Friday, 24 February 2012

CUWS L12 - Guigal

A tasting of Guigal wines for Cambridge University Wine Society led by Brett Crittenden. Guigal's UK distributors are Fells Fine Wines. As you can tell from the pictures, very elaborate and artistic bottles / labels; the bottles are on the heavy side but I thought the embossing on them was a classy touch.

2009 Saint-Joseph Blanc

Attractive white fruits, mainly peaches; also rather floral, white flowers, quite sweet, lilies, even acacias; lifted nose. Fresh acidity, textured minerality showing, decent width on the palate; generous but still quite linear. Lots of fruit but it isnt in your face, more mature and muted.

2010 Saint-Joseph Blanc Lieu Dit

Lots of ripe white fruit again, peaches; again sweet floral showing, touch of vanilla; richer, slightly more heady on the nose. Again the mainstay is the minerality and texture; filling mouthfeel, more serious and concentrated, lush ripe fruits; decent but rather low acidity, touch of spice on the finish too. A bigger, fleshier wine but still focused.

2010 Condrieu

Thicker nose, almost waxy; sweet white fruits, almost over ripe / slightly rotten fruits, again minerality; also acacia and floral too; beautiful nose. Nice texture, more forward sweet fruit showing; more opulent, richer, fatter fruit; thicker in texture, low acid, fat and generous. Lingering finish coats the palate.

2010 Condrieu 'La Doriane'

Rich opulent nose; oak its evident, sweet vanilla and butter, honey too; floral elements are lifted, white flowers; behind all that lingers sweet white fruits, ripe apricots and peaches; again bees wax, smells honeyed. On the palate its rich and textured, a lot of fruit; intense flavours, luscious, thick. Huge, powerful stuff; lots of oak but theres a lot of fruit to carry it; again low acid, but isn't at all flabby; slight savoury and spicy touch towards the finish. Structured, luxurious power; a serious wine.

2005 Chateauneuf du Pape

Jammy cooked red fruit; earthy and ferral, touch of garrigue there; also woody notes, licorice; hot almost liquer like too. Lots of fruit, decent extraction but not overdone; fruit dominates, dark cherries and plums, juicy but has a stalky element too. Has settled down, isn't punchy; balance is key here; drink now - 2015.

2006 Saint-Joseph Rouge

Lifted and bright dark fruits, maybe a touch of violets; some cured meat / reductive notes, dried herbs, touch of developed notes; white pepper too. On the palate its fresh and bright, almost crunchy red fruit, good vibrant fresh acidity, feels taut and rather mean actually. This already has some time in bottle and probably will run out of fruit before acidity; drink now.

2005 Cote Rotie 'Brune et Blonde'

Red fruit, some savoury, almost reductive element to this; warmth of spice coming through, a touch volatile on the nose. Fruit is good and fresh, red currants and red cherries, delicate even; lively acidity with decent grip at the end. Feels a bit light and fleeting to me, doesnt have the concentration of fruit?.

2005 Chateau d'Ampuis

Dark fruit, but rather closed; underlying cassis and ripe dark plums, slightly woody and licorice, perhaps even coffee; also a gamey / meaty note and garrigue showing; quite brooding and deep. Extracted but not heavy at all, depth and intensity; lots of fruit, such freshness and fat acidity gives background; lots of dark fruit here, concentrated stuff; grainy tannins at the end, should age a good long while. This spent 38 months in new oak and yet it is barely out of joint, shows how much fruit there was and how it has integrated. Impressive effort; for the long haul, drink now - 2025+.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Formal Hall

A veritable feast of wines tasted with dinner, Sunday, 19 February 2012, hence the necessarily brief notes.

 2011 Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills
Cambridge Wine £15.99 | A-

Ripe gooseberry and grapefruit on the nose; slight leafy touches with lots of lively lemons and lime leaves showing; lifted, expressive nose. Fat acidity, rounded lemons and citrus showing; fresh and clean. Racy and refreshing stuff.

