Wednesday, 30 November 2011

CUWS M11 - Alves de Sousa & Quinta da Gaivosa

Wednesday 23 November 2011.

A tasting of Alves de Sousa & Quinta da Gaivosa wines for Cambridge University Wine Society, led by their winemaker Tiago Alves de Sousa. I cannot find any UK retailer who stocks these wines, so there arent any retail prices indicated - their UK agent is Top Selection (

2009 Branco da Gaivosa Reserva White

Yellowish gold tinge. White fruit, peaches; slightly alcoholic, lots of high notes, almost of ether. On the palate, shows fresh acidity; the oak influence gives some texture, fuller in style, not just your simple quaffing wine. Very together: fruit, acid and oak integrated. Balanced wine.

2004 Alves de Sousa Reserva Pessoal White

Golden in colour. Rich white fruits, followed by toasted oak, distinctly nutty; some almonds, fino sherry like even, flint and struck match. Complex, oxidised nose. Fat acidity, savoury on the palate, this is completely weird, does taste oxidised like sherry. So much presence though, lingering nutty, smoky tones. Bizarre, yet wonderful - I love it, but no doubt some people will take offence at this style of winemaking.

2008 Quinta da Vale da Raposa Touriga Nacional

Dark fruits, cassis; woody, licorice and sweet vanilla shows; smells alcoholic, almost confected, very dark compote. Load of dark fruits on the palate but its not particularly thick, expected much bigger; as it is, shows forward jammy fruits, good acidity, ripe tannins. Drinks well now, to at least 3 years.

2005 Quinta da Gaivosa Red

Good dark fruit profile, compote, licorice, chocolate, mocha; its rather aromatic, almost floral, for a red wine. Greater concentration of fruit; extracted, more sustained on the mid palate, feels slightly hot; at the moment rather closed, though its obvious the bottle aging has benefited this wine. Tannins grainy, grips around. Needs time to open and soften. 2015-2020+

2007 Quinta da Gaivosa Vinha de Lordelo Red

Dark fruits, woody stems and notes of coffee and mocha. Good fruit, dark and extracted; feels quite hot, tannin does grip, all balanced by a nice dollop of acidity. Good tannic structure and concentration, a tad muscular; the 15.5% abv starts becoming apparent, but carries it well enough, not unbalanced. Will age with ease 2015-2020+

2007 Abandonado Red

From vineyards that have been abandoned and left to grow wild, hence the name.
Dark cherry compote, some cassis, sweet vanilla and mocha. Really dark fruit, serious extraction, lots of bramble. Plenty of depth, tannic and acid structure, muscular; grips a bit too much at the moment. Needs time to soften and open. 2015-2025+

NV Caldas White Port

Funky cheese, vegetal; spritz, air freshener; then green olives, fennel, dill, good amount of green notes It is sweet, obvious fresh and sweet fruit; sweet apples and nectarines, complex with some oxidative character too. Rather unusual - I have no reference point for this wine.

10yo Quinta da Gaivosa Tawny Port
A- (unique style)

Deep tawny territory in colour. Sweet raisin, dried figs, nutty too; lacquer, alcohol. Fresh acidity, very memorable palate, like dried sour plums / kumquat, dried but unsweetened citrus peel; theres a strong citrus element on the palate; the acidity is rather racy and lip smacking. This is something else: so unique, so much acidity and but still a lot of sugar. One of a kind.

2008 Quinta da Gaivosa Vintage Port

Dark fruit, compote blackberry and blue berry; also coffee, dark mocha, bramble; then touches of violets - all very much like good vintage port. Dark, lots of fruit, depth; fruit is obvious and upfront, and very good concentration. Surprisingly low in tannins, not quite LBV in style, but doesn't feel like proper old school vintage port. Ripe sweet tannins which doesnt grip too much, which is completely unexpected. Don't know whether this will be a 30- 40 years kind of aging. 2015-2035.

Monday, 21 November 2011

CWM - Rhone 2010 en primeur

Monday, 21 Nov 2011.
An en primeur tasting of 2010 Rhones hosted by Cambridge Wine Merchants at St John's Chophouse, Cambridge. Many thanks to Stewart Travers, CWM's Senior Buyer, for the kind invite.

