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

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

N.B. older Rhône notes are archived here.

red - white


03/04 Domaine Le Clos des Cazaux Vacqueyras 1998
Cuvee Saint Roche. Well, well. By coincidence here is a shite wine (in the sense that it smells of poo!) Its a veritable cesspool. A sewage farm on a hot summers day. Yuk! I think its the burnt smell, as though the grapes have been singed (wasn't '98 a hot year?) and although I am fond of over-ripe wines, this one is just too overheated and frankly not all that nice. There are some spicy flavours in there and its not overly alcoholic at 13.5% but I wouldn't buy it again. Wine Society £7.95 (Daron Fincham, UK)

03/04 Bouchard Valreas 1995
Cotes du Rhone Villages. This is so dry and fruitless its bordering on vile and is like one of those wines from the bad old days that reminds you why you didn't like French wine and went for Bulgarian cabernet sauvignon instead. A dirty, old barrel smell obscures any nose on this wine and it carries its 13.5% alcohol llike a brickie's hod. Rubbish. Wine Society £6.95 (Daron Fincham, UK)

03/04 1993 Chateau La Nerthe - Marc (Chateauneuf du Pape)
1993 vintage was a weak vintage in Chateauneuf du Pape and Chateau La Nerthe decided to make some Marc. As far as I know, this is only available at the shop in the Chateau. Weighing in at the same strength as most whiskies or brandies, it certainly packed a punch but it tasted good! (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

03/04 Coudoulet de Beaucastel 1990
I have had Beaucastel 1990 at tastings but never with food and just the two of us and if it is better than the Coudolet we have a treat in store. The nose was a gorgeous mix of farmyard,spice and liqourice, with a robust entry on the palate which then transformed into a rich elegant powerful middle palate and finish with bit of rusticity. Fully mature and excellent. (paul redfern, UK)

02/04 1999 Rasteau, AC CdR Villages, Chapoutier
13.5%. Slightly murky appearance and with a definite bit of age. Soft, fruity nose with a blast of bretty farmyard and a bit of vanillin. Quite thin and weedy texture, but powerful flavour. Almost has a hint of pinot about it. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

02/04 1997 Rasteau, AC CdR Villages, Domaine la Soumade
served blind. Fairly mature colour. Reticent nose with cheesy, sweaty brett and concentrated dried fruit. Quite light on attack. Notably mature and balanced. Fading and very dried out on finish. Guess a late 80s Chateauneuf from a minor producer. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

02/04 Crozes Hermitages Les Meysonniers, Chapoutier
12%. Thin, fairly youthful but not young dull mauve colour. Very nice nose - very attractive. Soft red fruit. Light, soft fruit attack. Light bodied initially, but fills on the finish with good tannins and lots of spice. More Syrah than Grenache I feel. Very attractive indeed. Very drinkable. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

02/04 2000 Hermitage Bernard Faurie
13% served blind. Very young inky black. Gorgeous nose. Deep plummy fruit, chocolatey tobacco. Something says Vacqueyras to me. Lovely attack. Full and rich and fruity. Incredible depth and concentration. Excellent and Wine of the Night. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

02/04 1998 Côteaux de Tricastin, Domaine du Vieux Micocoulier, Cave Vergobbi
14%. Initially farmyardy. Sweet plumminess. Very spicy. Quite light. Not overly impressed. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

02/04 1996 Crozes Hermitage Domaine Raymond Roure, Jaboulet
13%. Maturing but still very deep colour. Deep black fruit, but really rather reticent, with just a hint of chocolate. Complex attack. Full, complex and very satisfying indeed. I believe 1996 was the first year of Jaboulet's ownership of the Roure estate. But I prefer the Faurie Hermitage. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

02/04 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du Pape Red 1994
Is the nose smokey and savoury? More like rose hip syrup and gravy! Compost mixed with tobacco? Says Mrs.F - but what do I know? Smooth and sweet on the palate? Sure but the finish is up for debate! Is it lush and juicy, rich and thick? Not all that plush and 14 % is alcoholic! So is it tannic? Not so much to cause a panic! Will you be buying more in the future? Nope. Musar's better when its mature! That's not nice, where are your manners? Look this stuff cost fourteen quid from Tanners! (Daron Fincham, UK)

02/04 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape Red 1994
Showing signs of aging with an orange edge. The smell off this was much more animally. Savoury, sweaty, meaty - mmmmmm, Bovril! Reasonably sweet in the mouth, not too tannic, low acidity - quite mellow really. I didn't get all the chewy glycerol that Bobby Boy detects and I can't say I'm really a fan of the style but it was a good drop. 13.5% abv. £15 from Nickolls and Perks a while back. (Daron Fincham, UK)

02/04 2000 Lirac - Chateau Correnson
A blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Mouvedre. A dark strawberry red, the nose was slightly overripe. I found mouth drying tannins, ripe with plenty of plum fruit. This needs a year or so. 86/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/04 2001 Lirac - Chateau Correnson
A blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Mouvedre. A medium strawberry red with a slightly herby nose. The powerful palate shows bold ripe tannins. This tastes sweeter than the 2000 version and holds a longer finish. Also needs a year or so, although could be drunk with food. 87/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/04 2001 Lirac - Chateau Correnson
A blend of 60% Grenache, 25% Syrah and 15% Mouvedre. The plum red colour led my nose to a dark fruits, slightly herby nose with a faint whiff of over-ripeness. A tight structure, more acidity and tannin that the others, but the ripe fruit keeps them in check. This is no shrinking violet of a wine and is potentially good. 87/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/04 2003 Lirac - Chateau Correnson
A tank sample, broadly in the proportions of the previous vintages. The dark purple colour led my nose to a plum fruits and wild herby nose. Lots of tannin and fruit in this wine. 87-89/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/04 2001 St Esprit Cotes du Rhone - Delas Freres
An unusual blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache for a Cotes du Rhone, with the high percentage of Syrah. Red plum with a slightly smoky syrah nose. The black fruits are balanced, crunchy with ripe tannin and a decent length. The tannins need a year or so to soften. 85/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/04 2001 Tour d'Albion Crozes-Hermitage - Delas Freres
Dark plum red with smoky black fruits on the nose. Soft tannins, good balance and a nice length. 86/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/04 2000 Seigneur de Maugiron - Cote Rotie - Delas Freres
Dark red plum, the nose shows a mix of black pastilles and dry earth. The drying tannins are not backed up by much fruit, and the lean vintage shows through. 82/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/04 2000 Marquise de la Tourette - Hermitage - Delas Freres
Plum red, I found a slightly ripe black fruits on the nose. There was mouth drying tannin, crunchy forest fruits and black plum. The length was of a respectable length, this wine needs a few years to soften its tannins. 86/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/04 2002 Domaine des Ramieres Cotes du Rhone
A blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Garignan and 5% Cinsault. A medium plum red, the nose was earthy with a touch of herb. The lean fruit also tasted a tad green. The rains were not kind to this Domaine in 2002. 75/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/04 2001 Lirac Cuvee Eliott - Domaine la Genestiere
The grape varieties here were 40% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 30% Mouvedre. A dark plum purple, almost opaque. The nose is luscious, almost like liqueur and definitely sur-maturite. The mouth drying tannins are present but so is the fruit and the balance is there. The palate is less ripe than the nose would suggest and the producer tells me that this has been aged for twelve months in oak. He also told me that this will age for 8-12 years, which is a bold statement for a wine from this appellation. 89/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/04 2002 Chateauneuf du Pape - Domaine Lou d'Estre d'Antan
A blend of Grenache and Syrah, this wine showed a mid strawberry red. I found lean cherries and damp earth on the nose. The palate was lean, with more acidity than fruit and not much length. 75/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/04 2000 Chateau Mont-Redon (Chateauneuf du Pape)
A blend of 65% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 10% Cinsault, and 10% comprising Mouvedre, Counoise, Muscardin and Vaccarese. A medium coloured strawberry red, I smelled a hint of ripe red cherries on the nose. Strong acidity and ripe tannins on the palate, the red fruits showed a good length but this wine needs at least three more years. 85/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/04 2001 Chateau Mont-Redon (Chateauneuf du Pape)
A blend of 65% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 10% Cinsault, and 10% comprising Mouvedre, Counoise, Muscardin and Vaccarese. A dark strawberry red, the nose reminded me of slightly overripe red cherry liqueur. A ripe tannic structure showing positive red fruits and slightly more flattering than the 2000 vintage. 86/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/04 2002 La Tirare du Pape - Caves St Pierre Maison Bouachon
This white wine is made from a blend of Grenache, Roussanne and Marsanne, spending 6 months in new oak. The name of the wine means “The Pope's hat”. A slight light lemon colour, the soft and buttery nose was predominant at present with fresh lemon in thee background. Good acidity and slightly spicy, this fresh wine had a decent yet lean finish. 85+/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/04 Chateau de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 2001
Wonderful depth of colour, a dark, inky purple. Great nose - sweet Grenache cherry character, with real depth. Mourvèdre shows through more on the palate, which is meaty with cigar box nuances. Full of fruit, powerful, but with elegant balance. Lovely tannic structure underneath it all, hidden by the fruit at present. Undoubtedly top wine of the tasting, north and south. Excellent, potentially outstanding. (Chris Kissack, UK)

02/04 Beaucastel CndP 2001
Wow!! Bought this just to see if I'd like this style. Oh dear...... I love it! Colour - Dark Ruby Red Nose - I didn't get any 'horse', 'wet animal' or bretty smells just lush dark fruits,leather, a little pepper thats clean, sharp and made my mouth water. Taste - Pure black fruits, very clean, primary, tannins are there but soft & hidden by a tonne fruit at the moment. Long fruity aftertaste with some underlying complexity showing towards the end. (David Steven¸UK)

