This is an archive of tasting notes from participants in the UK wine forum, with notes from before 2005

UK Wine Forum - Other Europe
Notes from participants in the UK Forum are added in chronological order.

Bulgaria - England - Greece - Hungary - Malta - Romania
Soviet Union - Switzerland


08/00 Svischtov Cabernet Sauvignon Special Reserve 1988
This Controliran Region Bulgarian cost just Ł2.00 at my local corner shop. No, not 5 years or more ago, but last weekend. Worth a punt, I thought, just to find out. I have no idea how this price comes about and the shopkeeper is away at this time delivering a fridge to his relations somewhere up the Khyber Pass. Bright and clear; decanted into usual Paul Masson flask, no sediment at all; in glass: ruby red through to rim. 12% abv. On the nose lots of cassis fruit and some mintiness. No sign of any oak. On the palate sweet (in the sense of richness) ripe fruit, blackberry and blackcurrant. Again, not much evidence of oak; soft tannins, good length. Showing no signs of its advanced years taking any toll. Altogether a very sound and savoury drink. Would be astounding value at two or three times the price. (David Riach - UK)


10/02 Three Choirs - 2001 Newent, England – 10.5% - Ł4.95 (US$8)
Made from 100% Phoenix which is a variety genetically crossed between Bacchus and Savoie Blanc. This light lemon coloured wine showed a floral, honeysuckle nose with some sweetness. It tasted soft with a short finish and was what I called an aperitif wine. My score 4 (3.2) (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

08/02 Madeleine Angevine 2000, Frome Valley Vineyard
From the land of apples (Herefordshire), this wine was almost colourless, but had a lovely floral and clean nose. In the mouth a rasping acidity which demanded food, which in turn did not come. The finish was a little watery and had a hint of sugariness, but for a wine from the west of England, very enjoyable. Moderate/Good. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

07/02 'The Limes' Riesling 1999, Denbies
Lemon colour. Peardrops, grass, citrus on nose. On palate, citrus notes, especially lime but rather sour tasting. Good acidity. Very dry, bit lean. OK but over-priced. (David Pope, UK)

06/02 Denbies 'The Limes' Riesling 1999 11.5%abv
Very pale straw/some green. Delicate aromatic notes lime juice, apple peel and a slight touch of under ripe rhubarb(?) without being overpowering. The palate, which tasted very young and not a heavyweight, was bone dry with rapier like acidity, showing lime, greengage, and sherbet with a lovely zesty food friendly finish, although the high acidity may be too much for some. I really enjoyed this wine and would go gladly back for more. This probably has a few years cellaring potential in it as well. Excellent for its (English) type but unfortunately, not at a bargain price. (Phil Wilkins, UK)

04/02 Three Choirs Premium Selection Red 2000
A novelty. A light coloured red, but not as light as you might expect. The nose is very attractive, hinting at Beaujolais-Villages and possibly Bouzy Rouge (I think there's some Pinot N with Rondo in the blend). The palate was therefore disappointing by comparison, being vegetal and a little dirty, limited raspberry fruit. Quite difficult to drink, though light enough not to be offensive. Moderate. And, of course, being English, way overpriced. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

04/01 Northbrook Springs Noble Dessert 1994
Deep amber colour. Nice botrytis nose. Really rich orange, apricot and marmalade fruit, beautifully balanced by crisp refreshing acidity. A superb half-bottle, sipped appreciatively over the course of the last week. I've tried shockingly few English wines over the years, but this one is a world class act IMHO. The closest analogy I could draw is that it has all the richness and body of a good vintage of the Australian sweetie "Noble One", but melded with some Loire-type fresh acidity that stops it being cloying and gives it better balance. (Paul Armstrong, UK)


01/04 1996 K.Papantonis - Mithen Agan (Argos)
I bought this red wine from Oddbins in the recent past for about Ł6.50 (US$11). The name “Mithen Agan” was written in Greek letters on the label and this is actually an ancient Greek phrase. I did not know its meaning but after consulting two relatives who were fairly proficient, they told me that the meaning is “Nothing in excess”. Burgundy red in colour with a slight pink at the rim. The nose showed a mixture of red currants and oak which stills seems to show a hint of toast. The mouthfeel is smooth, fresh tasting acidity and the tannins are balanced well by the red fruits. Certainly a dry wine, I drank this with a beef and rice stew which paired it adequately. 84/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

