The Diary - January 2005
- Rully Les Saint-Jacques 1994 (A. et P. de Villaine)
Not a star village, an un-rated vineyard and a moderate vintage - it's amazing what sensitive winemaking can achieve. Lovely, drinkable, engaging, characterful and not entirely simple fuit - nine years old and about at peak from a half. Really very enjoyable.
- York Creek Petite Sirah 1997 (Ridge)
Dense colour. Quite Syrah-like at first, but more baked (almost burnt) plum fruit after a while. Good texture - feels nice in the mouth. Good structure too - this is a rather good, characterful wine. Still improving and needing time, but perhaps it won't actually quite rate more stars.
- Casalferro 1995 (Castello di Brolio)
Really quite youthful still, high-toned food wine with a touch of (very Italian) bitterness. Nice fruit. I described this as "modern" last time I drank it, but it isn't evolving quickly. Merits I think.
- Rioja Gran Reserva Prado Enea 1995 (Muga)
A big hit of blackcurrant on the nose initially - and a while after it still has quite a lot of forward fruit, at least compared to the more austere higher-toned 94. Still a fine wine but I'm having trouble getting to grips with it. Say,
- Bricco del Drago 1995 (Poderi Colla)
Lovely high-toned brambly fruit with a touch of cranberry. Good ripeness and succulent tannins, nice mineral base too - probably still improving and could even rate another star in time. For now a top
- Taittinger 1990
My last bottle of this: rich and flavoursome with highly evolved fruit - on my first sip I thought it was past its best, but on longer acquaintance I felt it was about at its best while needing drinking relatively soon. Top
- Mas de Daumas Gassac rouge 1991
Healthy colour - cedary, fruitcake nose and a pleasantly balanced palate. Pretty much at peak, but holding nicely - a bit of air and it opens up and reveals a fragrant side too. I haven't always been overwhelmed by the wines from this estate, but this has shifted my opinion up a bit.
- Cabernet Sauvignon 1982 (Jean Leon)
Very pleasantly cedary, but this Bordeaux-style wine's fruit is becoming a bit thin now.
- Rioja Reserva white 1985 (Marques de Murrieta)
My last bottle of this: lemony vanilla, touch of sherry character but completely and enjoyably fresh and appetising. Almost timeless, but I guess it wouldn't improve. Very pleasant mature wine (of an unfashionable sort).
- Chateau Les Trois Chardons 1996
Scented, dry and savoury - old-fashioned Claret that isn't that weighty. Very pleasant, but I think perhaps not one of the best wines from this property - it is still improving but may not rate more stars.
- Mussbacher Eselshaut Rieslaner TBA 1992 (Muller-Catoir)
I haven't tasted this for eight years, I think. I rated it very highly then as a young wine and now it has a restrained but lovely old apricot nose and a wonderful density of fruit of fruit and a rich, extravagently viscous texture. There's a nice level of acidity too that stops it cloying and a very long finish. Very lovely, but I have slight reservations about the complexity - it does seem, as one might perhaps expect from the grape, a touch one-dimensional given its other qualities.
- Moulin-a-Vent, Champ de Coeur 2002 (L. Jadot)
My first sampling of Jadot's Beaujolais project. My first thought was that I was expecting something a bit larger, but the fruit has good, under-stated concentration and there is an attractive mineral core too. Very drinkable, yet there is a tannic underpinning that will give a at least a few years of positive evolution. I am quite positive about htis - for now a conservative
- Chateau de Fonsalette Rouge - Cotes du Rhone Reserve 1994
Lovely, intense, Grenache-based wine - long, balanced, like a very good Chateauneuf. Easy top
The Lamaione is a disappointing wine. I remember having it for the fist time (before FWD, in 1995 or earlier I guess). Then it oozed class, and in 1997 I still rated it highly. But since then it has declined, and now one word will do: 'undrinkable' - although I've expanded slightly beyond that below. I wonder whether its earlier showing was flattered by some flashy wine making (carb. mac.?). There aren't many wines I've poured down the sink, but this was one of them.
- Champagne Veuve Cliquot yellow label NV
Touch of toast, nice middle of the road Champagne palate, medium weight, decent finish.
