Thursday, 29 December 2011


 1997 Crozes Hermitage 'Domaine de Thalabert', Paul Jaboulet Aine
The Wine Society | B+

Bought en-primeur and since stored in the temperature controlled warehouse of The Wine Society.
Earthy, slight rusty and bloody nose, rustic; then tart red fruits, damson. Fresh acidity on the palate, red currants and raspberry dominated, soft red fruit, yielding and very fresh. Rather high acidity, lip smacking and fat. Needed a couple of hours to open up. Drink now.

Fonterutoli Chianti Classico, Mazzei  
vintage unknown, believed 1999

Ripe red cherry fruit on the nose, almost compote like; slight earthy and rusty note too; some violets too. Fresh on the palate, sour cherry and raspberry; lots of bright acidity and fruit still, tingling and vibrant, sustained mid palate, not big but has good length. Drying on the finish; not much tannins initially, but it builds over time. Fantastic balance and presence; a food wine. Needed a few hours to open up and loose its edginess; recorked, it was still drinking nicely one and two days after opening, losing a bit of the fresh acidity and gaining more sweet spices and bramble characters, quite remarkable. Drink now - 2017+.

1982 Churchill's Vintage Port

First vintage port made by Churchill's.
Red fruit on the nose, with roses and floral nature coming too, raspberry liquer; the volatile compounds are initially rather aggressive, turpentine and paint thinner. Palate has so much vibrant fruit, plummy and juicy; lots of spice off the bat, then sweet fruits with touches of mocha and dark chocolate. Long, lingering and spicy finish; tannins mostly resolved. Showing beautifully now but has enough to last a while, drink now - 2020+.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Downing MCR Christmas Tasting

Friday, 16 December 2011.
A tasting of 12 wines for Downing College MCR, with a Christmas theme.

 NV Chateau Renni Cava Brut. Spain.
Just Great Wine £8.95 | B+

Textbook Cava - crisp, dry yet still showing nice fruit structure. The mousse is perhaps on the aggressive side, but its lively and inoffensive, good to drink. Provided for review.

NV Silvola Rosato, Cantina Beato Bartolomeo Breganze. Italy.
Cambridge Wine £11.49 | B+

Nose is of strawberries and cream; smells sweet and sherbety, like strawberry ice cream; attractive and welcoming nose. Plenty of fruit; just a touch off dry, showing lots of rounded red fruit that isnt tart or aggressive; mid to low acidity. Its light, pretty and very drinkable.

2008 Felton Road Chardonnay. Central Otago, New Zealand.

Creamy, buttered toast and some nutty notes - the oak treatment shows well; the fruits shows below that. Palate is integrated; ripe white fruits showing alongside the integrated oak flavours; slight pithy / grapefruit tinged bitterness at the finish. Textured, full bodied wine; very classy. Drinking very well now.

2005 Meursault Vielles Vignes, Dom Vincent Girardin.
faulty - corked and premature oxidation

2007 Matahiwi 'Holly' Sauvignon Blanc. Wairarapa, New Zealand.

Golden straw in colour. Theres green notes of bell peppers and asparagus, layered with sweet vanilla and gentle oaked /toasty characters; but the peppery character gives an undertone. Palate is layered, also some green notes; the oak is together and well supported by the plentiful fruit. Not as punchy as I remember it, the age has mellowed and integrated everything; drinking nicely.

1997 Riesling Hochgewachs, Trabener Wurzgarten, Weingut Werner Muller. Mosel Valley, Germany.
Cambridge Wine £12.25 | B+

Intense lime and limepeel on the nose, almost an air freshener like quality to it; fresh and limey, with some white flowers thrown in; attractive. Palate is citrus dominated; fresh and light; high acidity but theres a decent amount of residual sugar, maybe 20g/l; gently off dry. Fat, lemony feel to it; still fresh and lively

2008 Grasshopper Rock 'Earnsclough Vineyard' Pinot Noir. Central Otago, New Zealand.
Naked Wines £18.49 | A-

Plenty of red cherries, with sweet spice coming through (cinnamon and nutmeg); really fragrant, then comes some raspberry and kirsch; rather sweet smelling. Lots of rounded fruit; juicy sour red cherries; lush and very forward fruit, immediately appealing; fresh acidity and hardly any tannins. Lively, so drinkable.

2009 Mercurey 'La Framboisiere' Domaine Faively. Burgundy, France.
Cambridge Wine £19.50 | A-

A more grown up version of the Pinot above. Deeper fruit on the nose, darker cherries and plums; less spice, replaced instead by earthy and farmyard touches. Palate also very juicy, lots of immediate fruit hit; raspberry and red cherries; not fully extracted, feels nimble and light-footed; maybe a bit short on the mid palate (maybe their Premier Cru will cover this). Fresh acidity, low tannins, for early consumption but yields so much pleasure.

1999 Cono Sur '20 Barrels Merlot'
see previous tasting note here

1997 Henschke 'Cyril Henschke' Cabernet Sauvignon. Eden Valley, Australia.

Blackberry and blackcurrant compote; cool cassis, wine gums and pastilles abound; sweet fragrant fruit; theers also a slight greenish touch to it, like basil / leaves. Palate shows so much fruit, sour plums and red cherries, then blackberries; fresh acidity, vibrant, the high notes are singing merrily. Lingers on the palate, sustained fruit on the mid palate; textured almost creamy / sherbety, layered complexity. Tannins just creeping in at the back; drinking beautifully now, but will still develop; now-2022 +. One of the best straight Cabernets from Australia that I've ever had.

Warre's Otima 10yo Tawny Port

1970 Dow's Vintage Port

Rose hips and rose petals; its rather floral and sweet smelling, then some herbal mint, raspberry liqueur kicks in.  Palate is intense and full, sweet fruit still there, but mellowed out and long; juicy, fresh acidity; still so much vibrancy and life to this, perfect balance and poise. The mid palate fruit and length on the finish is remarkable; this must have been one powerful port in its youth. Outstanding, one of the best vintage ports I've had..

