Jump to content


participating member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by bills

  1. bills

    2000 Mouton

    Uh - we did. That is what the 'grand vin' - 2000 - was. A jeroboam of 2000 Mouton Rothschild.
  2. So friend Roy Hersh was coming up to visit Vancouver for the wine festival and it seemed an excellent idea to have a get together (it ALWAYS seems a good idea to get together and have some wine, but Roy’s attendance allowed us a better excuse than, say, because it was Friday. I got to arrange a restaurant that I thought would be of interest, but my other friend got to choose theme. What would you choose for the Master of Port? Well Burgundy doesn’t immediately spring to mind (maybe he looked at Roy and diagnosed that he might be down a quart on subtlety, having to put up with all those big manly wines all the time?) but it worked out very, very well. 1997 Ch. de Maligny Chablis 1r Cru Fourchaume – a great way to kick off an event like this and it had us thinking it was a white Burg. The nose was more lemony than mineral per se and it was buttery in feel and crisp in the fine dge given it by the acidity. The onlky criticism would be that the fruit tailed off a bit before everything else which gave it a slightly lean profile at the end. 1995 Drouhin Charmes Chambertain – I like Drouhins wines and had been eying both the Beaune Clos des Mouches and the Chambolle Musigny Les Charmes as possible wines to bring, so I can’t fault Blair for pulling this one in full expectation of it being a good bottle. The nose, however, was decidedly odd, skirting corkiness by a fine breadth. The wine was lean and ungenerous, having far more acidity than fruit. The restaurateur opined that he had a couple of cases of this in the cellar and that they all showed similarly (I think he planned to sell it in sangria…). If nothing else, this bottle provided us with endless fun over the evening (OK, so we ARE easily amused) as we kept saying what an almost unalloyed pleasure the evening to that point had been, well except for one bottle of course.. This subtle psychological approach was to pay off big time later in the evening. 1978 Hanzell Sonoma Pinot Noir – this is probably the best Californian Pinot I have tasted. I should make this clear – we were tasting blind and we all thought this was a rather nice Burgundy. A nose of dark fruit and vanilla with a hint of rubber, smooth balanced and with very good length on palate, and enough tannin to have us guessing in the mid 80s. Super bottle. 1985 Faiveley Latricieres Chambertin – nice only slightly animal nose, smooth on palate with decent up front fruit, no tannin and good acidity. I’d have been worried about this possibly being on the aged side but it showed very decently. 1989 Rene Engel Clos Vougeot Grand Cru – mildly funky, with good red fruit and a hint of spice in the nose, good balance (less acidity than the previous 1985) and smooth with good length. Sadly, the proprietor of this producer died last year and the effect on production is unknown. 1990 Louis Latour Corton Grancey – a sweet fruit sort of pudding nose, very pleasant on palate with good depth, medium body and slightly lower acidity, and decent length. 2001 DRC Echezeaux – the person that brought this was no doubt wondering if he was committing infanticide, but that turned out not to be the case. The nose was both fresh and sweet with lots of fruit, but also with earth and mushroom notes, and there was lots of acidity, the effect being a freshness to the wine, which drank beautifully right now. We discussed it and thought that it would drink best over the medium term and wouldn’t be a long hold sort of wine. 1995 Leroy Nuits St. Georges ‘Les Boudots’ – the nose on this was a stand out with sweet berry fruit and something elese behind it I had trouble finding a descriptor for. It is still a bit tight and although the tannins are not hard, it needs time and should prove a very good wine indeed. We then wound up with a horizontal tasting of 1997 Coteaux du Layon from three producers. Ch. Pierre Bise Beaulieu les Rouannieres – the nose was quite jammy and it was also very sweet in the mouth, if anything a bit overdone. Ch. Soucherie Cve. de la Tour – this nose was waxy, butin a good way, and the wine was lighter, less sweet and with better acidity. Dom. Jo Pithon Clos les Bois – darker colour, excellent complex sweet nose with all sorts of fruit notes intermingled, and although this was also very sweet, it seemed to finish on a drier note and it was my favourite of the three. Interesting wines. Then, just in case out sugar levels were too low, a final hit: Seppelt GR113 Rare Muscat – made from fruit from 1981 (mostly) this is stored in old barrels and not topped up, and becomes, with time, the sort of delightful dark brown treacle we saw here. The nose on these is always a treat and this featured Muscat, of course, but under that floral notes (roses?), dates and spice, sherry-like and oxidised, and a bit hot. Very smooth on palate with exceptional length. A rare treat indeed. We then repaired to the apartment of the person that had perpetrated that less than stellar Drouhin on us, wending our way through a bevy of rather scantily dressed ladies that Blair said were street vendors of a sort, although I didn’t quite catch what their product might be. We first popped a cork on another Burg to readjust our palates: 1985 Phillipe Leclerc Gevrey Chambertin ‘Les Platieres’ - this one was long in the tooth, but offered some pleasure. Getting pale and lean, it has lost fruit and accentuated the acidity. It did, however put us in form for the next wine. Blair has a wine unit in his apartment, which is apparently too small, resulting in the revelation of a plethora of bottles and little else when you open his refrigerator, bottles of Beaucastel sharing space with mustard and mayo. Interesting. He did find the following gem in all of the vinous clutter, however. 1976 Domaine Romanee Conti Grands Echezeaux – this was a pale garnet colour that many rosės would emulate. The nose was very good, with a fair bit of coffee underlying the fruit and it was surprisingly fresh on palate, elegant with long lingering finish. Delighted to be able to experience this elegant mature wine. As I had prefaced this event with a full day (staring tasting at 10 AM) at the Vancouver wine festival, I felt justified in retiring from battle at this point – the others may have gone on yarning and drinking into the wee hours. What a fun evening!! .
  3. bills

    2000 Mouton

    I attended a private reception to celebrate the opening of the BC Liquor Board’s new facility at Cambie Street in Vancouver. The feature wines were those of Mouton and Julien de Rothschild was in attendance. They had bottles of the 2003 Mouton Cadet Blanc and the 2001 Mouton Cadet Reserve (red) which I tasted with curiosity as I hadn’t tried them in years. Not sure what the ‘reserve’ might indicate on an already inexpensive wine. Blanc – a vague whiff of sauvignon blanc was overwhelmed by sulphur. On palate a generic white plonk, surpassed by any number of similarly priced wines from BC or Chile, much less France. The Mouton Cadet red had a decent if simple fruit nose and that was about it – lacking on palate – just nothing much there. For a similar price the currently available Ch. Peyruad , a modest Blaye wine, just blows it away, and I am sure there are many others. They then opened a 5 litre bottle of the 2000 grand vin, which is what all of us (about 30 ardent Bordeaux fanatics) had been waiting for. Well first, it has a wonderful ravishing nose with loads of up front fruit and admirable complexity in the nose for such a young wine. But from there we were scratching our heads a little. The first thing that hits you on palate is acidity, and a fair bit of it, and only after the wine has aired for some time do the tannins assert themselves, and even then not as firmly as one would expect. I would not call this a heavy weight wine, more a light heavyweight, and it is already very approachable. Is it a good wine? Undoubtedly. Is it a great wine as some reviewers have opined? Not to my way of thinking unless the wine somehow blossoms forth hours later with virtues unsuspected at a mere hour and a half’s acquaintance with it. Is it worth $300 US - not to me. The maitre of the local chapter of the commanderie de Bordeaux was tasting with me and we chatted about the wine. We were pretty much of the same opinion as to weight and future development. Are we missing something here – is this really a monumental wine (Parker suggests that it needs 24 – 48 hours open)? I consoled myself by buying a copy of Julien’s excellent large format book on the Mouton art collection and having him inscribe it for me. If I am wrong about his mother’s wine, well, I’ll just have to console myself by drinking the 1986 (and I know that I’m not wrong about that one – it’s what I rather expected the 2000 to be from its lavish reviews). Julien, by the way, seems a very nice chap whose first love is clearly art of the conventional rather than vinous type, with a gallery in London, I believe.
  4. bills