2009 Chateauneuf du Pape, Chateau de Beaucastel
Cambridge Wine £65 | A-(+)

Oozing dark fruits on the nose; cooked dark fruits, jammy / stewed dark prunes and plums; touch of smoky / woody licorice and tar - classic nose. So much fruit on the palate; dark, extracted but fruit is very ripe and sweet; ripe tannins at the end; textured and quite weighty on the palate, but still good balance, feels together even in its youth. Big wine, will age with ease; drink 2015-2030+.

1976 Chambolle Musigny, Louis Latour

Fully resolved; red currants on the nose, floral elements too, and underlying earthy / farmyard nose; still very lively, maybe a touch volatile if anything. Fresh palate, lots of acidity but it isnt lively, more of a gentle, rolling acidity that creeps on you; red currants and perhaps even cranberries on the palate. Still so fresh for something this old, especially considering its rather humble origins.

1998 Chianti Classico 'Rocca Guiciarda' Barone Ricasoli

Dark cherries with a hint of spice on the nose, also slight woody and earthy elements. On the palate the fruit feels rounded; morello cherries and dark plums, with good acidity still; touch of truffle and earthy notes. Only a hitn of drying tannins at the end; has kept well, drink now - 2015+.

1971 Chateau La Tour St Bonnet

Red currants again, with developed earthy notes, followed by lots of tertiary notes of sandalwood and cedar, almost a lacquer / varnish note to it; like polished old leather. Very settled and mature on the palate; fruit is no longer apparent; still fresh, rounded acidity there; smooth presence, dainty mouthfeel. Wonderfully fun to drink.

Blandy's Duke of Clarence Rich Madeira
Cambridge Wine £14.99 | B+

Caramel and fudge on the nose, lots of nutty oxidation, along with dried apricots and marmalade nose - classic sweet madeira. Sweet on the palate but decent balancing acidity; marmalade-like finish, with sweetness, acidity and slight bitterness all showing.

The Society's Exhibition Crusted Port, bottled 2006
The Wine Society £13.95 | B+(+)

Brooding on the nose; dark fruits, dark plums and dried prunes; also blackberry liqueur; sweet spice also there. On the palate its thick and textured, a lot of fruit but not overdone; good concentration of flavours, more intense and filling than your LBVs; tannic grip too at the end. This should develop in bottle for a few years yet, drink now - 2020+

Ramos Pinto 10 year old Tawny Port
Cambridge Wine £17.99 (50cl) | B+

Unusualy for a tawny, has dark chocolate notes on the notes, along with the usual dried figs and raisins. Otherwise very correct on the palate; slightly on the sweeter side of tawnies, fruit expression is focused though; needs a touch more acidity for my liking.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

CUWS L12 - Vega Sicilia

Friday, 17 February 2012.

A tasting of Grupo Vega Sicilia wines for Cambridge University Wine Society, led by Xavier Ausas Lopez de Castro, Technical Director of Vega Sicilia. The group currently consists of four wineries (soon to be five, the latest addition being a joint venture with the Rothschilds in Rioja): Bodegas Alion in Ribera del Duero, Bodega Pintia in Toro, Oremus in Hungary, and its flagship Vega Sicilia in Ribera del Duero. The Alvarez family that owns Vega Sicilia are now proud members of Primum Familiae Vini. UK distributors are Fields, Morris & Verdin; wines below should be widely available at premium retailers.

2010 Oremus 'Mandolas' Dry Tokaji

100% Furmint. Chalky, good minerality showing; touch of spritz, fresh, whiter floral characteristics; maybe some green apples, also lemons; delightful. Fresh, clean acidity on the palate; a tad sharp but still rather fat, surprising width and generosity; lemony feel; apparently theres a little bit of oak treatment, but its seamlessly integrated.  Unfortunately short on the finish; good balance, I dont think it'll improve with time.

2008 Pintia

100% Tempranillo; no more than 12 months in 100% new oak (70/30 French/American); bottle aged for at least 2 years before release.
Dark fruit, black berry brambles; feels quite hot but also showing floral / violet notes; earthy secondary notes: gamey, cured meat and ferral, hints of dark chocolate; rustic is probably a good description of this wine. Extracted dark berries and ripe dark cherries, rather warming, woody licorice; does feel rather woody / earthy actually, grainy tannins towards the end. A big fruit driven wine, but not overly extracted or punchy, still retains a nimble balance; drink now - 2020+.

