Jump to content


participating member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by bills

  1. bills

    Australian Shiraz

    Notes from a recent gathering of my group that drinks their best wines together – the wines you collect and then they sit there because they are just a little too good to bring out for just anything, and the special occasion never seems to come around. We all had that sort of wine and decided that we would meet 5 times a year and MAKE the occasion when we could haul out our special bottles and drink them together. Core group of 5 people and we sometimes add one guest. This time around was my turn and I opted for Australian wines, drunk in the garden with a marinated BBQ butterflied leg of lamb. 1992 Rosemount Roxburgh Chardonnay – this was an unlisted cellar find a few years ago – a wine I thought had long been drunk up but there was one remaining bottle. At that age I figured I’d hang onto it until we had a decrepit chard event or for something like this. The colour was amber, but there was only the faintest hint of oxidation in the nose and the fruit was still holding well. Interesting and well worth tasting. We decided to cork the remaining half bottle and compare it with the backup I hd standing by, no spring chicken itself. 1998 Ch. Reynella Chardonnay (McLaren Vale) – this wine got 75% American and 25% French oak for 9 months and 40% went through malo-lactic. A yellow wine, but without the orange highlights of the older chard. Smooth toasty nose and some decent complexity on palate, the oak now fully integrated (a few years ago it was a bit one-note). Nice balance. 1996 E&E Black Pepper Shiraz – OK, I’ll fess up – this was supposed to have been a vertical of Eileen Hardy, but I couldn’t find mine in the cellar. I KNOW there is a sixpack of Eileen Hardy 1996 lurking there somewhere, I just have to guess where and start excavating…. I decided to put this one up – nice wine unfortunately rated by the Wine Speculator at about the time it was released here. A 97 point score meant it was instantly unobtainable. A massive sweet minty fruit nose makes this one a bad choice for a blind tasting (which this was not) as it is so easily identifiable. Smooth and sweet on palate, with some tannin but essentially ready fro prime time. Really smooth and the best nose of the bunch. 1997 Eileen Hardy Shiraz – a yellow label and marked as 100% Mclaren Vale fruit. This wine was even darker with another minty nose, a bit less complex and layered than the E&E. It was also smooth and had excellent length with the best finish opf the lot. Very nice wine ready to start drinking. 1998 Eileen Hardy Shiraz – beige label which didn’t indicate fruit origin. Also predictably dark with less mint and more vanilla in the nose, and similarly smooth with fairly sweet fruit and good length, but I liked the 97 better, which surprised me a little given the rep of this vintage. I have noted my predilection for the earlier vintage with other wines like the Fox Creek, which reminds me to (find) and pull a bottle each of their 1997 and 1998 Reserve Shiraz one of these days to try out my theory. 1997 Brokenwood Shiraz Reyner Vineyard – good thing we decided to taste this one separately as it had different weight than the others. Lots of blackberry here and with 18 months of American oak lots of vanilla and cocoa as well. Big wine, it had a weighty middle and still shows as fairly tannic with excellent length. Great with the cheeses. Still needs time.
  2. bills

