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Berry Bros. & Rudd

by Tom Cannavan, 08/04

This was a tasting of wines from Berry Brothers & Rudd.

The tasting was not blind. Prices in pounds sterling.

Champagne

Berrys' Blanc de Blancs Champagne (France) Grand Cru Le Mesnil NV
Le Mesnil is one of the most revered names in wine, its fame culminating in superstar wines from Salon and Krug. At a more affordable £18.95, Berry's version is an absolute little cracker. Extended lees ageing has added a toasty, bready layer on the nose of this Champagne, with its miniscule bubbles streaming across the glass. It has a lovely, delicate Acacia perfume, with a little hint of candied fruit peel. On the palate it is quite rich and full, with a sweet-edge to the copious fruit, with a peachy softness before a thrust of lemony acidity cuts through the core. This has lovely balance and style, and a really long finish. Like almost all Champagnes, this can be drunk now, but will benefit from cellaring. Perhaps best from 2005 - 2015. £18.95

Marguet-Bonnerave (France) Champagne Grand Cru Brut Rosé NV
A grower's Champagne from 12 hectares in the Grand Cru vineyards of Ambonnay, Bouzy, Mailly and the Montagne de reims. This rose is 85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Noir. It has a very nice, earthy, briary nose with a good strawberry fruit quality and a richly foaming, quite mouth-filling mousse. There's a really cutting, dry raspberry edge to the fruit on the palate, with sharp mineral acidity. That earthiness persists, and this is really quite meaty in the finish. Very flavoursome stuff and very good/very good indeed. £16.95

Bollinger (France) Champagne Grande Année 1996
Massively herbal nose, filled with figgy richness and full, fat, toasty aromas. Gorgeous quality of fruit floods over the palate, with fabulous fruit sweetness. Quite rich and rolling in the mouth, there is huge pear and ogen melon fruit ripeness but razor-sharp lemon acidity too. Endlessly long, this is a superb Champagne. Outstanding. £49.95

Berrys' Blanc de Blancs Champagne (France) Grand Cru Le Mesnil 1990
The vintage BdB Le Mesnil has a very distinctive mature Champagne bouquet, loaded with herbal notes that are pungent and nettly, and blast of minerality. There's a toastiness and richness in a really quite complex picture. On the palate the mousse is moderately full and persistent, and there is a steely citrus character that shimmers across the palate, cutting earthier, bready flavours. This has fine length and a terrific sense of both verve and elegance. Very good indeed/excellent, and well-priced for this impressive magnum of 1990. £55.00 per magnum

whites

Domaine de Coudoulet (France) Viognier VdP d'Oc 2003
Fantastically aromatic, classic Viognier nose, loaded with sweet pear, honeysuckle and a hugely perfumed, floral edge. On the palate quite rich and full, with lots of sweetness and apricot lushness of fruit. Fine, really quite bracing acidity really cuts through, with mineral and grapefruit dryness. Long and well-balanced, this is a lovely Viognier. Very good indeed/excellent. £6.95

Château de Lascaux (France) Les Pierres d'Argent Coteaux du Languedoc 2002
Lascaux is French for limestone, and that is the subsoil for this blend of low-yielding Roussanne, Marsanne and Rolle that is fermented in oak and lees-aged. There is a powerful layering of buttery, unctuous, toasty character here, over aromas of marzipan, fig and raisin. The palate is broad and nutty, with concentrated fruit that is quite firm; white fruit flavours and a waxiness to the texture fill the mouth. This is long and really densely concentrated and powerful. Very good indeed. £9.95

Domaine d'Antugnac (France) AC Limoux 2001
Limoux makes some great Chardonnay wines, and this, from the same stable as Domaine des Deux Roches in the Mâconnais is a prime example. Honeysuckle, green fig and a vegetal edge dominate the nose, with loads of complexity, ripe orchard fruits and spices. The palate is surpassingly mineral, with a big thrust of citrus in control at present, scything through much sweeter, fatter ripe pear and peach fruit. Long and balanced, this is a powerful wine that needs food. very good indeed. £8.45

Domaine Gauby (France) "Le Soula" Blanc 2001
Superstar of the region Domaine Gauby is the main partner in the La Soula project, and this is a blend of indigenous varieties Marsanne, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Rolle and Chenin Blanc, grown organically at high altitude. After eight months on its lees in stainless steel, the wine is transferred to barriques (50% new) for a further period. This is a singular wine for meditating over as it slowly reveals its charms. I found it to have a pure, almost Raveneau Chablis-like minerality on the nose, with slate, salt and herbal notes, and a great streak of lime. There's a nutty richness beneath, and the palate goes on to display much more texture and depth, with stone-fruit flavours, a hint of oatmeal and cashew nut filling the mid-palate, and a taut mineral structure running through the core of the wine. It ends quite fleshy and savoury, with an endlessly complex finish. Ageability of such a unique wine is difficult to estimate, but there is no hurry to drink it. £22.95

