakers are trying to do when making Burgundy to a price for a mass market. Just worth
- Barbera 1993 (Sandrone)
Oak still fairly obvious, nice blackberry fruit with good texture and finish. Probably for drinking now.
- Rioja Gran Reserva Castillo Ygay white 1986 (Murrieta)
Pleasantly floral and fresh, medium-weight, perhaps not a great Ygay but nice. (almost more)
- Savigny-Les-Beaune les Guettes 1969 (Doudet-Naudin)
Well-preserved, quite deep colour. Alive, but rather coarse and rustic fruit. I can't help wondering whether this is one of those older Burgundies spiced up with a bit of wine from further South!
- Sarget de Gruaud-Larose 1983
The first of two St Julien 1983 second wines tasted together (strangely the Clos du Marquis tasted colder, even though both bottles had been treated identically). This wine developed a typical St Julien violets and cedar nose with time in the glass - more so than the slightly inferior Clos Du Marquis. The palate, with its dilute edge, indicates this wine is on the way down. Time to drink up, but still fairly pleasurable. Just
- Clos du Marquis 1983
Not as good as the Sarget, and not holding up quite as well (although blind I doubt I'd be able easily to pick which one was which) Signs of drying out.
- Riesling Pfaenzerreben 1990 (Rolly Gassmann)
Grapefruit, not chewy - but fine acidity. Slight (yeasty?) mustiness. Touch of cloves.
- Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les Damodes 1985 (Machard de Gramont)
Eventually this wine is starting to come round for drinking. When I poured the first glass a lovely berry fruit bouquet filled the room, but then the wine closed in on itself. Smoky 'burnt' nose and well balanced on the palate. Still needs another five years or so I would guess, by which time it should be glorious. An easy
I didn't have the energy, and the surroundings weren't really right for thoughtful tasting, so these are really brief impressions.
- Beaune premier cru blanc 1996 (Bouchard)
Classic, fair amount of oak, good white Burgundy from a good vintage. Perhaps even
- Rhine Riesling 1999 (Petaluma)
Concentrated lime-juice nose - takes me back to drinking this in Oz, and tasting in Eden Valley. Dry and closed now.
- Chardonnay 1998 (Petaluma)
Higher-toned than most Ozzy chardonnay, seems natural too. I've always quite liked this wine.
- Josephshofer Riesling kabinett 1998 (von Kesselstatt)
Pleasant young riesling, perhaps a little hollow in the middle. I have an 83 of this that is similar, but that is an auslese, so perhaps things really are improving at this estate. Scrapes
- Forster Pechstein/Jesuitgarten/Ungeheuer Riesling 1998 (von Buhl)
Three different wines at different quality levels. Just the one note because I feel I need more time to assess these properly. All the wines quite well-loaded with apricot fruit. I guess the question is how these will taste in a few years, and I don't want to commit myself now. At least pretty good, and well worth trying.
- Campofiorin 1996 (Masi)
Pleasant, cherry fruit. The ripasso gives it an underlying pruneyness that is different, and quite likeable. Scrapes
- Amarone delle Valpolicella 1996 (Masi)
Rich, cherry and chocolate. Easy to drink, but not lacking interest. I like this style. Perhaps even
- Recioto delle Valpolicella 1996 (Masi)
Like the Amarone, but sweet, and the fruit a shade less fine.
- Dindarello 1999 (Maculan)
Lighter weight than the famous desert wines from this estate, but nice balance and fruit.
- Countacc! 1996 (Chiarlo)
Modern wine, blend of Nebiolo, Barbera, Cabernet. Nice balance and so on, but made for a market I feel.
- Barolo 1995 (Chiarlo)
Decent Barolo, a bit of new oak, but not excessive. A bit anonymous perhaps.
- Nivole Moscato d'Asti 1998 (Chiarlo)
Nicely non-cloying. As good as most.
- Shiraz Presidents selection 1996 (Wolf Blass)
Big and sexy. Always a suggestion of spirits or port or something I find difficult to name. A crowd pleaser, rather well done in its way! plus.
- Ch. Tronquoy Lalande 1997
Very warm cassis nose. Some grip. Not wildly attractive, but maybe that's the vintage. I haven't seen much of the 97's yet.
- Ch. Belgrave 1997
Clean and honest, but not terribly remarkable wine from one of the least serious classed growths.
