The Diary - March 1999
A word on the 83 clarets: served blind, these were hard to
spot as claret, and knowing them to be claret, it was easy to
guess they were younger. While they are quite soft and pleasant,
I suspect this isn't an ideal time to be sampling them because
the obvious fruit character has gone and the mature claret character
not fully emerged. The classed growths all seemed good, but in
need of at least a few years.
- Madeira Verdelho 1905
(No obvious producer) Brown sugar, nutty, still quite sweet, delicious. Gorgeous length.
- Chassagne Montrachet 1989 (Jadot)
In your face fruity. Full and fat. Fairly simple.
- Puligny Montrachet Garenne 1989 (Duc de Magenta - Jadot)
Warmish fruit. Nuttier. Mouthfilling, but fairly straightforward. Suggestion of poor cork.
- Chassagne Montrachet 1989 Caillerets (Jadot)
Same sort of weight as village wine - a bit finer though.
- 1983 (Cousino Macul)
Blackcurrant, smoky, slightly woody. Typical sense that there is something synthetic about the charred flavours.
- Pichon Lalande 1983
Crushed red fruits. Good length. Perfumed and soft. Very nice.
- La Lagune 1983
Round, fruity, solid claret.
- Chasse Spleen 1983
Toffeed, but a short. Clearly weaker than the competition - hard to believe the claims of those who think of this property as clear classed-growth standard.
- Leoville Poyferre 1983
Round, full, yet slightly green. Tea flavours. Another classy wine.
- Cantemerle 1983
Just developing cedariness. Good length. Excellent claret coming round to drinkability. A star in this vintage.
- Symphonie de Novembre, Jurancon 1996 (Domaine Cauhape)
Vivid apricot fruit. Dense. Impressive.
- Gaillac, Grain de Folie, 1997 (Domaine de Causse Marines)
Less full, lifted. Decent, but not so exciting.
- Delirese d'Automne, (Domaine de Causse Marines)
Very, very rich - consequently a bit dull. Very smart designer bottle and no vintage indication.
Briefish notes, because of cooking, etc!
- Conrieu Coteau de Chery 1997 (Perret)
Restrained peachy/apricot notes. Classy, but lacking the best buzz of excitement that Condrieu can bring.
- Clos Floridene 1989
Rather better than the 90 of this white Graves, which I've sampled many times. This has similar, slightly tropical fruit but with better concentration and length. Drinking nicely, and will do for a while yet.
- Puligny Montrachet Combettes 1990 (Sauzet)
Very fine, quite tight. Seemed a shade light, but opened up in the glass. Probably just too young. Very good length.
- Chassagne Montrachet Boudriotte 1992 (Ramonet)
More voluptuous, not quite as fine, but with that delicious powerful gingeriness so characteristic of this producer. Lovely.
- Chateau Loudenne 1982
Nicely ripe - drinking fairly well now. This does seem to be a good bourgeois vintage.
- Leoville Poyferre 1982
Big and ripe. Structured, but with the characteristic ripe fruit of the vintage. Liquoricey. Very good.
- Pichon Lalande 1982
As the Poyferre, but bigger framed. Perhaps no finer though. Excellent, but just an average for me and not the absolute super-star its reputation suggests.
- Canon 1966
Crisp, with mature cedaryness emerging. Lovely balance - my sort of Claret! Could do with a few more years.
- Mussbacher Eselshaut Riesling Auslese 1992 (Muller-Catoir)
Typical of the producer - big, brash, dramatic, very good, but perhaps not going anywhere. Hard to pin down, tasted blind.
- Chardonnay 1997, Australia (Chain of Ponds)
(14.99) Lime and hazelnuts - oily nose. good acidity and a long oak-dominated finish. alcohol shows through a touch. good structure, but not for keeping for too long.
- Alta Chardonnay Luca Vineyard 1996, Argentina (Catena)
(19.95) Butterscotch nose and peaches. Good acidity, but rough at the finish.
- Omadhaun and Poltroon 1996, California (Sine Qua Non)
(32.00) 55% Rousanne, 45% Chardonnay. Quite high alcohol on the nose and the palate. Spicy.
- Merlot 1997, Australia (Fox Creek)
Black cherry nose and spice. A touch short for its size.
