The Diary - September 2008
I tasted the first two wines below at a party. The producer is perhaps worth further attention, but the wines seem not to be being imported much. I wonder if they marked a watershed in my feelings about German wine. I have previously found wines from the trocken revival a bit severe, but it is clear producers are learning to achieve a balance. The Rauenthaler Gehrn below is at most halbtrocken, but I have to say that 11% alcohol as opposed to 8% gives the wine a certain presence and wider drinkability that I could really see the appeal of. I think I need to do a bit more research (practical research, I mean) on these slightly drier styles in the Rheingau particularly.
- Rauenthaler Gehrn Riesling Kabinett Feinherb 2006 (A. Eser)
Rather good, solid fruit, a fair amount of residual sugar despite the "Feinherb" designation (which I seem to recall is meant to be about the same as halbtrocken). This has 11% alcohol and combines the slight residual sugar and good acidity of what I think of as the traditional German style very well with a bit more weight than those wines used to manage. The class of the vineyard shows - very attractive. Top
- Oestricher Lenchen Riesling Kabinett 2007 (A. Eser)
Again 11% alcohol - the same balance as the previous wine but the fruit is a bit softer. The vintage perhaps. A great vineyard and again it shows.
- Hochheimer Holle Spatlese 1995 (F. Kunstler)
I opened this from my own cellar to compare with the two previous wines. This was the a shade sweeter than the Rauenthaler (it may have seemed a bit more so a few years ago) and despite being a spatlese was just 8% alcohol. Pretty drinkable but unexceptional. Bare
- McLaren Vale Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 (Fox Creek)
This wine has spent the last six months of its life upright in one of those wooden and rope puzzles designed to keep bottles of wine imprisoned. And, yes, I had solved it, but it was there for unsuspecting visitors. Cracked the puzzle again tonight (more by brute force than anything else) and then cracked open the bottle to reveal a lovely mature and still fruity wine with perhaps a touch too much alcohol. Ageing well.
- Oregon Pinot Gris 2004 (Firesteed)
All very nicely made, with the attractive natural fatness of the variety incorporated in a pleasant enough package. But I have to say the overall effect is a bit neutral - decent wine with no real sense of place. Bare
- Tokaji 5 Puttonyos 2001 (Tokaji Classic Winery)
Surprisingly dark-coloured and with a brown-sugar nose that brings Ozzy liqueur Muscat to mind. There are classic Tokay flavours too and good intensity. This seemed a bit curious at first but I feel it is probably quite good.
Almost forgot two small glasses at the end of the meal.
- Riesling Cordon Cut 2007 (Mount Horrocks)
Quite a big wine with muscat-like grapy richness - it seemed more South of France Muscat than European Riesling. It must be quite good to hold up on being tasted after the Tokaji. Top
- Savigny Les Beaune 2002 (Girard)
Quite an evolved and relatively light colour - not uncommon and not necessarily a bad sign in Burgundy. This seemed a bit dry and short on fruit, but I am very conscious that I was tasting it after a Tokaji and a pudding wine. So, it might be better than the I am giving it.
We're still eating well at the Atlantic Hotel with its Michelin-starred restaurant. We have had a few interesting bottles from the wine list which is now being improved by the enthusiastic Sommelier Sergio Dos Santos.
- Rully Mazieres 2005 (V. Dureuil-Janthial)
Pure fruit, ripe yet appetising, with new oak evident but not intrusive. Not hugely complex, but just what you might hope for from good Rully. Very pleasant. Top
- Sancerre Flores 2006 (Pinard)
Given this blind by Sergio, I guessed Loire but thought perhaps a Pouilly-Fume - it has a certain richness and even a slight smoky character to the fruit. Good Sancerre. Bare
- Chinon Clos de la Cure 2004 (Jouget)
Blackcurrant-leaf fruit, a touch of chocolate, quite high-toned with a sense of terroir. Really nice - why do I so rarely drink Chinon? (Perhaps, on thinking, because it is not all this good.)