My general impression was that it was a very good vintage and from what was available to taste, it was uniform in both North and South. The fruit as well as the tannins were sweet and ripe with most wines showing good balance; several wines were even enjoyable at this stage. The wines which I found most notable are listed below, along with necessarily brief notes. Domaine de Escaravailles and Mas de Boislauzon wines in particular showed very well throughout its range.
Prices are per case of 12x75cl in bond excluding duty and VAT; points are marked out of 20.


Luberon Blanc, Perrin & Fils
£36 | 16.5
Good, clearly defined fruit expression on the palate; fresh, lemony and clean without being overly simple; good value.

Saint Peray Le Mialan, Ferraton et Fils
£84 | 16.5
Good fruit expression, again lemony but with more on the finish; a slightly bigger wine compared to the Luberon. Fresh, fruity, forward.

Condrieu, Laurent Bretton
£200 | 17.25
Nice floral and even sweet notes on the nose. Palate feels lean, fat lemony fruit, almost waxy. Big, textured, finishes a bit too quickly; a serious wine but left me feeling this could be better...

Reds - Southern Rhone

Ventoux ' Les Esclausels', Dom de Cassan
£45 | 16.5++
Dark fruits and jammy, licorice, rather hot. Lots of fruit not over extracted, quite muscular and good tannic grip. 2014-17.

Cotes du Rhone 'Les Sablieres', Dom des Escaravailles
£50 | 16.5+
Slightly dirty, muddy, brett on the nose (not enough to be a fault, so probably going for style?) with red fruit. Clean and bright ref fruits on the palate, fresh, attractive. 2012-2016

Cotes du Rhone 'Les Antimagnes' Rouge, Dom des Escaravailles
£65 | 16.5++
Quite rustic on the nose, with cassis and dark fruit. Attractive bright fruit, backed up by vibrant acidity. Feels lighter than the amount of fruit would suggest. Good for early drinking. 2012-2017.

Cotes du Rhone Villages, Mas de Boislauzon
£72 | 16.5++
Dark fruit, with some floral touches. Remarkable balance and integration on palate - bags of fruit, tannic structure and acidity all in harmony. Should be enjoyable on delivery. 2012-2017.

Cairanne 'Les Ventabren', Dom des Escaravailles
£82 | 17++
Meaty, bacon, savoury on the nose; then dark fruits, slightly more complex. Bright fruits showing, vibrant acidity; no excessive grip. Should be enjoyable on delivery. 2012-2016.

Vacqueyras, Dom Saint Pierre
£102 (tbc) | 16.5++
Gamey, bacon nose, savoury; also cassis. Good depth, extracted dark fruits, verging on woody; tannins a bit green and grippy at the moment, should help it age well. 2014-2020.

Rasteau 'La Ponce', Dom des Escaravailles
£92 | 17+
Compote, fruit and floral touches. Good fruit showing, approachable; plenty going on in the palate, longer finish. A clear step up. 2014-2020.

Rasteau 'Heritage 1924', Dom des Escaravailles
£121 | 17+
Compote, slightly hot but closed. Feels bigger and more extracted, darker berries, good flavour intensity. Still maintaining freshness in acidity; surprisingly nimble. 2013-2020.

Roaix 'Les Hautes Granges', Dom des Escaravailles
£115 | 17.5+
Black pepper, smoke and cured meats on the nose, also floral; feels more Northern Rhone in style, exciting and vivid. Plenty of fruit, textured and layers of flavours. Seductive, superb wine; great value and my pick from this producer at this tasting; significant restraint needed in not ordering a case for myself. 2013-2020. 

