Monday, 30 May 2011

Formal Hall

Sunday, 29 May 2011.

2009 Liberator Episode 1 'The Bureaucrat'. Swartland, South Africa.
Leon Stolarski £12.95. A

A blend of 56% Chenin Blanc, 22% Viognier, 13% Chardonnay and 9% Clairette; limited production of 2976 bottles.
Nose is heady and full of white fruits, sweet peaches and nectarines, floral characters also coming through, slightly alcoholic though. Palate is lush and full bodied, so much fruit, carries the 14.5% abv well actually; juicy and yet with good lemony acid backbone. Mouthfeel is textured and somewhat creamy (probably from barrel fermentation and lees contact); rich, maybe even waxy / oily too. I dont think its completely dry either, gives an illusion of at least a couple g/l residual sugar. A food wine, demands your attention; classy, excellent.

1996 Crozes Hermitage, Domaine de Thalabert, Paul Jaboulet Aine

Such lifted nose, so much currants and berries, some sweet spice too; after some air, it reveals notes of clay, some rusty tones, brine and even iodine (like fresh uncooked scallops). Palate is silky smooth, red currants dominate, acidity still fresh; in all actually feels rather light, which belies its 100% Syrah origin. Mature, drinking well now; will keep, but not sure it'll improve.

2005 O'Syrah, Domaine O'Vineyards. Carcassone, France.
Naked Wines £17.99. B+

Plenty of fruit, touch of green pepper on the nose; definitely some spice, slightly burnt too like freshly laid tarmac. Palate still mainly fruit dominated, darker berries; acidity still there; nice fruit hit at the front, but doesnt carry it through. However, in all, its a very rounded expression. Definitely showed better than the last bottle I had - is this just bottle variation?

Thursday, 26 May 2011

CUWS E 11 - Cambridge Wine

Wednesday, 25 May 2011. Led by Brett Turner of Cambridge Wine Merchants; prices are retail at their shops.

NV Champagne Autreau de Champillon Premier Cru
£26. B+

Some biscuit, bready tones, not yeasty though; still plenty of fresh citrus, green apple. Clean, crisp acidity, some developed brioche flavours on the palate; quite fat, generous and some persistence. A good example.

2009 Chablis Vieilles Vignes, JM Brocard
£15. B+

Mineral, wet stones; white stone fruits, some white flowers; touch of greenness about it. Palate is focused, some green pears, good minerality, fat acidity. Precise, shows great typicity.

2004 Saumur Vieilles Vignes, Langlois-Chateau. Loire.
£15. B+(+)

Light gold colour. Funky nose, some salty tones; some white pepper, vegetal, perhaps fennel or asparagus; some minerality, smoke, even ash, like something freshly burnt. Seriously weird. Palate is wide and textured, full, acidity fat and persistent; fruit is muted, not showy, decent persistence. Grown up style, mature, need food. Will keep and improve.

2008 Pinot Gris 'Princes Abbes', Dom Schlumberger. Alsace.
£14. B+

Very floral, lifted white flowers of the field; smells quite sweet, tinned pineapples, maybe some lychees. Fat, long acidity, 18 g/l residual sugar but feels so much less, some minerality coming through at the end. Textured, full, coats the palate. Lingers, need food.

2009 Fleurie, Manoir de Carra. Beaujolais.
£12. B+

Smells a bit hot and cooked, a touch alcoholic, some aldehyde; crushed red fruits, some cooked cabbages / vegetal notes. Fat acidity, there's a tartness about it (like slightly underripe berries); plenty of fruit though, crushed raspberries, red cherries. Crunchy, vibrant, light.

2009 Brouilly, Manoir de Carra. Beaujolais.
£12. B+

Some mint, burnt tar, maybe darker berries; still some cooked, hot tones. Fresh acidity, slightly deeper than the Fleurie, plenty of fruits, not as crunchy. I prefer this to the Fleurie, its expressing better, more vivacious.

2009 Domaine Gayda 'Figure Libre' Cabernet Franc. Vin de Pays d'Oc.
£17. B+(+)

Not allowed to grow Cabernet Franc for AOC in Languedoc-Roussilon, hence declassification to VdP.
Dark, woody; some mint, some green tones, green peppers; quite hot, some sweet spice; forward nose. Plenty of dark fruits; rather extracted, some depth there. Woody, some sweet oak on the palate, carries it well, enough fruit in there. Big, bold stuff, some tannic structure to age a few years. Badly needs food.

