Gang of Six "Any White and Syrah" Tasting 29/10/1997 (RJB)
Numbers in brackets indicate the ranking in each flight taken as the average of the six tasters scores. The wines were tasted blind.
- Puligny Montrachet 1989, Sauzet (4) Marzipan nose, stalky and with gummy oak. Rustic old Burgundy, but I quite like them like this. 89
- Tokay Pinot Gris 1983 Reserve Personnel, Hugel (1) Not nearly showing its age. Minerals and butter and with a smokey edge. 87
- Pouilly Fuisse 1995, Clos de France, Roger Lassaran (3) Taut Chardonnay, perhaps a bit thin, but could well fill out. 87
- Clos du Bois Calcaire Chardonnay 1994, California (5) Flabby and unbalanced with toffeed oak. 83
- Pouilly Fume 1992 Pur Sang, Didier Dagueneau (6) I guessed it to be old Sancerre. Old Sauvignon can be interesting, but this had a distinctly vegetal edge. 85
- Thelema Sauvignon Blanc 1995, South Africa (2) Stylish Sauvignon with reasonable length. But just so unexciting. 83
- Chateau de Fonsalette Cuvee Syrah Reserve 1989 (5) Showing fairly young and a touch short. Good texture in the mouth. Disappointing showing given what it is. 84
- Cote Rotie La Landonne 1990, Guigal (4) "Delicious", "Lovely wine", "Classy" and "Really good" were the various things I wrote on the evening. Big wine, that although obviously Northern Rhone, had New World overtones. Parker rates this as a perfect wine (100 pts) and suggests that it needs a few more years to show its charm. Impressive though it is, I am not quite that impressed with the wine. It is clearly built for the long term, so perhaps it's just going through a quiet (ish!) phase. A big brooding mixture of mature and youthful flavours with a good backbone. Reminiscent of big, black, heavilly laden clouds gathering for a dramatic storm. 93
- Cote Rotie Brune et Blonde 1983, Guigal (3) Drinking beautifully (and drinking better at the moment than the above). Silky wine with the flavours of maturity. 92
- Rockford Basket Press Shiraz 1990 (1) OK, I was so bowled over by the two previous wines that I probably didn't give this the mark it deserved (it still came first in the tasting though!). This isn't showing ant real signs of age and seems virtually as fresh as it did a few years back. Big, juicy Oz blockbuster that gives every indication that it will continue to age well. But is it really in the same class as the Guigals? 87
- Cote Rotie Brune et Blonde 1991, Guigal (2) This had an odd soggy cardboard nose to it (later on in the tasting this had disappeared). Perhaps I had a dodgy glass. Underneath the odd nose are spicey berry fruits and a typical Guigal Brune et Blonde. The first score I give is the score I gave it originally; the second score is probably more indicative of its quality (if the cardboard isn't there). 83-89
- Qupe Bien Nacido 1992 Syrah (6) Smells quite Grenache like - I often find this with Californian Syrah. A touch of volatility. The wine doesn't seem together. 84
Wine group dinner at MD's 27/10/1997 (TNB)
- Durkheimer Nonengarten gewurtz Spatlese 94 (Darting) Scheurebe-like grapefruity nose, rich and reasonably long.
- Forster Schnepfenflug Gewurtz Auslese 83 (Forst Co-op) Showing a fair amount of age. Rose-petaly fruit. Pleasant.
- Sherry: a Fine Old Pale and an Amontillado Brough back from Spain some time ago: producer unknown. Bone dry, elegant, the Amontillado in particular had a lovely sweet nose.
- Pazze de Barrante Albarino 91 Zingy citric acidity, opening out to a well made honeyed wine. Albarino is a decent grape variety.
- Dom Bardo 90, Rias Baix Another Spanish Albarino: sweet rose petal nose, honeyed and nutty. Again a good wine, in the style perhaps of a German "Trocken", but if Albarino is a rather less fine grape than Riesling, it does suit the style.
- Vino Verdhe 87 (Palacio da Brejoeira) Again, bone dry, lemony, spicy palate. Vino Verdhe at ten years old, and quite a good drink! (Also Albarino, aparrently.)
- Chambolle Musigny, les Baudes 89 (Lignier) Nice pinot fruit, complex and quite deep and rich. 89.
- Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir 88 Genuine beetrooty pinot fruit, but a rather coarse and extreme acidity seemed to put things out of balance. 83
- Clos St Denis 87 (Dujac) Nice weight, stunningly balanced, with a bouquet of Southern French herbs. Slightly sweet. Delicious. 93.