Chateauneuf du Pape, Mas de Boislauzon
£209 | 17.5++
Attractive red and dark fruits showing, slightly hot. Fruit shows depth and concentration, supported by tannic and acid structure. Fairly old school in style, a long haul Chateauneuf. 2015-2030+

Chateauneuf du Pape 'Cuvee de Quet', Mas de Boislauzon
£550 | 17.5++
Dark fruits, some smoke and even port on the nose. Very dark and extracted, lots of fruit, inky black; big, muscular and grips all over the place; chunky power, finesse was thrown out of the cellar window. Knocks your lights out, says 15%abv but I don't believe it, not for the faint hearted (or shallow pocketed). No surprise then it has had high Parker ratings. Ridiculously heavy bottle to boot. 2015-2040+

Reds - Northern Rhone

Crozes Hermitage 'La Matiniere', Ferraton Pere et Fils
£79 | 16.5++
Lovely elegance on the nose and palate; good fruit supported by acidity. Feel that this isnt expressing itself that well. 2013-2017

Crozes Hermitage 'Les Picheres', Ferraton Pere et Fils
£110 | 17++
Plenty of fruit on the nose. Palate is fresh and bright, fruit is well defined, tannic and acid structure supportive; balance is the key here. All components feels together. Serious wine, will develop nicely. 2013-2020

Crozes Hermitage 'Les Rouvre', Yann Chave 
£142 | 16.5+
Dark fruits, cassis and almost raisin like port notes; rather unusual. Rather extracted dark fruits, some acidity in there; nice balance on the palate, a good wine in all notwithstanding the weird nose. Will probably run out of acidity before the fruit dries out. 2013-2020.

Hermitage, Yann Chave
£422 | 17.5++
Dark fruits on the nose. Serious extraction, depth and concentration, a big wine which lingers on the palate; fine tannins. Will age with grace. 2015-2030+.

Saturday, 19 November 2011


Friday, 18 Nov 2011.

1996 l'Ermitage de Chasse Spleen, Haut Medoc.
Tanners (Oddments) £13.95 | A-

Pronounced tertiary notes on the nose: sweet mahogany, cedar, cigarbox, leather and sweet spice (cinnamon and star anise), also earthy and rustic tones. Palate is silky; red fruits of cherries and currants showing soft, very yielding fruits; acidity still there, making it surprisingly fresh and vibrant, slips down with ease; has matured so well. Very together and showing beautifully; absolutely superb effort.

CUWS M11 - Maison Nicolas Potel

Wednesday, 16 November 2011.
A tasting of Maison Nicolas Potel's wines for Cambridge University Wine Society; most of the wines shown do not have current UK stockists.

 2010 Chablis

Fresh, citrus; smells flinty, minerality, some limestone; also lime peel. Fresh acidity; quite fat actually, surprisingly its not excessively linear and relatively soft. Still focused, lemon dominated; decent finish. Lovely drinkable style of Chablis yet still true to its roots.

2009 Bourgogne Blanc

Smells oaked, some citrus shows. On the palate it shows ripe grapefruit and citrus, decent acidity; obviously Burgundian and well-polished, but its rather boring. A correct wine with no obvious faults but very forgettable.

2009 Puligny Montrachet

Nice citrus showing on the nose with a touch of oak. On the palate its very plump and juicy, ripe lemons and fat citrus; feels plush and glossy; acidity is nervy and structured. Very together, very drinkable now, my kind of wine - most drinkable white of the night.

2007 Meursault 1er Cru 'Les Boucheres'

The oaking comes through on the nose - creamy and buttery notes showing prominently, citrus hidden behind it all. Plenty of ripe fruit still there, wine feels quite large and with good texture (almost creamy); a more sustained mid palate than previous wines, perhaps showing that its a bit more serious. Decent length on the finish. Slightly troubled by the fact the oaking is so obvious on the nose - wheres the subtlety?

2006 Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru

On the nose, shows nice balance between the oak and citrus fruit. The mouthfeel is textured and filling yet velvety at the same time; ripe fruits showing, followed by the opulence of the oak. The acidity is firm and structured, great backbone to this; a wine of great finesse and power. Drinks well now and will reward cellaring; far and away the best wine of the night.

2009 Bourgogne Rouge

Rustic earthy undergrowth, then red fruits. Very drinkable on the palate, bright red fruits, sour cherries and crushed currants; fresh, light and nimble; acidity backs it all up. Vibrant.

2008 Pommard

Again bright red fruits showing on the nose - cherries and raspberries, along with some vanilla touches. The fruit is slightly more austere and lean, feels rather closed at the moment; the bright red fruits not showing, instead the tannic grip is quite prominent on the finish. I feel it needs time to show its opulence of fruit (which I think is there); at the moment its just a bit edgy and awkward.

