Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Gonzalez Byass Palmas Sherry

Tuesday, 23 October 2012.

It was a great pelasure to attend this years' launch of the Gonzalez Byass Palmas Sherries; the masterclass / tasting for this years' launch event was with Gonzalez Byass Master Blender, Antonio Flores, who talked through the current release of four sherries.

 A short introduction to the Palmas range. Its a special limited edition bottling, released once a year after selection in Autumn or 'Saca de Otono'. Each year Gonzalez Byass invites a wine professional to help in the selection of casks that will eventually go into the Palmas sherries, their first release in 2011 was graced by Jancis Robinson. This year's release was helped by Anthony Rose of The Wine Gang. The name 'Palmas' originates from the system used to classify the casks in the Bodega, with only the highest quality casks getting the 'Palmas' marking. The youngest casks gets one markiing (hence the name Una Palma) whereas the oldest and rarest ones gets four markings (hence Cuatro Palmas).

The Una, Dos and Tres Palmas Finos started their life in the Tio Pepe solera system before being set aside for the Palmas releases. The Cuatro Palmas Amontillado is drawn from six unique barrels that are in excess of 40 years old - each year one barrel is bottled as Cuatro Palmas. Given that there has been two releases of Cuatro Palmas (in 2011 and 2012), there can only be four more future bottlings of this rather special sherry. All the Palmas sherries are bottled unfiltered, unclarified and unstabilised - 'au naturel' as it were.  

These Palmas sherries will hit shop shelves soon - this post will be updated once I hear of merchants stocking them.

Una Palma Fino

Technical note: 6 year old Fino with higher than usual acetaldehyde content of 450mg/l (usual Tio Pepe Fino hovers around 350mg/l). These finos still have a full layer of flor covering the surface. 3 barrels released.

Tasting note: Intense nutty flor notes here; green olives and green almonds, plenty of bready / yeasty characters too, also some brine notes (more specifically the brine that olives normally comes in); very forward and pungent nose, it almost feels like an 'en rama' bottling. On the palate its textbook Fino - zingy and lively, green olives and almonds carries through with focused acidity and bags of savoury notes; very refreshing and clean finish, makes you want more ...

Dos Palmas Fino

Technical note: 8 year old Fino. The flor still covers most of the fino surface but there are some small pockets of exposed Fino allowing for a small amount of oxidation. The acetaldehyde levels are back to approximately 360mg/l as the acetaldehyde is beginning to be consumed by the aging flor. 2 barrels released.

Tasting note: Similar nose to the Una Palmas, but with a slightly nuttier / toasted tang. The green almonds nose are now beginning to show hints of being toasted; still very intense aromas coming through. On the palate its a bit wider and more generous than the Una Palmas; slightly less linear and zingy, its beginning to develop some width on the palate.

Tres Palmas Fino

Technical note: 10 year old Fino. Little / no flor coverage, leaving large areas of Fino exposed to the air for oxidation. Alcohol is at 16.3%, which, in addition to the shortage of nutrients makes it a rather inhospitable place for flor growth, which is why most of them has died away. 1 barrel released.

Tasting note: Nutty aromas are showing; towates almonds and hazelnuts; the green olives and brine notes are mostly gone. Oxidative nose of walnuts, and some vanilla and spice (from the barrels) are coming to the fore. The savoury bite of fino youth replaced by nutty tones and more acidity; really coats well, very settled on the palate, just lingers on and on. Seriously good.

Cuatro Palmas Amontillado

Technical note: 46 year old Amontillado (all of it in barrel). Flor has gone many many years ago, this has undergone a very long period of oxidative barrel aging in the Bodega.

Tasting note: Very complex nose, dried fruits (figs and raisins), polished wood lacquer or old furnitures (presumably from the extensive barrel contact), also vanilla and plenty of nutty oxidative aromas; very intriguing and gives something new each time you go back to it. On the palate theres still a good amount of acidity keeping things fresh and surprisingly youthful; nutty flavours dominate with some wood tannins and spicy floavours towards the finish; coats the palate so well and linger on forever (the finish on this isnt measured in seconds, its minutes). I'm gobsmacked by its freshness and vitality, coupled with so much elegance and poise. Utterly compelling, a great wine by any measure.