    Wines for Terrines

    Terrine 3 – 2006 August 5, 2006 Three years ago I was trying to think of a way of holding a dinner where we could feature food instead of just wine, and where each couple could prepare a dish and present it as a pot-luck sort of thing. The theme that I finally came up with wasn’t so much a type of food or cuisine as a method of preparation – terrines. It allows tremendous scope in terms of ingredients and preparation methods and as I took the liberal view on allied dishes like ballotines, pates, galantines and such, there was enough range to keep everyone happy. We’ve done it three times now, in the garden, at a table which comfortably seats 12 people. It is fun to bill it as ‘Garden Stadium’, and as an Iron Chef sort of competition, but in fact the only competition is against oneself, trying to make something interesting that pleases yourself and others. Accordingly, the official judges remain fairly non-judgemental. The fun part is not only choosing and preparing a dish, but also coming up with two often quite different wines to go with it, giving us all an opportunity to study the fascinating art of food and wine matching. This year’s event took place over about 5 hours in absolutely perfect conditions, not too warm, not too cool, and the food, wine and company was as always second to none. First up was: Terrine de Poisson Trois Couleurs A wonderful dish with a really great sauce, it was paired with: Clos du Chateau de Mosny Montlouis-sur-Loire Brut NV – a very pleasant little Loire bubbly that had a pleasant soft nose and sufficient acidity to go reasonably well with the food. 2002 Bourillon-Dorleans Coulee d’Argent Vieilles Vignes Vouvray – it got more interesting with this wine which showed a waxy honey and fruit nose, medium bodied, and with a bit lower acidity than is usual in this wine, as well as a bit more fuit in the mouth than you expect. Very nice match with the fish. Terrine aux Ris de Veaux et Homard Truffé My dish, so I can give a bit more detail. A recipe from Tour d’Argent, it is layered sweetbreads, lobster and sliced black truffle in a Port bouillon jelly, served with two kinds of mayonnaise, a green and a red flavoured with spinach and tomato respectively. The recipe was cause for domestic upheaval as she-who-must-be-obeyed had forgotten there were two live lobsters in the fridge and let out a shriek when she opened the door and they greeted the light by making a break for it. For the rest of the day she wandered around muttering “For the love of God, Montresor” and named them Montresor and Fortunato (see Poe’s story ‘A Cask of Amontillado” if you don’t know the reference). 2003 Black Hills Alibi – a Bordeaux blend from a BC winery, and probably the best such in the province, I thought I’d give the home team a shot at glory. Lighter wine with clean slightly citrus nose, quite nice with the food but in this case overwhelmed by the competition. 1995 Ch. La Louviere – none of us cellars much white Bordeaux, but whenever we taste a wine like this we always ask ourselves why that should be. The nose on this was really tasty – an oak and fruit melange that reminded me of vanilla pudding. Complex in the mouth and very smooth, sweet and long, it was the hands down popular choice as best match with this dish. Jambon Persillé Two pictures as this contestant, in a blatant attempt to influence the judges, submitted a side dish of majestic proportion, a Belgian endive tart with cheese pasty that was admittedly excellent. The main dish was nothing like the traditional ham in parsley jelly either, but was richly textured and accompanied by a stack o’ taters that was the perfect foil to the flavours of the terrine. 1995 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir, Russin River Cuve – a very Burgundian wine, right from the excellent Pinot nose featuring cherries to the smooth silky finish. My choice as best wine with the food, but then I may be rightly accused of being a bigger fan of Burgundy than of New World Pinot 1999 Siduri ‘Christian David’ Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – an impressive wine in the more usual American style, this showed a big rich Pinot fruit nose, sweet entry, was smooth on palate and has some soft tannin remaining – must have been a bit of a brute when younger. A stylish wine, it failed to seduce me from the Williams Selyem. Terrine of Guinea Fowl, Green Lentils and Porcini Mushrooms 1962 Chateau La Grace Dieu, Grand Cru (Saint-Emilion) – an even more pronounced difference between the wines with this interesting course. 1962 was a decent vintage overshadowed by 1961. I do not know this producer and don’t recall ever seeing it before. Nonetheless it put on an interesting showing. There was (needless to say) nothing much in the way of fruit left, but the nose was copybook mature claret until it very suddenly went all metallic on us. Brown edges and a lot of acidity and some remaining flavour interest. 1999 Casalferro – this IGT from Barone Ricasoli showed currants and coffee in the nose, with quite a bit of oak and a hint of pepper. Still tannic, it is an international style of wine with good length and a future ahead of it. None of the telltale terminal acidity of so many Italian wines, and a good accompaniment to the dish. Terrine de Lapin aux Noisettes 1988 Beaune-Teurons – Albert Morot – a slightly stinky nose and lots of acidity, the fruit levels a bit low but pleasant and perhaps the better wine with the food. 1996 Condado de Haza - this was a nice mature Condado from back in the days before they started pounding this out in great quantities, to the detriment of quality. Leather and fruit in the nose, the wine smooth and mature. Nice on its own and with the food, but a little lower acidity made the Burg the best wine for matching the food in this flight. Lamb Terrine This terrine used traditional pig’s foot for gelatine and while the experimental batch had no problem sticking together, this one had a minor failure of ‘stiction’ but certainly not of flavour – you can’t find a good pig’s foot when you need one! 1998 Domaine Bois de Bourson Chateauneuf du Pape – I am not acquainted with this producer although others present were. Great nose with black pepper and Rhone funk, it still could use some time as the tannins are evident if softening. Spicy/peppery in the mouth as well. Very nice. 1997 Montresor Santomio – this merlot/cab blend from Veneto was very presentable indeed with ripe fruit and chocolate in the nose, which reminded one generally of Bordeaux a bit, and it would have made an interesting ringer in a group of clarets, only the slightly high terminal acidity and the ripeness in the nose being clues to origin. The maker’s name was particularly apt in light of SWMBOs previous lobster adventures. We finished up with some chees and a Gould Campbell Old Vintage Character Port, some of which had found a home in my Port jelly, Quite pleasant at the age of about 25 years (I’ve had it for more than 20 years). You don’t see that terminology any more, do you? At the end we took a vote and it was unanimous that there be a T4 next summer (only this time I won’t wait to hear what everyone else is making before making a decision myself….)
  3. Monthly blind tasting lunch notes. Last month we had a 1929 Ch. Margaux sprung on us, and I didn’t anticipate anything wonderful happening this time around, but as it turned out, the wines weren’t too shabby at all! 2003 Ch, Lascombes – had a taste of this while waiting for others to show up. It had been open 2 days yet had an excellent nose, very good fruit and was smooth on palate. 2004 Nigl Muscateller (Austria) – well we didn’t get the country except by elimination and more surprisingly we also failed to get the grape! I’d have said that little could be easier to identify than Muscat, but this one was wearing a disguise of citron and melon perfume. Interesting wine. 2002 Max Roger Sancerre – always a reliable producer, this wine, though perhaps a bit closed in the nose, did reveal very good fruit and a clean lengthy finish. Great with the scallops. 2002 Cedar Creek Platinum Chardonnay – brought by a Burg-hound which admittedly prejudiced us, but I swear this was a ringer for a French chard – steely flinty nose, clean and fresh at the age of 4 years and with very good balance. Outstanding showing for a local wine. 1993 Dolce – from Nickel and Nickel (as in ‘Dolce Far Niente’). this desset wine showed as much less sweet than the 10 brix RS would lead you to believe, due to the nicely balanced acidity. Showing some colour, I was still surprised to hear that it was that old. It had a Riesling nose, of all things – I don’t believe there is any Riesling in it, but who knows – they aren’t exactly forthcoming about blend. 2001 Arcadian Sleepy Hollow Pinot Noir – from grapes grown in Monterey county but you’d never know it – no veggies here! Nose mostly fruit driven although some thought they smelled a bit of funkiness. Light colour, bit simple in the mouth with a bit of heat at the end. Pleasant Pinot. 1994 Guigal Cote Rotie Brun et Blonde – also a fairly light colour, nose started out with a green tinge and then segued into a nice white pepper nose. Medium weight and pleasant – absolutely ready to drink. 2002 Max Roger Sancerre – yes, you are reading correctly, I am not stuttering. This was a Loire red made from Pinot Noir. Light in colour with some tannin and pretty tight right now – lean and may never loosen up. 1989 Ch. Batailley – lovely mature colour and nose, this wine just delicious right now, and as it was a bit fierce when younger, that is a nice development. 1988 Ch. Beychevelle – perhaps the best showing of this normally lean and somewhat thin wine. More fruit in the nose than the previous wine, and although tannins were still firm the fruit nicely offset it. 2000 Fiefs de Lagrange – our friend Mr second Label was at it again (we have failed to convince him that the same money spent on a lesser first label gets you better grapes from older vines). The 2000 Lagrange was tannic and closed but had fruit. The second wine had a smoky nose, and was hollow in the middle. Oh well. 1998 Los Vascos Reserve – I have always loved this bargain cabernet from this Lafite owned property in Chile. Now perfectly mature, the sweet fruit in the nose melded with mint and a bit of leather was very nice and it had good length and finished smoothly. 1996 Dominus – I always enjoy the Frenchness of Dominus and this one had that although it will no doubt become much more Bordeaux –like with age. Fairly hefty in body, with smooth dark fruit and a hint of coffee and vanilla in the nose, this was showing very well now but clearly has a long life ahead. No rush. 2003 Bookwaletr Merlot – I have found this Washington State winery to be a bit hit and miss. This one was really nothing like a merlot – much too hard and over-oaked – the oak was overwhelming in the nose but also was evident on palate. Simple, but might pick up some complexity later. 1986 Ch. Rieussec – this wine seemed just a little corked although TCA wasn’t in evidence. It lacked a je ne sais quoi in the nose, but showed OK on palate, being rather sweet. 1975 Ch. d'Yquem – it wasn’t really fair to put the poor Rieussec up against one of the best Yquems last century! The nose was almost perfect with a bit of oak, lots oif botrytised fruit and honey, and much more nuttiness and apricot or peach than the last time I tasted this several years ago. Absolutely friggin killer wine. I guessed that it was 1975 Rieussec at first and then as it opened up more and just kept expanding, we sat there scratching our heads until one brave soul asked if it could possibly be the Big Y. Zowie! Only question is how we can ever improve on the last 2 month’s lunches……
  4. Notes from a garden dinner: 2005 Dourthe No. 1Rosé – a cabernet based wine from Bordeaux, quite dry, nice pink colour and very pleasant as a starter or whistle wetter. 2004 Ch. Tour de Mirambeau – an Entre deux Mers with a decent nose, a lemony presentation on palate, very clean and great with the cold cucumber soup opener. 2001 Ch. La Garde – this white Bordeaux showed far too much colour, being a dark straw, and the nose was (ahem) very mature. Some decent flavours, but thos bottle, at least was over the hill (and through the dell….) 1995 Ch. La Louviere – what a contrast – fresh lemony nose with a hint of caramel lurking, tasty and smooth on palate and drinking at peak. With tarte l’oignin. 2000 Ch. Bernadotte (Haut Medoc) – we moved into reds with this really nice little wine. Lovely nose, with fruit and actually a slight reprise of the caramel found in the previous white. On palate a friendly wine with tannins soft, good fruit and an elegant sweet finish. With duck sausages. The main event with three vintages of Grand Puy Lacoste took place next. Served with grilled asparagus with orange mayonnaise, cold roasted beef tenderloin with horseradish sauce, red and yellow peppers in oil, and parslied new potatoes. 1982 – this was the class act of the flight. Wonderful claret still drinking so well. The nose was sweet currant and a smokiness backed by a herbal element, the mouth feel was excellent, smooth and sweet. It still has some tannins and is quite well structured, but while it will clearly last for years, it drinks so well now and I doubt it will get any better than this. 1983 – in any other company this wine would be judged perfectly fine, but it suffered here. The nose was a touch looser and had a strange iodine element to it. It showed decent fruit in the middle and became a tad acidic at the end. Drink up, and do it away from any 82 Grand Puy if you want to properly enjoy it! 1986 – this one was still somewhat closed. It was quite dark, and the nose was not yet very expressive, but the elements were present. Bit tight on palate but obvious good fruit promises that given time it will blossom. Not sure it will ever be the attractive outgoing wine the 1982 now is, but I am willing to wait and see. With cheese, a comparison of two splits of Sauternes: 1997 Suduiraut – quite a bit darker in colour of the two, with a more mature and ultimately less interesting nose that featured fruit and a vanilla custard sort of thing (another taster came up with this apt description and it worked for me, both in the nose and on palate). Pleasant but unexceptional, and a tad awkward. 1997 Rieussec – wow, what a difference! Good coconut and lemon/orange nose excellent mouth feel and balance with god acidity. Classy wine with a long future.
  5. bills

