Monday, 31 October 2011

Formal Hall

2010 Ona Anakena Riesling Viognier Chardonnay

Roughly an equal blend of the three varietals, vinified separately and blended before bottling.
Nose shows some green notes, neutral white fruits; palate is quite pithy with some white fruits too, mineral streak shows, chalky almost, crisp acidity. Fruit and acid is there but feels slightly disjointed, wasnt together.

2007 Cono Sur '20 Barrels' Merlot

Lots of dark berries and compote on the nose, some green capsicum too, as well as a gentle spicy warmth - very appealing. On the palate its filled with dark plums, blackberries and cassis; very rounded fruit, juicy yet complex; nice filling texture, with fresh acidity coming through, lingering finish; some drying tannins towards the very end. Very integrated, oozing with class, up there among the best Chilean Merlots I've tasted.

2000 Patricius Tokaji Aszu 4 Puttonyos

Honey acacia, with floral tone. Palate is sweet, honeyed, candied / tinned apricots and peaches; nice creamy texture actually, but feels heavier and sweeter than a typical 4 puttonyos, good intensity of flavours. Unfortunately its slightly lacking in acidity making it feel rather clumsy; but it does have a long lingering finish. Still a classy and very well made wine, but I have a niggling feeling it could've been better.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

CUWS M11 - Barbadillo Sherry

A tasting of Barbadillo sherries for Cambridge University Wine Society, led by Ben Campbell-Johnston on behalf of Fells Fine Wines. Tasted Wednesday 26 October 2011.

Barbadillo Manzanilla Solear

Fine flor nose showing, yeast and toast, green almonds and green olives; lots of nutty tones. Nice freshness on the palate, good drying acidity, really pithy; quite firm, nice nutty character with a touch of oxidation. A tapas drink.

Barbadillo Amontillado

Nutty, roasted almonds; burnt caramel, even some raisins and also coffee on the nose. On the palate theres alot more stewed / cooked fruits; definitely off dry, more sustained flavours; does have oxidative and burnt tones with some spice at the end.

Barbadillo Dry Oloroso

Toffee, burnt caramel, roasted almonds; unusually theres acidity and citrus on the nose as well; small amount of yeasty character also showing. On the palate its clean, nice acidity runs through; there is citrus freshness to this, nice zing to it; very lively and basically bone dry. Lip smackingly moreish.

Barbadillo Cream

Some raisin, toffee, cooked / stewed apples; actually quite closed on the nose compared to the rest. Quite sweet, toffee and some coffee notes, some acidity still; a burnt caramel note too. Not heavy, but its probably lacking in some acidity - not my style.

Barbadillo Amontillado Seco Principe

Toffee, burnt almonds; varnish and lacquer; cured jamon or bacon, almost salty; some yeasty, citrus; and even rancid stones - really rather complex and interesting. On the palate it feels mature and oxidative; bone dry, nutty with some cinnamon spice; such tension on the mouthfeel, it feels rather nervy (in a good way) despite its age. The acidity lingers to a long, tangy finish. Superb..

Barbadillo Oloroso Seco Cuco

Incredibly nutty, intense roasted almonds and hazelnuts; even raisin, smoky bacon, again cured meaty notes; fully oxidative, spice (can't pin down which though) and some varnish. Nice presence, acidity so long and sustained, really settled drink.

Barbadillo Palo Cortado Obispo Gascon

Nutty, lots of volatile / really high tones; some yeast and also varnish. Again lots of acidity, really fresh and bone dry, tension and nerve; theres a pithy, bitter marmalade note to it. Very long on the finish, lasts ages. Goes brilliantly with manchego cheese, cuts through very nicely. Serious stuff.

Barbadillo Pedro Ximenez La Cilla

Molasses, brown sugar and demerara; raisin juice, golden syrup and caramel - in short, all you expect from a PX. On the palate its thick almost gloopy; some coffee and chocolate, really full blown with raisin, treacle. Full and seriously viscous. A dessert in its own right.

Friday, 28 October 2011


Two wines on tasting at Cambridge Wine Merchants, Friday 28 October 2011.

2009 Cotes du Rhone 'Samorens' Ferraton Pere et Fils
Cambridge Wine £7.99. B

Crushed red fruits, cherries and plums, fruit is forward. On the palate its quite filling, again fruit is forward, feels fleshy, acidity is sufficient, slight tannic grip. A simple but well made wine, cheerful.

2009 Crozes Hermitage 'La Matiniere' Ferraton Pere et Fils
Cambridge Wine £13.50. B+(+)
Gold medal - International Wine Challenge 2011

The nose has green and herby notes; capsicum, dusted white pepper; then the red fruits and maybe even violets - very attractive and classical. On the palate its big, lots of extracted dark fruits, very juicy; textured mouthfeel, theres plenty of going on, more concentration of flavours too. Acidity still very fresh, decent length; rather tannic now, really grips from the mid palate onwards; needs food and time - has potential to improve 5-10years.