2005 Chateau Rousseau de Sipian. Medoc.
£13. B+(+)

All the correct notes, textbook Medoc. Some green peppers, cassis; wood, pencil shavings; touch of smoke and sweet spice - all there. So much fruits, still rather big; tannins still there, grips at the back. Very together, drinking well now (I recommend decanting) but will keep another 3yrs or so. Need food.

2007 Domaine du Petit Metris, Coteaux du Layon Chaume
£15. A-

Honeyed, candied fruits, some dried figs and dates, bitterness? So much acidity, so much vibrancy, races through your palate; candied oranges, just so lively. I suspect plenty of sugar (I'm guessing 80g/l?) but doesn't feel it at all, not heavy. The lingering palate is of bitter oranges and marmalade, decent lingering finish. Very together, shows beautifully.

2001 Chateau de Madere, AOC Cerons
£6 (375ml). B+ great value

An appelation just to west of of Barsac, making similar wines.
Nice depth on the nose, candied oranges, botrytis there; some floral; altogether an appealing and beautiful nose. Palate has decent texture, fruit is there, acidity keeps it together; if anything slightly thin on the palate, showing its age. Probably won't improve with time but at the price, fantastic bargain.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Tio Pepe Masterclass

Monday, 23 May 2011.

A thoroughly enjoyable sherry masterclass led by the ebullient Antonio Flores, head winemaker at Tio Pepe, clearly someone who loves his sherry. Held at Cambridge Wine Merchants, Cherry Hinton.
Prices are retail by the bottle at Cambridge Wine.

Tio Pepe Fino 'En Rama'
£14. A

A very limited release Fino sherry by Tio Pepe; unfiltered, unclarified, taken from casks in the middle of spring when the flor layer is thickest. Fino sherry at its most 'natural' state; really captures the essence and freshness of Fino sherry.

On the nose, theres a really fresh salty and brine notes, plenty of flor characteristics; green almonds and nuts; very attractive nose, intense. Palate carries through the intensity and saltiness, some pith, lots of nuttiness, its almost crunchy; filling on the mouthfeel but is still incredibly refreshing, vibrant and mouthwatering. Fino sherry on steroids - everything is there and magnified. Unique and brilliant - can't recommend it enough.

Tio Pepe Palomino Fino Muy Seco
£12. B+

This is Tio Pepe's basic Fino sherry thats available all year around.
Good flor tones, refreshing, clean palate. Well made, sustained mouthfeel; palate is dry, but not overly so, a perfect tapas wine. Tasting note very similar to the 'En Rama' but not as intense, probably the consequence of the cold stabilisation.

Gonzalez Byass 'Vina AB' Palomino Amontilllado Seco
£12.50. B+

Fatter, more salty tones; still nutty, roasted almonds (as opposed to green almonds). Palate somehow feels a bit sweeter, mouthfeel just more filling, bigger and does lasts longer.

Gonzalez Byass 'Del Duque' Amontilllado Viejo
£19 (375ml). A-

Basically the Vina AB but aged for 30 years.
Colour is deep amber, copper. Moving towards a madeira like nose, oxidative; woody, oak, sweet cedar and spices, varnish; very lifted, does smell sweetish. On the palate theres more pith and bitterness, still fresh acidity; mouthfeel a bit heavier, plenty of tertiary flavours, intense. The aging just intensifies the flavours.

Gonzalez Byass 'Leonor' Palo Cortado
£13. B+

Fortified to 18%, so no flor during its development, which means more exposure to air, hence the more oxidative style and colour.
Unusually for a dry sherry, there are some dried fruits, dried apricots; plenty of varnish, high tones, acetaldehyde; still some nutty characters. Palate is noticably rounder, fresh, good acid, nice oxidative characters. Roundness is the key, some glycerine.

Gonzalez Byass 'Apostoles' Palo Cortado Viejo
£19 (375ml). A-

A Palo Cortado like above but with 10% Pedro Ximenez added in, hence slightly sweeter.
Colour is deep copper, burnt amber. Nose has more forward dried fruit raisiny notes, definitely smells sweeter; lacquer, wood varnish; dried figs and dates. Palate a lot more rounded, supposed to be 40 g/l of residual sugar but really doesn't feel it. That bit of sugar makes it so much more drinkable - I think this can be wonderful with cheese and nuts at the end of a meal.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Formal Hall

Sunday, 22 May 2011.