01/04 1959 Othello
The old fashioned label has an artistic colour print of Othello and is both distinctive and a work of art. The cork crumbled when I tried to extract it which was a pain. I poured this straight into the glass, no decanting. A dull terracotta with an orange rim, the nose was giving off a lot of volatile acidity with a bit of herb. Light on the palate, almost like a fine sherry, this wine passes gracefully into vinous heaven within 10 minutes in the glass. Now a curiosity, this is the oldest bottle of vintage Greek Cypriot wine that I have both drunk and ever seen. I own later vintages of this wine which, in my experience, usually need to be drunk before their 20th birthday. Not rated (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/03 Vlassides Winery (Cyprus) 2000 Shiraz
This 100% Syrah wine is from the village of Kilani on the beautiful Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Aged in French oak barrels, this bottle was a gift from a fellow wine lover on the island. A deep plum purple with a clear rim. It smells not overtly fruity, in fact the blackberry nuance that I recognised semed subdued. The taste is moderately fruit driven, then the smooth tannins make a modest impact on the tastebuds. A clean and respectable finish rounds off a nice wine. We all enjoyed its easy going company. How would I rate this numerically? I'll leave that to your imagination... (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

01/03 2000 Gaia Estate Red
First time I've seen a synthetic cork on this wine, nearly didn't drink the wine because the narrow wormed corkscrew just pulled right through the centre of the 'closure' leaving it in the bottle's neck. Eventually found another model that worked. Medium-full ruby colour. Nose has subtle wood and red fruit notes. The palate does not offer the smoothness of the 1997 or 1999 vintage but the fruit quality and the acidity are still very good, just the tannins are a little more rustic. Still a good wine. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

10/02 Domaine Gerovassiliou 2000 Syrah Epanomi, Greece – 13.5% - Ł9 (US$14)
Aside from the prominent 'legs' on the side of the glass, this was the darkest red syrah so far. A pure vanilla and black fruits nose introduced the powerful, ripe tannins with vibrant acidity. Most remarked that it was the best wine so far in the tasting. The back label said that this wine could age 10-15 years. I disagree with this statement but feel that a couple of years of careful storage would do this wine no harm. My score 5 (4.6). (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

04/02 "Syrah" Ktima Kir Yanni 1999
Supposedly the "Greek Grange" (according to the salesman), this delicious red wine has a deep, vivid red colour. The nose is deep and pure, with damson and plum notes. There is classy oak. Very full and concentrated in the mouth, good texture, and currently dominated by very firm, tooth-coating tannins. Long, spicy finish. A bargain for Ł9, and missing only a little bit of finesse in the tannin for an extra star.*** (Joel Hopwood, UK)