- Bonnes Marre 87 (Jadot) Deep clarety nose. Full, yet less subtly flavoured, and no great length. Good, but not really for keeping. 87.
- Clos Gourouilh Molleaux 83, Jurancon (J. Gourouilh) Deep coloured, nutty, mature, very drinkable.
The first two pinots "crackled" when you listened to them closely for several minutes after being put in the glass, rather like the "Snap, Crackle, Pop" of the Rice Crispy advertisements. Possibly, the first stage in assessing wines should be listening rather than looking!
- Champagne NV (Philippe De Aubancourt) Straight down the middle reasonable light to medium weight champagne.
- Champagne NV (Alfred Gratien) Had a recent bottle from Oddbins (see 2/10/97) that was a bit dull. This, bought a while ago, was as I remembered: weighty, almost hinting at oxidation, excellent concentration.
- Rioja Reserva 85, white, M. de Murietta Isn't it lovely to have something not "modern" in style - one can have enough freshness and vibrant fruit. Lemony, hints of sherry, probably beginning to fade a little - drink soon.
- Colheita 83, bottled 96 (Niepoort) Lovely, sparkling colour. High-toned fruit. Not quite as complex a fruitiness as I remember, but very elegant with a balanced chocolatey finish.
- Chateau La Vielle Cure 1990, Fronsac Decent, simple light-to-medium weight claret with sweet berry flavours. 86
The wines of Drouhin at Peter Green, presented by Christopher Burr, 22/10/1997 (TNB)
- St Veran 96 Estery nose, peachy fruit. Pleasant. 83 (7.75)
- Chablis Premier Cru 96 Minerally, citric, greengage nose. Little or no oak. Reasonable length and well made. 86 (10.75)
- Meursault 95 Honeyed buttery nose, nutty and spicy in the mouth. A reasonable village wine from an excellent vintage. 86-88 (19.50)
- Corton Charlemagne 94 Rich but high-toned melony fruit. Good length. This is a classy vinyard! 91.
- Morgon 85 Yeasty nose, very medicinal in the mouth. Not my sort of thing! 80. (8.99)
- Cote de Beaune 94 Declassified Clos des Mouches, and you can see why: lightweight strawberry flavours in a rather simple wine. 83. (12.50)
- Gevrey Chambertin 95 Denser strawberry fruit. A middle of the road village wine. 85. (16.95)
- Clos des Mouches 92 Genuine hint of "corruption" (this is a family page). Gamey fruit, with some complexity and genuine character. A short finish suggests now or never! 89. (21.85)
- Oregon Pinot Noir 94 Slightly medicinal. in an acceptable way, decent concentration of fruit, but slightly sweet. Decent effort, but a bit dull. 84. (19.50)
And after, with dinner:
- Calcos do Tanha 94 (Duoro) Gamey, raisiny, characterful wine at a reasonable price!
Dinner at EMcC's, with DL and ZM 18/10/1997 (TNB)
- Riesling Herrenberg Kabinet Trocken 93 (Maxmin Grunhaus) Apparently, this style is what the Germans want. This is probably a good example, but I think the traditional Kabinet is in much better balance - this has a good nose, but is a bit mean in the mouth.
- Redoma 95, white (Niepoort) Just bottled. A big confectionary nose - perhaps just young wine esteryness. Chardonnay-like on the palate, but softer than a good young Burgundy might be. Might be rather good after a while in bottle.
- Redoma Riserva 95, white (Niepoort) Selected vats of the above. Not so forthcoming, honeyed, not quite integrated oak spicyness. Again, may be very good.
- Regonda 95, Quinta Duoro 94, Redoma 94 (red) All three had been open a day or two, but all were clearly serious ageworthy wines. I do wonder if Portugal (rather than the New World) isn't the best place to be looking for serious wine at reasonable prices these days.
- Zelen 95 (Slovenia) Brought back by EMcC from a recent trp to Zagreb - the most expensive wine in the Supermarket. They seem to do a good line in smart modern bottles, but the wine is really a bit thin and characterless.
- Chante-Alouette 91 (Chapoutier) It has those honey and stones flavours of white hermitage, but it is a bit "flat" - heavy and dull.
- Nuits St George Damodes 85 (Machard de Gramont) Lovely gamey, fruity nose, nice acidity, silky yet slightly rustic. Lovely Burgundy, just starting to drink well. 90.
- Brunello Riserva 91 (Argiano) Dense, powerful, but not really singing. Less exciting a drink than I remember the Normale to be. Perhaps all the wood has not done it any good?
