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Diary index

Wine group at M.D's 30/11/1998 (TNB)

28/11/1998 (RJB)

28/11/1998 (TNB)

26/11/1998 (RJB)

Pichon Lalande in Edinburgh 26/11/1998 (TNB)

Bacchanalia's Winter Wine Fair - A Selection 25/11/1998 (RJB)

Noel Young Wines Cabernet Sauvighnon Tasting 24/11/1998 (RJB)

22/11/1998 (RJB)

21/11/1998 (TNB)

Noel Young Wines presents a Tasting of Fine Australian Wines, 17/11/1998 (RJB)

Piemonte tasting by Valvonna & Crolla 17/11/1998 (TNB)

14/11/1998 (RJB)

12/11/1998 (TNB)

07/11/1998 (RJB)

Claret and related things, OFW 05/11/1998 (TNB)

Wine group at D.L's 02/11/1998 (TNB)

The Diary - November 1998

Wine group at M.D's 30/11/1998 (TNB)

The Pavilon Rouge came over as a very well designed wine with a consistent style of attractive, ripe, chocolatey fruit. Would drink well soon after vintage, but the 82 and 83 in no danger of fading. A better idea than simply making something comparable with an average 5th growth to my mind.
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 30/11/1998   Return to top

28/11/1998 (RJB)

Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 28/11/1998   Return to top

28/11/1998 (TNB)

Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 28/11/1998   Return to top

26/11/1998 (RJB)

Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 26/11/1998   Return to top

Pichon Lalande in Edinburgh 26/11/1998 (TNB)

Much as I expected: excellent wines, highish Merlot content always evident, enough backbone but structure not obtrusive, making very good wine in moderate vintages (the 91 below and 81 and 79 also tasted again recently), but not always adding quite the same value in the very best vintages (e.g. 90 below, but I have never tasted the famed 82).

This confirmed and developed a few feelings about vintages too: is 95 another 85, with georgeously ripe fruit but a numer of wines a bit light and undemanding in the final analysis? In particular, might 94 seem a more interesting vintage in 10 years time? All the 93s seem a bit unbalanced, but it was said that there are a number of rather good 91s like the Pichon. 88 is a lovely classic claret vintage, a bit undervalued (speaking relatively of course, as one has to for Bordeaux these days) in the scheme of things.

  • Pichon Lalande 1995 Solid purpley red. Rounded fruitcakey, ripe nose, some unintegrated oak. In the mouth, ripe but structured. Quite 85y.
  • Pichon Lalande 94 Healthy deep young red. (Shade darker than 95!) Slightly more attack on the nose, some cherry. Classic palate. Will age well.
  • Pichon Lalande 91 Healthy, fairly deep colour. Initially interestingly gamey on the nose. Ripe, balanced on the palate. Typically merloty, slightly gamey. Very good for the vintage.
  • Pichon Lalande 90 Medium deep. Lovely oak and fruitcake nose. Ripe and quite long. Not obviously as strong as the 89, but pretty fine. Will it seem a shade light in time?
  • Pichon Lalande 89 Deep colour. Dense, monolithic nose. Big wine, marked tannins, hard to assess, needs time. Hints of the future emerge in the glass. 89 lacks the balance of my favourite vintages.
  • Pichon Lalande 88 Deep colour, with signs of age. Classic, pencily notes emerging on the nose, with cherry fruit. Nicely structured, good length. Nice acidity. I increasingly like the classic 88 wines. Will be lovely.
  • Champagne Baudry (?) NV Nice ripe fizz.
  • Res Comtesse 90 Ripe and pleasant.
  • Pichon Lalande 93 Tannins to the fore - balance a worry. Scented. I wonder...
  • Pichon Lalande 85 Shade denser than I remember. A pretty strong 85.
  • Pichon Lalande 75 Grippy tannins but nicely succulent in a grown up way. Excellent fruit - will last. From Magnums. A top grade 75.
  • Highland Park 72/24 Cask 1639 Who am I to judge? Flavours gush from the glass when you add the water. Pretty pleasant.
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 26/11/1998   Return to top

Bacchanalia's Winter Wine Fair - A Selection 25/11/1998 (RJB)

Necessarily short notes on these

Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 25/11/1998   Return to top

Noel Young Wines Cabernet Sauvighnon Tasting 24/11/1998 (RJB)

Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 24/11/1998   Return to top

22/11/1998 (RJB)

Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 22/11/1998   Return to top

21/11/1998 (TNB)

Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 21/11/1998   Return to top

Noel Young Wines presents a Tasting of Fine Australian Wines, 17/11/1998 (RJB)