    Picnic Wines

    Notes from the west coast group picnic at my place. 2004 Poplar Grove Gewurztraminer – very small production, so a bit of a curiosity. One step in my search for the perfect BC Gewurz, but not there yet. Varietal nose, dry, but not quite enough happening on palate and it semed to fade a bit in the glass. Larmandier Bernier Terre de Vertu Champagne (nv) – a great example of why a nonvintage champers can show better than many vintage examples which must be made without the ability to balance off various strengths and weaknesses by picking wine from outside the single vintage. Real yeasty nose, showing some colour and very tasty with excellent length and good acidity. A blanc de blanc with lots of stuffing. Went well with Prosciutto wrapped parmesan and asparagus. 2004 Dageneau Pur Sang (magnum) – officially a Blanc Fumé de Pouilly, this Sauv Blanc showed a lovely deep pure nose, first of minerals, then as it opened up, not so much of the feline nature but definitely with gooseberry a major component as well as lemon/lime, and finally it started showing pineapple and tropical fruit. Went well with tuna and clams with raw garlic on roasted red peppers. 2001 Ch. de Nages – this Grenache/Roussanne blend had us stumbling all over the map when it was served blind. Showing considerable colour, and a big oily almost Riesling nose, it had honey and richness on palate. I expect this is about at the end of its life, but very interesting. 1979 Clos du Val Cabernet – took a look in my cellar list and I am all ouit of the 1978 (still have some 85 though). I used to really enjoy these Bordeaux taste-alikes and this was very good except for a bit of a pongy nose. Aside from high terminal acidity, this one would have been a very good ringer entry in a blind tasting of late 70s Bordeaux. 1998 Torbreck ‘The Steading’ – this excellent GSM blend had a very pleasant nose with good ripe fruit and a bit of spice. It was smooth and full on palate and is still showing quite young. No rush here! 2003 Tormaresca Masseria Maime – from Puglia, this Negroamaro was very dark and had ample if undifferentiated ripe fruit in the nose. It was still a bit tight on palate and has a fair bit of tannin. I’d try again in 2-3 years. 1997 Peter Lehmann ‘The Black Queen’ Sparkling Shiraz – not much nose in this oddball purple fizzy, nor was there an awful lot of character – might be getting a bit long in the tooth? Anyway, it did bridge well between unlike wines….. 2003 Thomas Pinot Noir (Dundee Hills OR) – excellent varietal nose (the fruity sort), reasonably light colour, medium body and smooth on palate. Very nice! 2000 Black Hills Nota Bene – no one guessed this as a BC wine – the guesses ranged from Rhone (stinky burnt rubber nose) to California. Better than the 2001 I had recently tasted. 1998 Darenberg Dead Arm Shiraz – a baby! A dark, big sweet baby. .Big time cassis in the mouth and a fair bit of tannin – needs more time but promising! 1999 Ridge Geyserville – another dark wine with a smooth pleasant nose, sweet in the mouth with bright if somewhat ripe fruit. I doubt it will live as long as some older Geyservilles but it drinks very well now.
  6. bills

    Brunello Format Tasting

    No, we were all experienced tasters and there was no point doing it blind. The differences were quite obvious.
  7. Brunello di Montalcino Dinner 2004 Nino Franco Rive di San Fiorano Prosecco – a single vineyard vintage dated offering, unusual for a Prosecco. Pleasant slkightly yeasty nose, clean finish, nice way to start. 2004 Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo Nova Sera – the reserve bottling of this wine made from a traditional local varietal. Very little of the traditional nose of this wine – used to smell like Parmesan cheese! Now only a nice fruity international style of nose, tasty and well balanced on palate, an almost mineral element and good acidity. 1999 Moris Farms Morellino di Scansano Riserva – big fruit in this nose and smooth in the mouth, lower acidity than many and ready to drink – great with food, which ws an antipasto platter. Brunellos: 1998 Sesti Riserva – corked and although what fruit remained was pretty good, impossible to assess. 1995 Il Colle Brunello – slight grassiness in the nose nice flavours, some tannin, lots of acidity. This is at, or perhaps just past its peak. With sage and Gorgonzola pizzas 1996 Tenuta Vitanza Brunello – replacement for the defunct Sesti. Nose not bad, finish a bit shot and ending too acidic, and lacking fruit in the middle. With food the acidity softened and it turned around quite a bit, although it still wasn’t up to the Il Colle, IMO. Served with really great pastries filled with radicchio, tallegio and truffle. 1990 Castelgioconda Brunello – I’ve drunk this over 10 – 12 years and while it is still holding up very well, it is now beginning to slide a tad. 1990 Poggio Antico Riserva Brunello – the superior wine in my view, with a stinkier nose, greater depth, an all over larger framed wine with more weight, tannin and length. Quite good. Served with a lovely porcini pasta dish with truffled cream sauce. 1990 Castello Banfi – this was the main event and something I had been planning for many years. I bought single bottles and magnums on release and when a friend mentioned that he had half bottles, it seemed a natural to wait until the wine had sufficient development to show if there were any differences and then to taste them against each other. Served with rare lamb chops, veggies and fennel. Split #1 – a definite difference noted between splits. The first showed a decent nose, smooth and not much tannin. Split # 2 –musty nose, and less fruit – both had seen better days.. Bottle – Younger wine with spicy nose, more tannin and drinking about perfectly right now. Magnum – best of all, with even better fruit than the single bottle, another step up in tannin and also better length – lots of time left. Served with pine nut and gorgonzola tart and cheeses. Conclusion – 3 formats bottled at the same time, two of them cellared together since release, showed definite differences in development, with the bigger bottles showing the youngest. Some people say they don’t see any difference in wine bottled in large format. All that proves is that there are people that can’t tell any difference, because based on our unanimous opinion, those differences are definitely present.
  8. 2003 Iniskillin Bear Cub Vineyard Zinfandel – BCs first Zin. Medium colour, blueberry nose, decent concentration, not much tannin, made for early drinking and a bit overpriced. 2004 Le Douze Fitou – made by a group of cooperating winemakers in the South of France, this wine showed medium colour, bright fruit in the nose, slightly hot at 14%, and a nice mouth feel with good length. Drinking now and for about 3 years I’d think. Nice cherry notes. 2001 Black Hills Nota Bene – started out well, a big sweet plum and currant nose, weighty presence in the mouth, with a slightly bitter note in the finish which was at first interesting but eventually became a bit tedious. Good length. This is teetering on the brink of readiness and is quite drinkable now.
  9. Monthly lunch notes (wines tasted blind): Ch. Tour de Mirambeau Cuve Passion – a white Bordeaux to start off seemed fitting. This one was certainly not trumpeting it’s origin, mind you. The SB was muted and it was a bit hard to tell where this was from, although the fruit was quite good both in the nose and on palate, and it had a smooth tasty presence, finishing reasonably long. Went well with sable fish and black beans 1996 Chopin Bourgogne Pinot Noir – certainly a good choice to be next up. Obvious pinot nose, decent fruit in the middle, perhaps a bit overwhelmed right at the end by the tannins which suddenly assert themselves. Pretty good length. 1929 Ch. Margaux – this was to say the least a big surprise. I thought maybe 60s, but when told it was older, wasn’t surprised to find a 28 or 29 despite the considerable depth of colour it exhibited. The nose was the best thing about this wine – mature fruit with some cedar, road dust and a sweetness peaking out from under, and it developed for quite awhile, even after the wine had faded on palate. In the mouth it was slightly flat but had a nice feel to it, losing fruit on the palate over about 10 minutes and then doing a quick fade. Amazing to think that when this wine went into vat, it was raining stockbrokers in New York and Chicago…. This wine lingered on the tongue – and in our thoughts. 1990 Lungarotti San Giorgio – guess whose wine got to follow the 77 year old first growth? Yup, yours truly. I tried to tell them it needed to sit in the glass for a half hour, but they plunged in anyway. This blend of cab, sangiovese and cannaiolo from Umbria impressed me in it’s youth. It now shows good fruit, a fair bit of acidity, and enough Bordeaux character to fool most of the attending into thinking it another wine from that region. My only concern with it is that the tannins are still a bit hard and the fruit is not as abundant as it was five years ago. Nevertheless a pleasant bottle and a wine I’ll follow for a few more years. With quail salad 1995 Ch. Cantenac (St. Emilion) – this merlot based wine had a big if simple fruit nose, with hints of burnt sugar and dill. Slight bitterness at the end which didn’t bother me, but a bit short on fruit on palate, which did. 2001 Ecole 41 Merlot Seven Hills Vineyard – big sweet blackberry nose with some obvious oak, jammy on the tongue and a nice long sweet finish. With smoked rabbit tenderloin in pasta (bunny spaghetti) 1998 Vieux Donjon – always a favourite. My friend’s last bottle sacrificed for our luncheon pleasure (psst – Bruce – I’ve got you covered – I have a couple of cases of this I haven’t opened yet….) This wine is no longer hiding it’s charms. The nose was doing the herb and anise thing and it has lots of fruit in the middle with a nice long finish. No rush at all on this one – it is just getting into prime time. with cheese 1998 Cascabel Shiraz Fleurieu – an obvious Ozwine, but harder to place within Australia. Dark in the glass with heavy legs and nose to match, lots of flavour intensity and sweetness in the mouth, but not to excess as so many recent wines have been. Good length, not much in the way of tannin, and a nice little tickle of cinnamon that shaded the finish briefly. Probably best over the next 5 years or so. A lunch we won’t quickly forget.
  10. bills