Antonio Flores calls the Cuatro Palmas a 'wine for meditation' which should be enjoyed on its own or with very good company. Can't agree more, though it'll have to some very good company for me to want to share this sherry ...     

Saturday, 20 October 2012

TWE Whisky Show 2012

The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show 2012
Monday, 08 October 2012 in Vinopolis, London.

Some notable whiskies I tasted during the Press/Trade session of The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show 2012. I deliberately only tasted whiskies which were new or those not previously tasted.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Having tasted through their entire offering at The Whisky Lounge London Fair earlier this April (no notes unfortunately, too busy tasting whiskies), I have made a more conscious effort to take down some tasting notes for their whiskies this time. I must say that there wasnt a bad (or even ordinary) whisky out of the seven I tasted, but these two beauties particularly stood out.

SMWS 35.60
Glenmoray. Distilled 1971, bottled 2010. 42.3% abv, 91 bottles made.

Very delicate nose - sweet vanilla with hints of sweet wood / incense / sandalwood nose, then some dried fruits, peach liquer and candied oranges; complex and alluring. Palate is gentle; very smooth; its not feisty, but very settled and lingering; still quite fruity on the palate. Very pretty stuff, lasting flavours, so drinkable.

SMWS 127.1
Port Charlotte. Distilled 2001, bottled 2010. 66.5% abv, 235 bottles made.

The name 'harbourside barbecue' is apt (normally these SMWS descriptions require some imagination, more fiction than fact) - iodine, kelp, salty sea breeze with a slightly burnt edge to it all. Understandably quite fiery on the palate, but also notable citrus streak running through it; the slightly burnt / barbecued flavours also persist on the palate. Very intriguing.

Other SMWS whiskies tasted: 128.2, 116.17, 66.36, 33.117, 29.124.

Compass Box

An inovative bunch really making waves and ruffling feathers in the Scotch industry. You never know what might come next from them, except that you can be fairly certain that it'll be high quality and enjoyable. I've reviewed their other wares elsewhere in this blog, the three I havent previously tasted are detailed below.

Great King Street Artist's Blend
Blended Scotch, 43% abv.

Rather unusual in that they've used a large proportion of first fill (or in wine speak, new oak) barrels which is virtually unheard of in the whisky industry. The oak characters really come through on the nose with sweet vanilla, spicy and toasty characters also showing. On the palate, its very smooth; sweetness and lightness of the grain whisky comes through. So drinkable.

All Grain, 43% abv.
£52.75 (The Whisky Exchange)

Vanilla and coconut / even rum like nose; with treacle, fudge and caramel coming through; actually smells sweet. Very smooth, its creamy and rich in flavour yet still feels light and nimble; sweet flavours still coming through. Finessed and delicate, incredibly charming. Whoever said grain whiskies cant be high quality?

Flaming Heart
Blended Malt, 4th release. Bottled August 2012, 9147 bottles, 48.9% abv.
£77.95 (The Whisky Exchange)

Rich nose, the sherry comes though alongside some of the smoky peat / iodine / sea breeze, some toasty sweet vanilla there too; full on aromas. Mouthfeel is quite spicy initially, some kick despite being only 48.9%, the fruity citrus and sweet sherry notes then comes through with the smoky characters; really rather strange and at the same time rather delightful. Nicely poised, drinks far too easily.

Berry Bros & Rudd

Another stand that I always look out for in whisky fairs is that of Berry Brothers - their selection of own bottlings are constantly changing (so you really never get bored) and always impresses. You can be assured that if it has a Berry's label it has been chosen with great expertise and care - though I must say I prefer the old label design, as opposed to the ones you see pictured below (the new ones just lack charm and gravitas). And the Spirits Room in their St James' Street premises is also worth a visit if you're in the area. I tried through five of their wares during the day and the three that stood out are below; prices are for 70cl bottles retail at unless otherwise stated.