I should say that I disagreed with most tasters about the Armagh and the following wine - so my comments should probably be taken with an even bigger pinch of salt than usual.
  • Brokenwood Semillon 1997 (9.29) Lemony nose with signs of depth. Lime acidity, dry, full. Should age well by all accounts. 89
  • Vasse Felix 'Heytesbury' Chardonnay 1997 (15.49) Big oaky nose and palate but with excellent acidity pulling it through 86
  • Cullen Cabernet-Merlot 1996 (17.49) Sensuous silky-smooth fruit nose with an underlying leafiness adding to the picture. Raspberry blancmange. Good tannin and a peppery finish. 91
  • Clarendon Hills Merlot 1996 (25.99) A touch volatile on the finish, and seemingly a touch short. Chocolate, mushrooms and bitter cherry. 88
  • Primo Estate 'Joseph' Cabernet-Merlot, 1996 (31.99) Made in an 'Amarone' way. Bitter, dry nuts and cherries. Good 'grip'. 89
  • Wynns 'Michael' Shiraz 1994 (32.99) Rather gummy, soft, sweet nose. Big and easy, but not great. 87
  • Jim Barry 'The Armagh' Shiraz 1995 (32.99) Dumbish nose, reasonable acidity and fruit Just not very exciting. 87
  • Three Rivers Shiraz 1993 The only Oz wine I believe to get more points (99+) from Parker than Noel's 1996 Magpie Estate 'The Malcolm' (99 points). Interestingly though the grapes are from the same vineyard for both wines. I found this disjointed and a bit alcoholic on the nose. Also it had an oddly metallic finish. 90?
  • Charles Melton Sparkling Red NV, 1996 Disgorgement (15.99) Nothing is more refreshing at an end of a tasting of big reds than a chilled bottle of this sort of wine - it quite revives the spirits. This one is a touch too soft for my taste, but lovely in its own way. 87
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 17/11/1998   Return to top

Piemonte tasting by Valvonna & Crolla 17/11/1998 (TNB)

Not a bad showing, specially considering that the current vintage is the very difficult 94. On the other hand, a suprising number of wines were marred, and in some cases ruined, by excessive SO2, often varying from bottle to bottle. The worst examples are noted.
  • Araldica: Pinot Noir 97 slightly medicinal style of pinot fruit, seemed pretty plausible. (Tank sample); , a decent food wine as usual. (5.99)
  • Ascheri: Dolcetto Sant' Anna 96 a nice blackberryish Dolcetto (8.49); ripe, round cherryish fruit, nice early drinking (9.49); I quite enjoyed this understated, perfumed, wine. It sometimes seems a shade tough in the mouth though. (13.29)
  • Bergaglio: Gavi di Gavi La Minaia 97 Slightly estery, almost gamey (odd, and I wonder where it came from, but not unpleasant), tolerable weight. I still find Gavi a bit dull though. (9.99)
  • Produttori di Castiglione Faletto: Barolo Cordana 94 Slightly dirty (in an acceptable way), bags of fruit, pleasant, but pretty short-term. (12.99)
  • Conterno Fantino: Barbera Vignota 96 & 97 good, concentrated wines, but a shade too well-made for me --- the Barbera has somehow been tamed to produce a balanced wine (11.99); I'm not a fan in general of internationalised blends, like this of Nebbiolo, Barbera and the dreaded Cab Sauv, but this one is damn good, bags of structure, interesting fruit, and lots of time ahead (19.99) An estate to watch, perhaps.
  • Fontanafredda Not much sign of a return to form for this estate, very evolved and weak (13.29); again quite evolved, decent, but not a good 93 (15.99); smelling oddly of wood-varnish (8.79).
  • Mascarello: Dolcetto 97 capsicum and blackcurrent - slightly suprising in Dolcetto but an attractive wine; very evolved and not so enjoyable; one bottle ruinously sulphured, another suffering less, but still hard to penetrate to see what is underneath -- I suspected quite a serious wine (33.49).
  • Marco Parusso: Bricco Rovella 97 Langhe Bianco I didn't notice this until deep in the reds, but it seemed a fairly strong oaked Sauv blanc, as one might hope at 18.99; one of those big rounded wines that seemed a bit anonymous - perhaps just not forthcoming at the moment (18.99)
  • Pira Barolo 94 Very striking, concentrated red berry fruit with a sort of cranberry acidity. I would like to taste this more carefully, but I was impressed. The small estate has holdings in Cannubi and elsewhere, and in better vintages will make single vinyard bottlings. (23.99)
  • Voerzio: Dolcetto Priavino 97 hopelessly over-sulphured; Quite dense, blackcurrent and cherry fruit. An impressive effort (17.99); has typical la Serra scentedness, nice balance and a decent finish - a very good 94 (36.00).
  • La Spinetta Moscato d'Asti NV my sort of Moscato, deliciously grapey and refreshing. A shade sweeter than some perhaps. (9.99)
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 17/11/1998   Return to top

14/11/1998 (RJB)

Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 14/11/1998   Return to top

12/11/1998 (TNB)

Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 12/11/1998   Return to top

07/11/1998 (RJB)

Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 07/11/1998   Return to top

Claret and related things, OFW 05/11/1998 (TNB)

