Dinner at Ewen's 31/10/1996 (TNB)
- Eitelsbacher Marienholz Spatlese 83 (Bisch. Konvikt) Spicy rather than keroseney, hints of vanilla. Quite lean, and high acid giving it a timeless quality. Good. 88.
- Chablis Vaillons P. Cru 89 (de la Tour Vaubourg) Slightl;y fat for chablis, perhaps no typical, but excellent. Pure oak-free style. Perhaps at peak -- certainly a good drink! 89.
- Chassagne Montrachet Caillerets 88 (J.N. Gagnard) Possibly at an awkward stage -- tight, oaky. Hard to assess.
- Cabernet Sauvignon Special selection 92 (Caymus) Soft and very silky, yet structured. Classy complex nose, although the fruit has a definite new world minty edge. Lashings of oak. Very classy -- I can see why it is a cult wine in the US, but it is a bit lacking in character.
- Valpolicella Amarone 71 (Santa Sofia) Tasted blind, easy to confuse with a port. No discernible tannins. Pleasant, but unremarkable.
- Vin Santo 78 (Podere Casale) Nutty, intruiging oddity.
Misc 29/10/1996 (TNB)
- Marie Estelle 85 (Commanderie de Peyressol) Pleasant sweet fruit, but a bit 1 dimensional and fading. 83.
- Tour du pin figeac 85 (St. Emilion) Gutsy and good coloured for an 85. Good nose of oranges, ginger, pencils. Nice drink, with improvement yet probably. 89.
A Suffolk Sojourn 28/10/1996 (RJB)
- Shafer 1992 Merlot With an excellent lunch at Martha's Vineyard, Nayland. Lovely fragrant plum (but not plum skin) flavours with judiciously balanced sweetish oak. Full-flavoured yet elegant enough for lunchtime. Nicely made. 90
- Muscat Vin de Glaciere 1995, Bonny Doon A glass from a recently opened half bottle. Rather sweet and obvious. Reports seem to suggest this wine is not a keeper and somehow it's possible to see that from its lack of structure. 84
- Hollick's Botrytis Riesling 1994 From a freshly opened half bottle. Very obvious Riesling, although the high acidity feels coarse and out of balance. 85
- Henschke Eden Valley Semillon 1993 With dinner at the Angel Inn, Stoke-by-Nayland. Resiny and citric, but the flavours disappear to leave a plasticy taste at the finish. Disappointing, but it is a Semillon so perhaps it just needs time for flavours to emerge. 83?
- Durkheimer Fronhof Scheurebe Trockenbeerenauslese 1993, Kurt Darting A glass from a recently opened half bottle at the White Hart, Great Yedham Essence of grapefruit and with fine balance. Difficult to judge how complex it is, but I'd guess it will age beautifully. Enough acidity to be a pudding wine that actually goes with pudding (a praline parfait in this instance).90
- Lamaione 92 (Frescobaldi) Reasonably priced merlot "supertuscan". Good colour, suprisingly blackcurrenty nose, gutsy with good acid and quite a lot of decent oak. Good effort for a dodgy vinatge. I look forward to trying the 1993. 86.
- Remole Chianti 1995, Marchesi di Frescobaldi Clean but thinnish wine with a light cherry bitterness. Quite gluggable with a plate of spicy Italian sausages. 81
London 21/10/1996 (TNB)
- Chianti Classico Riserva, Il Picchio 90 (Castello di Querceto) Almost J&B's only Italian producer! Good wine, but seemd a bit anonymous. Would like to retaste!
- Pinot Blanc Vielle vignes 94 (Meyer-Fonne) Where do they find all these old vines suddenly? Good pinot though -- but not overblown. Would like to taste more from this producer.
- Vouvray demi-sec Dom. des Aubusieres 93 Staright young vouvray. I was more struck by this at the Oddbins wine fare. Young Chenin is hard to assess though!
- Pinot Gris 93 (Schlumberger) With lunch at Tante Claire, so maybe overcome by the brilliance of everything else! Very pleasantly drinkable though.