11/01 Gaia Thalássitis 2000, AOC Santorini
Medium dark straw with lots of green. Very intense nose which is yeasty and chalky, with some petrol, grapefruit peel and crisp pear. Lacks some focus in mouth, flavours are of citrus and petrol again, with lots of extract and a quite long, even more petrolly finish. Slightly disjointed perhaps, but interesting white with a personality. A wine I would like to see preserved in any case. Ł7.50. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Gaia Barrel Thalássitis 2000, AOC Santorini
Same colour as above. Nose has lots of oak of the rubbery, slightly bitter, herbal kind. On the palate there is good acidity and perhaps less oak. In the style of some oaked Sauvignons from Australia. Much less exciting, of course, than the un-oaked version. Ł9. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Gaia Nótios White 2000, Vin Régional du Peloppončse
Medium straw colour with gold. Slightly standardized nose with touches of industrial yeast, but also rose petals, sweet raisins and citrus peel. On the palate it is quite crisp, full-bodied but not hot, with gooseberry and citrus fruit. Slightly industrial but very good. Ł5. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Nótios Red 2000, V.R. du Peloppončse
Dark ruby-violet. Gently perfumed nose of black cherry, butter, some burnt bread and beurre noir. On the palate there is good intensity of cherry fruit and a slightly biscuity edge. A bit short. Very good, and a steal at Ł5. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Gaia Estate 1999, AOC Neméa
Beautiful dark cherry colour. Lots of barrique on the nose, with some fresh butter and paint notes. Good presence on the palate, with a minor glassy, lead-pencilly thing to it. Thick. Medium acidity, some tannins in the background, medium length. A touch of petrol and burnt matter appear with time. Good, but not as fabulous as I've been said previous vintages are. Ł11. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Gaia Ritinítis Nóbilis NV, V.R. Peloppončse
Dark straw colour with green. Very herbal and stalky on the nose, with a yeastiness akin to the white Nótios. Quite fresh, and with just a minor touch of resin and menthol perhaps appearing at the back of the nose. But somehow it lacks the charm and poise of full-blown Retsina. On the palate there is in fact no resemblence to it, and we are left with a rather nautral, though still quite crisp and enjoyable white. Could work better with food. L5.50. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Gerovassíliou White 2000
50% Assýrtiko, 50% Malagouziá, 100% steel-fermented. Dark golden. Very perfumed and sweet nose with rose petals, lychees and peaches, slightly yeasty and stemmy, rustic, strong, but quite noble for what it is. On the palate it continues the Gewürztraminer analogy with a sweet, slightly flabby package, rounded off by a marmelady and slightly drying finish. Lacks a bit of elegance, but quite good. Ł6.50 (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Gerovassíliou Chardonnay 2000
Dark yellow colour. A rather standard oaked Chard with lots of butter and vanilla. Strong acidity on the finish. Rather anonymous. Ł8. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Gerovassíliou Red 2000
80% Syrah, 20% Merlot, aged in oak. Nice deep ruby colour. Nose of cherry and strawberry confiture, praline, fresh paint, slightly cooked, but interesting. Juicy and very glyceric on the palate, with a bit of sipce and aggressive paint , especially on the bitter, macerated cherry-like finish. Good acidity. The more traditional of the two reds, and quite convincing. Ł8.50. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Gerovassíliou Syrah 2000
Barrel sample. Aged in oak for 12 months, will be bottled Nov 2001. 13.5% alc. Slightly darker purple than above. Lots of new oak here, to sustain the dry nose of bacon and red cherry. On the palate it is quite fat, but with a citrus character for balance. A bit hollow and dried-out here as well, with poerful, dusty tannins. Needs time, but promising. The estate's best wine IMO. Ł9. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Ktíma Kir-Yánni Samáropetra 2000, V.P. Florína
This and the two following wines belong to the lower Grypas range. A blend of Sauvignon and barrel-fermented Rodítis from single vineyard Amíndeo, it was released in 48,000 bottles. Dark straw with lots of green. A perfumed, strongly yeasty wine with quite a creamy, waxy side to it, not unlike a Verdicchio. On the palate there is again an impression of creaminess from the texture, plus a touch of wax on the finish from the Roditis. An OK wine at Ł7. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Ktíma Kir-Yánni Orinós Rodítis 2000, V.P. Florina
100% Rodítis grown on high-altitude vineyards (hence the name) on sandy soils at 700 m above sea level. Has seen some old oak barrels. 72,000 bottles made. Slightly lighter colour. Peachy, fleshy and rather stinky nose here, with a green lettuce note and lots of SO2 as yet. Very nice texture, creamy but cool, like lemon sorbet. Quite intense and flowery, with the varietal waxiness appearing on the finish together with waxy lemond peel notes. Excellent. Ł5. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Ktíma Kir-Yánni Xynómavro Rosé 2000, AOC Amíndeo
From single vineyard Ráspo, 12,000 bottles made. Medium pink, rose petal colour. Fresh and crips on the nose, with strawberry, whipped cream and lemon peel. Palate is intense and juicy, with some raspberry on finish. A bit neutral, but good. Ł5. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Ktíma Kir-Yánni Xynómavro 1998, AOC Náoussa
From the estate range. Medium ruby with a sightly rusty rim. Nose of woman's perfume, cherry liqueur and oak, perhaps a bit of cinnamon. The palate is dusty, juicy and full-blown, with good tannic power. Well-made, characterful red. Ł8. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Ktíma Kir-Yánni Rámnitsa 1997, AOC Náoussa
100% Xynómavro, 12 months of new American oak, 8,400 bottles made. Medium ruby with a slight orange rim. Dusty, chalky nose of very sweet raspberry, soft, liqueury, in a Piedmont register I would say, with something watery and spirity at the same time. On the palate it is quite acidic despite the malolactic (I asked and Mihális says the pH here is a low 3.3, while the high phenolics add to the impression of high acids), with lots of lemon peel bitterness and chalky tannins on the finish. Medium long. A bit of bottle age have smoothed this considerably, and the integration is near-perfect. Quite traditional, and perhaps the best of the reds to my tastes. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Ktíma Kir-Yánni Syrah 1999, V.R. Imáthia
Aged 12 months in new and second-vintage Allier oak, 12,000 bottles made. Quite dark ruby with a cherry juice rim. Lots of oak on the nose, but quite elegantly wrapped around fresh bacon and red cherry. Powerful in mouth, with good structure and juiciness. Medium tannins quite harmoniously balanced by the acidity. Quite good. Ł9. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Ktíma Kir-Yánni Voyátzi 1997, V.R. Velvéndo
Dark purple-brown with some rim. Dusty and chalky nose of sweet raspberry, quite similar both to the Syrah and Xynómavro, which makes me wonder why they would not stick to their great Greek grapes instead of adding CS. Quite wild and smokey nose with opulent cherry fruit and some oak grain. On the palate it shows some liqueur-like bitterness, but is a good, juicy, temperamental red, if lacking immediate focus. A fine bottle for Ł8 if you ask me.