02/04 1995 Domaine du Pegau - Cuvee Laurence (Chateauneuf du Pape)
Having drunk this wine about ten times in the last two years, I knew roughly what to expect and I was not disappointed. Dark strawberry red, light pink rim. The aromas of leather and tobacco also let a little cooked plum escape. Some ground spices as well in the mix. There is vigour to this wine, with mouth drying tannins still evident on a long finish. Powerful, and still tight after a couple of hours breathing, this old fashioned wine, for me, still needs at least five more years ageing to round it out. 92+/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/04 Texier Brezeme 2000 Cotes du Rhone
If you ever wonder where your palate stands on the global scale of acid averse I recommend trying this wine. About 90% of TN on the internet describe it as astringent with overly aggressive acidity. Many tasters find it undrinkable. A small minority describe the wine as interesting, complex, and pick on its Northern Rhone complexity and other favourable characteristics. Where do I stand? Well, when you open the bottle there is an overwhelming aroma of green olives and I would describe the astringency as also characteristic of green olives in vinegar. This wine is unlike any other I have tasted and I am sure I could pick it out across a crowded room. For this reason I alone I want to drink it and find pleasure in its awkwardness as I would in a pungent overripe cheese. If you can drink this wine then you probably inhabit my taste world which is a very different place to the vast majority of wine lovers. (Charles Adamas, UK)

02/04 Domaine des Entrefaux Crozes-Hermitage 1995
This stood out at a Tanners tasting on release and was puffed as a "wine for hedonists" by the lord and master of the AWSOWA, Tim Atkins (sic). It then went, to mutilate a Pink Floyd track, horribly dumb. But now it seems to be emerging like a butterfly from its chrysalis into a deeply scented wine with piercing acidity. I must admit I didn't hold out too much hope for it but was very pleasantly surprised. 12.5% abv. About £6 from Tanners three or four years ago? Gee my memory, its not what it was ... (Daron Fincham , UK)

02/04 2000 St Joseph – Domaine des Remezieres
Double decanted 30 minutes in advance, lots of sediment. This 12.5% mid cherry red wine had an earthy nose and showed some green pepper notes as well. The palate was medium bodied, lean and lacking stuffing. It's a drinkable wine with noticeable acidity, decent length and a slightly dry finish. Given the lack of fruit, I would recommend drinking any remaining bottles sooner rather than later. 81/100. (Nicos Neocleous , UK)

02/04 Crozes Hermitage Domaine Thalabert 2000, Jaboulet
Very dark ruby colour. Rich, shiraz nose. Lovely mouthfeel, pepper, saddle leather. Very long finish. Still a baby, great in a few more years. Excellent. £14ish @ Waitrose (David Jenkins, UK)

01/04 1998 Domaine Les Pallieres (Gigondas, France)
I thought it would be interesting to see where this wine was in its life. Having plucked it from the cellar, I double decanted it one hour ahead, finding a very light sediment. A ripe strawberry red, slightly pink at the rim. The nose shows subtle cherry kirsch, a touch of wild herb and earthy undertones. Slightly sweet, the tannins are ripe with a slight dryness and provide a respectable structure. The palate is powerful in a semi-rustic fashion, more closed than open, a tad bitter but drinkable. 89/100. I then drank this with green olives, tuna salad and Greek meatballs (koftethes) and it was a good pairing. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

01/04 Jasmin Cote Rotie 2001
A good deep purple but hardly saturated. Very primary on the nose initially but 3 hours in a decanter reveals raspberry and other red fruit traces, pepper & spice, roasted coffee beans, smoke & hung beef with hints of ripe olive, vanillin oak and touches of violet. The palate was almost Hermitage like (save some floral aspects) and medium bodied with spicy, rich pure raspberry & black cherry components with some liquorice & mineral. The balance however was top class with ripe tannins, good acidity and a very firm clean finish. This needs cellar time to get from very good to excellent. Worth a punt to cellar well into the next decade but with extended decanting can be consumed now. A good & elegant effort by Patrick. 12.5%abv. (Phil Wilkins, UK)

01/04 2000 Domaine de Marcoux (Chateauneuf du Pape)
No decanting, we just poured this 14.5% wine into our large glasses. A very dark strawberry red. The nose was initially gamey with nuances of saddle leather. The palate was tight, showing fresh cherry, cleaner than the nose with the ripe tannins providing a good structure for the excellent finish. Surprisingly easy to drink now. 91/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

01/04 2000 Domaine Le Sang des Cailloux – Cuvee Lopy
The top bottling from this estate, weighing in at 13.8% alcohol. I last drank a bottle about six months ago and it was so intense that it came close to taking my breath away. A half year in the bottle has certainly changed this wine. Double decanted 30 minutes in advance, with plenty of sediment removed. Opaque morello cherry, the nose revealed ripe plums and cherries, with a touch of marzipan and a hint of vanilla. The palate shows a velvet, mouthfilling wine that gets bigger and bigger, then settles to a warming and balanced finish. Copious layers of fruit seem to hide the tannins at present. One of the best young wines I have ever tasted from this appellation. 91/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

01/04 2000 Cailloux - Chateauneuf du Pape
£14.25 (US$24, 20 Euros). Dark strawberry red, a distinctive cherry bakewell tart nose with a dash of wild herbs. The palate shows a lovely velvet feel, opening up and maintaining its ripe cherry fruit with a good length. I was surprised how easily this was drinking although it does have soft tannins to hold it together. Highly enjoyable and definitely drinkable now. 92/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

01/04 1998 Cornas, Thierry Allemand
Deep purple/violet in colour. I get violets on the nose as well - as sure sign that it's Syrah and quite possibly northern Rhone. On the palate, one couldn't want a larger contrast to the Dead Arm - medium bodied, sour plum and very drying on the finish - quite austere - a wine that needs food and needs to be locked away for a few more years. (Phil Shorten, UK)

01/04 1997 E Guigal Ch. d'Ampuis
Bright medium raspberry red. Clean, quite youthful nose - I got touches of raspberry jam and a slightly medicinal edge (but not in an unpleasant way). The palate is medium bodied, quite light, with some pleasant sweet fruit, but I find it slightly hollow, drying out, and wonder if there is any improvement left in this wine. (Phil Shorten, UK)

01/04 1990 Cornas, Paul Jaboulet-Aine
Clear bright ruby red fading at the rim. Clean nose showing some development - touches of fruit pastille and white pepper - I'm thinking southern Rhone already - ding dong, you're wrong. The palate is quite dry and rich, and very savoury - but in a pleasant way that holds my interest - quite leathery. I also found some hints of faded sweet raspberry fruit. (Phil Shorten, UK)

01/04 1999 St Joseph La Prieure, Jean-Luc Colombo
Ruby red like the preceding wine, but deeper in colour. I found the nose to be quite tight, quite woody, with some berry fruit trying to poke through. The palate, dry, medium bodied, but for mine a tad hollow again - quite high acid - oak providing much of the wine's structure - overlaying ripe berry fruit - needs food. (Phil Shorten, UK)

01/04 1997 Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Chateau du Beaucastel
Clear bright medium ruby with thick legs. Clean nose with touches of sweet fruit and rose petal, a touch animally as well - gotta be Chateauneuf-du-Pape. On the palate, sweet strawberry fruit, but I couldn't get away from the very prominent spiky acidity. I have no problems with good levels of acidity in wine, but for mine, it really was to the wine's detriment in this case. (Phil Shorten, UK)

01/04 1983 Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Chateau du Beaucas
Clear bright medium ruby fading to rose petal pink at the rim. On the nose, more horse saddle than the line up for the Grand National - there's a fair bit of brett in this wine (enough for someone who is quite sensitive to brett - no names - to pick the wine off the bat). I also got cloves and leather and really thought it smelt bloody good. However, the palate showed that it was past it - any primary fruit has faded and the earthy, leathery secondary characters weren't that pleasant. (Phil Shorten, UK)

01/04 Paul Jaboulet Aine Domaine de Thalabert Crozes Hermitage 95
Some green/olive edge, leading into 'sweet 'n'sour' fruits and nice acidity. Some Grenache-like sweetness on the finish. VG (Paul Armstrong, UK)

01/04 Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle 1995
Great iron-and-mineral depth. Sweet fruit and great earthy intensity. Really full bodied and impressive. E (Paul Armstrong, UK)

01/04 Chateau Beaucastel CdP 1990
Slightly VA infused but not problematically so. Spicy and piquant twist to this. Nice enough but suffered after the preceeding Hermitage. VG (Paul Armstrong, UK)

01/04 Chateau Pegau CdP 1990
Lovely, mature, soft and gently spicy, with a little 'piquancy/VA' but more subtle than the preceeding wine. Slips down very nicely indeed. E (Paul Armstrong, UK)

01/04 1962 Chateau de Beaucastel rouge (Chateauneuf du Pape)
A light strawberry core with a slightly orange rim. The nose was a soft sous bois aroma with a touch of marzipan, a light sprinkling of herbs and it was so enticing. My first sip showed a wine whose age had resolved all of its tannins, with gentle raspberry fruit gliding effortlessly around my taste buds. I tried to prolong my pour for over half an hour and it showed no signs of falling apart. Ready to drink, this has got to be one reason why wine lovers buy wines to age. 93/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

