Friday, 29 April 2011

CUWS Annual Dinner 2011 - Lafite Rothschild

Thursday, 28 April 2011.

Cambridge University Wine Society Annual Dinner 2011, welcoming Baron Eric de Rothschild of Chateau Lafite Rothschild.

Champagne Pol Roger Vintage 2000

From magnums. Plenty of baked biscuit, yeasty overtones. Palate is full, plenty of acidity keeping it going, overlayed by fat citrus fruits. Delicious, heady, very poised.

Smoked salmon and anchovy butter terrine with rocket salad and avocado cream.

2010 Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc, Chile

Really lively, fresh green fruits, lots of grassy, herbal tones, gooseberry and asparagus abound - very very green, no holds barred approach more befitting of a Kiwi Sauv Blanc than a Chilean one. Clean acidity, cleanses the palate, refreshing stuff. Well made.

2010 Aussieres Blanc, VdP Languedoc

A great contrast to the loud Sauv Blanc above. This Chardonnay was far more understated, white fruits are there, peach blossoms; palate was textured and filling, acidity runs through, slight minerality also showing. Balanced, refreshing.

Rump of slow roasted lamb, potato fondant, glazed carrots and chargrilled asparagus with red currant and mustard gravy.

2004 Chateau Duhart Milon, 4er Cru Classse Pauillac

Textbook Bordeaux - ripe red fruits, cassis, with a touch of woody tobacco and cedar, masculine in style. Palate was firm, with vibrant acidity still showing, fruits also to the fore; palate is sustained though not impressive. Fine tannins. Showing nicely now, but will age gracefully for another 10-20 years. Solid wine.

2003 Carruades de Lafite, Pauillac.

Voluptuous in the nose, really does jump at you, beckons you in. Definitely cedar and cigar box on the nose, with some pencil shavings, all loitering with cassis. Palate still so vibrant and fresh, think ripe dark berries and cherries with nice acidity. Very well put together; so expressive and generous. Will improve for at least another 10 years.
Brillat savarin, St Nectaire, Lincolnshire poacher & Mimolette with fruit and crackers

1998 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, 1er Cru Pauillac

Textbook, ripe red fruits; cedar, mahogany and graphite / pencil shavings; really quite pronounced, masculine stuff. On the palate it was lively, fresh;the primary dark fruits still to the fore, acidity all in check; what was remarkable was the purity and focused of expression of fruit, great concentration; as expected, great length. Tannins at the back just reminding that this is merely a glimpse of its true potential; simply stunning. Will improve, easily another 20-30 years.

1988 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, 1er Cru Pauillac

A more muted expression, not as heady or big as the '98. Some earthy notes starting to show, burnt tobacco almost; there is an almost floral note to this, rose petals. Palate still very fresh and vibrant, generously filling. Fine tannins only showing towards the end. Still a classy expression, though I suspect in absolute terms this wasnt as good a wine as the '98. Showing very well now, probbaly will develop for another decade or so.

Fruit of the forest terrine in elderflower water

2006 Chateau Rieussec, 1er Cru Sauternes

Vivacious nose, floral and lifted. Deeply honeyed, citrus, candied fruits on the nose; real depth to the nose. Palate has nice acidity running through it, good presence. Ticks all the right boxes for a quality Sauternes. I feel that its still rather edgy at the moment.

1988 Chateau Rieussec, 1er Cru Sauternes

Wow, this is something. Even after the bottle aging, this is still so voluptuous and lively, almost leaping out. Floral, honey, acacia all dancing on the glass. Palate is settled but still lush and full, flavour comes in waves, so much depth, gravitas and poise. Great length. Acidity maybe starting to fade but this is a very joyful wine. Superlatives all around. Will give great enjoyment now and for the next decade or so.


A delicious trio of wines, all of them to be enjoyed chilled, and in copious quantities on a warm summer's afternoon.
Tasted Saturday, 16 April 2011. Prices are retail at Cambridge Wine Merchants.

Langlois Cremant de Loire Rose Brut NV
£13.99. B+

Made from Cabernet Franc; plenty of luch red fruits, decent width on the palate. Charming sparkler.

2009 Baron de Badassiere Picpoul de Pinet
£7.99. B+

Citrus dominated; plenty of fresh, cutting acidity, not quite piercing but definitely refreshing.

2009 Corte Giara Pinot Grigio delle Venezie, Allegrini
£7.99. B

Fresh white furits, very easy drinking.