    Swanson Dinner

    Who among us can say they have never had wine with TV dinners? ;-) Take a look at http://www.swansonvineyards.com/ An upper level California winery worth watching out for.
  5. Our twice annually held single malt tasting featured Bowmore this time, and as always, one wine with dinner. As always, we nosed/tasted straight and then with a few drops of water (we use eyedroppers to accurately measure as we are tasting quite small drams in the interest of keeping some semblance of wits about us) Legend (8 years) – high toned nose, not too hot, smooth in the mouth with a peaty element and spice at the end. Water was neutral, neither helping or harming (we have found it often tones down excessively hot malts but often at the cost of harming the nose) 10 – the nose was less sweet, more medicinal. Sweet on palate, water +ve. None of the spice of the 8 and certainly no better over all. 12 – nose a bit sour, hotter and more floral. Water sweetened it in the mouth and took the edges off. A definite salty tang in the nose. 15 (Mariner) – complex caramel nose and also more complex than the previous malts in the mouth. Bit hot, but water was negative. Elegant. 17 – dried fruit nose, hot in mouth and sweet with a salty end. Water –ve. The 15 was the star of that flight so far! 21 – a creamy wonderful sweet nose, very smooth and elegant in the mouth, sliding down the throat like silk, all elegance and grace. I just couldn’t bring myself to add any water to this, so cannot comment on what it might have done to it. MY malt of the night. 25 – rich fruitcake and butter nose with a mineral facet to it. Thick mouth-feel, long sweet and not too hot. My second malt of the night. 2003 Roberedo Madeira ‘Carm’ – no, thios wasn’t Madeira, it was a Portuguese wine from the Douro, blended form Touriga Nacional, Tinto Roriz and Touriga Franca. Dark, with a sweet oak nose and nice flavour concentration and length, this is a little marvel at a low price! They also do a high priced reserve that I have not tasted. Then on to the cask strength bottlings, the basic cask and the cask with various wood treatments. Cask – (56%) – probably a 14 year old. Lean hot nose with chestnuts, hot even in mouth. Add water, still hot. Darkest (sherry wood, 43%) – hot rich fruity nose, needed water. You lose on the nose a bit but it tames the heat and makes this more enjoyable. Dawn (Port aged) – 51.5% - nice sweet fruity nose, hot and benefits from water, peat comes in at the end in the nose, and good body. A lovely dram. Claret (Bordeaux cask) 56% - an unusual mint or rather peppermint nose, the malt intense and almost acidic in the mouth, water backs off the nose but smooths it on palate. I really liked this one. Best of the special bottlings, although the Dawn was pretty interesting too.
  6. bills

    Swanson Dinner

    We did a Swanson dinner recently in Vancouver, with Clarke Swanson attending. 2004 Rosato – made from Syrah, I found this rather deeply coloured (red with an orange tint) rosé to lack much in the nose despite taking care top warm it before passing judgement (many wines are served too cold at a dinner to allow proper evaluation). There was an initial hit of acidity but the wine tailed off swiftly at the end. It wasn’t flawed in the way that many Californian attempts at this sort of wine are; it has sufficient acidity, it didn’t have too much residual sugar. It just wasn’t very interesting. Things picked up from here. With gratin of oyster and dried cherry sabayon (I had the good fortune to have sat at a table of non-oyster appreciators and instead of 3 wound up with 6 or 7 of these little gems). Haven’t hit it that lucky since I sat beside someone that refused to eat seared foie gras, and traded him my lobster for his little slice of heaven. 2004 Pinot Grigio – all right, I admit that I am predisposed to not liking Californian Italian attempts after struggling through so many things like Nebbiolos that were limp, atypical or just strange. This was a very pleasant surprise! Crisp mineral nose, crisp acidic entry, clean finish and excellent with the oysters. With wild organic lobster (the description of which made me want to spew – presumably to set it apart from all that tame inorganic product floating around?), salmon boudin, daikon puree and vanilla cream (the latter took a bit of getting used to, but in the end was at least interesting). 2004 Chardonnay – I was flabbergasted to be told that this was a totally unoaked chardonnay as it exhibited a definite vanilla nose, perhaps from the fermentation sur lie, frequently stirred which one assumes gave it the same sort of complexity as oak would. Another good one! With roasted rabbit loin stuffed with pancetta and mushrooms on a peach/ginger coulis (I thought the railroads were built by coulis – no idea why chefs seem reluctant to use the word ‘sauce’) 1999 Merlot – a ‘salon’ wine, meaning not available except at the winery. Half American and half French oak were evidenced in the smoky oaky nose. Still tannic, with good balance and quite tasty, it went with the food nicely, but as it warmed up a bit and aired, the tannins became a little more prominent, so I’d give it a few more years. With roast suckling pig (why does that dish always make me think of the Wine Speculator…?) 2000 Alexis – they have been making this cab, cab franc, merlot and syrah blend since 1994 and this one was at least old enough to be coming ‘on line’. Dark, with a sweet, slightly hot cocoa nose, tight and big in the mouth, yet smooth for all that concentration, with very good length. Surprisingly this wine is drinking very well right now, especially with food, yet again, as it opened up, the tannins at the end seemed to get a bit harder and some time in cellar is indicated. With oka cheese en croute. 2002 Petite Sirah – now I am a BIG fan of the old style unsubtle Californian PS, but I don’t see too many of them any more – I suppose producing that sort of vin de garde is a formula for commercial suicide these days. Another salon wine, this black/purple wine had a sweetish nose that was more Syrah in nature than anything else, particularly the floral element – so much so that I’d have been touting Northern Rhone – before I tasted it. Once it hit the palate, though, it was clearly a good old California PS, huge tight and tannic. I’d love to try this in 10-15 years, but as it is another salon wine, we can’t buy it in Canada. With some frivolously named and inappropriate dessert. 1997 Fortified Muscat – this looked like an Amontillado, and had a typical sweet Muscat nose, but it wasn’t too sweet on palate and was fairly well balanced with acidity. Nice wine to end with.
  7. bills

