Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Naked Wines Tasting Tour 2012 - Cambridge Pt 2

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Naked Wines Tasting Tour 2012
Part 2 - South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand

2010 Moerbei 'White Gold' Chardonnay Semillon
Not currently stocked - coming soon?

Nutty, savoury nose, with some sweet oak and waxy notes - the oak treatment is evident on the nose, but not overdone. Quite generous and textured on the palate, ripe fruit, oak lends greater mouthfeel; low in acid, ripe fruit, some nuttiness persist on palate. A grown up style, quite classy.

2010 Moerbei 'Sable' Shiraz
£10.99 | £7.99

Dripping with red fruit, some woody tones, slightly hot / smoky even, decent spicy kick too. On the palate its very large, full blown mouthfilling juicy style; plenty of ripe fruit to hold the oak, spicy on the palate too. Bold but not brash, still some elegance to it. A food wine, plenty of wine for not very much money.

2009 Raats Family Chenin Blanc
£13.99 | £10.49

Whilst the Raats 'Original' Chenin is commendable, certainly a good benchmark for what it is, the 'Family' is certainly a step up. Sweet tropical fruit on the palate, pineapple and mangoes, with a lick of sweet buttery oak, even a hint of spice - good complexity on the nose. Palate is filled with ripe citrus, nice mouthfilling texture; medium acidity, good presence and persistence, doesnt just fleet away. Lovely wine, will keep too, drink now - 2015+.

2009 Raats Family Cabernet Franc
£17.99 | £13.49

Black berry and dark plum, quite sweet and jammy on the nose, overlain with a woody / stalky earthiness (coffee, tobacco), and some spice - full on nose, makes you expect a big wine. Palate is expansive and filling, very ripe fruit (black berries and plums again, hints of dark chocolate) with nice balancing acidity, isnt just a simple fruit bomb; properly made, nice mid palate weight, gritty tannic grip on the finish; powerful yet sophisticated, drink now - 2020+

2011 Kimbao Pinot Noir
£11.99 | £8.99

Good fruit, almost minty on the nose, quite forward with the red cherries and plums, possibly some sweet oak too? Juicy fruit on the palate, its extracted, going for a larger, more opulent style; enough abalncing acidity and hardly any tannins; mostly red plums and cherries with a bit of spice. It feels much bigger than what I remember of their 2010 vintage. Great value, especially for good quality Pinot Noir.

2011 Ocaso Torrontes
£10.99 | £7.99

Floral, sweet citrus and peach blossom, they've got the aromatics spot on - very beautifully scented wine. On the palate, the fruit is ripe but feels bit hollow and flabby, and somewhat lacking in freshness / acidity. Still makes the cut for me because the nose was just superb.

2011 Mauricio Lorca Angels Reserve Torrontes
£8.99 | £6.49

The aromatics are there but it isnt as pronounced as the Ocaso, some floral and citrus notes. The palate is more refreshing, nice bright citrus and lemony flavours; nervy and fresh, slips down all too easily. His 'Lirico Torrontes' is very drinkable too but with the Angels Reserve this good, I cant justify the extra quid.

2012 Farmers Story Sauvignon Blanc Semillon
Coming soon

Another two good wines from Jock Harvey - his Brewery Hill label is a Naked Wines favourite and these two 'Farmers Story' wines are quite impressive and definitely worth a try. White stone fruits and some tropical touches, some sweet waxy notes too (like beeswax), the Sauvignon Blanc is quite muted. Its quite funky on the palate, good citrus again with tropical notes, but theres some savoury notes too, definitely interesting and worth a second look.

2011 Farmers Story Shiraz 2011
Coming soon

Beautiful cassis on the nose, blackcurrants cordial and wine gums, plenty of high notes. On the palate, its full of fruits, blackcurrant jam and just under-ripe black cherries; fruity acidity showing, keeps it fresh and not too heavy. A juicy number, plenty of ripe fruit in this wine; drink now - 2014+. I would've taken a picture but for the fact these bottles had no labels.  

