Tuesday, 29 March 2011


2007 Philip Shaw No 17, Merlot Cabernet Franc Cabernet, NSW
Oddbins £17. B+

Lifted, dark fruits, violets, some floral touches, there's a bit of green woody notes at the back, fruit driven. Fresh, nice fat acidic structure, plenty of berries and currants, tannins have softened slightly. Drinking well, but just fruit-dominated, nothing complex / interesting, disappointing for the price.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Flavour of wine

Flavour of Wine tasting, part of the Cambridge Science Festival 2011.
Tasted Saturday, 26 March 2011. Led by Luke Webster.

2007 Moscato Frizzante, Contine Volpi Piemonte
Cambridge Wine, £9.50. B

Sweet green grapes, white flowers, apples, desert pears, lifted, smells bright. Palate full on sweetness, lightly sparkled, not much acid, basically slightly alcoholic sparkling grape juice, nothing complex, and at 5.5% abv, very gluggable. Drink chilled on a hot summer's day.

2008 Gewurztraminer Reserve, Cave de Hunawihr, Alsace
Cambridge Wine, £12. B

White tropical fruits, white floral, rose petal, daisies, whiffs of citrus, lemon, lychees, correct. distinctly off dry, good acid, but feels rather flabby, white fruits dominate, peaches, nectarines. Generous mouthfeel, not enough structure unfortunately.

1997 Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Spatlese, Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, Mosel

Greenish gold. Sweet, petrol and kerosene there, white flowers, some citrus, lemon meringue, zesty and tang, honeysuckle. high acidity still, lively, vibrant, nicely textured, plenty of citrus. Also off dry, maybe 20-30 g/l. Slightly strung still, has developed well, will still keep.

NV Manzanilla Pasdaa 'Pastrana', Bodegas Hidalgo

Nice flor nose, yeasty, bread, touch of salty, iodine, almonds, nutty. Clean, fresh, nice nerve of acid, nice toasted, plenty of drying tones, crying out for seafood and tapas. Good linger.

2008 Esporao Reserva Tinto, Alentejo
Cambridge Wine, £16. B+(+)

Warmth, compote, jammy, there is some green notes, attractive purple ruby colour, plenty of dark berries and violets, sweet spice and vanilla. Is there some cabernet and merlot in here, the greenness and woody speaks. Plenty of fruit, some astringent tones, full red, extracted and hot. Structure and balance ok, fruit driven, cheerful.

2001 Amarone della Valpolicella 'Bosan', Cesari
Cambridge Wine, £48. A-(+)

Dark but verging on bricky, depth. Jammy, compote, cooked, dark chocolate, violets, woody, berries. Full, depth, cassis, dark berries leads the charge then the high acidity takes over and caries it home. At the back the sweet ripe red fruits make a comeback. Lasts a good while. Tannins have softened out, lovely velvety textured. Brilliant, drinking well now but with bright future shad.

2004 Malmsey Madeira Colheita, Blandy's
Cambridge Wine, £20. A-

Raisin, oxidation, treacle, honey, a touch of flor, dried fruits, walnuts, dried figs, light coffee and chocolate. Full mouthfeel, full on sweet, still plenty of acidity, doesn't cloy. Vibrant, lively and racy, very attractive.

2002 Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos, Patricius
Cambridge Wine, £30. A-

Deep golden. Honeyed complexity, botrytis so evident, treacle, lifted floral, acacia, honeysuckle, daisies, almost chocolate and coffee. Racy acidity, lively citrus, clementines, touch of bitter marmalade, honeyed, candied white fruits, tinned peaches. Lingers so long, well balanced, no cloy. Gorgeous.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Downing MCR - Tour de France

A selection of French wines, tasted Monday, 21 March 2011.
All reds decanted 2 hours prior to tasting.

2009 Muscadet sur lie, La Petite Fessardiere
Oddbins £7. B+.

Lively lemon, citrus notes, slight musty, bready. Palate is fresh, clean, fruit driven, nice linger. Will go well with seafood, good wine for price point.

1990 Chateau Reynon, Bordeaux Blanc
Tanners. B+.

Some wax, lanolin, cheese rind, straw, dusty, old fashiones, some oily touches. Not much acid left, fat palate, but somewhat knackered. A novelty.

2000 Josmeyer Riesling Grand Cru 'Hengst'

Explosions of lime peel, so much zing on the nose, so fresh; some petrol, oily kerosene, touch of ginger, white flowers; wonderfully lifted and expressive. Palate is awash with fresh, almost piercing acidity, like sucking on lemons, citrus. Lively, mineral there, still lean and highly strung; the bottle age shows, but will age another 10-20 years no problems. Great quality.

