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Everything posted by bills

  1. This one is one of the 'unknown' Lambos or I'd never have been able to afford it - bought it from a freidn who got it from the widow of a guy that dies and had it in a garage for 25 years so I needed to do some waking up on the beast. So as not to take up more space on a wine board, you can see my other cars at CARS One teaser - my latest project - bet you don't know what this one is:
  2. bills

    Ch. Canon

    Notes on a Ch. Canon tasting held by the Commanderie de Bordeaux at Vancouver. This property, while well considered in the past (Premier Grand Cru Classe B St. Emilion) declined before the sale to Chanel in 1996. Interestingly, it is one of the few properties that added land (a defunct Chateau adjacent) to the property allowed t be call ‘Canon’ We started with 1996 Veuve Clicquot, which was actually quite nice, bright, clean and pleasant. With quail consommé with a quail egg in crepe: 2000 – a sweet nose with some ripeness to it, on the herbaceous side, the tannins significant on palate but nor hard, medium body, medium length. 1998 – a sweeter band aid nose, leaner wine with higher acidity and tannin evident, but it had just enough ripe fruit to carry it off. Drink now. With wild mushroom ravioli with brown butter and hazelnuts: 1990 – nose of oak and decent fruit, closer to the 1998 than the 2000. The balance was inferior to the 1998 with too much acidity and a slightly astringent finish. It must have taken a real effort to screw up and not make a nicer, riper wine in this vintage. 1989 – very good nose with vanilla, currant and spice, a weighty wine in the mouth and excellent fruit and good length, the tannins soft but no rush to drink. Very nice, and the clear best so far. With roasted breast of squab, glazed huckleberries and quince puree: 1988 – pleasant mineral and mushroom nose, with a hint of earthiness and a slight medicinal element, nice weight, the tannins now in balance, quite good. 1986 – a stand out with a sweeter nose than the 1988 showed, with some cedar and better fruit. Quite a bit of tannin, but under control, and a long slightly astringent finish – in this case a virtue, not a fault. With a lovely thick Alberta chunk of prime beef with sauce Perigourdine and braised celeriac: 1983 – still showing surprising tannins, a sweetish nose, smooth, pleasant but not outstanding. 1982 – another jackpot – sweet complex nose with cherry, and vanilla, good concentration, weight and nicely balanced acidity, nor rush at all. In fact this wine may well outlive the 2000. 1953 – tasted blind this was a puzzler – obvious Bordeaux, good colour browning at the edges, a nose that had a little funkiness and rubber that blew off leaving pure fruit and vanilla, very little tannin, slightly tart finish, and not quite the length I’d have liked, but a great showing at the age of 54! With cheese: 1997 Rieussec – light in colour, pineapple nose without very much botrytis, sweet in the mouth, fair balance, pretty good length. I’d have preferred it with a dash less RS or a dash more acid, but a pretty good showing.
  3. GTS actually - one of 100 built. I'm surprised that anyone recognises that model - not very well known. I keep reminding myself that should I take the car on a summer picnic I must bring a bottle of Campoleone or at the least a Trescone.....old Ferruccio retired shortly after making this car and went off to make wine as a retirement project - I don't know what sort of car he kept for himself, probably a Jarama. Apologies for taking up wine space for cars, but here are a couple of better photos.
  4. bills

    Northern Italy

    An evening of Northern Italian wines 2005 Marchesi de Grecy Moscato d’Asti ‘La Serra’ – a 5.5% alcohol slightly sweet bubbly that was a nice start to this event. Hint of veggie in the nose was the only weakness, otherwise copybook moscato. 2001 Inama ‘Vigneti di Foscarino’ Soave Classico Superiore – not you average Soave by any means. Lots of mineral, fruit and a slight hit of wood in nose, clean and balanced and very dry finish. The nose added a nuttiness with time. 2000 Fontanafredda Barbaresco – this producer’s wines tend to drink well early and in good vintages age with grace. The wine was light in colour, with bright cherry fruit that later picked up some smoke and blood. Lots of acidity needed some food to tame it. 2000 Prod. del Barbaresco Rabaja – love these single vineyard offerings – even the regular wine is always dependable. This one was also lighter in colour than the wines in the 1996 vertical I did recently. The nose was earthier than the Fontanafredda and it had lower acidity. Nice wine, but I doubt it will have the longevity usually expected of this vineyard. 1990 Batasiolo Vigneto Bofani – the tasting was blind and the person putting the wines in order would have made the right call on this one, had it been a recent vintage, as this producer hasn’t been performing as well recently, but the 1990 Bofani is a heavy hitter, and as I had intended, a fairly traditional style of Barolo. Just wonderful aromatics in the nose, with tar, licorice and fruit nicely melded together. Smooth on palate with soft tannin and good length. The nose became significantly riper as it opened in the glass. 2000 Castello di Verduno Barbaresco Faset – doon’t know this one. Good colour, sweeter but less traditional nose, turning more mineral later. Medium body, decent length. 2001 Cantina del Pino Barbaresco Ovello – another modern wine with a perfumed nose and lots of oak. Still quite tannic but with good length, it needs time. 1988 Ceretto Barbaresco Asij – finally another traditional nose! Not a big wine, rather an elegant style, with some tar and cherry in the nose, and quite good flavour concentration on palate, ending smoothly. I love this old style of wine that takes years to smooth out, and regret the modern tendency to make earlier maturing wines with lots of new oak. The ‘Californication’ of Piemonte? 2001 Vignalta Gemola – an IGT blend of cab (possibly franc) and merlot (30/70) this shouted out California in the nose with the cab more immediately evident than the merlot. Dark, with lots of wood, and long smooth finish, this wine would be a perfect ringer in a blind tasting of meritage wines. 2001 l’Arco Valpolicella Classico – no idea how the waiter lucked into putting this last as a Valpolicella isn’t my first bet for a finishing wine. It worked because this was a ripasso style with more than the usual amount of stuffing, made by an associate of Quintarelli. Fairly dark, with a ripe sweet nose with chocolate (I thought I detected a hint of nutmeg), the wine was fresh and lively and complemented the cheese very nicely.
  5. bills

    1966 Bordeaux

    Only a few of the 1964s are still in good shape - the Latour and Trotanoy are still great!
  6. bills

