The Diary - October 1998
Owner/winemaker Dr. Neil McCallum present.
- Sauvignon Blanc 97 (Dry River)
Understated, balanced, good length. The (rather tiresome, to my mind) extravagent varietal characteristics and asparagus vegetality are intentionally avoided by the wine maker. As good a New World Sauv Blanc as I've had. (10.50)
- Chardonnay 97, 96, 95, 94 (Dry River)
All very characterful, pure, with quite a lot of oak, handled rather well. The 97 is very creamy, with intense green-pea fruit. The 96 has an intense aroma of cloves, and lots of character. I could worry slightly about its balance. The 95 showing a slightly toffeed nose (in a not unpleasant way), with fine melony fruit and excellent length. The 94 evolved, very honeyed, hinting at vegetal notes that may become more pronounced. Very good wines - recognisably a New World style, and evolving fairly quickly, but very stylish. Good value, when compared to California chardonnay. (15-16 pounds)
- Dry Riesling, Craighall Vinyard 98, 92 (Dry River)
The 98 tight, quite dry, near Alsace weight with a pleasant sherberty edge. Hints at spicyness to come. The 92 has slight sweetness and evolved riesling character. Rather pleasant. Again, like most (all?) New World riesling, relatively early maturing.
- Pinot Noir 97, 96, 95, 94 (Dry River)
The 97 has intense raspbery/blackberry fruit. A slight bitter edge. (Is that the antibiotics I'm taking - one or two things seemed a touch that way.) The 96 more raspberry/beetroot, almost liquorice. The 95 has rounded out quite nicely, and the 94 manages that Burgundian trick of being dry, yet having a luscious, silky, almost sugary character to the fruit. Not long term wines, I would say: pehaps the 94 is about at peak. Authentic Pinot fruit however, and pretty pleasant drinking. (18-19 pounds)
And after, at the Vintner's Rooms:
- Sancerre Cuvee St Francois 95 (Vatan)
Balanced, dry, almost gamey, in a hard-to-describe way! Pretty good.
- Chardonnay Wolfspierre 91 (J. Swan)
Others liked this at least moderately, but for me this has gone far too vegetal, and I didn't much enjoy it.
- Volnay Ronceret 91 (J-M Boillot)
Deep colour, gamey raspberry nose, luscious fruit. Very fine!
- Ch de La Roulerie 90 (Coteax du Layon)
Deep colour, quite a lot of botrytis, but a bit heavy (lacking acidity) and not so long. Not bad, but a bit cloying.
- Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese 83 (W. Prum)
It has that barley-water drinkability of some 83s - quite sweet, decent balance and everything, but a good rather than great 83.
- Ch Chalon 79 (Bourdy - Arlay), Jura
Intriguing compromise between sherry and a dry white wine. Fresh, with a lovely long nutty finish. Excellent stuff!
- Tokay Clos St Urban Rangen VT 83 (Zind-Humbrecht)
Quite tight, slightly sweet, very long indeed. A tour-de-force, but, while excellent drinking, perhaps in the final analysis it is more impressive than enjoyable, at least now. I guess 83 is (just) before Z-H started making nearly all the wines with hefty residual sugar, and the better for it.
- Chablis Vaillons 90 (J. Dauvissat)
Soft toffee nose (not a favourite characteristic of mine, for some reason). Grippy, minerally, green-pea chardonnay fruit, not quite together with the oak yet. Probably quite good, but needs a bit of time perhaps.
- La Lagune 70
Ripe, fruitcakey, currenty nose. Cedary, dry fruit, quite high acidity. In excellent condition, but perhaps getting a shade too dry on the finish. An excellent (but perhaps just slightly unsubtle) 70.
- Lascombes 82
Quite scented, medium weight, mature claret. A bit one-dimensional. Quite light, even if 82 is not really a Margaux vintage.