04/01 1995 Boutaris Ktima Kyr-Yianni Naoussa "Ramnista"
100% Xinomavro, with a really attractive bouquet of crushed-up green tea leaves, slight bell pepper, delicate spiciness and a waft of fruit, all very feminine. It’s a lot more masculine on the palate with high acidity and chunky tannins, and a nice finish. Entrancing in its own way, and a delight. (Yixin Ong, UK)

04/01 1996 Papaioannou Estate Old Vines Nemea
Showing too much jamminess and too little balancing acidity, as well as a medley of flavours that didn’t quite come together. (Yixin Ong, UK)


11/03 Disznókö Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos 1995
I have posted a note on this wine before, and I'm including it here as a curiosity. I saw the same golden amber colour as last time, but the nose was a shock. The wine seemed oxidiced / acetic, with some citrus peel and acidity sticking out. Unbalanced. Something wrong with the glass or the bottle of wine we were served? (Jan-Tore Egge, Norway)

04/03 Alain Geoffroy Tokaji Aszu 5 Putts 1988
Who'd have thought a French Chablis negocient would also make and sell Tokaji? What struck me was how unlike what I expect Tokaji to normally be like. It was high in alcohol (13%), and instead of coming across as having really biting, pithy orangey acidity with sherry like oxidation, it was more like a cross between a Sauterne and an Oz Botrytis Semillon. It's now mature but not one to have to hurry; with an orange/burnished gold colour, a lovely nose of barley sugared apricots and a rounded, softish acid palate of marmalady fruit. Moderately long; a lovely wine to enjoy now with or without desert. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

03/03 Tokaji Furmint 2002 (Domaine Disznókö)
(Unoaked dry variteal furmint; cask sample, just finished fermenting) Very pale with green tinge. Grapefruit/minerals, perhaps slightly yeasty. There is a slight green element which I would describe as a hint of nettle, but which my neighbour at the table called cat's pee. (Not meant in a negative sense; she loves Sancerre and thinks it should reek of cat's pee.) Citrus in the mouth, too, and good acidity. A good food wine, and the first dry Tokaji I've tasted since my visit to Tokaj in 1989 (at a time when I knew very little about Tokaji wines). (Jan-Tore Egge, Norway)

03/03 Tokaji Furmint 2000 (István Szepsy)
(From 45-year old vines, old clones with looser bunches than is currently the norm; fermented and aged in new oak; a staggering 14,8% alcohol) Very pale with green tinge. The sweet oak is immediately apparent on the nose. Also grapefruit and tropical fruits. Fat in the mouth with fine acidity and good length. A nice alternative to some of the really big Austrian dry whites. (Jan-Tore Egge, Norway)

03/03 Tokaji Száraz Szamorodni 1997 (Domaine Disznókö)
(A dry wine from late-harvested grapes (but bunches/parts of bunches, not selected berries); no topping up of barrels; the wine is protected by a kind of flor; 13% alcohol) Straw yellow with a slight hint of gold and green. Nutty, sherry-like smell with green apples and something akin to roasted almonds. Rather fun, I thought; a wine for people who like dry sherry. In the mouth there is a nice, weird fruitiness (reminiscent of the sweetness of ripe fruit, when you let air pass through the wine), but the wine is distinctly dry and has good acidity. (Jan-Tore Egge, Norway)

03/03 Tokaji Édes Szamorodni 1999 (Domaine Disznókö)
(A sweet wine from late-harvested grapes (like the dry Szamorodni); fermented in stainless steel, but aged for 1 1/2 years in oak. My notes from the tasting read 129 g/l RS with 3.5% alcohol, but the fact sheet from Disznókö speaks of 13-14% alcohol and 60-80 g/l of RS as a general rule, which is more what it tasted like to me.) Rather pale colour. Apricots, orange, dried fruits, apple/pear and some botrytis on the nose. The mouth confirms these impressions, and the wine has nice (moderate) sweetness with good acidity and length. Still quite young. (According to Mr Mészáros, this wine will be at its best in 7-8 years.) At little over half the price of a Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos, this is a bargain. (Jan-Tore Egge, Norway)

03/03 Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos 1995 (Domaine Disznókö)
(130 g/l RS, 10 g/l acidity) Golden amber. Dried fruits, honey, spice, orange (peel), botrytis. Very appetizing and fresh, smooth, rich, with lovely acidity. Good balance between sweetness and acidity. It's very hard to spit this wine. My idea of Tokaji. (Jan-Tore Egge, Norway)

03/03 Tokaji Cuvée 2000 (István Szepsy)
Colour of gold and green. Wonderful complex nose of dried fruits, honey and spices -- the usual suspects -- but no caramel, like you find in most Aszús. Tastes of very ripe, impressive fruit, with high viscosity in the mouth. Acidity is sufficient, but not as noticeable as in most good (furmint-dominated) Aszús. (My neighbour at the table thought the acidity was too low. The wine is certainly very luscious, and the sweetness masks the acidity, but I found the acidity to be adequate, even if the 1999 was more majestic.) (Jan-Tore Egge, Norway)