    1966 Bordeaux

    Notes from a very enlightening tasting of the 1966 Bordeaux vintage arranged by Albert Givton. This vintage, along with the 1961 and 1964 was a star of the 60s, yet if you read reviews of many of the wines (there is a marked difference between Parker, who described many wines as being essentially dead decades ago and Broadbent, who held out more hope and proved to be more accurate in this case) they can come off as mediocre over the hill wines not worth bothering with, when in fact they can be vital interesting wines if cellared well. Make no mistake, I am not saying you should rush out and but 1966s on the internet. These wines had long been stored in a very cool (7 deg.) cellar, and other bottles less carefully stored would probably be dead by now. But this tasting turned out to be a longing goodbye to this vintage rather than a wake. It was held at Vancouver’s Wedgewood hotel, and although I often omit details of the menu, the chef did such an exemplary job with this one that I feel obliged to insert descriptions of the food that was offered with the wines. We couldn’t just plunge into old Bordeaux, we needed a palate adjustment interval, so we started with: 1997 Champagne Paul Bara (Grand Cru) – not a house I had ever tasted but a very pleasant wine with a yeasty fruit nose, bright acidity, and a perfect palate cleanser to start with. With poached Nova Scotia lobster w. shaved vegetable and herb salad, and chilled lobster/yoghurt dressing: 1997 Meursault Genevrieres, Remy Jobard – this wine had a pale straw colour seemingly with a hint of pink! Excellent nose of vanilla pears, a hint of cocoa in the mouth, and good length. While it is well balanced now, that will not last and this is a wine for early consumption. We then plunged willingly into the Bordeaux, the first flight of which was served withpot roasted pheasant breast poached in foi gras fat, with an ethereal light boudin blanc made in-house. l’Arrossee – this was sadly corked, but fortunately this was the only bottle. Gruaud Larose – this was the last really good vintage for Gruaud until 1981. The nose was a lighter style with some cedar and mature Bordeaux notes, there was still significant tannin, it was smooth with good length and while not a knock-out by any means it presented surprisingly well and was pleasurable to drink. Cos d’Estournel – this was back in the old days when Cos was still around 80% cab sauv, and hadn’t started adding as much merlot to the wine. Also fairly dark, with a well integrated nose, good fruit and soft tannin, ending smoothly with good length, this was the clear winner in this flight for me. With roasted tenderloin of veal and slow braised cheek, parsley puree, roasted porcini, shallot confit, Bordelaise sauce: La Lagune – I have tasted this wine before (I once did an extensive vertical event that included it) but had given up on ever again finding a bottle in good shape and had consigned it to fond memory, so it was a delight to taste it in fine form one last time. Last tasted by Parker in 1978 and marked in his 3rd edition of “Bordeaux” in 1998 as “probably in serious decline” this shows how unreliable the usual sources can be for older wines. If the reviewer had a small sample size (tasted once or twice) and had the bad luck to get poor bottles, that will forever damn a possibly good wine to oblivion. This bottle was superb. The oak in the elegant nose was well balanced by mature fruit notes – a truly attractive quintessentially Bordeaux nose. Medium weight with a nice hit of spice coming in anear the end of the lengthy finish, this was a delight. 1986 La Lagune – offered as a mystery wine from two decades later, this failed to win supporters. Not much nose at all, medium body, somewhat tart at the end. it was a disappointment after the 66, and we weren’t sure how it would eventually turn out.. Lynch Bages – darker colour, sweeter nose with a decided riper pruney touch to it, not really forthcoming until it had some time in the glass. It was a bit leaner than the La Lagune, which may be attributable not to a lack of fruit but rather to the greater presence of tannin in this wine. I rated this slightly below the La Lagune. Haut Brion – a slightly floral vanilla nose, medium colour, medium weight, supple and smooth with well integrated tannins and very good length. I finally decided that it was the best of this flight, but the fact that the humble La Lagune made me stop and really think about it was remarkable. With roasted loin of venison, caramelised chickory and juniper and thyme jus: Margaux – this 1966 was the last good Ginestet vintage – the wine deteriorated from here until the chateau was sold to the Mentzelopoulos family. It didn’t rebound until the very respectable 1978. Good colour, pale edges, decent nose, but the fruit was lacking and the slight astringency hinted that this one had seen better days. La Mission Haut Brion – one of my favourite producers, back before it was bought by the owners of Haut Brion and was never again allowed to rival that wine. It had a fantastic nose of spice and toast and dark fruit, and there is an explosion of flavour in the mouth, smooth and supple with a balanced lengthy finish. This wine is clearly superior to the Haut Brion, and if this was the end of the event, would have been the clear wine of the tasting. Latour – oh my! Dark, with a wonderful cedar and fruit nose, very big and intense in the mouth with substantial but fairlt soft tannin, and what I can only describe as extreme length, lingering on for minutes. What a wine! This one is just getting on form and will last for decades – a wine built in the pattern of the juggernauts of the 1920s that will still show as vital lively wines long after the men who made them have passed on. Wow. The fact that you can buy this wine for less than twice what you’d pay for the current vintage is ludicrous. With Stilton, Asiago and Epoisses: 1966 Sandemans Port – this house always produces a lighter style and I’d not expected too much from this one, chosen to match the vintage of the other wines, but it was quite pleasant, with an appearance of a Bordeaux in colour (though not as light as some 1963s have become), a warm, but not hot nose, medium body and silky mouth feel with adequate length. Very nice. A final interesting experience was a liqueur, made in the 1890s and presented in the original hand blown bottle, brought to BC by rail car in the 1904 time frame: Crème de Violettes – the colour did show some violet but it had faded to add a bit of orange tinge to it as well. It was viscous syrup in the glass and extremely sweet, with a floral perfume. This was apparently just the thing for the ladies when they retired to allow the men to indulge in cigars and Port, but to me it seemed sweet enough to gag a hummingbird. Different times, I guess.
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    Iberian Notes

    Notes from a recent Iberian themed dinner. 2005 Ercavio Blanco – made from 100% Airen grape, around Toledo, this wine had a rather Chardonnay like nose, was fairly full bodied and finished cleanly. Worth looking out for – good summer sipper. 2005 Davila (Rias Baixas) – 65% Albarino, 25% Treixadura, 10% Lourero. Clean greenish nose, clean and acidic, classy wine with good body and much more going for it than the usual Albarinos. A bit pricier than the usual ones but worth the difference. Carles Andreu Cava (nv) – a real apple nose, clean and crisp – quite nice as Cavas go. 1996 Miguel Merino Rioja Gran Riserva – more tradition l wine – the nose is all about oak, spicy and pleasant, but I found that the dry oak carried over into the mouth, which I didn’t like as much now – this may lessen with age. Sour cherry flavours toward the end, good length, needs time in bottle. 1996 Alion (R. del Duero) – toasty vanilla international sort of nose, a big weighty wine, good fruit and with significant tannins. This is only just beginning to come into drinking range and really needs a few more years. Will probably surpass the Pedrosa, which is the best drinking wine today. 1996 Vina Pedrosa Riserva (Ribera del Duero) – pleasant international style nose, a bit sweeter than the Alion, and smooth sweet and more ready on palate as well.Nice long finish, ready now. 1986 Casa Ferrerinha Reseva Especial – this Douro wine was still very dark, and showed a real vinyl nose, tannin and insufficient fruit. We were all ready to pour it out and write it off, but put it aside instead and went back to it later. It had done a Lazarus act I’ve rarely seen – you don’t usually see inadequate fruit suddenly improve, and the tannins toned down and showed more softly as some acidity also became apparent until this showed very differently indeed, and what we would have tossed out became something of interest. It is labelled as a Colheita, by the way. Quinta do Noval ‘Over 40’ Tawny Port – all of the tasters qualified for the over 40 part…The colour was browning, it had a pronounced caramel nose, was hot and intense in the mouth and seemed much younger (as, we opined, did all the tasters).
  8. Actually it is an old Lamborghini, but congrats on recognising the Italian content! At least I get to buy eponymous wine - the Lamborghini Campoleone is often very good. Can't say the same if I owned a Ferrari - what wine would work - Ferrari-Carano, maybe? Naw, not in the same class. The winery was founded by Ferruccio when he retired and is now run by his daughter. Yes, the Sassicaia was lovely, although not as good as the 1979 and 1985. Tonight I get to taste 1966 Bordeaux, but I'm driving the minivan, not the Lambo....
  9. bills

