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Beaucastel, Guigal, Armailhac, Noval


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Monthly blind tasting lunch notes:

2002 William Fevre Chablis 1er Cru ‘Les Lys’ – clean mineral nose with hint of spice, smooth with good body, quite a bit of acidity and decent length. The acidity indicates it will go on for some time yet. Bit of mustiness in nose blew off quickly.

2001 Ch. de Beaucastel Chateuneuf du Pape blanc – this was the regular blend, not the old vines Roussanne. Cold at first but as it warmed some peaches and roses came out in the nose, and it was full bodied with some distinct spiciness in the finish.

Served with squash blossoms stuffed with scallops.

1995 Guigal Cote Rotie Brune et Blonde – I brought the 1994 last month so it was natural to compare the experiences. Smoke and floral nose, with some black pepper, some tannin present, good fruit and nicely balanced acidity. A definite step above the 94 in amount of fruit, colour and concentration.

1997 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino – a big nose with sweet fruit, but the wine is quite elegant on palate and has lower acidity than I’d have expected and soft tannin. Ready to drink now.

We had duck breast and truffle consommé with these wines.

1979 St. Clement Napa Cabernet – still good colour but bricking edges indicated an older wine and a nose that went from initial mustiness to mintiness indicated perhaps Australian or American but we dallied with Italy, Franc….. The balance and weight sent us toward the States and I was thinking maybe a 1987, but wasn’t surprised to find it older. Still abundant tannins, but the wine became more acidic with time in the glass and the acids seemed more prominent indicating it may be getting a bit long in the tooth. Interesting.

1998 Ch. d’Armailhac – bit of a readjustment here from old to quite young (but ready). Young and dark with a plumy nose, a bit on the soft side in terms of acidity and no tannins to speak of, it was ready to drink and a good match with the rare roast Saltspring lamb main course.

2004 Casa Santos Lima Sousao – a Portuguese wine from Estramadura that was purple with thick legs, huge fruit and tons of extract. I’d love to see how this one ages!

1998 Ch. de Beaucastel – from a warm cellar, so don’t take this note as a reason to rush out and start popping corks. Great nose of big, warm fruit, nice weight and a long mocha finish. I shall patiently hold mine for a few years but this bottle was excellent now. I wonder if the high percentage of Grenache this vintage makes it a bit more forward?

2000 Boekenhoutskloof Syrah – this cape wine is expensive, hard to find, and worth the hunt. Blood and earth mixed with vanilla and cocoa in the nose and smooooth on palate with good length. Will improve. I’d like to see this put up blind in a Syrah tasting as it would be very difficult to place and might be mistaken for a Northern Rhone.

1978 Quinta do Noval – this was a tough one. The colour has paled and faded to the point that I was looking to the 1961 era, which was consistent with the browning edges, but the hot finish and sweetness didn’t match any that I could think of. Dirty pool to pull an oddball vintage like this and respond to questions that it was indeed a vintage year. I guessed a Graham’s Malvedos (which I haven’t tasted in some time).

1968 Quinta do Noval Colheita Tawny Port – again, a hot nose and pale colour, sweet but also really penetrating flavours with overtones of roasted cashews. Nice finish to the meal.

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