    Piemonte Notes

    Notes from a Piemontese theme evening. 2004 Cascina del Santuario Moscato d’Asti – when drunk fairly young, these low alcohol (5%) sparkling muscats are delightful frivolous wines, especially in summer used as aperitifs. This one was well balanced and had the requisite acidity to carry off the modest residual sugar cleanly. 1999 Monti Barbera d’Alba – I’d anticipated a whack of Barbaresco and Barolo, but we were Barbera-rich at this event. Purple to the rim, with a nice nose featuring new oak and sweet currant, this is not your typical old style Barbera. Traditional sorts would ride on seemingly forever on the high acidity rather than tannin, but this example was lower in acidity than the old style and had lavish fruit in comparison. The tannins were present but moderate and I think this one will benefit by early drinking ocver the next few years. 2000 Giullio Grasso ‘Ca’ del Baco’ Barbaresco Asili - made by, this wine showed a good varietal nose with tar and some cherry, the wine still quite tannic but showing an elegance that should bode well for the future. 1985 Bricco del Drago Vigna Le Mace (VdT) – a wine from the past – I hadn’t seen this in years although it use to be available locally. A blend of dolcetto and nebbiolo, this ages better than any dolcetto you have ever seen – nose of vanilla, cedar, roses and road tar, and still with amazing tannins, this was in great shape and food toned down the assertive acidity nicely. Nice to see this again. 1996 Marchesi di Gresy Barbaresco Gaiun Martinenga – bright colour, sweet earthy nose that later revealed some floral notes, and the wine tight as can be and tannic – a wait and see wine as it isn’t in balance right now but will hopefully ‘click in’ given more time. 1999 Gaja Sitorey – another Barbera, from a noted producer. Sweet blood nose with dark plum and a hint of bret, which blew off early, the wine fairly smooth and long, with relatively low acidity. 2000 Gaja Sito Moresco – this one is blended nebbiolo and cab/merlot, and the wine had a sweeter nose with more bret, higher acidity, and fell off more quickly on the finish narrowing at the end. 1989 Borgogno Barolo Riserva – a traditional maker founded in the late 18th century, making traditional wines. The rim on this was heading for garnet and the colour was lighter than the other. The nose, which I found a bit reticent did have some perfume but none of the earthy gaminess I associate with this wine. Decent balance, still tannic, and tight. I looked up a previous note and the fruit didn’t begin to exhibit until it had about 4 hours of air – which I didn’t have the opportunity to do on this occasion.
  8. Notes from my monthly blind tasting lunch. We started off with a stuffed Dungeness crab, so the restaurant had to stick in a white as none of the participants had brought one. 2004 Monte Armontes (Catalyud) - we are more familiar with the reds from this area, and I have no idea what the varietals might be, but the nose was stony and it was full and soft in the mouth and went well with the crab and that was enough for us! 2003 Domaine Huegenot Gevrey Chambertain Vielles Vignes – some people were asea with this one, but it seemed to me to be easily identifiable pinot noir. Where I felt some uncertainty was origin as it was an elegant fruit forward wine with no Burgundian pong in the nose whatever, just pure fruit. It seemed a little flat in mid-palate initially but with air it came around and was a delightful village wine. 1994 Faustino V Gran Reserva – a Rioja with a bitter cherry and chocolate nose, slightly drying at end , an indication that it might be a bit long in the tooth, but pleasant. Most wines from this excellent vintage are in fine shape, but I have never considered Faustino to produce particularly long lived wines, so maybe that was the difference. Served with a prosciutto wrapped salad. 1983 Ch. Brane Cantenac – after a discussion about the 1986 earlier in the week and my reminiscence about how pleasant the 83 had been early in life, I found that I still had a bottle, so brought it out. The nose was quite good, but the wine lacked the fruit it had heretofore possessed. Maybe I was being harder on it because it was my wine, as most found it to be a presentable luncheon claret. 2000 Quinta do Carmo Reserva (Alentejo) – dark wine with a quite ripe nose that had a slight sour cherry note, and ripe and sweet in the mouth. Interesting – this wine has a lot in common with another favourite of mine, Los Vascos, from Chile, as Lafite also owns and operates this winery (busy boys at Lafite – see http://www.lafite.com/en/domaine.php From their site, this wine is made of Aragonez 40 to 60%, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah 20 to 40%, Alicante, Periquita, Trincadeira 20 to 30%, sees 12 months in all new oak. Interesting wine! We were into fig stuffed chicken by now. 2002 Lumiere – no, this is not the famous Vancouver restaurant, it is actor Gerard Depardieu making wine in Morocco, and we sure went around the world trying to figure this one out! A blend of syrah and Grenache, it was characterised by a very mint and chemical nose (not in a bad way), and was weighty, interesting and showed commendable length in the mouth. The 15.5% alcohol was betrayed by a bit of heat in the nose. 1991 Viader - this wine, a blend of cab sauv and cab franc from Howell Mountain, was showing a really Bordeaux-like nose! It was warmer and a big wine, but was very well balanced with very good length. I have always admired what she can do with winemaking and this one is now on the plateau of drinkability but will hold for some years. A pleasure to taste a mature well made California wine after the cloying awkward plethora of young American and Australian creations I’ve tasted lately. 1988 Conn Creek Zinfandel – from the (obviously neglected) depths of a friend’s cellar, this wine, from a maker not known to me as particularly adept with this grape, rather predictably failed to exhibit one iota of varietal character at this advanced age. It had a nose characterised by one taster as being ‘sweaty feet’, still had some tannins and a bit of pepper to it, and while the flavour profile was ripe, it had lost too much fruit to be pleasurable. Textbook example of why many people say you shouldn’t age Zinfandel. I’d had a bottle of really good zin in my hand to bring to this, which would have made a great comparison, but the restaurant leapt into the breach with: 1999 Cape Mentelle Zinfandel – I always get this wrong as it is pretty clearly varietal zinfandel (though often with more mintiness than usual) and one doesn’t think of Australia when the word ‘Zin’ pops up. Huge menthol nose, not very tannic but still young and has a way tyo go yet, quite good, and at 15.9% alcohol also hot. 1998 St Hallets Old Block Shiraz – we headed south for the end of this lunch – and this wine was drinking well now. A nose of black cherries and flowers, and smooth on palate, with fruit levels under control and not over the top as in some wines from this ripe vintage. I recall the 1994 as needing some time to come into balance but this one seems very nice right now. 1996 Ch. Reynella Basket Pressed Shiraz – whack of oak and mint a giveaway (and a hint of Bret?), and nice blackberry fruit under that. This wine is now in balance but shows a tad rough at the end. I find that I have some in my cellar and based on this tasting will leave it be for a couple more years to see what happens.
  9. Found this while sorting through the cellar yesterday and thought it was time to open it. A modestly priced wine, I wondered how it would have held up. No worries! It was still dark with a smoky molasses and damson nose, and while not terribly complex on palate it was pleasurable drinking with full sweet middle and suprisingly good length. Much better balance than some of the stuff we've been seeing from recent vintages in Oz, which I doubt will last as long as this little gem.
  10. Second labels can be very good value - sometimes they are wine made from vines considered too young to include in the grand vin, and sometimes it is simply wine left over when they have finalised the blend for the main wine (this happens often with whites where you have sauv blanc left over - you see it in the dry whites from Sauternes producers, for instance). I'd look for the 2000 Ducru rather than the 1998 if you want a wine to lay down and enjoy in future.