Domaine A et O de Moor (Burgundy) Chablis La Rosette 2002
This has a very, very deep colour for Chablis that immediately suggests oak ageing. The nose is taut and mineral, with herbs and apple fruit and a core of lemon. On the palate it is very clean and limpid, with more of that lean mineral and citrus dominating, and a raft of dry, lip-smacking acidity. The wood is very much in the background, adding a grippy edge in a long, focused, very purposeful Chablis that may not be to everyone's taste. I'd suggest this needs time though, and potentially could be very good indeed/excellent. £16.25

Olivier Merlin (Burgundy) Pouilly Fuissé Terroir de Chaintré 2001
This white Burgundy has a gorgeous nose, laden with honey, toffee, butter and peaches. It is definitely oaky, but has the fruit too. Fruit dominates the palate, with only a sweet edge of vanillin to rounded, clean orchard fruits and ripe melon. A bracing core of lemony acidity really defines the finish in this long, balanced, and excellent wine. £22.00

Olivier Merlin (Burgundy) Pouilly Fuissé Terroir de Fuissé 2000
This is similar, but with a deeper, richer, toastier note of brazil nuts and sesame seeds, and concentrated apricot fruit. Bold and pure on the palate, this wine is mouth-filling and savoury. The oak is beautifully integrated, with a seamless flow through the mid-palate of powerful fruit, licked with vanilla. Very long and juicy on the finish, this is very good indeed/excellent. £20.25

Domaine Bertagna (Burgundy) Vougeot 1er Cru Blanc 2002
Made from selected fruit from two top 1er Cru vineyards, Les Cras (20%) and Les Petits Vougeots (80%), this has a spearminty, fresh elegance with tight, intense mineral and white apple fruit, before caramel and a hint of butter add a layer of depth. Lots of tang and zest on the palate, with finely-tuned grapefruit and lemon, and a core of mineral of mouthwatering lemon acidity. Stylish and long, this some toasty oak fills out the finish and this is excellent, balanced wine shows great promise for the future. Best 2006 - 2015. £23.50

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht (Alsace) Riesling Herrenweg 2002
The first of three 2002s from Zind-Humbrecht, this is powerfully and richly aromatic, with an almost Pinot-Gris like opulence and perfume. There are notes of nectarine and exotic fruits, with a core of waxy lime. Onto the palate it is very rich and full, with a definite sweetness to ripe, concentrated apple and pear. It juicy and quite full-textured, with a core of lemony succulence, and bags of character and style. Distinctive Riesling with ageing potential, and for me, excellent. £21.75

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht (Alsace) Gewurztraminer Herrenweg 2002
This has lovely fragrance and aromatics again, and is richly spicy with notes of deep toastiness, honey and exotic lychee fruit. there is a sense of minerality too, so really quite complex. Lush and sweet-edged on the palate, this is loaded with glycerol and extract, with really sweet, tropical fruit coating the palate and a caramelly character. It has beautiful acidity too, that despite the extraordinary opulence of this wine, gives fine cut and verve into a long finish. Excellent. £23.00

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht (Alsace) Pinot-Gris Grand Cru Rangen 2002
Onto the legendary Grand Cru vineyard of Rangen de Thann. The aromatics here are suddenly all about minerality, with a density and concentration, lots of schist and smokiness, and an almost cherry-like fruit quality. On the palate this is just a huge wine, with an unctuous depth of sweet, exotic, succulent fruit battling it out with orange and grapefruity acidity. Very pure, and though the texture is thick and oily, with layered complexity and deep-set, powerful concentration. That core of minerality really pushes through into a very long finish. Outstanding. £49.75

Weingut Velich (Austria) Chardonnay Tiglat 2000
A single vineyard (Tiglat) Chardonnay, matured in French oak, a small percentage of which is new. It is quite deep in colour, and the nose is dominated by toast, spice and an almost minty character. Beneath there is a buttery vegetal quality that is quite Burgundian, and ripe fruit. The palate is concentrated and dry, with plenty of thick, ripe peach and buttery fruit, supported by a lovely oak quality that doesn't submerge the freshness of the fruit. Lovely weight through the mid-palate, and a long, harmonious finish. This is very good indeed. £23.50

Lis Neris (Italy) Pinot Grigio 2002
I'm a big fan of Lis Neris, the Friuli estate of the Pecorari family since 1879. This is quite sherbetty and bright on the nose, with a clean, crisp star-fruit and pear quality, and a nice herbal nuance - perhaps a touch of asparagus. The palate is just off dry, before a dry, sweeping acidity and succulent white fruit quality takes over, leaving this balanced and really quite elegant with a rich texture and just a suggestion of leesy breadth. Very good indeed. £10.25