- Borgoalto 64, Conte Ravizza From Barbaresco vineyards, by a famous old estate. Nutty/mushroomy nose, sweet rose-petal fruit. Nice old wine. 90.
- Barolo 62 La Morra (R. Ratti) (Label a bit torn, there may be other words in the wine's name.) Lovely rose petal and tar nose, and in the mouth even better - gorgeous sweet fruit, ethereal elegance. One to remember when tasting tough old Barolos and wondering whether anything really enjoyably drinkable ever emerges! Stunning. 95.
- Riesling Herrenberg Auslese 89 (Maximin Grunhaus) Really quite dry and restrained for an Auslese. Perhaps no more wine here than in the Abtsberg 89 Spatlese? Tightly wound, vanilla ice-cream character promises a good wine in time though.
- Smith Woodhouse 85 Suprisingly flat mid-palate and finish. Those who had sampled this before expected more fruity exuberance. Awkward phase?
- Chardonnay Dom. Ribonnet 90 (Haut-Garonne) I remember buying a few of this quite cheaply - a Burgundy lookalike. I'm rather unsure about it now - perhaps too heavy? Seems to be taking the age quite well - may be quite good?
- Ceppi Storici Oak aged Barbera 93 A cheap option at "blue". No great depth, but nice acidity with spicyness from the oak. Pleasant.
- Kendermann Riesling 1996 Dry, Pfalz Clean, cheap (3.99) wine with refreshing acidity. Somehow more reminiscent of a Sauvignon than a Riesling. 83
- Dr Loosen Riesling 1995, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Loosen's basic Riesling. Not bad, but a bit unknit and with an odd woodiness. 84
- Klein Constantia Rhine Riesling 1996, South Africa Softish (for a Riesling) with residual sweetness. Short and with an alcoholic finish. 81
- Kientzler Reserve Riesling 1994, Alsace Mineral flavours and a slight mustiness. Will it fill out with time? 83-87
- Rockford Riesling 1996, Eden Valley Kerosene nose, but thin on the palate. Again, will it fill out? 83-85
- Hardys Riesling / Gewurztraminer 1996, Australia Interesting to taste how the Gewurz. fills the mid-palete, with the Riesling adding acidity. This blend works well at this level. 84
- Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese 1990, Friederich Wilhelm Gymnasium A class above anything before it at the tasting, and a very classy act. Taut wine with superb acidity. Drinking very well now, but should improve with age. 91
- Kaseler Nies'chen Riesling Auslese 1989, Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Not as together as the Graacher - the sweetness and acidity not so harmonious. 88
Noel Young Wines presents a tasting of Mount Langi Ghiran and Four Sisters with Trevor Mast 13/10/1997 (RJB)
- Four Sisters Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon 1996 (7.49) Smokey and flinty with reductive pineapple flavours. 84
- Mount Langi Ghiran Pinot Grigio 1996 (9.79) Trevor Mast was saying that he was under bureaucratic pressure to call this "Grey Pinot" - how seductive! Subdued, and a bit short and thin. 82
- Mount Langi Ghiran Riesling 1996 (8.79) Gentle sugared diesel nose. Dry and with excellent acidity. However, the finish is unknit. 85
- Four Sisters Grenache / Shiraz 1996 (7.49) Pepper and toffee with a short austere finish. 82
- Four Sisters Grenache 1995 (7.49) Slight spritz. Strawberries with a toffeed finish. 85
- Mount Langi Ghiran Billy Billy Creek Cabernet / Shiraz 1995 (9.99) Slight mintiness and with good gently toasty oak. A vegetal edge. Too much acidity? 88
- Mount Langi Ghiran Shiraz 1995 (12.99) Smokey, peppery, juicy Shiraz. Big, tight wine with high, but balanced acidity. Classy wine that is nowhere near ready for drinking. 92+
- Vasse Felix Shiraz 1995 (14.59) A guest Shiraz. Completely different style to the Langi Ghiran. Sweet seductive oak dominates at present, but there is sufficient strawberry (and nutmeg) fruit to come through given a couple more years. Good early drinking. 91
- Mount Langi Ghiran Cabernet 1991 Sweet maturing flavours with gentle tannins in the background. 87
- Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay 93 That slight Californian heaviness, and quite evolved and caramelly. Seemed to improve a bit in the glass though. I still think there are much more interesting Burgundies at this sort of price.
- Clos Floridene 90 (Graves) Still marching on, devoid of its initial freshness. Sometimes I wonder if something else might emerge in time. Pleasant drinking anyway.