  11. Back in the saddle after a self-imposed hiatus (in note taking, not tasting) over the holidays. These are notes from the once a month blind tasting lunch I arrange at a local restaurant. 2002 Pierrette et Marc Guillemot Macon Villages ‘Quintaine - this small and apparently fanatically purist (no oak, or malo, all biodynamic), producer puts out some interesting wine. There was LOT going on in the nose here, including a hint of perfume, and mineral, and while the wine seemed advanced in terms of colour it had lost left on palate, juicy acidity and a great way to start the event. 2001 Rockford Eden Valley Riesling – I snuffled at this one a bit and tasted it and then went out on a limb and guessed Australian Riesling – sometimes you are hot (usually you are not…).The nose was Riesling but elegant and not overstated, and the wine was pleasant on entry, but cut off short at the end and is priced above many better German Rieslings. Interesting, especially for those who thought that Rockford only made Shiraz. We noshed on a very nice course of white asparagus and smoked salmon with a poached egg atop. 2000 Di Maio Norante 'Contado' Aglianaco del Molise – this has always seemed to me to be a fairly international wine as opposed to a typical old style Italian – to the point that identifying it as an Italian wine takes a bit of doing, although I finally got there. It has softened up in the last 2 years and drinks well now but probably has 4-5 useful years ahead of it. Cocoa and coffee in the nose, medium weight with soft tannins and fair length. A bargain at the price. 2000 Apex Syrah – this Washington state producer has issued some lacklustre wines, but starting about the 1999 vintage, there were some more interesting things coming out of the cellar door and it became worth watching. This wine had some nice dark fruit aromas with vanilla and toasted bread notes, was dark purple and smooth and friendly, ending sweet. Not overblown (a nice rest from over the top Aussies) and ready to roll now and for the next 2-3 years. 1997 Havens Bourriquot – I am quite fond of this maker’s merlots, but their unorthodox (well outside the Right Bank, anyway) blend of 2/3 cab franc and 1/3 merlot is pretty interesting as well. Lots of interest in the nose, featuring cherry and cocoa, and maybe a hint of cassis. Smooth and elegant, it was neither too big nor too ripe. It narrowed a tad at the end, but the overall impression was very good. With a plate of mushrooms in veal demi on a thick slice of Salt Spring Island goat cheese. 1990 Silver Oak Napa Cabernet – I thought that this wine had a particularly interesting nose – the first thing that struck everyone was a pronounced coconut element, but the vanilla and fruit were just underneath. It was smooth and harmonious, sweet and long. It has peaked and should be drunk in the near term (this was from my cellar, which tends to be cooler than many). 1999 Karl Lawrence Napa Cabernet – we never see this wine in Canada and it is always great fun to have a lady introduce me to new things….a dark, young concentrated wine with a currant and plum nose, layers of sweet fruit on palate, but the wine deftly avoids being to ripe, too concentrated, or too tannic. Lovely balance and a pleasure to get to try it in youth. I bet these wines age well – anyone comment? With a tasty course of rabbit prepared with coarse mustard. 1978 Diamond Creek Red Rock Terrace Cabernet – I was guessing in the mid 80s on this, but 1978 made sense when we were told and the characteristic sweetness of fruit might have eventually led us that way. A touch of vinyl in the nose, that blew off then a complex, mature warm nose, great flavour concentration and very good length. Proof that American cab will age well – and we didn’t prearrange the predominance of Americans this time – it was entirely random. 1978 Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow Cabernet – darker than the previous wine, and the nose was even better, showing tobacco, cedar and anise. It was also darker and had even better length. Of course when I got home I had to look up my notes on the 1978 Volcanic Hill we had at one of these lunches last year and it was a step up from the Gravelly Meadow. Then I found my notes on a blind tasting of 1978 and 1979 Gravelly Meadow against 1978 and 1979 Pichon Lalande and realised how lucky I’ve been to taste these older vintages so many times. Great wines. 2001 Dom. Duloquet Coteaux de Layon “Quintessence” – my previous experience with this producer had been most discouraging – a simple Anjou wine I deemed not to be worth the sub $10 cost. This was totally different. Very sweet, huge nose decent acidity and a floral hint at the end. Served with cheese. An especially nice lunch with interesting wines. Very hard to go back to the office afterward!
  12. I always enjoy vertical tastings. Some people find them tedious – too much of the same thing – I find them fascinating. Tasting several vintages of the same wine is the only way to determine for yourself if there are certain attributes or common elements that persist from vintage to vintage, that typify a wine. In this dinner tasting we had the opportunity to answer the question “What makes Ducru….Ducru?” Ducru Beaucaillou was historically a part of the larger Beychevelle estate until around 1680, when it was split from the parent property. It started to produce wine in 1760, although not under the Ducru name until1795, and by 1855 it had enough of a track record to merit a 2nd growth rating in the great classification that year. The wine has always been produced in a style at the elegant end of the spectrum, well to the opposite extreme of such more rustic St. Juliens as Talbot and a little further toward the elegant than the Leovilles. More like Beychevelle in fact, and most people would say that Ducru was the best portion of that old estate in terms of quality. We tasted 15 vintages from 2000 back to 1970, and found a bit of a watershed in the early 90s in terms of style. The traditional version seems to mature and hit plateau at age 20 or so (opinions will vary). The younger vintages drink well much sooner and I question what this means for their future. We started off with a palate cleanser/taste adjustment of: 1996 Fleury et Fils Brut Champagne – crisp and clean, decent value. I have been pleasantly impressed although not exactly wowed by the 1996 Champers I’ve been tasting recently. The right into the main event, all served in reverse chronological order. With essence of oxtail consommé 2000 – youthful colour, a nose still a bit primary with berry fruit and cassis, a sweet entry, medium body smooth feel, soft tannin and very good length. This wine is very good and quite drinkable now. It is certainly not made in the same style as older vintages and I question whether it will still be as good in 15 - 20 years, much less better, as one would expect from older vintages. 1998 – the berry nose on this one was a bit subdued but the wine showed good weight on palate, more elegant than the 2000 and showing soft tannins only at the end. 1996 – big sweet cassis nose and some anise in there as well and even a lead pencil element, quite enticing. The tannins are still quite firm but the wine is very harmonious and I don’t see that changing. Patience will be rewarded in this case! The next course was a nine-herb ravioli filled with ricotta in a lemon beurre blanc. 1995 – This wine was tight and the nose reticent to show itself. Although unyielding at this point, it was promising as we could see a sweet fruit core and excellent balance. Needs time. 1990 – in contrast, the big nose of this wine leapt out at you with vanilla and cassis featuring. The tannins are now soft and the length was excellent. Lovely wine 1989 – less fruit in the nose and although still elegant the wine failed to impress after the other two in this flight. Medium body, pleasant but not special. Next course – breast of quail in savoy cabbage topped with seared foie gras. 1988 – the nose was compact and this wine possessed ample tannin and acidity but like the 1989 failed to really impress us. 1986 – infanticide, but I was certainly a willing accomplice! Dense purple colour with a sweet berry nose, a nice flash of fruit on palate just before the tannins clamped down signalled wonderful things ahead for this wine. Patience, Grasshopper! I wouldn’t touch this for another 10 years (but then I am renowned for my self control…) 1985 – quite a contrast with the previous behemoth. The nose was very pleasant with sweet fruit, on palate it was sweet and forward but in no way tailing off or heading down slope as some 85s now are. No rush, as this will continue to hold and drink well for some years, but why wait? Next course – sun dried tomato and olive crusted rack of lamb 1983 – lots of spice in this nose and lots of good fruit in the mid-palate. I wasn’t a big fan of this wine when younger as it went contrary to the rule in this normally sweet forward vintage, having relatively hard tannins that made you question the balance of the wine for the long haul. I am pleased to see that the tannins have softened and that there is ample fruit to make this a pleasurable wine. 1982 – Oh my! One of those wines that make you think “THIS is why I cellar Bordeaux – nothing quite like it!” The nose has a full complement of berries, complex and melded with secondary elements that make you spend several minutes just sniffing before you remember to taste. When you do taste it, you find wonderful fruit, great flavour intensity and a harmony that other houses would envy. This wine will offer great pleasure for many years and at the age of 24 years has reached what will doubtless be a long plateau stage. 