    Musar with Hochar

    I shouldn't think so - the 1982 should be just fine now. Let us know......
  11. Notes from a largely Spanish Mediterranean dinner. I have always enjoyed the way many red wines play of some quite spicy foods, and wanted to use that as a theme. The starter wine was not in theme: Clos du Ch. de Mosny Brut Montlouis-Sur-Loire – a dry sparkling wine made from Chenin blanc, this was something I’d wanted to taste, or I’d have done the obvious and pulled out a Cava. It had nice fine bubbles, a good bunch of fruit in the nose, which followed through on palate, and a nice crisp dry finish. with duck breast stuffed with foie gras. 2003 Petalos de Bierzo – not many people will be familiar with this Spanish wine, made from the Mencia grape (possibly related to cab franc). Lush dark fruit nose on a middle weight ready to drink wine makes this a great summer (or any time) bottle. The hint of bitterness in the finish added to the interest. with tortilla Espanola (potato omelette, served cold) 1986 Pesquera Crianza – I got that lovely old Tempranillo note from the nose, a little sweet pudding thing and vanilla, and in the mouth it was supple and quite tasty, falling off perhaps a tad too fast at the end. Very nice. 1998 Pesquera Crianza – much more primary nose, basic black fruit, not bad, but not yet with much differentiation. At first this showed tannin but lacked fruit, but the fruit opened up with time in the glass. I thought it still showed on the lean side and a touch sour at the end and doubt it will ever be the wine the 86 was. with Harira – a chickpea, coriander and lamb soup. The next wines were Gran Riserva Riojas from three consecutive years. 1994 Marques de Riscal – best nose, with custard and spice,. This wine is still firm with significant tannins and will continue to develop, but showed well now, a classic style from an excellent vintage. 1995 Faustino V – much less happening in the nose on this one, and the wine was soft and ready to drink, riding on acidity, not tannin. Lighter style, didn’t fare well against the competition. 1996 CUNE Imperial – lots of vanilla in this nose the wood in the nose was still a bit obtrusive, I thought, though it should be better with a few moiré years on it. Quite smooth and mellow in the mouth, it went down well but I doubt it has the future ahead of it that the Riscal does. with sliced harissa crusted (cumin, chilli, caraway) beef served rare with green beans with spiced (cumin, paprika) almonds 1978 De Muller Priorato – before Priorats became the darling of some reviewers, they were inexpensive rustic wines that needed to be cellared for at least a decade before you could see through them. I am not kidding, they were absolutely opaque, and you could have held them up to the sun without detecting a hint of light through them (I tried). They were also unfiltered and (eventually) threw vast amounts of sediment. I once ‘opened’ a bottle that had left the winery without a cork. There was so much solid matter in the wine that although a very small amount of wine wept out past the (unperforated) lead capsule, once that dried the bottle self-sealed and had lasted 15 years with no cork. It smelled just fine, but as it had an old style lead capsule I thought it best not to taste it and was unable to persuade anyone else to try it. This one, now almost 30 years old, was deep ruby coloured with no hint of browning, and had developed a nose I’d never before experienced with this wine – a definite mint element.. Warm on palate (the label admitted to 15.5% alcohol) it was finally ready to drink and would hold for years more. No longer as animal as it was, it was still rustic but interesting and it served well with cheese. De Muller Aureo Semi-Dulce – this dessert wine, only ‘half sweet’ according to the label, was made by solera method starting with wines from the 1930 and ending in the 1970s (I bought it in 1986). It was the equivalent of a fine old Madeira, not too sweet and with fascinating nuance in nose and palate. Impossible to say at this point whether the grapes were red, white or a combination, but it was a very interesting experience.
  12. Notes from a dinner with friends. 1988 Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque Brut Rosé – the colour of this bubbly is no longer pink, it is amber with a faint pink highlight. The nose would delight any English Champagne geriatric fancier – a hint of maderisation showing age and possibly less than perfect cellaring (anyone had this lately in better shape?). Surprisingly dry in the mouth with a bright flash of acidity right at the end. with a large sautéed scallop and rare seared ahi. 1976 Schloss Eltz Eltviller Sonnenberg Riesling Beerenauslese (full bottle) – I brought this and vetoed the plan to serve it with salmon. It had, as expected, lost some sweetness over the years and was now the colour of Madeira. The nose was fascinating with great depth , featuring raisiny petrol and fresh prunes. Probably showed the RS of a recent vintage of Auslese but much more weight on palate, almost thick in body. It had just exactly enough acidity at the end to balance it and the most remarkable thing was the length of the finish, measured in minutes. You could still taste this 5 minutes after you had last sipped it. It had a relatively high alcohol at 12%, so you can imagine what the must weight at harvest must have been. No wonder this (with 1971) was the best vintage for late harvest wines of the decade. This has been in my cellar for over 20 years – and still bears the price tag of $6.99 from Safeway in Bellingham WA where they had mispriced it (my question “Do you happen to have any more?” was unfortunately met with a negative). The only food I could think of that might work would be a simply seared bit of foie gras, but I’m not sure – any suggestions? Probably best we had it alone and early so we could appreciate it. 2002 Jean Marc Brocard Chablis 1 cru Montmains – clean, with a lemony nose with perhaps a hint of salt air, crisp and clean in the mouth with an impression of stones, and oddly a hint of perfume not in the nose but on palate! with steamed mussels 2002 Chartron et Trebuchet Meursault – perhaps a bit too much wood in the nose for my liking and not well integrated, but otherwise pretty good with a fullness in the mouth the Chablis had not shown, and smooth across the tongue. with skewers of seared halibut and cantaloupe (try it, you might like it) followed by nicely cooked Copper River Spring salmon. 1995 Prado Enea Rioja Gran Reserva – wow – this 80% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, Mazuela, and Graciano wine had a lovely big not too woody nose, with lots of fruit, dark colour, warmth and vanilla, and on palate was well balanced and quite long with moderate tannins. Excellent now and will hold over the long haul. with roast pork tenderloin 1996 Vega Sicilia Valbuena 5 – this was the reserve wine, one step below the Unico and a step above the ‘3’. Great timing as I’d recently tasted the 1990 Unico. Sweet oak nose, tannins still firm, good fruit, a bit more acidity than the 1990, and good length. All in all a clone of the 1990 we’d tasted. Very good. with rabbit 1970 Taylors – best darned Port I’ve had in some time! A dusty warm (but not hot) nose, with figgy vanilla and maybe a hint of cherries, elegant wine now coming into good drinking territory, oddly sweet for a Taylor – more like a Grahams, mellow and smooth right to the end of the long finish. Wish I had some in the cellar! Impeccable balance.
  13. Monthly lunch notes: Served with marlin and a really tasty shrimp/mussel sauce 2002 Balthasar Ress Schloss Reichartshausen Spatlese (Rheingau) – so much waxy tropical fruit in this one that one didn’t even notice the underlying petrol elements that were the tip off that you were tasting a Riesling until you dug for them. Excellent balance 2003 Paul Pillot Chassagne Montrachet Les Caillerets Prem. Cru – tremendous contrast between these two wines, yet both went so very well with the food! The nose was floral/citrus, and it was very smooth on palate, with an oiliness that presented better than it sounds, finishing clean. Significant oak, which I didn’t find obtrusive. With a very tasty beef and pheasant game pie: 1996 Bonny Doon Heart of Darkness Madiran – marketed by Bonny Doon and sourced from France, this luridly labelled wine had captured the worst of Madiran in the nose – smelling it made you check your shoes to see what you had stepped in. It ended short with acid and some tannin but no discernable fruit. Strange one (of course you could say that about a lot of Grahm’s wines) 1996 Chapoutier Domaine des Beates Terra d'Or (Coteaux d'Aix) – from the stinky to the excellent – I had never tasted this wine, and was impressed. It is a blend of cab and syrah from Aix en Provence, and it is the cabernet component that dominates the nose. Clean, long and smooth on palate with a hint of spiciness – the syrah contribution? A very tasty wine I wish I owned. With a killer main course of roast pork: 1997 Montresor Santomio – from Veneto, this IGT is single vineyard barrique fermented and aged 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet that showed a pleasant slightly warm fruit (raspberry?) driven nose, and sweet fruit on palate. Pleasant and ready to drink now. 2003 Quinta das Baceladas – this Portuguese blend also features cab and merlot with a little of the native Baga grape. A single estate wine, it was made with input from Michel Roland and Francisco Antunes of Caves Alianca. Big purple wine with an open ripe sweet nose, it was also sweet on palate with some soft tannin and finished quite dry. Good wine. 1990 Vega Sicilia Unico – hands down winner of the day! Youthful wine with not much age showing in the colour and a sweet cassis nose with a hint of exotic coconut. Elegant and sweet on palate, the wine just kept developing in the glass, particularly in the nose where it added significant complexity and depth over time. One tasted likened it to a 1983 Pichon Lalande, which is an apt comparison. This wine will develop for many years. A treat! Thanks, J. With cheese: 2002 De Toren Fusion V – this Cape Bordeaux blend has always impressed me. Named for the cab, merlot, Malbec, cab franc and petit verdot that make up the blend, and given a year in mixed French and American oak, it is predictably Bordeaux in style, showing a big sweet slightly ripe nose, ripe tannins and good fruit. I was just glad it wasn’t my wine as I would not have wanted to try to follow a Unico…… 1996 Rosemount Mountain Blue – this is one not everyone was familiar with – a 90% shiraz 10% cabernet blend that is one of the three flagship wines of this producer (Roxburgh chard and Balmoral shiraz are the others). Dark wine with good sweet fruit nose, slightly hot, tannins soft with decent length, now drinking well.
  14. bills