Lis Neris (Italy) "Gris" Pinot Grigio 2001
This is their top single-vineyard Pinot Grigio, 60% of which is aged in French oak barrels (half of them new) and 40% in stainless steel, to give a Pinot Grigio with extraordinary complexity and richness. There is a figgy element added to bright, clean, starfruit and pear, with a gentle toastiness adding an extra layer of complexity. There is an immediate sense of density and concentration. On the palate there is a grippy dried-fruit quality, with succulent apricot and pear and lots of structure. There is an underlying smoky depth, and this wine really powers through to a long finish with excellent concentration and balanced acidity. This is ideal for drinking now, but given its balance and structure, it will also cellar for a few years. Excellent. £11.95

Heymann Löwenstein (Germany) Scheifferterrassen 2001
This dry "superQBA" Mosel wine sees some ageing in wood, form the German forest of Hackenheim. It has quite a deep, buttercup yellow colour and a nose that at first is rather sulphurous, which joins an intense, slaty minerality to present quite a pungent, un-fruity character. There are nuances of herbs and nettles, and of petrol. On the palate it is dry with stone-fruit flavours, particularly yellow plums. There's a nice green apple acidity and again that slaty character into a balanced finish. A singular style, and the sulphur was a bit overpowering at first, but I understand these wines age particularly well. Good/very good for now. £14.00

Heymann Löwenstein (Germany) Von Blauem 2001
Another bone-dry QBA, this again has a bit of sulphur, that blows off to reveal herbs and mineral aromas, but with an extra suggestion of raisined fruit and fig, as well as nettles. Rather more concentrated on the palate, there is dry orchard fruit, plum, and a long, concentrated finish with a toffeeish element and plenty of pithy, dry acidity. Very good indeed, but again needs time. £17.00

Weingut Selbach-Oster (Germany) Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese 2003
A much more familiar style of Mosel wine, with a lovely nose of fresh grapes, sweet floral nuances and crisp green apple fruit. There's just a hint of gooseberry and grassy character. Lovely purity and sweetness on the palate, with a plush nectarine quality of fruit and a grippy, concentrated peach-skin note. Beautifully poised, the acidity is authoritative but stays in the background, with sweet fruity concentration as the driving force. Very good indeed/excellent. £14.95

Weingut Selbach-Oster (Germany) Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 2003
A similar nose here, but perhaps even more concentration and a plush, broad, quite unctuous but harmonious focus of sweet pear and fragrant, talcum-powder aromas. There's a touch of Turkish delight here too. Viscose and rich on the palate, this has a brilliance of fruit that is dazzling: zingy, pure nectarine and peach are cut with a rapier-like acidity. The excess of fruit is more than matched into the finish, in a beautifully balanced wine. Excellent/Outstanding. £20.00

Weingut Selbach-Oster (Germany) Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, Riesling Auslese*** 2003
The three stars indicates this is the sweetest, richest cuvee. This is more reticent on the nose, with quite a subdued herbal and stone-fruit character. There is perhaps a little more minerality and restraint about this wine. The palate is much more full, with a glycerine richness and honeyed character, with sweet peach juice flavours and notes of mango and papaya. Lovely balance, as a shimmering acidity of minerals and lemon extends and lifts the finish. Excellent, with potential to develop. £42.00

Hewitson (Australia) Eden Valley Riesling 2003
This screwcapped wine is fresh, sherbetty and filled with a lime and summer flower fragrance. It is very elegant. Uncompromisingly dry as it strikes the palate, this is shot through with mineral and stony flavours, with a background of taut lime fruit. It is very crisp and full of tension, with a fine concentrated weight and length. This needs several years to really develop I would say, potentially very good indeed. £10.95

Isabel Estate (New Zealand) Marlborough Chardonnay 2002
This has a big, lush brazil nut and figgy nose, with masses of buttery oak and toast over white fruit. The palate is clean and precise, with melon and crisp Asian pear, and a medium-bodied, creamy texture. A lot of mineral and zesty lemon and lime pushes through, leaving the finish clean and savoury. Very good indeed. £13.95

rosé

Château Haut Rian (Bordeaux) 2003
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, this has a sweet summer pudding nose of strawberry and raspberry fruit, but also a welcome hint of earthiness and a little streak of herbal vegetal quality that adds complexity. Very dry on the palate, with savoury fruit notes of raspberry, plum and a dry, tannic bite. Good acidity here, playing against bittersweet fruit. Very good/very good indeed. £5.95

reds

Domaine de Coudoulet (France) Merlot, VdP D'Oc 2003
There is a noticeably green streak to this on the nose, which along with modest charcoally character, adds another dimension to solid black fruit. Quite savoury and dense, there is a plum-skin grippiness and some savoury, earthy texture. A food-friendly style, but only good. £4.95

