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Diary index

Dry River Estate, by Raeburn Fine Wines 30/10/1998 (TNB)

Wine dinner at EMcC's 25/10/1998 (TNB)

25/10/1998 (RJB)

24/10/1998 (TNB)

22/10/1998 (RJB)

Cape Mentelle and Cloudy Bay at The Atrium 19/10/1998 (TNB)

Dessiliani at Scalini restaurant - wines by Raeburn Fine Wines 17/10/1998 (TNB)

Red Burgundy, Oddbins Fine Wine 15/10/1998 (TNB)

Burgundy, by J&B at the Scottish Wine Society 13/10/1998 (TNB)

11/10/1998 (RJB)

10/10/1998 (TNB)

Gang of Five 'Any white, any red' 08/10/1998 (RJB)

06/10/1998 (TNB)

Wine group at E. McC 05/10/1998 (TNB)

03/10/1998 (RJB)

02/10/1998 (TNB)

The Diary - October 1998

Dry River Estate, by Raeburn Fine Wines 30/10/1998 (TNB)

Owner/winemaker Dr. Neil McCallum present.
  • Sauvignon Blanc 97 (Dry River) Understated, balanced, good length. The (rather tiresome, to my mind) extravagent varietal characteristics and asparagus vegetality are intentionally avoided by the wine maker. As good a New World Sauv Blanc as I've had. (10.50)
  • Chardonnay 97, 96, 95, 94 (Dry River) All very characterful, pure, with quite a lot of oak, handled rather well. The 97 is very creamy, with intense green-pea fruit. The 96 has an intense aroma of cloves, and lots of character. I could worry slightly about its balance. The 95 showing a slightly toffeed nose (in a not unpleasant way), with fine melony fruit and excellent length. The 94 evolved, very honeyed, hinting at vegetal notes that may become more pronounced. Very good wines - recognisably a New World style, and evolving fairly quickly, but very stylish. Good value, when compared to California chardonnay. (15-16 pounds)
  • Dry Riesling, Craighall Vinyard 98, 92 (Dry River) The 98 tight, quite dry, near Alsace weight with a pleasant sherberty edge. Hints at spicyness to come. The 92 has slight sweetness and evolved riesling character. Rather pleasant. Again, like most (all?) New World riesling, relatively early maturing.
  • Pinot Noir 97, 96, 95, 94 (Dry River) The 97 has intense raspbery/blackberry fruit. A slight bitter edge. (Is that the antibiotics I'm taking - one or two things seemed a touch that way.) The 96 more raspberry/beetroot, almost liquorice. The 95 has rounded out quite nicely, and the 94 manages that Burgundian trick of being dry, yet having a luscious, silky, almost sugary character to the fruit. Not long term wines, I would say: pehaps the 94 is about at peak. Authentic Pinot fruit however, and pretty pleasant drinking. (18-19 pounds)
And after, at the Vintner's Rooms:
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 30/10/1998   Return to top

Wine dinner at EMcC's 25/10/1998 (TNB)

  • Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese 83 (W. Prum) It has that barley-water drinkability of some 83s - quite sweet, decent balance and everything, but a good rather than great 83.
  • Ch Chalon 79 (Bourdy - Arlay), Jura Intriguing compromise between sherry and a dry white wine. Fresh, with a lovely long nutty finish. Excellent stuff!
  • Tokay Clos St Urban Rangen VT 83 (Zind-Humbrecht) Quite tight, slightly sweet, very long indeed. A tour-de-force, but, while excellent drinking, perhaps in the final analysis it is more impressive than enjoyable, at least now. I guess 83 is (just) before Z-H started making nearly all the wines with hefty residual sugar, and the better for it.
  • Chablis Vaillons 90 (J. Dauvissat) Soft toffee nose (not a favourite characteristic of mine, for some reason). Grippy, minerally, green-pea chardonnay fruit, not quite together with the oak yet. Probably quite good, but needs a bit of time perhaps.
  • La Lagune 70 Ripe, fruitcakey, currenty nose. Cedary, dry fruit, quite high acidity. In excellent condition, but perhaps getting a shade too dry on the finish. An excellent (but perhaps just slightly unsubtle) 70.
  • Lascombes 82 Quite scented, medium weight, mature claret. A bit one-dimensional. Quite light, even if 82 is not really a Margaux vintage.
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 25/10/1998   Return to top