- Capel Vale Shiraz 1993, Western Australia
Lightly silky and smokey - drinking well, with some berry fruit showing. Medium bodied. 87
- Laperouse Assemblage1997, Vin de Pays d'Oc Rouge
Made by Penfolds and Val d'Orbieu (although interestingly you have to look fairly hard at the label to find this out - you would have thought that their marketing people would have made more of it) from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Mourvedere (interesting spelling). This wine comes with a screw top which is OK if the wine is going to be used in cooking, but in my book if a wine has pretentions to being drunk from a glass, then I want a cork (a real one!) used for the closure. (I'll come off my high horse now!). This is reasonable red plonk - well a bit better than that perhaps. Berry fruit, but rather non-descript. 81
- Herrenweg Turckheim Riesling 1989, Zind-Humbrecht
There are some wines that one is happy to have bought a reasonable amount of; there are other wines where perhaps an odd bottle here and there would have done the trick. I am rapidly wishing that I'd restricted the amount of Zind-Humbrecht wines that I have gathered over the years. They often show better when young - and they get a bit samey and predictable after a while. This has too much heaviness and an odd metalic note. Maybe I'll come round to Zind-Humbrecht again, but the wines are probably little more than a notch above those Chillean reds, New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs and Oz Chardonnays that seemed a good idea at the time. 84
- Chardonnay 91 (Petaluma)
In the days when I liked New World chardonnay more, I had a soft spot for Petaluma particularly. It seems capable of ageing in an interesting way, which is fairly unusual. This has sensible, integrated, high-quality oak and good fruit. Might it be heading towards vegetality? I'm not sure.
- Barolo La Serra 93 (Marcarini)
Normally a bit less backward than this producers Brunate, this is nicely balanced, elegant, grown-up wine with succulent tannins. I feel this is not quite in the quality bracket of the 89s and 90s from Marcarini, but it is good stuff and drinkable now if one wants to. (I'm sure another 5-10 years would be good though!)
- Langhi Shiraz 1995, Mount Langhi Ghiran
Lovely wine, with Rhone-like silkiness developing. I'm looking forward to seeing how this develops. 92
- Hermitage 1983, Chave
I always find this disappointing - a bit lacklustre, almost watery. Some smokiness. 88
- Lynch Bages 1982
Drinking well, with violets and balance. 90
- Monte-Vannos Crianza 1995, Ribera del Duero
Reasonable early, fruity drinking. 85
- Pesquera Crianza 1985, Ribera del Duero
Lovely sweet fruit nose. Perhaps lacking depth, as an old Rioja might, but fine mature drinking. 90
- Chateau Cissac 1989
Cigar box claret with a gentle weediness. 86
- Chateau Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon 1985
Better than the last one I had of these, but one of those wines that seems to change from good to bad in the glass. Sweetness, but with a light astringency. 86
- Pelorus 94
Pre-release. My first glass from a corked bottle, which put me off a bit. Deep colour, slightly old-fashioned. Seems to have proper integrated acidity, but I wonder about the balance. How will it be in 5 years?
- Semillon/Sauvignon 97 (Cape Mentelle)
That familair old Ozzy slightly vegetal gooseberry and asparagus character. A bit like an alcoholic herb tea of some sort.
- Sauv Blanc 98 (Cloudy Bay)
Lighter, lifted nose. Quite high acidity. Pleasant with food, but I don't quite see why people trample each other to death for it.
- Chardonnay 96 (Cape Mentelle)
Well, here it is: the great old-fashioned oaked ozzy chardonnay. Pretty decent of its sort, but this really is a style that when you've tired of it once, you don't come back to it.
- Chardonnay 96 (Cloudy Bay)
More straight fruit, and a lighter hand on the oak. Slightly toffeed. Citric finish.
- Cabernet Merlot 96 (Cape Mentelle)
Leafy, liquoricey, slightly soft. Not bad.
- Shiraz 96 (Cape Mentelle)
That slightly soft Ozzy version of the Syrah nose - another well-made wine. I suppose WA is a young region, and it will take a while to figure out what really works where.
All wines by Dessiliani; the estate's owner Dr. Enzio Lucca was present.
- Collefino Riserva Bianco 96
Made form El Greco or some such. Quite concentrated, but suffers a bit from the Italian white wine problem of the grape varieties being a bit too bland to excite. Pleasant apperetif.
- Gavi 97
Good acidity, making a decent food wine, but again this is a bit of a bland variety.
- Fara "Caramino" Riserva 90
Single vinyard Fara - nebbiolo and other varieties. The wine of the evening for me, with fine ripe tannins, excellent fruit and balance and a little gutsy rusticity as well.
- Fara "Cornaggina" Riserva 90
Less rustic, rose-scented, again excellent balance. An interesting contrast, but I slightly prefer the Caramino.
- Laio (Passito) 96
Interesting, concentrated, a bit like Vin Santo.