2009 Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Shiraz
£19.99 | £14.99

Nose is again filled with cassis and blackcurrants, with cordial and wine gums, but this feels heavier and sweeter. On the palate, blackberries and dark plums; textured palate with good weight, this Shiraz has a textbook filling mouthfeel, big boned and quite muscular but not over extracted or jammy; ripe tannins. Its a big wine, dripping with sweet ripe fruit, perhaps lacks abit of freshness but I'm nit picking, its a lovely wine that will give much pleasure now and for some time to come, drink now - 2019+.

2008 Balthazar Barrossa Ishtar GSM 
£16.99 | £11.99

Blend of two thirds Grenache and a sixth each of Syrah and Merlot, deliberately made in a lighter style. Pale red with some tawny hue, its got some meaty / gamey nose along with the red fruit; on the palate its juicy, with red cherries and red plums, gently rolling on the mid palate, fresh acidity, hardly any tannins. Soft and easy drinking, reminds me of a good but lighter Beaujolais Cru; drink youngest available, not meant for aging.

2009 Balthazar Barossa Ishtar Shiraz 
£16.99 | £11.99 

The one and only vintage that is supplemented with 6% Viognier, which does explain the lift on the nose; sweet blackcurrant fruit with some floral notes, violets and the like; palate is well rounded, plenty of ripe fruit, tending towards the stewed / cooked blackcurrants, some tannic grip but its sweet and will be fine with food.  Its a fairly substantial wine but I have a feeling they held back a bit here.

2007 Balthazar Barossa Shiraz
£32.99 | £17.99

Blackcurrant and blackberry jam, quite dark and brooding, theres eucalyptus and wine gums coming through; some sweet vanilla oak but its well hidden behind the quite substantial and forward nose - does make you expect a big wine and it does not disappoint on the palate. Full blown, dripping with sweet fruit, blackberries compote, dark berries; good amount of acidity; the oak is carried nicely; a hefty wine, does sit and linger on your palate, demanding attention; lots of ripe but fairly bulky tannins. Big wine, needs food and bottle age, decant for a few hours if drinking now; drink now - 2020+

2011 Small and Small Theodore Sauvignon Blanc
£15.99 | £11.99

An oaked New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc - theres some greenness on the nose, but its overlain with some tropical fruit and a hint of creamy / buttery nose. Palate is filled with bright grapefruit and ripe gooseberry, more textured and bigger than your average Sauvignon Blanc; decent mid palate weight. Good fruit, nice complexity, the oak treatment is tastefully integrated.

2011 Lay of the Land 'Destination' Sauvignon Blanc
£12.49 | £8.99

Sweet tropical fruit (guavas mainly) and green pears on the nose, with some green / leafy characters too, the aromatics are quite sweet and fragrant. On the palate, plenty of ripe fruit; citrus dominates with some gooseberry; clean and refreshing, persistent flavours too - its expressive and wont disapoint.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Naked Wines Tasting Tour 2012 - Cambridge Pt 1

Saturday, 23 June 2012.

Naked Wines Tasting Tour 2012
Part 1 - Europe (France, Spain, Portugal)

A selection of notable wines from the Naked Wines Tasting Tour 2012 in Cambridge, held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Didnt manage to taste through all of the 145 wines on offer but I did try the best part of 100 wines and the following were the ones that stood out among the rest - must say there wasnt a bad wine on show. The wines are in the order as it appears in the tasting booklet, and prices are indicated as Retail / Angel Price.

2011 Villebois Loire Sauvignon Blanc, Loire Valley
£9.99 | £7.49

I tried all of the Villebois Sauvignons and this one offered the best value for money. Smoother and classier than the basic Petit Villebois, all the correct varietal note of green gooseberries with sweet lime notes; flavours are restrained yet vibrant - easy drinking.

2011 St Hillaire Cotes du Rhone Rose
£9.49 | £6.99

A provencal style rose - not your sweet fruit forward, instead a more restrained fruit, nice minerally texture, balancing acidity. A food friendly, grown up style rose. Delicious.

2010 Domaine O'Vineyards Trah Lah Lah
£12.99 | £7.99

Fruit forward style, sweet jammy fruit, not fully extracted; could even be described as a 'lighter' style wine; attractive bright fruit dominates the juicy palate.