    Bordeaux with Game

    Our local chapter of the Commanderie de Bordeaux has a couple of hunters among the members and we decided to put on a game dinner at a local restaurant. With pheasant consommé with pheasant quenelles: 2001 Carbonnieux – usually a decent if never very inspiring white Bordeax, this wine outperformed expectation in this instance. Nice lemony nose with a fair bit of oak, clean acidity, very pleasant. 60% sauv blanc With poitrine sur lit d’endives: 2001 de Fieuzal – that this was a higher level of accomplishment was immediately plain. A lighter citric nose with the oak dialled back about two notches. In fact this wine sees more oak – it is just much better integrated. Excellent balance, clean with lower acidity than the Carbonnieux. With fricassee du canard sauvage (to put visions of savage ducks out of your mind, that simply means wild duck): 1995 de Fieuzal – reprising the last white, but in red form with this course. Balanced fruit driven nose, medium bodied and slightly tannic but with good length. Enjoyable now and should hold quite a while. 1995 Branaire - nose showed a bit riper fruit on this one lots of stuffing here and still lots of tannin. A more serious wine and definitely my preference. We then had a sorbet as a palate cleanser. Most of these are anything but, being far too sweet – in effect palate cloyers – early dessert in fact, but this one was one of the best I’ve had recently. Made from unsweetened fresh pear, it was only slightly sweet and when you got to the bottom, there was a wonderful surprise – the ball of sorbet was nested on a spoonful of Pear William! Excellent. With civet de chevreuil et caribou: 1996 Haut Marbuzet – lots of oak showing in the nose, but also now showing some complexity. Good wine with a slightly astringent finish that should disappear with a bit more cellaring. Ample fruit to match the oak. 1996 Lafon Rochet – this St. Estephe was still a bit tight, showing a slightly hot nose, and not displaying as much fruit as the previous wine, but there was something I liked about it and I made a note to seek it out for a retaste in 2 or 3 years. With cheese: 1993 Lagrange – I am NOT a fan of left bank wines in this vintage, and this one validated my judgement. The main defect was the green nose, which wouldn’t bother a lot of people, but it was also high in acid and tannin and low in fruit, with an almost sour finish. Thumbs down! 1986 Leoville Barton – from the ridiculous to the sublime. Warm cocoa nose combined with currant. Excellent fruit, good balance and it actually drank amazingly well, something I’d not have credited based on previous tastings a few years ago when it was a tannic brute. The brute is well on the way to being tamed! 2001 Roumieu – some botrytis, but none of the secondary coconut etc. It was fairly dark in colour already, a mild surprise given the age, and was sweet but with decent offsetting acidity, the whole being not overly weighty, pleasant now and not framed for a long life.
  10. In no particular order, the wines that stood out for me last year: 1995 Huet Vouvray Cuvee Constance 1981 Lafite 89 and 90 Beaucastel 1987 Dunn Napa Cab 1970 Haut Brion 1929 Ch. Margaux 1975 Ch. d'Yquem 1970 Grand Puy Lacoste 1976 Schloss Eltz Eltviller Sonnenberg Riesling Beerenauslese 1970 Taylors 1995 Petrus 1982 Sassicaia 1991 Shafer Hillside Select 1991 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet 1986 Talbot 1986 Gruaud Larose 1990 Castello di Rampolla Sammarco
  11. 2004 Leonetti Merlot (Columbia Valley) – when I visited a friend to try and solve an equipment problem with my stereo (he creates high end home theatre systems) he offered me a glass of wine. From the kitchen I heard “I have this bottle a client gave me – Leonetti Merlot – is it any good?” Upon suitable assurances from me, the cork was duly pulled and the wine allowed to show its stuff. I usually keep my Leonettis much longer than this, so it was interesting for me as well. Huge chocolate in the nose along with red fruit, and quite full and smooth in the mouth, with a markedly smooth finish, the tannins being present but obviously having signed a non-aggression treaty with the fruit, something that surprised me at this very young age. Very impressive. Can others who routinely put their Leonetti Merlots to the sword, or rather screw at such young ages tell me if this is par for the course these days? My recollection from others tasted young (1990s vintages) was that the tannins were firmer than this.
  12. Notes on some really fabulous wines from the last lunch of 2006. 1982 Bollinger RD – showing some colour and a lovely nose, complex and toasty, with the smooth toasty element following into the mouth. Marvellous wine in great shape. I often prefer the RD to the Grand Annee. 2003 Vergelegen – this wine is just named after the producer and is a Semillon sauvignon blanc blend. Very clean citrus nose with crisp minerality, nice complexity and good length. Classy wine, and a great ringer for a white Bordeaux tasting. 1995 Huet Vouvray Cuvee Constance – I am a big fan of this producer yet this was the first time I’d tasted this reserve cuvee. It showed an amber colour, an uplifting nose like orange marmalade with some honey and botrytis. It was long and smooth, with significant residual sugar but so well balanced that it was impossible to say just how much. It went very well with food, and had a lingering finish. Wonderful wine and a real highlight of the tasting. 1998 Panther Creek Freedom Hill Pinot Noir – some didn’t go straight to pinot with this one, but I felt it was quite typical, with an earthy pinot nose, not heavy on the usual cherries. Good weight with significant tannins – a bit assertive and dry, which left me wondering what the future would hold for this. Nice now with food. 1996 Dom. Lamarche Vosne Romanee Les Chaumes – slightly stinky Burg nose nicely scented with fruit and a touch of mint, tannins to the front, good now with food. 1981 Haut Brion – OK, I admit that this lunch wasn’t 100% blind as one attendant at the previous lunch had indicated that he had this wine he’d been wanting to try, a 1981 Lafite, and a couple of us said we’d try to complement it. This was the first of three 1981 Bordeaux. It had a sweeter nose than the Burg, with some interesting complexity, and as light greenness and some earth. Fully resolved, ready to drink, smooth and a bit lighter than I’d have predicted. 1981 Dom. de Chevalier – I had to either join in the 1981 program or run and hide by bringing something totally different. I opted to bring this wine. It had a nice limpid colour, darker than the others, an excellent sweet nose with some spice, though not quite as complex in that way as the other two, and was much brighter and younger in the mouth than the Haut Brion, in fact seeming the youngest of the three. Glad I hadn't made a 'graves' mistake! 1981 Lafite – sweet luscious nose with bits of fruit, cedar and pipe tobacco, again, medium weight in the mouth, with excellent length and a good backbone. No rush. Many people will not know the 1981 vintage, living as it has in the shadow of 1982 and 1983, but I have had some wonderful wines from this year and would probably take it in preference to most 1979s. What a nice trio of mature Bordeaux! 1976 Martin Ray Cabernet (California) – another rarity, from the original Martin Ray winery. When I nosed this it had another mature Bordeaux nose and I wondered if we had the fourth in a series, but when I tasted it, the full bodied tasty fruit and the structure headed me back across the Atlantic. I was thinking early 80s, but one person went right to 1976 – full credit due there! Excellent length, another piece of history. 1995 Cousino Macul Finis Terrae – the select cuvee of this Chilean producer, it was all powdered sugar and cocoa in the nose, and some mint, and full and smooth on palate. Nicely made wine. 2000 Dom. du Pegau Cuvee Reservee – we realised we’d got something completely different here! Dark, cassis, cocoa, black pepper, smooth in the mouth with lots of soft tannin, and with very good length. No rush on this, but it drinks surprisingly well at this young age. 1981 Bertani Amarone – this is a favourite producer for me although I do not cellar this vintage (I did offer to bring out the 1974 or 1971 for a friendly match some time). Hot rich ripe nose, with a hint of sherry, though certainly not indicative of any maderisation. As expected, very long with a hint of bitterness at the end. Great finishing wine with cheese. 1977 Dow – the nose on this threw me – it was unusually floral although clearly Port. I was surprised to hear it was the 77 Dow as the last bottle I tasted had a completely different nose! Only slightly warm nose, and excellent on palate, seeming to be still young, just coming on line and with a long future ahead. 2005 Orofino Ice Wine – small BC producer making small amounts of pinot/merlot based ice wines. Pale colour, grapefruit and rhubarb nose, sweet but not cloying – unlike almost all other Canadian ice wine (fit only for anointing flapjacks IMHO) this had good balance and was actually pretty interesting.
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    Beaucastel Vertical