2008 Alion

100% Tempranillo; 14-18 months in 100% new French oak; bottle aged for at least 2 years before release. Bright, fresh blue berries and dark berries; vibrant aromatics going on, lifted floral notes of violets and blue bells. Lots of fruit on the palate, ripe dark berries and cherries again, good fruit expression; again showing balance, not overly extracted; tannins are ripe. Doesn't feel at all hot, freshness and bright fruit speaks volumes here, flavour concentration without sacrificing elegance; drink now - 2020+.
An interesting contrast to the Pintia above; where the Pintia is more masculine, the Alion is more feminine; while both still retains flavour intensity and balance; reminds me of stereotypical Pauillac / Margaux divide.

Valbuena is one of only three wines made by Vega Sicilia, though they stressed that Valbuena is not a 'second wine' to the Unico in the same way that say Carruades is Lafite's second wine. Typically a blend of 80-90% Tempranillo (or Tinto Fino, as they call it), the rest being made up by Merlot and Malbec. Maturation: for varying amounts of time (depending on vintage) in a combination of new French and American oak barrels, followed by a shorter time in used oak barrels, then further bottle aged before being released, which is at least 5 years after the vintage.

2006 Vega Sicilia Valbuena

Dark brooding colour. Blackberries and ripe dark plums; heady and sweet (some vanilla coming through), almost rather port like on the nose; some high notes, woody and licorice too and garrigue earthiness in the background. Lots of good extracted fruit, dark plums; textured mouthfeel; everything so far makes you think it'll be big and would knock you out, but its so smooth and silky on the palate. Concentration of flavours, nice balance in everything; tannins are ripe and grainy, only grips on the finish. Freshness and elegance even in its youth, nothing is overdone, drink now - 2025+.

2000 Vega Sicilia Valbuena

Black fruits and dark cherries, some floral tones too, but also developing a slight reductive character: meaty/ ferral and earthy, along with herbal / garrigue notes; very attractive nose. Palate is rounded, red fruits, ripe red cherries; bright and sweet fruits, still so fresh and vibrant. Good levels of acidity; so yielding on the palate, everything integrated; velvety tannins on the finish. A study in balance and poise. Drink now - 2020+.

Unico is the flagship in the Vega Sicilia range, and not made every year (not a single bottle of Unico made in 1992, 1993, 1997 and 2001, in recent decades). It is fermented and undergoes malolactic in large 8-10,000 litre French oak barrels. This is then followed by maturation in 100% new oak barrels - half French, half American, made at their own on site cooperage - Xavier likens this treatment to making the wine go to the gym / workout. It is then followed by some time in used oak barrels, for what Xavier terms the 'education' stage for all the components to integrate and mingle together. It is then further bottle aged before being released, at least 10 years after the vintage. Vega Sicilia will only release Unico when they deem it to be ready, on occasion younger vintages have been released prior to older ones.

2002 Vega Sicilia Unico

Muted nose, slowly opens up to show the fruit, theres dark fruits but not to the fore; garrigue, sweet vanilla, and secondary notes creeping up. Gentle entry; dark fruit is not to the fore, concentrated but not brash, such elegance and grace. I must admit, it isn't as powerful as I expected, though still has good concentration and definitely complexity, still a tad shy. Flavours come in waves, bigger on finish than on the entry; very long finish. Grainy tannic grip only showing at the end, gently reminding you that this is a wine for the long haul; drink 2020 - 2040+.