2009 Domaine O'Vineyards O'Syrah
£14.99 | £9.99

Deeper fuller style, dark brambly fruit, sweet spice, also a woody /stalky note and hints of tobacco - plenty going on in the nose. On the palate, juicy dark fruit, deeper extraction with balancing acidity; grainy ripe tannins, needs food or some bottle age, drink now - 2015+

2008 Domaine O'Vineyards Proprietors Reserve 
£30.99 | £17.49

40/40/20 blend of Merlot / Syrah / Cabernet Sauvignon with all the bells and whistles of barrel aging. Dark fruit, sweet spice, more brooding nose, smells quite jammy and sweet. Big wine, lots of fruit, feels rather high in alcohol but its in keeping with style; blackberries and dark currants, mouthfilling stuff. Needs food or bottle age, drink now - 2018+

2011 Macon Rouge, Dominic Hentall
Coming soon, below £10?

New Producer to Naked Wines - his Bourgogne Blanc and St Veran is not bad too, but I prefer his reds; prices are approximate based on my chat with Dominic. This is a pure Gamay, clean fruit flavours, quite crunchy with a hint of earthy spice to this; simple flavours, ripe fruit; its bright and juicy.

2010 Bourgogne Pinot Noir Reserve, Dominic Hentall
Coming soon, just a touch above £10?   

Red cherries and red currants, some spice and earthy nose; on the palate its a clean, pure Pinot fruit; ripe red cherries and currants; theres a bright lively acidity, crunchy and light; proper Pinot, everything well knit together; from an excellent vintage, great value too.

2011 Frank Massard Herbis Verdejo
£9.49 | £6.99

Citrus on the nose, with some spritz too; very clean and refreshing on the palate, quite acidic, but its refreshingly so, very clean; nice aperitif style wine, but I imagine this going with seafood and oysters.

2010 Finca El Romero Tinto Carinena
£11.99 | £8.99

Old vine Carinena (aka Carignan in the Languedoc). Dark fruit, lots of secondary character - meaty, smoked ham / gamey nose, with funky sweaty leather and earthy spice nose. Palate is generous, ripe fruit but isnt immediately forward, more rustic style; nice presence and mid palate length; a food wine again, but will drink well on its own. Lovely style and good value, just love these old vine Carignans.

NV Mas Sardana Cava
£10.99 | £7.99

A zero dosage / brut natural Cava. Appley and green pears on the nose; lots of citrus on the palate, very slight bready / yeasty development on the palate, very refreshing and really runs through; acidity is high, but not overly so, remains easy drinking; lovely aperitif style.  

2011 Filigrana Alvarinho
£10.99 | £7.99

Lots of citrus, also a slight cheesy / savoury / salty nose; clean and refreshing on the palate, medium acidity, light body, refreshing stuff; not overly complicated - crying out for seafood and sunshine.

2007 Evidencia Dao
£8.99 | £6.49

Sweet red fruit on the nose, some vanilla, with earthy / truffle notes; proper ripe red fruit showing on the palate, juicy and bright, nice burst of flavour at the front, hardly any tannins; uncomplicated, very easy drinking. I'd happily drink this on its own.

2010 Montaria Reserva
£9.99 | £7.49

Sweet dark fruit with obvious sweet oak on the nose; big flavours on the palate, jammy blackberries, overt dark fruit, its more extracted and spent more time in oak; they are going for Parkerised, showy wine and gets away with it; ripe tannins at the end. Needs food or bottle age, drink now - 2015+.

Friday, 22 June 2012

CUWS E12 - Garden Party

Friday, 22 June 2012.

A selection of wines shown at Cambridge University Wine Society's Garden Party, held in the Scholars' Garden, St John's College, Cambridge. Stockist and retail prices are indicated, where known.

2002 Pol Roger Vintage

Pol Roger's current vintage champagne, released earlier in 2012. Biscuity, bready with some oxidative character, theres yeasty notes there, baked mushroom. Lots of acidity, lemony flavours; there decent persistence and width on the mid palate but still very much structured; feels quite linear, taut and young. Good vibrancy and focus, many many years ahead of it.