2008 Volnay 

Lots of rustic, undergrowth and even mushroom / woody notes showing; proper Burgundian. The fruit is plush and soft, quite rounded; sour cherries and raspberry; however, theres the added tannic grip at the end, which feels out of place. The acidity is just right at the moment. I fear there will be a rather narrow drinking window for this wine when the tannins have softened but not all the fruit has gone; my guess somewhere 2013-2016?

2007 Nuit St George 1er Cru 'Les Vaucrains'

Crushed red fruit, some muddy, truffled notes too; more floral aromatics as well, violets. Lots of fruit on the palate; cherries and plums; ripe fruits, opulence is there; textured, even creamy. Acidity and tannins in harmony, good structure; some grip towards the end. This will evolve and is ideal for mid term cellaring. 2015-2022+.

2007 Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru  

Lots of fruit on the nose, almost dark fruits; then floral, damsons, and undergrowth rustic tones. Palate is full bodied, a jump in extraction, dark fruit dominated, intense and concentrated; lots of up front fruit shows glimpses of the power yet to be unravelled. Theres layers of flavour and texture showing, which only time can show. Towards the end, the tannic grip takes hold; good acidity too. Power, poise and concentration - just needs time to open up. 2015-2030+

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Formal Hall

Three wines with dinner. Sunday, 13 Nov 2011.

2008 The Liberator Special Edition 'Francophile #2' Stellenbosch.
The Wine Society £9.95 | A-

Heady notes of ripe peaches and some citrus, also touches of floral, rather oily, with some high, almost organic chemistry notes. Palate is ripe and full; ripe white fruits again; really a big wine but not flabby, full mouthfeel with nice texture; theres a slight pithy bitterness amidst it all. Definitely a food wine; lingering finish.

1996 Abadia Retuerta 'Cuvee El Campanario'. Sardon de Duero

Showing beautifully again, lots of freshness still, despiate the age; nice acidity still showing; fruits are now soft and red; crushed raspberries and sour cherries. Seductive, and drinking so well. Paired well with gammon.

2009 Seifried 'Sweet Agnes' Riesling. Nelson.
Naked Wine £18 (375ml) | A

An award winner which I have tasted and reviewed a year ago. This shows all the same notes - wonderful tropical nose of sour mangoes, lychees and valencia oranges. Tasted like sweet marmalade; very high and refreshing citrus acidity paired with bags of sugar; not cloying, drinking like nectar. Wonderful.

Saturday, 12 November 2011


Three wines from Cambridge Wine Merchants, tasted at their King's Parade branch; prices are retail.

2007 Vidigal Brut Espumante Branco Metodo Classico, Vinho Regional Lisboa.
£9.99 | B

Nose is lively, some fruit, touch of lees there as well. Palate is distinctly off dry, lemony fresh, vibrant; fruit is ripe. Cheerful  but perhaps a simple wine.

2009 Zuccardi 'Serie A' Torrontes. Salta.
£10.99 | A-

Smells sweet, orange blossoms and acacia, really rather floral; orange peel, very lifted and aromatic; some appley notes too; beautiful nose. On the palate theres loads of fruit; some pith and a touch of sugar, like ripe grapefruits; but still very racy, with decent mid palate weight; even some streaks of minerality showing. Well made, so together; such a fine drink - one of the best Argentinian Torrontes I've had.

2010 Zuccardi 'Serie A' Malbec. Mendoza.
£11.99 | B+

Nose shows crushed red berries, woody, vanilla; sweet spices, has port-like aromas too. Palate is light but there's a lot of ripe red fruits, red cherries and berries; sweet, not much acidity; because of the lack of extraction, this to me feels rather hollow in the middle palate; a Malbec 'light' if you will. They are going for a lighter style perhaps to combat the stereotype of big, chunky Malbecs.

CUWS M11 Tokaji - Demeter Zoltan

Wednesday, 09 November 2011.

