- Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 1995 Reasonable, but lacks real complexity and depth. 86
- Sanford 1992 Pinot Noir Barrel Select, Sanford and Benedict Vineyard Superb Pinot Noir with sweet, but not too sweet, strawberry, spice and coffee flavours and a lovely sharp balancing acidity. 92
"The best" from Oddbins Fine Wine 24/09/1998 (TNB)
- Puligny-Montrachet Refferts 96 (Sauzet) Pale colour, almonds, lemon and melon on the nose, absolutely explosive palate that had us guessing "grand cru" (everything was tasted blind). Nutty puligny fruit. I noted before that Sauzet's 96's seem excellent, and this more considered look at one confirms this. Superb. (34.99)
- Vouvray Le Marigny 96 (Aubusieres, Fouqet) Sweet honeyed aricot/peach. Qyuite sweet and long with enough acidity. A bit soft for serious ageing (and for spotting blind as Vouvray - or that's my exccuse). (18.99)
- Yquem 89 Deep greeny gold, Gloroius, rich boitrytised nose with a hard to decribe delicious vegetable component. Fine deep and long. Superb, but a shade loose to be a really long-lived Yquem, I suspect. (From 1 half, at 74.99/half.)
- Leoville Poyferre 83 Decent matturing claret colour. Pencily, almost smokey evolved claret nose. Good tarry fruit and a decent finish. Very good. (Not universally admired - some found it unbalanced. I suppose it is a bit ungainly.) (42.99)
- Leoville Las Cases 85 Good colour, ripe merloty nose, tightly wound in the mouth at the moment, in a slightly un85y way. Good length. A decent 85, but is this really the same wine as the superb example I drank last year? 74.99
- Beaucastel 94 Moderate colour. Sweet Burgundian nose. Raspberry fruit. Quite grenachy in the mouth with decent length. Suprisingly light for this property in this year. Will it fill out a bit? (17.99)
- The Armagh 95 (Jim Barry) Amazing indian ink colour. Sweet warm-climate fruit with an amazingly pervasive (and for me dislikeable) mintyness. Outrageous concentration of cloying fruit. Are people really paying more for this than for top Cote-Rotie and Hermitage? (34.99)
- Cabernet Sauvignon 95 (Viader) Deep red, dense warm-climate cabernet fruit, thankfully unminted. A remarkably concentrated and, I suppose, serious wine. The price seems at least as badly out of line as Bordeaux though. 23.99
- Cabernet sauvignon 91 Blauklippen (Stellenbosch) Hard to return to this, which seemed to me to have that disjointed marriage of very ripe fruit with acidity which I associate with artificial acidification. Probably a decent drink, at no great price.
Noel Young Wines 'Old and Rare' Tasting, 24/09/1998 (RJB)
Two bottles of each wine (each pair from the same source), and vast amounts of bottle variation in places. All bottles had good fill levels.
- Puligny-Montrachet Les referts, Shipped by Lebegue 1969 (43.00) Hazelnut oil nose - I love the smell of good old Burgundy. Hugely fresh acidic palate (probably why it's lasted so well). A very light hint of sherry after a while in the glass. 87
- Bollinger 1976 Both bottles completely lacking fizz, and maderising.
- Chateau La Gravette 1959, Wine Society Bottling (23.50) Anyone heard of this Chateau? Dry leathery nose with pear drop fruit. Dry and past it. Volatility at the finish.
- Santenay Gravieres 1959, Wine Society Bottling (43.99) Very pleasant sweet beetroot Pinot (and probably some other grape varieties!) nose and palate. Length and acidity. 88
- Chateau La Lagune 1970 Reasonably together - spicy and tarry with and orange flavour. A touch dry at the finish. Disappointing. The other bottle of this was slightly better. 86
- Gigondas 1970, Jaboulet-Aine Brown and past it (again the other bottle showed better)
- Barolo 1969, Giacomo Conterno Light brown and cloudy - I haven't seen a bottle this bad for ages. The other bottle was clearer, but the wine wasn't great.
- Gevry-Chambertin 1959, Paul Court Coffee and strawberry sweetness - rather good. 87
- Chateau Rieussec 1970 (31.59) Lemons, wax and honey, but a musty finish. 86
A weird tasting (but interesting for that). Forget Claret and Barolo, the Burgundies seemed to be the agers (but then again they probably had some Rhone, Algerian or Australian wine in them and a dash of Port for good measure)
Domaine De Chevalier by Raeburn Fine Wines, at the Scottish Wine Soc 22/09/1998 (TNB)This confirms my belief that this is a first rate property. The wines are fine, elegant and ageworthy. Last time I had the 88 it seemed a shade light, and I was disappointed compared to the time before (when I bought a few bottles). Possibly I just tasted it in the wrong company (of wines I mean, not people). One could underestimate Dom Chev in the company of more "Parkerised" wines.
