Thursday, 29 December 2011


 1997 Crozes Hermitage 'Domaine de Thalabert', Paul Jaboulet Aine
The Wine Society | B+

Bought en-primeur and since stored in the temperature controlled warehouse of The Wine Society.
Earthy, slight rusty and bloody nose, rustic; then tart red fruits, damson. Fresh acidity on the palate, red currants and raspberry dominated, soft red fruit, yielding and very fresh. Rather high acidity, lip smacking and fat. Needed a couple of hours to open up. Drink now.

Fonterutoli Chianti Classico, Mazzei  
vintage unknown, believed 1999

Ripe red cherry fruit on the nose, almost compote like; slight earthy and rusty note too; some violets too. Fresh on the palate, sour cherry and raspberry; lots of bright acidity and fruit still, tingling and vibrant, sustained mid palate, not big but has good length. Drying on the finish; not much tannins initially, but it builds over time. Fantastic balance and presence; a food wine. Needed a few hours to open up and loose its edginess; recorked, it was still drinking nicely one and two days after opening, losing a bit of the fresh acidity and gaining more sweet spices and bramble characters, quite remarkable. Drink now - 2017+.

1982 Churchill's Vintage Port

First vintage port made by Churchill's.
Red fruit on the nose, with roses and floral nature coming too, raspberry liquer; the volatile compounds are initially rather aggressive, turpentine and paint thinner. Palate has so much vibrant fruit, plummy and juicy; lots of spice off the bat, then sweet fruits with touches of mocha and dark chocolate. Long, lingering and spicy finish; tannins mostly resolved. Showing beautifully now but has enough to last a while, drink now - 2020+.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Downing MCR Christmas Tasting

Friday, 16 December 2011.
A tasting of 12 wines for Downing College MCR, with a Christmas theme.

 NV Chateau Renni Cava Brut. Spain.
Just Great Wine £8.95 | B+

Textbook Cava - crisp, dry yet still showing nice fruit structure. The mousse is perhaps on the aggressive side, but its lively and inoffensive, good to drink. Provided for review.

NV Silvola Rosato, Cantina Beato Bartolomeo Breganze. Italy.
Cambridge Wine £11.49 | B+

Nose is of strawberries and cream; smells sweet and sherbety, like strawberry ice cream; attractive and welcoming nose. Plenty of fruit; just a touch off dry, showing lots of rounded red fruit that isnt tart or aggressive; mid to low acidity. Its light, pretty and very drinkable.

2008 Felton Road Chardonnay. Central Otago, New Zealand.

Creamy, buttered toast and some nutty notes - the oak treatment shows well; the fruits shows below that. Palate is integrated; ripe white fruits showing alongside the integrated oak flavours; slight pithy / grapefruit tinged bitterness at the finish. Textured, full bodied wine; very classy. Drinking very well now.

2005 Meursault Vielles Vignes, Dom Vincent Girardin.
faulty - corked and premature oxidation

2007 Matahiwi 'Holly' Sauvignon Blanc. Wairarapa, New Zealand.

Golden straw in colour. Theres green notes of bell peppers and asparagus, layered with sweet vanilla and gentle oaked /toasty characters; but the peppery character gives an undertone. Palate is layered, also some green notes; the oak is together and well supported by the plentiful fruit. Not as punchy as I remember it, the age has mellowed and integrated everything; drinking nicely.

1997 Riesling Hochgewachs, Trabener Wurzgarten, Weingut Werner Muller. Mosel Valley, Germany.
Cambridge Wine £12.25 | B+

Intense lime and limepeel on the nose, almost an air freshener like quality to it; fresh and limey, with some white flowers thrown in; attractive. Palate is citrus dominated; fresh and light; high acidity but theres a decent amount of residual sugar, maybe 20g/l; gently off dry. Fat, lemony feel to it; still fresh and lively

2008 Grasshopper Rock 'Earnsclough Vineyard' Pinot Noir. Central Otago, New Zealand.
Naked Wines £18.49 | A-

Plenty of red cherries, with sweet spice coming through (cinnamon and nutmeg); really fragrant, then comes some raspberry and kirsch; rather sweet smelling. Lots of rounded fruit; juicy sour red cherries; lush and very forward fruit, immediately appealing; fresh acidity and hardly any tannins. Lively, so drinkable.