- Beaune Aigrots 1997 (Bouchard)
Earthy pinot fruit. Pleasant.
- Pommard 1997 (Bouchard)
Closed, cooked beetroot, needs a bit of time. Tannic. Quite good, perhaps even
- Nipozzano Riserva 97 (Frescobaldi)
bags of Chianti fruit - very drinkable - the vintage partly of course, which is great in Tuscany.
- Brunello 1995 (CastelGiocondo)
Lots of blackberry fruit. Nice structure, lots of potential One of the best reds of the day. may even rate four stars in time.
- Chateauneuf du Pape La Bernardine 1997 (Chapoutier)
Medium weight with some good Grenache flavours. I'd like to taste this blind with other wines, to overcome any bias, but I think it rather lacks excitement.
- Chateau Batailly 1997
Not too weighty, perhaps best not to try to hard in 97. Decent rather than exciting.
- Savigny aux Grands Liards 1998 (Bize)
- Rioja Gran Reserva 1993 (Campo Viejo)
Some vanilla in a rather modern sort of Rioja. Not bad
- Chianti Classico Riserva 1996 (Castello di Volpaia)
Difficult vintage, I suspect, but nice fruit in a slightly austere style.
- Taurasi 1995 (Feudi di San Gregorio)
Aglianico makes a change, but perhaps it's a slightly difficult grape. Brambley undergrowth nose - quite classy - decent balance and finish. I'd like to try this again, but I'm impressed by this quick taste. It may be a bit overgenerous, but
- Balifico 1995 (Castello di Volpaia)
Creamy, berry fruit and nice acidity in this super-Tuscan blend.
- Barbera Gaida 1997 (Oberto)
Slightly funky, rich nose. Bags of oak. Quite good in its way, but not my sort of thing.
- Barbaresco Vanotu 1996 (Pelissero)
A bit woody, with an evolved look. Not very convincing.
- Quinta das Setencostas 1999
Modern-style, creamy. with a striking nose of blackberry and apple pie.
- Dao Grao Vasco Garrafeira 1995
Old-fashioned, not quite clean, farmyardy, but has a certain style. I suppose , just.
- Quinta do Crasto Reserva 1997
Soft blackberry fruit, easy drinking but gutsy too. Quite impressive.
- Esperao Reserva 1996
Ripe cherry fruit, quite chracterful.
- Chateau Paloumey 1997, Haut Medoc
Good medium weight claret. Touch of VA, but not too much. OK easy drinking, textbook clean flavours.
- Mt Barker Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 (Plantagenet)
Aged in French oak. Rather vegetal, minty stuff. Drying out a touch.
- Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 (Paul Hobbs)
Herbal, light wine with a slight Italian style bitterness.
- Art series 1995(Leuwin Estate)
Not going anywhere. Some juiciness. Ok, but not great.
- Moulines 1995, Bergerac (Famile de Conti)
Out of kilter, lacking fruit. Sour note. Huge tannins. Can't see the fruit surviving long enough.
- Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1994
Subdued elegance. Not a powerhouse, but a tightly packed, well balanced wine that needs time to blossom.
- Montebello Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 (Ridge)
Great, great wine. All the structure (and more) of the Lafite. Excellent colour. Lovely fragrant violets and berry nose.
- Almaviva 1997 (Concha y Toro + Baroness Rothschild)
Had this single blind with the Lafite and Montebello above, and I think it suffered in such great company - it lacks life. This was very Obviously the Chillian wine, and very obviously not in the same class as the other two. perhaps more
- The Vixen (Fox Creek)
Fizzy red - just the thing to refresh at the end of a tasting. Fresh juicy and zingy. Not to everyone's taste, but I quite like it.