    Recent notes: With a lovely pheasant paté: 1998 Ch, Reynella Chardonnay – yes, it was a bit old for a chard but the main wine was from the same house so I figured what the heck. Butterscotch nose and some colour boded for a rather ‘developed’ wine, but mirabile dictu, upon tasting there was ample acidity – it was alive! Smooth and balanced. If you have it, it is time to drink up, but you won’t have committed wine-icide. With duck confit: 2004 Golden Mile Cellars Black Arts Luckhurst Family Vineyards Pinot Noir – a BC pinot noir with pleasant bright warm (14%) nose and reasonable levels of both fruit and acid. Finished a bit short (I was thinking of a rule – no wines without a finish that lasts at least as long as it takes you to say the name). My host at first made a mistake and brought out the Shiraz, saying it was this wine. I got all excited for a minute trying to figure out how a BC winery had come up with a mutant super-pinot! With broiled rack of lamb: 1996 Ch. Reynella Basket Pressed Shiraz – a waft of American oak and a whiff of jammy plums and leather. Good fruit on palate, not over done and a decent length. In the perfect drinking window right now. Very pleasant.
  15. I have no problem with a Climens dinner! I took part in an Yquem dinner - with Yquem with every course - VERY challenging to plan a menu for that one!
  16. bills

    1995 Bordeaux

    This event was a follow-up to a tasting dinner last year in which we investigated the 1995 Bordeaux anticipated to be more forward and drinkable. This time we wanted to look at more backward representatives to assess readiness and likely future potential. As you will no doubt gather from the menu, the event took place at an Italian restaurant. We started off with a smoked salmon/mascarpone blinis topped with steelhead caviar, with: 1995 Veuve Cliquot Reserve – citrus nose and the theme followed through with lots of acidity on palate giving a clean, refreshing presentation that nicely complemented the food. With smoked trout on endive and radicchio, with tarragon/white wine vinaigrette, with braised fennel and pink grapefruit (a sort of trutti frutti?) Ch. Carbonnieux blanc – showing a fair bit of colour, and hold the phone – someone marinated a log in this one! The nose was mucho oako with only a hint of fruit peeking out from under and while it had a soft entry and smooth feel, it ended with caramel and far too little acidity. Makes one wonder if they weren’t hosting a winemaker from California or Australia that year. Not my idea of a white Bordeaux, I’m afraid. With papardelle in rabbit ragu: Duhart Milon – this Rothschild wine is high in cabernet and proved to be the best drinking wine of this flight. Good dark fruit nose, juicy fruit on palate and well balanced, medium length and elegant. Damn – should have bought some of this. Pontet Canet – the nose on this simpler fruit, but alarms go off as one tasted it – an instant spritz along the sides of the tongue, green tannin and a medicinal note at the end. Much of this blew off with time, but disquieting nonetheless. Other bottles showed better. Lafon Rochet – we switch to St. Estephe for the next wine. A good classic nose, on palate, fairly tannic still but well built. My concern was whether the fruit was sufficient to see the tannins out – only time will tell. Pape Clement – a very interesting wood smoke and tomato nose, good fruit in the middle and classy, if still tannic presentation made this wine the clear winner of the flight for me. With seared duck breast with blueberry-barbera reduction and asiago potato gratin: l’Arrosee – this St Emilion was almost unknown among wine writers and reviewers when it first began to show up in BC, but over time, starting with the 1961 vintage, local aficionados grew attached to it, and the wine began to pick up attention internationally although still hardly a household word. Pleasant nose - almost Burgundian. The wine is clean, crisp, elegant and drinks well now and no doubt for a few years yet. Grand Mayne – my ears pricked up at this as I own a few bottles. A closed dusty nose with some decent fruit showing and only medium levels of tannin make this a decent drinker now. Medium length and the nose opened up nicely with time in the glass. La Fleur Petrus – oh my! Nice sweet raspberry fruit with a smoked meat element – lots of interest in this nose. Softer than the previous wine with a slight bitter hint near the end. The amazing thing about this wine was how it just kept changing and building in the glass. By the time I finished it, the nose had transformed into a real classic, the slight bitterness had become a definite virtue and the wine had smoothed and lengthened into something special. No rush on this wine, which many of us declared the wine fo the flight, which may surprise you in light of the final wine in this flight. Petrus – a (very) early look at this monumental wine. I felt that the nose was a bit closed, but nonetheless it showed as a ripe extracted wine with a hint of cinnamon. Very concentrated in palate, and quite sweet in the mouth with an exceptionally long finish, yet the wine was clearly brooding now and had so much more to show in the future that for drinking today the La Fleur was the better bet.. If you tasted both blind, not able to be impressed by name or standing, and were asked which one you’d rather drink with your dinner today, a sensible claret drinker would most likely opt for the La Fleur and stick the other wine away for a decade or two. With rare grilled beef tenderloin with radicchio/balsamic mash: Branaire Ducru – slightly green cabernet nose, then on entry a sweetness in this relatively simple medium bodied, medium length wine, only a little hard at the end. I was a little disappointed, but it might show better one another occasion. Plus is did have a pretty challenging act to follow. Ducru Beaucaillou – this one was a pure pleasure and earlier drinking than many vintages of Ducru . It showed a nice sweet custardy nose, was concentrated on palate and had very good length. Not too hard now, it offers excellent drinking, and was my tie for wine of flight. Leoville Poyferre – this was not very expressive in the nose at this point, but it did have good concentration of flavour in the mouth, was still firm and had decent length.. I dare say it could show better a different time and a different bottle. Leoville Barton – my other choice for wine of flight –this one to be laid back down and the Ducru to be drunk while waiting for the Barton to mature. This had a really great nose of cedar and vanilla with dark fruit, and was almost elegant in the mouth with excellent length. Give it another few years in cellar and it should really sing. with some sort of cheese and chocolate concoction (you may gather that I am not a big fan of sweet desserts :in wine dinners when a lump of cheese would be so much better): 1980 Offley Boa Vista Port – I had some of this off-vintage port from a sort of second house and very sensibly drank it up some time ago. Sweet hot and spicy nose, but the heat followed into the mouth and between that and the slight harshness in the finish we agreed that this port just wasn’t offley nice.
  17. I go both ways on this. I do monthly lunches and have learned that having absolutely no specific theme works best - in blind tastings, the uncertainty tends to focus your attention and the wide range of wines teaches you more about wine. In structured dinner or tasting events I prefer very specific themes - I'll be doing 1995 Bordeaux next week, for instance. You also learn a lot with such an opportunity to compare wines from the same area and vintage.
  18. bills