1981 – this one probably suffered from the fabtastic 1982 tasted just before it, but one must do justice to this largely forgotten vintage. Many of the 81s are drinking beautifully now. This one had a classic and forward nose, soft and balanced in the mouth and again, elegant. With gorgonzola nd triple cream brie and Port poached pear. 1978 – this was the first wine that showed any lightening in colour. They did not include any merlot in the blend this vintage and for whatever reason it has always sown very well, in the top group of 78s for me. Cedar nose, soft and smooth on palate finishing soft and sweet with impeccable balance. 1975 – not much on the nose. The tannins have moderated in this formerly hard wine, but the fruit hasn’t lived through and I found it a bit astringent at the end. Still, it drinks alright, but is not one of the ‘good’ 75s. 1975 is a vintage I really enjoy, but I’ll allow that you have to have a slightly masochistic streak to do that as half the wines never came into balance and some never will. They surprise you though. I always wondered if the Las Cases would ever pull through and mirabile dictu, in recent tastings over the last 3-4 years it has, and very well to. 1970 – back to dark colour, and what a delicious wine! Lots of fruit, vanilla and toast in the nose, youthful on palate, excellent weight and good fruit in the middle, and a long finish with good acidity. Wish I still had some of this. One caveat – if you have this wine with uncertain cellaring history it may be showing as older, but this one was in great shape. 1997 Ch. Climens – nice way to finish up and the first time I’d tasted this wine. Still light in colour and showing a honeyed botrytis nose, it wasn’t too heavy in the mouth and had nice fruit and length. Drinks very nicely now but should have a long life ahead. The Ducru was amazingly consistent over a 30 year period, always showing characteristics that reflect the terroir of the property. The post 1990 vintages are wonderful, but I can’t help a slight sadness at the change in style, although this has perhaps harmed this wine less than others (assuming you can call it ‘harm’ – maybe it is only we few reactionaries that would). All in all a very instructive event.
  13. This is a Bordeaux blend made by a small BC winery – 200 cases pf this produced. It is a blend of cab sauv., cab franc, merlot and 5% Malbec and petit verdot., aged for 21 months in American oak. The wine is dark with a very pleasant spick vanilla nose, the tannins are present and medium weight, it is full bodied and has very good length. In terms of how this ranks with other BC Bordeaux blends, I rank it above Osoyoos Larose (any vintage to date), and on par with the like of Poplar Grove Reserve, Sumac Meritage and Burrowing Owl Meritage. It will be interesting to see how it develops over the next 3 or 4 years as the tannins soften – the fruit certainly seems ample.
  14. Some notes from holiday doings: 1998 Pol Roger Extra Cuvee de la Reserve – haven’t tasted any 1998 champers yet and was prepared to be lukewarm about a vintage reputed to be below average, but this wine surprised me. Good mousse, decent nose of apples and biscuits, quite dry and crisp at the end. Good match with sushi. 2003 Bret Brothers St. Veran ‘Climat En Combe’ – St. Veran is normally a modest but serviceable white burg at a reasonable price. This example was out of the ordinary in terms of price, but lived up to expectation as something special as well. Nice clean minerally nose with some cantaloupe, long sweet smooth finish, went well with a scallop and prawn course. 1994 Havens Reserve Merlot – the theme was generally ‘anti-Sideways’, or bring out your merlots, so I hauled out this one. Slightly warm, ripe cocoa nose, sweet in the mouth and quite full with excellent mouth feel. Good length and structure, the tannins still reasonably firm, with a reprise of chocolate in the finish. This may not yet be at peak. 1998 Seven Hills Walla Walla Merlot Reserve – the odd one out – more Bordeaux like than the California twins, and it suffered a little as such wines often do in comparison, until we buckled down and gave it full attention. Not as much happening in the nose, but less ripe and more Bordeaux like. More acidic on palate, medium body, medium length, but tasty. 1997 Atalon Mountain Estates Merlot – for those that do not know this producer, this was their first vintage of merlot. A refined cocoa nose, slightly warm, but clean, and the wine was more forward than the Havens in the mouth, with a few seconds of soft slide before the tannins kicked in. They were also softer than the Havens, and the finish was commendably long. While this wine showed as more forward, I think the Havens will ultimately prove the slightly better wine. The foregoing were all served with rack of lamb. 1999 Meerlust Merlot – you don’t see the merlot from this Cape producer very much in this market. It had a chalky cocoa nose with nice berry fruit, was warm and clean and forward initially until the tannins made themselves known (less tannin than the Havens, and readier to drink), and it finished with good length. Served with cheese. 1983 Ch. d’Arche – not the most familiar of Sauternes to many, this apricot coloured wine had honey and orange in the nose, but not particularly much botrytis, and was only medium sweet, which I rather liked. Nice finish to a great meal.
  15. Happened to have a nice large black truffle that looked like it needed eating so we did an impromptu wine dinner to match it. 2004 Dom. Fouassier Sancerre Les Romains – this was a rather rich sauvignon blanc with mineral nose, good flavour level, and crisp finish. It went well with the starter which was cream cheese and hazelnuts stuffed in figs and dates which had been soaked in Marsala, all wrapped in shinkenspeck and roasted lightly in the oven. The shinkenspeck seems to give a tastier (and less salty) result than the conventional prosciutto. Next up was the first truffle course – angel-hair pasta al dente dresses simply with butter and a little white wine, served with shaved black truffle. We continued the Sancerre through this and it went quite well. The next course was sweetbreads in a cream sauce with mushrooms and sherry and anointed with the other half of the shaved truffle. The wine we chose was Italian (yes, I know – Italy=white truffle, France=black truffle, but I was in an Italian mood). 1993 Marchesi di Gresy Villa Martis – this modest blend of Nebbiolo and Barbera was definitely getting toward the end of its life. The colour was pale and bricky at the edges, though a nice garnet through the middle. Fruit was still there if abated somewhat and the finish was excessively acidic – until we tried it with food! The pasta tamed the wine nicely and the whole was definitely greater than the parts. Finally, we had a beef Stroganoff made from prime rib served on a potato pancake. For this I chose: 1992 Gaja Sito Moresco - in keeping with my theme of mature Nebbiolo blends, this wine includes a significant proportion of merlot and cabernet. Normally considered an early drinking wine and in this case from an indifferent vintage, 13 years was a real test of longevity, even from a cool cellar. I am happy to say that the wine came through better than I could have expected – dark, with some tar and roasted dark fruit in the nose, the berry fruit of youth now gone, but replaced with more leather and very soft tannin and just the right amount of acidity at the end. Great combination with the food, and we continued it on into the cheese course. I think that this exercise proves that the optimum number of people required to properly appreciate a whole black truffle is two!
  16. bills