Main discovery: Dom. Laurent
really is a serious
- Beaune 1er cru Les Vignes Franches 96 (Bouzerau)
What a great name for a grower! Raspberry and plum, fruity, forward, well-made. (15.00)
- Beaune Greves 95 (B. Morey)
Lots of raspberry, dry, tannic, slightly odd finish. OK, but not as good as his whites. (15.00)
- Vougeot 1er Cru Clos Perriere 95 (Bertagna)
Cassis-like - almost clarety. Almost a new world style in some ways, but good fruit and acidity. This seems to have evolved since I last tasted it. (23.00?)
- Nuits St George Meurgers 95 (Bertagna)
(I have 96 on my notes, but 95 on the tasting list?) Jammy and diffuse - not so obviously pinot, and a bit simple. Not as good as the Vougeot. (26.99)
- Pinot Noir 96 Alta Rangi
Muted nose, sweet cherry fruit and tannins. In a way not so different from the previous wine. OK. (20.00)
- Vosne Romanee 95 (Dom Laurent)
Deep, slightly eveolved looking. Oaky, deep, spicy, concentrated cough-drop fruit. Very good. (28.00)
- Vosne Romanee Beauxmonts 95 (Dom Laurent)
Similar look, almost porty on the nose with intruiging aniseed flavours. Cherry fruit, very long! Lovely. 92+ (42.00)
- Nuits St George Pruliers 95 (Dom Laurent)
More lifted raspberry, but again very rich and long. (42.00)
- Mazis-Chambertin 95 (Dom Laurent)
Corked (damnit)! (70.00)
- Macon Uchizy 96 (Talmard)
Honey, banana, slight esteryness. Decent acidity and length with a touch of wood. Reasonable basic Macon. (6.95)
- Chablis 94 (L. Tribut)
Decent, slightly minerally honeyed chablis nose. Slightly socky, steely wine. OK for a village wine. (9.90)
- Bourgogne 96 (Sauzet)
Refined and creamy. Nice meolny fruit. A perfect Bourgogne blanc, as I suppose it should be at 15 quid a bottle!
- Meursault Genevrieres 95 (Jobard)
Very spicy, with a core of melony fruit. Dry, slightly tannic, minerally, and very long. Will be brilliant! 91+ (29.90)
- J&B Red Burgundy (NV)
Basic to an extreme. Toffeed. Very high acidity.
- Bourgogne Rouge 94 (Barthod)
This estate doesn't seem to have got this wine quoite right since the stunning 88 (and, I hear, 89). A bit rustic - slightly stinky. Decent beetrooty fruit. (8.95)
- Monthelie 92 (Ch. de Monthelie - Suremain)
Very deeply coloured. Almost rhone-like, quite meaty but perfumed too. Rich plummy fruit. Very impressive! (18.50)
- Gevrey Chambertin Clos St Jacques 89 (B. Clair)
Evolved colour, fullish on the nose. In the mouth, refined but a bit one-dimensional. This producer does seem to make unexciting wines. (I thought this was a less interesting wine (with less future) than the Monthelie.) (29.50)
- Bernkasteler Doktor Spatlese 79 (Deinhard)
A nice bottle of this - pleasantly mature and attractive "sour apple" fruit.
- Riesling Kabinett 96 (Immich-Batterieberg)
Wine from a good Mosel site, I think, with an attempt at simplified labeling for the consumer. (But why the amazingly naff picture on the otherwise sensible label?) The wine is limey, rich, and generally very drinkable. (Adnams, about 8 pounds and good value.)
Tasted blind - except the fizz.
- Lancelot Rose NV Champagne
This has had over four years in the cellar. The fruit has faded and there are signs that it is maderising. 82
- Chalk Hill Estate Chardonnay 1994
(3) Classy toasty oak with a toffee-like nose, fruit rather lacking. 87
- Clos Windsbuhl Gewurztraminer 1992, Zind-Humbrecht
(2) Slight spritz, biggish but with an oddly short metallic finish. 87
- Petaluma Chardonnay 1986
(5) started off with reasonable acidity, but a touch more warmth soon showed this wine to be getting distinctly past it. Buttered cabbage. 80
- Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile 1989, Trimbach
(4) I was the only one who marked this highly - but I did recognise this as my wine and thought it closed. Mineral Riesling nose, but on retasting (that night and the next day) I came to the opinion that the others were right and that this is just not that great a wine. My initial 'blind' score: 90
- Gewurztraminer 1996 Clos Cappucins Cuvee Laurence, Weinbach
(1) Fullish flavours but with no little elegance - I just can't get that excited by Gewurz. in general. 86
- Chateau Musar 1981
(1) One tends to forget how good Musar has been in certain vintages, and this is certainly drinking superbly. The nose is classy - light violets and tar - and the palate is beautifully balanced with and acidity cutting through the wine. I think everyone marked this 91 or above. 92
- Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Prestige 1995, Roger Sabon
(3) Strangely Gamay like nose and rather stewy. Some liquorice. 86
- Azelia Barolo 1982, Bricco Punta
(4) Age showing - rather plummy and coarse. Disappointing given that the last bottle I had of this a couple of years back seemed to have plenty of life left in it. 86
- Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz 1988
(2) Reasonable aged Oz red, but disappointing given what it is. Coarse and lacking structure. 85
- Mountain Cabernet 1985, Sakar, Bulgaria
and after ...