    Musar with Hochar

    Notes from a small trade tasting with Serge Hochar in Vancouver. I hadn’t seen Serge in a couple of decades, but he was looking great and dapper as ever despite some recent health scare. He was on one of his peripatetic promotional tours and had some of his recent wines with him. 2003 Hochar Pere et Fils Rosé – Serge says he makes the Pere et Fils wines to please everyone, while he makes Ch. Musar only to please himself. Pale pink, pleasant and balanced with a hint of spice, a middle of the road decent rosé for summer consumption. Made from cinsault with some Grenache. 2001 Hochar Pere et Fils Red – this wine is bottled after 3 years (6-7 months of it in wood) and is mainly cinsault. The colour is fairly light, the nose was ripe with some pepper, and it was balanced, soft and ready to drink, 1999 Musar – bright wine with leather and spice in the nose, and only a hint of VA. Medium body, good acidity, and the tannins are quite soft. Made from cabernet, carignane and cinsault. He considers this a very good vintage, and the 1995 an excellent vintage. 1998 Musar – a little spicier in the nose, which carries through on palate, a bit oxidative at the end. Forward wine. 1995 Musar – this was more like the vintages of old that I remember fondly. More depth to the nose and markedly greater VA, which Serge indicated was intentional. Sweet entry, quite juicy middle and good length. These wines have always been a bit unusual in that the seem to put on weight as they age instead of the opposite. Hochar himself says that he thinks Musar should be drunk from about the age of 15 onward. I asked him about the difference in the showing of the 1995 versus the later two vintages and he indicated that he had to cut back on the VA quite a bit after. He then presented his white wine, serving it last as he thinks it is the most ageworthy and because he believes that it stands up to the reds. It is made from two local varietals, obedieh and merwah, which he posits were taken back to Europe following the Crusades, and became what we know as chardonnay and Semillon. I have no idea if modern scientific ampellographers agree. 1999 Ch. Musar White – now showing some colour, musk melon nose, a bit reticent, and pleasant, full and balanced. One of his only wines fermented in steel (he prefers concrete for the reds). Only the second time I’ve tasted the Musar white, and maybe I just haven’t had one old enough (he went on about the lovely 1952), or maybe it just isn’t my cuppa chai, as I wonder what all the fuss is about. Always interesting to revisit this producer – I very much enjoyed the wines from the 1970s, then thought they had dropped the ball a bit in the 80s. The 1995 was enough to convince me that they can still produce a pretty interesting wine, and I’ll keep an eye on them, if only for use in blind tastings where you can easily fool everyone, as long as they don’t know that VA clue!
  19. bills