Claret prices are of course generally out of hand, but this nonsense of Second Wines retailing for 30 quid really is going too far. There may be very occasional exceptions, but second wines to my mind are wildly over-rated (the press seem to hype them up every now and then) and are generally 10-15 pound wines at best. I just can't imagine who wants to drink them for prices in excess of what you might pay for top Cote-Rotie or 1er Cru Burgundy.
  • Pagodas de Cos 94 Cos's second wine: classically clarety, but an odd bitter edge, more than just "stalky". Not keen. 80 (14.99)
  • Reserve de La Comtesse 95 Round, berryish fruit, very ripe in the 95 way, together with bags of tannin. An odd mix. 83 (27.99(!))
  • Petit Village 95 Slightly sulphury - makes the (good, concentrated) fruit seem a bit monalithic. Good, balanced, long, ripe fruit. Pretty good. 87 (28.99)
  • Cab Sauv "Coppermine road" 96 (D'Arenberg) Red ink colour, lifted eucalyptus (not unpleasant) and leather on the nose. Monsterous overly fruity Oz on the palate. Quite good of its type. 83 (14.99)
  • La Croix Beaucaillou 95 Another characteristically ripe, cherryish 95 - balanced, but a bit unremarkable. Some claimed one bottle had a slight cork problem. (Good old Ducru!) 83 (27.99(!))
  • Duhart Milon Rothschild 95 Hopelessly over-sulphured - blew off to some extent, and there seems to be decent concentration underneath. The SO2 ruins it for me though. (23.99)
  • Belair 90 Quite evolved in colour, and on the coffee-chocolate nose. Fully mature, and drinking quite pleasantly. To early-maturing to be very serious. 88 (27.99)
  • Cab Sauv 95 (Forman) A largish, ripe, fruit-driven thing. Rather well-handled, some relative of mintyness apparent but likeable. Good wine. (24.99)
  • Mazis-Chambertin 95 (Laurent) To replace the corked bottle of the previous tasting. Dense, concentrated, serious Pinot - excellent, silky, but as I remember not much better than the (excellent) premier crus of the last tasting.
  • Ch. Reynella "Vintage Port" 79 An oddity brought back from Oz. Sweetish, intense "mediterranean herb" nose. More South of France than Oporto to my mind, but an interesting after-dinner rink.
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 05/11/1998   Return to top

Wine group at D.L's 02/11/1998 (TNB)

My last chance to see the 67 clarets inquantity, I expect. They are quite acidic, and maybe that is what is preserving them - they were all fairly healthy, if clearly tiring. All faded quite quickly in the glass.
  • Ockfener Geisberg Auslese 83 (Gebert) Quiet, nutty nose, honeyed, slightly smokey. Fairly pleasant.
  • Graacher Himmelreich Spatlese 83 (JJ prum) Lifted, almondy, almost varnishy nose (not universally admired). Good acidity. A bit of a disappointment from his producer.
  • Trittenheimer Apotheke Auslese 83 (Grans-Fassian) Sweetish, unctious, quite rich. Again, slightly varnishy. Decent length. Rather good.
  • Pernand-Vergeleses 90 (Rollin) Steely, quite lemony. Apple notes emerge. A very slight hint of classy Burgundian ginger. Lightish, but my sort of wine. Good
  • Puligny-Montrachet Referts 90 (Carillon) Lots of oak, and an almost New World up-frontness. Very good in its way, and some liked it a lot, but I don't like this style, which is very typical of the producer in my experience.
  • Mersault 90 (Coche-Dury) Serious, quite austere wine. There was an odd woodyness on which opinion was divided. I thought it slightly corked, but it seemed to moderate a bit in the glass, which is a counter-indication. Perhaps it's just a bit rustic?
  • Ch. Woltner, St Thomas Vinyard 90 One of the best New World chardonays - singed toffee on the nose, slightly green-pea fruit, and the merest hint of eveolution towards the vegetal. Pretty good.
  • Cantemerle 67 Graves-like smokeyness. Not bad.
  • Lascombes 67 More berryish. Short but reasonably pleasant.
  • Leoville-Barton 67 Refined, round, cherryish. Not bad. (Two halves combined.)
  • Branaire-Ducru 67 Slight cigar flavours, but really rather thin.
  • Montrose 67 Dry, merlotish, mature claret. Not at all bad. (Two halves combined.)
  • Cos D'Estournel 67 Sweet fruit. I thought it the best, but some thought it overly chapetalised and preferred the Montrose.
  • Lascombes 66 Light relief: refined, scented, dry, classical claret. Very pleasant!
  • Ch La Rame 90 (St Croix du Mont) A dumb blonde on the nose, but serious, concentrated, nicely botrytised fruit. I was worried by other bottles I've had of this that it was going to turn blowzy, but it is now giving a good imitation of a reasonable 83 Sauterenes.
  • Doisy Daene 71 fresh, peachy fruit on the nose. Pineapple on the palate, and a gentle barley-sugaryness. Very fine and notably better than the two other perfectly decent bottles of this I have tried from the same auction lot.
Tasting notes added to Fine Wine Diary 02/11/1998   Return to top