- Chardonnay 1997 (Slaley, Stellenbosch)
Sweet, ripe, melon, coconut icecream. Decent, integrated acidity. reasonable finish. A bit of a bargain. (6.99)
- Chardonnay Damaris Reserve 1997 (Landmark, Sonoma)
Huge, ultra-ripe, slightly fat, pineapple fruit. Lots of unintegrated oak. A bit vulgar. Highly rated by Parker I believe, and others will give this more, but for me (19.99)
- Margaret River Chardonnay 1998 (Cullen)
Unforthcoming nose with hazelnuts and a hint of sulphur. Actually quite concentrated, but closed. Promising finish. This is quite a French style to my mind. Hard to assess, but this might be quite good in a year or two. (18.99)
- Pinot Noir 1998 (Bannockburn)
Minty nose of cooked blackcurrants. Herby, light fruit. Sweet finish. Quite unusual. Made from donated grapes apparently after severe hail had wiped out the vineyards. One shouldn't judge the Estate on this. Others might give more, but for me (17.99)
- Zinfandel 1997 (Marietta Cellars)
Soft, treacley, brambley fruit. Blackberry palate. Rather sweet finish for me. Almost more, but I'll stick to (10.99)
- Orion Old Vine Red 1997 (Sean Thackery)
A very rich concentrated nose, a distilled essence of something exotic. Some liquorice too. A striking wine of real substance. Less minty than some older vintages of this wine and hence better to my mind. Perhaps (39.99)
- Command Shiraz 1996 (Elderton)
Soft fruit, very expensive tasting (but harsh) oak finish. This is terribly "international" to my mind and lacks character. (24.99)
- Cabernet Private Collection 1996 (Saxenburg, Stellenbosch)
Rather leafy blackcurrant. Good acidity, smoky palate. I think this is quite classy. (16.99)
- Unison Selection Red 1998
A slight sulphur mask. Rubbery? Austere and dry. I'm not sure what to make of this - it's fairly recently shipped. For now . (15.99)
- Pelorus 1995 (Cloudy Bay)
Oddly disjointed - trying to find an identity. Old World 'sourness' and some oxidative character. But New World fruit. Almost completely lacking elegance (something which is surely needed for a great fizz)
- Volnay 1er Cru Les Caillerets 'Clos des 60 Ouvrees' 1996 (La Pousse d'Or)
Lovely beetroot Pinot nose with the light hint of stalky tannins. Light to medium weight Burgundy that needs time. Could be very good, but a difficult style of wine to judge at this stage. Just
Some quick notes here from a hurried trip around the stands. The main discovery
for me was that Charles Heidsieck is really making top-class wine these days.
I know people have been saying this for a year or two now, but this is the first time
I've sampled them for quite a while.
- Champagne NV (L. Roederer)
Autolytic, rich, showing good bottle age.
- Champagne Brut Classic NV (Deutz)
Coarse fruit. Just about
- Champagne Cuvee limited 1990 (Mumm)
Quite fine fruit, but not very special. Just about
- Champagne Dry Monopole NV (Heidsieck)
Quite weighty. Decent
- Champagne 1992 (Perrier-Jouet)
Nice body, decent vintage fizz.
- Champagne Piper Heidsieck NV (Charles Heidsieck)
Signs of quality here. Nice finish. A rather good
- Champagne Brut Reserve NV, mise 1996 (Charles Heidsieck)
Classy and rich. I guess the decision a few years ago to add a bottling year to the NV was a statement that quality was aimed for here. Easy
- Champagne NV (Taittinger)
Quite a lot of grip and finish. Medium body.
- Champagne 1992 (Taittinger)
A bit fat. Whether that's the style (the 1990 from here is good, but quick maturing too) or the vintage I'm not sure.
- Champagne NV (Billecart-Salmon)
Elegant, nice creamy mousse. Always a favourite NV for me.
- Champagne demi-sec NV (Billecart-Salmon)
I'm not sure I've had this before. Recognisable house style, quite sweet with good balance. Must try this with desert one day.
- Champagne Rose NV (Billecart-Salmon)
Understated, delicate rose, as usual.
- Champagne NV (Bollinger)
Big Bolly style, but this seemed a bit four-square to me.
- Champagne Grand Anee 1990 (Bollinger)
That rich wood style very evident. A bit closed now. I've been inpressed by this in the past and it might turn out very well, but for now
- Champagne NV (Albert Jeanson)
An Oddbins only cuvee from Lanson (or thereabouts). Apparently the same wine as many supermarket own-brands, etc. Pretty basic, with coarse fruit and mousse. Barely
- Champagne NV (Lanson)
Interesting nose, a little hard to place. Sound fizz, as usual.
- Champagne 1990 (Lanson)
All you might expect, ripe and attractive, yet decently structured.
- Champagne Noble Cuvee 1989 (Lanson)
Prestige cuvee, but not at all forthcoming at the moment. Perhaps just hiding, but it's not very convincing at the moment.