    Northern Rhones

    Notes on a northern Rhone blind tasting dinner. Rene Collard Brut Champagne Carte d’Or – a non vintage wine although made from 1992 fruit, all old vines Pinot Meunier, aged on the lees for 10 years, with no dosage when bottled. Showing some colour, and an interesting mushroomy nose, ends very dry and with medium length. Nice way to start. 2000 Patrick Lesec Cornas ‘Le Vignon’ – this was perhaps the most Cote Rotie like Cornas I have tasted. Some violets and garrigue in the nose, soft juicy and borderline elegant in the mouth with soft tannins and medium length. Kept improving in the glass. 1999 Jean Luc Colombo Cornas Les Mejeans – a rubbery syrah nose, more lush fruit than the previous wine and slightly better length. Surprisingly forward, but with good backbone. 1999 Tardieu Laurent St. Joseph – sorry, I didn’t see if this was the regular bottling or Roches Vieilles. Notable black pepper nose, lots of fruit and some perfume, but over all the wood was more evident in this than in any of the other wines. Tannins starting to soften. A tad ungenerous? 1991 Jen Luc Colombo Cornas ‘Les Ruchets’ – a single vineyard wine that I’ve watched since release. Tar and gravel nose with good fruit underneath, and excellent fruit on palate with good flavour integration, long and sweet. This is now at peak. 1985 August Clape Cornas – corked, sadly, although it did show pretty good fruit and a good whack of tannin. Should have been very good. I’d pondered bringing a 96. 1995 Chapoutier Hermitage La Sizeranne – I thought this wine was showing exceptionally well. Roast meat bacon fat nose with some tar, still pretty firm, but drinking well now, smooth and long. This maker continues to perplex me with this wine. The 1990 and 1993 showed well young, but don’t seem to have lived up to their promise, while this one may be the best of the three. I have some 90 lurking in the cellar that I should revisit. 1983 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle – I tasted this early on and bought the 1982 instead, which I slightly preferred but this bottle was showing very well with a deep anise and mint nose, good rather ripe fruit with a hint of orange in the finish. It did dry out with time in the glass, a sign of advancing age (why is it that old wines dry out while old winos do the opposite…?) 1991 Guigal Hermitage – this was a tight wine, not giving much up in the nose and had a hint of TCA at the beginning. On the lean side in terms of fruit, this is not going to improve from here. 1997 Guigal Cote Rotie Cote Brune et Blonde – quite ripe fruit in the nose and a tad of stinkiness, along with some pepper. The tannins are now soft, and the only jarring note in this wine was the high terminal acidity that was a bit obtrusive even with the cheese. The excellent meal to accompany these wines consisted of a cured pork belly and lentils with mustard sauce (pork and beans?), a venison and quail tart with port sauce (chicken pot pie?) and a beef shortrib a la Provencale that was really memorable. All of the courses matched the wines very well. Congratulations to the organiser and the restaurant are in order. With the exception of one corked wine, all were good and the company, food and evening were a real pleasure.
  20. WTN: a dinner tasting of mostly American wines. With air dried beef bresaola: 2002 Ch. de Fesles Bonnezaux ‘La Chapelle’ – lemony waxy nose, smooth on palate with lots of acidity and tons of flavour with a hint of coconut at the end. Has a long life ahead. With halibut with sweet corn and favas: 1998 Blue Mountain Stripe Label Chardonnay – this BC reserve bottling was amazingly young, starting with the colour. It showed primarily oak in the nose, had a sweet entry but quickly segued to crisp acidity Medium length. Drink up. With braised duck ravioli with butter sauce and Nicoise olives: 1997 Byron Santa Maria Valley Estate Pinot Noir – sweet pinot nose in a dark wine with lots of fruit, ending with a whack of acidity that worked better with food than without. With veal loin wrapped in prosciutto with sage and wild mushrooms: 1991 Shafer Hillside Select – I haven’t really started drinking this vintage yet and would normally have brought out an 84-86 that needed drinking, but we figured we give some 91s a go. This was dark with a mellow oak nose, and was surprisingly forward , round and drinkable now. I am sure it will continue to hold, but I’d say it has hit prime time. 1991 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet – almost purple colour, and a nice vanilla and spice nose, more expressive than the Shafer. Excellent lush fruit on palate, with some spice in the long, juicy finish. I preferred this wine, which has more time to go before hitting peak. 1994 Merryvale Profile – well what can I say, it was a back-up bottle and it was a long time between courses, and we happened to have a corkscrew handy…..This Bordeaux blend has a warm toasty blackberry nose, and nicely calculated fruit with a smooth long finish. More elegant than the previous wines, yet by no means a ‘small’ wine on its own. With vanilla panna cotta: 2003 Ch. Mosny Montlouis Moelleux– back to the Loire again! Light clean rather candied nose, not a lot of residual sugar, medium weight, nice but not more. 2001 Ch. de Cosse Sauternes – a second wine of Rieussec in a good vintage – light colour, good botrytis nose, low acid, drinks well now. Quite pleasant. 2003 Ch. Roumieu (Barsac) – not much botrytis on this nose, an oily feel in the mouth and higher terminal acidity than the Cosse, but I preferred the latter. 2003 Geyser Peak Late Harvest Semillon – smoky, slightly Maderised orange peel nose, fairly sweet but balanced. Not my style, but interesting.
  21. Notes from the monthly blind tasting lunch – a lot of whites this time – must be impending summer that brings them out. 2004 Lang Vineyards Soaring Eagle Viognier – this one was new to all of us – one of the relatively few Viogniers made in BC and from a new label of an old winery. We were quite surprised and puzzled – lots of fruit and a touch of lemon in the nose, and some pineapple on palate (when I got to read the label, it said ‘pineapple in the mouth’ – a label writer that actually tasted the wine – amazing!). Not varietally true or typical, but a well made wine nonetheless. 2003 Naiades Old Vines Verdejo – very enticing vanilla and caramel nose, showing the complexity that normally comes with age, yet obviously a young crisp, tasty wine. Excellent with the grilled sardine first course. 2002 Marc Morey et Fils Chassagne Montrachet Virondots – a readily identifiable Chardonnay nose with mineral and some pear notes, smooth and full in the mouth, ending with clean acidity. The owner commented that it seemed to have shut down a bit since last tasting, but I thought it performed very well. 2002 Daniel Lenko Old Vines Chardonnay – heady company for an Ontario chard to be keeping, even a small artisanal operation (sales only at the winery), but it held up its head quite well. There was some acidity evident in the nose – not volatile, but of the citrus sort, and a hint of oxidation there and in the mouth, but quite subtle. Light in weight and showing tropical fruit on palate, I thought it best in the nose as it tailed off a bit quickly for me. 2002 Stellenzicht Semillon – a Cape wine that was hard to place, especially as it wasn’t a typical varietal for the area. Some colour, a nice oaky nose, not obvious Semillon, with a touch of dustiness, and supple and long in the mouth. With a lovely salad course of seared spiced tuna and (lots of) avocado. 1990 Castello Gabbiano Merlot – early days for Super Tuscans (not all that common back in the 80s). Bricky edges, a pongy nose that cleaned up (some discussion about possible corkiness – it wasn’t), atypical with no merlot characteristics, smooth in the mouth and with an old style acidic bite at the end. 1986 Sociando Mallet – we were all over the 80s trying to place this dark coloured obvious Bordeaux, as it had too much tannin for 83 or 85, too little fruit showing yet for 82 or 1990 – I finally guessed 1988. When it was revealed, it was clear why it had been misleading as this wine is always on the tannic side and needs more time than most to harmonise. 1999 Fonseca Garrafeira ‘TE’ – made from Castelau and cabernet, this wine showed a sweet floral nose with a hint of volatile acidity, and was still tight, tannic and long in the mouth. Will repay cellaring. Served with a Portuguese soup with great chunks of all sorts of meat – sort of a choucroute garni without the sauerkraut! 2000 Quinta da Portela da Vilarica Touriga Nacional – not familiar wityh this one, but glad to make its acquaintance. Big ripe sweet berry nose, weighty and sweet in the mouth, with good concentration and length. Nice. 2000 Quinta do Crasto Reserva –best vintage in a long time produced an excellent wine – sweet bright fruit in the nose, well structured and tasty, there is no rush on this wine, but it is hard to resist now. 2000 Gaudiam (Marques de Caceres) – a Tempranillo cab blend, this bottle had the best nose I’d experienced with this wine, a sweet fruit and baby powder amalgam with a hint of cocoa that was quite interesting. Flavours well integrated and right in prime time. Served with food. 1993 Rosemount Balmoral Syrah – warm fruity nose, and rather elegant on palate, with very good length, but not, I was glad to see, easily identifiable as an Aussie wine as the fruit wasn’t too ripe and overblown as so many that we get in North America are. This one was tannic and quite high in acidity on release but has mellowed very nicely with age and is at peak now.
  22. When I was on a trip to Italy in 1997 I was staying in Barolo and visited several producers. One of them, the Marchesi di Barolo, was an old and familiar one, as I had enjoyed their 1982s and earlier vintages, although I felt that they had slipped a bit in recent years in the export market. When I saw that they still had some single vineyard 1990s for sale, I grabbed three of them for a future tasting, as we never see anything except the regular and reserve bottlings. Well, the future turned out to be this year and we opened all of the bottles among friends, other wines and good food. With bruschetta with shrimp and olive: 2004 Nino Franco Rive di San Floriano Prosseco Brut – a single vineyard Prosecco that was clean and fresh and had just that extra degree of complexity over the regular bottlings. Pleasant way to start. With risotto al funghi: 2000 Pio Cesare Piodilei Chardonnay del Langhe – I had never seen this one before. Mellow nose, soft in the mouth and enough flavour and acidity to play off the rich risotto (which had about 4 different mushrooms in it) 2002 Laboure Roi Pouilly Fuissé Vallon d’Or – OK, so now you know – I am not above snaffling some of the wine being used to make the risotto to taste. Pleasant but not great PF (which I suspect is why it found itself ending life in a pot of Arborio rice). The next courses were quail stuffed with veal, rice, parsley and nutmeg and served with spinach, and a lovely saddle of rabbit (picture very small jockeys). We set up all the Barolos and people worked through them at their leisure. 1990 Reserva – good black cherry nose, still tight on palate but good length and as it opened, quite good concentration. 1997 Riserva – recently released, this wine is much more forward than the 1990. Good tar in the nose, medium bodied and pleasant now, with some tannin, but this will drink best much earlier than the 1990. 1990 Cannubi – immediately there is more depth to the nose compared with the 1990 Riserva. Cherries and a chalky feel on palate, bigger than the regular and a longer finish. 1990 Brunate – similar nose to the Cannubi, and perhaps not quite as big, but more elegant and it just kept opening up. Silky. My ultimate favourite. 1990 Sarmassa – smoke and tar in the nose, and harder than the other two with harder tannins. Some detected a slightly unclean element although the finish didn’t bother me, this was my second favourite. They are all drinking well now and have years left. With cheese: 1996 Prod. del Barbaresco Montestefano (magnum) – this was very good, the nose with asphalt and roses, and a juicy tasty sensation in the mouth. I like to drink these a bit older but this one was veeerrrry seductive right now.
  23. bills