2009 Mercurey 'La Framboisiere' Domaine Faively. Burgundy, France.
Cambridge Wine £19.50 | A-

A more grown up version of the Pinot above. Deeper fruit on the nose, darker cherries and plums; less spice, replaced instead by earthy and farmyard touches. Palate also very juicy, lots of immediate fruit hit; raspberry and red cherries; not fully extracted, feels nimble and light-footed; maybe a bit short on the mid palate (maybe their Premier Cru will cover this). Fresh acidity, low tannins, for early consumption but yields so much pleasure.

1999 Cono Sur '20 Barrels Merlot'
see previous tasting note here

1997 Henschke 'Cyril Henschke' Cabernet Sauvignon. Eden Valley, Australia.

Blackberry and blackcurrant compote; cool cassis, wine gums and pastilles abound; sweet fragrant fruit; theers also a slight greenish touch to it, like basil / leaves. Palate shows so much fruit, sour plums and red cherries, then blackberries; fresh acidity, vibrant, the high notes are singing merrily. Lingers on the palate, sustained fruit on the mid palate; textured almost creamy / sherbety, layered complexity. Tannins just creeping in at the back; drinking beautifully now, but will still develop; now-2022 +. One of the best straight Cabernets from Australia that I've ever had.

Warre's Otima 10yo Tawny Port

1970 Dow's Vintage Port

Rose hips and rose petals; its rather floral and sweet smelling, then some herbal mint, raspberry liqueur kicks in.  Palate is intense and full, sweet fruit still there, but mellowed out and long; juicy, fresh acidity; still so much vibrancy and life to this, perfect balance and poise. The mid palate fruit and length on the finish is remarkable; this must have been one powerful port in its youth. Outstanding, one of the best vintage ports I've had..

Thursday, 15 December 2011


1999 Cono Sur '20 Barrels' Merlot. Rapel Valley, Chile.

Bought at auction, had been stored in a traditional, damp cellar.
Opaque still. Dark plummy fruits, some cassis; decent whack of green notes, green peppercorn, leafy and peppery nature rather intense at the beginning. Sweet plums on the palate; extracted fruit feels resolved, long as opposed to rounded fruits; decent mid palate weight, not punchy, spicy peppery notes remain on the palate. Decent finish, acidity perks up at the back. Overall, it has aged well, but probably won't improve.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


Sunday, 11 December 2011.
Three wines, all drank on their own.

2010 Anchorage Chardonnay. Nelson, New Zealand.
Naked Wines | B+

Gentle, sweet oaking shows, creamy buttery tones; then followed by ripe peaches and white fruits; really rather sweet and ripe, almost floral.On the palate its quite wide and generous, some savoury touches; but filled with  ripe white fruits, gentle soft acidity. Good example of integration between ripe white fruits and gentle oaking..

2010 Southern Lights Sauvignon Blanc. Marlborough, New Zealand.
Just Great Wines £9.95 | B+

A green, herby nose: green peppers, cut grass, asparagus, some gooseberry and wet flinty stones too; hints of sweet tropical fruits (passionfruit and guava) as it warmed up - a very correct varietal nose. On the palate its ever so slightly off dry; fat citrus flavours, lemony acidity; vibrant and fresh. Its a well made, lively, fruit driven wine. Provided for review.

2005 Chateau Villa Bel-Air. Graves, France.
Berry Bros | B+

Reviewed elsewhere in this blog. Still drinking beautifully, now - 2013+.

Just Great Wine

Wednesday, 07 December 2011.
A couple of wines provided for review by the online merchants Just Great Wines.

2007 Domaine de Sedouprat, Le Routiers, Vin de Pays Cotes de Gascogne
£7.95 | B

On the nose, lots of red fruit and currants, feels quite hot and alcoholic, theres some floral too. Palate is juicy, dark berries with some woody and leafy notes; slightly confected note towards the finish; grainy tannic grip towards the end. A correct, if not terribly exciting wine.

2009 Cotes du Rhone, Domaine Lou Gaelou.
£9.95 | B+

Closed nose but showing some red fruit, some heat there too; touch of rustic spice too. Palate has dark plums and berries, some violet and vanilla overtones; fuller in mouthfeel, with decent extraction; but there's a misplaced heat and cooked nature to it; feels disjointed towards the finish. Its a technically correct wine, but from such a good vintage, I expected a bit more. Clearly better than the Sedouprat above, though.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

CFWS - IWC Trophy Winners Tasting

Saturday, 10 December 2011.