03/03 Tokaji Cuvée 1999 (István Szepsy)
Dark gold and green. Same elements on the nose as for the 2000, but more beautiful structure and harmony. Better acidity, thus appears to be slightly drier. Undoubtedly the most stylish wine I've ever tasted from Tokaj (which only amounts to 2-3 dozen, I must admit). Very appetizing. Enormous length. Although Mr Szepsy stresses emphatically that he does not compete with Eiswein (even if he makes some!), this reminds me somewhat of exactly that. More of this, please. (Jan-Tore Egge, Norway)

03/03 Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos 1999 (István Szepsy)
(9.6% alcohol; 228 g/l RS; 12.3 g/l acidity.) Amber and green. Apricots, dried fruits, honey, orange and caramel. More what I normally associate with Tokaji than the Cuvée. Terrific acidity. Enormous length. Lovely. (Like many of the others, the kind of wine you could sniff all evening and discover nuances which pass by too quickly in a tasting like this.) (Jan-Tore Egge, Norway)

03/03 Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos 1997 (István Szepsy)
Both in appearance, smell and taste, this is similar to the 1999, but the acidity comes across as lower, and it doesn't quite have the same magic. The price for this wine is about 3.5 times that of Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos from Disznókö, so I would wait for the 1999 (or buy the Disznókö 1997). (Jan-Tore Egge, Norway)

03/03 Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos 1997 (Domaine Disznókö)
Dark gold with a green tinge. Apricot, fig, apple, honey. Rich, creamy, smooth with terrific acidity. Comes across as fresher than Szepsy's 1997 -- in fact, more like his 1999. (Jan-Tore Egge, Norway)

03/03 Tokaji Aszú Eszencia 1993 (Domaine Disznókö)
Golden/amber with green tinge. Very intense nose of botrytis, dried apricots, orange, caramel, etc., but also a bit of cardboard/dust, which I thought might be bad cork, but evidently is part of the wine. Sweet and concentrated with great acidity (and more caramel in the mouth), but I was a bit put off by the cardboard smell, which prevented me from enjoying this wine to the full. (Jan-Tore Egge, Norway)

03/03 Tokaji Eszencia 2000 (Domaine Disznókö)
I don't know how many here have tasted Eszencia, but this looked like a muddy light brown slush. (In fact, the only thing I have seen which remotely resembled its viscosity, was a faulty Chilean Cab Sauv.) Intense smell of apricot (fresh, not dried) and peach. Tastes like intensely sweet (over 800 g/l RS!), concentrated apricot pure. The viscosity is felt in the mouth, too. Acidity is way up there, and the length is enormous. (Jan-Tore Egge, Norway)

02/03 1998 Tokaji Furmint, Late Harvest Tokaji Oremus Ltd
Lovely lightly honeyed nose like pears stewed in cider. Exceedingly pleasant attack. Light and fresh, with not much more than a hint of a satisfying sweetness. Truly magnificent acidity. Very elegant indeed. Back label says it's imported by Vega Sicilia (huh?) (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

02/02 Gabor Orosz Tokaji 1975 Essencia
Lovely balance in this wine with good sweet fruit balanced by savoury acidity. Matched a chocolate dessert beautifully. 16/20 (Paul Anderson, UK)

01/02 Chateau Pajzos Essencia, 1993
Colour of a ripe apricot. Very viscous (I wonder how much that was actually left in the bottle). Apricot purée, citrus, complex. Very sweet, apricots, amazingly long, enormous concentration. Somewhat one-dimensional and surely not a good QPR wine. 4,4% alcohol and 565 g sugar. 92p (tasted in March) (Roderick Hopkins, Sweden)

08/01 Budai - Irsai Oliver 2000
Light pale straw with a nose of spicy grapefruit and lychee. Wonderfuly acidic on the palatte but not thin. The fruit holds the wine together well and is still powerful after being opened for 3 days. This has to be one of the best wines I have tasted from Hungary and is probbaly one of the finest gulping everyday wines that I have tasted in along while. (David Pearce, UK)

07/01Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos 1992 (Hungarvin)
As the producer name might suggest this was one those Tokajis that you occssionally see on sale in the supermarkets but it is a good introduction to the style. The colour is a deep amber with flavours of dried fruits and orange peel, not massivley sweet but very noticeably oxidised. A nice accompanyment to dessert. (Charles Adams, UK)

03/01 Bin 058 Hilltop Chardonnay 1999, Neszmély
Rich and full flavoured with honey, apples and spice coming through, after a touch of sulphur has blown off. Grapefruit flavours and prickly acidity provide balance to the fruit. This is lovely, authentic stuff, a bit like a Mâcon white in character: it doesn't have that technological edge that is common to most Chardonnay in this price bracket. Very good+ (Ł3.99 Sainsburys) (Jamie Goode, UK)

03/01 Bin 066 Hilltop Gewürztraminer 2000, Neszmély
Nice grapey floral nose with a sweet, confectionery-like edge. Modern, fresh palate; rounded and quite good concentration with a candy edge. An interesting summery wine and a good foil for spicy/oriental food. Very good (Ł3.99 Sainsbury) (Jamie Goode, UK)