    1986 Bordeaux

    Notes from a tasting of the 1986 Bordeaux vintage with the Commanderie de Bordeaux at Vancouver. A look back at the excellent 1986 vintage, 20 years on, as it is just coming into best drinking time for many of the wines. Champagne – Jacquesson Cuve 729 – perhaps the only house taking such care with non-vintage product, this wine is mostly 2001 with a bit of 2000 and 1999 blended in. In the nose a good combination of yeast and fruit, and good mousse, and a long clean finish. Quite pleasant. With veal cheek and caramelised onion ravioli on celeriac veloute: La Lagune – served blind, this wine didn’t seem to reflect this vintage – it was soft on palate, without much tannin and it was sweet and pleasant drinking now. For those who were keeping this based on critics predictions of longevity – get in there and start enjoying. We thought it might have been a 1985. Canon – pale edges, some dark fruit in the nose, starts alright in the mouth but quickly becomes lean and tannic, high acidity and then falls off quickly on the finish. Proves this was mostly a left bank vintage, I guess. Haut Bages Liberal – everyone that bought this, pat yourself on the back and get out a corkscrew! Sweet fruit and some spice in the nose, with good depth – lots happening there. Tannins more moderate than in the Canon, good balance and length. No rush. Talbot – darker colour, a big round sweet nose with some lead pencil and a hint of almost Rhone-like tar, very well integrated now and smooth but with a long life ahead. An easy best of flight (and glad I bought some of this!) The second flight was served with roasted quail and sweetbreads on a wild mushroom salad. Beychevelle – quite dark as well, this wine shows a nose of plum and vanilla, was full bodied with good concentration, good length and is quite drinkable now. Excellent effort from a producer that doesn’t always hit the levels of fruit and weight one would like. Clerc Milon – I tasted this when just in bottle and scratched my head wondering what the future held. It is very dark, with purple notes, and has a very good nose of cedar and currant. Still tannic, and they are what I’d call ‘edgy’ tannins, too hard for easy drinking at this point. Where is it going? It has lots of acid and should continue to develop. Whether the tannins hav enough underlying fruit remains to be seen. Not that bad to drink now with food. Perhaps the biggest Clerc Milon I can recall. Vieux Chateau Certan – this Pomerol was one of the better efforts from the right bank in a vintage that hit them with torrential rain late in the season. A soft, herbal, friendly nose, smooth sweet entry, at least for a moment before the tannins make themselves felt, it works alright with food now, needs to mellow a bit and I have the impression that it won’t improve with more age. Slightly too little fruit or too much tannin, but all in all, not bad. With magret de canard on a cassoulet of lentils with foie gras emulsion: Pape Clement – lighter in both colour and nose, there was some oak evident, and a bit of spice. On palate, medium bodied with pretty good length, the tannins not too hard. Probably slightly better balance over all than the VCC. Leoville Poyferre – not much happening in the nose, medium colour, the acidity excessive or the fruit too low, a so so wine. Disappointing after the apparent rise to distinction that the 1982 represented, but it was again showing its quality by the 1990 vintage. Pichon Baron – darker, a bit more fuit in the nose, no tannins to speak of, but good well balanced acidity, drink now. With grilled venison chop and braised venison shank stuffed in cabbage leaf: The final flight – Cos d’Estournel – good nose with ripe fruit and big juicy fruit on palate, tannins softening and very good length. Good wine! Gruaud Larose – dark wine with very nice bright fruit in the nose and huge fruit in the mouth. Lots of tannins, but they are softening, and great length. A killer Gruaud – and a hard question about when to drink. I would leave it alone for another 5 years before taking another peek, but more impatient owners may plunder away with great enjoyment. Rausan Segla (now legally able to spell it ‘Rauzan’) – very ripe fruit nose with a hint of anise and treacle, in the mouth, still tannic but the flavours are melding nicely. Needs time. My flight favourite by a narrow margin over the Gruaud. With dessert: Rieussec – medium colour, not much amber, and in the nose not a lot of botrytis, mostly oranges. Medium bodied Sauternes, not too sweet, it had good balance with sufficient acidity, and a pleasant lemony note in the finish. Good but not great, and a nice note to end on. We left out the big guns like Lafite and Mouton as they would just not show well at this (for them) young age, but this tasting was a good survey of the wines that one would expect to be coming ‘on line’.
  24. Monthly blind tasting lunch notes 2004 Duck Pond Pinot Gris –I’ve been less than impressed with some of the output of this Oregon winery, but this was juast dandy – minerals and some acid in nose, clean, dry and a good match with the albacore tartare and seared albacore with crème fraiche. 2002 Renaissance Viognier Sierra Foothills – I identified this as Viognier but couldn’t see it as a California wine. Tangerine nose, full mouth feel and just enough acidity for good balance. 1999 Patrick Javillier Meursault Les Tillets Cuvee Speciale – there was an initial lanolin element in the nose that blew off, leaving an indistinct non-varietal nose. It was a bit flabby in the middle and although it had decent terminal acidity, the wine lacked charm and interest. I wanted to like this one, but it was not to be. 1998 Panther Creek Pinot Noir – A nose that cried out pinot noir and an initial restraint that found me looking to France, yet the wine just kept opening and growing as it had time in the glass, until it could have been nothing but new world.. Some rubber in nose, but not objectionably, and good fruit, big in the mouth and good length. I’m sorry I didn’t peruse the bottle and note the details of this – the person that brought it said it had been $85 Can., so it must have been one of the cuvees that sell in the $0s in the US, not the basic pinot but one of the reserves or single vineyard wines. 1997 Thirty Bench Reserve Blend – bit of cocoa and mint in the nose, and dark fruit, a little sweaty horse, ridden hard and put away wet, lots of extract, and a green note near the end that I correctly deduced must mean a cab franc component. This big 14.5% alcohol Bordeaux blend was quite good and there was no way we were able to place it in Ontario. Perhaps the best showing of any Ontario wine I’ve tasted. 1997 Finca Valpiedra Rioja Reserva – a single vineyard Rioja from Martinez Bujanda, this a leathery nose (suede, I think  and good acidity. There were a fair bit of tannins yet, but soft and it drinks well now. Not sure how long it will hold. 1998 Cuvee Mythique – this Vin de Pays d’Oc is a blend of the usual grapes, Syrah etc., and is usually quite good, but this one was the exception. Medium coloured with a hint of plum in the nose, but not a lot happening, dill in the mouth, lean on palate and slightly bitter at the end. A bad bottle or just a wine that is too old? 1982 La Lagune – instant recognition of the Bordeaux nose, the wine is elegant but has sufficient stuffing to carry it quiet a few years. It shows good fruit and ends softly. It is definitely time to find the case of this I have stashed somewhere and start getting into it – drinking beautifully now. 2003 Abeja Cabernet – a Washington State offering I was not familiar with. down in the Columbia Valley, operated with technical assistance from Zelma Long. Sweet bright fruit in the nose, and juicy fruit in the mouth, a ‘very berry’ sort of cab that needs some time. 1993 Leonetti Merlot – the colour on this one is medium garnet with a nose of sweet cassis and cocoa. The wine was quite balanced and harmonious and finished with soft tannin and a slight bit of heat. I don’t think this will improve and should be drunk over the next 2-3 years. 1997 St. Francis Merlot Reserve – I used to drink a fair bit of this winery’s zin, but you always had to be in the mood for a ‘woodie’ as they tend to favour oak in the mix. This wine had a bizarre nose that is hard to describe – a sort of men’s locker room after the game sort of thing that was decidedly off-putting and fortunately blew away after awhile. The wine had a good entry but tailed off a little quickly, was full bodied and ripe. Quinta do Valle Donna Maria Reserve Port Lot 01 – single vineyard wine bottled one year short of being entitled to call itself a crusted Port, the wine was close to black – you really had a hard time seeing through it. The nose was sweet and hot with some pepper and jam and in the mouth it was only medium sweet, which I thought a definite advantage, and not as heavy as a vintage Port can be. Nice weight for a luncheon Port or a dinner one when you don’t need anything too heavy duty. Well done Cristiano and at a good price!
  25. Nice dinner with wine on the weekend. Albert Mann – Cremant d’Alsace (nv) – probably a blend of pinto gris and Riesling. The Riesling only shows in the finish, not in the nose. Very pleasant. Served with puff pastry canapés. 2000 Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris Clos Windsbuhl – I am pretty familiar with the 1998 having tasted that vintage several times, but this wine showed none of the peach/apricot in the nose, although the colour was similarly deepening. Rich and full in the mouth, with clean acidity, I think this wine has peaked. Very nice with foie gras terrine with onion jam. 1998 Paul Blanck Riesling Schlossberg – a really classic oily nose, and the bright up front acidity worked with the cream of watercress soup. More youthful than the previous wine. 1999 Dom. Rapet Pere et Fils Corton Pougets Grand Cru – I was not familiar with this producer. An excellent sweet black cherry nose without any Burgundian funkiness. Light tannins apparent at the beginning, good concentration and balance. Long finish – very pleasant wine. With wild mushrooms on sautéed pollenta. 1988 Sassicaia - quite dark colour, going clear at the rim. The nose a tad reticent, the wine well structured and long if just a bit on the lean side, with more acidity. Seemed youthful. 1990 Castello di Rampolla Sammarco – a cab/sangiovese blend, this wine had a lovely nose of vanilla and dark fruit. It was showing some orange at the rim, and was lower in acid, smooth and tasty, quite full in the middle, and finished sweeter, but I think that the Sassicaia will live longer. No rush on this one, mind you – it should cruise along for another 5 years or so. On this night it was the favourite. served with stuffed breast of veal with soubise and carrots. 1997 Albert Mann Gewurztraminer Furstentum Selection des Grains Nobles – this late harvest wine was delightful with a remarkable nose of orange peel and roses. Only medium sweet and balanced with a complex long finish. Served with bleu des basques.
  • Create New...