2000 Savigny-Lavieres, Premier Cru, Louis Camus-Bruchon

Earthy, savoury, game, some floral notes; crushed red fruits too, raspberry, cherry. So much lively lip-smacking acidity on the palate, sour cherry, slightly unripe raspberry, gorgeous. Nimble and light, drinking beautifully now.

1983 Chambolle-Musigny, Hubert di Arnonville
Nickolls & Perks. B+.

Slightly musty look (despite decanting and filtering), still classic burgundian notes as above, maybe more farmyard. Palate actually quite drying, still some fruits just about hanging on, would you believe; tart raspberry. Knackered, past its best, but not completely dead either. Novelty.

1997 Cornas, Chaillot, Thierry Allemand

Burnt, very green, bucketfuls of capsicum, red peppers; leafy, woody, some savoury characters - truly bizarre. Palate has plenty of red fruits, vibrant and fat acidity, quite light actually, matured. Slight disjoint between the nose and palate, somewhat disconcerting.

1996 Crozes Hermitage, Domaine de Thalabert, Paul Jaboulet Aine

Sweet spice, aniseed, clove, cinnamon; white pepper; red fruits, rusty (like blood), bovril, savoury. Mouthfeel rich and filling, red fruits so prominent, bitter cherry, dark chocolate. Lively acid still, so settled, lovely silky texture. Much joy to be had now, but still has life ahead.

2005 Chateau Villa Bel-Air, JM Cazes, Graves.
Berry Bros. B+.

Spice, cedar, some green pepper, some tobacco, and red fruits. Palate still dominated by ripe fruits, well balanced, lively acidity, vibrant; tannin still grips, will keep another 3-5 years. Drinking beautifully now.

2003 Chateau Ferriere, 3er Cru Classe, Margaux.

Sweet, rather fragrant nose, plenty of high notes, black currants; hints of sweet cedar. Palate smooth, seductive, supple; mainly dominated by red fruits, quite light on the palate but still filling, fantastic example of a Margaux. Very much open and approachable in its relative youth, this will develop another 10+ years.

1996 Chateau Haut Marbuzet, Cru Bourgeois Exceptionel, St Estephe.

Savoury, even a touch salty bacon; some gamey, animal notes; wood, licorice, maybe some cedar and tobacco; even bovril, after some time in the glass. Classic aged left bank; fantastic year, palate has settled; red fruits expressive, fresh and lively; touch of taut greenness at the end. Ready and yielding now, but will keep.

1999 Chateau Doisy Vedrines, 2er Cru Classe, Sauternes

Sultana, botrytis notable, raisin, honey, candied apricot, maybe some citrus. Palate full, nice acidity runs through, not cloying; balanced, held together nicely. Exciting, vibrant.

1996 Coteaux du Layon, Cuvee des Forges, Domaine des Forges, Branchereau

Really honey, treacle, floral acacia, pear drops. Thick textured, full, really fills the palate; acidity is there, maybe a touch on the flabby side compared to the Sauternes, but still exciting, lively, lingers a while too. Well made.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

CUWS L11 - CWM for Charity

Charity tasting organised by CUWS in aid of Flying Kite, tasted Wednesday, 16 March 2011.
Wines are from Cambridge Wine Merchants, prices are retail by the bottle.

2009 One Chain Vineyards 'The Opportunist' Sauvignon Blanc Riesling, Adelaide Hills
£6. B+

Fresh lemony, plenty of citrus, maybe even a touch of greenness. Actually palate quite fat, fruit driven, some texture. Fresh and clean, can be drunk on its own but will go with food. Easy drinking, great value.

2009 First Drop 'Bella Coppia' Arneis, Barossa
£12. B

White fruits, peaches and apricots, slight floral. Plenty of nice fat lasting acidity, good palate, some pith and mineral. Clean, fresh. I reviewed it previously in here.

2005 McWilliam's Mount Pleasant 'Elizabeth' Semillon, Hunter Valley
£10. A-

Citrus, lemon, some waxy and lanolin, candle wax, some flint minerality, some floral, lots of things going on, an interesting wine. Fuller palate, fresh acidity, lingering mouthfeel, good fruit hit, decent depth. Grown up in style, bottle age shows; a fantastic wine.
IWC 2010 - Gold medal and Australian White Trophy

2008 One Chain Vineyards 'The Pugilist' Cabermnet Sauvignon, Limestone Coast
£8. B

Slight green vegetal nose, still dark berries, blackcurrants, some heat too. Mouthfeel is OK but a touch tart, not enough acidity I think, just feels somewhat clumsy.