03/01 Deer Leap Sauvignon Blanc 1999, Neszmély
A full flavoured, grassy Sauvignon Blanc. The aromatic, herbaceous nose has a lemony edge. On the palate there are flavours of grapefruit and fresh cut foliage. Good density and high acidity; somewhere in between the Loire and New Zealand in style. A bargain. Very good (Ł3.99 Waitrose) (Jamie Goode, UK)

03/01 Deer Leap Chardonnay Pinot Grigio 1998, Neszmély
An intriguing wine that tastes a bit like a cross between a Mâcon blanc and an Italian Pinot Grigio. Quite a full yellow colour with a honeyed, spicy nose. The palate shows honeyed fruit with a touch of lemon and firm, minerally acidity, Nice savoury wine showing some signs of maturity; beats industrial Chardonnay at this price. Very good (Ł3.99 Waitrose) (Jamie Goode, UK)

02/01 1983 Ch. Megyer Tokaji Aszú 5 putts
Coppery gold, nice enough nose of fruitcake, orange, dried plums and prunes (different but similar), some caramel and oxidation. Not bad in the mouth, but not particularly interesting, slight fading towards the finish. Worth the money I punted on it, at least. (Yixin Ong, UK)

06/00 Csergi Fuszeres, Hilltop Nesmely "The Unpronounceable grape" 1977
Light clean nose. Green melon and lychees, very pleasant. Medium bodied on the palate with a pleasant crispness and lemon and lychee flavours. Very good. Ł3.00 Bottoms up. (David Bates - UK)

06/00 Gewurtztraminer, Hilltop Nesmely, Mor region. 1997
Cheesecake nose, quite rich, definitely spicy. Full-bodied in the mouth with cream and spicy fruit. Very impressive, especially for the price. Ł4.70, Bottoms Up. (David Bates - UK)

06/00 Degenfeld Dry Furmint 1998
Honey on the nose, but coming through burnt sugar. Quite dry taste and quite pleasant but not very complex or interesting. 820 Ft (Ł2.00) Budapest Wine Society (BWS) (David Bates - UK)

06/00 Daniel Szabo Szaraz Szamorodni, Tokaji 1983
Sherry like nose, dry sherry taste. Heavily oxidised flavour, though not unpleasant. Serious bite though, and dry as a bone. Lacking any honey or caramel flavours really. 2705 Ft (Ł6.70)BWS (David Bates - UK)

06/00 Hetzolo Szaraz Szamorodni, Tokaji 1993Light sherry nose, more like an amontillado. Still dry but not as acidic. Very pleasant and with good body and spicy, honey nose, and almonds and nutty taste. Deliciious. 1275 Ft (Ł3.19)BWS (David Bates - UK)

06/00 MWB 3 Puttonyos Aszu, Tokaji 1989
Sherry like still, but not as much as the Szaraz. Definite oxidation on the nose, with caramel, burnt fruits and some honey. Too much cooked sugar for my taste. Had an interesting taste which was quite strong marmalade with a lightness on top of orange and lime. Pleasant, and for 1640Ft a good buy (Ł4.10)BWS (David Bates - UK)

06/00 Oremus 3 Puttonyos Aszu, Tokaji 1996
This was incredible. A lightish honey and orange nose which drew you in looking for more. There was cream cake, cheesecake, meringue, orange spice and god knows what else. The taste was like a slow explosion, with lots of stuff happening. It had a beautiful lightly cooked orange to start which became more marmalade with always enough acidity like a lime juice on top to stop it becoming too much. The finish was enormous, it just lingered like a crisp bread and butter pudding lining your palate, but with a lightness of touch that was just amazing. This is a fabulous wine. (1550 Ft - my god what a bargain - I can see why some of the Hungarians think the 3 putts is the epitome of tokaji, Ł3.89) BWS (David Bates - UK)

06/00 Hetzolo 4 Putts Aszu, Tokaji 1990
A bit of a let down this, since it was too sweet but didn't have the finesse, panache and flair that the previous one did. Very nice but too sweet with not enough acidity to balance. (2705 Ft, Ł6.75, BWS) (David Bates - UK)

06/00 Oremus 6 Puttonyos Aszu, Tokaji 1981
This too was a hell of a wine. Rich marmalade, caramel and toasted sugar with a nutty contribution. The taste was also very rich, deeply sweet, but still had that characteristic orange zest to keep it from cloying too much. It had layers of caramel with various bits of fruit coming to the fore, but was a heavy, heavy wine. Not as good as the 3 putts I think, in quality, but a remarkable wine just the same. 4790 Ft (Ł11.97) BWS. (David Bates - UK)