01/04 1972 Chateau de Beaucastel rouge (Chateauneuf du Pape)
A bright rose red core, slightly onion brown at the rim. A little volatile acidity positively lifts the hints of mature red fruits and herbs on the nose, but this is 'cleaner' than I was expecting. Powerful tannins are still present but with 30 minutes in the glass they definitely softened. A moderate marzipan, cherry and spice laden palate still tingle and although this wine is drinking well now, well cellared bottles will probably have another 5-10 years of life in them. 94/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

01/04 1990 Chateau La Nerthe ­ Cuvee des Cadettes (Chateauneuf du Pape)
I remember trying this several years ago, probably around 1994, and the taste of vanilla was dominant on both the nose and the palate. It had not appealed to me at that time and I had wondered if the oak would integrate successfully. A cherry red body with a link rim, I sniffed herbs, a touch of aniseed and a dash of red fruits. This elegant wine was medium bodied and its tannins are now resolved. The oak has fully integrated into the wine and I am glad I had the chance to try it. It is certainly a polished performer and not rustic at all. If I had to be critical, I would say I expected more stuffing from this top cuvee in a stellar vintage like 1990. 91/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

01/04 1990 Domaine du Pegau ­ Cuvee Laurence (Chateauneuf du Pape)
Dark cherry red, the rustic, herby smells did seem a little tight. This powerful wine was still moderately tannic and settled down to a long finish. I enjoyed it but this bottle surprised me with its youth, especially given that this wine spent more time in foudre than the regular Reserve. 93/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 1995 Domaine du Pegau - Cuvee Laurence (Chateauneuf du Pape)
I have drunk several bottles of this wine the last couple of years and all have been enjoyable but have needed decanting time. This was only decanted for sediment and tried straight away. Deep strawberry red, a positive nose of Provencal herbs, with dry cherries and old barrel. Acidity backs up the medium bodied palate. Some dryness on the palate, this wine needed time to open up. Not yet reached its peak, maybe another few years? 93/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 1995 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe rouge (Chateauneuf du Papence)
A controversial wine for some of us at the table. I had spoken to Daniel Brunier (Domaine winemaker) six days earlier who told me this was drinkable now. Nigel had bought a parcel some years ago and every single bottle he tried was undrinkable. I had also bought some bottles and was interested to see where it currently was in its drinking window. The overwhelming characteristic on the nose was iodine, which Ron described as seaweed. There was a faint nuance of garrigue which intensified as we swirled away. The core of red fruits is solid, as is the bold acidity and drying tannins. Good potential but needs five more years for my palate, or a lot of decanter time. 92/100 (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 1995 M.Chapoutier - Barbe Rac (Chateauneuf du Pape)
Definitely the darkest (and most extracted?) of this flight, a dark cherry red. Earthy nose, some black truffle and black liquorice. The old vine fruit show a silky texture across the palate with good background acidity. It was opening up slowly in our glasses over the course of the evening. This needs several more years of bottle ageing before it will reveal its true layers of complexity. Very impressive. 95/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 1995 Cote Rotie R.Rostaing “La Landonne”
An expressive nose of black fruits and lots of bacon fat. I was hit by the sensations of high acidity with respectable levels of fruit and long last tannins that were surprisingly soft. This could be drunk now with some decanter time. 93/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine du Pégau, Cuvée Réservée 1989
Having recently had two 1990s, it was great to have a chance to compare these two great years. I had tasted the 89 blind in 2002 and was so beguiled by it that I made it my "Red Wine of the Year". This bottle did not disappoint either. It was brilliant. Still a deep red, immense concentration on the nose, smoky, fruity, mature yet very lively and it felt like it had to have lots of life still in it. Lovely richness and smoothness on the palate, tiny amount too much acidity on the finish maybe indicating that it's edging down from its peak, but a great wine again. Greater finesse than the 90, and I liked that fact. Excellent to Outstanding. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

11/03 Cote-Rotie 1996, Burgaud
A good, earthy, rich character. Lots of soil and earth. Real purity and plenty of finesse. Very long. (David Strange, UK)

11/03 Hermitage 1983, Chave
Real purity and focus, a great earthy elegance to it. Very long and very complex. Displays true beauty. Utterly fantasic. (David Strange, UK)

11/03 Hermitage La Chapelle 1983, Jaboulet
Really rich and powerful. Utterly charming. Real complexity and great style. Really very lovely indeed. Which Hermitage is best? Wow, who knows? (David Strange, UK)

11/03 2002 Prieure de Montezargues - (Tavel, S.Rhone, France)
Pomegranate colour, I smelled crisp and light red berry fruits. The pleasant mouthfeel, aided by soft acidity, left a lingering sensation of raspberries. An absolute pleasure to drink, in my opinion this is what rose should taste like. 88/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe 2001 Les Pallieres Gigondas (S.Rhone, France)
This powerful red displayed an earthy nose of Grenache fruit to me. The full bodied flavours, with mouth coating tannins, indicated that this wine needed a few years to soften. 90-92/100. Incidentally, I asked his about the 1998 vintage of this wine and he said it can be drunk now with an hour in the decanter. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 2001 Vieux Telegraphe - Chateauneuf du Pape (S.Rhone, France)
Full bodied and tight on both the nose and palate, the deep red fruits persist admirably on the palate. Some dryness on the finish from the young but ripe tannins. Forget about this wine for at least five to eight years. 91-93/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 Maison Chapoutier 2000 La Bernadine - Chateauneuf du Pape (S.Rhone, France)
The nose was animalistic in a negative way, perhaps a touch bretty. I found nuances of herbs as well. The palate was powerful but closed down to me. I am not sure about the potential evolution of this wine, but it did not tell me much on this day. 90-92/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 Maison Chapoutier 2000 Hermitage - Monier de la Sizeranne (N.Rhone, France)
The nose was also animalistic (like the 2000 La Bernadine), but in an unclean way which was a negative point for me. A bit of dark fruits on the palate but a short and lean finish. This was disappointing and probably partly to do with the poor vintage in Hermitage in 2000. 86/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 1981 Chateau de Beaucastel - Chateauneuf du Pape (S.Rhone, France)
Decanted about 30 minutes before being drunk. The nose was slighty sweet with cooked plums and a hint of cheese in there. The cheese soon disappeared and after a while distinct notes of tobacco appeared. What can I say about the palate? Only that it was truly seamless with red currants, absolutely no tannins and drinking so well now. Spot on! 95/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 Cornas 1996, Verset, en magnum
Rich, spicey nose. Quite earthy. Nice and warm. Some real complexity. Palate is quite acidic, but has plenty of weight and a nice earthy richness. Very good length. Very stylish. Some real old vines concentration. Utterly lovely. (David Strange, UK)

11/03 Texier Cote du Rhone Brezeme 2000
This is a controversial vintage with many people suggesting it has a harsh acidity that will not go away. As I am not afraid of a bit of acid I went for it anyway. There is such a strong aroma on opening that I thought the wine was bad. At first I could not identify it, it was pungent and almost vinegary, and then I got it, green olives. I know this is a characeristic of Northern Rhone syrah but after hundreds examples I have never had an example that smells so intensely of olives. It is there on the palate too and there is even the bitterness of green olives. There is great concentration of acidic red fruits with tar, hints of bacon and hard tannins. There is enough complexity to keep my interest and I happily sip away for a few hours. It is a strange wine but I quite like it. Certainly very far from being boring! Very good. (Charles Adams, UK)

11/03 1978 Hermitage La Chapelle - Jaboulet
I had my eye on trying this legendary wine for a while as a reference point for the great expression of N.Rhone syrah. A medium strawberry red, the nose was a mix of pine forest and mature nuances of cooked mushrooms. The black fruits were mellow, and the mid palate persisted for a long time. It tasted slightly savoury and did not show the power I was expecting. I was also surprised by a fresh tasting sensation that the mouthfeel gave me and reminded me of the 1978 Beaucastel that I tasted three months earlier. I think part of the problem may be that fact that it was tasted after the sweet and luscious 2000 Kracher No.10. I must take some responsibility for this as I had originally suggested the wine and food pairings. I had done my best to cleanse my palate with bread and water between trying the two. Giving a rating to this wine is thus difficult for me, but I had it somewhere in the low to mid 90's. I hope to try another bottle one day in the future to get another viewpoint. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 1989 Ermitage - Chapoutier
Another reference point for N.Rhone syrah and from an excellent vintage as well. Much darker than the 1978 La Chapelle, the dark cherry red is nearly opaque. An earthy nose with nuances of wild game and black truffles. The tannins were surprisingly soft but still evident in the background. The black fruits currently predominate on the palate. The length is very impressive and this young wine will improve for ten years then maybe keep for another ten years after that. 95/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 1985 Pegau Cuvee Laurence 'Reserve' - (Chateauneuf Du Pape)
A quick note on the name of the wine. This is actually the Cuvee Reserve, but back in the 1980's the Cuvee Reserve was sold both from the Domaine itself and from a small store in the village of Chateauneuf du Pape. To distinguish the different stocks, the wine sold from the store was labelled as Cuvee Laurence. This continued up to 1988. I believe that the first vintage of the 'real' cuvee Laurence (longer ageing in barrels) was 1989. A dark cherry red, nearly opaque. The mostly earthy nose showed aniseed and herbs. Having tasted this wine, I came to the conclusion that it was fully mature, with red fruits and red liquorice on a fresh mid palate. It did start to fall apart after about 30 minutes, showing a more pronounced alcoholic streak on the finish. The nose also seemed to be showing tar/cigarette ashtray like aromas. Initially I rated it around the 91/100 level, but this dropped swiftly as it began to unravel itself. Drink-up. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 2001 Domaine de la Mordoree - La Reine des Bois Chateauneuf du Pape
I purchase this a few weeks ago from the Domaine and carried it back by hand. A blend of 70% Grenache, with varying amounts of Mouvedre, Syrah, Cinsault, Counoise and Vaccarese, from vines with an average of sixty years. Double decanted five hours in advance, this was an opaque purple. Plenty of black plum with nuances of marmalade as well, the luscious nose was truly impressive. I was expecting even more on the palate and I was not disappointed. A velvet mouth feel, the very long length of silky black fruits are impressive. So smooth, this tastes like a barrel sample (a few months ago it was). It should close down in the next 12 months and reappear in eight to ten years time as a special wine. It appears to have swallowed all of whatever oak ageing it was given and the tannins are presently submerged by the fruit. 96/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 2001 Clos du Caillou Reserve Chateauneuf du Pape
Bottled a couple of months ago and purchased from the Domaine. This wine has received lavish praise from certain wine critics and when I tasted it four months ago I was very impressed. Opaque, the nose was sweet and surprised me with its primary gamey aromas, along with some red liquorice. On the palate, this showed a more traditional concentrated version of old vine Grenache, with refined power. It was a very different style to the 2001 Mordoree and this was an interesting comparison. Although tight (this had not been decanted for very long), some aeration did help. If you are lucky enough to own any bottles, forget about them for at least ten years. 96/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