- La Chapelle 84 Not of course a very good La Chapelle, but a pretty respectable wine. Nice raspberry/blackberry fruit, if of no great length.
- Domaine de Montpertuis 1994, Chateauneuf-du-pape Berry fruit with a touch of meatiness - a hot finish. 87
- Domaine de Montpertuis 1996, Cepage Counoise, Ramiere Interesting to try this grape variety. Simple, sinewy, cherry and berry fruit. 85
- Domaine de Montpertuis 1994, VDP de la Principite d'Orange Thin and beginning to dry out. 82
- Champagne Louis Massing Grand Cru Blancs de blancs, Avize Good simple NV. 84
- Cosme Palacio y Hermanos Cosecha 1995, Rioja Sweet vanilla nose and spicey fruit. Modern. 85
- Santa Rita 120 Merlot Silky Chilean Merlot. 86
- Campo Viejo Gran Reserva 1985 Pleasant, but past its best. 82
- Paul Letrier Reserve Brut Champagne Impressive cheap (8.99) fizz - with depth of flavour. 86
- Rothbury Museum Reserve Liqueur Muscat
From a half. Very sweet and without much to balance that sweetness. 79
... and with dinner at the Three Horse Shoes, Madingley ...
- Drappier 1988 Blancs de Blancs Elegant medium weight Champagne, with good acidity. Should age further. 90
- Champagne Excellence NV (Gosset) Appley autolytic nose, very weighty in the mouth, but balanced, with a very good long finish. Very classy - the sort of champagne to give to people who don't think it can have serious flavours! 92
- St Pierre 87 A bit better than the last bottle I had, quite decent fruity (but high acid) "luncheon claret".
- Haardter Mandelring Scheurebe Spatlese halbtrocken 90 (Muller-Catoir) Very grapefruit. RP said of one of these M-C scheurebes that it was very much like a gin and tonic, and this one certainly is. Pleasant, probably better a year or two ago. 85.
Champagne at OFW 02/10/1997 (TNB)
- Alfred Gratien NV Scented, pleasant, but a bit greener than usual. Doesn't have the maturity and weight I expect from this wine. 84. (19.99)
- Nostalgie 88 Beaumont de Crayeres Nicely autolytic, light to medium weight, characterful, drinking well now, and probably not for keeping. 88. (19.99)
- Blin 89 Another Co-op job. Correct, and a bit gutsier than the Nostalgie. No particular character though. 86 (17.49)
- Blanc de Noirs 91 (Greenpoint) Served blind. Heavy, very evolved (to be tactful for once). Flabby. 80.
- Billecart Salmon 89 Fine, light weight, elegant, good length. I can't really fault this, although I like a bit more guts in a vintage wine myself. 90. (29.99)
- Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin 89 Much more body, a bit of a monster at the moment, and seems less fiorn than the BS. Might be rather good in time though? 89 (32.99)
- Krug NV Just so rich, and good body, but beautifully balanced, and very, very long. The epitome of NV for me! 93. (66.49)
- Krug 85 A fascinating comparison. A distinct vintage character, something individual as opposed to the middle of the road perfection of the NV. A bit more "nervous", DL said. 93 (76.99)
- Saumur Brut, Charles de Villeneuve Acceptable cheap fizz. 83
- The Gyongyos Estate Sauvignon Blanc 1995, Matraalja, Hungary Tired (was it ever awake?). Light tinned asparagus and oak juice. 75
- Sauvignon 1996, Domaine du Tariquet, Grassa et Fils, Gascogne Good cheapish (4.79) French Sauvignon. Clean and varietal. 84
- Montana Sauvignon Blanc 1996, Marlborough Not quite as aggressively up-front as this winery used to make - gooseberries and cream. 84
- Villa Maria Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 1996, Wairau Valley, Marlborough Impressive use of oak to soften this wine without letting the wood dominate. Very well integrated. 88+
- Ryland's Grove Chenin Blanc Barrel Fermented 1996, South Africa Trying to be much too sophisticated. What's the point of barrel fermenting thin wine? 78
- Vouvray Demi-sec Cuvee Gaston Dorleans 1996, F. Bourillon A bargain at 4.99 from Tesco. Real varietal characteristics and a gentle sweetness. Unusually for a supermarket back label it actually says that this wine can be kept for 20 years! I think that's a trifle on the generous side. Certainly worth trying again and possibly stashing away a couple. 88
- Maglieri Shiraz 1994, McClaren Vale Big Australian Shiraz that mixes French and American oak to produce a more subtle oakiness than is often the case. Chocolate and blackcurrant and a hefty dose of tannins. 87