A blind tasting organised by the Cambridge Food & Wine Society ( of wines which were trophy winners at the 2011 International Wine Challenge, wines were chosen and tasting led by Stephen Vincent. I have previously tasted some of the wines featured on the night, primarily at the IWC Taste of Gold event earlier this year - my notes will reflect this prior knowledge. Prices, where indicated, are retail by the bottle.

 2010 Stanley Estates Sauvignon Blanc. Marlborough, New Zealand.
Noel Young £12.99 | A-
International Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand White, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Marlborough Trophies.

First tasted here. This time theres more ripe tropical fruits flavours showing through, touches of guava and passion fruits; theres still lots of green notes (capsicum, leafy, green peppers) but it isnt as dominant as I remembered it to be. The slightly off dry hints of residual sugar still there, as does the notes of pebbly wet stones and very attractive streak of minerality.

2008 Pieropan 'La Rocca' Soave Classico. Italy.
Noel Young £23.99 | A-
Italian White and Soave Trophies

Yellowish straw in colour, much deeper than your average Soaves. Ripe white stone fruits on the nose; which carries through to the palate, filled with ripe peaches and apircots; fleshy and mouth filling. Good citrus and lasting acidity on the finish; decent mineral structure; strikes me as being quite oily in texture. 

2009 Chablis 1er Cru 'Vaillon' Domaine Christian Moreau Pere et Fils. Burgundy, France.
Noel Young £21.75 | A-
Chablis and Organic Trophies

Some citrus and white fruits on the nose, followed by floral touches; some flinty and smoky notes too. Palate is classically steely and taut; great acidic structure but is generous, without being lean; minerality shines alongside ripe fruit structure. Juicy, mouthwatering finish; correct and classy. My favourite white of the night.

2009 Penfolds Reserve Bin 09A Chardonnay. Adelaide Hills, Australia.
House of Townend £52.20 | A-(+)
Champion White Wine, International Chardonnay, Australian Chardonnay, Australian White and Adelaide Hills White Trophies. 

Now I wasnt so sure about this wine when I first tasted it earlier this year; a second taste of it now still hasnt convinced me. Theres just too much oak showing on the nose, its the kind that immediately leaps up on you and drowns quite a lot else. Theres plenty of ripe fruit and acidity on the palate, but I felt some disjoint between nose and palate. I'd like to see how this develops with time; at the moment, it seems to me an oak and fruit bomb. Still not sure about price; we're now well into Cru Burgundy territory.

2010 Morgon Vielles Vignes 'Grand Cras' Domaine Laurent Gauthier. Beaujolais, France.
Noel Young £12.49 | A-
Beaujolais Trophy.

Red fruit dominated on the nose, with damsons and violets, also light spice touches. On the palate its juicy and ripe; plums and red cherries; really rounded, crushed red fruits with vibrant acidity; supple tannins. Its very well put together; not heavily extracted; showing its class, eminently drinkable. One of the best Beaujolais I've had in recent times. 

2009 Chambolle Musigny, Domaine de la Pousse d'Or. Burgundy, France.
Noel Young £53 | A-(++)
Champion Red Wine, International Pinot Noir, French Red, Red Burgundy and Chambolle Musigny Trophies.

Red fruits on the nose, red currants and berries, followed by a warming spice; there are gamey / ferral characters too, touches of black truffles and followed by some sweet oak - a charming combination. Palate is concentrated, so much red fruit, plums and damsons; layers of complexity; vibrant acidity with fine, lengthy tannic structure. All the elements are there for this wine to age with grace, a long haul wine, drink 2015-2025. My favourite red of the night.

2009 Crozes Hermitage 'La Petite Ruche' M. Chapoutier. Northern Rhone, France.
Noel Young £14.39 | A-(+)
International Syrah, French Syrah and Crozes Hermitage Trophies.

Dark fruit on the nose, along with some floral, wild herbs and black pepper touches; also some meaty / gamey notes. Palate has sweet dark fruits; dark morello cherries and dark currants; not overly extracted, retains a nice juicy freshness to it. Acidity and tannic structure also impressive; from an outstanding vintage, this is another wine that will improve with age; drink now - 2020.

2007 Miguel Torres 'Perpetual' Priorat. Spain.
Noel Young £23.79 | A-(+)
The 2008 vintage of this wine won the Priorat Trophy.