10/03 Tavel 2002, Château d'Aquéria
Duff vintage. Colour was a beautiful, salmon pink, deep almost like an Alsace Pinot Noir. The nose gave it away, a bit one-dimensional, some scents of strawberry. In the mouth, getting a bit flat. Still, pretty easy to drink, in the right circumstances (it drank much better in July in France!). Well made, but let down by the vintage. Moderate to Good. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

10/03 Côtes-du-Ventoux 2001, Dom de Fondrèche Cuvée Fayard
Deepish red colour. Dusty and uncompromising on the nose (very different to the way it was in July), with ok weight, some fruit. Quite short and disappointing for the reputation and vintage. Some said over-extracted at the expense of the fruit. Good. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

10/03 Côtes-du-Ventoux 2001, Dom de Fondrèche Cuvée Nadal
50% Grenache, 50% Syrah. More expressive nose, more complex and richer in the mouth. Still a little unforthcoming. Nobody said "dumb phase" but I'm wondering... Longer finish. Good. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

10/03 Côtes-du-Ventoux 2001, Dom de Fondrèche Cuvée Persia
Deeper colour, almost black. 100% Syrah. Oaky nose with blackcurrant underlay. Massively tannic and impressed the New World lovers the most. Big extraction; can the fruit live up to the tannin? I hope so. It certainly needs time before being tried again. Good plus (some would say Very Good). (Matthew Mellor, UK)

10/03 Vacqueyras 2000, Domaine de Montvac
More southern Rhôney. Strong notes of garrigue and blackberry on the nose. Good weight in the mouth, restrained and elegant, and with the fruit and balance for a decent spell in the cellar. Very good. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

10/03 Gigondas 2000, Domaine Grand Romane
Deep coloured and perfumed on the nose. Lovely and perhaps surprising elegance, good balance, sweet finish with some length. Very Good plus. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

10/03 Gigondas 2000, Ch de Saint-Cosme
Again, very deep coloured. Lovely fresh fruit, hints of tinned grapefruit too, on the nose. Rich and creamy in the mouth with a very sweet, long finish. Beautifully done. Very Good Indeed to Excellent. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

10/03 Gigondas 2001, Ch de Saint-Cosme
Even darker red than the 2000. Very different nose. It was interesting to see the group's opinions. Some preferred the puppy fat and openness of the 2000, some, like me, preferred the arch structure and leaner tones of the 2001. This was a great, beautifully concentrated (like its older sibling) wine, with a long life ahead. Lovely weight and mouthfeel, more tannic than the 2000 but even more exciting. Excellent. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

10/03 Gigondas 2001, Dom du Grapillon d'Or
Corked. I was pleased to spot this, being the first person to sniff it. It confirms my view that I really haven't come across that many corked wines. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

10/03 Châteauneuf-du-Pape 1990, Dom du Pegau Cuvée Réservée
Some people's wine of the night. This was a lovely, rich red colour. Complex and powerful nose, herbs, fresh red fruits - hints of varnish indicating that it's beginning to tire a bit - some found this gave it extra complexity, I was worried about its future. Lovely weight in the mouth: crisp acidity balancing the sweet fruits. Lovely long finish. Very good indeed to Excellent. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

10/03 Châteauneuf-du-Pape 1999, Dom du Vieux Télégraphe La Crau
Impenetrable deep red. Renamed "La Crap" because of an appalling stinkiness (which I found in my other bottle of this too but which another present had not found in his) on the nose. Much more pleasant in the mouth. This was traditional Châteauneuf, concentrated, bold, rich, ripe, sweet, licorice-edged stuff. Great, svelte tannins and a long, caressing finish. After a half-hour or so, the stink had largely blown off to reveal a cassis-edged, red fruit nose. Quite why Tanners has this at half the price of Berry Brothers is beyond me. Very Good Indeed to Excellent. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

10/03 Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2000, Château de Beaucastel
A different sort of monster. Deep red. Mourvèdre gaminess showing through on the nose and dominating. Lots of concentration and extraction. Very sweet and rich in the mouth. This needs time to mellow, but is all too easy to drink now. Long finish. Excellent. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

10/03 Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2001, Dom Raymond Usseglio
More classical CdP. This was a nicely concentrated wine. Quite open and very drinkable. Sweet red fruits on the nose and in the mouth. Lovely, harmonious and sweet. Not got the class of the wines around it, but it's a very good example of what can be achieved in CdP at a reasonable price. Very Good Indeed. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

10/03 Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2001, Dom de la Mordorée Cuvée de la Reine des Bois
The only UK stockist I could find for this on wine-searcher was charging a ridiculous price. I bought it for €30 from the domaine. Inky, impenetrable colour. Inky, impenetrable nose. Highly extracted. Slowly revealed a beautiful purity of black cherries, hints of coffee even. Great structure and seamless tannins with a long finish. This was an exciting wine with a long finish. Just about drinkable now, but will be great in five years plus. Super stuff and an easy Excellent, perhaps even Outstanding. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

09/03 Chateau Beaucastel, 1986
A difficult act following the Ducru, but a bit of a change of gear worked well. Good deep purple showing little sign of age. Plenty of fruit and structure combined in a really nice CNdP. Very Good/Excellent. (Mark Pearce, UK)

09/03 Coudoulet de Beaucastel, 1998
I opened this not only to do a big brother old/little brother young comparison but also because I read in Jamie's blog that he'd had a bottle recently that may have been over the hill, or might have been heat damaged. Well this one wasn't over the hill. Still very primary, I won't be touching my others for a while. A very good Coudoulet. Very Good. (Mark Pearce, UK)

09/03 Clos des Papes 1996 Chateauneuf du Pape
I fancied a decent wine with a measure of class, so I pulled this from the cellar. A dark strawberry red, the nose revealing red liquorice, aniseed and a touch of alcohol. The palate is lean and 'clean' with crunchy light red fruits. Pleasant and drinking now, no need to hold. 85/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/03 Cornas Domaine de Rochepurtuis 1995, Jean Lionnet
Soft, earthy nose, some meat and spice. Not terribly alcoholic but quite ripe. Silky smooth palate wioth lovely purity of fruit. A very silky Cornas. Very nice indeed. (David Strange, UK)

09/03 1990 CDP Clos des Papes
Still very deep red/black, wonderful taut nose red and black fruits liquorice and spice but great elegance, on the palate clean fruit at the start then an explosion of flavour.Plenty of structure still but now drinking well with years ahead. Outstanding. (paul redfern , UK)

09/03 1995 Cote Rotie Viaillere Rostaing
Good even colour with a little maturity, lovely nose leather coffee and herbs elegant and balanced, very fresh on palate with good core of red fruits and fresh finish. well balanced wine with plenty of time ahead.Very good (Paul Redfern, UK)

09/03 Clos des Papes 1997 Chateauneuf du Pape
I brought this to show Nigel what this wine should taste like after he had a couple of under par experiences. At present, this wine needs 30 minutes from opening, to sit in the glass BEFORE it gains its Burgundian texture. Medium strawberry red, with some herbs and aniseed on the nose. Medium bodied with a spark of acidity, this wine is drinking now but will hold for a few years. Nice. 88/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/03 Clos des Papes 1995 Chateauneuf du Pape
Thanks to Sophie for the chance of a mini-vertical. Dark strawberry red with a very strong nose of aniseed. A ripe, tannic backbone, solid mid palate and a bright long length. Good red fruits. 91/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/03 Gigondas 1999 Domaine des Espiers
Dark cherry red, closed initially then spices. A reasonably tannic mouthfeel with good length and positive potential. This needs a few years bottle ageing. 89/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/03 Domaine Charbonniere 1996 Vieilles Vignes
Dark strawberry, I detected a touch of alcohol (maybe volatile acidity?) plus red fruits. Nigel politely said he thought there was 'frisson' in the nose. Hmmmmm, I think you have been drinking too many Red Burgundies and Rieslings, my dear chap! Smooth but with a tight core of red fruits. This well made red needs a few years. 92/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/03 Jaboulet 1988 Hermitage La Chapelle
Deep strawberry red, a slight sourness, light black fruits, a touch of herbs. More sourness on the palate, medium bodied, some green olives, good length and not powerful. Thanks to Nigel for bringing this one along. 90/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/03 Domaine de la Mordoree 1996 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee La Reine des Bois
I have drunk nearly a case of this wine and it has just got better and better. Straight from the bottle, the dark strawberry red colour comes along with viscous 'legs' running down the side of the glass. Earth and herbs on the nose, along with ripe raspberries. The palate is silky smooth, no hint of tannins, a long mid palate and lengthy finish. There is a little prickle of acidity on the sweetish finish. This is an impressive wine for a 'weak' vintage and is ready to drink. 90/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

