The Diary - October 2003
Some of these really are a bit brief - fleeting impressions in the midst of much conviviality at the end of a long vinous day!
All very informal and one tends to end up tasting things in a far from ideal order! Scores consequently not to be taken overly seriously.
- Champagne Petraea Solera (Boulard)
A blend of 97,98 and 99 vintages - I am not sure where this fits in Boulard's range. Seems pretty good but I need to taste it more seriously: young but promising - maybe even
- Art Series Chardonnay 1999 (Leeuwin Estate)
Quite new-worldy on this showing (I thought this wine tended to be more classical and ageworthy) - will it develop? Good wine anyway. Decent
- Vina Tondonia blanco Gran Reserva 1981 (Lopez de Heredia)
Not as fresh as old Tondonia usually is, and a bit dirty too. Possibly a poor bottle.
- Chateau Gruaud Larose 1988
Concentrated gamy nose, coming up towards maturity. Rather good. At least a very top
- Chateau Talbot 1988
Pleasant enough but side by side with the Gruaud it is clearly a less substantial wine.
- Rioja Pagos Viejos 1998 (Artadi)
Very silky, refined wine as usual from Artadi. Modern-style of course but even so I am inclined to stretch to
- Spanna Campi Raudii 1955 (Vallana)
Pretty fresh considering the age, as these old Vallana wines tend to me. Not fine perhaps but a satisfying mouthful of mature wine.
- St Henri Shiraz 1994 (Penfolds)
Stylish and attractive. Sweet fruit unsupported by oak, and it carries it off. Good
- St Henri Shiraz 1993 (Penfolds)
A bit stinky and old. Either past it or a poor bottle - hard to say which.
- Gevrey Chambertin Clos St Jacques 1987 (B. Clair)
Oxidised and past it. The 87's are showing their age but this seems extreme. Might be a poor bottle but I suspect not, in which case
- Tokaji Aszu 5 puttonyos (Disznoko)
Tropical fruits, very much "modern style" I think and good in its way.
- Picolit 2001 (Casal del Ronco)
I hope I have the producer correct here since I can find no references. This is the second example of the very rare and rather expensive Friulian desert wine, named after its grape variety. This had an intense nose of tropical fruits and a young wine camphor component. I would like to try this properly - for now
- Chateau Climens 1983
Very classy and balanced - possibly not a wine to appreciate in a mixed tasting like this, but concentrating on it I see a lot of quality. Drinking well.
- Cos d'Estournel 1997
Intense blackcurrant nose. Dry and savoury. A touch of capsicum - a hint of (not unpleasant) under-ripeness. Slightly bitter finish. A difficult wine. (just)
- Pichon Lalande 1997
Nice balance - cedary blackcurrant. Charming and might be more so in a year or two although not for very long keeping. Top
- Ducru Beaucaillou 1997
Very nice fruitcakey Claret nose - becomes fragrant. Nice elegant balance. Stylish. Very top
- Leoville Las Cases 1997
Very dry and tight. More closed. Classy and really does need time. Top again
- Cheval Blanc 1997
Fine fragrant nose. Very fine and long. Very attractive indeed but will be at peak in a couple of years at most probably. So seductive it might even merit
- Haut Brion 1997
Fruitcake nose, mouthfilling, lovely, sweet fruit. Fairly seriously structured and like the Las Cases really demanding some cellaring.
- Doisy Vedrines 1997
Nice and rich - lots of botrytis. This seems quite forward and evolved. Very good indeed - it is amazing the quality one can get from Sauternes/Barsac at reasonable prices.
- Pol Roger Winston Churchill 1990
Rich, mushroomy and lees-influenced - somewhat forward (largely the vintage style I guess). Lovely drinking.
- Chablis Blanchot 1991 (Raveneau)
Very mineral, with a hint of the sea that I had not noticed until Neal M suggested cockle-sheds! Very fine! Top
- Chassagne Montrachet Chenevottes 1989 (Niellon)
Lovely creamy palate (typical of the producer) but it is very evolved. I suspect this is an odd bottle given Niellon's standards, even though 89 is a forward vintage.
- Haut Brion blanc 1992
Candied fruits. So intense on the nose and palate, heavily oaked but with the fruit to carry it. Drinking but surely will improve. Not universally admired around the table but for me
- Musigny Vieilles Vignes 1991 (de Vogue)
Deep, dense fruit, tending towards pruney - mainly from sheer concentration I suspect. Very complex and aging nicely - will probably benefit from another few years after which it might even rate higher.
- Richebourg 1990 (DRC)
Terribly elegant and drinkable - meaty touches - none of the cooked fruit this vintage sometimes offers - very, very nice but a bit insubstantial. Quite advanced - possibly because this bottle had not been in a really cool cellar for several years of its life. This bottle:
- Chateau Montrose 1961
Fine old mature claret, dry and savoury - chunky as so many St Estephe's are. In pretty good condition. Making a tiny allowance for the fact that it had just travelled:
- Haut Brion 1983
Rather good, gamy, pretty much mature Claret. Quite animal (keen brett-spotters were on to this quickly). I thought this was splendid drinking and if not great, a bit better than its middling reputation (at least among other vintages of this splendid property). Just about
- Pichon Lalande 1982
Lots of ripe fruit, nice balance, first-class stuff but not absolutely singing. I suspect we are drinking it at slightly the wrong time and perhaps this will merit absolutely top marks in a few years.
- Hill of Grace 1986 (Henschke)
Stands up in this company. Fine, if a touch sweet on the finish and simpler than some of the classics earlier. On a graceful downward slope I think. A very good
- Yquem 1983
I've had a few mature seeming 83 Sauternes recently and even the Yquem seems ready - although doubtless with years of interesting evolution ahead. Lovely complex flavours.
- Hochheimer KonigenVictoriaberg Auslese 1971 (Pabstmann/Deinhard)
Gentle, graceful old German to finish the meal.
- Champagne Grand Rose Brut NV (Gosset)
Fragrant with a nice mousse. There is a slight sweetness that works quite well - ripe fruit before a long finish. This has benefited from a couple of years in cellar. Serious for a Rose - indeed, such a good one I think it scrapes
- Champagne Belle Epoque 1990 (Perrier-Jouet)
Quite a big wine with ripe fruit (the vintage) and a decent finish. Plenty of presence but lacks the fineness I'd hope for in a luxury fizz.