CUWS M11 - Malartic Lagraviere

Tasted Wednesday, 19 October 2011.

A flight of wines from the portfiolio of Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere for Cambridge University Wine Society; many thanks to Jean-Jacques Bonnie for leading such an interesting and informative tasting. Red wines were tasted before the whites

2007 Diam Andes Gran Reserva Red

DiamAndes grows and vinifies wine that accounts for approximately 25% of the Clos de los Siete blend, a wine which I have previously reviewed here.

A 70/30 blend of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Inky black, deep colour, lots of black berry and black currants; some sweet vanilla and slight spice on the nose. Full mouthfeel, quite textured; its dripping with so much dark fruit, its basically a fruit bomb; some woody tones with decent acidity still there though; on the finish its rather tannic but quite long. Big, full bodied stuff, maybe over the top at the moment but should improve for at least 5-15years.

2008 Chateau Gazin Rocquencourt Rouge

Lots of fruit, dark berries; lots of spice and dusted white pepper; fruit really shows on the nose, quite open and yielding. Palate quite full, ripe fruits, vibrant acidity; its forward, fresh and mostly fruit driven; tannic only towards the end. You can feel that theres some tension, this wine hasn't fully unravelled itself. 5-10years.

2006 Chateau Gazin Rocquencourt Rouge

Crushed red fruits, more sour cherry, even tending towards raspberries, almost soft; not as open on the nose. Mouthfeel interesting, its distincly softer and more mellow; decent acidity still, fruit shows different structure - its lost the round, frontal fruit hit, instead evolving to a more sustained fruit structure on the mid palate; tannin only towards the end. 3-7years.

2008 Reserve de Malartic Rouge

Dark fruits there, blackcurrants and berries, maybe a bit of sweet spice, nothing much on the nose. Palate is full, nice acidity and plenty of it too,really quite vibrant and fresh; black berry and sour dark plums. Lively tannins on the end; drinking well now to 5-7years. On the night, this was the most drinkable and enjoyable red.

2008 Chateau Malartic Lagraviere Rouge

Black berries, sour plums again, quite hot, really fruit forward, some cassis. Far more textured, bigger, denser wine but still showing vibrant acidity, really bright actually; concentration of fruit is notable. Nice length, grainy tannins, drinking window for another 5-20years.

2005 Chateau Malartic Lagraviere Rouge

Dark cherry, some black currants too, more star anise and spice, also rustic touches, maybe slight cigar box and mahogany. Palate is bright, lots of plump ripe fruits; dark berries and cherries mostly; acidity is still there. It still feels rather big now; textured and complex, this wine needs time to express itself fully, lots of tension still. Good, lengthy but still tannic finish; in terms of absolute quality, it is far and away the best red wine of the night; to improve 5-20+ years.

2003 Chateau Malartic Magraviere Rouge

So bright on the nose, sour cherry, raspberry, even strawberry; liquor like; touch of heat and even dusty notes showing through. Palate is lighter, settled, not as bright and vibrant as the younger brothers; the acidity still there, does feel a touch cooked. After the 2005, this feel substantially thinner and less textured on the palate but is still an interesting wine on its own right. Drinking well now to 3-10years.

2010 DiamAndes Chardonnay

White fruits, peaches, some grapefruit; rather sweet nose, vanilla perhaps; purity shows. Full palate, actually rather heavy and textured; lots of white fruit, well rounded yet still dense. Acidity not that prevalent but enough, can be enjoyed happily on its own. Big, for a white wine.

2010 Chateau Gazin Rocquencourt Blanc

Lime, lots of lemon sherbet; almost floral, citrus peel, like air freshener; very fresh, shows vibrancy. Really racy acidity with crisp minerality; so much fruit, vibrant and zingy. Good density of flavour; big fruit, the oak weight can be felt on palate; decent persistence.

2009 Reserve de Malartic Blanc

Ripe fruits, peaches mostly; fatness even on the nose, some floral tones. Vibrancy, more oak can be felt, some texture, but there isn't as much fruit showing, decent acidity but lacking in concentration. Unfortunately rather forgettable.

2009 Chateau Malartic Lagraviere Blanc

Again white fruits, peaches and apricot, some citrus peel and sherbet, rather closed. Great vibrancy and acidity, lively palate, nicely textured, lots of fruit. Good concentration and length, staying power, feels substantial. Beautiful balance, showing nicely now.