    South African Wines

    Notes from a blind tasting lunch with a couple more throw in at the end. Anna de Codorniu Reserva Brut – nice Cava with good mousse and nice crisp finish. 2004 Dom. de Mirail Blanc sec Colombard – don’t see much decent Colombard (some would say that was a contradiction in terms). This one, just back from France with its purveyor was very pale and had a sort of ‘home made’ element in the nose that I finally realised was typical French Colombard – lots of apple and some anise. Good entry, some mineral, finishing dry. Would sell for around $11 C. 2002 Dom. Bachelet Bourgogne Blanc – another sample (the guy who brought them is an agent gauging possible sales prospects). Waxy nose with citrus at end, not much in the middle, but decent length. I’d pass on this – lots of decent French chards available. 2003 Dom. Bachelet Maranges Prem Cru La Fussiere – OK- hands up those who have tasted a Burgundy from Maranges – or even knew there was such an appellation IN the Cote de Beaune! Not exactly a household word, even among Burgaholics. Young bright wine, with lots of tannin and acidity, very dry at end. I’d reserve judgement until I could taste it again in about 3 years. 1999 Alabastro Reserva – from Portugal (the venue was a Portuguese restaurant). Michel Roland strikes again! A blend of Araganez (a local name for Tempranillo), Trincadeira and cabernet. Slightly soapy berry nose the wine bright and acidic with a fair bit of tannin. Chopped off short in the finish, otherwise quite pleasant. 1993 Conde de Valdemar Rioja Gran Reserva (Martinez Bujanda) – American oak in the nose and an initial strong whiff of dill that abated with air. Smooth entry, with wood present on palate as well! Finished with – you guessed it – more oak. Did Mondavi loan his winemaker out to Spain? (actually this was typical of old style Rioja). 1994 Chivite Gran Reserva Collecion 125 – the 1995 was a Rhone ringer but this wine from Navarra showed wet stones and fruit in the nose, good colour, and spice at the end. It was another ‘woody’ in terms of oak content, as well., being held 24 months in French oak. 100% Tempranillo. These wines went down just fine with roasted saddle of rabbit. 1997 Finca Valpiedra Rioja Reserva – a switch to new style Spanish with this one. Also owned by Martinez Bujanda, they add 5% cab and use some American oak. This wine had a sweet oak nose, was open and sweet in the mouth, soft, forward and with good balance. I’m sure it will keep, but it drinks nicely now. 1997 Pesquera Crianza – stinky nose, and a big, slightly hot rustic wine which seems a marked departure from the style of the rather good 1994, 95 and 96 vintages. Needs some time. 1999 Quinta do Crasto Tinta Cao – Crasto does single varietal wines as reserves – the Tinta Cao, Touriga Nacional, and Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo). 1997 and 1999 were particularly good and we wondered if this one would be ready, so I was pleased when its identity was revealed. A vinyl and vanilla nose (the use some American oak in this although I believe the Nacional is all French), lots of dark sweet fruit on the palate, a big wine with a tannic end, it needs more time. I think I’ll give mine at least 3 more years. 1989 Dow Quinto do Bomfim Port – an off year for many, but this single quinta wine made from grapes from the vineyards that produce the core of Dow’s wines in regular vintage years was very presentable. The nose was ripe and a bit raisiny, and it was all fruitcake in the mouth. Nice finish to a largely Iberian event. I’ll append last night’s wines as well: 1994 Plaisir de Merle – I’ve had 3 of these in the last week and a bit and this one was the biggest with a dark smoky nose, good depth and showing significant tannin. 1994 Stellenzicht Estate Wine – I’d opened the previous wine to accompany this one that a guest had brought. This wine is made in Stellenbosch from the 4 Bordeaux varietals (cab, cab franc, merlot and Malbec, in varying amounts depending on vintage). The nose was all Bordeaux, a hint of steminess and refined fruit, and in the mouth it was a ringer for a middling Bordeaux of a decent vintage. Very nice and a great choice for a ringer if you ever do blind tastings!
  17. The Bordeaux were opened a half hour ahead and decanted, then enjoyed over the next 3/4 hour.That seems to work well for most of the 1970 vintage, bar those like Latour and Montrose that need a bit more time to open.
  18. Notes from a casual dinner with friends: With 2 kinds of foie gras paté: 1997 Pierre Sparr Gewurztraminer Mambourg Vendage Tardive – the colour was quite golden and the nose was showing some evidence of age, but also complexity. It was very smooth on palate and had good length, an excellent match with the foie gras! With duck confit, and rare sliced duck breast and mashed yams: 1993 Armand Rousseau Ruchottes Chambertain Clos des Ruchottes (a monopole) – good colour and a very good nose of spiced plums, but where did the wine go on palate? Excessive acidity and no flavour punch in the middle. It went passably well with the duck, but was missing the fruit and weight I’d have hoped for. With roasted lamb: 1970 Ch. Pavie – this St. Emilion has been much in the news with high reviews for recent vintages, but this wine represents the pre-resurrection product, from a time when this producer was going through a low period. Nonetheless it exhibited a pretty good nose, with oak and some fruit, but the fruit was lacking in the mouth, there was a chalky feel to it in mid-palate and the wine finished short and slightly astringent. If it were the only wine open, I’d have no problem drinking it, however the next wine blew it into the weeds. 1970 Ch. La Lagune – I have always liked this house and gained added respect for it when I did a 13 or 14 vintage vertical a few years ago – very consistent performance. The nose was probably not quite up to that of the Pavie (nose being that wine’s best attribute), but on palate the fruit was present and the feel was smooth and sweet with good length and balance, the end being nicely touched with sweetness as well. Everything I love about Bordeaux. 1988 Ch. Rieussec – oddly enough, the best wine of the night was the last – this Sauternes is really hitting stride now, and I rate it considerably higher than I did when I last tasted it. The honey and coconut are still there, but the Botrytis element seems more to the fore, and there was toffee there as well. Sweet, and long, a great end to the meal, served with cheeses.
  19. Notes from a dinner and tasting – wine-only fans can stop after the first note as the rest are single malt Scotch. 1994 Plaisir de Merle Cabernet – this South African wine has been drinking well for many years now, yet this bottle seemed tired and old. I popped another cork the next night and it sang like old times, the nose no longer mute and the fruit not largely AWOL. This may be a signal that the early vintages of PdeM are getting long in the tooth or just an off bottle. If anyone else has cellared these wines it might be time to check up on them. I think I’ll open a 1993 this weekend for ‘research’. The whisky portion of the evening had no specific theme, unlike most of our twice yearly gathering of the faithful – everyone brought a couple of single malts they thought might be interesting to taste. With a total production annually of 3.2 million cases, single malt is in no danger of taking over from blended whisky – Johnny Walker bottles 3.5 million cases of their red label every year! Lest you think us to be unrepentant tosspots, I would add that each dram is only about ½ ounce. We nose it and taste it straight and then add a few drops of water (we actually use eyedroppers for this given the small aliquot of malt we are tasting) and assess the change wrought by this addition. First flight: Strathisla 12, 43% - a spirity sweet fruitcake nose and the heat continued in the mouth – this one needed a fair addition of water to tone down the alcohol. Rated 4th in the flight. Macallan 12 ‘Elegancia’ 40% - none of us knew much about this one and none of our reference books helped – no doubt a special export bottling, this one bought on vacation in Turkey but also spotted in Germany. Matured in oloroso and fino sherry cask. An odd sour nose, soft and smooth in the mouth but an odd finish that sharpened up. 3rd. Glenlivet 12 (French oak) 40% - not so hot in the nose, with some nice oak spice, only slightly hot in mouth and didn’t benefit from water (killed the nose), nice caramel flavours, a comforting dram on a snowy day. 2nd Glen Garioch 15 43% - minty nose and a tarry treacle finish made this one a stand-out, wood smoke in the nose and a bit of peat on palate.. Very nice and 1st in the flight. Pronounced Glen ‘Geery’, by the way. Second Flight: Bruichladdich ‘The Links’ 14 46% - part of a trio of special bottlings featuring golf courses, (in this case the 18th green at Royal Troon), this had a slightly hot grassy nose, and was quite hot in the mouth with an odd candied aftertaste. Water smoothed it a bit. Unusual in that it has no colouring added – a pale Scotch and 3rd in this group. Scapa 14 40% - I can’t recall offhand if this is the only malt made in Orkney, but in any case a bit of a rarity. Banana apple nose, sweet and smooth on palate with a hint of pineapple at the end. Interesting malt that doesn’t really come across like the fruit salad I’ve described. Bruichladdich 15 46% - more of the seaside in this nose, and rich big flavours in the mouth, complex. Best with no water, and much better than the 14. Best of flight. Flight 3 Bowmore 17 43% - I am a big fan of this distillery and this one was no disappointment. Caramel, seaweed, smoke and grass all featured in the nose, with a floral element in the background. Integrated on palate with good length. The nose on this really opened up with water. An after dinner sort of malt. Lagavulin 16 43% - nose like a sherry barrel, very smooth and tasty in the mouth. This excellent malt needs no water added. Lagavulin 12 57.8% - this cask strength bottling was a special release and quite hard to find. It had a smoke and elastoplast nose, very hot, with an oily overlay. There was a smoky taste (a bit unusual), and water was needed to cut the heat, but it muted the nose, so this one was a bit of a quandary as to which way you preferred it. Ratings on this flight? More difficult as we were into the sort of malts that you either love or hate. I would be happy sitting in front of a fire with any of them, but the Lagavulin 16 was especially good in a more conventional sort of way, while the Special 12 was such a wild beast that I went right out the next day and bought the last bottle extant to add to my collection!
  20. bills