07/03 1996 Cornas, Jaboulet
Deep purple. Dense, wild nose of bloody game and truffle wrapped in smoky oak. Wow - this is why I am nuts on Rhone wines. Such a stonking nose. This mad gamey smoky intensity carries on into the palate, with velvet tannin and white pepper spice. Long length, gorgeous elegance. Very similar to a Thalabert Crozes but with slightly more feral wildness and "oomph". Excellent. (Ray Abercromby, UK)

07/03 Cornas 1996 Noel Verset
A medium plum red with a ripe smoky nose. The palate showed a medium bodied, silky, ready to drink wine. A well balanced and enjoyable wine. This wine is nearing maturity and I would drink it over the next five years. 88/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

07/03 Cote Rotie 1995 Guigal Ampuis
A powerful nose of liquorice, oak and red fruits. The palate was very different from the nose, with a sedate, medium bodied, silky dark fruits wine that is surprisingly ready to drink. Not as powerful as I expected. 90/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

07/03 Chateau de Beaucastel 1989 (CdP)
When I unwrapped the foil from the neck of this bottle, the cork looked like it had leaked as the dry red wine was visible. Not a good sign. A medium cherry red did not show any problems initially. The nose showed some farmyard smell but was muted. There was even a hint of oxidation. On the palate it was tough with the mature fruits struggling to make an appearance. I transferred my pour into a separate glass. Over the course of a couple of hours, the oxidation became more pronounced. A bad bottle I am afraid, despite our efforts to obtain good provenance. Not rated. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

07/03 Chateau Rayas 1996 (CdP)
Not a good vintage in Chateauneuf du Pape, I was interested to see how this would perform. A light to medium cherry red with a heady perfume of sweet ripe cherries. Medium bodied and silky on initial taste, the wine opens its throttle and shows more power in a good way. Charming, it held my attention for a good 20-30 seconds. Initially, I rated this as excellent but then as the evening wore on it started to implode. I would drink this wine over the next few years. Don't bother with decanting. 92/100 points initially, then down to 88/100 after an hour. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

07/03 Domaine Janasse 1995 Vieilles Vignes (CdP)
A deep plum red with a nose of morello cherries and nuances of earthiness and aniseed. A tannic core with some lean raspberry fruits, this wine needs at least five more years to show its true glory. A well made wine, nonetheless. 91/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

07/03 Domaine Vieux Telegraphe 1997 blanc (CdP)
A medium dull gold, the distinctive nose reminded me of beeswax and soft honeysuckle. A soft start, the wine builds up power and a certain nuttiness. A good weight, it had a dry sherry like texture and a respectable finish. I liked it although I would have to say it may be an acquired taste to some wine drinkers. 88/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

07/03 Gigondas, Château de St Cosme 2001
Bought from the domaine itself - which happens to be a favourite of mine - tasted and enjoyed every vintage from 1998. A deep red, almost purple. With a good deal of coaxing (and the wine was decanted at least an hour and a half before consumption), notes of grapefruit and black berries and cherries came through but it's still tight. Lovely weight in the mouth - chewy, mouthfilling fruity flavours with big tannins but the high alcohol really didn't show through. Long, warming finish. A pure, complex and thoroughly satisfying wine. Very good to excellent. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

07/03 Chateau de Beaucastel 1981 (CdP)
Decanted one hour in advance, this was dark cherry in colour. The nose showed no hint of brett whatsoever which was a big surprise for me for such an old vintage from this famous producer. Instead a complex nose of saddle leather, cooked aubergine (US translation = cooked eggplant), spice and a hint of damp leaves. The taste was even better with a sweet cooked plum, medium bodied and silky sensation. This wine was an absolute pleasure to drink. Although fully mature, this wine still has life left in it. 95/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

07/03 Chateau de Beaucastel 1978 (CdP)
Also decanted an hour in advance and still a dark cherry red. The nose was 'cleaner' than the 1981, with some nuances of black liquorice but otherwise no other distinctive smells. What a difference on the palate. Bright red fruits with a pleasing liquorice and semi-tannic length, this wine carries itself noticeably though the taste buds. Unbelievably this tasted tighter and much fresher than the 1981. For a twenty-five year old wine, this still seems to have development potential, although up to now it has been at a snails pace. 95/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

07/03 Chave 1988 Hermitage
Dark cherry red with cooked red fruits, dry rose petals and a dash of herbaceousness. The medium bodied taste was spicy and persisted so smoothly on the palate for a long time that I almost laughed in joy. Ready to drink now although I am sure this will gain complexity with more bottle age and perhaps concentrate the flavours. 94/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

07/03 Chave 1989 Hermitage
The second wine of the mini-Chave flight! Dark red, this wine was definitely the more senior of the two wines. By this I mean it took control of my senses more than the 1988. Some bonfire smoke and ripe raspberries, with a touch of herbaceousness. This was sweeter and more powerful than the 1988, the ripe cherry tannins carry the wine for ages. A wonderful expression of N.Rhone syrah. 96/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

07/03 M.Chapoutier 1993 Ermitage “Le Pavillon”
Medium plum purple hue with a distinctive nose of black pastilles, very medicinal with some mint. Medium bodied with a pleasing sweetness, it showed soft red fruits and a good length. An impressive showing from what was a difficult vintage in the N.Rhone that year. Ready to drink. 92/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

07/03 Jamet Cote-Rotie 2000
No we're told, the really un-inspiring label on this bottle wasn't some kind of temporary label, but the real thing going forward. Come back the gaudy label of the past I say! An equally uninspiring wine inside, has to be said. Modest saturation; nose quite simple, red fruity - a strong grippy acid/tannin backbone dominates the fruit which is not normally as prevalent in either Jamet, or Cote-Rotie fall stop. Certainly lacks depth, concentration and length. At best average-to-good Crozes quality, and questionable future. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

07/03 Jamet Cote-Rotie 1999
Closer to opaque. Richer, deeper, riper fruit - good sweet fruity perfume enhanced by now integrated oak. A suggestion of viognier going on, or perhaps just sweetness from the complimentary fruit/oak thing. Real depth the palate - multi-layered - with very good length. Structure well cosseted under lovely rich, rounded fruit. A nice acid grip to this one too, enhancing the overall balance and drinkabilty. For those that can't wait, be my guest and drink one - I certainly did just a week or so back and have no regrets….but it needs time to develop the complexity and elegance that will come with age. Truly classy juice, worthy of the praise. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

07/03 Jamet Cote-Rotie 1997
Odd, flat, dusty nose. Not very attractive. An odd balance to the palate too with a spritz on the finish. On return I can more easily descern the green, stalky side to this wine, and the palate has improved - but a poor wine, and the fact that when it turned more obviously underripe it improved - says something. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

07/03 Jamet Cote-Rotie 1997 Cote Brune
More like the '99, although a scaled down version - with less intensity and fruit on the nose. Nonetheless, with good colour, very good, ripe fruit with a lovely balance and mouthfeel - together with good length - another classy Cote-Rotie, and on the shoulder of the '99. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

07/03 Jamet Cote-Rotie 1996
An obvious bubblegum like edge to this wine on the nose, but bizzarely both minty and confectionary - red and black fruits. On the palate the fruits somewhat confectionary and there's a disjointed sweetness which doesn't sit well. I know they're aren't supposed to, but did they… (Nick Alabaster, UK)

07/03 Jamet Cote-Rotie 1996 Cote Brune
More classic, but spicy too and I think from oak as much as anything. Good ripe fruit and while the structure is quite well balanced with the fruit, it dries on the finish and again I wonder if a bit of extra oak has been used/shows through. This will probably develop well, but overall you find more lushness in the better wines. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

07/03 Jamet Cote-Rotie 1995
Rhone 'stink' going on here. I picked up spice and leather, and wondered if this wine had oxidized a bit, or otherwise prematurely aged. The palate seemed fresher though. But eventually I got to the obvious, which is this wine is bretty. For some it clearly works, but if I'm thinking oxidized and/or prematurely aged, you can see I'm not going to be favourable to its influence here. Will this wine win out against brett, or will it eat into the fruit that's left and leave a dry, hollow wine? (Nick Alabaster, UK)

07/03 Jamet Cote-Rotie 1994
The fruit seemed years younger than the '95, brighter - more fruity sweet perfume. Richer than expected and just started to take on a more meaty edge as it's matured. Quite concentrated with good length. Good balance and really drinking well in my mind.