1997 Clynelish (cask 6864)
Bottled 2012, aged 14 years. 54.8% abv. £49.95

Touch of smoke with sweet sherry notes, with touches of sweet spices. On the palate it feels quite light, citrus notes showing with a sweet spicy overtones; mostly fruit flavours but then a slightly fiery / peppery touch towards the end. For a lightish whisky, this packs some power.

1992 Aberlour (cask 3919)
Bottled 2012, aged 19 years. 55.5% abv. £67.95

Vanilla and woody overtone son the nose, the time spent in the barrels really comes through; touch of sweet malt too. Lively fruity flavours on the palate; sweetish tones, dried fruits (maybe apricots and sultanas); the woody feel caries on the palate. Lengthy finish, flavours linger.

1973 Glenlivet (cask 10822)
Bottled 2012, aged 38 years. 47.6% abv. £130 (The Whisky Exchange)

Wonderful nose of citrus peel, candied oranges, sweet clementines being peeled; lively yet delicate. Palate is soft, theres a sweet core of citrus fruit again but it isnt explosive; it gently rolls around, coating the palate with its slightly oily texture; plenty of flavour that never overwhelms but keeps on giving. Some nutty wood spice and drying grip on the finish. Very appealing.

Also tasted: Blue Hanger 6th Edition (45.6% abv, £71.50), 1984 Benrinnes (56.5% abv, £83)


I've seen these guys at whisky fairs before but have never thought to drop by and try their whiskies. Their stand was rather quiet when I got around to them, so I decided to call in and try their stuff, and I'm very glad I did too. These guys release two kinds of whiskies - the regular aged expressions (12, 15, 18 and 21 year olds) as well as a small selection of single cask expressions, which are released twice a year. Some cracking whiskies in their range, the two that stood out are detailed below, but their entire range is well worth drinking.

1971 Glendronach
Cask 1247. Bottled 2012, aged 41 years; 529 bottles made. 47.9% abv. Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon. 
£575 (The Whisky Exchange)  

Rather special stuff, deep colour. Dark sweet molasses, treacle, chocolate and caramel on the nose, with some toasted oats and woody notes; really quite sweet and more like rum than whisky. Theres sultanas and raisins on the palate, with some woody touches; nice concentration of flavours, isnt particularly powerful but it does linger for quite a while. A privilege to try.  

Glendronach 21 years old 'Parliament'
48% abv. £77.95 (The Whisky Exchange)

Again quite dark colour, rich fruit cake on the nose, with sweet sultanas and quite sweet sherry notes. On the palate, its large and quite overtly fruity; chocolate and christmas cake flavours are there (sweet dried fruits with some spice); lingering finish. Bold, sweet, fruity style; my pick for a Christmas-themed whisky.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Downing MCR Tasting

Monday, 08 October 2012

A wine tasting for Downing College MCR during fresher's week; retail prices are indicated where known.

Conde de Haro Extra Brut Cava, Bodegas Muga. Spain.
The Wine Society £11.95 | A-

Serious bubbly from The Wine Society, made by Bodegas Muga of Rioja fame. Slightly bready / yeasty nose, with citrus too. Mousse on the palate is refined, vibrant acidity; fruit is forward, yet not aggressive; nice txture on the palate, doesnt just wash away. Classy stuff. 

2010 The Society’s Exhibition Chablis Premier Cru ‘Vaillons’, Jean Marc Brocard. France.
The Wine Society £16 | A-

Richness comes through on the nose - ripe fruit with creamy / buttery notes, also the classic citrus verve. On the palate, minerality comes through underpinned by taut racy acidity yet the fruit is very ripe and yielding, bright lemony flavours; surprisingly generous flavours for a Chablis. Nice persistence of flavours too. Great value. 

2011 The Society’s Exhibition Tasmanian Chardonnay. Australia.
The Wine Society £14.95 | B+

Zesty, lime peel and citrus oils on the nose, with some floral characters. Plenty of racy acidity, piercing high notes on the wine, like sucking on a wedge of lemon; very bright and vibrant stuff, intensely focused, if perhaps a touch too piercing. Great example of cool climate (and I suspect very early picking) Oz Chardonnay. 