02/00 Tokaji 5 puttonyos 1993, Tokaj Oremus Ltd., 50cl
bought from Noel Young, January 2000, Ł17.99. Pale to medium peach, with a nose of icing-sugar with more peaches escaping from under it, with hints of rhubarb, and elusive but definite elder-flowers. A wine distilled from a garden in deep summer. It has a gorgeous balance of sugar and acidity (traditional for Tokay), which lasts into a long and lovely finish. It is soft and smooth despite tingling with acidity (I know that sounds impossible). It has a great depth and weight of fruit (mostly peaches again!), perhaps just a bit simple at present, but it will surely improve for at least another five years, and will probably hold together for at least twenty. These guesses are conservative! (Bernard Leak - UK)


06/02 Marsovin "Limited Release" Cabernet Sauvignon 1999
Green, leafy, stalky, cedary - like New Zealand cabernet used to be - still is in many cases. I like it though. 12.0% alcohol by volume. (Daron Fincham, UK)


02/02 Rovit Co-operative Reserve Pinot Noir, Dealul Mare 1993
Dark red, browning at rim. Clear and bright. Some spritziness resulting in a kind of scum floating on the surface. Swirl the glass to clear it. Bold beetroot aroma, perhaps some rhubarb. Medium to thin body. Nice flavour. Not very sweet and not very tannic. Nice for Ł4.29 from Somerfield. (Daron Fincham, UK)

08/01 SCV Murtfatlar Private Reserve Late Harvest Pinot Gris 1962
Deepish gold. Slightly honeyed PG nose with some acid coming through. Rather flat. Tending to be a bit cloying in the mouth, although it's far from being sugary. A touch oxidised. Could do with a bit more acidity. But it's pleasant, and has more than curiosity value (though not a lot more). Remarkable life left in it for a wine two years older than me! (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

01/01 Rovit Special Reserve Pinot Noir Dealul Mare 1993
Yes! 1993! From Somerfield. Medium bodied and reasonable colour. A meaty, gamey nose. Sweet fruit and nice soft finish. This is the one with the painting of the cows on the label. 12.5% abv. (Daron Fincham, UK)

01/01 Safeways Special Reserve Pinot Noir Dealul Mare 1998
Safe to assume this is from the same state run winery (had "Rovit" on the "cork" - a kind of sawdust composite). Not as good as the 1993, but pleased all who drank it. Went well with the cold cuts, when we were all fed up of hot foods and more concentrated wines. 12.5% abv. (Daron Fincham, UK)

06/00 1998 Malt House Vintners, Dealul Mare Region.
Much darker than the usual Romanian Pinots, its highly extracted but the fruit survives and the wine has true Pinot character. A great bargain at Ł3.95. Must find some more. (Daron Fincham - UK)

Soviet Union

06/02 Odessa Winery Extra Brut Grand Duke Vladimir
Medium golden. Warm, slightly humid fruit on the nose, with herbal notes and some tension between freshness of fruit and a bit of cooked character. In mouth this shows generous and voluminous but slightly too lean perhaps, with a bitterish, vaguely chemical note at mid-palate. Again that impression of warmth. The slightly bitter, cooked note carries on to the medium finish. This is very unusual but harmonious and quite pleasant. (Nerval, UK)

06/02 Odessa Winery Brut Golden Duke
Pechy reflexes to the meidum golden colour. For the analytically inclined a certain vulgarity of the perlage might hint at its origin. Elegant and airy nose of beaten egg and custard, with hints of cooked fruit but altogether less vegetal than the Extra Brut above (as often with high-yield wines from the south, I find a bit of residual sugar actually give the wine better balance and expression of fruit). Roasted coffee notes with time in the glass. Crisp if very soft in mouth, with a medium-long finish. Rather lacks definition; the warm, generous fruit of the South is here, but somewhat diffused, covered by a custardy meringue and rounded off by a touch of lemon juice on finish. There might be, as above in the Extra Brut, a faint impression of hollowness and superficiality to the fruit, but this is good quality sipping fizz for the summer. Admirable that this should come from Ukraine. (Nerval, UK)

06/02 Odessa Winery Red Semi-sweet
Grapes unknown; the back label only states that 'high-quality red-skinned varieties' were used. Dark purple, with a vigorous mousse. The nose starts quite meaty and beaten-eggy, with notes of rare beef steak evident. This blows off to reveal a juicy, sweet black cherry and Ribena nose with, as above, that slightly humid or soaked impression to the fruit. Clean but not extremely pure, so to speak. Palate consistent with nose, juicy and sweet-fruity, though not sugary at all. At first this seems just slightly off-puttingly cheap, with a technological edge to the whole, but with time in the glass I must say this shows quite fruity, focused and precise. Not too long; bases its charm rather on a short moment of fruitiness, although that's no particular vice. There's only that soaked character to the sweetness on the finish that IMO betrays chaptalisation but again the whole is quite decently balanced and enjoyable. Drinks very well indeed. Mercifully low in tannins as I would think the tannins-sugar-bubbles combination to be extremely tricky to resolve. Instead this plays on an exuberant fruitiness without conveying a sense of structure, and hence convinces by its balance. (Nerval, UK)