1996 Vega Sicilia Unico

Dark fruits there, but showing more secondary characters: garrigue and fresh herbs, some cured meats too; still fresh, with lifted floral notes of rosehips; fruits very much in the background; wonderfully complex, stops you in your tracks and makes you think. On the palate its still fresh, so lively and vibrant, lots of acidity; sour red cherries, its rather lively / exuberant, and generous on the mouthfeel. Concentrated flavours and again waves of flavour, bigger in finish than entry, velvety tannins. A contrast in style to the 2002; this is more readily welcoming and eager to please. Drink now - 2030+

1994 Vega Sicilia Unico

Voluptuous nose: red plums and red cherries, sherbet and strawberry cream almost, then garrigue / truffled nose, sweet spice and licorice; sweet cedar / sandalwood and cigar box, almost like sweet incense; so much going on, awash with secondary notes; you could spend a good ten minutes just analysing the nose. Really fresh and bright on the palate, still so much fruit of red cherries and plums; very yielding and generous mouthfeel. Such complexity, every sip showing a whole other dimension of flavour; elegant and yet expansive; waves of flavour that really doesn't finish. Majestic and awe-inspiring, truly an exceptional wine; drink now - 2030+

2002 Oremus Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos

Tinned fruits / tinned pineapples, lychee; really sweet, honey and acacia on the nose. Lots of acidity still; lively, not heavy at all; sweet citrus and pineapples, candied lemons / marmalade and a tinge of bitterness at the end. Long, but the lingering element is the acidity and not the sweetness.

Friday, 17 February 2012

CUWS L12 - Penfolds

Thursday, 16 February 2012.

A tasting of Penfolds wines presented for Cambridge University Wine Society, led by Justin Knock MW. UK (and I think, global) distributors are Treasury Wine Estates. I think its fairly obvious that one quickly runs out of superlatives to describe the wines on the evening, many apologies if I sound like a broken record with the repeated notes of blackcurrants and cassis ...

2008 Yattarna

All Chardonnay, 85% of the fruit was sourced from Tasmania; official bin number is Bin 144. The wine was decanted approx. 4hrs before tasting.
A lot of butter and cream to this, savoury notes, roasted nuttiness there; very Burgundian, but so ripe. On the palate, first sweet ripe fruit, fat acidity; plenty of fruit. So complete, acidity and fruit is in such balance; concentration of flavours, restrained power. At this stage, very focused; still young, quite taut and highly strung. Immensely impressive; needs time to unfurl itself; drink now - 2020+.

2003 Yattarna

All Chardonnay, sourced entirely from Adelaide Hills.
Properly Burgundian, sweet oak, buttery and creamy; sweet almonds, also sweet tropical fruits of ripe mangoes, loaded with white peach, really rather voluptuous, open nose. Relatively soft acidity, gentle but very wide; flavours are intense, theres a nutty, savoury element to this; on the mid palate, a lot of fruit but such restrained power and sustained intensity on the palate. Very long, serious class.

2004 Bin 407

Blackberry and black currants, cordial, licorice, mint and herbal tones coming through, coolness almost shows. On the palate, sweet ripe fruit, nice development to this; rounded black fruits on mid palate, not much tannins, very yielding. Good fruit concentration, isnt as generous but focused. This is probably close to full maturity, drink up.

2005 Bin 407

Similar fruit profile to the 2004; more cassis, less licorice; sweet black fruits, smells warmer, the alcohol shows, probably from a hotter year. Fruit very rounded, blackcurrants and berries, feels like less concentration of fruit than the 2004 because it feels bigger and therefore a touch flabbier; bit more acidity, theres glycerol, an almost port like feel to it. I dont think this will improve with time, drink now 2014+.

2006 Bin 407

Black currants and cordial, mint and eucalyptus, some herbal, but theres almost a floral touch to this. Fresh, lots of fruit, black currants again; woody licorice notes; more obvious tannins, quite chewy but its ripe sweet tannins. Good concentration, if perhaps a touch hot / cooked (maybe because of the extreme drought stricken year), high alcohol perhaps? Tasted next to the Bin 707, this almost feels light. Could do with some time to fleshen out the tannins, drink now - 2017+.

1997 RWT

RWT stands for Red Winemaking Trial, first made in 1997 where it had 100% new French oak.
A lot of high notes in this one, sweet black and blue berries, ribena; lots of aromatics / volatiles showing, almost floral quality to it, violets perhaps? So big and voluptuous, obvious sweet up front fruit; black currants and cassis; rounded though, does feel developed and settled. Doesnt punch your lights out; softened, no harsh edges; fully mature, drink now.