1994 Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Auslese, Gunther Fehres
Cambridge Wine. A-

Very floral, citrus, candied orange peel, some petrol and kerosene; lifted nose, delicate yet very expressive. Palate still shows fresh acidity, plenty of citrus fruits, sugar is not that high, perhaps 30g/l or so; enjoyable on its own or with food. So vibrant but very nimble. Lingers nicely.

2007 Dona Paula 'Alluvia Series' Cabernet Franc, Mendoza
Oddbins. B+(+)

Quite floral, some dark damsons; dark blueberry and blackberry, cassis; sweet spices, maybe clove and nutmeg, some woody tones. Plenty of depth and body there, refreshing acidity still; big wine, a lot of extracted dark fruits; the 14% abv can be felt. Finishes with a rather woody, green note.


1977 Warre's

Tasted Saturday, 21 May 2011.

Very perfumed, floral damson; glycerol, chemically tones; stewed cooked fruits, jammy. On opening, there was something weird there, almost like citrus peel, rosewater? Second day after opening, some notes of raspberry liquer; treated wood (perhaps lacquered somehow) and resin. Very interesting.
Palate soft, so much red fruits, still very lively and vibrant, acidity still there too. Everything woven together, generous and yielding, drinking well. Lingers. An excellent mature port.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

CUWS E11 - Dubordieu wines

Monday, 16 May 2011. Tasting led by Fabrice Dubordieu.

2008 Ch Reynon Rouge, Premiere Cotes de Bordeaux.

Blend: 88% Merl0t, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Petit Verd0t.
Fruit forward and dominated, crushed berries, sweet; quite aromatic, some high notes, white pepper. Palate is full, good tannic structure but still rather grainy; some grip, needs softening. Fresh acidity. Not as big a mid palate, decent finish.

2008 Ch Haura Rouge, Graves.

Cabernet Sauvignon dominted blend.
Lovely dark berries and cassis; woody, earthy and ashen tones, perhaps cedar and licorice. Fresh acidity, more muscular, slightly bigger on themid palate, more rough edges. Tannin still grainy, needs time.

2008 Clos Floridene Rouge, Graves

Approx 70% Cabernet Sauvignon but grown on clay and limestone, which is unusual, hence the atypicity of the tasting note.
Ripe currants, nice crushed berries, there's even some minerality. Palate is well rounded, quite luscious and lush, plenty of acid, really fresh and vibrant, nice tension. Fantastic mouthfeel, soft and balanced, really atypical for Bordeaux. Showed beautifully; seductive, Burgundian even.

2009 Ch Reynon Blanc

Blend 85% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Semillon.
Wonderfully floral, citrus and grape fruit dominated; nice tangy notes, some minerality, chalky. Fantastic mouthfeel, decent width, nice fullness, acidity not aggressive. Focused, mature, precise. Not showy.

2009 Ch Doisy Daene Grand Vin Sec, Barsac.

Blend 81% Sauvignon Blanc, 19% Semillon. All barrel fermented, 20% new oak.
Blossoms, white floral; plenty of citrus, so much white stone fruits, peaches; also chalky flint, mineral. The nose is superb, balanced. Palate has focused fruit expression; its not massive, but sustained. Love the style, mature, grown up. Very attractive and poised. My favourite wine of the night.

2009 Clos Floridene Blanc, Graves.

Blend 60% Semillon, 40% Sauvignon Blanc. All barrel fermented, a third new oak for Semillon only.
Citrus dominated, maybe some grape fruit, nose rather muted and closed; you've got to work at it. Textured mouthfeel, fuller, much more filing on the palate; its definitely a food wine. Stone fruit is there, some minerality too, acid not aggressive. Probably would age gracefully, but drinking well now.

2008 Ch Cantegril

Honeyed, acacia, candied fruits, plenty floral, lifted expressive, forward and bold. Good texture, nice pith and bitterness coming from botrytis, like grapefruit bitterness, not overly sweet, acid light. Overall its vibrant and fresh. Its very together, delivers a fantastic package, decent length. Its apparently half the price of Ch Doisy Daene, and in this tasting at least, is virtually undistinguishable from its more illustrious compatriot. Great value.