2007 Chateau Malartic Lagraviere Blanc

Peaches and apricot on the nose, theres a semillon like nose going on; but is quickly overtaken by floral, acacia like tones; there is so much high, exotic notes on this, the wine almost dances on the nose. On the palate some of the primary fruit has settled down, but theres still so much acidity; great concentration of flavours. The length is remarkable, such staying power. Integrated, very together; in short, a superlative wine.

2003 Chateau Malartic Lagraviere Blanc

The white fruits is still there, but not as lively on the primary fruit front. More wood showing, perhaps even a touch oxidative. Decent acidity, but the fruit is rather muted and settled; theres still some linger on the finish but I'm afraid I feel some of the fruit has dried out. At this tasting, very much overshadowed by the 2007; drinking nicely now but I'm not sure I'd want to keep it much longer.


Tasted Thursday, 20 October 2011.

Picture taken from

2009 The Liberator 'Francophile #1 Syrah' Special Edition. South Africa.
The Wine Society £9.95. A-

Rich nose of blackberry and dark cherries, along with cassis liquer and some smoke; does smell rather hot, but not cooked. On the palate its full of bright dark fruits, good extraction; nicely textured too, it has decent weight on the mouthfeel without being cumbersome. Dab of acidity and fleshy tannins towards the end probably means this will improve with age, though its drinking very well now. Another impressive effort from 'The Liberator' series; very good value too.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Formal Hall

Five wines during the course of dinner, with a couple of interesting older reds from the Jaboulet stable.

2009 Bellingham 'The Bernard Series' Hand Picked Viognier. South Africa.
Majestic £10.99. A-

Full on the nose, ripe peaches, lots of white fruits and even a touch of honey on it; also exotic tropical fruits of lychee and mango too; floral and heady, smells rather sweet and big. Very juicy, its evident there was tremendous ripeness in the fruit; nice thickness and weight on the palate; full bodied, slightly off dry, with an oily touch too, slight spice at the end. Big, rather muscular wine; drinks very well.

1996 Crozes Hermitage 'Domaine de Thalabert' Paul Jaboulet Aine

Reviewed this several times before. Still showing wonderful freshness on the palate; sour cherries and plums, with nice firm acidity too. The touch of earthy rusticness still there. Just very together.

1971 Chateau La Lagune. 3er Cru Classe, Haut Medoc.

On the nose, its still incredibly vibrant, even lively - red berries and particularly red currants leaping out; some earthy, rather musty note also shows. On the palate its yielding yet still firm; the acidity is whats keeping the wine together and still in tension; fruit is still there, mostly sour red cherries. Very poised and truly an interesting wine.

2006 Chateau Doisy-Vedrines. 2er Cru Classe, Barsac.

Big, full on the nose; lots of candied oranges, marmalade and acacia honey; the botrytis also evident. The mouthfeel is remarkable; textured and full, again of candied citrus, sweet oranges and marmalade; theres almost a creamy side to it, flavour does come in layers; lots of citrus, and also decent streak of acidity. In all, very together and not cloying; its very fine now, but no doubt will age gracefully too.

2002 Domaine de Montahuc, Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois, Vin Doux Naturel

Only had a small sip of this so very brief impressions. Does feel fortified, showing nice sweetness of peardrops, sweet citrus, maybe even cooked apples on the nose; lacks the balancing acidity but because still feels light on the palate. Never had anything from this AOC before.


2005 Hanging Rock Kilfara Pinot Noir. Victoria, Australia.

Despite the age, its still lively on the nose; crushed red fruits, red cherries and some raspberries; bright, some floral tones, with cassis / liquer-like edge to it. Its big for a Pinot, and probably benefited from the aging. Palate is juicy, feels rather extracted and hot; fat acidity, but rather rasping, some tannic structure left. A very atypical Pinot; was strange when I bought it three years ago and its still strange now..

Monday, 17 October 2011


Two quality whites from Cambridge Wine; tasted Sunday, 16 October 2011.

2009 Domaine Treloar 'La Terre Promise'
Cambridge Wine £13.99. B+

Full on white fruits showing, dominated by ripe peaches and quince; theres a slight oxidative touch to this and also a hint of toast. Decent weight and texture on the palate, quite oily; its a big, full style; definitely mouthfilling; lingering finish. A fairly robust white that would show well with creamy foods.

2009 Petit Chablis 'pas si petit' La Chablisienne
Cambridge Wine £12. B+

Lots of lemon peel and bright citrus fruit on the nose, which carries through to the palate where its bursting with ripe lemons. Atypically rather big for a Petit Chablis, with almost explosive ripe fruits showing alongside a good backbone of steely acidity; lingering lemony finish. Sophisticated stuff.