Sweet dark fruits on the nose, along with cassis, dark chocolate; herby (mint mostly) and woody (sweet cedar / mahogany) notes are also there; then the sweet oak shows. Palate is concentrated, lots of dark fruit; blackberries and dark cherries; extracted stuff; lashings of sweet oak also shows but is integrated enough. Overall impression is of sweet dark fruits; a bold punchy wine; grainy tannins on the finish; should improve with age, drink now - 2017+.

Monday, 5 December 2011


A couple of slightly more mature wines bought at auction.

1997 Chianti Classico Reserva 'Rocca Guicciarda' Barone Ricasoli

Oozing rustic charm on the nose: warm spices, lots of earthy, farmyard and distinct rusty / bloody notes; followed by red fruits. On the palate its yielding, soft red fruits dominated by red cherries and currants; acidity still vibrant, keeping the wine lively and fresh; tannins have mostly melted away; wonderfully integrated and of great balance. A mature, well made and well kept Chianti Classico. Drink now - 2015.

1999 Mas de Daumas Gassac Rouge, Vin de Pays de l'Herault

Dark berries on the nose, but not overwhelming; theres a savoury, gamey / cured meat note, along with a touch of wood and smoke. Palate is filling and textured; dark fruits dominated, blackberry and brambles; concentrated flavours, it is a big, ripe wine; theres still some savoury touches on the palate. Acidity in balance, tannins have softened somewhat but still shows some grip towards the finish. Classy, will improve with age, 2015-2025.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Downing Chapel Choir - Charity Tasting

A tasting of wines in fundraising efforts for the Downing College Chapel Choir, led by Alex Woolgar-Toms, an alumnus of Downing College, Cambridge. All the wines in this tasting were generous donations by various benefactors; stockists, where known, are indicated.

 2010 Domiane des Lauriers Rolle. Languedoc, France.
Cambridge Wine | B+

Reviewed previously elsewhere in this blog.

2010 Chilano 'Signature Series' Chardonnay. Central Valley, Chile.
Tesco Wines | B

Fruity nose - apples, pears and citrus; lively and correct, if slightly alcoholic nose. On the palate its fruit driven; fleshy, ripe white fruits, gentle acidity;  soft, wide but rather short. A correct, technical wine; inoffensive.

2009 Familia Zuccardi 'Serie A' Torrontes. Salta, Argentina.
Cambridge Wine | A-

Reviewed previously elsewhere in this blog.

2009 Stepp 'Alte Reben' Riesling. Pfalz, Germany.
Noel Young | B+

Pale straw, very light in colour. Intense limeyness on the nose, limepeel then sweeter lime cordial, with a touch of spritz about it; also slatey mineral coming through. On the palate, lots of acidity showing through, vibrancy and zing about this wine; high acidity, like sucking on sweet limes and unripe white fruits. Fresh, young and lively.

2001 Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett, Max Ferd Richter. Mosel, Germany.

Sweet on the nose - honey, acacia and over ripe peaches and nectarines. On the palate its distinctly off dry, maybe 20g/l or so; fat lemons and some limes too; high acidity but its fat and generous, not piercing. Wide and rounded on the mid palate, its aged well and will continue to develop; drink now -2016+.

2007 Gigondas, Domaine Santa Duc. Southern Rhone, France.

Dark fruits compote, blackcurrants, ribena; smells quite hot; noticeable smoke, garrique and woody notes too. Lots of dark sweet fruit on the palate, extracted and juicy; the tarry note carries through; the tannins still quite green and chunky; needs time to settle down. Drink 2013-2020+

1996 Cornas, Noel Verset. Northern Rhone, France.
The Wine Society | B

Earthy, rustic and farmyard notes dominate initially; also a gameyness / leathery notes, along with slight vegetal / woody notes; theres a sweet spice towards the end - plenty going on there, rather fun. Palate is yielding, there still a fresh streak of acidity but the fruit has dried out; maybe some red currants, but the mid palate is rather hollow; a rather astringent, drying finish. Drink up.

1996 Abadia Retuerta 'Cuvee El Campanario'. Ribera del Duero, Spain.

Reviewed previously elsewhere in this blog.

2003 Chateau La Dauphine, Canon Fronsac. Bordeaux, France.
The Wine Society | B+

Reviewed previously elsewhere in this blog.