2009 Ridgeview Fitzrovia Rose Brut
Wine Pantry £28.99 | A-

50% Chardonnay, 28% Pinot Noir and 22% Pinot Meunier. Red fruit on the nose: strawberry and red currants, hint of development and bready notes, but its really fresh and lively, primary characters showing. Palate is rounded; good ripe fruit, fresh acidity and structure given by the Chardonnay; strawberry freshness, summer in a bottle. Brilliantly put together, I think the quality is right up there among the best English sparkling roses; good value too (from The Wine Society, anyway). Absolutely perfect with strawberries and cream.

2000 Pol Roger Vintage

Served from a jeroboam. Only got a tiny amount of this. Much prefer this than the 2002 - felt more precise and focused yet also more generous, just more of everything. Impeccably structured yet so expressive, quintessence of what proper vintage Champagne in a brilliant year ought to be.

2007 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru, Vielles Vignes, Domaine Marc Morey & Fils.
Roberson Wine £35.95 | A

Buttery, creamy and sweet vanilla showing; the oak treatment is prominent and very forward; theres also ripe citrus undertones; voluptuous and fragrant. On the palate, plenty of ripe fruit to carry the oak treatment; full bodied and layered mouthfeel, generous flavours; very ripe acidity to. In short: a complete wine, very classy and well put together, from a fabulous Burgundy vintage and this does not disappoint; showing wonderfully at the moment, drink now - 2020+.

Riberach Synthese Rose, Cotes des Catalanes

100% Carignan. Light salmon pink in colour. Nose isnt full on fruity, quite subdued; on the palate theres plenty of bright red fruit, strawberries and the like, nice texture to this, its almost minerally. Well balanced, this isnt your simple summer quaffer, demands slightly more.

2009 Hartenberg Sauvignon Blanc

Correct varietal nose - green notes of grass and leaves, some tropical fruit (guava and passion fruit), but the varietal greenness is what dominates. Some grapefruit-like pith on the mouthfeel along with citrus; clean and fresh flavours, the greenness does carry through on the palate. A correct, but perhaps rather simple wine.

2011 Albarino, Lagar de Bouza, Rias Baixas
Cambridge Wine £11.99 | B+

Very brief notes - lemony nose, palate is clean as a whistle, high acidity dominated by steely citrus flavours; really cleansing and refreshing feel on the palate, crying out for some sunshine and seafood.

2004 Saar Riesling Spatlese, Wiltinger Schlangengraben, Weingut Johann Peter Reinert.
Cambridge Wine £12.90 | A-

Reviewed previously here.

2011 Welcombe Hills Hollow Meadow. Warwickshire, England.
Wine Pantry £13.99 | B+

A blend of Bacchus and Auxerrois. Nose is of citrus, granny smith apples and green pears; quite aromatic and lively, theres a hint of white lilies / flowers there. Palate is fresh, citrus dominates with some green pears too, hints of minerality, theres some pithy bitterness towards the finish. Overall, very balanced and fresh; perfect for summer, enjoy with or without food. Impressive effort.

2010 AOC Mont-sur-Rolle, Domaine Maison Blanche. Switzerland.

This is one of four Swiss wines below which I tasted very quickly, without making much written tasting notes. Grape variety in this one is Chasselas - neutral some citrus, not much by way of flavour; clean, bone dry and refreshing, a 'neutral' white wine.

2010 Aligote de Peissy, Cave & Domaine Les Perrieres. AOC Geneve.

Neutral nose, citrus and a touch of spritz. Searingly high acidity on the palate, like sucking on lemons; quite intense citrus flavours coming through, acidity is mouth contorting. Perhaps food might temper it?

La Chenaie, Gamay de Peisy, Cave & Domaine Les Perrieres. AOC Geneve.

Cuvee Noble Rouge, Domaine La Capitaine. Switzerland.

2010 Moscato d'Asti DOCG, Bosc Dla Rei, Beni di Batasiolo

Reviewed in the Batasiolo tasting here - very popular at the Garden Party this year.

NV Moscato Frizzante, Cantine Volpi.
Cambridge Wine Merchants £9.49 | B+

Reviewed previously here - another CUWS Garden Party favourite, popular today as it was last year.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Private Tasting

Friday, 08 June 2012.