- Penfolds 1992 South Australian Chardonnay The slight nuttiness of age has made this a more balanced, less overblown wine than past Penfold Chardonnays I've tasted. I doubt it would benefit from any more age though. 84
IWC medal winners tasting for CF&WS 18/10/1996 (RJB)
- Seaview Pinot Noir Chardonnay Brut 1993 (7.99) Nice enough but fairly standard Oz fizz. Pineapple fruit with some autolytic nuances. 83
- KWV Western Cape Sauvignon Blanc 1995 (4.49) Thin fruit with large doses of sulphur - yum! 75
- L Grande Cuvee 1995 Chardonnay, Laroche, Languedoc (4.99) Good value as an introduction to the flavours of (quite classy) oak. However, there seems to be a lack of fruit and the wine finishes very short. With time the wine smelt more like marzipan. 81
- Beringer Vineyards 1994 Chardonnay (9.99) Clearly superior to the Laroche. Buttery and with some structure and mineral flavours. A bit obvious. 86
- Rioja 1994 Marques de Grinon (4.99) "An innovative varietal wine" according to the back label. Rioja made from Tempranillo - maybe this is innovative for M. de G. Lovely clean strawberry nose, with a touch of smokiness and balancing tannins at the end. Simple but pleasing. I need to try this again in more controlled conditions. 88+
- Notarpanaro 1988, Taurino (4.99) Showing quite nicely, but some debate about whether it was drying out slightly. Not the best bottles I've had of this. It really does need food to show at its best. Many people thought this the best value wine of the tasting - I'd go for the Rioja on this showing. 87
- Chateau Cantemerle 1990 (18.99) Classic mature claret nose - cedar wood and cigar box. Fairly lush ready-to-drink wine. No rush to drink up, but I can't see it getting any better. A slightly odd green olive flavour at the end which I couldn't decide whether I liked or not. 89?
- Rosemount Balmoral Syrah 1993 (16.99) Very classy Syrah. Inky, but with the structure that is often lacking in the New World. Big but balanced. Should age well. 92
- Chateau Rieussec 1989 (29.90) Lovely Sauternes, perhaps a bit lacking in botrytis to be really great (some people guessed it to be Muscat). Needs time to show at its best. 90
Vintage Champagne at OFW 17/10/1996 (TNB)
- H. Blin 89 Neutral on nose, odd flavours, bubbles like soda water. 78 (15.00)
- Rose 88 Pol Roger Gutsy structured wine. Probably best with vood. No hint of vulgarity. Perhaps needs time? 90 (32.99)
- Rose 89 (Billecart-Salmon) Much more elegantl wrought. Pleasant. 88.
- Pommery 89 Fruity, straight-forward, bit one-dimensional. (From a magnum. Not quite as interesting as the bottle tasted a few weeks ago, but not slightly flawed either.) 85
- Blanc de blanc 86 (Pol Roger) Nose like good mature burgundy. Quite fine, but perhaps not a great vintage. Probably at peak. 89.
- Veuve Cliquot 89 Medium weight, needs a bit of time. Quite good. 88.
- Pol Roger 88/89 Noted afterwards that our first taste was 89, but the refil 88! Both put the widow in the shade. Lovely young champagnes, medium weight. Will be good, especially the 88. 1988, 92 --- 1989 90
Tasting Techniques, Cambridge University Wine Society - tutored by Richard Bailey 15/10/1996 (RJB)
I found myself agreeing with a lot of what the speaker said.
- Andes Peaks Mulchen Sauvignon Blanc 1996 At last a Chillean white wine with some flavour. Fairly good, buttered gooseberries cheapish Sauvignon. 83
- Dr Loosen Riesling 1995 A basic wine, but clean and with a very obvious, slightly woody and sherberty, Riesling nose. high acidity on the palate. 85
- Macon La Roche-Vineuse 1994 Vielles Vignes, Domaine du Vieux Saint-Sorlin, Corinne et Olivier Merlin Good butterscotch and vanillin nose and with good length on the palate. Oak (quite classy) rather dominant at present, but I think the fruit is probably there and just needs time to come out of its wooden shell. 89?
- Traminer Spatlese Halbtrocken 1993, Alois Kracher Late harvest styled wine with peaches and roses on the nose. Burnt sugar flavours at the end (which I think may be something to do with highish alcohol). 87
- Salisbury Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 Easy cheapish Oz Cabernet with cherry flavours. 81
- Navajas Rioja Reserva 1989 Oranges and strawberries nose. Feels like it should be better, but that it's slipping downhill. 84
- Firesteed 1994 Oregon Pinot Noir Silky but mushy. Beetroot and strawberry flavours, but lacking definition. 83
- St Marys Shiraz 1994, Coonawarra A crowd pleaser to finish with. Good colour. Big wine, but just so obvious. 86
- Lafon Rochet 1967 (6.79 OFW) Some stock found by Oddbins in a cellar in France. Holding up suprisingly well with ethereal fruit. Slightly dusty, but overall a pleasant lightweight wine. Not nearly as bad as one might expect and worth it for its interest value. 83
- Marques de Grinon Dominio de Valdepusa Syrah 1993 Good colour and fair structure with juicy fruit on the palate. Slight stalkiness on the nose which might just be it youthfulness. A hot finish (14% alcohol), but otherwise a promising wine. 86
- Rosemount Show Reserve Chardonnay 1989 The nutty acidity it once had has disappeared to leave a rather bloated buttery wine. Nothing really wrong with it apart from this lack of balance. 83
- Cabernet Sauvignon 85 (Moss Wood) Lugged back from Oz years ago. Excellent youthful colour, round sweet plummy fruit perhaps hinting at vegetalness) with some nice secondary cab/s aromas. Will still improve a bit perhaps. 87.