2001 RWT

Attractive blue berry there, again showing lots of high notes, I'm thinking bluebells and violets again; also wine gum, and a whiff of reduction, cured meat and game. Obvious sweet fruit, black currants and cassis; theres a nice herbiness on the palate; complete, rounded dark fruit, has notes of maturity so its doesnt blow your head off, I can imagine this to be a pretty powerful beast in its youth. Wonderful presence; has developed and will continue to mature; drink now - 2017+.

2005 RWT

Blueberry and blackberry jam; theres a stewed / compote nose to this, like its cooked (in a good way); sweet floral notes, fragrant in an air freshener kind of way, fresh lavender and violets; really gorgeous aromatics (and how often do you say that of a red wine?), such lifted nose. Really good extraction again, plenty of fruit and concentration; dark berries to the max, almost meaty and savoury notes on palate; very interesting secondary notes beginning to show. Sweet but rounded tannins again, still grips, mind you, but its lush tannins; texture wise, this was the most creamy and interesting of the RWTs. Showing resplendently; this will continue to develop for many years, drink 2015-2022+.

2007 Bin 707

[This wine was tasted before the RWTs, the notes appear here primarily for editorial / pictorial reasons, but perhaps is a fair reflection in terms of its overall quality in the Penfolds range]
Black currants and cassis, more mint and eucalyptus, again theres a hotness to this on the nose; full nose. Big wine; lots of extraction on this with chewy but ripe tannins, grips all over the place, then dries your mouth on the finish. Good concentration of fruit (though somewhat overwhelmed by the tannic frame), black fruit, dark berries, cassis and the like; its a big wine; laced with fine acidity too. Properly structured, muscular, and powerful; one for the long haul, drink 2017 - 2030+.

2006 Grange

Perfumed, black currants and blue berries; so lifted fragrance, floral notes leaps out (violets and the like), touch of sweet vanilla too; then you get the notes of dark chocolate / mocha and cassis; complex, lots of things going on. Good extraction; the entry is soft, then it builds in the palate, waves of flavour successively coming through; at this stage the fruit is very primary and intense, dark blackberries. The length is remarkable, just stays and lingers. So well put together, its muscular and big; the tannins are fleshy yet firm, lots of fruit for backbone. Its not often that a wine carrying such high expectations meets the hype. Integrated, great structure, so young, all its life ahead; approach from 2015 onwards, should drink well 2025 - 2050+.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Formal Hall

A glut of wine tasted on the nights, necessarily brief notes. Sunday, 12 February 2012.

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

Rounded red fruits on the nose, with some some rustic, earthy almost bloody / rusty nose to this; a bit too much volatile acidity for my liking. Palate is subdued, fruit is sour red cherries; unfortunately it wasnt exactly lively, though there was still decent acidity.
I had to open a second bottle as the first one had excessive VA and on the palate showed signs of premature aging, which is somewhat worrying since its been kept in perfect condition since en primeur purchase.

2004 d'Arenberg 'Laughing Magpie' Shiraz Viognier 

Plenty of black currants, cordial; pastilles and wine gums; high notes also there, almost floral. On the palate it shows very ripe fruits, but its tempered, lowered almost; still lush, sweet and fleshy, but not punchy. Great balance, freshness in acidity; very together, with a gentle tannic tug at the end. Having tasted a bottle of this pretty much every year since purchase, I'm delighted with how its developed; drink now - 2015+. Another great bottle from d'Arenberg, one wonders do they ever disappoint?

1976 Chateau Pichon Lalande, 2er Cru Pauillac.

On the nose, bell pepper and capsicum; cedar and cigar box; and hidden behind is dark morello cherries; theres the mustiness and slight damp wood notes you get from age, but in all, almost textbook aged Pauillac on the nose. On the palate its still fresh; rounded red fruit, red cherries; the bell peppery spice comes through, rounded acidity; hardly noticeable tannins. Nice presence, surprisingly generous mid palate and lengthy but understated, finessed finish. I was surprised by the liveliness given it was from a good but not great vintage.