- Alta Cabernet Sauvignon Tikal Vineyard, Argentina (Catena)
(21.95) Gamey, meaty, Bovril nose. Rubbery, ungenerous finish.
- Reserve Shiraz 1996, Australia (Fox Creek)
Spicy and peppery, and with a soft vanillin feel. Shortish finish and a metallic edge - lots of acidity.
- Against the Wall 1996, California (Sine Qua Non)
(33.99) Cherries and spice. Good length, but strangely simple. Alcohol showing through.
- Chardonnay Nouvelle Vague 1996 TBA No. 8, Austria (Kracher)
(30.00 per half). The nose on this wine just keeps on developing in the glass. Honey and grapefruit. Huge length and complexity. High class wine.
- Welschriesling Zwischen den Seen 1996 TBA No. 9, Austria (Kracher)
(31.99 per half). Big (huge!) sweetness and glycerol. The acidity is technically big on this wine, but it doesn't come close to balancing the sweetness. A monster.
- 1993 Cuvee Francis Courselle (Chateau Thieuly)
Quite good with a touch of age - Sauvignon showing through.
- Old Vines Sauvignon 1997 (Rocioli)
Light Sauvignon, but with a longish finish - showing its age.
- Tokay Pinot Gris VT 1985, Cuvee Jean Baptiste, (Adam)
Slight stinky nose ? touch of ham. Some oily length, not bad.
- Chardonnay Reserve 1993 (Thelema)
Custardy oak. Modern Burgundy in style but with a New World edge.
- Chablis 1er Cru Les Lys 1988, (Daniel Defaix)
Dumb nose ? liquorice softness. Lacks depth.
- Chardonnay 1991 Moutere, (Neudorf)
Soft vegetal edge, but with real acidity on the palate.
- Sauvignon Blanc 1993, Napa Valley (Philip Togni)
Gooseberry / blackcurrant fruit.
- Viognier 1994, (Alban Vineyards)
Soft and with a slight spritziness.
- Macon Clesse 1989 Domaine du Bongran Cuvee Tradition (Jean Thevenet)
- Meursault Charmes 1991 (Jadot)
Good drinking - acidity and length.
- 1994 Singer-Riedel Smargad, Austria (Franz Hirtzberger)
Off-dry and yeasty.
- Chardonnay 1991, Tasmania (Taltarni)
- Show Reserve Semillon 1988 (Rosemount)
- Chardonnay 1993 Spatlese Trocken (Kracher)
Buttery toasty nose, some length, but dying a touch.
- Traminak Sampion 1991, Croatia (Vinoza Arkeno)
Getting a bit past it, but still drinkable. Medium dry and perfumed. Like a chenin/muscat mix.
- Niersteiner Bergkirsche Riesling Auslese 1988, (Louis Guntrum)
Medium Riesling. A bit musty.
- Botrytis Gewurztraminer 1994 (Seppelt)
From a half. Very raisiny sweety.
- Nouvelle Vague Traminer Beerenauslese 1991 (Kracher)
- Cabernet / Merlot 1989, Waiheke Island (Peninsula)
Cigar box, but dying. VA.
- Cabernet Sauvignon 1992 (Greenock Creek)
Soft and mushy with an Oz mintiness.
- Mourvedre 1990 (Jade Mountain)
Gummy nose and a drying tannic finish.
- 1994 Zinfandel (Edmund St John)
Cherries, but a bit dilute.
- Zinfandel Old Vines Cuvee 1996 (Turley)
Soft, lovely fruit (chocolatey and currants), good length and structure.
- Admiral 1992, Austria (Pockl)
Dilute middle and finish.
- 1992 No. 2 Shiraz (Yarra Yerring)
Vegetal nose and loads of VA.
- The Malcolm Shiraz 1996 (Magpie Estate)
Last time I had this wine it had just arrived in the UK and was showing very disjointed (its big alcohol showing through). This, however, was completely together. Great length and balance. Superb. possibly more
- 1986 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Beringer)
Rather dilute beginning (mind you, anything would after the previous wine). Some VA. in decline.
- 1996 Syrah, Russian River Valley (Hamel)
Tannin and leathery rusticity - not keen.
- Campo Della Piorne Bo 1985
Loads of VA, past it.