- Domaine De Chevalier 95 Deep colour, very rip blackcurrent and cherry fruit with moderate oak and that slight Graves rusticity. In the mouth, it has that ever-so-sweet ripe fruit of the vintage, unevolved but with great length. 90(?+)
- Domaine De Chevalier 94 Good red, but a tinge of orange near the rim. Nose a much dumber version of the 95. Palate is dominated by very high acidity, but again a longish finish. Perhaps a bad time to be tasting this. Certainly a bit problematic at the moment. 86
- L'Esprit De Chevalier 93 The second wine is quite high in merlot, using fruit from vines planted to replace losses in 85. Rich and fruitcakey, slightly cough-sweetish, decent for drinking now. 82.
- Domaine De Chevalier 93 Notably evolved Graves smokeyness on the nose, with some cedary maturing claret flavours on the palate. Again, a goodish finish. A nice balanced claret. 87.
- L'Esprit De Chevalier 92 Deeper colour than the 93, in a similar style, but a bit more one-dimensional. 80.
- Domaine De Chevalier 92 As with the L'Esprit's, the 92 is superficially heavier, but perhaps less concentrated in real flavour and finesse than the 93. Evolved smokey/gameyness on the nose, perhaps lacking ripeness in the mouth? 85
- Domaine De Chevalier 89 Gorgeous smokey, deep, concentrated nose, quite oaky on the palate for this property. Plummy fruit. Delicious. 92.
- Domaine De Chevalier 88 Interesting to try this again: very fine `undergrowth' nose, tighter on the palate than the 89, with startling length. One for long cellaring! 92(?+)
- Waitrose Alsace Gewurztraminer 1996 OK, Gewurz with spiciness and fatness. 83
- Ruinart Brut Champagne Toasty and fullish bodied fizz. 88
- Ridgewood Mataro Greanche 1997, Australia Surprisingly rough for an Oz wine - with no great fruit. 78
- Sparkling Shiraz Reserve 1993, Seppelts Gloriously refreshing after a sunny day in London - good balance. I'd drink this ahead of most Cava and Oz white fizz. 85
The following two wines had with dinner at One Paston Place - highly recommended if you happen to be near Brighton.
- Domaine des Entrefaux 1994, Crozes-Hermitage Blanc From a half. Lightly apricoty and nutty. 84
- Clos Saint Jean 1994, Chateauneuf-du-Pape From a half. Violets and medium bodied. 85
Wine Dinner at St Bernard's Crescent 19/09/1998 (TNB)
- Forster Freundstuck Auslese 76 (von Buhl) Fresh, apricoty nose. Honeyed. Fairly luscious, but no excessive 76 flab. Excellent.
- Chasagne Montrachet Champgains 94 (Niellon) Decent concentration, deft use of oak, very drinkable. A slightly short finish gives it away as an excellent effort in a very ordinary vintage.
- Haut Brion 80 Good tobacco nose, quite light in the mouth with a short, sharp finish. Proper wine though, and a decent effort in a dismal vintage.
- Mouton Rothschild 80 Little nose and very hollow on the palate. Thin and acidic. Might have been a bit better 10 years ago.
- Pichon Lalande 81 Blackcurrent and plum, a completely balanced wine, slightly too perfect to be interesting now, or perhaps just needing another 10 years.
- Pichon Lalande 79 Rather more than two years more eveolved - classic cigar-box claret. If one is to criticise a very fine wine, there is a slight hollowness in the late mid-palate (characteristic of the vintage perhaps).
- Lascombes 61 (CB) Rich, dry, slightly biscuity, fragrant. Quite a lot of citric acidity on the finish - nice, but time to drink, I think.
- Coteaux De l'Aubance 59 (Daviau) Very deep amber with a classic fine-old-wine green tinge at the rim. Very marmaladey, with excellent acidity keeping it very much alive. Has a slight woody edge of a not unpleasant sort.
- Raymond-Lafon 79 Suprisingly marked botrytis for the vintage, lovely honeyed classic sauterne. Excellent effort.
- Maury 83 (Mas Amiel) I remember this as disappointing (from before these notes, I think). This bottle is delicious - rich currenty/damsony moderately sweet dessert wine with some aged character.