A tasting of  Demeter Zoltan wines ( led by the winemaker himself for Cambridge University Wine Society. Prices are retail from their UK importer / distributor Cozzi & Boffa (

2009 Demeter Zoltan 'Birtokbor' Tokaji Furmint
£20 | B+

A blend from their various vineyards; the 'house' style if you will.
Clean, lots of citrus, chalky almost; also lime sherbet. Fresh, nice acidity on the palate; there is a touch of sugar there which can be felt, fat white fruits, fleshy white peach; very ripe and fat. Very drinkable, cheerful wine.

2009 Demeter Zoltan 'Veres' Tokaji Furmint
£32 | B+

Floral, also peach, sherbet even grape like? Rather mineral again, but width, not linear, some fatness to this. Nice ripe white fruits with decent lemony finish. Classy.

2009 Demeter Zoltan 'Lapis' Tokaji Furmint
£36 | A-

Clean, neutral white fruit, lime stone, chalk. Again white fruits with some citrus; more mineral showing, restrained intensity and power; feels quite linear and austere, lean. Great tension showing in the wine; poised.

2009 Demeter Zoltan 'Szerelmi' Tokaji Harslevelu
£36 | B+ (not pictured)

Neutral, lime sherbet on the nose. Nice acidity, minerality showing through; quite linear and austere, long persistent lime acidity, solid backbone. Structured.

2008 Demeter Zoltan 'Szerelmi' Tokaji Harslevelu
£36 | A-

Ripe white fruits, peaches, there is some buttery touches. Palate very wide, width as opposed to linearity; fat acidity, so generous yet persistent acidity. 7g/l residual sugar which lends a generous mouthfeel. Very sustained flavours, long finish; lingering power. Fantastic; my favourite dry white wine of the evening.

2008 Demeter Zoltan 'Fobor' Tokaji
£49 (50cl) | A

Honey, acacia, also floral, ripe sweet nectarines, candied citrus, sweet marmalade. Fantastic acidity still there, so fresh; sugar at 198 g/l is high but doesn't feel heavy at all. Nice marmalade showing through, sweet valencia, tangerines; combination of lots of sugar with orangey searing acidity. Superlative; my favourite sweet wine of the evening.

2008 Demeter Zoltan 'Aszu' Tokaji
£95 (50cl) | A

Nose very similar to above, more honey, golden syrup and intensity though. Sugar is slightly higher at 224 g/l.  Intense, cooked marmalade, serious intensity going. There is less acidity, its heavier, more botrytis can be felt, the bitterness shows at the back. Sits on the palate, lingers on the palate forever. At the moment, its not as nimble and playful as the 'Fobor' but I'm reliably informed this is better for the long haul.

2000 Demeter Zoltan 'Eszencia' Tokaji
Price on request | A

Nectar of the gods at 2% alcohol and 500 g/l residual sugar; it literally gloops out reluctantly form the bottle. Honey, so intense; treacle and golden syrup, its like drinking runny honey really. But there's still citrus / tangerines showing too; this is beyond words and description, golden sultana juice. It just sits on the palate and lasts forever. A true novelty.

CUWS M11 Tokaji - Laszlo Alkonyi Masterclass

Wednesday, 09 Nov 2011.
A Tokaji Masterclass by the renowned Tokaji expert Laszlo Alkonyi ( who has extensively researched the dry white wine producing vineyards in Tokaji. The first two wines are 'ordinary' styles of dry white wines whereas the last three are from vineyard sites which Laszlo considers to be among the best in Tokaji. All five wines are made from the Furmint varietal.

2009 Oremus 'Mandolas' Tokaji Dry

Neutral, white fruits and some peach. There is oak on the nose and you can feel it nicely integrated on the mid palate; nice acidity, quite cutting; fresh with grapefruit and citrus, some weight and texture to this. Has a lemony finish. Clean, refreshing.

2010 Disznoko Tokaji Dry Furmint

Neutral, even green on the nose. Palate has green, face contorting acidity, mineral showing; unripe grapefruit, struggling to get ripeness. Acidity really unbalanced; very harsh and piercing. Apparently in Tokaji, 2010 was one of the worst vintages in living memory.

2009 Homonna Attila 'Hatari' Tokaji Dry
A- (not pictured)

Neutral white fruit, maybe some oak; lime sherbet on thenose. Nice acidity, fruit is ripe and large, ripe grape fruit with a touch of greenness; theres a nice fatness on the palate, not linear. Nice length, more on the finish. Big, structured wine, nervy but very polished.