- Reserve Pinot Noir 1991 (Martinborough Vineyards)
Oxidised finish, rapsberry and strawberry fruit.
- Chateau La Pointe 1953, Pomerol
Good mature claret, but a touch woody and bitter on the finish.
- Gevry Chambertin 1er Cru Cassetieres 1985 (Faively)
Soft, easy, mature wine.
- Ca' del Solo Il Fiasco 1993 (Bonny Doon)
A touch vegetal and with leathery tannins. Good though.
- Sito Moresco 1992 (Gaja)
Cherry fruit, but a drying finish.
- Chateau de Beaucastel 1993
Odd metallic nose, leathery acidic finish.
- Chateau Fortia 1979
Softly mature sweet fruit.
- Morgon 1991 Cuvee Vielles Vignes (Domaine St Viege(?)) a la Cote du Py
Tarry Marmite - past it.
- Cos d'Estournel 1984
Lacking fruit and cardboardy.
- Stonecroft Hawkes Bay Syrah 1993
Vegetal peppery nose - touch acidic at the finish.
- 1996 Mouvedre / Grenache (Magpie Estate)
Elegant Rhone-ish texture. Sweetish nose.
- Pinot Noir 1994 (Hamilton Russel)
I thought this to be old Burgundy - a touch short on the finish.
- Shiraz / Mourvedre Pressings 1992 (Magpie Estate)
Charming nose - Rhone-ish Syrah feel to the wine.
- 1986 Gigondas (Domaine des Gouberts)
. Lovely maturity, but a touch ragged at the finish.
- Vino Nobile de Montepulciano 1985 (Dei)
Good balance of maturity, acidity and fruit. VA but balanced.
- Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 (Arrowood)
Pencil shavings, and with good balance
- Cabernet Sauvignon 1991 (Mount Langi Ghiran)
Violet nose, good length and balance.
- 1990 Angels Blend (Passing Clouds)
Soft New Worldy wine.
- Big House Red 1992 (Bonny Doon)
Thin and dilute.
- Ornellaia 1986
My notes for this: Old claret, but drying out. Very disappointing.
- Chateau Montrose 1982
Good mature claret - in a different class from the previous wine.
- Lyton Springs 1990 (Ridge)
Too sweet at the finish for balance.
- The Growers Grenache 1994, Clare Valley (Mitchell)
Sick nose - out of condition.
- Durif 1991 (Morris)
Sweet late harvest type wine - or Amarone-ish. Good stuff though.
- Clasico 1998 (Marques de Alella)
(5.99) Gentle unripe melon nose, slight spritz. Falls a bit flat.
- Albarino, Rias Baixas 1998 (Pazo de Senorans)
(10.99) Quite a lot of green acidity - needs time to come out.
- Rueda 1996 (Belondrades Y Lurton)
(9.99) Spicy dry nose. Lightly toffeed, lemony flavours. Ragged finish.
- Garnacha, Catalayud 1998 (Marques de Aragon)
(4.29) Good value red - peppery, raspberry fruit. Soft and easy.
- Toro 1995 (Vina Bajoz)
(6.99) Sweetish plum fruit - alcoholic rusticity.
- Finca Allende Rioja 1996
(12.99) Bigger, deeper wine than the previous. Juicy, but not very together at the finish.
- Pesquera, Ribera del Duero 1996
(12.99) The best wine at the tasting. Rich fruit - cherry with some leathery tannins. Just
- Clos de l'Obac, Priorat 1996 (Costers del Siurana)
(27.99) Cherry and liquorice flavours, but disappointing.
- , Dolce, Jumilla 1996 (Bodegas Olivares Monastrell)
(15.49) Berries and rose petals, and an earthy sweetness. Soft acidity, lovely sweetness.
- Bernkasteler Doktor spatlese 1979 (Deinhard)
Appley, almost grapefruit - nice acidity.
- Blanc Reserve 1995 (Chateau de Fonsalette)
Rayas's other label - honey, minerals. Fine, chablis-like. Needs a fair few years.
- Chateauneuf-du-Pape blanc Vielle Vignes 1989 (Beaucastel)
Honey, oak, lovely soft wine. For early drinking at first sight, but it firms up a bit in the glass. Very striking.
- Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 1978 (Rayas)
Unfortunately corked, offering only glimpses of what a fabulous wine this is.
- Zinfandel 1998 (Morrison)
More or less indistinguishable from Beaujolais style zinfandel at 2.99 a bottle, with all the benefits of "modern winemaking" (boiled-sweet fruit, almost no tannins) that the Wine Press so like. (Made from grape juice concentrate - Richard Morrison is a final year student at the University of Edinburgh.)
- Chateauneuf-du-Pape 1990 (Beaucastel)
Quite fine - mushroom and leather well integrated into a finely wrought wine of excellent length.
- Chateauneuf-du-Pape 1990 (Domaine de Pegau)
Good fruit, and not quite the inky monster I remember. Good but seems to finish a bit too quickly to be really top-notch. Some more complexity emerges with some time in the glass, so may become pretty good.
- Chateauneuf-du-Pape 1984 (Rayas)
An enormous Burgundian hit of ripe red fruits. Lifted cherry grenache. Just slightly dry on the finish. Very good.
- Chateauneuf-du-Pape 1983 Clos de Papes
Ripe cherry fruit. Gamey hints in perfect balance. Long. Excellent.
- Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Cedres 1976 (Jaboulet)
Warm, iodiney, lovely. Perfectly mature.
- Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Cedres 1978 (Jaboulet)
Dense, blackcurranty. Needs five years. I thought this rather excellent - some thought it a shade simple. say
- Gigondas 1976 (Jaboulet)
Fruit juicey. Pleasant. Pretty decent.
- Gigondas 1978 (Jaboulet)
- Gigondas 1978 (Domaine Raspail)
Very blackberryish. Shade dirty. Unbalanced. Not very nice.
- Hochheimer KonigenViktoriaberg Hochfeine spatlese 1953 (Pabstmann)
Striking greenish edge. Nearly bone dry. Orange-flower water. Delicious.
- Piesporter Goldtropfchen Auslese 1989 (von Kesselstat)
Hints of maturity. Pretty strong effort. A very reliable estate.
- Port 1962 (Offley)
Vanilla caramel. Decent port of about 60 quality.
- Erbaluce di Caluso 1995 (Ferrando)
Pale colour. High-toned, scented nose. Marzipan and minerals. Nice acidity and length. Pretty light-weight.
- Orvietto Classico 1986 (Decugnano dei Barbi)
Striking, slightly unclean(?) Slightly retsina-ish nose. Corked.
- Orvietto Classico 1990 (Decugnano dei Barbi) 90
Scented. Shade neutral.
- Orvietto Classico 1996 (Decugnano dei Barbi)
Pleasantly grapey. Fairly neutral.
- Orvietto Classico 1997 (Decugnano dei Barbi)
Slightly grapey, rounded - seemed almost more mature.
- Barolo Brunate 1994 (Marcarini)
Pale. Cherry fruit. Dry. Slightly toffeed. Quite long.
- Barolo Brunate 1991 (Marcarini)
Decent colour. Roses nose. Marked tannins. A complete wine, needing time. Strong for the vintage.
- Barolo Brunate 1986 (Marcarini)
Perfumed depth. Lovely ripeness. Astonishing complex wine from what is supposed to be a moderate vintage.
- Barolo Brunate 1982 (Marcarini)
As the 86 but slightly subdued. I suspect this is an a closed phase at the moment. Certainly needs years.
- Barolo Brunate 1973 (Marcarini)
Fine, rose-petals. At peak. Under-rated vintage.
- Barolo Brunate 1964 (Marcarini)
Fine old wine, silver polish. Opens out. Clearly on the brink a bit, but rather enjoyable if you like these things. (I do.)
- Vin Santo 1991 (Falchini)
Orangey, dry-sherryish. Pretty nice.
- Vin Santo 1977 (Falchini)
Very dry burnt sugar. Intriguing. Very drinkable, perhaps best as an aperitif. Not universally admired, but I liked it.
- Vin Santo 1978 (Falchini)
Bone dry, sherryish. Delightful hint of sweetness. Another attractive wine.
- Valpolicella Recioto Classico 1980 (Quintarelli)
Extraordinarily leafy, blackberry fruit. Lots of CO2. A very striking wine. I love it!