    Notes on a vertical tasting dinner of Chateau de Beaucastel I have always enjoyed these wines, and thought it was time to survey some of the older vintages that should be coming into drinking range now. The traditional blend at Beaucastel has always included a high proportion of Mourvedre, higher than most Chateauneuf du Pape producers. This has resulted in a personal tasting rule for me, following the Perrins’ own view, that these wines are best tasted after a decade of age, during which the pong of the Mourvedre declines as the wine assimilates the various elements into a more complex and interesting end product. For reference, the normal encepagement is 30% mourvedre, 30% Grenache, 10% syrah, 10% counoise, 5% cinsault and a dash each of vaccarese and muscardin. We started off with a magrettine de canard farcie au foie gras, and a terrine de foies de volailles (I like this one – made with Port and allspice). I am not going to keep on typing Beaucastel, so assume that is what I am talking about unless otherwise indicated. 1993 Vielles Vignes Roussanne – while they make a regular white with various grapes, Beaucastel also make small amounts (3-400 cases) of this wine from 100% Roussanne from a 4 hectare plot of old vines. It seems to have much greater aging potential and while interesting when young, gets even more interesting with some age. Unfortunately it is also priced way up there and is hard to find. This one has taken on the colour of old Sherry (but not the oxidative nose of that wine!). The nose was quite intriguing with floral scents and a hint of wax. Nice balance with the fruit no longer in the forefront and complex on palate with lingering finish. I have another case to test the longevity of this wine in the coming years as I really enjoy it. With Harira – a chickpea, lamb and coriander soup with a good whack of cloves – I find that the exotic spicing works very well with Rhones. 1999 – intense sweet fruit in the nose, together with hints of mushroom and meat. Medium rather than full bodied made it an elegant wine with good acidity and the nose opened nicely with time. Very nice. 1998 – the nose was even sweeter with red fruit and was round in the mouth bigger than the 1999, harmonious and with good length. With a salad of roast red and yellow peppers and capers marinated in roasted garlic oil: 1995 – wow – this was very much like a Northern Rhone with all the white pepper in the nose. The wine showed excellent levels of fruit, dry tannin, and very good length. This should have a long and interesting life ahead of it. Showing amazingly well considering its youth. 1994 – I have tasted this a couple of times and always found it to be tight and closed, but it has started to open a bit. The first wine with a slightly stinky nose, more earthy than fruity, and with a Burgundian element of ceps. It is still quite tannic but good fruit levels indicate that it should continue to improve. We served a cassoulet as a main course – fortunately, though lacking a Mistral, the weather outside was sufficiently inclement as to suit such hearty fare. 1990 – most stinky nose so far, but nothing like the examples of this and the 89 that I’d experienced before that were Bretty to a fault. In fact Brett was notable by its absence in this tasting, somewhat to our surprise. We were getting smoke, meat, dark fruit in the nose and while quite tannic, the fruit was sweet. I wouldn’t start drinking this for a few years yet, but it is pleasurable now if you can’t wait. 1989 – quite similar to the 1990 but with the sweetness and smoke turned up a notch, and slightly better though members of our group differed as to which was best and we ended up calling it a draw. I have had substandard bottles of this and there were many leakers, which is a shame as they might show more poorly than otherwise but there was no way for the owner to know that and they just though that was what the wine was supposed to taste like. Fortunately this was a pristine bottle and showed well. 1981 – a step back in time to a mature wine. Slightly stinky nose, some of which blew off, with black pepper, black currant and leather, smooth on palate with good uplifting acidity, the tannins now very soft, and with a nice smooth, long finish. These wines just keep getting better with age, and this one was clearly at peak With cheese: 1979 Ch. Rieussec – our expectations were not too high for this wine from a modest Sauternes vintage, but it surprised us, showing only light botrytis in a dark amber wine, and some coconut, but quite good acid and the balance made the difference. Very pleasant end to an interesting tasting.
  14. 1976 Ch. Margaux - An exercise in wine thanatology as this is from the Ginestet era when Margaux was scraping the bottom of the barrel (recovery didn't take place until the 1978 vintage..The nose on this brown edged wine was actually very presentable, but it was lacking on palate, with insufficient fruit to balance out the remaining tannins and finished short. I was strangely drawn to the corpse, however, and my friend and I finished most of the bottle in a sort of wake while thinking good thoughts about better vintages. 1975 Warres - I've always liked 1975 Ports more than many people seem to. Now getting quite pale in colour, the wine had a warm spicy nose, decent body and medium length elegant finish.
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    French Wine Dinner