Italian Wine at V&C 10/10/1996 (TNB)
- Casa di Serra, Verdicchio Classico Superiore 95 (Umani Ronchi) Good of its tyoe, quite concentrated, but the grape is so neutral. 82 (6.39)
- Soave Classico Superiore Vigneto Calvarino 94 (Pieropan) A top soave producer, slight spritz, and "green fruit". Again, good of the type. 84 (amazingly enough 9.89)
- Pinot Bianco 95 (Jermann) Fairly "run of the mill" pinot blanc, dry and not particularly flat. 81 (12.89 -- what an astonishing price for P.B.!)
- Castel del Monte 94 (Rivera) Made of Uva de Troya, wine gummy, modern well made picnic stuff. 82. (4.99)
- Nebbiolo delle Langhe 94 (Produttori del Barbaresco) Lightish,m very orangy colour. Nice fragrant rose petal nose, light in the mouth with little tannin. Quite nice. 84 (6.39)
- Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 94 (Barone Cornacchia) Amazing deep red ink colour. Almondy cherry nose, concentrated with slight Italian bitterness. Reasonably long. 86 (4.99)
- Rocca Rubia Carignano del Sulcis 92 (Santadi) Mod deep, slightly brownish colour. Quite a lot of "structure", cherry fruit. Palate a bit incomplete -- you can see why Carignan is often blended. Nice wine though. 86. (8.99)
- Brunello 91 (Argiano) Classy high-toned, goodish concentration and pleasing balance. Quite classy. 90. (16.99)
- Brunello 90 (Costanti) Larger, a bit bitter, more there, but made in old-fashioned slightly oxidative Italian way. Not really my style. 89. (25.95)
- "Cumaro" Rosso Cornero 93 (Umani Ronchi) Good colour, concentration and everything. I took against it a bit -- perhaps because it is very soft, perhaps because of a sort of international style. Probably quite good though. 87. (11.49)
Phillip Contini says that one can survive in any wine tasting circles once you have realised that fruit comes in one of five basic categories: citrus, tree (apple, pear, etc), berries, exotic (Lychee, banana, etc) and preserved.
- St Aubin 1er Cru Crarmois 90 (O. Leflaive) Quite fat -- would be interesting to taste beside superior Oz stuff.
- Erdener Trepchen Spatlese 85 (Dr. Loosen) Quite keroseney, with lemony acidity and OK length. Quite pleasant.
Gang of Five -- Syrah/Shiraz, 03/10/1996 (RJB)
Numbers in brackets refer to the overall ranking in the tasting decided by the average of the five tasters scores for each wine. Each taster brought along two wines -- the ten wines were tasted blind in a random order.
- Crozes Hermitage 1989, Graillot (4) Leathery mature overtones - perhaps a touch too vegetal. Well made but a bit hot and on the way down. 85
- Cote Rotie Brune et Blonde 1985, Guigal (8) Light and maybe a touch volatile. Dry finish and obviously French Syrah. The worst bottle I've had of this - I hope it's just this particular bottle. 87
- Grand Heritage Syrah 1993, Edmunds St John (3) Reminded me more of a Grenache style wine. Clearly New World with good fruity acidity. Perhaps more structure than its youthfullness is allowing to show through at present, but I don't think it's worth the 92 or 93 points that Parker has given it. 89
- Domaine Gramenon 1992, Cuvee Syrah (6) Classy Northern Rhone nose - like a goodish Cote Rotie. Less convincing on the depth of palate, but I though still pretty good. 90
- Qupe Bien Nacido 1993 Syrah (1) Fairly consistent scores for this wine. Initially not showing much, but it opened out to reveal excellent fruit and structure, without being overblown. Excellent wine that should age well. Very clearly the wine of the tasting. 92
- Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz 1993 (2) Excellent concentration - liquorice and vanilla. Big chewy wine. Too extrovert? 90
- Hermitage 1990, Le Vignon, Sorrel (9) Closed, thin, gummy old oak. Drying out. Some debate about which Sorrel this was - also this bottle seemed to be a merchant's sample so might not be the most reliable. 82
- Yarra Yerring Dry Red No. 2 1992 (7) Maturing mushroomy overtones. Some sweetness and an out of balance, toffeed finish. Initially it seemed quite good. 84
- Brown Brothers Koombahla Shiraz 1990 (10) Drying out - watery and overly minty. 78
- Taltarni Shiraz 1988 (5) Closed, but with big colour and goodish structure. 89