- Bollinger Special Cuvee NV
Quite vinous nose. Chewy palate with some obvious wood influence. Good length. Top almost more
- Roederer Brut Premier NV
Elegant, ripe apples, fine, long finish. Excellent fine mousse. Not universally enjoyed, perhpas becaus it could do with some time in bottle. I like the style though. Scrapes
- Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru NV
Seems good but very slightly tainted - corked maybe, but perhaps in fact excess sulphur. Takes the edge off.
- Rose de Sagnier Champagne NV (Larmandier-Bernier)
Dry, fragrant, nice balance.
- Dom Perignon Oenotheque 1990
Very toasty - one gets used to it. Very tightly elegant and fine but it lacks sensory oomph a bit even though it is seriously concentrated. Loses fizz quite quickly. I have slightly mixed feelings about this but maybe it needs further study. Top
- Champagne Blanc de blancs NV (Henriot)
Quite full-bodied - a touch rustic perhaps. There is something of Macon-with-bubbles about it but nevertheless it's very drinkable. Good
Some lovely wine, but also some disappointments. I've had Talbot, Gruaud Larose and Las Cases 1982 in the last few months, and whilst the first two have been stunning; the last one is not showing well.
- Chateauneuf-du-Pape 1989 (Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe)
The last time I had this, in 2002, it seemed a weedy wine that probably wasn't going to live to its youthful potential. It just had the odd glimpse suggesting it might improve - but I wasn't that convinced. Fortunately though, this bottle at least is on lovely form. A dry wine without flashiness, but lovely toned acidity and flavours that are constantly developing in the glass. And to think that I almost decided to drink all my bottles in 2002. An easy now.
- Mount Edelstone Keyneton Shiraz 1990 (Henschke)
Holding up well, but so dull compared with the Chateauneuf above. Simple sweet flavours. I suppose just.
- Manzanilla Amontillado matured by Jurado 1/21 (Lustau)
Attractive nutty (marzipan?), tangy nose, very nicely-textured palate with solid underlying fruit and a lovely salty finish. All quite refined. Maybe scrapes
- Chateau Chalon 1986 (Bourdy)
Not what I expected on opening, oddly rounded fruit and a tired feeling. After a while though it opens up quite nicely: bone-dry, savoury, citric, a touch of herbs and a hint of Fino Sherry. Very nice and perhaps will even improve. For now
- Oloroso de Jerez matured by Angel Zamorano 1/16 (Lustau)
Very luxurious agreeable Oloroso that slips down a treat without generating the last word in excitement although its nose is pretty complex at least soon after opening. Say
- Palo Cortado Cardinel (Valdespino)
This wine has a touch of the lifted salty tang of Manzanilla over a burnt old-wine palate with a long finish. Very mouthwatering, a touch of camphor or something. Seems almost better after a day or two open. Very lovely. Easy
- Sacrista Sherry, Amontillado GP (Valdespino)
Very fine and long - tangy, hints of chocolate almost on the nose. Not quite as demanding as the Coliseo from this house but very fine.
- Amontillado Solera Especial, Aged 30 years (Williams and Humbert)
Very drinkabe old sherry, grippy and with that nice hint of sourness. Not the last word in fineness however - I feel this hints a bit at dry-cleaning fluid.
- Antique Fino (Fernando de Castilla)
Rich and long with rather greater depth than a standard Fino - salty tang too, nice acidity and a long, citric finish. Very clean and pure. plus
- Shiraz 2002 (Groot Constantia)
Not quite one thing or the other if you know what I mean. Vibrant ripe fruit to start with but with a green and dilute finish. Not as interesting as I would have hoped.
- Campagne Carte d'Or 1983 (Drappier)
Good fruit but perhaps a touch rustic - old straw farmyard characters of a pleasant sort. Completely mature and very drinkable. Forgiving it a certain rusticity one might stretch to (it would depend on my mood)
- La Tour St Bonnet 1982
Warm and ripe (the vintage I guess) but perhaps beginning to lose it in a graceful way. Cedary but not terribly complex. Bare
- Lynch Bages 1985
Seems pretty much ready to drink - nice balance, generous fruit and a nice dry finish. Bare
- Pinot Bianco 2002 (Jermann)
Lovely appetising, drinkable wine (breaking for another mouthful as I type). Not a hint of the varietal flab, yet lovely ripe fruit and mineral overtones. Something of almonds about the whole package too. This has the balance to keep well for a while I feel, and it may even improve over a year or so. Dry yet not austere, and with really good length. Classy.