    French dinner notes: with Dungeness crab cake, Kobe beef tartare, and fresh oysters: 1995 Drappier Champagne Cuvee Millenaire – bottled for the year 2000, this bubbly showed even better than I’d hoped. Noiw showing a bit of pale straw colour, the nose was excellent yeasty and full, and it showed very good balance, excellent length and acidity, with time still to go, though it drinsk well now. We continued this wine with the next course, scallops with tomato confit and spiced vanilla sauce. with a wonderful dish of fresh chanterelles, goat cheese and puff pastry with chive sauce, a couple of Burgundies: 1999 Albert Morot Beaune Toussaints 1 cru – a mature nonstinky nose with just a whiff of pong that quickly blew off.. Good pure fruit on palate, and a clean balanced finish. Very pleasant wine. 2002 Dom. de la Vougeraie Clos du Prieure Vougeot – this well structured wine started out well and kept getting better in the glass. Its most delightful aspect was the nose, which was very prettily perfumed and attractive to start with and was a real knock-out by the time I finished my aliquot. Elegant wine with soft tannin and a smooth round mouth feel, forward and drinking well now. with a great venison chop with Madeira sauce and a foie gras cromoquis – a small fritter of FG that when popped in your mouth released the now liquid FG in a sensuous wave across the palate. My agitation for a platter of these was not heeded. 2000 Vieux Donjon Chateaneuf du Pape – as a long admirer of VD….let me rephrase that – as a Donjon aficionado, I was more than a bit surprised at how this wine showed. Grenache clearly featured in the nose, which was a little hot, but the tannins were mostly resolved and the wine was far more forward than I had anticipated. I have this in the cellar and was expecting something along the lines of a slightly lesser version of the wonderful 1998, but this was a lap dog compared to that proud hound. Pleasant for all that, but much gentler and more drinkable than I’d have thought. 1979 Vieux Chateau Certan – had you told me what this wine was before we tasted it blind, my expectation would not have been high. I checked my notes and I have tasted this only twice, both quite a few years ago in company with other 79s and 78s, and those notes indicate that it was getting long in the tooth even then. This bottle transcended that reputation and record, however. It still showed a very good fruit based nose with a bit of cocoa and obvious maturity, though I thought it perhaps a 1985 given the balance and fruit on palate. It still had good colour, was very smooth and really quite nice. Isn’t it fun when a bottle ‘fools’ you by showing like this? with cheeses 1982 Ch, La Lagune – from my cellar, the first from a case I have stored there. Good colour. An interesting nose with a definite hint of mint that had some scratching their heads in puzzlement. I thought that the fruit to tannin balance was good; another taster thought the fruit a bit low compared to the significant remaining tannins. In any case, the tannins have softened and the wine drinks well now and I shall move this wine up to my drinking list! 2000 Ch. Smith Haut Lafite – a big wine with a primarily coffee scented nose with a mocha touch and I thought I detected just a hint of anise. The nose was warm, perhaps even slightly hot, but I forgot to check the label for alcohol content. Lots of extract and a slightly astringent finish left me wondering where this wine is going and when it will get there, but I liked it.
  16. Monthly lunch notes: 1993 Dom. Closel Savennierres Cuvee Special – yes, I brought a white wine! These Chenin Blanc wines are little known and under appreciated.. They start life with almost searing acidity and it takes around 6-7 years for this to abate and for the wine to start drinking really well. This wine showed a fair bit of colour and a slightly Maderised nose that just kept opening up and adding layers of different fruit. It perplexed several people who rightly stated that if it were a chardonnay, fotr instance, it was showing all the signs of being over the hill.I got wax in the nose as well as peaches, and it was all apple on the palate with excellent balance. That’s what makes these wines worth cellaring. Don’t tell anyone or the prices will rise. 1998 Tyrells Vat 47 Chardonnay – a nice toasty nose on this one, but none of the over exuberant use of oak that would lead you immediately to an Australian chard. Full and smooth in the mouth and crisp at the end. They do make this style in Oz – the pity is that most of the export chard that comes to North America is in the “have to be a woodchuck to get through all that timber” mould. 2004 Sogrape Douro Reserva Blanco – made by an excellent co-op, from indeterminate grapes, this one wasn’t showing much yet in the nose. It was fresh, clean and young with a fair bit of acidity at the end and some interesting notes in between. I think it needs some time to develop. 2000 Au Bon Climat Bien Nacido Pinot Noir (Santa Maria) – no problem picking this out as a Pinot and also fairly easy to say it was American based on the primary fruit nose. It showed medium colour, and was clean and pleasant on palate, perhaps slightly simple, but no less enjoyable for that. 1981 Gruaud Larose – instant recognition of Bordeaux followed by much fumbling around as to vintage as 1981 isn’t exactly at the tip of anyone’s tongue. Finally got there. Showing an very nice cabernet nose with some spice and a hint of dustiness. Very harmonious wine still with some tannin (which kept bugging me when I was thinking 1985 – not quite the right balance for that with too much tannin and not enough sweet fruit….) Well constructed, nice fruit level and pleasant to drink. 1995 Torres Mas La Plana – this is the new name for Gran Coronas Black Label of old – they took the Ull de Lebre (Tempranillo) out in the early 80s and later changed the name and went through a period where it wasn’t nearly as interesting as it had been. It would seem that it is back! This wine showed excellent levels of solid fruit in the nose, some tannin, but soft, and good length. Quite enjoyable now. 2000 La Piaggia Carmignano Riserva – this one really fooled us – purpley dark wine with a sweet fruit nose, sheets down the glass, can’t see through it – your first inclination isn’t Italy. Very interesting in a new age sort of way. Tannins are soft but I think this one will continue to improve awhile yet. 2000 Kir-Yanni Ramnista – or at least I think that’s what it said but then I don’t read Greek very well. I can now add another grape to my life list – Ximomavro. Sweet minty nose (to go with all that lamb…?) that added aspects of dill, roses and tar with time. Medium colour, almost indicating age, but it was young in the mouth and had a slight astringency at the end. 2000 Fontodi Flaccianello – this 100% sangiovese IGT was fairly dark with some Brettiness in the nose, and light tar. It has significant tannins and was slightly hot. Could use more time. 1974 Taylors Late Bottled Vintage Port – ever wondered what happens to an LBV that you leave in the cellar for years? It finally throws a fair bit of sediment and assumes a lighter colour party way between vintage Port and Tawny. This garnet coloured wien was elegant and silky on the palate, a bit hot in the mouth and no longer as sweet as I remember it being on realease. Quite a nice end to a lunch.
  17. Dinner with friends, all wines served blind: 1990 Hiedsieck Brut Champagne – now has some colour, showing complexity in the nose, and very appley in the mouth, lots of flavour, youthful 1998 Dom. Latour-Giraud Meursault Cve Charles Maxim – citrus and smoke nose, medium straw colour, clean, with fair length, at least for the acidity, but the fruit seemed to chop off a bit short. 1995 Kistler Chardonnay Lot 2 – vanilla and tropical fruit nose on a wine that was also showing some colour. Sweet fruit at the end in the mouth. Better with food. 1988 Poderi il Pallazino Grosso Sinese – an IGT – except that IGT hadn’t yet started, so it was still a Vino da Tavola.The nose easily betrayed the country of origin, and it was also evident it was sangiovese, but I thought it could have been a 1990 – it was showing well with good balance, ready now but will hold. 1970 Ch. Gloria – a cru bourgeois from an excellent year, this wine was showing (as 1970s often do) as being younger. Obvious cabernet nose with a hint of green. Still tannin, but drinking really well. 1970 Ch. Cissac – another cru bourgeois from the Medoc, this one in magnum. Sweeter cocoa nose, showing more tannin and more oak, but lighter on palate in the middle. Interestingly , signed on the back label by Harry Waugh – apparently he did this for this chateau? 1983 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle – sweet spicy nose, brown edges, full and showing ripeness in the mouth, but more a middleweight wine with black pepper and some leather coming out with time. An astringency in the finish. Buller Fine Old Muscat – an Aussie liqueur Muscat, with medium dark colour, hot nose, sweet and soft in the mouth, with some almond in the finish.
  18. I picked up some chanterelles on Friday, the first of the season. I'd arranged for any available mushrooms to be offered to the other people at the wine lunch, but when they saw my mushrooms being delivered to me, it instigated a scene akin to a fungal rape of the Sabines as people were trampled and the foremost took the limited spoils. I hope Jenise got a few. Anyway, there is a dish I always make at this time of the year because it mates so well with these mushrooms and I thought I'd share it with you. There is a magical and transitory time each autumn when the first rains come and this is followed shortly by the first local harvest of chanterelles. They pick them small because this is the first harvest and the pickers are anxious to get the cash flow started. Later in the season when they are harvesting areas that weren’t touched earlier, you begin to see the mammoth mushrooms, which to me taste are woodier and coarser. The small mushrooms of the early harvests are definitely the choice tidbits to me. It just happens that at about this time of year, the anxiously awaited Rosés from Southern France start coming into our local market (I'm sure you get better service elsewhere) – the wines we could have used much earlier in the summer. The conjunction of that wine and those mushrooms climaxes, for me, in a dish I make that goes so perfectly with the wine that I just have to sit back and have another glass in wonder. Here it is: Make a pastry shell for a 9” pie pan and make enough for a top too. Sauté a half a chopped onion and 4 cloves of chopped (or pressed) garlic. Before they start to get too coloured, whack in about 2 pounds of lightly chopped (and cleaned, of course) chanterelles, and lightly brown (more just a tinge of gold, you know what I mean) them. As they are almost done, add at least 4 tsp each of fresh sage, thyme and rosemary (to taste – I usually use more) and about 3 tbsp. chopped sundried tomatoes. Stir that around a bit and then take a bunch of spinach that you’ve cleaned and whacked off the stems, and spread it over the top of the shrooms and put the lid on until it wilts and you can stir it in. Take that off the heat and drain in a colander. Take 1 potato and peel and grate it fairly finely. Beat 3 large eggs and add 2-3 tsp of Dijon mustard –mix. Add salt and pepper (c. 1 tsp each) and the grated potato. Add 1 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts – this is important – gives not only flavour but great texture. Add the mushroom mixture to the egg mixture and stir, then plop it down on the lower pastry crust and spread it out. Put the top shell on and bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes – just keep an eye on your pastry. Haul it out and let it sit for at least 10-15 minutes and then serve with a chilled flagon of Rosé – I used 2005 Ch. Guiot from Nimes and it was magnificent. A great wine and food match is one that elevates both to heights unachieved alone. This is one of those rare cases. Enjoy.
  19. Monthly blind tasting lunch notes 1999 Ch Pavillon de Margaux – great start! Lanolin nose at first, a solid wine on palate with a mineral/dry finish, rich. Kept getting better and better. 2001 Tirecul La Graviere – the dry version of the Madame, which I had not tasted before. Great lemony honeyed nose with some vanilla. Also some colour and good weight and lots of complexity on palate. 60% Semillon, 20% sauv blanc 20% muscadelle. 2002 Daniel Lenko Signature Chardonnay – small producer from Niagara. Wine pretty light in the nose department but fuller in mouth, obviously well made. Touch competition. 1998 Vincent Girardin Pommard Les Rugiens – classic non-stinky pinot nose, some spice, floral highlights and an orange peel thing going on. Medium body, long clean acidic finish. Great with the dish of chanterelles in veal reduction. 1986 Ch. Talbot – I never featured this obvious Bordeaux as a 1986 until we had worked our way through the other possible vintages. It had the edge of rusticity, typical of this chateau but the tannins were considerably softer than I expected for the vintage. Wonderful flavour concentration and excellent length. Kept coming back to this one! 1985 Phelps Insignia – this wine was showing contrarily harder than expected! Dark and much mintier than the last bottle I tasted, it was smooth and has lots of time left. Impressive. 2000 Poplar Grove Reserve – made in small lots of 80% merlot, 20% cab franc, this local wine did fit into the Bordeaux mould but it was heavy going after the previous wines. Darker, warmer, sweeter, with some cocoa . Good length 1998 Terlan Porphyr Lagrein – an oddball from the Alto Adige, showing a real coffee nose, a slight leanness but reasonable body. Almost impossible to nail this as Italian. – much more like some international cab/merlot blend. 2003 Carm Reserva – a very young wine from the Douro made from Tinta Nacional, Franca and Roriz aged in American oak. Warm ripe nose, the wine quite tannic and hard to read right now. Good enough to pick up and lay away to see what will happen to it. 2002 De Toren Fusion V – an international style of Cape wine blended from the 5 Bordeaux varietals. Vitamin sort of nose, and ripe. Still fairly tannic, and clean acidic finish. Needs time. 2000 Ravenswood Monte Rosso Zinfandel – I am a big zin fan, but this one wasn’t showing much zin character. Ripe but no berries, warm on palate with soft tannin. Pleasant but surprised the heck out of me when we found out what it was. I had to go home and pop a cork on a Turley 1996 Old Vines just to check out my palate calibration….. 1983 Dow Port – hot nose, and hot in mouth, a bit sweet but not Grahams level and good length. Very nice and a great way to end a lunch – except that one of our group perpetrated another wine on us. Fort Wine Company Blueberry Wine - we decided this wasn’t a grape wine pretty quickly, but it was well made and finished dry and could have been very nice in the summer. Pink, with an unusual bubblegum and cheese nose, ot would make a great sorbet. Our host couldn’t resist pulling something else in kind: Forbidden Fruit Black Cherry Cerise d’Eve – a 17% wine with sweet cinnamon nose, apples in the mouth and a shot of ginger. Actually not a bad way to end a lunch.
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    Spanish Notes