2008 Ch Doisy Daene, Barsac 2er Cru.

Very similar nose, almost a copy of the Cantegril. Palate is more textured, layered and concentrted - but only slightly. Maybe a bit more depth and finish, of anything slightly more bitter at the back. Vibrant, fresh. Shockingly similar to the Cantegril - I would probably have difficulty picking one from the other if tasted blind.

1982 Ch Doisy Daene, Barsac 2er Cru.
(no rating as wine was faulty)

Golden in colour, age shows. Nose of mostly honey and candied fruits; some musty and damp, ashen. Palate isn't fully sweet, rather subdued, slightly ashen. There is some fruit on the initial palate but dies very quickly thereafter. I suspect there is a fault on this wine as it tastes rather knackered; I could not get a taste from another bottle. So unfortunate.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Formal hall

Sunday, 15 May 2011

2010 Classic South 'Nelson' Sauvignon Blanc
Naked Wines £9.49. B+

Vibrant, green, goose berries, leafy, asparagus stems, maybe even some minerality coming through. Fat acidity, plenty of citrus on the palate, really runs through; fresh and crisp, on the drier side for the varietal. Correct, textbook New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc but made in a more restrained style.

2003 Ch Rousseau de Sipian. Medoc.
Cambridge Wine £10.99. A-

Nice dark berries, currants and cassis, some licorice and woody tones; nice perfume, quite floral and vibrant. Palate still lively, fresh and vivacious, plenty of red fruits still. Tannins has softened out, acidity good. Very balanced and showing superbly. Great value.

2008 Anselmann Riesling Eiswein, Edesheimer Rosengarten. Pfalz

Plenty off acidity, candied peaches and apricots, some kerosene coming through, some floral, quite intense nose, concentrated. Postdate is seriously deep, so much acidity still going, grape fruits, lemon even, candied, plenty of sugar but really can't feel it. So much acid. Viscous, thick. Lasts forever.

1983 Graham's

Such focused nose, lifted vibrant dark fruits, really beckons you in. Palate is still very lively and fresh, not at all tired; dense dark fruits still dominate both in the palate and in colour (looks surprisingly youthful, I expected a slightly lighter hue). Lush sweet fruit, very juicy, countered by a nice open acidity. Some tannic structure remains, the future is still very bright for this port, another 10 years should be a stroll. Eminently drinkable, fantastic.

Saturday, 14 May 2011


2005 d'Arenberg 'The Laughing Magpie' Shiraz Viognier

Bought on release, cellared since. Really lifted, plenty of black currants, ribena like almost, some eucalyptus, seriously fresh and vibrant. Palate is lush but not heavy, ripe currants and blackberries, smooth, doesn't feel like 15% abv at all. Fantastic mouthfeel and presence; shortish finish. Serious quality, the bottle age has only made it better, softening the edges. Very joyful.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

CUWS E11 - Bollinger Dinner

Tuesday, 10 May 2011.

Dinner at St John's College, Cambridge accompanied by a flight of Champagne Bollinger wines led by Simon Leschallas, Bollinger Brand Ambassador UK. (M) denotes champagnes poured from magnums.

NV Bollinger Special Cuvee (M)

Great as an aperitif; in a snapshot, shows the Bollinger house style - rounded fruits, nice toast and plenty of lees contact.

NV Bollinger Rose (M)
Scottish smoked salmon terrine accompanied with millet, avocado, watercress and leaf salad.

Very attractive red strawberry fruits, still a decent amount of toast and biscuity character coming through, quite savoury. Palate is quite full and generous, plenty of width and body, slightly sweet. Maybe even notes of cured meats / ham? Great poise and balance.

2002 Bollinger La Grande Annee

Fillet of lemon sole ala Rochelaise (sole poached in a little red wine with demiglaze and mussels)

Again, plenty of biscuit, savoury and toasty notes on the nose; quite rich and large, truffles. Palate is awash with fat acidity, but not in a harsh way, still does feel quite austere and steely - I just think its such a good backbone and structure. Still plenty of fruit, quite generous and rich, textured; feels young actually, could easily age.

2000 Bollinger La Grande Annee (M)
Venison Wellington with madeira sauce

Really overwhelming yeasty and biscuity notes, like baked wheat, cereals; hot buttered toast with marmite on it. Unapologetically savoury characters, nothing subtle about it. Palate quite austere, plenty of acidity; very taut, everything held in tension by the acidity, to the extent of being lean and mean. Plenty of secondary characters; minerality showing. Needs food; not an aperitif chapagne, nor one for the faint hearted.