NV Fernando de Castilla Antique Oloroso
Waitrose Wine £21.84 (50cl) | A-

Developed nose: nutty, roasted hazelnuts, oxidative characters, but also notes of candied / dried citrus fruits, touch of lacquer and polish too; I think theres a bit of raisins hiding behind all that too. Very complex on the palate, its nutty but also showing nice citrus like acidity, fresh and incisive, yet beautifully rounded and filling at the same time. Long finish, slightly drying savouriness towards the end, beckoning you for another sip. Excellent stuff. 

2009 Kayena Vineyards Tamar Ridge Limited Release Botrytis Riesling
Waitrose Wine £13 (37.5cl) | A-

A slight whiff of petrol; lots of sweet and dried citrus fruits, sweet tropicals of mango and pineapple; honey there too; an appealing and genuinely sweet nose. Palate is full on; sweet tropical fruits, vibrant acidity; great concentration, like a mini explosion of flavour in the mid palate. If not for the short finish, would have merited a higher rating; still highly recommended though.

Friday, 10 February 2012

CUWS L12 - Fonseca Port

A tasting of Fonseca ports presented by their brand ambassador, Lorenzo Bakewell-Stone, for Cambridge University Wine Society. Most of the wines are widely available in retail outlets; UK agents are Mentzendorff. Prices are retail to local wine merchants in Cambridge.

 Fonseca Siroco White Port

A dry white port. Smells characteristic of white port - slightly cheesy, along with vegetal (cabbages), definite oxidation there, also nutty. Just gently off dry, plenty of acidity, nutty oxidation too; fresh and light on the mouthfeel; slight bitterness at the end. Should be perfect as a long drink with tonic, ice and lime.

Fonseca Bin 27 Reserve Ruby Port
Noel Young £12.49 | B+

Their entry level ruby port. Dark fruit, black berry and cassis, smells quite hot actually, you can almost smell the spirit fortification; also licorice and woody. Lots of fruit, sweet, lush and simple; warmth comes through; bit of tannic group at the end. Actually rather good for an entry level port, better than your average rubies.

Fonseca Terra Prima Organic Reserve Port

Organically grown. A more muted nose, black berry and cassis dominates, theres mint as well; not as voluptuous as the Bin 27. Sweet fruit, lush, dark plums with a savoury / woody touch; whereas the Bin 27 was more fruit forward in style, this is more restrained and focused. Also, I dont know of any other widely available organic ruby port.

2005 Fonseca Unfiltered Late Bottled Vintage
Cambridge Wine £15.99 | B+

Lots of dark fruit, straightforward; sweet fruit, some spice. Theres more on the mouthfeel, improving in texture, slightly thicker; tannic grip also more prevalent. Less aggressive and fruity on the entry, but is more sustained; what I would describe as linear, perhaps.

Fonseca Crusted Port (bottled 2006)

Dark fruit, jammy; quite floral actually, also sweet spice. Lots of fruit, rounded and lush; sweet spice too, also showing more tannic grip on the finish. A touch more complexity and will probably develop with time, attractive style.

Fonseca 10 year old Tawny Port
(50cl) B+

Red fruit, dried red currants; good oxidative nose; lacquer and nutty notes. Still plenty of fruit on the palate, dried red fruits and raisins; fresh acidity there, nice vibrancy about this. A balanced expression, can be served slightly chilled.

1996 Fonseca Guimaraens Vintage Port
Cambridge Wine £29 | B+(+)

Produced in 'lesser' years when they dont declare vintage ports. Sweet, quite jammy, red fruit jelly on the nose, still mostly primary fruit showing; sweet spice too, also touch of mocha. Greater concentration of fruit on the palate, still plenty of primary dark fruits, plums and dark cherries; quite spicy on the palate. Does have decent tannic and acidity, should develop; drink now - 2020+.