2008 Heartland by Ben Glaetzer Stickleback Red
£9. B+

Blend of Shiraz, Cab Sauv, Dolcetto and Lagrein. Easy drinking red blend, forward, plenty of dark berries but not overly extracted, good fresh acidity running through, feels more balanced than the previous one. Fresh, fruit driven, a gluggable red.

2007 Tyrell's 'Rufus Stone' Shiraz, Heathcote
£12. B(+)

Good typical Shiraz nose, big, perfumed, plenty of dark fruits and cherries, touch of mint, and some sweet spice as well. Mouthfeel generous, unfortunately slightly one dimensional. Probably will develop with time.

2008 Gemtree 'Bloodstone' Shiraz Viognier
£15. B+(+)

All the correct shiraz notes as above, but the viognier does lift it up, some added floral and sweetness coming through. Palate is slightly fresher than previous wine, just that bit more acidity, well made. Will improve with age.

NV Morris Liqueur Muscat
£9 (500ml). B+

Raisins, sultana, treacle; very sweet nose; palate is heaving and gloopy, serious sugar here. This is a desert wine in full flow, too little to warrant a second or third glass - you just feel full. I always find these fortified Rutherglen Muscats to be clumsy and one dimensional. That said, have this with treacle tart or a heavy fruit cake or even mince pies, then it will seem light.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Downing College

From the cellars of Downing College, Cambridge.
Tasted Tuesday, 15 March 2011.

2007 Freixenet Vintage Cava

White fruits, mousse good but dies quickly, tropical fruits, slight apple, pineapple, touch of sweetness on the nose, maybe some oak? Fresh cleansing, a touch off dry. Nice as an aperitif.

2004 St Veran 'En Creches', Dom Jacques & Nathalie Saumaize

Golden. Weird nose, creamy, buttery, slight nutty, so much vanilla, overwhelmingly so. White fruits, some paint, marzipan, almonds. Full mouthfeel, generous, white fruits mostly, sustained length, acidity only just holding on. Big creamy wine, ripe. Mature, drink now.
Apparently this was vinified entirely in tank, so no idea where the creamy butteryness is coming from.

2005 Bourgogne Rouge, A Hudelot-Noellat

Red fruits, crushed berries, earthy, musty, touch leafy, quite full. Palate clean, fresh acidity and fat, bit light on the body, mostly red fruits, slight tannin at the end, maybe a couple more years but nothing too long. From declassified Chambolle Musigny and retails at around £15, good value.

1990 Ch. Leoville Barton, 2er Cru Classe, St Julien

Classic old school stuff, cedar, cigar box, tobacco, black pepper, licorice, black fruits. Still plenty on the palate, fresh and vibrantl, red fruits, tannin still there, haven't fully resolved, acidity there - will develop further, another 10years or so. Brilliant, a mature excellent vintage.

2007 Chateaunneuf du Pape, Mas de Boislauzon

Plenty of dark fruits, touch of smoke, burnt; ripe year, the heat shows through, bitumen, tar. When tasted, palate was a bit lean, closed, astringent; needs time to open up, rather one dimensional now. Still a really good wine, plenty of dark fruits and acidity to keep it going for ages, would like to see how it opens up in 5-10 years' time.

2005 Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg Riesling Spatlese, Ruwer

Lemon zest, lime, tang; floral notes too, white flowers, slight kerosene; tropical fruits, lychee, guava. Plenty of sugar, perhaps even 50g/l or so, but so much acidity runs through; feels light, fleets, but not without poise. Lots of white fruits on the palate too. Very nimble, and at 9% abv could be drunk by the pint.
Interesting label, only on the neck, nothing on main bottle.

1990 Clos Baudoin, Vouvray

Deep golden, some botrytis notes, dried fruits, candied peaches and apricots. Palate is textured, almost heavy with honey, acacia and treacle notes. A serious sweet wine, real treat. Would still keep, not sure will improve, but quality of cork slightly worrying.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Formal Hall

Tasted Sunday, 13 March 2011

Champagne Royer Brut NV
B+ (not pictured)

From magnum. Fantastic drinking, fresh, clean, slight bready, yeasty tones, fat acidity. I think this might have had a few unintended years of bottle age, just softening it slightly, not aggressive, not completely dry either. Fantastic.