A small but very eclectic tasting of interesting wines; all of them (perhaps bar the Penfolds Yattarna) have impeccable provenance.

 2007 Condrieu, Pierre Gaillard

Lemony citrus on the nose, then peach skins and thick white fruits, theres a sweet waxy note about this too. On the palate its textured and quite thick, almost furry; white fruits showing, with a slight pithy bitterness at the end. Initially this feels generous but lacking focus and verve; but after some time in the glass, it really begins to open up, showing more opulent flavours; dont rush this wine. Feels fully mature though, done its aging.

1999 Penfolds Yattarna

Second bottle opened on the night, first wine was corked so badly, it was beyond even tasting. I'm really beginning to take issue with this; out of 4 bottles I've opened, two have been undrinkable. Doesnt bode well for the two I have left.
Anyway, the tasting note - quite peculiar nose, sweet and filled with tropical fruits (mango, apricot), then theres a creamy slightly gone-off butter / rancid milk notes; in all making this smell like mango yoghurt. On the palate, the acidity still holding its own; its showing citrus notes, focused and high toned acidity; decent amount of fruit carries through on palate, feels bright. In all, still good but theres disconnect between nose and palate which is slightly disconcerting.

2004 Chateau Musar, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.

Some characteristic Musar strangeness on the nose - heat, spice, dried herbs, then dried tobacco, tea and blackpepper and meaty / gamey notes, then tanned leather with sweaty notes; so much secondary and tertiary aromas coming through. Good black fruits there but its soft and rounded; lush and ripe flavours, the fruit is appealing; decent acidity and grainy tannins just lingers throughout the mid palate. This will keep for a while yet, drink now - 2020+.

2010 First Drop 'The Big Blind' Nebbiolo Barbera, Adelaide Hills

You never know what to expect from the First Drop boys, new vintage of Big Blind.
Red fruits, strawberry and red currants but theres an acidity on the nose, almos some vinegary notes; shows some heat / baked earth characters, peppercorn and spice; the kind of wine thats a nightmare to pick in blind tastings. On the palate, plenty of bright fruits, sour red cherries and crushed currants; theres a freshness from the acidity despite the ripe, fleshy fruit. Still a big wine, big fruit hit at the front, then gently rolls through.

1996 Chateau Gruaud Larose, St Julien 2er Cru

Old school nose here - earthy, clay and smoked tobacco; burnt cayenne peppers, even an ashen, smoldering timbers nose; then some leather too. Good fruit, ripe and rounded; black fruit, and its still quite opulent and large; everything in balance and integrated; tannins grainy towards the end. Wonderfully mature now, just reaching its peak; if drink now, give it time to open up; otherwise drink 2015-2020+

1970 Chateau Gruaud Larose, St Julien 2er Cru

All the old school nose but with an added layer of ashen / mutedness, very developed, earthy and farmyard characters showing, hints of cedar; where the '96 was lively on the nose, this was more ferral and hidden. Very soft on the palate. yielding flavours, sour red currants; the fruit is barely clinging on, its past its best but still showing its pedigree. A novelty to taste.

1988 Chateau Leoville Barton, St Julien 2er Cru

Ashen nose, burnt paprika / peppers there, leather and tobacco with pencil shavings and hints of licorice - old school but still lively. Nice fruit still showing, ripe but sour blackcurrant and blackberry, feels lush and very rounded; the acidity provides backdrop; everything feels soft and rounded, very together. This is at its peak, showing so wonderfully now; flavours are integrated yet lively, just perfect. Star wine of the night.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Tokaj Hetszolo & Chateau Cos d'Estournel

Thursday, 10 May 2012.

A tasting organised by Eminent Wines of wines from Tokaj Hetszolo and Chateau Cos d'Estournel, both estates are owned by Domaines Michel Reybier, held at Searcys - The Gherkin. Many thanks to Raphael Reybier, CEO of Tokaj Hetszolo for the kind invitation; and Jerome Jacober, CEO of Eminent Wines for hosting the tasting. A video of the event can be found here, pictures of said event can be found here - both are courtesy and copyright of Eminent Wines. Guide prices are retail prices given by Eminent Wines.