2011 Plantagenet Mount Barker Riesling. Australia.
Cambridge Wine £14.99 | B+

Again, very zesty, with lime peel and lime cordial on the nose, with lemony fragrance, very lively on the nose. Plenty of racy acidity, in a way only Riesling can achieve; rapier like, lemony flavours; eye watering. Just about stays balanced.

2005 Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg Riesling. Germany.
Cellars of  Downing College | A-

Previously reviewed elsewhere - again showed wonderfully, just the perfect balance between fruit, sugar and acidity.  

2010 Bourgogne Pinot Noir Cuvee Reserve, Maison Roche de Bellene. Burgundy, France.
The Wine Society £10.95 | B+

red frui on the nose, with some sweet spice and woody licorice touches, feels polished and quite old school; fragrant and appealing. On the palate, bright acidity with some under-ripe raspberries and red currants; not the most complex of flavours, but its evidently well made and has great charm.

2011 Kooyong Massale Pinot Noir. Mornington Peninsula, Australia.
Cambridge Wine Merchants £19.99 | B+

Bright cherry fruit on the nose, hints of earthy notes with some aromatic mahogany / cedar / leather there, indicating some judicious oak use; feels very polished, sophisticated on the nose. The fruit is somewhat underwhelming,  under ripe raspberry and red cherries but on the tart side of things; feels like the fruit isnt properly ripe; nice crunchy acidity though. Just wished they had a bit more sweet fruit. 

2001 La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza ‘Reserva Especial’. Rioja, Spain.
The Wine Society £18.50 | A-(+)

I've reviewed this wine some time back and thought it would be good to revisit. As good as I remembered it,  great concentration of flavour; textured and persistent on the palate. Drinking so nicely now, but will ag for another 10-20 years no problems.

1987 Contino Rioja Reserva. Rioja, Spain.
Personal collection | B+

Previously reviewed here

2008 Pauillac. Bordeaux, France.
The Wine Society £16.50 | B+(+)

Dark fruit, cassis with polished wood, cedar, tobacco and leather notes; theres hints of capsicum too; decent depth to the aromas, feels brooding and like a proper claret. Good fruit on the palate; dense, structured dark berries and dark plums with balancing; plenty of grainy tannins but feels ripe; texture is a bit sandy at the moment, but theres plenty of fruit to make sure it resolves with time. This feels like a proper Pauillac, wouldnt be surprised if it came from the Lafite stable; drink 2015-2023.

1996 Chateau Cantemerle, Haut Medoc 5eme Cru. Bordeaux, France.
Cellars of Downing College | A

Beautifully integrated, mature claret - noets of cigar box, pencil shavings and graphite, slightly smoky / leathery characters too, along with earthy even capsicum still. Refined on the palate, very smooth and yielding; fruit is ripe and soft and effuses everywhere; good dose of balancing acidity. Generous, so very drinkable, excellent claret; drink now - 2020.  

1982 Churchill’s Vintage Port
Cellars of  Downing College | A-

Bright red fruit shows here, along with framboise and cherry liquer; fragrant rose petal aromatics. On the palate, its mostly sweet red fruit, just enough acidity to keep it going; a lighter style vintage port that has matured well and isnt showing its age. Delicate, very pretty.

Sainsbury's Wine - Autumn/Winter Offers

Wednesday, 10 October 2012.

Having tasted 147 wines at the Sainsbury's Wine Winter Press Tasting, the following wines are those which I thought were interesting and represented good value. I have included the retail price for each of the wines, which are correct at time of writing. In addition, Sainsbury's are running their customary 25% off any 6 bottles offer between 19-28 October 2012 which would make some of these wines stunning value.

To keep things simple, no normal ratings for these wines, just a Recommended or Highly Recommended.