    1989 and 1990 Bordeaux

    And the 1975 Las Cases has finally entered drinking territory......
  21. bills

    1989 and 1990 Bordeaux

    No rush at all on the Las Cases - my note was brief as I just had a 'passing taste' as the glass went by. And I am very fond of the 1970 Montrose - I just can't bring myself to put a bottle in the freezer and take it out in 10 or 15 years - the only way to really tell which is better, that or the 1990.
  22. Commanderie de Bordeaux tasting dinner of the 1989 and 1990 vintage at Gavroche in Vancouver. We brought our own wines and also passed a glass from other tables, so we had the opportunity to taste quite a few different wines from these vintages. The menu is worthy of mention so I’ll get that over with first. With an NV J. Lasalle Brut that obviously had some age – showing colour, nice toast and mature notes in nose, complex with sweet elements in the mouth, lots of acidity, great mousse, flirts with old age but quite interesting. With tuna tartare with wasabi tobbiko, smoked sturgeon with seaweed caviar, and large scallops with mango salsa. Then the food courses: foie gras and truffle flan with roasted pear chutney (apparently a real bear to cook and keep together) 1997 Ch. La Tour Blanche - great match – sweet botrytis nose but then drier than anticipated in the mouth, which suited the food very well. rabbit tenderloin with black olive sauce on sweet potato gallette duck breast with wild mushroom flan and bing cherry sauce venison chop with port reduction cheese plate espresso terrine with hazelnut praline. Here is how we arranged our wines. Brief notes on other wines we tasted are also appended. 1989 Canon La Gaffeliere (St. Emilion) – showing a bit lighter colour than most of the later wines, with a hint of fading at the edges. Decent nose of pure fruit and vanilla, excellent acidity that mated very well with the food, and a pleasant smoothness on palate. 1990 Pichon Baron – wow, the nose on this one is great – dark wine, big lush nose of cedary fruit and spice, sweet entry, smooth and long, but will continue improving for many years. Oh my, why didn’t I buy more of this wine? 1990 Mouton Rothschild – huge nose of leather, dark fruit, but that was the best aspect of this wine, as it was leaner than expected in the mouth, though no longer as tannic as it was, and with a nice sweetness in the finish. Bit disappointing for a Mouton. 1990 Leoville Barton – big sweet fruit driven nose, and similarly big and sweet in the mouth – it handily bettered the Mouton and while it drinks very well, it also has years to go yet. 1989 Margaux – goodness – the sweet fruit in this nose was so attractive I just wanted to go on sniffing it, and there was considerable complexity – much enhanced since the last time I tried this wine. When I tasted the wine it showed excellent flavour integration, with everything in place and presenting as an harmonious whole – no one element sticking out or still gawky. That isn’t to suggest that it was at peak, though it would be hard to stay away from this delicious wine – I think it has a good few years left in it yet, and a few of those before it tops out. 1989 Lafite Rothschild – a spicy almost Rhone-like element in this nose, but also more sweet fruit, and now showing the elegance of the house (it was uncharacteristically tannic when I tasted it 10 years ago), but not really up to the Margaux. Again, no rush on this very good wine. Others tasted: 1990 Cheval Blanc – this was amazingly ready now – big mocha nose with immense flavour concentration and excellent length – I can’t see this getting any better, but it is veeeerrry tasty now! 1983 Pichon Lalande – served blind and a good showing it made, too. Showing as youthful with a sweet nose and rounder at the end than the Pichon Baron is now. I thought it might have been a 1985. 1990 Montrose – nose on this wine was absolutely huge, full of jammy fruit and like the Mouton, a bit of leather. On palate, exceptional concentration and length and no rusticity It needs considerably more time before it should be drunk. This may change my mind about how good it is in relation to my personal fave, the 1970. 1989 Lynch Bages – the nose was spirity almost porty and the wine is still tannic. Patience is called for. 1990 Leoville Las Cases – lovely spiciness in nose, weighty and smooth in the middle, soft tannins dominate the lengthy finish. Why doesn’t this rate first growth status when it is so consistent and out-performs Mouton so many times…… And finally 1978 Quinta do Noval – starting to get pale in colour, not much heat in the nose, though a little hot in the mouth, pleasant, middling sweet and a nice end to a very interesting event.
  23. bills

