The Diary - October 2001
- Rully 1er Cru Preaux 1995 (de Suremain)
Pure, crushed red fruits, plenty of tannins, oddly remeniscent of cranberry juice. This will probably always be a bit tannic (some combination of the producer and the vintage), but very enjoyable particularly with food. Scrapes
- Chassagne Montrachet Champ Gains 1992 (Neillon)
Classy, creamy Burgundy, but just a bit fat and blowsy compared to the stunning Chenevottes 90 I had from this producer recently. Not everybody agrees, but I prefer the 90's to the 92's generally. A good
- Chablis Blanchot 1991 (Raveneau)
Quite mineral, very long, but possibly a little flat compared to other bottles of this.
- Nuits St Georges Les Damodes 1989 (Jayer-Gilles)
Good colour, nose of raspberries and something scented. On the palate, plenty of fruit, but so much wood to the extent that it dominates any sense of terroir. There is a lot to admire, but I my enjoyment is of this style is limited - for me
- Bourgogne blanc, Cotes d'Auxerre 1999 (Goisot)
Attractive, buttery, flavourful but not overwrought Chardonnay from a less fashionable piece of Burgundy. A bargain.
- Chablis Vaillons 1998 (Long-Depaquit)
Toffee at first, but that dissapates leaving a fine, balanced, mineral, honeyed Chablis with good length.
- Echezeaux Grand Cru 1991 (E. Rouget)
Strawberries and red fruits nose with a gamey edge. Medium weight, mouthwatering. Good Burgundy at peak. Very top
- Pommard Fremiers 1er Cru 1990 (Coste-Caumartin)
The nose hints at cassis and cherries. Quite a severe, tannic palate: one of those that doesn't shout Burgundy to me at least. Still, there is a lot of good fruit and I think this just needs a year or two to soften those grippy tannins. Scrapes
- Block 62 Semillon 2000 (J. J. Hahn)
(8.49) A wine made by Veritas, but using the grower's name. A gooseberry nose with light oak - good limey acidity. Touch of waxiness at the finish that needs time to come through a bit more.
- The Beak Shiraz-Grenache 2000 (Magpie Estate)
(5.99) Specially made for the UK from 70% Shiraz and 30% Grenache and designed for early drinking. Plum skins and light American oak. Easy, but with gentle tannins at the end. Slightly burnt finish.
- The Fakir Grenache 2000 (Magpie Estate)
(8.99) This also has 13% Eden Valley Shiraz. This wine was called 'The Faker' in 1997. Lightly toasted vanillin - more held together than the Beak, and more concentration. Plummy flavours. Smooth. Good length with fruit re-emerging on the finish. Needs a year or two. Excellent value.
- Moppa Springs 1998 (Rockford)
(11.99) 69% Grenache, 20% Shiraz, 11% Mataro all in used oak. Medicinal cherry nose - good balanced blend but alcohol is showing on the finish. A touch short, or is it closed? maybe
- The Gomersal Grenache 1999 (Magpie Estate)
(20.00) The debut release of this wine from Magpie. 50% new oak (French, used American for the rest). 2-3% Shiraz. Spicey soft cherry nose with slightly too much vanillin showing through. Soft complex wine with length. Will it age? As Noel Young says, it has no track record - perhaps two to five years.
- Barossa Shiraz 1998 (Yalumba)
(7.99) For this wine the grapes are cold soaked (unlike me). Tarry simple wine with gummy oak.
- Ben's Wine - aka The Black Sock - Shiraz Mourvedre 1998 (Magpie Estate)
This spent two and a half years in 55% new French and American oak. Oakily balanced wine - easy but with fruit and structure underneath. Perhaps a bit heavy on US oak.
- Farms Shiraz 1998 (Yaldara)
(15.99) Alas a touch of corkiness.
- Museum Release Old Sweet White (Yalumba)
(7.99 for a half) Made from Muscadelle in a 40 year solera whose average age is 12. Nicely nutty with good toffeed balance. Some Mocha on the nose.
At Joseph Swan
- Pinot Gris Saralee's 2000 (Joseph Swan)
Rich, estery (still pretty young of course), varietal bacon fat flavours, decent concentration and length.
- Pinot Noir Steiner Vineyard 1999 (Joseph Swan)
Lovely sweet ripe fruit, luxurious without being cloying. Silky. Perhaps even
- Mourvedre Russian River 1999 (Joseph Swan)
Nose of Provencal herbs, nice ripeness and purity. Brings out the excitement of this variety. Again, probably makes
- Zinfandel Stellwagen 1999 (Joseph Swan)
Herby bramble fruit, nice texture and ripeness as with the other reds here. Has the structure to develop well. Possibly even
- Cabernet Sauvignon Steiner Vineyard 1998 (Joseph Swan)
Slightly leafy, less ripe than the other wines (perhaps the vintage as much as anything). Some nice underlying tobacco qualities.