    Notes from a tasting of wines from Spain and ex-Spanish territories. 2005 Quinta do Ameal Vinho Verde – OK, so this was from Portugal, the organiser also allowed this – Iberian peninsula and all. Not much nose until it warmed up, then some smoke. Bit flat in the middle, finshed better than it started, an obvious attempt at a ‘more serious’ VV. Maybe some wines aren’t meant to be serious…. 1995 Remurez de Ganuza Rioja – nose of toasty oak and well developed fruit, on the ripe side. Fairly youthful in the mouth with good length and an uplift of acidity at the end. New age Rioja made the way the reviewers (who like California cab) like to see them. 1994 Pesquera – this Crianza is now in prime drinking range. It showed a mildly stinky nose with some cheesiness, backed by cocoa and spice, a nice mouth feel, soft tannins and good length. Perhaps the most traditional wine of the evening. 1996 Errazuriz Don Maximiano Cabernet – didn’t give much varietal cab clue, but a nose that was more honey, the fruit not huge, then sliding into a spiciness and soft tannin. Nice now. I almost brought my 1993 – guess I should get into them to see what is happening. Our only new world entry. 2001 Terra d’Hom Priorat – sweet cocoa nose with huge fruit, excellent balance and surprisingly soft tannin. New world style, and not built for the long haul, rather for early pleasure. Would work well instead of Port with cheese. 2000 Quinta do Valle D. Maria - a wine from the Douro with a heavily oaked nose, lots of in your face fruit, a bit hot, sweet and fruity on palate and not too complex. Better try my 1998 soon. 2002 Finca Sandoval – from Manchuela, a combination of mostly syrah with mourvedre – a Spanish Rhone, if you will. Another non-traditional wine with a warm nose, sweet, young, blackberry and anise, tannic, young and not complex. Would be interesting to see if it improves with age – I’m not sure if it will or not. Anyway, tasty when young!.
  21. The usual wide range of wines at my monthly blind tasting lunch. 2005 Ch. Guiot Costieres de Nimes Rosé – sweet strawberry nose, pretty decent body, a bit darker than many pink wines, dry with clean acidity. Where was this little Grenache bundle of joy in the hot summer when I needed it? 1997 Tyrells Vat 1 Huinter Valley Semillon – some colour, oak predominant in the nose, a sense of sour apples in the mouth. Lots of (too much?) acidity. Maybe not a good bottle. 2002 Golden Beaver Late Harvest Chardonnay – picked up by me last week on my annual wine buying tour of the BC interior, it wasn’t that bad – warm strange nose, full body and dry finish. Presented mostly for the rather odd marketing strategy that would choose a name like that. Several tasters said that if they produce T shirts that said “There’s Nothing Like a Taste of the Beaver” they’d buy them. Yes, but would they really wear them? 1972 Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet 1 cru Clos de la Boudriotte – a taste of "Ramonet-Conti”! Yes, they do make very good ageworthy wines in this predominantly white wine area, and yes this one was standing up beautifully, at peak but with no rush to drink it. I thought it was a Madeira based on the colour in the glass, but then I smelled it and it had that lovely mellow old Burgundian nose with a whiff of caramel at the end. Perfect balance and amazing fruit at this age. 1998 Groffier Bonnes Mares Grand Cru – a sweet cherry nose from a quite dark wine, with thick legs. Lovely fruit and quite smooth on palate. This one didn’t immediately cry out either Pinot or Burgundy and we had to work our way to both conclusions.. 1997 Albert Morot Beaune Teurons 1 cru – 3 Burgs in a row – we seldom get that sort of coincidence. There was a bit of low tide about this nose, although the pinot fruit was there as well. With time the nose changed to cucumber (really). Lots of colour, soft tannin and only medium fruit. 1987 Dunn Napa Cab – dark wine with big fruity nose, still lots of tannins and great length. It seemed like a wine 10 years younger, as Dunns often do. 2001 Montes Alpha ‘M’ – their top end cabernet, this showed a warm cab fruit nose, with some cedar, and was smooth with good length. Could use a bit more time. 1998 Clos Pegase Cab – warm cocoa nose, sweet an mellow on palate with definite bitter chocolate. Showing well. 1999 Carpineto Vino Nobile Riserva – didn’t jump out at us as Sangiovese. More cocao and spice, and in the mouth, vanilla and caramel. Sweet but tannic. Needs time. 2002 Van Loveren Limited Release Shiraz – a small production wine from the Cape, with an unusual nose of leather, something metallic, and a hint of orange, with smoky oak. Hot at the end, this one has time left. 1993 Lindemans Limestone Ridge Shiraz Cabernet – 84% shiraz, 16% cab. Another smoky vanilla nose, smooth fruit and a nice acidic lift at the end. Now ready to start drinking. 1977 Dow Port – we thought there might have been a slight corkiness, but as it seemed to disappear, decided it was just a mustiness. Hot wine with excellent colour, the sweetness seeming to kick in only near the end. Drinking surprisingly well now. Another very enjoyable lunch.
  22. Notes from a dinner event featuring the wines of Pessac-Leognan, the Bordeaux sub-region formerly part of Graves (the lesser wines were left under that commune name), prior to 1987. We had wines with dinner, which I shall describe first, and then shared the odd glass with different tables, resulting in the chance to gain wider ranging if somewhat sketchier notes on many more wines. Those notes will be added below the dinner notes. Taittinger NV Champagne – pleasant nose, good mousse, a bit simple but clean on palate. with lamb croquette, wild salmon tartare and smoked duck breast canapés 2000 Carbonnieux – a white for the seafood course. Nice fat rich lemon and honey nose, but only medium body and modest length. with scallop and wilted arugula salad 1988 Haut Bailly – dark wine with an excellent fruit driven nose, mature, up front soft tannins that seemed to fade after 10 minutes, and a long juicy finish. Fruit on palate was good but not lavish. 1988 Pape Clement – excellent penetrating nose of fruit and earth,, similar wine that improved with time in glass and more acidity at the end than the Haut Bailly. 1995 Cruzeau – served as a mystery wine, blind, this showed ripe fruit and some spice in the nose, compact on palate, ending with good acidity. Well priced Bordeaux that routinely outperforms its price. with duck confit, morels, Madeira sauce and truffle flan. 1995 Haut Bailly – I was delighted to find that I had some of this in the cellar! Sweet fruit and berries in the nose, and vanilla, lots of fairly soft tannins, a lovely smooth tasty wine with time ahead of it. 1989 de Fieuzal – not as impressed with this one. Slightly funky nose, and the fruit on palate seemed a bit low, the wine riding on acidity at the end. It also exhibited a slight vegetal note that was off-putting. If you have it, drink up. with wild boar stuffed with foie gras 1998 Haut Bailly – big sweet rich fruit, sweet on palate, but also soft, not a wine for the long haul. 1998 Smith Haut Lafite – dark, and with another vegetal nose that blew off a bit, some up front fresh acidity on palate, tannins soft, good fruit, a forward elegant wine marred only by the lingering nose problem. with cheeses Now the other wines I had a chance to taste: 1975 Dom. de Chevalier – I thought of bringing a 1981 but figured that this wine is usually elegant and doesn’t benefit from being put up against brawnier competition. The 1975 is certainly the exception to this. It was showing a flowery nose, the remaining tannins were soft, and it was a tasty wine much better than other bottles I have had. From a cold cellar. 1988 Dom. de Chevalier – not much happening in this nose, and an almost sour/acidic thing at the end on palate. None for me, thanks! 1970 Haut Brion (magnum) – I am pretty familiar with this wine from regular bottle, but this one handily surpassed any of those I’ve tasted. Coffee nose, excellent flavour concentration, ending with soft tannin. Very nice! 1982 Haut Brion – nice nose well integrated fruit, although a chaptalised wine with lower natural fruit than the 82 La Mission, and good length. This wine showed better when younger, when it even surpassed the 1983 on occasion. 1983 Haut Brion – browning edges, very harmonious nose, smooth in the mouth and with some soft tannins, but mostly resolved, and excellent fruit, better now than the 1982. Perfectly ready now. 1995 Smith Haut Lafite – a decent nose, but lean and compact in the mouth. I’ve had better bottles. 1982 Malartic Lagraviere – yes, a wine that I finished years ago, pegging it as needing to be drunk up, yet this one showed well. Colour now pale, and slightly high acidity at the end, but surprisingly alive.
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    Garden Wine