07/03 Jamet Cote-Rotie 1990
Most high-toned of the wines, but not distracting. Lovely developing bacon fat/meatiness going on. Complex; discrete (first time I've used this descriptor myself, but it feels apt); like the '94 with more ripeness and fruit. Lovely supple palate - perfect acid cut. Good supporting structure for excellent depth. Red and black fruits, with a lovely sweetness. Long, gently spicy finish. Perfect for drinking now. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

07/03 1999 Jamet Cote-Rotie
Showed very oakily last time I had it (over a year back), but given the size of the wine it's hardly surprising it's now absorbed into the wine. A rich sweet melange of fruit and oak on the nose, which hints at the more elegant Cote-Rotie perfume. The nose needs to develop more on this wine, although the wine is forward on the whole. It's also showing a savoury edge to both the nose and palate, which is no bad thing in moderation. (Hopefully it won't turn strongly black olive like in the way some of my Giles Barge went). On the palate you could hardly want from more luscious fruit and soft but full supporting structure. The only thing really holding me off drinking more of this now is the nose, which I think should have more complexity in time. Certainly excellent. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

07/03 1996 Alain Voge Cornas "Les Vielles Fontaines"
If I had bottles of this, very little would stop me pulling corks on this wine given the right food. With the pork belly this gutsy, very CnP like wine showed plenty of garrique with predominantly red fruits. Some tannin is clearly evident but works well with the food. Overall a complex and very satisfying Rhone. Quite how this wine, which I presume is the same grape as the above can be so different to it, as well as take on a CnP impression is testament to the importance of location - macro terroir shall we call it?! (Nick Alabaster, UK)

06/03 2000 E Guigal Gigondas, 13.5%
Pretty light and disappointing - not much of a step up from the Guigal Cotes du Rhone - very Grenache dominant and lacks the structure of a Ch du Trignon and quality of a Santa Duc - an average wine from a good vintage. (Phil Shorten, UK)

06/03 Cote Rotie 1997 Michael Ogier
A very dark red, the nose was quite simply WOW! Plenty of wood smoke and blasts of finely cooked bacon as well. The palate has a lot of character, is evolving and tastes earthy with no harsh edges. The seamless finish leads me to pour myself a second glass, and this went so well with the fantastically prepared pork and potatoes dish in a very tasty sauce. 94/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

06/03 Clos des Bruquieres 1995 Chateauneuf du Pape
The final wine of the evening and it's a Chateauneuf du Pape. I am close to tears at the generosity of my hosts in pulling these bottles as they know this area is my number one wine region in the world for red wine. I suspect that this was from Asher's cellar, and it was distinctive to say the least. The strong nose was herby with a touch of volatile acidity. Manuel made a brilliant observation when he said straight away that its smell reminded him of his grandfather's hair tonic! A powerful taste, long lasting, some cherries in there, traditional, very nice. 91/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

05/03 Chateau Fortia CNDP 1995
Pulled from Mark's back pocket at the last minute. Purchased from Endecroft in their sale. Classic "CNDP drinking well" nose. Black pepper first followed by rich dark fruits and spice. Hint of Brett (no-one else mentioned this). Incredibly full on the palate. Very well balanced despite a slightly excess of warmth from the alcohol (14%). I'd say majority of Grenache with a good dollop of Syrah and lots of oak, which is very well integrated. (Philip Vaughan, UK)

05/03 1990 Ferraton Hermitage Cuvée des Miaux
Signs of seepage on the extracted cork gave me poor expectations and quite right too. Medium brick garnet & browning rim. Reasonable leathery/tobacco/meaty & raspberry fruit notes on the nose but with telltale signs of VA - a little like shoe polish. The palate was somewhat disappointing being short, acidic & light and I suppose a little rustic for a 1990. Perhaps a poor bottle but it was purchased some time after release. Mature in a word. Will experiment with further bottles and hopefully there will be a little more sweet fruit, smoke, bacon and grippy tannins present. A disappointment today. (Phil Wilkins, UK)

04/03 Domaine Clape Cornas 1996
Slightly lifted nose, initially Bordeux springs to mind, but then confusing notes of strawberry come through and a bit of VA. Palate has lots of tannic grip and quite fresh crunchy acid, with lightish red fruit again - I like it. Drink now I'd say or wait 5 years for the tannin to recede a bit, if the fruit lasts and it doesn't get too volatile. (Stephan Muller, UK)

04/03 2000 Chapoutier, Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers
Deep cherry red. The nose is earthy with high toned fruit and a little cracked pepper. Again high toned fruit on the palate, medium tannins and quite good acidity. A slight bitterness to the finish, but still quite good. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

04/03 2000 Chapoutier, Cornas
Also deep cherry red. The nose is a little unformed, slightly spicy but the fruit is too diffuse to spot. More concentrated than the 'Crozes', a little spicy too. Versus the Crozes, the tannins are more pronounced and there's better acidity. Still a little overpriced perhaps - quite good. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

04/03 2000 Chapoutier, Côte Rotie Les Bécasses
Deep cherry with a purple rim. The nose is subdued but there are some high toned violet notes and a little apple pie lower down. A soft entry but the tannin soon builds - good acidity and fruit concentration to buffer. Reasonable length too. A good wine. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

04/03 1999 Chapoutier, Côte Rotie La Mordorée
Deep colour with a purple rim. The first interesting nose of the series, still relatively subdued, but there's a peppery top layer to some interesting plum fruit. On the palate there's tannin to spare - though velvetty it is significantly the dominant sensation. The fruit is quite ripe and is coupled with good acidity. Not sure that there is enough material to ever balance the tannins though. Quite good though - provided you ignore the price. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

04/03 Domaine de la Charbonniere CdP 1995 - Cuvee Vieilles Vignes
A Nigel Williams 'special' from this quality producer in Chateauneuf du Pape. A medium red colour leads to a classic herby nose with cherry kirsch at the fore. Full bodied, the dark fruits give way to the tannins that brush the mouth all over, telling us they are there but not in a bad way. Although drinkable with food IMHO this still needs five years. It went amazingly well with the venison casserole. 94/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

03/03 Graillot Crozes Hermitage 96
Slightly rubbery nose opens up to meatiness over time. The high acid of youth is now coming into balance, setting off succulent raspberry flavour and meaty/meally texture. Impressive stuff. VG/E (Paul Armstrong, UK)

03/03 Graillot St Joseph 96
Nice meaty complexity emerges with air, but frankly a little lacking in fresh fruit, and a bit hard and acidic too. Disappointing, hopefully a below par bottle - certainly not a patch on the Graillot Crozes. G/VG (Paul Armstrong, UK)

03/03 Domaine Brusset Cairanne CdRV Cuvee des Templiers 97
Rather delicious and easily gluggable. Lovely balance of deep fruit & spice, with fresh acidity. Oak of youth quite well integrated now. Nicely mature, touch of volatility, probably at peak now. G/VG (Paul Armstrong, UK)

03/03 Clape Cotes du Rhone 97
Evolving savoury dusty-fruited nose. Very elegant for CdR - almost coolish fruit and a sinewy finesse you wouldn't normally expect ( this is after all 100% Syrah from the northern rhone I believe). Approaching peak but no rush just yet. VG (Paul Armstrong, UK)

03/03 Domaine de la Charbonniere 2001 blanc (Chateauneuf du Pape)
Liquorice and aniseed on the nose. Mid palate is in a liquorice phase, decent, slightly alcoholic, but nice. When paired with the cheese starter, it was better. 85/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

03/03 Cairanne CdR 1996 Vielles Vignes - Tardieu Laurent
100% Grenache, spent 15 months in new oak, from a weak vintage in the southern Rhone. I did not hold out much for this wine. It surprised most of us, except Ron who had brought it along. Nose of olives, cherry kirsch, and aniseed. It tastes ripe, no rough edges and some pepper on the finish. Enjoyable. 88/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

03/03 Domaine Font Sane – 2000 Cuvee Futee (Gigondas)
This is the top wine from this family Domaine, which sees new oak. A tight nose with a dash of oak. It is closed on the palate and aside from some aniseed I did not get much out. Tighter than a steel oil drum (some mentioned ducks and their backsides, but I could not possibly comment!), and needs 2-3 years. 86/100 on potential as I have tried previous vintages. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

03/03 Domaine la Soumade – Cuvee Confiance – Rasteau 2000 (CdR)
The winemakers second cuvee. Nose of herbs, ripe strawberries and aniseed. Taste is seamless, good balance of acidity and tannins on the respectable finish. This surprised me and I enjoyed it. 88/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

03/03 Chateau de Beaucastel – 1996 (CdP)
I have read wine drinkers panning both this wine and the 1996 vintage. I bought a case of this years ago en primeur in my very early days buying wine. What would it show tonight? The nose was full on farmyard with lots of leather. It reminded me of the 1983 that I had tried last summer. The taste shows slightly sweet fruit initially, and then opens up nicely to black fruits and some aniseed on the finish. This really surprised me as to how drinkable it is now and its evolution so far. Very enjoyable now and I am going to start drinking my bottles soon! 89/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

03/03 Mont Redon 1989 (CdP)
A very ripe nose of cherry kirsch, possibly sur maturite? It tastes of sweet red fruits, some background acidity and very soft tannins. Drink now. We were split as to who would enjoy this wine. I thought it was a more simplistic style of CdP, but others thought it was more "intellectual". Listen guys, hold the glass in your hand, tip into your mouth and enjoy! 90/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

03/03 Chateau de Beaucastel – 1990 (CdP)
A lot has been written about Beaucastel in general and the 1990 in particular, often comparing it to the 1989. This should be a treat. The nose was simply traffic stopping, showing more sweetness than the 1996 in terms of leather and farmyard. As the wine flows across the palate, the controlled dark fruits deliver wave after wave of pleasure. I enjoyed my second glass even more than my first! Pure character in a glass, willing to please, this was easily my wine of the night. This seemed more evolved than the bottles I had drunk 7 months ago, but this wine has plenty of life and maybe more evolution to go. 95/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

03/03 La Rosine VdP Collines Rhodanienes 1999
Light red colour. Floral aromas with dark cherry fruit and slight hints of smoke. Cherry and damson fruit on the palate. Violets and dusty tannins on the finish. Good structure. (Paul Anderson, UK)

03/03 La Rosine VdP Collines Rhodanienes 2001
Light red. Floral, perfumed nose with violets and slight hints of tar. Richness in the mouth, with more violets and damsons. Fine tannins on a long rich finish. (Paul Anderson, UK)