2011 Taste the Difference Sancerre
Recommended | £11.99

Under diam cork, this is a textbook Sancerre with lemony fruit, minerality and intensity on the palate. At 25% off, this will be just under a tenner and is good value stuff.

2011 Taste the Difference Pouilly Fume
Recommended | £11.99

Under diam cork, this is a riper style Pouilly Fume; some minerality but plenty of ripe fruit, hint of spritz on the palate. Lively, cheerful and very drinkable, quite un-Pouilly Fume like.

2011 Taste the Difference Riverblock Sauvignon Blanc
Highly Recommended | £9.99

Steely, mineral style of Marlborough Sauv Blanc; theres some of the green grassy notes, with gooseberry there too. Flavour intensity on the mid palate is notable, as is the texture; feels sophisticated, not just your average Sauv Blanc from Marlborough.

2010 Brancott Estate Renwick Sauvignon Gris
Recommended | £12.99

Quite aromatic, with some tropical and white fruits, hint of greenness; nice lemony and green pear flavours on the palate, pure and focused. An interesting alternative to the usual Sauv Blanc.

2011 Taste the Difference Fairtrade Chenin Blanc
Recommended | £8.99

Ripe citrus nose, good fruit on the palate; clean and pretty, decent finish too. Feels like a proper Chenin Blanc, very drinkable and fairtrade too - whats not to like? Good everyday drinking wine.

2010 Bellingham The Bernard Series Roussanne
Highly Recommended | £9.99

Very forward nose, the partial oak treatment very noticeable - savoury,  yeasty / biscuity nose, over ripe white fruits, touch alcoholic. Plenty of ripe white fruit on the palate, with some savoury touches; full bodied with a quite heavy texture. Big, serious wine - I'd buy this full priced.

2006 Taste the Difference Hunter Valley Semillon
Highly Recommended | £9.99 

Proper aged Semillon nose - plenty of savoury characters, nutty / sesame seeds; then toasted hazelnuts and sweet vanilla, also some biscuity notes. Palate is savoury and textured, fruit is ripe but is well integrated into the acidity and savoury characters; very balanced and showing lots of complexity. A wine lovers' wine - excellent stuff, I'd happily buy this full priced; should age well too. Made by the chaps at Mount Pleasant.

2012 Yalumba Y Series Viognier
Recommended | £8.99

Fat white fruit, over-ripe slightly rotten peaches; palate is large without being flabby, nice generous fruit. Could do with a touch more acidity but this is still a very reliable new world Viognier.   

2011 Taste the Differene Proseco Conegliano Brut Superiore DOCG
Recommended | £10.99 (75cl), £19.99 (1.5l magnum), £2.99 (20cl)

Sweet, fragrant nose with ripe apples and pears on the nose. Off dry on the palate, very appley; simple, refreshing but proper Prosecco flavours. Go on, buy a magnum ....

NV Jacob's Creek Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut
Recommended | £9.99

Citrus, with a bit of biscuity aromas. Palate is crisp, completely dry; its a clean refreshing drink, and certainly well made if not slightly commercial in style. Buy only when on offer.

2010 Taste the Difference Cotes du Rhone Villages
Recommended | £6.99

Lots of dark fruit, with woody, stalky notes and dark spices; quite heady. Palate is full of dark fruits, ripe and sweet, slight grip at the end; nice extraction, its a full bodied wine - needs food, perhaps a hearty stew? Good value too.

2009 Crozes Hermitage Les 3 Lys
Recommended | £9.99

Dark fruit on the nose with spice and sweet licorice, also some savoury / cured meat notes. Plenty of ripe extracted fruit on the palate, nice texture with balancing acidity, some depth too; feels balanced and very drinkable. IWC 2012 Gold medal winner.

2009 Taste the Difference St Emilion
Highly Recommended | £9.99

Dark plummy notes with sweet spice; also polished wood and touch of smoke. Dark plums and dark cherries on the palate; big and very plump, very ripe with some spice on the finish; tannins are there but not prominent. Feels sophisticated, in a bold, fruit forward kind of way.  