Thursday, 15 December 2011


1999 Cono Sur '20 Barrels' Merlot. Rapel Valley, Chile.

Bought at auction, had been stored in a traditional, damp cellar.
Opaque still. Dark plummy fruits, some cassis; decent whack of green notes, green peppercorn, leafy and peppery nature rather intense at the beginning. Sweet plums on the palate; extracted fruit feels resolved, long as opposed to rounded fruits; decent mid palate weight, not punchy, spicy peppery notes remain on the palate. Decent finish, acidity perks up at the back. Overall, it has aged well, but probably won't improve.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


Sunday, 11 December 2011.
Three wines, all drank on their own.

2010 Anchorage Chardonnay. Nelson, New Zealand.
Naked Wines | B+

Gentle, sweet oaking shows, creamy buttery tones; then followed by ripe peaches and white fruits; really rather sweet and ripe, almost floral.On the palate its quite wide and generous, some savoury touches; but filled with  ripe white fruits, gentle soft acidity. Good example of integration between ripe white fruits and gentle oaking..

2010 Southern Lights Sauvignon Blanc. Marlborough, New Zealand.
Just Great Wines £9.95 | B+

A green, herby nose: green peppers, cut grass, asparagus, some gooseberry and wet flinty stones too; hints of sweet tropical fruits (passionfruit and guava) as it warmed up - a very correct varietal nose. On the palate its ever so slightly off dry; fat citrus flavours, lemony acidity; vibrant and fresh. Its a well made, lively, fruit driven wine. Provided for review.

2005 Chateau Villa Bel-Air. Graves, France.
Berry Bros | B+

Reviewed elsewhere in this blog. Still drinking beautifully, now - 2013+.

Just Great Wine

Wednesday, 07 December 2011.
A couple of wines provided for review by the online merchants Just Great Wines.

2007 Domaine de Sedouprat, Le Routiers, Vin de Pays Cotes de Gascogne
£7.95 | B

On the nose, lots of red fruit and currants, feels quite hot and alcoholic, theres some floral too. Palate is juicy, dark berries with some woody and leafy notes; slightly confected note towards the finish; grainy tannic grip towards the end. A correct, if not terribly exciting wine.

2009 Cotes du Rhone, Domaine Lou Gaelou.
£9.95 | B+

Closed nose but showing some red fruit, some heat there too; touch of rustic spice too. Palate has dark plums and berries, some violet and vanilla overtones; fuller in mouthfeel, with decent extraction; but there's a misplaced heat and cooked nature to it; feels disjointed towards the finish. Its a technically correct wine, but from such a good vintage, I expected a bit more. Clearly better than the Sedouprat above, though.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

CFWS - IWC Trophy Winners Tasting

Saturday, 10 December 2011.

A blind tasting organised by the Cambridge Food & Wine Society ( of wines which were trophy winners at the 2011 International Wine Challenge, wines were chosen and tasting led by Stephen Vincent. I have previously tasted some of the wines featured on the night, primarily at the IWC Taste of Gold event earlier this year - my notes will reflect this prior knowledge. Prices, where indicated, are retail by the bottle.

 2010 Stanley Estates Sauvignon Blanc. Marlborough, New Zealand.
Noel Young £12.99 | A-
International Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand White, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Marlborough Trophies.

First tasted here. This time theres more ripe tropical fruits flavours showing through, touches of guava and passion fruits; theres still lots of green notes (capsicum, leafy, green peppers) but it isnt as dominant as I remembered it to be. The slightly off dry hints of residual sugar still there, as does the notes of pebbly wet stones and very attractive streak of minerality.

2008 Pieropan 'La Rocca' Soave Classico. Italy.
Noel Young £23.99 | A-
Italian White and Soave Trophies

Yellowish straw in colour, much deeper than your average Soaves. Ripe white stone fruits on the nose; which carries through to the palate, filled with ripe peaches and apircots; fleshy and mouth filling. Good citrus and lasting acidity on the finish; decent mineral structure; strikes me as being quite oily in texture. 

2009 Chablis 1er Cru 'Vaillon' Domaine Christian Moreau Pere et Fils. Burgundy, France.
Noel Young £21.75 | A-
Chablis and Organic Trophies

Some citrus and white fruits on the nose, followed by floral touches; some flinty and smoky notes too. Palate is classically steely and taut; great acidic structure but is generous, without being lean; minerality shines alongside ripe fruit structure. Juicy, mouthwatering finish; correct and classy. My favourite white of the night.

2009 Penfolds Reserve Bin 09A Chardonnay. Adelaide Hills, Australia.
House of Townend £52.20 | A-(+)
Champion White Wine, International Chardonnay, Australian Chardonnay, Australian White and Adelaide Hills White Trophies. 

Now I wasnt so sure about this wine when I first tasted it earlier this year; a second taste of it now still hasnt convinced me. Theres just too much oak showing on the nose, its the kind that immediately leaps up on you and drowns quite a lot else. Theres plenty of ripe fruit and acidity on the palate, but I felt some disjoint between nose and palate. I'd like to see how this develops with time; at the moment, it seems to me an oak and fruit bomb. Still not sure about price; we're now well into Cru Burgundy territory.

2010 Morgon Vielles Vignes 'Grand Cras' Domaine Laurent Gauthier. Beaujolais, France.
Noel Young £12.49 | A-
Beaujolais Trophy.

Red fruit dominated on the nose, with damsons and violets, also light spice touches. On the palate its juicy and ripe; plums and red cherries; really rounded, crushed red fruits with vibrant acidity; supple tannins. Its very well put together; not heavily extracted; showing its class, eminently drinkable. One of the best Beaujolais I've had in recent times. 

2009 Chambolle Musigny, Domaine de la Pousse d'Or. Burgundy, France.
Noel Young £53 | A-(++)
Champion Red Wine, International Pinot Noir, French Red, Red Burgundy and Chambolle Musigny Trophies.

