A small selection of wines from the cellars of Downing College, Cambridge; many thanks to Richard Stibbs, Fellow Steward of Downing College, for providing them.
2007 Domaine Saint-Amant 'La Tabardonne' Cotes du Rhone Villages Blanc
90/10 blend of Viognier/Roussane.
Nice aromatic nose: plenty of peaches and apricots, white fruits; also some floral characters, daisies. Palate is generous and expansive; ripe white fruits with some citrus, quite plump. A filling mouthfeel with good balance; touch of minerality and pith towards the end. Well made.
2008 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc. Marlborough.
Nose is still rather pungent, dominated by citrus and lemons; this really has lost its greenness - all the asparagus, cut grass, leafy, gooseberry notes associated with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (pioneered by Cloudy Bay themselves) is just no longer there. Palate is just citrus, rather fresh acidity, nice streak of minerality still showing towards the end, with a slightly drying finish. I fear that the aging has not been kind to this wine. I'm curious as to whether this applies to all New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc; drink youngest available?
2008 Kumeu River Mate's Vineyard Chardonnay. Kumeu, Auckland.
Light gold in colour. A tricked out New Zealand chardonnay - on the nose, some creamy buttery note, sweet vanilla with savoury touches; then some citrus and very ripe peaches as well. Palate has plenty of ripe fruits, quite big and voluptuous mouthfeel; acidity is generous but still focused; grapefruit pithiness towards the end; lingering finish. Quite taut actually; and very classy, should age well - I can see why this can pass as a good Burgundy.
2005 Mercurey Premier Cru 'Clos des Montaigus', Jean Michel & Laurent Pillot
Nose is fruity, mostly raspberry and sour cherry and also quite floral, damsons and violets; slight farmyard and earthy note too. On the palate its juicy, sour cherries again, lush yet persistent acidity giving blackbone to the wine; hardly any tannins, just so velvety and light. A very correct, lightly extracted Burgundy; delightful.
1990 Chateau Leoville Barton, St Julien 2er Cru.
Nose shows sweet cedar, polished mahogany with varnish; some tobacco and sweet spices, cinnamon; lots of red fruit, plums and dark cherries; earthy and woody notes showing more prominently after some time in the glass. Very classic nose, typical of area and age. Palate so soft and smooth, acidity still vibrant, red fruits dominate again. Very poised and drinking beautifully now, very velvety; but then it has a soft grip towards the end showing that it still has life ahead of it. Drink now to 2020.
2007 Chateauneuf du Pape 'Preference' Caves Saint-Pierre
On the nose, theres a whiff of smoke and heat, perhaps tar too; plenty of crushed dark fruits and plums; a touch fo rusty iron too. Mouthfeel is quite heavy and thickish, extracted fruits, some grip; its full but perhaps rather closed and one dimensional at the moment. Nice extraction, but balance could be better, slightly lacking acidity for my liking.