25/10/1998 (RJB)

  • Capel Vale Shiraz 1993, Western Australia Lightly silky and smokey - drinking well, with some berry fruit showing. Medium bodied. 87
  • Laperouse Assemblage1997, Vin de Pays d'Oc Rouge Made by Penfolds and Val d'Orbieu (although interestingly you have to look fairly hard at the label to find this out - you would have thought that their marketing people would have made more of it) from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Mourvedere (interesting spelling). This wine comes with a screw top which is OK if the wine is going to be used in cooking, but in my book if a wine has pretentions to being drunk from a glass, then I want a cork (a real one!) used for the closure. (I'll come off my high horse now!). This is reasonable red plonk - well a bit better than that perhaps. Berry fruit, but rather non-descript. 81
  • Herrenweg Turckheim Riesling 1989, Zind-Humbrecht There are some wines that one is happy to have bought a reasonable amount of; there are other wines where perhaps an odd bottle here and there would have done the trick. I am rapidly wishing that I'd restricted the amount of Zind-Humbrecht wines that I have gathered over the years. They often show better when young - and they get a bit samey and predictable after a while. This has too much heaviness and an odd metalic note. Maybe I'll come round to Zind-Humbrecht again, but the wines are probably little more than a notch above those Chillean reds, New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs and Oz Chardonnays that seemed a good idea at the time. 84
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 25/10/1998   Return to top

24/10/1998 (TNB)

  • Chardonnay 91 (Petaluma) In the days when I liked New World chardonnay more, I had a soft spot for Petaluma particularly. It seems capable of ageing in an interesting way, which is fairly unusual. This has sensible, integrated, high-quality oak and good fruit. Might it be heading towards vegetality? I'm not sure.
  • Barolo La Serra 93 (Marcarini) Normally a bit less backward than this producers Brunate, this is nicely balanced, elegant, grown-up wine with succulent tannins. I feel this is not quite in the quality bracket of the 89s and 90s from Marcarini, but it is good stuff and drinkable now if one wants to. (I'm sure another 5-10 years would be good though!)
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 24/10/1998   Return to top

22/10/1998 (RJB)

Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 22/10/1998   Return to top

Cape Mentelle and Cloudy Bay at The Atrium 19/10/1998 (TNB)

  • Pelorus 94 Pre-release. My first glass from a corked bottle, which put me off a bit. Deep colour, slightly old-fashioned. Seems to have proper integrated acidity, but I wonder about the balance. How will it be in 5 years?
  • Semillon/Sauvignon 97 (Cape Mentelle) That familair old Ozzy slightly vegetal gooseberry and asparagus character. A bit like an alcoholic herb tea of some sort.
  • Sauv Blanc 98 (Cloudy Bay) Lighter, lifted nose. Quite high acidity. Pleasant with food, but I don't quite see why people trample each other to death for it.
  • Chardonnay 96 (Cape Mentelle) Well, here it is: the great old-fashioned oaked ozzy chardonnay. Pretty decent of its sort, but this really is a style that when you've tired of it once, you don't come back to it.
  • Chardonnay 96 (Cloudy Bay) More straight fruit, and a lighter hand on the oak. Slightly toffeed. Citric finish.
  • Cabernet Merlot 96 (Cape Mentelle) Leafy, liquoricey, slightly soft. Not bad.
  • Shiraz 96 (Cape Mentelle) That slightly soft Ozzy version of the Syrah nose - another well-made wine. I suppose WA is a young region, and it will take a while to figure out what really works where.
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 19/10/1998   Return to top

Dessiliani at Scalini restaurant - wines by Raeburn Fine Wines 17/10/1998 (TNB)

All wines by Dessiliani; the estate's owner Dr. Enzio Lucca was present.
  • Collefino Riserva Bianco 96 Made form El Greco or some such. Quite concentrated, but suffers a bit from the Italian white wine problem of the grape varieties being a bit too bland to excite. Pleasant apperetif.
  • Gavi 97 Good acidity, making a decent food wine, but again this is a bit of a bland variety.
  • Fara "Caramino" Riserva 90 Single vinyard Fara - nebbiolo and other varieties. The wine of the evening for me, with fine ripe tannins, excellent fruit and balance and a little gutsy rusticity as well.
  • Fara "Cornaggina" Riserva 90 Less rustic, rose-scented, again excellent balance. An interesting contrast, but I slightly prefer the Caramino.
  • Laio (Passito) 96 Interesting, concentrated, a bit like Vin Santo.
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 17/10/1998   Return to top