Red fruits on the nose, red currants and berries, followed by a warming spice; there are gamey / ferral characters too, touches of black truffles and followed by some sweet oak - a charming combination. Palate is concentrated, so much red fruit, plums and damsons; layers of complexity; vibrant acidity with fine, lengthy tannic structure. All the elements are there for this wine to age with grace, a long haul wine, drink 2015-2025. My favourite red of the night.

2009 Crozes Hermitage 'La Petite Ruche' M. Chapoutier. Northern Rhone, France.
Noel Young £14.39 | A-(+)
International Syrah, French Syrah and Crozes Hermitage Trophies.

Dark fruit on the nose, along with some floral, wild herbs and black pepper touches; also some meaty / gamey notes. Palate has sweet dark fruits; dark morello cherries and dark currants; not overly extracted, retains a nice juicy freshness to it. Acidity and tannic structure also impressive; from an outstanding vintage, this is another wine that will improve with age; drink now - 2020.

2007 Miguel Torres 'Perpetual' Priorat. Spain.
Noel Young £23.79 | A-(+)
The 2008 vintage of this wine won the Priorat Trophy.

Sweet dark fruits on the nose, along with cassis, dark chocolate; herby (mint mostly) and woody (sweet cedar / mahogany) notes are also there; then the sweet oak shows. Palate is concentrated, lots of dark fruit; blackberries and dark cherries; extracted stuff; lashings of sweet oak also shows but is integrated enough. Overall impression is of sweet dark fruits; a bold punchy wine; grainy tannins on the finish; should improve with age, drink now - 2017+.

Monday, 5 December 2011


A couple of slightly more mature wines bought at auction.

1997 Chianti Classico Reserva 'Rocca Guicciarda' Barone Ricasoli

Oozing rustic charm on the nose: warm spices, lots of earthy, farmyard and distinct rusty / bloody notes; followed by red fruits. On the palate its yielding, soft red fruits dominated by red cherries and currants; acidity still vibrant, keeping the wine lively and fresh; tannins have mostly melted away; wonderfully integrated and of great balance. A mature, well made and well kept Chianti Classico. Drink now - 2015.

1999 Mas de Daumas Gassac Rouge, Vin de Pays de l'Herault

Dark berries on the nose, but not overwhelming; theres a savoury, gamey / cured meat note, along with a touch of wood and smoke. Palate is filling and textured; dark fruits dominated, blackberry and brambles; concentrated flavours, it is a big, ripe wine; theres still some savoury touches on the palate. Acidity in balance, tannins have softened somewhat but still shows some grip towards the finish. Classy, will improve with age, 2015-2025.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Downing Chapel Choir - Charity Tasting

A tasting of wines in fundraising efforts for the Downing College Chapel Choir, led by Alex Woolgar-Toms, an alumnus of Downing College, Cambridge. All the wines in this tasting were generous donations by various benefactors; stockists, where known, are indicated.

 2010 Domiane des Lauriers Rolle. Languedoc, France.
Cambridge Wine | B+

Reviewed previously elsewhere in this blog.

2010 Chilano 'Signature Series' Chardonnay. Central Valley, Chile.
Tesco Wines | B

Fruity nose - apples, pears and citrus; lively and correct, if slightly alcoholic nose. On the palate its fruit driven; fleshy, ripe white fruits, gentle acidity;  soft, wide but rather short. A correct, technical wine; inoffensive.

2009 Familia Zuccardi 'Serie A' Torrontes. Salta, Argentina.
Cambridge Wine | A-

Reviewed previously elsewhere in this blog.

2009 Stepp 'Alte Reben' Riesling. Pfalz, Germany.
Noel Young | B+

Pale straw, very light in colour. Intense limeyness on the nose, limepeel then sweeter lime cordial, with a touch of spritz about it; also slatey mineral coming through. On the palate, lots of acidity showing through, vibrancy and zing about this wine; high acidity, like sucking on sweet limes and unripe white fruits. Fresh, young and lively.

2001 Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett, Max Ferd Richter. Mosel, Germany.

Sweet on the nose - honey, acacia and over ripe peaches and nectarines. On the palate its distinctly off dry, maybe 20g/l or so; fat lemons and some limes too; high acidity but its fat and generous, not piercing. Wide and rounded on the mid palate, its aged well and will continue to develop; drink now -2016+.

2007 Gigondas, Domaine Santa Duc. Southern Rhone, France.

Dark fruits compote, blackcurrants, ribena; smells quite hot; noticeable smoke, garrique and woody notes too. Lots of dark sweet fruit on the palate, extracted and juicy; the tarry note carries through; the tannins still quite green and chunky; needs time to settle down. Drink 2013-2020+

1996 Cornas, Noel Verset. Northern Rhone, France.
The Wine Society | B

Earthy, rustic and farmyard notes dominate initially; also a gameyness / leathery notes, along with slight vegetal / woody notes; theres a sweet spice towards the end - plenty going on there, rather fun. Palate is yielding, there still a fresh streak of acidity but the fruit has dried out; maybe some red currants, but the mid palate is rather hollow; a rather astringent, drying finish. Drink up.

1996 Abadia Retuerta 'Cuvee El Campanario'. Ribera del Duero, Spain.

Reviewed previously elsewhere in this blog.

2003 Chateau La Dauphine, Canon Fronsac. Bordeaux, France.
The Wine Society | B+

Reviewed previously elsewhere in this blog.

1985 Chateau Coufran, Haut Medoc. Bordeaux, France.

Nose is developed and mature - notes of bellpeppers, with plenty of red fruits, also sweet spice and cedar too. On the palate, its fresh and still fruity, mostly ripe red cherries and sweet currants; the fruits is soft and yielding; generous acidity and resolved tannins; everything was so harmonious and together; structured mid palate, good finish. Drinking wonderfully now, probably at its peak for a few more years just yet; drink now - 2015+.

Warre's Otima 10 year old Tawny Port

Served chilled. Lots of raisins, sultanas and dried fruits showing; with great freshness and acidity too. The Otima has been a favourite of mine for sometime, especially when chilled and served with mince pies. Just has that extra edge of acidity to lift the fruit; a lighter, fresher style of Tawny to say Taylor's or Graham's 10yo which are probably on the heavier, sweeter side.