03/03 Côte-Rôtie 2001 (cask sample)
Ruby red. Perfumed nose with violets and hints of redcurrants. Pepper and flowers on the palate, showing some complexity and richness. Deceptively drinkable now. There's a richness and silky smoothness on the finish. (Paul Anderson, UK)

03/03 Côte-Rôtie 'Embruns' 2001 (cask sample)
Ruby red. Delicate perfumed nose with red fruits. Very good balance with mineral structure and flavours of red fruits and tar. Rich finish with dry tannins and clean acidity. (Paul Anderson, UK)

03/03 Côte-Rôtie 'Côte Blonde' 2001 (cask sample)
Darkish red. Powerful nose with aromas of pepper, cassis, cinnamon and lavender. Initially closed on the palate but opened a bit to show red fruits flavours and excellent balance. Top quality wine for the very long haul. (Paul Anderson, UK)

03/03 Côte-Rôtie 'Belle Helene' 2001 (cask sample)
Deep red. Peppery nose with also showing plum, red fruit and perfume aromas. Complex palate of spice, pepper and red fruit. Very good balance. Dry tannin on rich finish. (Paul Anderson, UK)

03/03 Côte-Rôtie 2000
Deep red. Hints of honeycomb and red fruits. Fresh fruit-driven palate with background flavours of herbs, olives, spice. Tannin and cleansing acidity on the finish. (Paul Anderson, UK)

03/03 Côte-Rôtie 'Belle Helene' 2000 (cask sample)
Dark red. Olive paste and tar with hints of smoke and herbs. Rich red fruits, pure minerality and olive flavours. Beginning to feel close to integrated on the finish. (Paul Anderson, UK)

03/03 Côte-Rôtie 'Belle Helene' 1999
Olive paste and violets on the nose. Rich powerful top quality fruit on palate. Great structure with a rich, smokey finish. Doesn't seem to be opening up very much though. This is my first ever Parker 100 point wine that I've tasted. Having known that before the tasting it's not what I expected as it was more subdued than I would expect Parker to love. Perhaps he tasted it when it was much more open. (Paul Anderson, UK)

02/03 Domaine Les Pallieres 1998 Gigondas - £12 (US$18) – 14%
I had read a few posts on 1998 Gigondas, with some wine lovers questioning whether they were shutting down, so I thought I'd try this one. I am not sure what the percentage of Grenache is in this bottle, but the colour was a medium cherry red, slightly pink at the rim. The nose was a mixture of alcohol, red fruits, aniseed and liquorice. It tasted warm, rich, some sweetness, ripe tannins and a finish that lasted for a good while (about 20 seconds for the wine geeks out there). Although drinking well now I feel comfortable leaving my remaining bottles for a few years. A lovely drop of red wine. 90/100. (Nicos Neocleous , UK)

02/03 Chateau de la Negly 2000 La Clape
One of Ray Portelli's contributions was this bottle, a blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Mouvedre. Dark purple plum colour, with a nose of wood and syrah dark fruit. It tasted like very ripe syrah, with some ripe tannins coating the tongue, and with a long finish. Very drinkable now, especially with a meal. 88/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/03 Ch. De Beaucastel 1997 Vielles Vignes
100% old vine Roussane, kindly brought over by Mike Carpentier. A light gold colour led to a nose with a dash of apricot but otherwise it appeared oxidised. It tasted oxidised as well which was a pity. Not rated. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/03 Gigondas 1999 Domaine du Cayron
A Ron Colvin special, this should dark coloured Grenache. It smelled soft, with red berry fruits, and gave away its Rhone roots with some garrigue. This was so easy to drink, seamless, very ripe tannins, a joy. 90/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/03 Chapoutier 1994 Barbe Rac CdP
Robert (Nick's friend) kindly bought this along and this was my chance to try it for the first time. A medium red colour, not surprising as this was 100% Grenache. A nose of liquorice and sweet red berry fruits, but simple nonetheless. It had a smooth mouthfeel to it with a good length, but not much complexity. It underwhelmed me. 85/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/03 Les Cailloux 1995 Cuvee Centenaire
This wine that Robert Parker had highly rated had been on my hit list of CdP to try. As soon as I poured the first glass it seemed browning and oxidised to me. Oh dear! Mike Carpentier had bought this over from his cellar. He had bought 12 bottles some years ago, had enjoyed 3 excellent bottles in the past and was at a loss to explain how this one had turned out badly. The cork seemed fine – what a pity. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/03 Domaine Pegau 1995 Cuvee Laurence
From my cellar, I had drunk a few bottles over the past year, all of which were good. A deep cherry colour led to a nose of some pepper, old oak and a hint of the Grenache. Some found the nose oaky with not much fruit. It tasted slightly sweet initially, with a familiar tasted of old vine Grenache on the mid palate. The finish was long but did dry the tongue out a bit. In the past when I have drunk it I have allowed at least 2 hours decanting time. I believe that this wine has lots of room for improvement and the tannins from the respectable 1995 vintage in CdP have yet to be resolved fully. 88/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/03 Cote Rotie Guigal 1999
Quite dark, this seemed to contain syrah and possibly Grenache, as I smelled and tasted a mix of red and black fruits. Softer than the black capsule wine, I guessed it was a French blend from the Rhone. 86/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/03 Chapoutier 1996 Crozes-Hermitage "Les Varonniers"
This 100% Syrah old vine cuvee was brought by Michael Carpentier. Very dark, almost black, the nose showed dark black fruits and a very concentrated syrah palate which I enjoyed. Some of us found some volatility on the nose as it opened up, but I still thought this was a good wine. 90/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/03 Gilles Barge 1999 Cote Rotie Cuvee Plessey 1999
95% Syrah and 5% Viognier and brought by Nick Alabaster. The nearly opaque blackness gave way to a fantastic nose. Wow! Very floral, like honeysuckle, and very distinctive. Although ripe with noticeable tannins, the black fruits were very concentrated. I really enjoyed this wine and after the third glass I decided that this was my wine of the night. It really sang to me. Drinkable now but will keep and improve for years to come. 95/100. This is unlike wines such as the 1999 Cote Rotie from Jamet which need several more years maturing, in my opinion. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/03 Hermitage La Chapelle 1983 Jaboulet
Very deep rich colour some maturity at rim. rich nose very complex leather and tinnned tomatoes (always my reference point for northern Rhone) on palate elegant but with power and richness behind v long with balanced structure.Excellent/outstanding. This was my bottle and I was pleased with its showing. I think this wine is now hitting its stride on this performance. Three bottles left! (Paul Redfern, UK)

02/03 La Table du Roy NV. P Jaboulet
Rather brooding black plum purple with some youth. Lots of soft dark fruit and a touch of farmyard on the nose. Good clean attack. Nice soft fruit with a few tannins in background giving a touch of structure which follows through onto the finish. Good finish with excellent length. Good. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

02/03 1985 Crozes Hermitage, Domaine de Thalabert
A startling deep red / ruby with plum at the core – no signs of age here. The nose displays developed bouquet of smoky meat and earthiness, with the merest hint of reduction, and blackcurrant fruit appearing at the end. The wine itself is velvety smooth, with mellow tannin and gentle peppery fruit, infused with the gamey meat first distinguished on the nose. Long length and elegance. Lovely, and better than the 95 that I recently had. Excellent. (Ray Abercromby, UK)

02/03 Cote-Rotie La Viaillere 1991 Albert Dervieux
(I believe this wine was made by Rene Rostaing before he formally took over ) Lovely colour mid red with a hint of maturity, beautifully elegant nose with leather spice and complexity, very balanced entry with real weight on the mid palate and fine balance. Spicy fruit with some ripe tannin giving structure. A pleasure to drink confirmed by the speed at which the bottle was emptied. perfect now but will certainly last another five years. excellent (Paul Redfern, UK)

01/03 Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc, Clos Des Papes 1998
A little too cool to start with, this had a wonderful complex nose (perhaps a hint of lemon thyme?). Wonderful in the mouth with stone fruits, a hint of the cheesiness I got with my only previous experience of white CNDP. Nice complexity. Very good. (Mark Pearce, UK)

01/03 Hermitage, Chave 1994
Decanted for an hour or so beforehand this had the most wonderful nose with strong fruit but a little of the bacon/red meat thing going on. Colour was strong, with only a hint of clearing at the rim. In the mouth, superb. Only my second experience of Chave Hermitage and the first was a taste at SuperBOWL. This was top wine, a clear contender for WOTY 2003. Outstanding. (Mark Pearce, UK)

01/03 Chave Hermitage 1977
Quite fruity. Pretty tannic. Some good fruit. Nice balance. Pretty good. (David Strange, UK)

01/03 Domaine du Cornilhac St Joseph 1999
Peppery, some fruit, bit of concentration. Big pepper finish. OK. (David Strange, UK)

01/03 Jaboulet Cornas Domaine St Pierre 1995
Rich and full nose, very ripe and powerful. Palate is big and ripe. Pretty concentrated. Very good. (David Strange, UK)

01/03 Clape Cornas 1978
Earthy nose, a bit dusty, some soft dark fruit. Palate is a bit dry and tough. A bit of fruit but not much. Not as good as recent vintages. (David Strange, UK)

01/03 Jaboulet Crozes-Hermitage "Thalabert" 1995
Um. When I first tried a bottle of this I felt it was overly acidic. Well, its still unbalanced - and a bit thin in the middle. Not a particularly good Thalabert. (Daron Fincham, UK)

01/03 Rene Rostaing Les Lezardes Rouge 1998
Tasty chewy red, somewhat chunky/foursquare but with interesting hints of tangy acidity and gamey/meaty flavours. Guess this'll improve for a bit yet. G/VG (Paul Armstrong, UK)