2008 Istvan Szepsy 'Szent Tamas' Tokaji Dry

Creamy and nutty, minerality; again peach, white fruit; more buttery, really shows the oak treatment, there is even a smoky whiff. Full mouthfeel, quite thick and textured; acidity persistent, nicer presence, lemony mid palate. Very wide and generous, quite burly and muscular fruit which could handle all the oak treatment. Burgundian in all but name.

2008 Demeter Zoltan 'Lapis' Tokaji Dry

Citrus, floral and acacia; mangoes, lychee and over ripe peaches, definitely sweeter nose. Palate shows fantastic acidity; touch of sugar can be felt, only a couple grams of sugar; palate is big yet so elegant. Very together, the acidity so persistent; sustained intensity of fruit and concentration; very exciting nose for dry wine. Seductive.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Formal Hall

Three wines with dinner, tasted 06 Nov 2011.

NV Romate Sanchez Fino Perdido
The Wine Society £7.95 | B+

Previously reviewed here; must say it coped well being paired with smoked salmon, with a rather pungent olive vinaigrette dressing.

2003 Chateau La Dauphine, Fronsac
The Wine Society | B+

Bought at auction; stored in the temperature controlled cellars of The Wine Society since release; sold en primeur at £95 per case in bond.
Plummy red fruits on the nose, some woody tones too, touch of vanilla also showing; small amount of secondary notes beginning to show; rustic charm. Palate is settled, rounded red fruits, red plums and sour cherries dominate the palate, still fresh and vibrant; acidity balanced; tannins have softened. Drinking very nicely, probably at its peak now to 2015.

2008 Domaine de Montesquiou Grappe d'Or Jurancon 
Leon Stolarski £17.25 | A-

Rather fragrant nose; honey and acacia, floral tones; intense citrus notes, like sweet, candied orange peel; also exotic tropical notes of mango, with over ripe peaches and nectarines; lots going on. Palate is very vibrant, so much racy lemony acidity; I suspect the sugar is around the 80-100g/l range but theres so much acidity, the sugar is really masked. Palate is rich, bursting with sweet valencia oranges and tangerines, very citrusy; great presence and long finish. Beautifully poised, a wonderful wine.

Saturday, 5 November 2011


A tasting of Bordeaux Wines by the CIVB (Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux) for Cambridge University Wine Society, led by Anthony Stockbridge. Wednesday, 02 Nov 2011.

2009 Averys Pioneer Range Bordeaux
Avery's Wine Merchants £8.99 | B+

Plum fruits, currants; some violets and smoke; feels quite hot and cooked, like compote. Palate has lots of fruit, good dose of acidity balanced by green notes; a more modern style, immediately approachable and drinkable. Again, nice fruits showing, but lacks in finish; well made everyday drinking wine.

2009 Chateau David, Bordeaux Superieur
Sainsburys £6.49 | B

Dark currants and berries, a bit of mint perhaps on the nose. Again lots of fruit on the palate, juicy; still feels a touch hot. There is a good fruit hit at the beginning, but again disappears quickly; a simple, well made everyday drinking wine.

2009 le Voyage de Chai au Quai, Cotes du Castillon
Laithwaites £12.99 | B+

Dark fruits, some smoke, quite woody nose; then red violets and cherries, berries too. On the palate its fruit forward, quite rounded, plums and berries; does feel quite big; some depth and weight but doesnt carry it through on the finish. Good fruit hit, then disappears quickly; feels a touch alcoholic but in all, its well put together.

2006 Chateau Lapelletrie, Saint Emilion Grand Cru
Tesco Wine £13.10 | B+

Berries and cherries, some sweet spice, maybe violet, damson, attractive. Fresh dark fruits, again juicy, fruit forward, drying but not overtly tannic; the fruit is less round, its a bit thinner and leaner on the mid palate; doesnt immediately disappear on the finish. I think the fruit is drying out, just about hanging on.