- Bordeaux Frank Phelan 95
Second wine of Phelan Segur (not sure about designation and spelling, etc.) This vintage is so 85 like in having the sweet ripeness of fruit to make pleasant young drinking. This is decent early-maturing stuff.
- Diedesheimer Leinholle Kabinett 89 (Basserman-Jordan)
Slight corkedness, attenuating the other flavours and making it hard to assess.
- Diedesheimer Leinholle Spatlese 89 (Basserman-Jordan)
Complex, marizipany, full yet dry. Seemed older that 89. Pretty good.
- Condrieu 96 (Perret)
Exotic apricoty flavours, following through beautifully. Classic Condrieu to my mind, and the star of this flight of five. Gorgeous.
- Cote de Rhone Clos du Cuminaille 96 (Gaillard)
Viognier, not too bad, but very attenuated and slightly flat beside the Perret.
- Condrieu La Cote 96 (Cuilleron)
Very toffeed nose, with (not as unpleasant as the word suggests) confectionary flavours. Slightly soft. Typical of the producer.
- Condrieu La Bonnette 96 (Rostaing)
A slightly "burpy" edge (from the oak, I guess), left me less impressed with this than with the 95. Pretty good length though.
- Condrieu Chaillets Vielle Vignes 96 (Cuilleron)
Slightly sweeter. Pretty concentrated, but overall a bit fat. I don't think this really works so well with viognier.
- Cabernet Sauvignon 83, 82, 80 (Swann)
The fruit in these older Swann wines was very blackberry, quite lifted, not easily spotted as Cabernet. The 83 was quite tannic still and they were all pleasingly dry and not at all minty. The 82 was elegant, the 80 amazingly extrovert, though with a slight woody edge (others had had better bottles of this). All in fine nick, with time ahead.
- Ridge Montebello Cab Sauv 80
Delicious maturing cabernet - really very fine. Good length and tannins.
- Cab Sauv 75 (Cuvaison)
This could bring me round to California Cabrnets: again, long, complex and dry.
- Banyuls Vieux Rancio (Berra-Maillol)
Medium eight - chocolatey - very pleasant.
- Rednutt ancient brown sherry Colheita 1896
Colour as described. Nose like fine balsamic vinegar (but not remotely acetic) and brown sugar. Cherry-wood flavours. Rich and dryish. Rather gorgeous, if not in ideal balance.
- Grahams 70
Very young seeming. (When guessing port vintages, decide how old you think it is; double it; then go backwards to the first vintage that seems in character.) High-toned. Aniseed/fennel character very marked. Chocolate to come perhaps. A very fine port.
- L'Arco 1996 Cabernet Franc, Grave Friuli
This feels just a bit too heavy (perhaps this is down to the inevitable comparison with Loire reds), but it does have textbook Cabernet Franc flavours - leafy and earthy. 84
- Bourgogne Pinot Noir 1997, Louis Josse
Inexpensive (4.99 at Tesco), but it does have clear varietal flavours - strawberries and plum skins. The acidity is rather high, but this might soften in a couple of years. 83
- Dolcetto D'Alba Boschi Di Berri 95 (Marcarini)
An "old vines" wine, far more serious than the general run of Dolcetto. It has that depth of flavour and toning down of varietal character that older vines seem to give. Lovely grippy, yet somehow sweet and ripe tannins. Medium weight, and not too Beaujolais-like. Pretty classy.
- Mas De Daumas Gassac 90
I've not sampled a wine from this property for years. Good colour, Bordeauxish nose, quite heavily influenced with spicey oak. In the mouth, not bad, but a bit too much is coming from the oak, and although there is a lot of structure I'm not sure it's going anywhere.