(image courtesy of Eminent Wines)

2010 Furmint Selection (dry)
£13.50 | B

Clean nose, really bright; primary fruits dominate, citrus and appley notes. On the palate, showing high, racy acidity; really fresh, runs through; nice aperitif style wine.

2010 Sarga Muskotaly (semi dry Muscat)
£14.50 | A-

Incredibly lifted nose, lots of white flowers, acacia and daisies; the floral notes are really singing here, very pretty aromatics. Only gently off dry, perhaps ~10g/l residual sugar; green apples and pears on the palate, still has bags of freshnes, but theres decent generosity of fruit in mid palate; rather unusual but to me at least, very appealing style.

2007 Late Harvest
£15.50 | B+

Lots of floral notes, but tends towards the sweeter, honeyed end of the specteum, still fragrant and lifted. The nose makes you expect a sweet wine, but this isnt fully sweet; yes, theres perhaps 30-40g/l residual sugar but doesnt have the heft or weight to make it a sweet wine; sweet apples and notes of marmalade. Somehow the nose and palate doesnt quite match up.

2003 Tokaji Aszu 3 puttonyos
£19.50 (50cl) | B+

Good fruit, honey, sweet citrus and floral elements on the nose. Feels rather light on the palate, sweet valencia oranges and tangerines; there isnt much weight, a bit too fleeting for my liking; fresh and clean finish. Good wine still, but isnt remarkable.

2001 Tokaji Aszu 5 puttonyos
£28.50 (50cl) | B+

Thick honey, acacia and tinned peaches on the nose; full on aromas, isnt shy; its clean but smells quite heavy.  Good intensity of flavours, mor sugar but also more acidity, still feels balanced; sweet oranges and clementines again, feels thin for a 5 puttonyos, I can only surmise its going for a lighter, fresher style. Pretty, very together, but unfortunately just that bit too light.

2001 Eszencia
£245 (37.5cl) | A

Properly heavy, you can see it glooping out of the bottle. Treacle, golden syrup, laden with overly ripe and tinned peaches. On the palate, its heavy and concentrated, like drinking what little juice there is from dried apricots; good concentration of flavours; does feel heavy and lumbering, but I guess its unavoidable for something with 400+ g/l residual sugar; still quite balanced Not sure this would raise the dead, though ...

The view from Searcy's - The Gherkin


2009 Goulee Blanc
£26.50 | B

Neutral nose, some white fruits and perhaps floral touches, but its nowehere near as lifted as the dry Tokajis. On the palate, shows white stone fruits, but its reserved and shy; clean, neutral and correct but I fear it lacks excitement and verve.

2005 Goulee Rouge
£26.50 | B+

Red fruit and gentle spice on the nose; theres red cherries and currants, with some vanilla and spice too; its a very correct nose. On the palate, its very rounded and integrated; red fruit dominates again, sweetness and ripeness, but its all very soft; hardly any tannic grip left; gentle acidity - all very balanced and 'together' but doesnt set your pulse racing.

2007 Les Pagodes de Cos
£34.50 | B+(+)

Good fruit here; rather dark fruit and brambles; theres more spice and savoury notes, almost dusty / gravelly along with heat on the nose, like baked earth. On the palate its very rounded; better concentration of fruit than the Goulee, the mid palate is quite long; dark fruit and spice on the palate. Good acidity, some grip on the finish, could perhaps develop for a few more years, drink now - 2017+. 

(image courtesy of Eminent Wines)

2007 Cos d'Estournel
£130 | A-(+)

Voluptuous on the nose, eagerly leaps at you - the Goule and Pagodes you really had to fish for the aromas, not here. Dark fruit, with indian curry spices, also some animal / gamey / meaty nose; again a touch of the baked earth as well. Good fruit showing, ripeness yet rounded; more power and concentration on the mid palate; more fruit and generosity, sustained flavours, decent length. Tannins are there, but its ripe and gentle; very balanced; showing rather well at the moment (perhaps even too well given its youth); not sure its for the very long haul, I'd be interested to try this again in five years time to see how its got on; drink 2015 - 2025+ 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Formal Hall

Sunday, 03 June 2012.