1998 Fonseca Quinta do Panascal
Cambridge Wine £26 | B+

A single quinta vintage port; from a quinta that normally forms the backbone of the Fonseca vintage ports.
Slight brick red tinge on the rim, its almost too light. Red fruit, some figs, also floral nose. Palate feels a touch light and lacking in concentration, theres still primary red fruits, along with a spicy edge but it feels mature. Not much tannins, just rounded softness; this is ready to drink and I doubt it'll improve. Beginning to wonder whether its a slightly dodgy bottle?

1985 Fonseca Vintage Port

Really holding it's colour, so deep still, barely a rim, such depth. Black berry, theres heat, almost wood smoke to this, lots of fruit showing, along with a touch of floral scent. Balance, sweet red fruit, still primary but not the most expressive of vintage ports; still fresh with good acidity. I think it will run out of fruit before acid, drink now - 2020+.

2009 Fonseca Vintage Port

The vintage that divided the two port dynasties with the Taylor Fladgate Partnership declaring all their wines (unusually, their fourth declaration in a decade) and the Symington Family Estates not declaring, apart from a small, mainly commemorative declaration of Warre's.

Completely opaque, dark, deep purple rim; really dark. So much dark fruit, cassis, jammy, some floral and mint; everything there, so big, the spirit fortification hasnt quite yet melded together with the wine. Ahhhh so much fruit concentration there, you can still taste the spirit actually; big, concentrated dark fruit, bitter chocolates. Tannins grip everywhere, this is a beast thats nowhere near ready; drink 2025-2045+.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Formal Hall

Brief notes of four wines during dinner. Sunday, 05 February 2012.

2009 Vina Casa Marin 'Cipreses Vineyard' Sauvignon Blanc.
Noel Young | B+

Had an excellent bottle of this a couple of years ago and kept one back to see how it'll develop.
Ripe gooseberry and some passion fruit with lots of floral touches; still herby, and quite a lot of primary aromas. Acidity on the palate still dominant, fresh and zingy; has lost a bit of the primary fruit, as I remember it; feels somewhat one dimensional now; was fuller in stature when younger.

2006 Saint Veran 'La Roche' Chateau de Beauregard
The Wine Society | B+

Citrus on the nose along with a slight hint of buttery and creamy notes, all in balance though. Fat acidity, very much rounded now; primary fruit is citrus but isnt overwhelming; the acidity, fruit and oak all perfectly in harmony now. Granted not the most complex of Burgundies, but very drinkable and great value.

1996 Coteaux du Layon, Chaume, Selection de Grains Nobles, Domaine des Forges

Sweet nose - honeyed acacia, golden syrup, candied / tinned fruits, doesnt hide its sweetness. Plenty of fruit on the palate, tinned peaches; sits heavy on the palate, there is probably a huge amount of sugar here, I'm guessing in the 150g/l range but still decent lick of acid about it.

1977 Quinta da Cachao, Messias, Vintage Port.

The nose opened with a varnish / lacque, almost turpentine notes, which settled down to a slight floral, but sweet ester nose. Must admit it was slightly disappointing on the palate, felt light, the fruit had faded; it was probably meant to be drunk about 10 years ago.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

CUWS L12 - CWM Southern Europe

A selection of wines from Cambridge Wine Merchants presented by Brett Turner for Cambridge University Wine Society; focuses on wines from Southern Europe, covering Southern France, Spain and Italy. Prices are retail to Cambridge Wine.

 2010 Lagar de Bouza Albarino
£11.99 | B+

Clean, citrus, touch of spritz; quite perfumed and lifted. Fresh, citrus dominated; cutting acidity which is quite bracing; sucking on juicy lemons; very refreshing, crying out for a good plate of seafood.

2010 Chateau Viranel 'Trilogie' Rose. Languedoc.
£8.99 | A-

Primary fruit on the nose, maybe red strawberries; also fresh citrus, with a touch of spritz in the nose. Acidity is firm but rounded, good fruit; theres a touch of body to this, unusual in that it had some texture, just a bit more complex than your average rose. Cheerful.

2010 Adesso Nero d'Avola. Sicily.
£7.99 | B

Red fruit, some violet; lots of warmth and sweet spice. Light fruit, not fully extracted; warmth in the wine again (perhaps the alcohol shows), some woody touches, attractive red fruit; fresh acidity. Again, not the most complex but very drinkable.