1975 Warre's Vintage Port

Brief notes only - wonderful minty note even slight eucalyptus note, which I associate with old Warre's vintage port; also floral tones of turkish delight and rosehip on the nose; sweet berries. Palate shows vibrancy, lots of sweet developed fruit; long mid palate and finish; still quite firm in places and showing good structure. Whilst drinking well now, this might just last another decade; drink now - 2020+.

Downing MCR Port Tasting

Tuesday, 08 November 2011.

A port tasting for Downing College MCR, led by Alex Woolgar-Toms of Cambridge Wine Merchants. With thanks to Fells Fine Wines for generously providing the Graham's information booklets and maps of the Douro Valley (both pictured above).

 NV Taylor’s Chip Dry White Port
Waitrose £11.39 | B

Served on its own and as a long drink (with tonic, squeeze of lime, over lots of ice).
Rather funky nose, quite vegetal, also some cheesy notes, almost smells as if its not quite right. Distinctly dry and sappy, with some grapefruit like pith. Delicious as a long drink, marries well with the bitterness of the tonic quite well - great thirst quencher.

NV Waitrose Tawny Port
Waitrose £7.59 | B (value for money)

Correct notes of sultanas and raisins, as well as dried fruits; good flavour profile, forward, sweet yet not cloying. Balanced, but with short finish. Was very popular on the night; great value for money.

Grahams’s 10 year old Tawny Port
Waitrose £18.99 | B+

Darker in colour, burnt copper and amber. More nutty on the notes, still sultanas and raisins, as well as dried figs and prunes. Nice freshness on the palate; sustained mid palate, with a decent, marmaladey finish. Fine, classy stuff, worth the money.

NV Cockburn’s Special Reserve Port
Waitrose £10.40 | B

A basic ruby port showing attractive berries and compote character; forward, sweet fruits; doesnt feel hot / fortified which is so often the case with rather basic ports. 

2006 Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage
Cambridge Wine £14.99 | B+

Lots of fruit, bold and extracted; quite sweet too, but with a spicy note towards the end. Theres some grip to this, reminding you its not a basic ruby port. Quite a bold style of LBV.

2001 Warre’s Bottle Matured Late Bottled Vintage
Cambridge Wine £22.99 | A-(+)

Settled on the palate, not as bold and punchy as the previous LBV. Feels cooler too; still plenty of attractive berries and sweet fruit, but theres almost a floral / minty note as well. Sustained mid palate, with noticeable grip towards the end. Threw a significant amount of sediment; drinks well now, and will age another 10 years with ease, now - 2020+.

1996 Warre’s Quinta de Cavadinha
Cambridge Wine £31.99 | B+(++) 

Lots of mint and ribena on the nose, feels cooler, distinct notes of pastilles and winegums; nice intensity and concentration of fruit on the mid palate. Good balance showing between the acidity and fruit; tannins are noticeably higher and more grippy than the LBV before it. In all, this shows a bright future ahead of it 2015-2025+  

1994 Tesco’s Finest Vintage Port
 Tesco Wine by the Case £16.99 (on offer) | B+(+)

Made by the Symington Family Estates, this has all the hallmarks of a decent vintage port but without the price tag. Good extraction of fruit, starting to develop some secondary / aged notes, but still showing dark berries and cool ribena like nose. Again, decent intensity of flavours, still lively; combine this with nice tannic structure means this will age with ease, now-2025+. Absolutely ridiculous price, no wonder its sold out.  

1985 Gould Campbell Vintage Port

1975 Graham’s Vintage Port

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

CUWS M11 - Alves de Sousa & Quinta da Gaivosa

Wednesday 23 November 2011.

A tasting of Alves de Sousa & Quinta da Gaivosa wines for Cambridge University Wine Society, led by their winemaker Tiago Alves de Sousa. I cannot find any UK retailer who stocks these wines, so there arent any retail prices indicated - their UK agent is Top Selection (

2009 Branco da Gaivosa Reserva White

Yellowish gold tinge. White fruit, peaches; slightly alcoholic, lots of high notes, almost of ether. On the palate, shows fresh acidity; the oak influence gives some texture, fuller in style, not just your simple quaffing wine. Very together: fruit, acid and oak integrated. Balanced wine.

2004 Alves de Sousa Reserva Pessoal White

Golden in colour. Rich white fruits, followed by toasted oak, distinctly nutty; some almonds, fino sherry like even, flint and struck match. Complex, oxidised nose. Fat acidity, savoury on the palate, this is completely weird, does taste oxidised like sherry. So much presence though, lingering nutty, smoky tones. Bizarre, yet wonderful - I love it, but no doubt some people will take offence at this style of winemaking.

2008 Quinta da Vale da Raposa Touriga Nacional

Dark fruits, cassis; woody, licorice and sweet vanilla shows; smells alcoholic, almost confected, very dark compote. Load of dark fruits on the palate but its not particularly thick, expected much bigger; as it is, shows forward jammy fruits, good acidity, ripe tannins. Drinks well now, to at least 3 years.

2005 Quinta da Gaivosa Red

Good dark fruit profile, compote, licorice, chocolate, mocha; its rather aromatic, almost floral, for a red wine. Greater concentration of fruit; extracted, more sustained on the mid palate, feels slightly hot; at the moment rather closed, though its obvious the bottle aging has benefited this wine. Tannins grainy, grips around. Needs time to open and soften. 2015-2020+

2007 Quinta da Gaivosa Vinha de Lordelo Red

Dark fruits, woody stems and notes of coffee and mocha. Good fruit, dark and extracted; feels quite hot, tannin does grip, all balanced by a nice dollop of acidity. Good tannic structure and concentration, a tad muscular; the 15.5% abv starts becoming apparent, but carries it well enough, not unbalanced. Will age with ease 2015-2020+

2007 Abandonado Red

From vineyards that have been abandoned and left to grow wild, hence the name.
Dark cherry compote, some cassis, sweet vanilla and mocha. Really dark fruit, serious extraction, lots of bramble. Plenty of depth, tannic and acid structure, muscular; grips a bit too much at the moment. Needs time to soften and open. 2015-2025+

NV Caldas White Port

Funky cheese, vegetal; spritz, air freshener; then green olives, fennel, dill, good amount of green notes It is sweet, obvious fresh and sweet fruit; sweet apples and nectarines, complex with some oxidative character too. Rather unusual - I have no reference point for this wine.