Saturday, 16 April 2011


Tasted Saturday, 16 April 2011.

2006 Casalliero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon. Chile.
Leon Stolarski Wines £ 14. B.

From magnum. Fruits still on the fore, berries and currants, plenty of high notes, some green capsicum too, all correct and textbook for the varietal. Palate is unfortunately one dimensional, primary fruit beginning to fade. Still very drinkable but forgettable.


Tasted Thursday, 14 April 2011.

2009 Innocent Bystander Moscato. Victoria, Australia.
Wig & Mitre, Lincoln. £6.45 (375 ml). B+

Fizzy, pink blush, 5.5% alcohol. This is really just alcoholic grape juice, tastes and smells exceedingly grapey. Fresh acidity still there, touch of tartness. Nothing complex; chilled, this is the very definition of gluggable on a hot summers day.


Tasted Wednesday, 13 Apil 2011.

2009 Broken Shackle Classic White, Semillon Chardonnay Chenin Blanc. Big Rivers, Australia.


Attractive, fat citrus, grape fruits maybe tropical, some lively white stone fruits once its warmed up a bit, good expansive, the semillon giving it some fatness, perhaps even a touch of mineral streak. Flavours are focused, well made. With food or on its own.

2009 Pegoes Santo Isidro Tinto, Vinho Regional Peninsula de Setubal, Portugal

Smells slightly alcoholic, like burnt almost, behind that some dark red fruits, cherries. Palate is soft, red fruits immediately there on the palate, unfortunately its a bit thin, I guess its made in a more modern style to give enjoyment straight away. Nothing wrong, but it lacks complexity.

Saturday, 9 April 2011


Tasted Friday, 08 April 2011

2010 Simonsig Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch


Wonderfully lifted nose: white peaches, some floral tones, buckets of guava and tropical fruits (pineapple etc), so vibrant and lively. Palate carries the fruit through with aplomb, just awash with lush, ripe fruits; not completely bone dry, but with clean, crisp acidity running through it. Had it with Chinese food and it went superbly. I think this retails for something like £7-8 which is excellent value.

Thursday, 7 April 2011


Tasted Wednesday, 06 April 2011.

2005 Nuits-Saint-George, Laboure Roi
Laithwaites A-

Red berries, currants, touch of smoke, sweet spice, wood and a bit earthy, some must. Fat acidity, really lingering, still very vibrant despite some age, mouthwatering. Well made, drinking very well.

2008 Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir, Earnsclough Vineyard, Central Otago.
Naked Wines £17.50. A-

Much deeper in colour, dark cherry, more sweet spice, cinnamon and clove; wood and earth, almost like mulled wine? Palate is much rounder, more obvious fruit, plush and juicy. So different in style compared to the Burgundy above, but both so very drinkable.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Noel Young – Matthew Jukes Top 100 Australian Wines Roadshow

Noel Young – Matthew Jukes Top 100 Australian Wines Roadshow

Tasted on Thursday, 31 March 2011.

A tasting of a selection of wines which were featured in Matthew Jukes’ Top 100 Australian wines for 2010 (full list of the 100 can be found here). There were only 40 wines to taste on the night, but there wasn’t a bad wine among them; in fact I didn’t score any of the wines below a B+. Below is a selection of red which particularly caught my eye, along with necessarily brief tasting notes.

Prices are retail to Noel Young Wines, Trumpington.

Three nice, matured stuff from Magpie Estate, probably those vintages are not available for sale, but just shows how good everyday drinking stuff can be if properly matured.

Magpie Estate 'The Sack' Shiraz 2001

Still so much fruit on the nose, sweet blackcurrants, like ribena, touch of mint. Fresh, vibrant, palate dries out slightly towards the end.

Magpie Estate 'The Sack' Shiraz 2003

Nice depth, dark fruits, more pronounced mint; still robust, lively, aged well.

Magpie Estate 'The Gomersal' Grenache 2002

2008 Yalumba 'The Scribbler' Cabernet Shiraz, Barossa Valley

Red fruits dominate, some green notes, herbal and maybe mint; nice textured mouthfeel, after the not insignificant fruit hit, theres still depth. Fun stuff indeed.

2008 Bremerton 'Tamblyn' Cabernet Shiraz Malbec Merlot, Langhorne Creek

Vibrant, exciting, plenty of things going on. Just remember this being memorable.