09/02 1999 Nussbaumer, Kluser Gewürztraminer
This wine is made in Aesch (CH), around 10Km from my house. Straw-yellow in colour. The nose is typically gewürztraminer: quite sweet, with wild tropical fruits. The palate is also sweet with quite good acidity, good enough at least for the wine not to become cloying. There is quite good fruit concentration and a medium length finish. Was sweet enough to withstand the challenge of 'tarte aux citron'. Actually quite a good wine. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

04/00 Dezaley, Grand Cru Medinette AC, Louis Bovard 1997
Ł13.70 Tanners of Shrewsbury. This was of mid-gold appearance. The bouquet was a lively combination of apples, cream and minerals. On the palate, the tangy acidity was a notable feature as was a strong flint-like component. This was not an especially fruit-driven wine though apples and grapefruit were in evidence. Verdict: The strong mineral streak running through this bone dry wine reminded me of an austere Chablis. Considering the reputation of Chasselas is poor outside Switzerland, I thought this example demonstrated the potential the variety has. (Ashley Moore - UK)

04/00 Petite Arvine du Valais, Charles Bonvin 1997
Ł10.70 Tanners. A variety indigenous to Switzerland, this was not dissimilar from the Dezaley. It again had a pronounced mineral edge with sharp acidity. The primary flavour that struck me was one of ice-cream soda, which was began as a pleasant surprise but soon became tiresome. Verdict: Not an easy wine to appreciate but certainly distinctive. I was willing to let the experiment last for one glass, but then I was wanting something a little less challenging. Of the three varieties here, this is the one most authors rave about, but it wasn't my cup of tea. (Ashley Moore - UK)

04/00 Amigne du Valais AC, Charles Bonvin 1996
Ł11.70 Tanners. This was very different to the previous two wines in that it was moderately sweet - say of Rhine Spatlese level. The bouquet was rich, with a grapy, nutty character. Full-bodied, the wine was soft on the palate. The wine was quite viscous and this was evidenced by a smooth texture in the mouth. Verdict: This was a cross in flavour between the Muscat and the Pinot Gris of Alsace, with the medium sweetness of a Loire Chenin Blanc. A little rustic perhaps but that's probably part of its charm. (Ashley Moore - UK)


08/03 Cheshire Fruit Wines Blackcurrant
Blimey. It's a fluorescent red. You could use this to warn shipping off the rocks! Rather cloudy. Some CO2 evident. Fruity nose, but weirdly not as blackcurranty as some cabernet sauvignons. Very forward. Quite sweet. A marked petillance. Just about pleasantish, but no depth of character at all. I suspect it's not actually been particularly well made. Avoid. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

03/01 1995 Thames Valley Vineyard ‘Clocktower’ Pinot Noir
Pure pinot nose of strawberries and mashed raspberries, becoming more candied and artificial with air, and a real tart structure in the mouth that reminded me of Austro-German Spatburgunders. Not too bad. This also came in at a seriously underpowered 11.5%, which gave it a rather dilute flavour. A good rose for summer sipping. (Yixin Ong, UK)

01/01 Ridgeview Cuvée Merret Belgravia NV
A blend of the three main Champagne varieties, this is a stunning effort from fizz specialists Ridgeview. It has a grapey, yeasty nose which is followed up on the palate with a lovely bready character, fine bubbles and great balance. The overall impression is of a sophisticated, polished product. Very good/excellent (Jamie Goode, UK)

01/01 Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs 1993
100% Chardonnay from the UKs most celebrated fizz producer. This is gorgeous, sophisticated, now-mature Champagne-like wine. A full yellow/gold colour, with bold, mature flavours of toast, butterscotch and honey. Nice balance and good acidity. Very good/excellent (Jamie Goode, UK)

01/01 Three Choirs Classic Cuvée NV
I'm fond of Three Choirs: it's a lovely place to visit and the restaurant is superb. But in my view this fizz isn't their best wine. It has a slightly odd nose: herbaceous and green leafy. On the palate it is quite green with an odd, bitter vegetal edge. Despite these unusual characteristics, the balance is quite good, so I suspect they've done well with rather unsuitable starting materials. OK (Jamie Goode, UK)

01/01 Davenport Brut Sparkling Wine 1997
This has an impressive yeasty, floral nose. On the palate there is high acidity and more of the yeasty character: I'd say this is just a bit too acidic for my palate. Good/very good (Jamie Goode, UK)

01/01 Chapel Down Epoch Brut NV
This inexpensive Champagne-style wine shows an open, yeasty nose, but has a slightly odd palate, with a herbaceous twist. Good but strange, and definitely not Champagne-like. (Jamie Goode, UK)