10yo Quinta da Gaivosa Tawny Port
A- (unique style)

Deep tawny territory in colour. Sweet raisin, dried figs, nutty too; lacquer, alcohol. Fresh acidity, very memorable palate, like dried sour plums / kumquat, dried but unsweetened citrus peel; theres a strong citrus element on the palate; the acidity is rather racy and lip smacking. This is something else: so unique, so much acidity and but still a lot of sugar. One of a kind.

2008 Quinta da Gaivosa Vintage Port

Dark fruit, compote blackberry and blue berry; also coffee, dark mocha, bramble; then touches of violets - all very much like good vintage port. Dark, lots of fruit, depth; fruit is obvious and upfront, and very good concentration. Surprisingly low in tannins, not quite LBV in style, but doesn't feel like proper old school vintage port. Ripe sweet tannins which doesnt grip too much, which is completely unexpected. Don't know whether this will be a 30- 40 years kind of aging. 2015-2035.

Monday, 21 November 2011

CWM - Rhone 2010 en primeur

Monday, 21 Nov 2011.
An en primeur tasting of 2010 Rhones hosted by Cambridge Wine Merchants at St John's Chophouse, Cambridge. Many thanks to Stewart Travers, CWM's Senior Buyer, for the kind invite.

My general impression was that it was a very good vintage and from what was available to taste, it was uniform in both North and South. The fruit as well as the tannins were sweet and ripe with most wines showing good balance; several wines were even enjoyable at this stage. The wines which I found most notable are listed below, along with necessarily brief notes. Domaine de Escaravailles and Mas de Boislauzon wines in particular showed very well throughout its range.
Prices are per case of 12x75cl in bond excluding duty and VAT; points are marked out of 20.


Luberon Blanc, Perrin & Fils
£36 | 16.5
Good, clearly defined fruit expression on the palate; fresh, lemony and clean without being overly simple; good value.

Saint Peray Le Mialan, Ferraton et Fils
£84 | 16.5
Good fruit expression, again lemony but with more on the finish; a slightly bigger wine compared to the Luberon. Fresh, fruity, forward.

Condrieu, Laurent Bretton
£200 | 17.25
Nice floral and even sweet notes on the nose. Palate feels lean, fat lemony fruit, almost waxy. Big, textured, finishes a bit too quickly; a serious wine but left me feeling this could be better...

Reds - Southern Rhone

Ventoux ' Les Esclausels', Dom de Cassan
£45 | 16.5++
Dark fruits and jammy, licorice, rather hot. Lots of fruit not over extracted, quite muscular and good tannic grip. 2014-17.

Cotes du Rhone 'Les Sablieres', Dom des Escaravailles
£50 | 16.5+
Slightly dirty, muddy, brett on the nose (not enough to be a fault, so probably going for style?) with red fruit. Clean and bright ref fruits on the palate, fresh, attractive. 2012-2016

Cotes du Rhone 'Les Antimagnes' Rouge, Dom des Escaravailles
£65 | 16.5++
Quite rustic on the nose, with cassis and dark fruit. Attractive bright fruit, backed up by vibrant acidity. Feels lighter than the amount of fruit would suggest. Good for early drinking. 2012-2017.

Cotes du Rhone Villages, Mas de Boislauzon
£72 | 16.5++
Dark fruit, with some floral touches. Remarkable balance and integration on palate - bags of fruit, tannic structure and acidity all in harmony. Should be enjoyable on delivery. 2012-2017.

Cairanne 'Les Ventabren', Dom des Escaravailles
£82 | 17++
Meaty, bacon, savoury on the nose; then dark fruits, slightly more complex. Bright fruits showing, vibrant acidity; no excessive grip. Should be enjoyable on delivery. 2012-2016.

Vacqueyras, Dom Saint Pierre
£102 (tbc) | 16.5++
Gamey, bacon nose, savoury; also cassis. Good depth, extracted dark fruits, verging on woody; tannins a bit green and grippy at the moment, should help it age well. 2014-2020.

Rasteau 'La Ponce', Dom des Escaravailles
£92 | 17+
Compote, fruit and floral touches. Good fruit showing, approachable; plenty going on in the palate, longer finish. A clear step up. 2014-2020.

Rasteau 'Heritage 1924', Dom des Escaravailles
£121 | 17+
Compote, slightly hot but closed. Feels bigger and more extracted, darker berries, good flavour intensity. Still maintaining freshness in acidity; surprisingly nimble. 2013-2020.

Roaix 'Les Hautes Granges', Dom des Escaravailles
£115 | 17.5+
Black pepper, smoke and cured meats on the nose, also floral; feels more Northern Rhone in style, exciting and vivid. Plenty of fruit, textured and layers of flavours. Seductive, superb wine; great value and my pick from this producer at this tasting; significant restraint needed in not ordering a case for myself. 2013-2020. 