    I wanted to catch the last days of good weather in the garden, so I arranged a BYOB and food event with some wines served blind and some not. 2005 Kettle Valley Gewurztraminer – one of the most promising producers of this varietal in BC and this was perhaps their best yet. Slight pink tinge, nice varietal nose, excellent acidity and balance and a dry finish. 2004 Ricasoli Torricella Chardonnay – hard one to nail as to country. Waxy sort of nose, smooth in the middle, ending with a slightly sweet rich finish. 1999 Ch. de Malle Sauternes – (in case you were wondering, we had this with several variations of foie gras). Best de Malle I think I have ever had. Lovely light straw colour, huge sweet nose, perhaps a tad hot, and sufficient acidity top balance. 2003 Dom. de Beaumalric Muscat de Beaumes de Venise – interesting counterpoint to the Sauternes. Not a typical Muscat nose – this one was all about apples. It was only slightly sweet but worked well with the foie gras. 2004 Monte Fiorentine “ca Rugate” Soave da uve Garganega – a really interesting wine as few of us drink much Soave these days. Clean lemon and vanilla nose, almost chardonnay-like, and similarly clean and medium bodied in the mouth. 1998 Kettle Valley Hayman Pinot Noir – single vineyard BC Pinot showing a very slightly stinky nose, also slightly hot, with good flavour concentration and length but none of the secondary characteristics that a mature French pinot develops. 2000 Quinta do Crasto Riserva – this Portuguese wine has been going from triumph to triumph in terms of vintages – and this is probably the best dry wine they have made so far. Spice featured in the nose, the wine was still young, dark, and fairly tannic, but the fruit level was excellent as was the acidity. Needs time! I’m glad I can’t remember where my case rests in the cellar or I’d be tempted. 2003 Bishop Peak Edna Valley Syrah – dark wine with big ripe fruit, and an enjoyable spiciness on palate! 1999 Castello di Ama Chianti Classico – nice mushroomy nose, good acidity and excellent with the mushroom risotto we ate at that point. 1999 Howell Mountain Vineyard Napa Zinfandel – I am a big Zin fan, and this was good, but in the ‘overpower-me-with-fruit’ style that isn’t my favourite. Sweet nose, very sweet entry and smooth long (you guessed it….) sweet finish. 1993 Plaisir de Merle Cabernet Sauvignon – this growers co-op in the Cape makes some wonderfully consistent wines and this was their first vintage. It was showing a hint of green in the nose, along with coffee and cocoa, and was soft and at peak for drinking. 1982 Beaulieu Vineyards George de Latour Cabernet – much more ripeness in the nose than I recalled on this wine, warm on palate and with a decently long somewhat pruny finish. Delightful way to end the evening.
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    Alsace and Burgundy