Five wines with dinner, with port and claret afterwards - rather more than the norm, we're all in Diamond Jubilee mood here.

Las Montanas Sauvignon Blanc

A correct varietal Sauvignon Blanc, shows the green leafy aromas along with some citrus; clean but very short on the palate, finishes with a slightly bitter (and not entirely pleasant) aftertaste.

2006 R de Rieussec, Bordeaux Blanc Sec
faulty - corked

2005 Suckfizzle Semillon Sauvignon Blanc

Quite nutty on the nose, the oak treatment shows, can almost smell roasted almonds and hazelnuts; quite waxy and oily too, suspect its from the Semillon; only slight hints of greenness from the Sauvignon; all beautifully integrated and together; really full and forward nose, but nevertheless inviting. Clean on the palate; its filling and fruit forward; grapefruit and citrus, paprika pith almost, with savoury hints; integrated flavours, still a bold wine but no one thing dominates.

2009 Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay, Sonoma Country

The oak treatment shows, but this tends towards the creamy buttery spectrum, with dried coconuts and sweet vanilla too; not overpowering. Palate feels slightly clumsy and lumbering, just about enough fruit to carry off the oak but it does need an ice bucket; lest the oakiness overwhelms.

2005 Chateau Rieussec, Sauternes 1er Cru

Lovely botrytis, honeyed nose, tending towards treacle and golden syrup, smells rather heavy. Feels quite lumbering on the palate, I fear it lacks acidity and lift to it; the honeyed fruit is there but isnt bright; if anything, the somewhat dull mouthfeel makes me think this isnt the best bottle of '05 Rieussec I'll try.

1963 Avery's Special Reserve Vintage Port

Lovely sweet raspberries, touch of liquer there; very floral, rose hips and turkish delight, plenty of high notes; then a slight medicinal, cough syrup menthol like notes which develops over time into wine gums and pastilles and a lovely spiciness. Still very lively on the palate, ripe raspberries, vibrant streak of acidity too; amazing freshness given its age. Fruit is light and reserved, almost notes of candied citrus, such is its acidity. Its not voluptuous, instead showing finesse, precision and focus with a lingering, fading finish. Excellent stuff. Unfortunately it declined quite rapidly after decanting - the port I tasted on opening and three hours later after dinner was sadly not the same, it had lost quite a lot of the brightness and liveliness.

Update from Avery's Wine. In 1963 Avery's made six pipes of their Special Reserve Vintage Port which was blended from 1 pipe of Taylors, 2 pipes of Fonseca and 3 pipes of Sandeman. Apparently this blend was subsequently very highly rated by various wine writers and critics. Quite right too, I might add. Many thanks to Duncan Pilbeam of Avery's for the information.

2005 Chateau Patache d'Aux, Medoc Cru Bourgeois Superieur

Textbook after dinner claret - dark fruit with licorice leaps initially, but it quickly resolves to yield to a more rustic, earthy, smoked tobacco and cedar nose. On the palate, theres sustained dark, sweet fruit on the mid palate; not big but very consistent and generous throughout; ripe tannins melt away towards the finish; pleasant acidity. Superb balance, everything in its place; good claret really needn't cost the earth; drink now - 2020+

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Ardbeg Day 2012

Saturday, 2 June 2012; tasted at Ardbeg Embassy @ Cambridge Wine Merchants, Bridge Street

Ardbeg Day (Feis Ile) 2012
£60 at Cambridge Wine and selected other Ardbeg Embassies

At first, whiffs of salt, brine, sea weed and iodine on the nose; then follows a good whack of smoky peat, with nice warmth and spice, particularly anise; also showing slight sherry sweetness and richness there, even sweet citrus and oranges; good volatile notes. Really opens up with a bit of water, inviting warmth and vanilla showing. On the palate its quite rich, whilst retaining a smoky peat and some salty notes; I'd put this as a blend between the briny and peaty precision of a Corryvreckan and the oloroso-influenced sweetness of an Uigeadail - best of both worlds, I'd say. Great expression, another wonderful Ardbeg (they dont ever make bad stuff, do they) ...