Chateauneuf du Pape, Mas de Boislauzon
£209 | 17.5++
Attractive red and dark fruits showing, slightly hot. Fruit shows depth and concentration, supported by tannic and acid structure. Fairly old school in style, a long haul Chateauneuf. 2015-2030+

Chateauneuf du Pape 'Cuvee de Quet', Mas de Boislauzon
£550 | 17.5++
Dark fruits, some smoke and even port on the nose. Very dark and extracted, lots of fruit, inky black; big, muscular and grips all over the place; chunky power, finesse was thrown out of the cellar window. Knocks your lights out, says 15%abv but I don't believe it, not for the faint hearted (or shallow pocketed). No surprise then it has had high Parker ratings. Ridiculously heavy bottle to boot. 2015-2040+

Reds - Northern Rhone

Crozes Hermitage 'La Matiniere', Ferraton Pere et Fils
£79 | 16.5++
Lovely elegance on the nose and palate; good fruit supported by acidity. Feel that this isnt expressing itself that well. 2013-2017

Crozes Hermitage 'Les Picheres', Ferraton Pere et Fils
£110 | 17++
Plenty of fruit on the nose. Palate is fresh and bright, fruit is well defined, tannic and acid structure supportive; balance is the key here. All components feels together. Serious wine, will develop nicely. 2013-2020

Crozes Hermitage 'Les Rouvre', Yann Chave 
£142 | 16.5+
Dark fruits, cassis and almost raisin like port notes; rather unusual. Rather extracted dark fruits, some acidity in there; nice balance on the palate, a good wine in all notwithstanding the weird nose. Will probably run out of acidity before the fruit dries out. 2013-2020.

Hermitage, Yann Chave
£422 | 17.5++
Dark fruits on the nose. Serious extraction, depth and concentration, a big wine which lingers on the palate; fine tannins. Will age with grace. 2015-2030+.

Saturday, 19 November 2011


Friday, 18 Nov 2011.

1996 l'Ermitage de Chasse Spleen, Haut Medoc.
Tanners (Oddments) £13.95 | A-

Pronounced tertiary notes on the nose: sweet mahogany, cedar, cigarbox, leather and sweet spice (cinnamon and star anise), also earthy and rustic tones. Palate is silky; red fruits of cherries and currants showing soft, very yielding fruits; acidity still there, making it surprisingly fresh and vibrant, slips down with ease; has matured so well. Very together and showing beautifully; absolutely superb effort.

CUWS M11 - Maison Nicolas Potel

Wednesday, 16 November 2011.
A tasting of Maison Nicolas Potel's wines for Cambridge University Wine Society; most of the wines shown do not have current UK stockists.

 2010 Chablis

Fresh, citrus; smells flinty, minerality, some limestone; also lime peel. Fresh acidity; quite fat actually, surprisingly its not excessively linear and relatively soft. Still focused, lemon dominated; decent finish. Lovely drinkable style of Chablis yet still true to its roots.

2009 Bourgogne Blanc

Smells oaked, some citrus shows. On the palate it shows ripe grapefruit and citrus, decent acidity; obviously Burgundian and well-polished, but its rather boring. A correct wine with no obvious faults but very forgettable.

2009 Puligny Montrachet

Nice citrus showing on the nose with a touch of oak. On the palate its very plump and juicy, ripe lemons and fat citrus; feels plush and glossy; acidity is nervy and structured. Very together, very drinkable now, my kind of wine - most drinkable white of the night.

2007 Meursault 1er Cru 'Les Boucheres'

The oaking comes through on the nose - creamy and buttery notes showing prominently, citrus hidden behind it all. Plenty of ripe fruit still there, wine feels quite large and with good texture (almost creamy); a more sustained mid palate than previous wines, perhaps showing that its a bit more serious. Decent length on the finish. Slightly troubled by the fact the oaking is so obvious on the nose - wheres the subtlety?

2006 Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru

On the nose, shows nice balance between the oak and citrus fruit. The mouthfeel is textured and filling yet velvety at the same time; ripe fruits showing, followed by the opulence of the oak. The acidity is firm and structured, great backbone to this; a wine of great finesse and power. Drinks well now and will reward cellaring; far and away the best wine of the night.

2009 Bourgogne Rouge

Rustic earthy undergrowth, then red fruits. Very drinkable on the palate, bright red fruits, sour cherries and crushed currants; fresh, light and nimble; acidity backs it all up. Vibrant.

2008 Pommard

Again bright red fruits showing on the nose - cherries and raspberries, along with some vanilla touches. The fruit is slightly more austere and lean, feels rather closed at the moment; the bright red fruits not showing, instead the tannic grip is quite prominent on the finish. I feel it needs time to show its opulence of fruit (which I think is there); at the moment its just a bit edgy and awkward.

2008 Volnay 

Lots of rustic, undergrowth and even mushroom / woody notes showing; proper Burgundian. The fruit is plush and soft, quite rounded; sour cherries and raspberry; however, theres the added tannic grip at the end, which feels out of place. The acidity is just right at the moment. I fear there will be a rather narrow drinking window for this wine when the tannins have softened but not all the fruit has gone; my guess somewhere 2013-2016?

2007 Nuit St George 1er Cru 'Les Vaucrains'

Crushed red fruit, some muddy, truffled notes too; more floral aromatics as well, violets. Lots of fruit on the palate; cherries and plums; ripe fruits, opulence is there; textured, even creamy. Acidity and tannins in harmony, good structure; some grip towards the end. This will evolve and is ideal for mid term cellaring. 2015-2022+.

2007 Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru  

Lots of fruit on the nose, almost dark fruits; then floral, damsons, and undergrowth rustic tones. Palate is full bodied, a jump in extraction, dark fruit dominated, intense and concentrated; lots of up front fruit shows glimpses of the power yet to be unravelled. Theres layers of flavour and texture showing, which only time can show. Towards the end, the tannic grip takes hold; good acidity too. Power, poise and concentration - just needs time to open up. 2015-2030+

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Formal Hall

Three wines with dinner. Sunday, 13 Nov 2011.

2008 The Liberator Special Edition 'Francophile #2' Stellenbosch.
The Wine Society £9.95 | A-

Heady notes of ripe peaches and some citrus, also touches of floral, rather oily, with some high, almost organic chemistry notes. Palate is ripe and full; ripe white fruits again; really a big wine but not flabby, full mouthfeel with nice texture; theres a slight pithy bitterness amidst it all. Definitely a food wine; lingering finish.

1996 Abadia Retuerta 'Cuvee El Campanario'. Sardon de Duero

Showing beautifully again, lots of freshness still, despiate the age; nice acidity still showing; fruits are now soft and red; crushed raspberries and sour cherries. Seductive, and drinking so well. Paired well with gammon.