- Zinfandel VHSR 1994 (Joseph Swan)
From a vineyard Swan no longer use, this is quite light-coloured and pretty advanced. Gentle mature bramble flavours. Scrapes
- Cabernet Sauvignon Steiner Vineyard 1991 (Joseph Swan)
Really rather leafy and towards the vegetable end of things, but keeping very well. Swann to their credit were selling this at a very reasonable price.
Other wines from Swan and Rochioli
- Angelo's Old Vine White 1997 (Joseph Swan)
Nobody knows what the grapes are. Neutral nose, nicely perfumed palate, bitter almond hints. How much more pleasant than that dire "modern" chardonnay I had the other night.
- Pinot Noir Estate 1995 (Joseph Swan)
Hints at Strawberry jam, more or less acceptably - particularly because of the pleasing silkyness. Not Burgundy but a good mouthful. Possibly even
- Zinfandel Zeigler 1995 (Joseph Swan)
Volatile, stained bottle top. Flawed (I hope).
- Chardonnay Wolfspierre Vineyard 1995 (Joseph Swan)
Interesting nose of earth and straw, not at all in the modern fruit-driven style. I note that I have had older bottles of this before and not been so keen. Tasting it a bit younger like this helps to put those in context and makes me more interested by the wine - knowing that it doesn't start with obvious Chardonnay fruit makes it easier to understand and enjoy what it becomes. I can see I might get to like this more still, but for now
- Pinot Noir Barrel Select 2000 (Rochioli)
Good colour, bags of red fruits, silky texture. Richer and fruitier than Burgundy but not jammy. I note that last time I had the basic Rochioli Pinot I described it as "simple" and I guess this is more like village wine than Grand Cru. Good though.
- Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2000 (Rochioli)
Good intensity, quite fine (from old vines), well balanced. Top
- Barrel Select Chardonnay 2000 (Rochioli)
Tropical fruit character, toffeed (will wear off probably), reasonable acidity.
- Estate Gamay 2000 (Rochiloi)
Juicy, boiled sweets. Very much like a good Beaujolais!
- Ranch Red 1999 (Rochioli)
Mainly Zinfandel with some Carignane all from old vines. Strawberry and bramble flavours, quite savoury, nice acidity. Rather impressive for a relatively inexpensive wine. Top
- Duhart Milon 1998
Plummy cassis nose. Ripe, quite forward and soft. Some good Paulliac character in a modest way. Might rate another star in time but for now a good (17.99)
- Lynch Bages 1998
Berries, hints of cedar. Ripe again, some underlying structure. Pleasant dry finish. (29.99)
- Ducru Beaucaillou 1998
Restrained but classy strawberry nose. Good palate, pure fruit, more high-toned with something in reserve. Nice acidity and a good finish, but more than anything very elegant. (44.99)
- Rauzan Segla 1998
Slightly stinky - too much sulphur. Lots of ripe fruit but sulphur is masking a lot - it seems dense and structured underneath. Rose-scented fruit. Quite classy, I suspect. (34.99)
- Cantenac Brown 1998
Straightforward cabernet nose. Simple palate. Decent claret but not very special. (18.99)
- La Gomerie 1998
Spicy fruitcake nose. Good taut palate. Nice wine (69.99)
- Canon La Gaffeliere 1998
Slightly rhone-like leafy blackcurrant nose. A bit shocking - tight and complex but all in a rush now. Very savoury finish, this will be rather good, I think - perhaps even (39.99)
- Clos du Clocher 1998
Warm and soft caramel nose. Soft, silky fruit of a slightly cooked character. Drink young. Top (18.99)
- Grand Mayne 1998
Seems a bit simpler than some of the wines, meaty though (Bovril perhaps) well-structured too. Am I being a bit mean? (34.99)
- Barde-Haut 1998
Sexy, pencily, mouthwatering fruit - suggests Pomerol to me rather than St Emilion. Not so amazingly long perhaps but very attractive. (18.99)
- Lamaione 1991 (Frescobaldi)
The fruit has rather deserted this wine (in its youth it was deeply fruity and seemed also to have the structure for aging). It may still turn out to rurn into a good mature mouthful, but my guess is that it's on the way down.
- Lytton Springs 1997 (Ridge)
From a half. Not as good a wine as the 1999 - possibly the Zinfandel is raher giving up the ghost at this age. Simple wine lacking complexity.
- Lytton Springs 1999 (Ridge)
From a half. Typical zingy fruit - cherries and plum skins. Good acidity, but not a big keeper (how many Zinfandels are?).
- Condrieu Clos Chanson 1993 (Andre Perret)
From a half. Getting distinctly past it, with the oiliness that the wine might once have had degenerating into a nutty buttery flavour.
- Selva Torta Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 1998 (Umani Ronchi)
Fairly standard Montepulciano - goodish easy drinking.