2002 Bollinger La Grande Annee Rose (not pictured)
Rosewater pannacotta with mixed berries coulis and biscotti

Lots of vibrant fruit on the nose, still yeasty and toasty characters too. Palate is noticably wider and fuller than the other La Grande Annees; acidity similar to the La Grande Annee 02. Quite opulent in style, rich and full; I would call it luscious for a Champagne. Unique.

1995 Bollinger RD (disgorged October 2004)
Aged Comte cheese

This has the yeasty and brioche, baked bread, slightly burnt biscuit notes all on steroids. So much secondary characters; this is incredibly savoury and nutty (in both sense of the word). I would compare it to Krug or Salon. Acidity so sharp and piercing, incredible given its age, retains so much freshness and vibrancy; palate full and rich. Spine tingling, nervy stuff; simply bonkers and I love it.


2005 Aqus Merlot. East Coast, New Zealand.
Naked Wines B+

Bought as part of a mixed half-case from Naked Wines in aid of the Christchurch earthquake appeal. Attractive nose, slightly alcoholic if anything, touch floral, red currants and plums. Fleshy, ripe sweet red fruits, decent acid structure but mid palate is a bit thin. The age shows both in colour and palate, probably past its peak.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Formal Hall

Sunday, 08 May 2011.

2004 Chateau Fuisse 'Tete de Cru' Pouilly-Fusse
Roberson Wine £16.95. A-

Full, textured; heavy oak influence but perfectly integrated; fruit still lush and ripe. Acidity still quite keen; grapefruit, citrus; minerality also coming through. Palate is generous, nice buttery creaminess showing. Well put together and showing beautifully.

2009 Boreham Wood Single Vineyard Pinot Gris. Awatere Valley, Marlborough. Naked Wines. B+

Floral, white flowers of the field, lilies, nice aromatics; some green apple and pears, some herbal, green tones. Palate is a touch off dry (maybe around 5g/l), but still primary fruit driven, white stone fruits. Some spritz, and oily texture. An interesting interpretation of Pinot Gris.

2009 Les Vignes de l'Arque 'Saveur d'Automne'. IGP Pays d'Oc Doux
Leon Stolarski £16.50. B+

Floral, some notes of botrytis and vanilla, tinned peaches; acacia, smells fortified; aroma indicates it should be honeyed and sweet. Palate is sweet but not full on, I was expecting a sweeter wine from the nose; theres a slight pithy and bitter note at the back. Textured and thick, oily, definitely full bodied.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Formal Hall

2002 De Bortoli Deen Vat Series 'All Rounder' Semillon, SE Australia
Leon Stolarski £7.99. A-

Dried fruits, apricot, nectarine, intense honey; lanolin, waxy, paint, turpentine; lots of high notes, so lifted, white florals abound, elderflower. Really remarkable nose. Palate is textured, full bodied, more than a touch off dry, maybe 10g/l, still plenty of acid. Bizarre, yet beautiful; at at the price, insanely good value.

2006 Peter Lehmann 'The Futures' Shiraz. Barossa

Very correct, dark fruits abound, some mint and green herb, eucalyptus; dark berries, blackberry, like ribena. Some black pepper, fat acidity, really lush and juicy. Textbook Aussie Shiraz. Some bottle age has softened this wine, now really drinking quite nicely.

2007 Vina Mayu Reserva Estate Bottled Carmenere. Elqui Valley, Chile.
Oddbins. B

Made from very late harvested grapes, almost dried. Tar, bitumen, burnt roadworks, spicy peppery; textbook carmenere; hints of green pepper, capsicum. Palate is initially very juicy and sweet, like a weak port, then fades very quickly leaving a weird bitter and chemical-like after taste. Doesn't have enough acidity, feels alcoholic, a touch flabby. Weird and disjointed.

2007 Domaine d'Archimbaud Vendanges d'Automne. Saint-Saturnin de Lucian, Terrasses du Larzac, France.
Leon Stolarski £14.95 (50cl) A-

A Vin de Table made from 100% Bourboulenc, late harvested. Honey, acacia, very floral, candied fruits, tinned peaches, nectarines. Really fresh, nice acid there; not cloying at all, runs through quickly, leaving a tingly after taste. Vibrant, quite lively stuff, finishes well. Very drinkable, a joyous wine.