2009 Seifried 'Sweet Agnes' Riesling. Nelson.
Naked Wine £18 (375ml) | A

An award winner which I have tasted and reviewed a year ago. This shows all the same notes - wonderful tropical nose of sour mangoes, lychees and valencia oranges. Tasted like sweet marmalade; very high and refreshing citrus acidity paired with bags of sugar; not cloying, drinking like nectar. Wonderful.

Saturday, 12 November 2011


Three wines from Cambridge Wine Merchants, tasted at their King's Parade branch; prices are retail.

2007 Vidigal Brut Espumante Branco Metodo Classico, Vinho Regional Lisboa.
£9.99 | B

Nose is lively, some fruit, touch of lees there as well. Palate is distinctly off dry, lemony fresh, vibrant; fruit is ripe. Cheerful  but perhaps a simple wine.

2009 Zuccardi 'Serie A' Torrontes. Salta.
£10.99 | A-

Smells sweet, orange blossoms and acacia, really rather floral; orange peel, very lifted and aromatic; some appley notes too; beautiful nose. On the palate theres loads of fruit; some pith and a touch of sugar, like ripe grapefruits; but still very racy, with decent mid palate weight; even some streaks of minerality showing. Well made, so together; such a fine drink - one of the best Argentinian Torrontes I've had.

2010 Zuccardi 'Serie A' Malbec. Mendoza.
£11.99 | B+

Nose shows crushed red berries, woody, vanilla; sweet spices, has port-like aromas too. Palate is light but there's a lot of ripe red fruits, red cherries and berries; sweet, not much acidity; because of the lack of extraction, this to me feels rather hollow in the middle palate; a Malbec 'light' if you will. They are going for a lighter style perhaps to combat the stereotype of big, chunky Malbecs.

CUWS M11 Tokaji - Demeter Zoltan

Wednesday, 09 November 2011.

A tasting of  Demeter Zoltan wines ( led by the winemaker himself for Cambridge University Wine Society. Prices are retail from their UK importer / distributor Cozzi & Boffa (

2009 Demeter Zoltan 'Birtokbor' Tokaji Furmint
£20 | B+

A blend from their various vineyards; the 'house' style if you will.
Clean, lots of citrus, chalky almost; also lime sherbet. Fresh, nice acidity on the palate; there is a touch of sugar there which can be felt, fat white fruits, fleshy white peach; very ripe and fat. Very drinkable, cheerful wine.

2009 Demeter Zoltan 'Veres' Tokaji Furmint
£32 | B+

Floral, also peach, sherbet even grape like? Rather mineral again, but width, not linear, some fatness to this. Nice ripe white fruits with decent lemony finish. Classy.

2009 Demeter Zoltan 'Lapis' Tokaji Furmint
£36 | A-

Clean, neutral white fruit, lime stone, chalk. Again white fruits with some citrus; more mineral showing, restrained intensity and power; feels quite linear and austere, lean. Great tension showing in the wine; poised.

2009 Demeter Zoltan 'Szerelmi' Tokaji Harslevelu
£36 | B+ (not pictured)

Neutral, lime sherbet on the nose. Nice acidity, minerality showing through; quite linear and austere, long persistent lime acidity, solid backbone. Structured.

2008 Demeter Zoltan 'Szerelmi' Tokaji Harslevelu
£36 | A-

Ripe white fruits, peaches, there is some buttery touches. Palate very wide, width as opposed to linearity; fat acidity, so generous yet persistent acidity. 7g/l residual sugar which lends a generous mouthfeel. Very sustained flavours, long finish; lingering power. Fantastic; my favourite dry white wine of the evening.

2008 Demeter Zoltan 'Fobor' Tokaji
£49 (50cl) | A

Honey, acacia, also floral, ripe sweet nectarines, candied citrus, sweet marmalade. Fantastic acidity still there, so fresh; sugar at 198 g/l is high but doesn't feel heavy at all. Nice marmalade showing through, sweet valencia, tangerines; combination of lots of sugar with orangey searing acidity. Superlative; my favourite sweet wine of the evening.

2008 Demeter Zoltan 'Aszu' Tokaji
£95 (50cl) | A

Nose very similar to above, more honey, golden syrup and intensity though. Sugar is slightly higher at 224 g/l.  Intense, cooked marmalade, serious intensity going. There is less acidity, its heavier, more botrytis can be felt, the bitterness shows at the back. Sits on the palate, lingers on the palate forever. At the moment, its not as nimble and playful as the 'Fobor' but I'm reliably informed this is better for the long haul.

2000 Demeter Zoltan 'Eszencia' Tokaji
Price on request | A

Nectar of the gods at 2% alcohol and 500 g/l residual sugar; it literally gloops out reluctantly form the bottle. Honey, so intense; treacle and golden syrup, its like drinking runny honey really. But there's still citrus / tangerines showing too; this is beyond words and description, golden sultana juice. It just sits on the palate and lasts forever. A true novelty.

CUWS M11 Tokaji - Laszlo Alkonyi Masterclass

Wednesday, 09 Nov 2011.
A Tokaji Masterclass by the renowned Tokaji expert Laszlo Alkonyi ( who has extensively researched the dry white wine producing vineyards in Tokaji. The first two wines are 'ordinary' styles of dry white wines whereas the last three are from vineyard sites which Laszlo considers to be among the best in Tokaji. All five wines are made from the Furmint varietal.

2009 Oremus 'Mandolas' Tokaji Dry

Neutral, white fruits and some peach. There is oak on the nose and you can feel it nicely integrated on the mid palate; nice acidity, quite cutting; fresh with grapefruit and citrus, some weight and texture to this. Has a lemony finish. Clean, refreshing.

2010 Disznoko Tokaji Dry Furmint

Neutral, even green on the nose. Palate has green, face contorting acidity, mineral showing; unripe grapefruit, struggling to get ripeness. Acidity really unbalanced; very harsh and piercing. Apparently in Tokaji, 2010 was one of the worst vintages in living memory.