Saturday, 15 October 2011


1998 Chateau Pipeau, Saint Emilion Grand Cru
Tanners. B.

Some woody and licorice notes; dark berries, cassis, dark plums; some undergrowth / rustic notes, all rather muted. Drying acidity, some fruit still there but feels musty and isnt bright anymore; light rancid even cooked note about it. Tannins still persisting with dying fruit, unfortunately unbalanced.

Friday, 14 October 2011


2009 Domaine la Sarabande, Faugeres.
Cambridge Wine £14.99. B+

A blend of 60% Grenache, 15% Syrah and 25% Carignan. On the nose, it shows really bright red fruits, strawberry and raspberry almost liqueur like; some black cherry and plums too. On the palate, its expressive and fresh, still showing lots of bright fruit, quite extracted; filling, with decent texture too, gentle tannic grip at the end. Well put together, classy wine.

Friday, 7 October 2011


Tasted, Tuesday 13 September 2011.

2010 Ebner-Ebenauer Gruner Veltliner
Roberson £9.95. A-

White stone fruits, peaches and pineapple; thick mineral, some flint and limestone; for a Gruner Veltliner, this has an expressive almost tropical nose. Crisp, nice acidity; big yet lip smacking; ripe fruits; mineral finish and touch of spice at the end. Very together, unusually ripe and complex at this price point.

2010 7, Rue de la Pompe, Mas de Coutelou.
Roberson £9.95. B+

Bright red fruits; theres a huge dollop of earthy and manure notes to it, definitely rustic; alongside it, theres lots of fruit and some damson; smells quite sulphury actually, is there excessive brettanomyces going on here? Nicely extracted fruit on the palate, plenty of ripe red fruits and spice as well; some woody touches and green pepper, with a clean tartness at the end. Whilst I find the palate wonderful, the nose did put off several of my drinking companions, makes me wonder whether its supposed to smell like this; would have had a higher rating if not for (what I suspect) the slightly faulty nose.

2010 Benjamin Darnault Viognier
Naked Wines £9.99. B

Ripe peaches and sweet white fruits; some organic notes and waxy lemons; lively nose. Fat palate showing lots of ripe fruits but lacking in acidity; feels a touch flabby and dilute for my liking. Well made enough, but  uninteresting; there are plenty other Languedoc Viogniers at lower price points which shows more interesting features.


Tasted Sunday, 11 September 2011.

2008 Phillip Shaw 'The Dreamer' Viognier. Orange, Australia.
Slurp Wines £12.20. A-

Very ripe peaches and sweet white fruits on the nose, some oily touches and heavy organics even showing; lovely nose, expressive and bold. Palate full of ripe fruits, fat acidity; generous and full on the palate, so much fruit; lingers on the finish. Brilliant presence, full mouthfeel; a big wine to go with food.

2009 Samos Vin Doux 
Vinoteca £5.50 (375ml). B

Made from Muscat Petit Grain; deep golden colour. On the nose lots of honey and treacle, candied fruits, some floral tones too; it does smell fortified. Heavy on the palate, full; just sits on the mouth; slightly cloying and clumsy for my liking, needs a bit more acidity. Still very good value though.

Vinoteca, London.

Two wines with late lunch at Vinoteca in Seymour Place, Marylebone.
Tasted Saturday, 10 September 2011.

2009 Castello di Luzzano 'Tasto di Seta' Colli Piacentini DOC.

Made from Malvasia. Neutral, white stone fruits and peaches mainly. Palate is wide, only middling acidity, this is about width on the palate, then showing some citrus and pith too. Clean and fresh with some weight. Counters the intense fruity acidity vinegar in the salmon and pickles starter; unfortunately became a bit boring when it warmed up slightly.

2008 Santes Portal de Montsant

Some floral and white stone fruits, again rather neutral, after a while it showed lemon and citrus. Nice amount of fruit, bracing acidity, lemony freshness, touch of width, really rather racy. Lip smacking, leaving you wanting more. Compliments the fruity, acidic dressing of the cod.


Tasted, Friday 9 September 2011.

2007 Magpie Estate 'The Fakir' Grenache.
Noel Young £13.95. B+

Nice red berries, very forward and fragrant; some sweet vanilla and sweet spice going on; warmth, black pepper and earthy; attractive still. Palate is full on with berries and fruits, nice fat acidity, some spice and woody notes at the end; juicy, easy drinking.

2009 Main Divide Riesling. Waipara.

Zesty lime and lime peel; zingy, slight touches of kerosene, some floral tones too; in all, beautiful nose. Nice palate with sweet grape fruit and candied lime; slightly off dry 10-15 g/l giving it some width, generous and fat mouthfee; very juicy. Touch of bitterness on the finish, gentle acidity. Well made, very together.