2006 Domaine de Saint-Guirons, Pauillac
Majestic £19.99 | B+(+)

From the FX Borie stable, which includes Chateaux Grand Puy Lacoste and Haut Batailley. 
Dark fruits, woody, some leather and sweet spice; quite brooding. Palate has lots of dark fruits, dark currants and cherries; big, denser mouthfeel, nice weight; the oak, fruit, tannin and acidity all very together and integrated; decent finish  There is some structure to this, drinks well enough now but will improve for another 3-8 years.

2001 Terre du Lion, Saint Julien

Made by second growth Chateau Leoville Las Cases, as what I suspect is their then third label generic Saint Julien; Las Cases' third label is now called La Petit Lion de Marquis de Las Cases .
Lots of secondary notes: woody, mahogany, cigar box; also leather and maybe pencil shavings too, then comes dark fruits and sweet spices - almost a textbook nose of a mature Saint Julien. Very settled on the palate, acidity still fresh, fruit is rounded; no longer big hit, it just has a yielding mid palate filled with ripe red cherries and berries. Shows class, it has clearly matured gracefully and is drinking beautifully now.

2006 Chateau Le Bourdillot Blanc, Graves
Laithwaites £9.79 | B

Colour is quite deep. Nose has waxy, rather oily notes; also white fruits, peaches and nectarines, touch of floral too. Palate is bone dry; nice acidity though its a bit on the harsh side; citrus freshness but lacking in complexity. Short finish, well made but forgettable.

2003 Chateau Laville, Sauternes

Classic sauternes nose: botrytis, floral; candied apricots and peaches, sweet citrus, marmalade and acacia honey. Decent acidity in this, isn't cloying; theres good balance, sweetness is moderate, maybe 80g/l range but has a weirdly drying (not sweet) tone at the back palate. Decent length on the finish, classy.

CWM Hidalgo

Second tasting in as many weeks of sherries from Sanlucar de Barrameida, this time from the house of Hidalgo. Tasted Tuesday, 01 Nov 2011 in The Punter, Cambridge; tasting was hosted by Cambridge Wine Merchants and led by Javier Hidalgo himself. Sherries were accompanied by some tasty tapas-stlye food.
Sat next to Tom Lewis, The Cambridge Wine Blogger, his take on the evening can be found here.

La Gitana Manzanilla

This is the 'house' style Manzanilla by Hidalgo, accounts for a majority of their production and sales.
Fresh flor and green almonds; brine and iodine, some biscuit and yeasty notes too. On the palate its very clean and refreshing, cleansing acidity, vibrant and taut; even some citrus showing as well. Nice style, really cuts through the fairly lively tapas and holds its own.

Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana

More nutty, roasted (as opposed to green) almonds on the nose; olives too, some brine and iodine still. On the palate is has more presence, greater intensity of flavour; definitely more nutty, not green anymore. Settled, more mature, still vibrant acidity; there isnt as much flavour on the initial hit, but it has a more sustained mid palate; lasts longer than the basic Manzanilla.

Oloroso Abocado Alameda

Sweeter nose: raisins, caramel and toffee, fudge; again some varnish, with noticeable oxidative character. The sugar is noticeable, maybe on the 50-60g/l range; raisins and sultanas, with caramel; good presence but short on the finish.

Hidalgo 30yo 'Wellington' Palo Cortado

On the nose its full on nutty, roasted hazelnuts and almonds; burnt salted caramel, some coffee and dusted chocolate, raisins too; then the more developed nose of wood varnish and lacquer kicks in; serious complexity even on the nose. On the palate theres still plenty of vibrant acidity, even fruity (sultanas, bitter marmalade); astonishingly fresh and lively; sweet spices on the very very long finish. Mature, complex, truly a joy to drink.

Hidalgo 30yo 'Triana' Pedro Ximenez

Dark, almost inky black and according to a fellow taster has the consistency of used engine oil. On the nose theres golden syrup, caramel, treacle and bags of molasses; some coffee, demerara and dark chocolate too; almost overhwhelming really. On the palate its incredibly concentrated, intense and sugary, this hits 400g/l residual sugar; syrupy thick, it actually feels heavy on the palate; tastes like raisin juice; unctuous, decadent, very very long mocha flavoured finish. I poured some of this over the vanilla ice cream dessert and it still showed through.