Noel Young Wines Merlot Tasting 17/09/1998 (RJB)
- Acacias Estate Genesis Vineyard 1996, Chile (5.29) Oaky and smokey with plum skin flavours. A bit short and weedy towards the end. 83
- Bodega La Rural Rutini 1995, Argentina (6.99) Smokey, berry fruit and a green astringent finish. 80
- Chateau Le Petit-Bocq, St Estephe 1995 (11.99) More complete than the above two wines - coffee and spice, good balance and ripe tannins. 87
- Fromm Winery La Strada 1996, New Zealand (12.99) Colour rather weak - simple flavours with a citric finish. Quite good for a New Zealand red. 83
- Thelema Mountain Vineyards Merlot 1995, South Africa (11.99) Consistently one of the better South African wineries. This has meaty, mushroomy fruit with balancing acidity. 88+
- Vignalta Gemola, Colli Euganei Rosso 1994, Italy (14.99) Mushroomy soft - good astringence. A paradigm(!) of Italian Merlot? 86-89
- Heggies Vineyard 1993, Australia (12.99) Damson and liquorice, but a touch too heavy for balance. 86
- Francis Coppola Family Wines 1995, California (22.99) Full and smokey, damson, plum and lightly chocolate. 91
- The Malcolm Shiraz 1996, Magpie Estate, Australia (45.00) Now one of the hallowed ranks of Parker 99 pointers. This has 16.5% alcohol, is opaque and is probably very, very good. Alas this sample had arrived in the shop only a few hours before and the balance was out of kilter, but the nose suggested great richness. 93+?
- Barbaresco Rabaja 90 (Chiarlo) Deep colour (for nebbiolo), dense, slightly tarry fruit and quite a lot of firm yet ripe tannins. It seems to have no particular character now - perhaps it will be good in time.
Oddbins Wine Fair 13/09/1998 (TNB)There follow brief notes for that which I had the perseverence to taste! Champagne first:
- Taittinger NV Its usual elegant self. Very pleasant. (22.99)
- Billecart-Salmon NV Similar weight to the Taittinger NV, but a very grapey finish which one might prefer. (19.49)
- Moet NV A bit greener, gutsier and a bit weightier than either of the above. Might like a year or two in bottle.
- Bollinger NV Bags of flavour, quite weighty, reasonable acidity.
- Rose NV Billecart Pale colour - pretty sound as usual, but not a patch on the gorgeous Rose 90 tasted recently.
- Taittinger 92 My first look at the vintage - seems pretty soft and forward. Decent enough, but would this have been declared 20 years ago?
- Moet 92 Seems to have a bit more guts, but it seemed a bit odd to me - I need to retaste.
- Billecart 90 Very impressive: lightish weight, like the NV, but lots of concentration.
- Bollinger Grand Anne 90 Good autolytic flavours, ripe, strong finish. A bit less gutsy than I was expecting; perhaps that's the vintage.
- Campofiorin 94 (Masi) Pleasantly fruity with cherry flavours and a nice bitter hint. (7.49)
- Amarone 94 (Masi) Very nice bitter/sweet flavours. Thoroughly enjoyable. 86 (12.99)
- Recioto degli Angeli 95 (Masi) Similar flavour profile to the above, with sweetness. Would be lovely after dinner. 86 (12.99)
- Mezzanella Recioto 93 (Masi) More eveolved - probably an ideal age, lovely drink. 87.
- Torcolato 96 (Maculan) (Sharing the Masi stand) Nice round orangy flavours. This house do make good dessert wines.
- Vouvray Les Chairs Salees 97 (Domaine Aubusieres) Almost demisec in style, but not great acidity.
- Vouvray Les Girardieres 96 (Domaine Aubusieres) Fuller, richer, possibly some botrytis. Again, no great acidity.
- Vouvray Cuve Alexandre 96 (Domaine Aubusieres) Lovely, honeyed, grassy nose and palate. Real Vouvray.
And some miscellaneous notes:
- Pegos Claros 93 Was good, characterful wine, softened by sensible use of large barrels. (Wouldn't it be funny if this style became fashionable again, leaving all the ultrafresh fruit-driven flying winemaker stuff languishing?) is also quite gutsy but a lot lighter. had a bit more body again and is certainly a good drink.
- Antonopolous and , all a bit bland, if clean. The whites have an almost Italian degree of blandness. The has apparently had some publicity recently. A bit like an old-fashioned Ozzy oak-bomb, redeemed by quite a nice pecan nut finish. Not really my sort of thing, but a lot of drama for 9.99.
- Lindauer Brut One of the least cloying New World fizzes, and hence one of the better ones to my taste.