    An interesting evening of tasting Alsatian and Burgundian wines blind with a matching menu. Albert Mann Cremant d’Alsace (nv) – what better way to start the event? Simple yeasty nose, fresh and clean on palate with decent acidity. 2000 Albert Mann Gewurztraminer Steingrubler – a bit light in the nose at first although easily spotted as Gewurz, but that changed considerably over about 15 minutes as it opened up , to give lots of pear and spice. Good fruit, significant weight and a good long finish. I thought this was drinking very well now and continuing to improve; another taster thought it might have been better a couple of years ago. Does it rate the score Parker gave it (94)? I think it is at least close. 1997 Ostertag Vendage Tardive ‘Fronholz’ – I’d have put this later with the cheese, but perhaps the restaurant saw the same varietal and didn’t look any deeper (or didn’t know what VT wine was). Not as heavy as some VTs, it showed the sweetness clearly in the noise, which had the added element of lychee not seen in the previous wine. Very smooth and quite good. 1992 Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer ‘Hengst’ – no varietal characteristic in the nose at all, although a hint of spiciness developed with time. What did come out was some oak, and the wine was medium bodied with lower acidity than the younger examples. I have always found it a mistake to hold Gewurz for the long haul as most decline in the very qualities of ‘gewurziness’ that we hold dear. Not bad, and some interesting notes in it, but my bet is that this wine would have drunk much better 5 years ago. 2002 Verget St. Romain – the segue to white Burgundy lost me on the way. Ripe nose, bit flabby in the mouth (but remember the crisp wines we were comparing it to), and a bit of oxidation indicated this one was a bit long in the tooth. 1985 Faiveley Echezaux – high point of the reds! Excellent nose of the mostly non-pongy variety – just pure old fruit with a bare tough of animal, and a decided coffee element that popped up a bit later on. Smooooth and supple, eventually ending up a tad acidic, a clue that the wine is probably in gentle decline but still hanging in there. 1996 Desauney-Bissey Vosne Romanee – evaluation was difficult as the wine was slightly corked and that casts any judgements made on it in doubt as you never know to what degree the rest of the wine, and in particular the fruit has also been affected. The basic balance was decent and it had good weight, but the fruit seemed a bit muted and there seemed to be sulphur as much as TCA in the nose. 2005 Joie “A Noble Blend” – a BC wine, present with prior approval of the organiser, made from various German and Alsatian varietals. Very light colour and I spotted it right off the bat as a BC wine because it had that identifiable amateur wine making sort of raw note in the nose. OK on palate I suppose, but light and forgettable. This one won’t be making the Alsatians lose any sleep. 2002 Zind Humbrecht Riesling Herrenweg de Turckheim – lovely to hit a good Riesling nose! Some colour, an almost spirity hint at the tip of the tongue, and solid fruit in the middle, ending with sufficient acidity that it should have a nice long life. I’d have swapped positions with this and the Ostertag, had I been ordering the wines. Great fun as we so seldom focus on Alsace!
  25. Monthly blind tasting lunch notes: 2002 William Fevre Chablis 1er Cru ‘Les Lys’ – clean mineral nose with hint of spice, smooth with good body, quite a bit of acidity and decent length. The acidity indicates it will go on for some time yet. Bit of mustiness in nose blew off quickly. 2001 Ch. de Beaucastel Chateuneuf du Pape blanc – this was the regular blend, not the old vines Roussanne. Cold at first but as it warmed some peaches and roses came out in the nose, and it was full bodied with some distinct spiciness in the finish. Served with squash blossoms stuffed with scallops. 1995 Guigal Cote Rotie Brune et Blonde – I brought the 1994 last month so it was natural to compare the experiences. Smoke and floral nose, with some black pepper, some tannin present, good fruit and nicely balanced acidity. A definite step above the 94 in amount of fruit, colour and concentration. 1997 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino – a big nose with sweet fruit, but the wine is quite elegant on palate and has lower acidity than I’d have expected and soft tannin. Ready to drink now. We had duck breast and truffle consommé with these wines. 1979 St. Clement Napa Cabernet – still good colour but bricking edges indicated an older wine and a nose that went from initial mustiness to mintiness indicated perhaps Australian or American but we dallied with Italy, Franc….. The balance and weight sent us toward the States and I was thinking maybe a 1987, but wasn’t surprised to find it older. Still abundant tannins, but the wine became more acidic with time in the glass and the acids seemed more prominent indicating it may be getting a bit long in the tooth. Interesting. 1998 Ch. d’Armailhac – bit of a readjustment here from old to quite young (but ready). Young and dark with a plumy nose, a bit on the soft side in terms of acidity and no tannins to speak of, it was ready to drink and a good match with the rare roast Saltspring lamb main course. 2004 Casa Santos Lima Sousao – a Portuguese wine from Estramadura that was purple with thick legs, huge fruit and tons of extract. I’d love to see how this one ages! 1998 Ch. de Beaucastel – from a warm cellar, so don’t take this note as a reason to rush out and start popping corks. Great nose of big, warm fruit, nice weight and a long mocha finish. I shall patiently hold mine for a few years but this bottle was excellent now. I wonder if the high percentage of Grenache this vintage makes it a bit more forward? 2000 Boekenhoutskloof Syrah – this cape wine is expensive, hard to find, and worth the hunt. Blood and earth mixed with vanilla and cocoa in the nose and smooooth on palate with good length. Will improve. I’d like to see this put up blind in a Syrah tasting as it would be very difficult to place and might be mistaken for a Northern Rhone. 1978 Quinta do Noval – this was a tough one. The colour has paled and faded to the point that I was looking to the 1961 era, which was consistent with the browning edges, but the hot finish and sweetness didn’t match any that I could think of. Dirty pool to pull an oddball vintage like this and respond to questions that it was indeed a vintage year. I guessed a Graham’s Malvedos (which I haven’t tasted in some time). 1968 Quinta do Noval Colheita Tawny Port – again, a hot nose and pale colour, sweet but also really penetrating flavours with overtones of roasted cashews. Nice finish to the meal.
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