2007 Camillo de Lellis, Biferno Rosso Reserva. Molise.
£7.99 | B+

Funky nose, meaty, gamey, ferral mushroom, developed nose, smoked cured meats, again some violets. Nice fruit, good extraction, juicy; some woody notes, slight tannic grip, drying finish, rustic, charming, should be great with food.

2004 Domaine Combe Blanche 'La Chandeliere'. Minervois La Liviniere.
£13.95 | B+

Dark fruit; sweet spice, with lots of rustic charm; secondary notes of sweet oak with wild dried herbs. Nice depth of fruit, extracted, dark berries; texture is there, tannic grip at the end, quite big. Not a fruit bomb, gentle on the entry but is sustained; decent lingering finish. Has aged well and will continue to develop, drink now - 2015+.

2004 Beronia Rioja Gran Reserva
£17.99 | A-

Red cherries; lacquer and tanned leather; sweet oak, spice, cinnamon; textbook Rioja. Fresh, nice fruit expression, sweet red cherries and currants; not fully extracted; savoury with nice acidity, vanilla and warming spice. Sustained, but not large mid palate; everything in balance, drink now - 2015+.

2009 Torres 'Celeste' Crianza. Ribera del Duero.
£13.99 | B+(+)

Dark fruit, blackberry, sweet oak as well. Lots of fruit, extracted; made in a fruit forward style, dark and thick, brawny if you will; full blown fruit. Some chunky tannins at the end.

2007 Cedro do Noval. Douro.
£17.99 | B+

Dark fruit, savoury; cured meats bacon, smoke; something like cedar and sweet spice. Lots of dark currants and berries, not over extracted; some developed palate, quite full on in style; woody notes, licorice. Rather savoury on the finish.

NV Maury Solera 1928, Cask no 886, Les Vignerons de Maury.
£19.99 (50cl) | B+

Stewed fruits, dried prunes and plums; citrus rind and sweetened orange peel; walnuts, marmalade, oxidised, then coffee, cinnamon - the oxidation has done wonders on the nose, so complex, many things going on. Lots of acidity, really bright and fresh, orange and dried prunes; not sweet, only gently so but still rich and thick texturally, acidity really makes it refreshing. Zingy, nutty freshness.


Sunday, 29 February 2012. Three wines with dinner.

2009 Raats Family Chenin Blanc
Naked Wines £13.99 | B+

Sweet whiter fruits, floral touch; quite lifted, there's tropical notes of pineapples, also grapefruit and lemons. Fresh, vibrant acidity; lush white fruits; its fruit forward but theres decent texture; lively acidity, perks up the palate;  probably not fully dry, slight tinge of residual sugar. Rounded, great varietal expression, bac of the label says its a 'benchmark wine' and I do agree.

2008 Clos Saint-Michel Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc
Waitrose Wine £18 | A-

Lots of peaches, white fruits abound, nectarines even; sweetness of ripe fruits comes through; was surprised by the opulence of the nose. Ripe fruits and textured, good dose of minerality too; yes there's fruit but it isn't overwhelming; sustained width on the palate. Good presence; an impressive example of the type..

2005 d'Arenberg Vintage Fortified Shiraz Chambourcin

Shiraz on steroids: blackcurrant cordial, minty eucalyptus, concentrated wine gum, sweet spices of cinnamon and cloves too; a heady nose of christmas pudding doused in cassis. Textured and thick, theres tonnes of fruit, seriously extracted; also woody and winegum notes; decent acidity, doesnt feel flabby; well put together. Lush tannic grip at the end, this will age gracefully. This will never be mistaken for Vintage Port, but it certainly is a worthy substitute. Classy, such good stuff; drink now - 2020+.

1989 Messias Vintage Port

Classic nose - rose petals, quite floral but still showing decent amounts of primary fruits. Palate is soft and rounded; mostly soft tannins, juicy; mature in fruit expression. Perhaps not the most complex of vintage ports, but still immensely drinkable and shows hallmarks of what a vintage port ought to be. Drink now - 2017+.