- Seppelt Show Palomino DP117 A good dry sherry - mind you there's a lot of the real stuff around quite cheaply too! (5.99 per half)
- Seppelt Rutherglen Show Muscat DP63 Very brown sugar - I think this is often the best of the standard Muscats, with an air of age about it. (7.49 per half)
- Rioja Vina Monty Gran Res. 89 (Montecillo) Lots of vanilla, fruit a bit weak.
- Rioja Gran. Res. 90 (Campo Viejo) Slightly rustic, warm berry fruit. Quite pleasant.
- Hermitage Sizeranne 94 (Chapoutier) Sound, but quite bland, in the way of the new Chapoutier style.
- Chablis Vielle Vignes 96 (Brocard) A bit of a bargain again - sound basic chardonnay. (8.99)
- Crozes hermitage Cuvee J-E Guibert 95 Modern, oaky, but not a bad example of the style.
- Gewurtztraminer 97 (Turckheim Co-op) A bit dull, but not unpleasant like the last example of this wine I had.
- Salice Salentino 94 (Vallone) Profile raised by R.P.'s hyping of Taurino, this area does produce some pleasant every-day stuff like this!
- Villard Pinot Noir 97 (Chile) Shockingly medicinal, in a way I don't really warm to.
- Piper-Heidsieck Brut Champagne OK, but lacks sophistication. 85
- Champagne Drappier Slightly green this bottle, but nothing some storage time wouldn't have put right. One of my favourite middle price range Champagnes. 88
- Waitrose Champagne Blanc de Blancs Decent but unexciting. 84
- Leoville Barton 1975 Drinking very well - lovely nose, and sandy (but not overbearing) tannins at the finish. 88
- Chateau Tahbilk Unwooded Marsanne 1997 Rather vegetal and resinous. 78
- Southern Cross Viognier/Chardonnay, Val d'Orbieu NV I believe (unless the date label had fallen off). A blue star appears on the label when it is at the 'correct' temperature, although I suspect that the star doesn't disappear when it gets too cold (although it could be suggested that frozen as ice cubes to add to a summer cocktail might be the 'correct' time to drink this wine!). Disappointing given what this winery can do with straight Viognier - why, oh why add chardonnay? 80
- Chateau Giscours 1993 Rather thin, charmless and weedy. Avoid. 80
- Champagne Gosset 89 Excellent structure from wood (I assume) like a first class Burgundy. Lovely bubbles and a good finish. Lovely!
- Mercurey Croix Jacquelet 90 (Faively) Tasted again. Still seems a bit lacking, and I thought it had just faded. There is a core of fruit in there though. Next day, it seemed to have improved (a far rarer ocurrence for me than many people seem to claim). I'm still dubious, but perhaps it has something going for it?
Misc 06/09/1998 (TNB)
- Gewurtztraminer reserve 96 (Turckheim co-op) I seem to remember these Alsace co-ops having a good reputation, but this is really quite unpleasant - some odd taste in the mid-palate/finish.
- Colhieta 83 (Niepoort) tasted again, and again excellent - a really fine chocolatey finish. (about 18.00 - Raeburn Fine Wines)
Champagne at OFW 03/09/1998 (TNB)
- NV, A. Gratien Quite honeyed, buiscity nose, zesty, frothy, pretty good. Not quite the old-fashioned full-bodied style I expect from this producer. (20.00)
- Krug Grand Cuve Mousse dies a bit in the glass, but is characteristically fine in the mouth. This has a full-bodied, balanced richness, but like the last time I had this, it seems a bit over-evolved - with an almost oxidative character. Storage problem? (50.00 special offer)
- Shadow Creek NV Slightly soft in the mouth, and in danger of cloying, despite some unknit acidity. Easy to spot (although everything was blind) as the New World pretender. Not bad for the price, I suppose, but I would tend to go for sparkling Vouvray or similar at this level. (10.00)
- Rose 1990 (Billecart Salmon) Very delicate pale rose with graceful strawberry fruit. Creamy and balanced. What a rose ought to be! (30.00)
- Belle Epoque 90, Perrier-Jouet Seems quite chardonnay dominated, slightly rustic gutsy style with good grip and length. Pretty classy - needs time. (2 for 75.00)
- Diamant bleu 85 (Hiedseck) More cultured and balanced - or possibly just more mature. Also more obvious pinot. Seems slightly sweet. Probably near peak. (2 for 75.00)
- Cuve Winston Churchill 86 (Pol Roger) Fine mousse, high-toned, elegant lime-rind character. Lovely to drink - but finishes a shade short. I put this down to the vintage though - this is a superb 86. (65.00)
- Cuve 2 sparkling Cab Sauv (Yalumba) If you like heavyweight sparkling reds......... (8.50)