Two simple spanish wines, which can be recommended: the 2009 Liebre Tinto (£7.99) and the 2011 Pasico Old Vine Monastrell Shiraz (£5.99) both showing attractive ripe red fruit coulis, supple fruit on the palate. Neither are too complicated - they are well made, easy drinking wine.

2006 Sainsbury's DO Carinena Gran Reserva
Recommended | £5.99

Attractive red fruit with a sweet lick of oak on the nose, quite fragrant stuff. Palate is full of red fruits, sweet and vibrant; handled the oak treatment quite well, its soft and plump. Very drinkable stuff, good value too.

2007 Taste the Difference Rioja Reserva Cepa Alegro
Recommended | £9.99

The sweet oak and vanilla comes through alongside red fruit, feels very polished and sophisticated. Palate is filled with sweet red cherry and berries, soft fruity acidity; not the most complictaed, but its pretty and very drinkable.

2010 Bellingham The Bernard Series Syrah
Recommended | £10.99

Dark fruit on the nose, brooding depth; some spice and woody aromas, theres some burnt touches to this. Bags of fruit, its extracted and full blown in style; some savoury and licorice flavours too. Well made stuff, this wont disappoint.

2009 Mayu Syrah Reserva, Elqui Valey
Highly Recommended | £9.99 

Dark fruit, with hints of fresh mint leaves; theres savoury / cured meats aromas coming too, very attractive nose. Fruit is sweet, ripe and very big on the palate, quite grippy and chewy, this is a mouthful; maybe a touch over extracted but they carry off the style well. Big bold wine.

2010 Taste the Difference Barossa Shiraz 
Recommended | £9.49

Big, juicy blackcurrucant fruit on the nose, with cordial and a hint of mint; nose is lifted, doesnt feel overdone on the nose, quite pretty. On the palate, the fruit is overt but not overblown; fresh acidity running through it; well made stuff from the chaps at St Hallett, this is one very drinkable Oz Shiraz. Good value.

2010 Taste the Difference McLaren Vale Grenache
Recommended | £9.99      

Red fruit coulis notes on the nose, with red cherries and currants dominating. Palate is juicy, plenty of fruit with refreshing acidity and a hint of savoury notes; its a bit more than your basic fruity wine. Feels balanced and sophisticated; should go well with lighter meat based dishes.

And finally two dessert wines which, barring perhaps the Hunter Valley Semillon and the Roussanne mentioned above, represent the best value for money wines in the entire tasting. The labels may leave something to be desired but dont let them deter you, these are rather good wines.

NV House Dessert Wine
Highly Recommended | £3.99 (37.5cl)

A blend of Riesling, Rivaner and Silvaner; 9.5% alcohol. Attractive sweet fruit, with honey and acacia notes; theres tangerines and sweet clementines too, wonderful aromatics. Plenty of fruit on the palate; backed b fruity acidity; lots of sugar here, 120g/l to be precise, but all kept in check by the acidity; its like drinking clementine juice. Not the most complex wine but its drinking very nicely; with the offer its £3 a half bottle - unbeatable value!

NV Sainsbury's Muscat de St Jean de Minervois 
Highly Recommended | £4.99 (37.5 cl)  

100% Muscat Petit Grain, 15% alcohol. Tending towards sweeter apples and pears on the nose, with over ripe peaches too; its a more overtly sweet nose. Palate is fresh, good amount of acidity; palate is filled with sweet grapes and dried fruits. Well made, good value dessert wine.


Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Claret Tasting

Saturday, 22 September 2012.

A tasting of clarets from the cellars of Downing College, Cambridge led by Mr Richard Stibbs, President & Fellow Steward. This tasting was part of the Cambridge University Alumni Weekend, 21-23 September 2012. The wine are presented in the order they were tasted; again, some very brief notes on some of them; all were opened just before tasting.

2000 Chateau Lanessan, Haut Medoc

Old school nose, some blackberry and dark fruit showing, with pencil shavings and graphite, touch of polished wood too; proper, mature claret nose. On the palate, good fruit with balancing acidity; filling mouthfeel, good presence on midpalate; still lively, it has life ahead of it, tastes surprisingly youthful. Exceeded expectations.