- Redoma White 2002 (Niepoort)
This has a sort of Provencal herb character to the fruit, reminiscent of the South of France. Nice density and balance, drinking very well. Top
- Chateau Latour Martillac blanc 2004
From a half, the fruit a touch oily, with a hint of old riesling kerosene. Quite a weighty, serious wine, but without perhaps having real style and not suggesting a long life. Top
The food here still rather good!
- Taittinger NV
A welcoming half-bottle on arrival. Seemed a touch oxidative on opening but after a little air it was quite intense, with more body than I expect from the house. Very decent.
- Beaune Greves 2002 (Potel)
Starting to drink well from a half: nice fruit, a touch earthy, nice balance through to the finish. Bare even
- Sancerre Chavignol La Grande Cote 2005 (P. Cotat)
The Cotat vineyards are now split between brothers, I gather. This has splendid intensity, grip and length. Varietal Sauvignon, but from fine fruit and so more complex than is at all common from the appelation. May well improve for a few years at least. Top (possibly more in time)
- Turbiana 2006 (Filippi)
From Trebbiano di Soave, very old vines. Lovely texture and drinkable balance. Rather good. Bare
- Champagne Silver Brut NV (A. Clouet)
The zero-dosage cuvee - this has been in my cellar for a couple of years and has a lovely baked apple nose and a great palate. Really top NV, provided one likes the slight rusticity from the Pinot Noir. Maybe even
- Monthelie blanc 2001 (Potinet Ampeau)
Just drinking really nicely - not that complex but flavoury with a touch of minerality. A fantastic village wine. Bare
From memory and very brief notes, owing to cooking, etc
- Champagne La Nombre d'Or Campanae Veteres Vites Sablet Blanc des Blancs 2003 (Aubry)
Containing all the allowed white grape varieties. This shows in a rather exotic and unusual nose and palate. Other than that, rather decent Champagne despite the vintage.
- Champagne Cuvee Creation 1998 (Vilmart)
Exotic passion fruit character, terribly luscious, hedonistic and easy to drink. Very good and pretty much ready. A good
- Champagne Blanc de Blancs Clos Cazals 1998 (Cazals)
Much tighter than the Vilmart, with intense almondy fruit. very stylish indeed - and will probably benefit from a few more years. Top
- Champagne Brut Clos des Goisses 1996 (Philipponnat)
Far weightier than either of the previous wines. Quite heavy and with a feeling that it could develop, and yet in some ways the fruit is quite evolved (and the colour quite dark). With reservations:
- Meursault Les Tessons Clos de Mon Plaisir 2001 (Roulot)
Lovely purity and poise, Very fine village-level wine. Top
- Roulot Meursault 1er Cru Boucheres 2001 (Roulot)
Dissapointing compared to the previous wine: a touch of eggy sulphur at first whiff and just a bit flat. Bare
- Chateau Haut Bailly 1995
Great tannins, mineral, lovely wine. Terroir is everything, at least if you don't wreck it by over-extraction and over-oaking. A good
- Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder 1996 (Rubissow-Sargent)
Nice cherry fruit, served in a pair with the previous wine this was claearly playing in the same league. Quite French in style except for a slightly sweeter finish, this Californian wine has a lot of class. Top
- Vieux Chateau Certan 1983
Another very fine Claret with great minerality. Drinking nicely. Bare
- Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1982 (Joseph Swan)
Rather well-preserved rounded blackcurrant fruit. Again quite French in style (which was the idea of these last two pairs). Pretty good. Top
- Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape 1983
Gamy and leathery as this wine is in the eighties. Quite light and etherial - rather unusual for the property. Rather lovely in its way if a bit surprising. Top
- Grange 1981 (Penfolds)
Porty, dry, almost burnt fruit. Very flavoury, but to me at least not so engaging. Top
- Chateau Rieussec 1988
Less in-your-face than some Rieussec, lots of botrytis and good concentration. Never my favourite property, but a bare
- Dow 1970 (Wine Soc bottling)
Prune-like fruit, cigar box, quite hard currently. Not as good as I hoped and yet it may be an odd phase. I hope for more in future but then this could just be a slightly dubious bottle.