- Diva Sangiovese Cabernet 1996 (Coriole)
A well put together blend that has aged well and is probably at peak. Some fleshiness, but also the cherries and acidity from the Sangiovese.
- GSM 1998 (Rosemount)
A wine that doesn't hold its alcohol (15%) well. The quality of fruit is good - and the blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre is in balance. But the wine feels heavy, especially at the end.
- Champagne Grand Cuvee (Krug)
From a half. Its usual full-bodied, oxidative, wood-influenced characters. Good acidity. just
- Barrel Select Pinot Noir 1998 (Fetzer)
A full silky Pinot - more like a Zinfandel in many ways (the fruit and the concentration). Almost on the verge of jamminess. Good wine as long as you forget it's a Pinot. plus
- Chardonnay Cuvee Speciale, Vin de Pays d'Oc NV (Duboeuf)
On an aeroplane: does it taste different at altitude? I suspect not, this is just as I would expect - good, forward slightly tropical fruit but fairly one-dimensional. From a quarter-bottle.
- Zinfandel 1996 (Stonehedge)
A bit vegetal, not so concentrated, surprisingly tannic. Bare
- Chardonnay, Chalone Vineyard 1998 (Chalone)
New world fruit but balanced. Rich without being over-stated or cloying. Very enjoyable.
- Merlot 97 (Lockwood)
fruity, slightly leafy, quite tannic (as often hith Merlot). A bare
- Sauvignon Blanc Hyde vineyards 2000 (Selene)
Pleasant, grassy S.B. Nose. Good length. Quite classy and complex, takes its barrel aging in its stride. Perhaps even
- Moscatel NV Las Cruces Centenary selection (Lustau)
Lovely dark-roasted fig fruit and marked "rancio" character. Nuts, nuts, nuts. Good length. Delicious. Top
- Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 (Karl Lawrence)
Very dense colour. Warm berry fruit with that minty edge that I always find slightly problematic - quite controlled here though. Nice balance, decent acidity, reasonable length. Will last a few years without ever being much better than this. A bare
- Vin Santo 1993 (Falchini)
Gentle nutty. Almost dry finish. Attractive - like a nearly dry sherry. Top
- Chardonnay, Napa Valley 1998 (Chateau Montelena)
An "old-style" Napa Chardonnay that has not undergone malolactic. I might pick this as New World from the fruit character, but it has got quite a Burgundian structure - not particularly high acid, but it has a bite to it. I like this. May even improve a bit, but for now
- Syrah, Valley Oaks 1999 (Fetzer)
Quite lifted, leafy, berry fruit, but ripe. Hints of chocolate. Decent length. Pleasant if undemanding. A good
- Chardonnay St Thomas Vineyard 1999 (Chateau Woltner)
A big, rumbustious sort of wine, no great fineness but good depth and probably the capacity to age well for a few years.
- Ancient vines Zinfandel 1999 (Cline)
This has the concentrated purity of fruit that suggests this really is from old vines, and a lovely red fruits and herby character more suggestive of Grenche to my mind than Zin. Very good drinking.
- Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 (Stags Leap)
A lot of class in the bottle: ripe Napa fruit, no mintyness, the Californian version of cigar box flavours too. You have to go a way up the quality scale to get good drinking from pure Cabernet to my mind, but this has it! Has years in hand, but I am not sure it will get a lot better.
- Pinot Noir 1999 (Chalone Vineyard)
Good beetrooty pinot. Some wood evident, good length without ever suggesting it is for very long aging. The fruit is perhaps recognisably not Burgundy by being slightly lacking in grip. Good drinking. A top
- Marsanne 2000 (Qupe)
Pleasantly varietal: is it marsanne that Jancis says is not unpleasantly remeniscent of glue?
- Merlot, Washington State 1997 (Kiona)
Chocolatey fruit, slightly leafy perhaps. A bit fruit-driven but pleasantly drinkable. (just)
- Sauvignon blanc 2000 (Cain Musque)
A bit too varietal, with those rather herbaceous flavours common in New World versions, but avoided in some of the best Californians.
- Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 (Mesa)
Pure, slightly smoky, cedary Cabernet - very fruity. Modern gluggable wine. A bare
- Chardonnay, Pisoni Vineyard 1998 (Testarossa)
Some will admire this very extracted, alcoholic, low-acid, thick-textured wine, and it does have good length. On the other hand, I find it tiring to drink. Not my style
- Chardonnay Dutton ranch 1999 (Fritz)
Another fairly thickly textured wine - reasonable fruit, pretty modern style.
- Cabernet Sauvignon Fay vineyard 1997 (Stag's Leap)
Silky, high-quality cabernet fruit, hints of future evolution of some interesting smoky flavours. This has a lot of class about it but it doesn't have me leaping around with excitement at least at the moment.
- Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley 1999 (Rafanelli)
Dry, brambley, quite tight. Not showing its best yet I suspect. Classy stuff.