Red Burgundy, Oddbins Fine Wine 15/10/1998 (TNB)

Main discovery: Dom. Laurent really is a serious property!
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 15/10/1998   Return to top

Burgundy, by J&B at the Scottish Wine Society 13/10/1998 (TNB)

  • Macon Uchizy 96 (Talmard) Honey, banana, slight esteryness. Decent acidity and length with a touch of wood. Reasonable basic Macon. (6.95)
  • Chablis 94 (L. Tribut) Decent, slightly minerally honeyed chablis nose. Slightly socky, steely wine. OK for a village wine. (9.90)
  • Bourgogne 96 (Sauzet) Refined and creamy. Nice meolny fruit. A perfect Bourgogne blanc, as I suppose it should be at 15 quid a bottle!
  • Meursault Genevrieres 95 (Jobard) Very spicy, with a core of melony fruit. Dry, slightly tannic, minerally, and very long. Will be brilliant! 91+ (29.90)
  • J&B Red Burgundy (NV) Basic to an extreme. Toffeed. Very high acidity.
  • Bourgogne Rouge 94 (Barthod) This estate doesn't seem to have got this wine quoite right since the stunning 88 (and, I hear, 89). A bit rustic - slightly stinky. Decent beetrooty fruit. (8.95)
  • Monthelie 92 (Ch. de Monthelie - Suremain) Very deeply coloured. Almost rhone-like, quite meaty but perfumed too. Rich plummy fruit. Very impressive! (18.50)
  • Gevrey Chambertin Clos St Jacques 89 (B. Clair) Evolved colour, fullish on the nose. In the mouth, refined but a bit one-dimensional. This producer does seem to make unexciting wines. (I thought this was a less interesting wine (with less future) than the Monthelie.) (29.50)
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 13/10/1998   Return to top

11/10/1998 (RJB)

Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 11/10/1998   Return to top

10/10/1998 (TNB)

  • Bernkasteler Doktor Spatlese 79 (Deinhard) A nice bottle of this - pleasantly mature and attractive "sour apple" fruit.
  • Riesling Kabinett 96 (Immich-Batterieberg) Wine from a good Mosel site, I think, with an attempt at simplified labeling for the consumer. (But why the amazingly naff picture on the otherwise sensible label?) The wine is limey, rich, and generally very drinkable. (Adnams, about 8 pounds and good value.)
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 10/10/1998   Return to top

Gang of Five 'Any white, any red' 08/10/1998 (RJB)

Tasted blind - except the fizz. and after ...
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 08/10/1998   Return to top

06/10/1998 (TNB)

  • Bordeaux Frank Phelan 95 Second wine of Phelan Segur (not sure about designation and spelling, etc.) This vintage is so 85 like in having the sweet ripeness of fruit to make pleasant young drinking. This is decent early-maturing stuff.
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 06/10/1998   Return to top

Wine group at E. McC 05/10/1998 (TNB)

Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 05/10/1998   Return to top

03/10/1998 (RJB)

  • L'Arco 1996 Cabernet Franc, Grave Friuli This feels just a bit too heavy (perhaps this is down to the inevitable comparison with Loire reds), but it does have textbook Cabernet Franc flavours - leafy and earthy. 84
  • Bourgogne Pinot Noir 1997, Louis Josse Inexpensive (4.99 at Tesco), but it does have clear varietal flavours - strawberries and plum skins. The acidity is rather high, but this might soften in a couple of years. 83
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 03/10/1998   Return to top

02/10/1998 (TNB)

  • Dolcetto D'Alba Boschi Di Berri 95 (Marcarini) An "old vines" wine, far more serious than the general run of Dolcetto. It has that depth of flavour and toning down of varietal character that older vines seem to give. Lovely grippy, yet somehow sweet and ripe tannins. Medium weight, and not too Beaujolais-like. Pretty classy.
  • Mas De Daumas Gassac 90 I've not sampled a wine from this property for years. Good colour, Bordeauxish nose, quite heavily influenced with spicey oak. In the mouth, not bad, but a bit too much is coming from the oak, and although there is a lot of structure I'm not sure it's going anywhere.
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 02/10/1998   Return to top