2003 Chateau Terrefort Quancard, Bordeaux Superieur

Warming red fruit / compote, with some dusty / damp touches too. On the palate, the fruit is starting to fade away, its a lighter, 'luncheon' style wine; touch of drying tannins on the finish. Its not remarkable, but its drinking very nicely; an everyday wine.

2004 Chateau Langoa-Barton, St Julien 3eme Cru

Classic St Julien nose - plenty of dark fruit, woody notes with capsicum, tobacco / woody notes, baked earth / rusty / ashen notes, with pencil shavings & graphite; very open and generous nose. Wonderful concentration of flavours, plenty of ripe, dark fruit, with balancing fruity acidity; very generous mid palate, so juicy and yielding at the moment; ripe tannins at the end. Surprisingly accessible now, this will develop with time, drink now - 2025+.    

2002 Chateau Langoa-Barton, St Julien 3eme Cru

Again, textbook nose of dark fruit, with stalky / wooded aromas, bell peppers, and pencil shavings; in comparison, the '04 had a far more overtly fruity nose, this was more subdued and old school and a touch more evolved. On the palate, good amount of dark fruit but not as generous as the '04; feels more closed and hard going; fresh acidity, slightly gritty tannins towards the end. Its well structured, but not particularly accessible now, perhaps at an awkward phase? Drink 2015-2025+.

2000 Chateau Lascombes, Margaux 2eme Cru

Soft, fragrant red fruit coulis, with violets and roses; sweet polished wood like cedar / mahogany; lovely aromas, very inviting, sophisticated stuff. On the palate, the fruit is red cherries and ripe red currants and raspberries; very lush and sweet, with fruity acidity; feels very balanced and supple, ripe and melting tannins on the finish. Very seductive, this is showing so wonderfully now and will develop for another decade; drink now - 2020+. My favourite of the tasting.

2005 Chateau Patache d'Aux

Reviewed elsewhere.

2003 Chateau Haut Batailley, Pauillac 5eme Cru

Classical Pauillac with a hint of maturity - dark fruit with polished wood, rather masculine. On the palate, the fruit is showing nicely, beginning to open up; sweet cassis is there, with some grainy tannins on the finish; for a 2003, it feels very balanced, and doesnt show any ill effects from the very hot vintage. Just entering its drinking window, drink now - 2020+.

2006 Chateau Batailley, Pauillac 5eme Cru

Quite woody on the nose - stalky, with cedar and polished fragrant woody notes coming later. Good fruit on the palate but doesnt feel that concentrated, tastes youthful and but is quite closed at this stage. Its not particularly concentrated, so probably not going to be a great claret but the structure is all there; drink 2015-2025+.

2005 Cheateau Moulin Riche, St Julien

Second label of Ch. Leoville Poyferre. Soft nose; stewed red fruit and red plums, feels a tad hot / cooked. Good fruit on the palate, very accessible and juicy; cassis with fragrant wood, smooth mouthfeel and has a polished / sophisticated feel to it. Well balanced and showing nicely, though perhaps lacking concentration and length; drink now - 2020.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

German Riesling Tasting

Saturday, 22 September 2012.

A tasting of German Rieslings (with a single Pinot Blanc interloper) from the cellars of Downing College, Cambridge led by Mr Richard Stibbs, President & Fellow Steward. This tasting was part of the Cambridge University Alumni Weekend, 21-23 September 2012. Very brief notes on some of these, was rather busy opening bottles and serving the wines.

2005 Schloss Sarstein Pinot Blanc

Aromatic nose filled with lychee and guava, theres a sweet, tropical element to this. On the palate, its gently off dry; sweet apples and guava dominating, gentle acidity; theres a richness on the mid palate, quite generous mouthfeel, the wine has filled out nicely with age. Very attractive style, drinking nicely now.