2009 Homonna Attila 'Hatari' Tokaji Dry
A- (not pictured)

Neutral white fruit, maybe some oak; lime sherbet on thenose. Nice acidity, fruit is ripe and large, ripe grape fruit with a touch of greenness; theres a nice fatness on the palate, not linear. Nice length, more on the finish. Big, structured wine, nervy but very polished.

2008 Istvan Szepsy 'Szent Tamas' Tokaji Dry

Creamy and nutty, minerality; again peach, white fruit; more buttery, really shows the oak treatment, there is even a smoky whiff. Full mouthfeel, quite thick and textured; acidity persistent, nicer presence, lemony mid palate. Very wide and generous, quite burly and muscular fruit which could handle all the oak treatment. Burgundian in all but name.

2008 Demeter Zoltan 'Lapis' Tokaji Dry

Citrus, floral and acacia; mangoes, lychee and over ripe peaches, definitely sweeter nose. Palate shows fantastic acidity; touch of sugar can be felt, only a couple grams of sugar; palate is big yet so elegant. Very together, the acidity so persistent; sustained intensity of fruit and concentration; very exciting nose for dry wine. Seductive.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Formal Hall

Three wines with dinner, tasted 06 Nov 2011.

NV Romate Sanchez Fino Perdido
The Wine Society £7.95 | B+

Previously reviewed here; must say it coped well being paired with smoked salmon, with a rather pungent olive vinaigrette dressing.

2003 Chateau La Dauphine, Fronsac
The Wine Society | B+

Bought at auction; stored in the temperature controlled cellars of The Wine Society since release; sold en primeur at £95 per case in bond.
Plummy red fruits on the nose, some woody tones too, touch of vanilla also showing; small amount of secondary notes beginning to show; rustic charm. Palate is settled, rounded red fruits, red plums and sour cherries dominate the palate, still fresh and vibrant; acidity balanced; tannins have softened. Drinking very nicely, probably at its peak now to 2015.

2008 Domaine de Montesquiou Grappe d'Or Jurancon 
Leon Stolarski £17.25 | A-

Rather fragrant nose; honey and acacia, floral tones; intense citrus notes, like sweet, candied orange peel; also exotic tropical notes of mango, with over ripe peaches and nectarines; lots going on. Palate is very vibrant, so much racy lemony acidity; I suspect the sugar is around the 80-100g/l range but theres so much acidity, the sugar is really masked. Palate is rich, bursting with sweet valencia oranges and tangerines, very citrusy; great presence and long finish. Beautifully poised, a wonderful wine.

Saturday, 5 November 2011


A tasting of Bordeaux Wines by the CIVB (Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux) for Cambridge University Wine Society, led by Anthony Stockbridge. Wednesday, 02 Nov 2011.

2009 Averys Pioneer Range Bordeaux
Avery's Wine Merchants £8.99 | B+

Plum fruits, currants; some violets and smoke; feels quite hot and cooked, like compote. Palate has lots of fruit, good dose of acidity balanced by green notes; a more modern style, immediately approachable and drinkable. Again, nice fruits showing, but lacks in finish; well made everyday drinking wine.

2009 Chateau David, Bordeaux Superieur
Sainsburys £6.49 | B

Dark currants and berries, a bit of mint perhaps on the nose. Again lots of fruit on the palate, juicy; still feels a touch hot. There is a good fruit hit at the beginning, but again disappears quickly; a simple, well made everyday drinking wine.

2009 le Voyage de Chai au Quai, Cotes du Castillon
Laithwaites £12.99 | B+

Dark fruits, some smoke, quite woody nose; then red violets and cherries, berries too. On the palate its fruit forward, quite rounded, plums and berries; does feel quite big; some depth and weight but doesnt carry it through on the finish. Good fruit hit, then disappears quickly; feels a touch alcoholic but in all, its well put together.

2006 Chateau Lapelletrie, Saint Emilion Grand Cru
Tesco Wine £13.10 | B+

Berries and cherries, some sweet spice, maybe violet, damson, attractive. Fresh dark fruits, again juicy, fruit forward, drying but not overtly tannic; the fruit is less round, its a bit thinner and leaner on the mid palate; doesnt immediately disappear on the finish. I think the fruit is drying out, just about hanging on.

2006 Domaine de Saint-Guirons, Pauillac
Majestic £19.99 | B+(+)

From the FX Borie stable, which includes Chateaux Grand Puy Lacoste and Haut Batailley. 
Dark fruits, woody, some leather and sweet spice; quite brooding. Palate has lots of dark fruits, dark currants and cherries; big, denser mouthfeel, nice weight; the oak, fruit, tannin and acidity all very together and integrated; decent finish  There is some structure to this, drinks well enough now but will improve for another 3-8 years.

2001 Terre du Lion, Saint Julien

Made by second growth Chateau Leoville Las Cases, as what I suspect is their then third label generic Saint Julien; Las Cases' third label is now called La Petit Lion de Marquis de Las Cases .
Lots of secondary notes: woody, mahogany, cigar box; also leather and maybe pencil shavings too, then comes dark fruits and sweet spices - almost a textbook nose of a mature Saint Julien. Very settled on the palate, acidity still fresh, fruit is rounded; no longer big hit, it just has a yielding mid palate filled with ripe red cherries and berries. Shows class, it has clearly matured gracefully and is drinking beautifully now.

2006 Chateau Le Bourdillot Blanc, Graves
Laithwaites £9.79 | B

Colour is quite deep. Nose has waxy, rather oily notes; also white fruits, peaches and nectarines, touch of floral too. Palate is bone dry; nice acidity though its a bit on the harsh side; citrus freshness but lacking in complexity. Short finish, well made but forgettable.

2003 Chateau Laville, Sauternes

Classic sauternes nose: botrytis, floral; candied apricots and peaches, sweet citrus, marmalade and acacia honey. Decent acidity in this, isn't cloying; theres good balance, sweetness is moderate, maybe 80g/l range but has a weirdly drying (not sweet) tone at the back palate. Decent length on the finish, classy.