Palandri Estate Shiraz 2002, Western Australia

From a double magnum, surprisingly not much deposit on decanting.
Eucalyptus, touch of mint, herby, quite big, dark fruits, jammy, sweet even. Lively acidity, still vibrant and fresh, fruit still hanging on, mostly red fruits, crushed raspberry, sour cherry, maybe a bit of black berries as well. Settled, mature, ready.

Domaine Cazes Cuvee Aime Cazes 1980, Rivesaltes

Deep amber, slight copper tones. Nose is of dried fruits, figs, walnuts, orange peel, touch of acacia, honey, fudge, madeira like oxidation. Palate still vigorous, fresh acidity, like drinking light marmalade, settled, just lingers, really smooth, velvety, seriously easy drinking. Gorgeous, beckons you in for more.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

CUWS L 11 - CVNE Rioja

Tasted Friday March 11, 2011.
Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana- CVNE.
Distributors are Hatch Mansfield, tasting led by Quentin Sadler.
Prices are approximate retail by the bottle.

2007 Vina Real Crianza
£11. B+

Forward, ripe dark fruits, dark cherry, cassis, bramble, smells sweet, somewhat fragrant, slight touch of spice. Plenty of fruit, bit tart, nice acidity, mouthfeel rather thin, Fleets past, easy drinking. Lovely nose, palate lets it down slightly.

2004 Vina Real Reserva
£17. B+(+)

Good fruit but not that forward, sweet vanilla tones, touch of spice, cloves, maybe even cedar. Palate is quite filing, definitely step up from the crianza, fruit is there but not jumping at you, plenty of acidity, fresh even. Still some tannins to soften out, grips slightly.

2004 Imperial Reserva
£20. B+(+)

Again nice fruit on the nose, sweetness is there too, fragrant, almost floral, some developed tones, earthy, must, leathery, you got to work at it. So settled, touch savoury, still fruit there, good concentration, full mouthfeel, again will soften with time. Not fruit driven, more secondary.

1999 Imperial Gran Reserva
£27. A-

Actually smells somewhat burgundian, cherries, slight musty, earthy, rusty, sweet oak there too. Palate still fresh, plenty of acidity, generous mouthfeel, settled, sour cherry, touch savoury, still lively, bright. Mature, ready, traditional rioja?

1999 Vina Real Gran Reserva
£21. B+

Settled, more mature nose, leathery, clove, cinnamon. Still some fruit, maybe a bit bigger than the imperial, plenty of racy acidity, quite lively still, the more fruit driven, more modern style?

2005 Contino Reserva
£25. B+

Plenty of fruit, quite forward, crushed red fruit. Ruby, translucent, slight cocoa, dusty, sweet vanilla, still nice acidity. Drinking very well, approachable.

2007 Contino Vina del Olivo
£52. A-(+)

Deeper, more opaque, blackberry cassis, fantastic depth, touch herby, cloves, cinnamon, cedar, some meaty, savoury, bacon, definitely oak. Good concentration of fruit, weight, dark fruits, still with tannins that could soften, big style, almost new world, good length. Shows well now, but will develop another 10 + years easy.

2002 Pagos de Vina Real
£50. B+(+)

Big nose, jumps out, savoury, gamey, bacon, plenty of smoke, sweet spice, cloves, cinnamon, somewhat hot and cooked, fantastic depth. Really big, plenty of fruit, whooah, huge style, palate isn't quite as big as the nose. Given age, still big, new world style, burly, flamboyant.

Friday, 11 March 2011

CUWS L11 - Chianti lunch

Tasted Thursday, 03 March 2011. A superb flight of wines from Chianti Classico DOC, served alongside lunch at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

Castello di Ama
Duck confit rilletes with winter fruit chutney and toasted brioche

Castello di Ama Chianti Classico Vigneto Bellavista 2001
B +

Beautiful ripe red fruits, cherries, strawberries, some floral. Palate settled, mature, red fruits, some secondary characters coming through, earthy, musty, tannins mostly refined. Gorgeously drinking now.

Castello di Ama Chianti Classico La Casuccia 2001

Really similar in nose, cherries, liquer, cassis like. Palate is more vigorous, acidity more prevalent, just that bit more expressive, a bigger, more supple wine.

Barone Ricasoli
Pepper-crusted fresh tuna with fennel risotto, calamari and red wine sauce

Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Castello di Brolio 2001

Fantastic acidity, expressive, lively stuff, crushed berries. This its only beginning to show its potential, just opening up. Plenty of length there. Brilliant.

Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Castello di Brolio 1997

Much sweeter fruits, there more ripeness there, bigger, fatter. Nice acidity runs through, still big and full mouthfeel. Showing fantastically.

Felsina & Castell'in Villa
Chump of lamb with confit shoulder, provencal vegetables, spinach and bail lamb jus with fondant potatoes and celeriac puree

Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia 2001

Plenty of red fruits again, showing beautifully, plenty of acidity again, good extraction, only just beginning to open up. Mouthfeel so generous, just settles and lingers. Tannins still could soften.

Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia 1999

Plenty of red fruits, cherries, berries, some touches of floral, slight tinge of cooper and amber at the edges, earthy, musty and farmyard. Still plenty of life in this, acidity still runs through. All correct together, integrated.

Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia 1997

Plenty of red fruits, slight metallic tones, rusty, bloody even. Palate so yielding, just gives generously, full mouthfeel and palate. Acidity runs again. Still lively, tannins could still develop, with bright future, but this is drinking oh so beautifully now. Delightful.

Chianti Classico Riserva Castell'in Villa 2001

Another fantastic wine, expressive, lively acidity, red fruits dominant. Just needs time to open up, slightly nervy still.

Chianti Classico Riserva Castell'in Villa 1995

Still some drying notes, tannins still there, settled, some musty characters, earthy. Definitely auburn, coppery rim. Fruit is still there but taking back seat. Acidity holds things together. Still has life ahead.

A flight of Vin Santo desert wines.
Veloute of bittersweet chocolate with cinnamon ice cream

Castello di Ama Vin Santo 2005

Fudge, butter scotch, honey, acacia, floral touches. Plenty of sugar, almond tones, marzipan, still acidity there, not cloying. Balanced, vibrant, on the lighter side.

Barone Ricasoli Vin Santo 2004

All the above, but deeper, depth, smells heavy. Deeper golden tones, candied fruits. Fuller on the palate, heavier, verging on the treacle, but still isnt cloying.

Felsina Vin Santo 2001

Moving towards raisins and sultana, honey, treacle. Full, dried figs, big, not cloying, depth. Still nice balancing acidity, fullest and sweetest of the lot, not cloying, poised.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

CUWS L11 - Chianti Classico

Tasted, Weds 2 March 2011. Four different producers from the Chianti Classico DOC.

Castell'in Villa

Chianti Classico Castell'in Villa 07


Depth, violets, lifted, red fruits, nicely perfumed, fragrant, dark cherry. Plenty of fat acidity on the palate, so refreshing, cuts through, vivid, proper depth on the palate, feels ripe. Red fruits, plenty of it too, tannins still lively. Will age at least another 10 years.

Chianti Classico Castell'in Villa Riserva 05

Slightly sweeter on the nose, maybe even wood? Slightly softer on the palate, not as dense as the 07, still plenty of cherries and berries, acidity still so fresh, racy even. Still plenty of presence and poise. Needs food.

Castello di Ama

Chianti Classico Castello di Ama 07


Fresh vibrant nose, lifted, violets, strawberries, cherry, beautiful, and draws you in. Plenty of fruits, red berries, not that extracted, lighter in style but still balanced. Tannin still there, will age at least another 10 years.

Chianti Classico Castello di Ama 04

Nose is similar, if anything more lifted and floral, slightly more settled, less jumpy. In the palate a lot more settled, maturing, less primary fruits, developing more secondary stuff, more complex characters, earthy, cedar, woody. Fantastic drinking, will keep with ease.


Chianti Classico Berardenga 08

Slight touches of cooked and baked red fruits, dark fruits. God, the depth on that thing, extracted, big, dark berries, primary fruits drives the palate. Tannins is prominent but is ripe and will resolve given time, acidity still there. Big, still together, isn't clumsy.

Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia 07

More jammy, red fruits, lifted, pastilles, some herb and mint, ribena, black currants. Palate is big but poised, fruit drives through, good mouthfeel and generous, acidity vibrant. Just all correct, ready to please and will improve.

Barone Ricasoli

Chianti Classico Brolio 08


Dark fruits, depth, still fragrant, herb even, floral, leaves, strawberries, earthy, cedar, spice? Plenty of body, red and dark fruits, vibrant acidity, fresh and cleansing, if possible, good balance. Not very extracted, to drink young.

Chianti Classico Castello di Brolio 07

Not as lifted, you got to work at it. More extracted, better structure and depth, again some herby tones, acidity still fresh and vibrant. Tannins are far more present, will develop with time at least 5 years to open up. Get the feeling this is the bigger, more grown up wine.