2006 Munsterer Rheinberg Riesling Auslese, Weingut Gottelmann

Forward nose - honey, acacia, sweet waxy oranges, some tropical notes as well as a hint of kerosene / petrol; quite pretty. Nice richness and generosity on the palate again, its off dry, with notes of candied orange peel and sweet clementines; plenty of sweet citrus fruit with balancing acidity. Characteristic Nahe richness, its lush and incredibly poised; joy to drink.

2001 Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese, Weingut Max Ferd. Richter

Clean nose, mostly waxy lemons with a touch of kerosene. Palate is more than off dry, but lacks richness or weight; good fruit but isnt showing brightly; felt a bit light and flabby compared to the Kabinett.

2001 Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett, Weingut Max Ferd. Richter

Nose is bright, zesty limes and citrus notes, theres an air freshener quality to this, lively stuff. Focused, rapier like acidity showing; zesty fruit, so much acidity here its like sucking on ripe lemons; feels a tad narrow and one dimensional but by God is it lively.

2002 Oestrich Lenchen Kabinett, Peter Jakob Kuhn Rheingau Riesling 

Nose is muted, as is the palate; fruit isnt showing at all well, its the dullest of the lot today; dodgy bottle?

2003 Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese, Weingut Max Ferd. Richter


Lime zest and kerosene dominates, shows it has developed with age; its overtly quite sweet on the nose. Palate is generous, plenty of fruit which coats the midpalate; lovely flavours, showing good balance and not tiring, another keeper.

2003 Riesling Spatlese Serriger Schloss Saarstein

Waxy lemons, with some kerosene touches, and lime zest too; lively nose. Citrus dominates on the palate, nice concentration of flavours just a bit short on the finish. Nicely balanced, will keep for a while yet.

2005 Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg

Beautiful aromatics, the rinds of lemon and sweet oranges, hints of sweetness there too; its a bold nose, yet delicate at the same time. Sweet oranges on the palate, plenty of primary fruit and acidity; it feels focused, with concentrated flavours that linger. Great balance, its a perfectly poised wine. My favourite of the day.

2003 Oestrich Lenchen Riesling Auslese, Peter Jakob Kuhn

Half bottles in a crown (beer) cap - must admit I've never seen a German Pradikatswein under crown cap before. Amber gold with shimmering copper in colour, it flows rather reluctantly; acacia honey, fudge and caramel on the nose. On the palate, its thick and weighty, really sits on the palate, revealing its honeyed richness, its like drinking slightly diluted honey; acidity is still there but drowned by the 150-200 g/l or so of residual sugar left in, I've had Beerenausleses lighter than this. Bit too heavy for my liking, lacks balance.    

Weingut Hansruedi Adank

Wednesday, 03 October 2012

I was invited by Tom Lewis aka Cambridge Wine Blogger to meet Patrick Adank whose family owns Weingut Hansruedi Adank and who has kindly brought a bottle of the winery's flagship Pinot Noir for us to try. The tasting note can be found below and you can find Tom Lewis' take on the wine here.  

2010 Flascher Pinot Noir Barrique, Weingut Hansruedi Adank

Incredibly fragrant nose of sweet, polished oak, almost notes of sweet lacquer; vanilla, with a slight raspberry liqueur sweetness coming through, really leaping out of the glass, the oak is still so dominant at the moment (still pretty though). On the palate, good amount of fruit there, red raspberry and red cherries, but with a slightly unripe / tart tinge about it; fresh acidity, with some grainy tannic grip on the finish, nice filling mouthfeel; a food wine. In all, it feels very sophisticated & classy, a well made polished Pinot Noir; in style, more Central Otago than Burgundy.

After I had written this tasting note, we opened the 2010 Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir (Cambridge Wine Merchants, £14.99) to compare; its a Decanter World Wine Awards 2012 Gold medal winner no less. And the styles couldnt be more contrasting - both were very polished, well made wine (and I can see how the latter won a Gold medal), but the Swiss Pinot was just prettier and more elegant than the Villa Maria, which in comparison, tasted like a big, punchy hello-look-at-me wine. And with a bit of charcuterie, cheese and bread on the table, the Swiss Pinot won hands down.