1985 Chateau Coufran, Haut Medoc. Bordeaux, France.

Nose is developed and mature - notes of bellpeppers, with plenty of red fruits, also sweet spice and cedar too. On the palate, its fresh and still fruity, mostly ripe red cherries and sweet currants; the fruits is soft and yielding; generous acidity and resolved tannins; everything was so harmonious and together; structured mid palate, good finish. Drinking wonderfully now, probably at its peak for a few more years just yet; drink now - 2015+.

Warre's Otima 10 year old Tawny Port

Served chilled. Lots of raisins, sultanas and dried fruits showing; with great freshness and acidity too. The Otima has been a favourite of mine for sometime, especially when chilled and served with mince pies. Just has that extra edge of acidity to lift the fruit; a lighter, fresher style of Tawny to say Taylor's or Graham's 10yo which are probably on the heavier, sweeter side.

1975 Warre's Vintage Port

Brief notes only - wonderful minty note even slight eucalyptus note, which I associate with old Warre's vintage port; also floral tones of turkish delight and rosehip on the nose; sweet berries. Palate shows vibrancy, lots of sweet developed fruit; long mid palate and finish; still quite firm in places and showing good structure. Whilst drinking well now, this might just last another decade; drink now - 2020+.

Downing MCR Port Tasting

Tuesday, 08 November 2011.

A port tasting for Downing College MCR, led by Alex Woolgar-Toms of Cambridge Wine Merchants. With thanks to Fells Fine Wines for generously providing the Graham's information booklets and maps of the Douro Valley (both pictured above).

 NV Taylor’s Chip Dry White Port
Waitrose £11.39 | B

Served on its own and as a long drink (with tonic, squeeze of lime, over lots of ice).
Rather funky nose, quite vegetal, also some cheesy notes, almost smells as if its not quite right. Distinctly dry and sappy, with some grapefruit like pith. Delicious as a long drink, marries well with the bitterness of the tonic quite well - great thirst quencher.

NV Waitrose Tawny Port
Waitrose £7.59 | B (value for money)

Correct notes of sultanas and raisins, as well as dried fruits; good flavour profile, forward, sweet yet not cloying. Balanced, but with short finish. Was very popular on the night; great value for money.

Grahams’s 10 year old Tawny Port
Waitrose £18.99 | B+

Darker in colour, burnt copper and amber. More nutty on the notes, still sultanas and raisins, as well as dried figs and prunes. Nice freshness on the palate; sustained mid palate, with a decent, marmaladey finish. Fine, classy stuff, worth the money.

NV Cockburn’s Special Reserve Port
Waitrose £10.40 | B

A basic ruby port showing attractive berries and compote character; forward, sweet fruits; doesnt feel hot / fortified which is so often the case with rather basic ports. 

2006 Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage
Cambridge Wine £14.99 | B+

Lots of fruit, bold and extracted; quite sweet too, but with a spicy note towards the end. Theres some grip to this, reminding you its not a basic ruby port. Quite a bold style of LBV.

2001 Warre’s Bottle Matured Late Bottled Vintage
Cambridge Wine £22.99 | A-(+)

Settled on the palate, not as bold and punchy as the previous LBV. Feels cooler too; still plenty of attractive berries and sweet fruit, but theres almost a floral / minty note as well. Sustained mid palate, with noticeable grip towards the end. Threw a significant amount of sediment; drinks well now, and will age another 10 years with ease, now - 2020+.

1996 Warre’s Quinta de Cavadinha
Cambridge Wine £31.99 | B+(++) 

Lots of mint and ribena on the nose, feels cooler, distinct notes of pastilles and winegums; nice intensity and concentration of fruit on the mid palate. Good balance showing between the acidity and fruit; tannins are noticeably higher and more grippy than the LBV before it. In all, this shows a bright future ahead of it 2015-2025+  

1994 Tesco’s Finest Vintage Port
 Tesco Wine by the Case £16.99 (on offer) | B+(+)

Made by the Symington Family Estates, this has all the hallmarks of a decent vintage port but without the price tag. Good extraction of fruit, starting to develop some secondary / aged notes, but still showing dark berries and cool ribena like nose. Again, decent intensity of flavours, still lively; combine this with nice tannic structure means this will age with ease, now-2025+. Absolutely ridiculous price, no wonder its sold out.  

1985 Gould Campbell Vintage Port

1975 Graham’s Vintage Port