    Bordeaux Style

    Bordeaux and Bordeaux-like tasting notes: 1985 Mondavi Reserve Cabernet – even the regular cab was good this vintage (I finished mine last year). Nice Bordeaux style nose, no over oaking here. Good colour for the age, fair fruit, still some tannins, decent length, slight astringency at end. Drink up. 1975 Ch. Lascombes (Margaux) – corked – too bad! 1998 Los Vascos Cabernet Grand Reserve – this Lafite-run property in Chile has produced some of the best value Bordeaux style wines I’ve tasted. Good classic nose with excellent levels of fruit, smooth and with good length. Perhaps the most Bordeaux –like – including the real Bordeaux! 1999 Ch. Monbousquet (St. Emilion) – doing its best to emulate a new world wine – big ripe nose with vanilla, espresso and currant, sweet entry, concentrated flavours, tannins soft but evident, medium length with a slight stemminess at the end. 1998 Yarra Yering Dry Red #1 (the Bordeaux blend) – instant Oz recognition in the nose, but only medium sweet on palate, not over the top like so many are, and with good length. I’d have guessed Western Australia rather than Victoria, but definitely cooler climate. 1999 Ch. Malartic Lagraviere – what happened to the pleasant lighter weight claret I drank so much of in the 1982 and 1983 vintages? Damned stuff is on steroids! Again, the sweet black currant and cocoa nose, with a nice minerality, good flavour concentration in the mouth and decent length. Still elegant but bigger than it ever used to be!!
  24. Notes from my monthly wine lunch: 1998 Auvigue Pouilly Fuissé Récolte Manuelle – fair bit of colour in this wine and strangely almost no chardonnay characteristics that would have led us to a correct divination of origin. Pleasant if uncharacteristic nose and decent fruit. Ready. We had an excellent scallop dish with this. 2003 Moillard Mercurey Prem. Cru “Clos l’Eveque’ – ahh – classic pinot noir nose sent us Burgundy-ward right away. Good bright fruit. nice varietal nose, a balance unlikely to be found in a pinot from anywhere else, and a clean smooth finish. 1987 Pedroncelli Dry Creek Cabernet – a fairly Burgundian skunky nose to start this one off was a counter-indication to cabernet, but on palate it was cab, and very French in style aside from the nose. Good punch left in this one and nice length. Good showing. 1996 Leonetti Cabernet (‘American’ designation) – spicy oak, mint and ample fruit in the nose, full bodied and with a long finish. Drinks perfectly now and will hold. 1991 Caymus Napa Cabernet – big fruit friven nose, riper than the Washington state cab, and also sweeter on palate, but with lower acidity. Interesting comparison.. This is now at peak and should be drunk in the next few years. With a combination of bison and apricot terrine and rabbit/foie gras/prosciutto pâté. 1995 Ch. Cantenac (St. Emilion) – a reasonably priced St. Emilion, this wine was already showing a bit of fading at the edges in terms of colour, had medium body, nice weight and drinks best right now. 1986 Rainoldi Sassella Riserva – an unusual wine I had only tasted a couple of times, made in the North East of Italy up against the Swiss border, from Nebbiolo, which is called Chiavennasca locally. Medium colour, going orange at the edges, big sweet hit of fruit, then the acidity followed after to balance it nicely. The roses and tar in the nose were quite lovely. We were eating Salt Spring Island lamb by this point. 1999 Marques de Grinon Syrah – alright, tough one here – a Syrah from Spain. Very dark wine with a tarry nose, very dry in the mouth, the tannins present but not assertive. This is produced in a quite unusual location – Dominio de Valdepusa, a single estate D.O. I would leave this wine for several more years before opening another bottle, but it shows promise. On to cheese, and….. 1998 Fox Creek JSM – a blend of 61% shiraz, 24% cab franc, and 15% cab sauv from McLaren Vale. The dark colour and sweet vanilla nose were fast indicators of origin, though the still purple edges of the wine belied its age. Excellent flavour, cassis, blackberry, and very long finish. This wine is fairly well balanced and not a typical ‘over the top’ Aussie effort. I have a case or two fo this in the cellar (somewhere) and it may be time to start opening some. 1990 Smith Woodhouse LBV Port – what a wonderful classic way to end a meal (too bad I had to go back to the office!). This wine is still rather dark in colour, and not too hot in the nose. Smooth and enticing now, this is one LBV that will improve with age, a fact attested to by the use of a conventional cork rather than the truncated style with plastic top.
  25. bills

    2004 Bordeaux

    Tasted the 2004 Bordeaux barrel samples with Bill Blatch of Vintex last week. I don’t have time to post detailed notes but will mention some of the stand-outs. Generally the vintage is a middling one with firm tannins being the catchword. There seems to be sufficient fruit (we are not talking 1975 levels of tannin here) and most should come into balance, but the majority of the wines were rather shut down right now. The samples had been in bottle for only a couple of weeks at most and it was startling to observe that of the 3 wines that were presented in the form of two half bottles, there was notable bottle variation in 2 out of 3! We are talking 2 WEEKS, not 2 DECADES here! It should also be noted that while the reds represented the final assemblage, the Sauternes will not be blended yet and may vary in the final blend from what I observed (the assemble 12-20 different wines to make the final wine). When I say that there is some ‘complexity’ I mean that flavour differentiation is evident – certainly not a given with barrel samples. Smith Haut Lafite (blanc) – quite good with some toast in the nose and already showing some complexity. Aiguilhe – this Castillon property has been performing well recently. Purple wine with decent spicy nose. Needs time (as do they all!) Cambon-la-Pelouse – ungenerous, lacks much nose, tannic and tight Chasse Spleen – pretty decent with some fruit showing past the tannin. Sociando Mallet – hard, as expected, but showing better than I’d expected at this stage with quite decent fruit. Carbonnieux – one that wasn’t hard – early drinker, not unpleasant but not very serious. Malartic Lagraviere – good, balanced Smith Haut Lafite – tighter than a ……well you can imagine. Dark, dense and good. Haut Bailly – lighter colour, lacking in fruit. Pape Clement – pretty good showing, generous with possibilities. Giscours – smooth and pleasant – a good one. Lascombes – dark and tight - hard to read now. Rauzan Segla – some fruit showing and fair balance. Lagrange – showing quite well now, a hint of green in the nose, only medium hard, decent fruit. If you are looking for a nice early drinker from this vintage, this could be a candidate. Leoville Poyferre – perfumed nose and good fruit. Leoville Barton – tighter than Poyferre but also promising Montrose – firm but already some complexity evident. Pontet Canet – excellent levels of fruit evident past the tannins – could be very good. Faizeau – OK, but not as good as earlier vintages Quinault l’Enclos – nice nose but tight and a bit astringent on palate. Couvent des Jacobins – coming together nicely. Pavie Macquin – dark, not much in the nose yet, but smooth on palate. Troplong Mondot – Hard!! Canon la Gaffeliere – some interesting bits showing here – interesting to see it with some age Clos l’Eglise – lighter weight and starting to show some interesting elements L’Eglise Clinet – very nice, darker, needs time Guiraud – this Sauternes was all lemon up front with light botrytis, medium sweet and pleasant. Rieussec - quite different with honey and concentration, showing more now, with an interesting red licorice element and god intensity of flavour. Hope they don’t mess with this one much in the final assemblage!
  • Create New...