The Diary - December 2003
- Savennieres 2000 (Ch de Varennes)
I have had a few wines like this recently - deep coloured, perhaps from time in (probably old) wood. Old-fashioned in a way, but I am not sure they have recaptured what makes this sort of wine age. A rich, interesting mouthful but I am not sure it is going anywhere. (This note dates from a week or two before the note from Oddbins Wine Fair below - see that for a further opinion.) Bare
- Prieure de St Jean de Bebian 1991, Coteaux du Languedoc
Good colour, attractive bramble and cherry nose. On the palate a touch dry and quite tannic with a liquorice character, becoming quite meaty with a bit of air.
- Cornas Terres Brulees 1995 (Columbo)
New-style certainly: fruit-driven, a touch of cassis, some underlying structure but basically ready. Good in its way but is it cornas?.
- Bandol 1998 (Tempier)
A lot of ripe fruit here - a great Bandol vintage - quite gamey, rustic almost. Good length and balance with a healthy dose of ripe tannins. This is not yet at peak by any means but it is probably a case of low three stars to high three stars. From a half.
- Amontillado (Jose de Soto)
Reasonable intensity and complexity for a relatively inexpensive wine but I think it has been sweetened just a touch and with the low sherry acidity it tends a bit towards cloying for me.
- Amontillado Viejo Pastrana (Vinicola Hidalgo)
Bone-dry and with a lovely salty tang. Unassertive but with a good depth and length of flavour too. Very good.
- Champagne NV (Perrier-Jouet)
Quite autolyic - pleasant. Bare
- Champagne Belle-Epoque 1996 (Perrier-Jouet)
Soft and forward for 96 - nice texture. Prett good. Scrapes
- Champagne NV (Taittinger)
Light, elegant, floral. Good.
- Champagne Rose NV (Taittinger)
OK but a bit coarse. Another "addition-method" rose and I am just not convinced about this as a proccess.
- Champagne 1998 (Moet & Chandon)
Quite vinous, forward, fairly intense. It has that oddly flat Moet palate but seems quite good. Needs time. A good
- Savennieres 2001 (Chateau de Varennes)
Had this a while ago and found it hard to understand. The reason is that while dry it has about 20% botrytis. Low acid too. There was talk from the representative of making more accessible Savennieres for today's market. Well, it's not closed, high-acid and needing years but it is not altogether popular styled either in its rather different way. Curious. A decent
- Chateau Charron 2001
A modern-style Cote de Blaye white. Rather oaky.
- Minervois Cuvee Aude 2002 (Borie de Maurel)
Very Marsanne - rich gluey. Rather nice and not expensive.
- Manzanilla (Barbadillo)
So lovely, salty and mouthwatering. What a lot of wine for less than six quid. Maybe even
- Chianti Classico 2000 (Villa Cafaggio)
Fruity, attractive, not over-made.
- Primitivo Virtuoso 2000 (Casa Girelli)
Bags of fruit, fairly complex, unashamedly modern but good of its sort. Good value
- Possessioni Rosso 2001 (Serego Alighieri - Masi)
Very gluggable blend of Valpolicella grapes with international varieties. Top
- Vitiano 2002 (Falesco)
Umbrian Sangiovese plus Bordeaux blend. Silky, quite concentrated, a touch internationally styled perhaps but good. A bargain.
- Rioja Reserva Conde de Valdemar 1997 (Martinez Bujanda)
High-toned silky fruit, perhaps a bit gutless. A top
- Rioja Finca Valpiedra Reserva 1997 (Martinez Bujanda)
Silky again and with a bit more substance and length. This is attractive drinking, but is it a bit lacking in depth and interest?
- Grange 1997 (Penfolds)
Big leathery nose - quite elegant and soft on the palate. Very good wine but insubstantial for Grange and I wonder if there are hidden depths. Odd. Top
- Minervois Esprit dAutomne 2002 (Borie de Maurel)
Weighty yet elegant and spicy - no wood apparantly - just pure fruit.
- Minervois La Feline 2001 (Borie de Maurel)
Spicier - touch of wood. A slightly more manipulated wine but nicely made - rich but balanced. Top
- Minervois Cuvee Sylla 2001 (Borie de Maurel)
We are heading in to seriously fine wine territory here - pure fruit with little or no wood. Worth sitting down to try a bottle properly - for now
- Chateau Poujeaux 1997
This has a slightly corrupt edge at first - smoky too, but with time a gentle fragrance emerges. Good food wine - young claret is always a bit problematical on its own. A good 97.
- Haut Bages Liberal 1975
Oranging rim but healthy colour, savoury tobacco nose and palate - just to my mind what a cellared claret should be like. An example of a 75 that is coming round to drinking very nicely in its maturity.
- Clos de Marquis 1983
The second wine of Las Cases, this is pleasantly "cedar and cigar" on the nose and if a little light on the palate now, it hints too at scented class and has aged pretty gracefully. Top
- Chateau Larmande 1997
Quite high-toned scented fruitcake nose, dry savoury and with decent length. Nice Claret, with a bit of structure and nice acidity too. Two years ago I predicted a 3-star future for this and I think it has just about made it:
- Chateau de Sales 1978
Oh, the things that lurk at the back of the cellar - I remember drinking my penultimate bottle of this minor Pomerol a while before Fine Wine Diary started and perhaps before the web was a household word. Then it was richly fruity and now it is a bit past it. But if you like older wines there are things to admire - a tobacco dominated nose and sweet if attenuated fruit. On the down side it seems to have a slightly soapy texture. Still, I drank several glasses with pleasure: just about merits
- Brane Cantenac 1996
I just noticed I have a few bottles of this and opened one, worrying that I might have bought them while the balance of my mind was disturbed - the property had a low reputation a while ago. I am relieved to find I made a reasonable decision (after a tasting, I think it was) - this is good Claret albeit quite forward in style. I just looked in Broadbent and he too likes this wine, finding the excellent description of "privet" for its attractive, dry, slightly green-edged fruit. For drinking in the next few years I guess but still
- Sociando Malet 1986
The fruit is pretty much ready although there are still some tannins around - but not enough to make it less than very pleasant to drink. It seems to have matured in the rose-scented direction with little cedaryness. Quite stylish mature Claret if a touch four-square. Probably close to peak although with its structure there copuld still be a pleasant surprise lurking. Top
- La Tour de Pin Figeac Miouex 1970
Healthy colour, cedary nose and a reasonable helping of fruitcakey merlot fruit, albeit with some of the ungenerous side of the 70 vintage. I guess the fruit is fading a bit - this was probably at its best a few years ago. It is not at all bad however and better than I remember - I don't know if this is a better bottle or whether it is just that the other bottle I had among some good kit. Decent