03/04 2000 Chante-Aloutte Hermitage - M.Chapoutier
A lean yellow and also 14% like the Clos St Hune, the nose reminded me of fresh citrus and floral elements also expressed themselves. The palate was very different, with an oily and slightly off dry spicy palate feel. A soft and pleasing finish. 88/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/04 2002 Chateau Mont-Redon (Chateauneuf du Pape)
A blend of 40% Grenache, 25% Bourboulenc, 20% Clairette, 10% Roussanne, 5% Picpoul. A very light yellow, the nose showed hints of grapefruit and marzipan. The lean palate showed some hot alcohol and a short finish, with subdued fruit. 80/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/04 1999 Chevalier de Sterimberg, Hermitage Blanc, Jaboulet
Mid gold. Marzipan and caramel nose. Very full flavoured, rich and even with a touch of sweetness. Interesting spic on finish. The weight and sweetness helped it stand up to the Gateau au vin blanc and Gugelhupf. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

02/04 2001 Baronnie d'Estouard blanc (Chateauneuf du Pape)
Bottle number 3436, the rustic looking label showed 13.5% alcohol. I had first tried this at the shop that sells this in the middle of the village of Chateauneuf du Pape. If truth be told, it was a tourist trap and I did buy a few bottles of their wines (1998 CdP red). They were reasonable wines, if overpriced and I have not seen them on sale outside of the village. When I first tasted this wine in July 2002, the spices on the nose were unbelievable to the extreme. A clean and bright light lemon, I smelled lime and liquorice but the spices were not there in the intensity that I remember. A short sip and a swirl showed the ripeness of the vintage, although the alcoholic mouth feel was verging on the unbalanced level for me. Some marzipan with the respectable length, this wine seemed fresher than I was expecting. An acquired taste and certainly overpriced (I paid around £40 (US$72, Euro 56), if you have any bottles left (which I doubt), then drink them up sooner rather than later. 85/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

01/04 2002 Condrieu Terrasses du Palat - Francois Villard
£19 (US$32, 27 Euros) . Light yellow colour, the soft and shy nose showed subtle fresh apricots. A tight palate that indicated balanced fruit, but it was served a little too cold to be able to tell much more. I did warm my glass for five minutes but this wine was not opening up. 88/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

01/04 2001 Viognier, Yves Cuilleron, Vin de Pays de Collines Rhodaniennes
Quite pale lemon/lime in colour. Nice clean aromatic bouquet, very youthful, showing apricots, honey and spice. Already many are pointing towards the Rhone Valley and thinking Viognier. On the palate, just shy of bone dry, quite round, rich and ripe - good fruit intesity - apricot, peach and cumquat - touches of pepper on the finish. Some liked its tightness, and were of the view that it could only be Condrieu. (Phil Shorten, UK)

01/04 1998 Chateau de Beaucastel blanc (Chateauneuf du Pape)
A blend of 80% Roussanne and 20% Bourboulenc. Bright gold colour with a soft lemon nose, some minerality coming out as well. A tight citrus core with a long length, this wine is really enjoyable to drink now. One of the better white Chateauneuf's currently being made. 92/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 2001 Condrieu - Yves Cuilleron - Les Chaillets
His second top wine after the late harvest cuvee. I found a floral, especially honeysuckle nose with a touch of ripe apricot. After one hour in the glass a strong nuance of liquorice came out. The ever so slightly off dry mouthfeel shows ripe peaches with respectable background acidity. 91/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 2002 Domaine de la Janasse - Cuvee Tradition blanc (Chateauneuf du Pape)
Alexis sourced this from the winery a few weeks ago when it was the best white we tasted in Chateauneuf du Pape. A bright but light yellow, the floral nose is bold and indicates a liquorice character. Some freshness with a long aftertaste, nice ripeness but a somewhat slightly distracting alcoholic presence that did leave a hot finish. 88/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 Beaucastel Vieilles Vignes Blanc 2000
a great thick and unctious apricot and orange blossom flavoured and scented monster. (nick wise, UK)

09/03 Chateau de Beaucastel 1998 blanc
A bright, slightly gold colour. I detected some mature lemon on the floral nose. It was fresh with good length, some bitter lemon and I would happily drink this now. Nice choice Sophie. 87/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK).

09/03 Cuilleron 2001 Condrieu Les Chaillets
I had drunk a bottle of this wine two weeks earlier and been underwhelmed. A light yellow with a slightly sweet floral nose. Good minerality, good length, enjoyable and not as sweet as I thought. Yet again I felt slightly short changed for this expensive cuvee. 89/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

08/03 Cuilleron 2001 Condrieu Les Chaillets
c£30 (US$50). Housed in a Riesling shaped bottle, this is the second from top cuvee, if you include the late harvest version from this vintage. This is supposed to have a touch of sweetness on the palate, due to a longer hang time of the Viognier in the vineyard. I believe that this has seen new oak. A light gold colour, the nose was slightly floral, noticeable but not distracting soft oak, a little peach and a little bitter lemon. The palate is light to medium bodied with a slight hint of residual sugar and good length with a clean finish. I must say I am disappointed at the price of this wine for the quality I tasted. And I was not alone, for the four other adults who tried this with me guessed it was between £10 - £15. I expected more residual sugar and more weight on the palate from this 14% liquid, especially given the producer and the vintage. 88/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

08/03 1989 Crozes-Hermitage, Domaine des Remizieres, Desmeure Pere et Fils 12.0%
Clear, pale straw/gold, tiny hint of green. Very evolved medium intensity nose, nutty, slight gluey notes with a honeyed edge. Pale, waxy, creamy mouthfeel with little apparent acidity. Subtle, elegant and with surprising length. Real soft marzipan flavour in the mid-palate. Fascinating wine, Very Good. (Ray Abercromby, UK)

07/03 Domaine J.L Grippat 1991 Hermitage blanc
Medium yellow, the nose was a focused mature lemon scent with a dash of aniseed in there. Medium bodied, this fresh tasting wine persisted very well with mature dry marzipan notes on the palate. Highly enjoyable. 91/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

07/03 Lirac Blanc, Domaine de la Rocalière 1998
Another case from La Vigneronne at a knock-down price. This was fascinating to me, since I can't recall ever having drunk a white Rhône of over two years of age. This had a lovely green-gold colour and an attractive nose of summer flowers with perhaps a bit of oxidation - but pleasant enough. In the mouth it was rich and betrayed the excellent, hot vintage in this area. Good acidity but its weightiness demands food. Good plus plus. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

04/03 Condrieu 1999 Chery – Andre Perret
The nose is soft and cream but subdued and it did not have the intensity that I would expect. The taste is soft with background acidity and a finish that seemed shallow. IMHO drink up, although it may be going through a phase. 84/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

04/03 Chateau La Nerthe CdP Clos de Beauvenir 1998
Majority Roussane in the blend with some Clairette, this is the top white wine cuvee of the domaine. Medium gold, surprisingly deep colour. The nose is like Pernod and also similar to dry sherry. It tastes think and powerful, expanding on the palate with a dash of alcohol with some spice. An acquired taste, 86/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

04/03 Condrieu Les Cassines P. Jaboulet Aine, 2001
Warm, creamy, cokkie-dough nose, some highly roasted oak. Palate a little flat, broad, quite peachy and alcoholic. Quite powerful, not really my thing but a well-made wine. (Stephan Muller, UK)

04/03 Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc, Saint Cosme, 1999
Very strong, somewhat monolithic and one dimensional nose of overripe bananas, sweet, heavy smell, and maybe a touch varnishy - impressively different, but not all that pleasant to me. Palate broad, powerful with very good structure and a forceful finish. The overpowering banana-smell puts me off a bit, but an impressive wine. (Stephan Muller, UK)

04/03 Jaboulet Aine Crozes Hermitage Blanc Raymond Rouse, 2001
Spicy, elegant oak, again a touch of sweet banana, palate with very juicy fruit but drying, crunchy acidity, lovely texture. I like this a lot more for its higher complexity. Very good indeed. (Stephan Muller, UK)

03/04 Beaucastel Blanc 98
Ok for cooking, but a bit too old and full for me. Better on the 2nd night, where a creaminess supported the old, carmalized nose. The extra night seemed to bring a bit more balance to the wine, but this is one of those wines that is filed under "interesting". (Cameron Clark, Holland)

03/03 1997 St Joseph Blanc, Gripa
Yellow, waxy fat flavours, with elegant length. Lifted nose with peachy hints and perfume. Very Good. (Ray Abercromby, UK)

02/03 Chapoutier 1991 Hermitage Blanc de L'Oree
From Sophie Williams, this blend of Marsanne and Roussane was a light lemon colour. The nose showed some freshly cut lemon peel, but otherwise closed. The palate was tight, very little lemon/lime, and a long slightly bitter finish. Well made but I am not sure whether this needs more time to develop. 80/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/03 1999 Cotes de Rhone Blanc J L Columbo
Pale straw. Not much on the nose. Oak, and that's about it. Full and fat with a waxy mid-palate, but strangely uninvolving after a good start. Hollow finish. Average. (Ray Abercromby, UK)

02/03 Jean-Luc Colombo Cote Bleue 2000 Les Pins Couchés
Medium yellow gold. Peachy & peary, slightly honeyed nose with a certain grassiness and touch of minerals. Quiote a big attack - round and full. Really rather heady. Pales a little on the middle to a nice freshness. But big marzipanny finish with VG length. Very significantly improved after being open half an hour and on finishing it the next day. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

N.B. older Rhône notes are archived here.