2007 Petaluma Red, Coonawarra

Jammy, full on berries and currants, slight green tones; palate has good depth, evolving even in the glass. This is a serious wine, beckons attention and serious aging; that said, its drinkable even now. Deserving of its reputation.

Four fantastic Shiraz - all of them show great varietal characteristics; sweet jammy fruits, compote, mint, touches of herb.

2005 Jim Barry 'McRae Wood' Shiraz, Clare Valley

Sweet on the nose, with touches of sweet spice, clove and cinnamon and the like - unusual, maybe the extra aging? Very fresh and lively still, exciting. Best value among the four.

2004 Peter Lehmann 'Stonewell' Shiraz, Barossa

More pronounced mint and eucalyptus; plenty of vibrancy still, extra aging does justice.

2007 Mitolo 'Savitar' Shiraz, McLaren Vale

Sweet fruits most pronounced.

2006 Torbreck Run Rig, Barossa

Another great icon. Lots of things going on, sweet spice dominated by clove, cinnamon and aniseed; then mint and herb, all underpinned by dark berries. Layered complexity, good depth, no doubt will age very well. Great stuff.

Noel Young – Matthew Jukes Top 100 Australian Wines Roadshow

Noel Young – Matthew Jukes Top 100 Australian Wines Roadshow

Tasted on Thursday, 31 March 2011.

A tasting of a selection of wines which were featured in Matthew Jukes’ Top 100 Australian wines for 2010 (full list of the 100 can be found here). There were only 40 wines to taste on the night, but there wasn’t a bad wine among them; in fact I didn’t score any of the wines below a B+. Below is a selection of whites which particularly caught my eye, along with necessarily brief tasting notes.

Prices are retail to Noel Young Wines, Trumpington.

NV Jansz Rose, Tasmania.

Slight blush tones; ripe fruits, effervescent, clean and chirpy – all you want in a cheap (but still serious and defined) sparkler.

2010 Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills

Plenty of green fruits (gooseberries and such) and touch of asparagus / vegetal stalky character. Fat acidity, great precision and balance. Very well put together.

2005 McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant ‘Elizabeth’ Semillon, Hunter Valley

Second time I’ve had this in a month, performed brilliantly each time. Waxy, lanolin, even some animal like character with a touch of toast and yeast thrown in. Plenty going on; palate structured and generous. Spot on.

2005 Peter Lehmann ‘Margaret’ Semillon, Barossa

Great varietal character coming through, wax and lanolin, smells somewhat off dry (even fruity). Palate is generous, awash with fine acidity, even some minerality coming through. Classy.

2005 Tyrrell’s ‘Belford’ Single Vineyard Semillon, Hunter Valley

Lemony citrus on the nose, some waxyness. Gosh, so much acidity on the palate; the zing just keeps going; racy and mouthwatering. Fresh, excellent pick-me-up wine. The ten gold stickers on the label is overkill in my opinion, but hey, it is a good wine.

2010 Fox Gordon ‘Princess’ Fiano, Adelaide Hills

Great fun. White stone fruits on the nose, really lifted, like a fresh field of white flowers in spring. The palate carries that through, with some fat, almost oily texture. Interesting stuff.

2004 Peter Lehmann ‘Wigan’ Riesling, Eden Valley

Petrol, kerosene on the fore; citrus fruits at the back. Palate still fresh and lively, with that bit more depth from the age. Balanced, all elements in tension, poised. I’ve had the past two vintages of the Wigan and none have disappointed.

2008 Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay, Margaret River

I can see why the all the hype on Margaret River Chardonnays. Big, made in a Burgundian oaked style but cranked up a notch. Integrated oak, ripe white fruits, fat acidity. If there is a criticism is that its trying too hard.

2007 Leeuwin Estate ‘Art Series’ Chardonnay, Margaret River

One of the iconic whites from down under Pretty similar to above but if anything, this has more layers of complexity and will probably be more fun when aged; slightly more acidity too. Sophisticated, class. Very good Chardonnay, but is it worth the pricetag? For this one, probably yes.

Saturday, 2 April 2011


2008 Domaine d'Ardhuy Cotes de Beaune Villages 'Les Combottes'
Oddbins, £16.50. B+ (after decanting)

Undrinkable when opened, so overtly acidic, harsh and piercing, plain awful.
After decanting and aeration, starts to open up; some floral tones, damsons, crushed raspberries, sour cherry. Still somewhat drying, touch astringent. Poor value really.