2000 Domaine des Pensées Sauvages (France) Corbières
Sweet, creamy, minty blackcurrant on the nose is ripe, with a chocolate depth. There are some herbal nuances too. Concentrated on the palate, this is very dry and savoury. Thick liquoricy plum fruit and a brighter cherry aspect dominate, with a nicely tannic edge and good acids. This is fresh and succulent, and is very good/very good indeed. £6.95

Château de Cesseras (France) Minervois La Livinière 2001
Wine-pages columnist Rosemary George MW wrote very enthusiastically about the brand new "cru" of Minervois La Livinière in April 2003 (click here), and since then I have tasted about a half dozen examples, with a phenomenal hit-rate of excellent wines amongst them. This 100% Syrah has minty, sweet, bold, leathery fruit on the nose, backed-up by toasty oak and a lovely core of blackcurrant and damson plum. Concentrated and dense on the palate, it is rich, smooth and dark, with a svelte, polished appeal, lots of sweet chocolate-coated black fruit and a fine plummy depth. Tannins are fine and ripe, and the balance is excellent. This will undoubtedly cellar for five to eight years, but can be drunk now. £9.55

Mas de Daumas Gassac (France) Rouge 2000
Aimé Guibert produced his first Mas de Daumas Gassac in 1978, with the help of the renowned oenologist, Emile Peynaud. It became an almost overnight sensation, and one of the world's legendary wines. Around 80% of the blend is Cabernet Sauvignon, the rest an undisclosed melange of Bordeaux grapes and surprising bits and pieces including Pinot Noir. The wine is made exactly like a top Bordeaux, with ageing in oak barriques and fining with egg whites. This vintage has a lovely nose, filled with expressive cherry, kirsch and blackcurrant fruit, with a wild, herbal note and nuanced, savoury hints of tobacco and cedar. The palate is beautifully sweet-fruited and rich, with that smoky, dense concentration and black fruit quality. There is a muscular concentration, with ripe tannins and good acidity. Mas de Daumas Gassac themselves say their wines should either be drunk young (within three years of release) or after seven years. They should peak around their fifteenth year whilst being capable of maturing for half a century. £19.95

Domaine Louis Claude Desvignes (Beaujolais) Morgon La Voute St.Vincent 2001
A lovely perfume here, of fine raspberry fruit and a more vibrant, kirsch-like quality of minerals and cherry. There's a background suggestion of smoky sweetness. Fine palate too, with juicy raspberry dominating, and a firm, incisive acid structure. Taut tannins add balance in a lovely Beaujolais that is drinking well now. £8.45

Bourgogne Rouge, Domaine Sylvain Cathiard (Burgundy) 2001
Cathiard can do very little wrong, and this basic bottling, whilst expensive, shows class. There is plenty of aroma, with smoky, toasty oak and a backing of sweet-edged raspberry fruit. The palate is quite crisp and very clean, with a pure quality of fruit and just a background hint of briary, undergrowth quality. It is concentrated and really quite long, with balanced acidity and tannins, and is drinking well. Very good indeed. £13.75

Domaine Bertagna (Burgundy) Hautes Côtes de Nuits 2001
This is another Domaine that is on a bit of a hot streak. There is more earthy, vegetal, even slightly animal character on the nose here, with a suggestion of truffle and rich berry fruit. The palate is long and quite fine, with an orangy acidity freshening the picture, and a clean, crisp red fruit character. Very elegant and poised, this is lovely. Very good indeed. £10.95

Domaine Bertagna (Burgundy) Vougeot 1er Cru Les Cras 2000
Now layered with marzipanny oak, there is a good quality of solid, robust cherry fruit beneath and notes of briar and vegetation. On the palate more of that solidity, with firm tannins and an excellent acid structure dominating finely-etched red fruits. This has lots of quality and good length. Very good indeed. £33.95

Domaine Bertagna (Burgundy) Clos St Denis, Grand Cru 2000
50-year-old vines in this half-hectare vineyard produces this wine. It has a sweet, polished, chestnutty aromas with briar and old roses over ripe cherry fruit. There's even a suggestion of minty blackcurrant. There is fine quality here onto the palate, with a lovely creaminess and full texture. It is a rounded and generous style of Burgundy, but is also structured, with a core of mineral and tight-grained tannin into a long finish. Superb stuff, and excellent/outstanding. £56.95

Domaine de la Renjarde (Rhône) Côtes du Rhône 2000
Under the same ownership of Château La Nerthe in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, this blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault has a tight, focused nose of mineral and raspberry, with a tangy, juicy orange note too. There is a background of anise and other herbal, faintly medicinal aromas. On the palate it has plenty of jammy, but keen-edged raspberry fruit with a dry, savoury olive note and mineral acidity to sharpen. Quite plummy and deep into the finish, this is a nicely complex and very attractive wine at the price. Very good indeed/excellent. £7.95

Domaine Ferraton (Rhône) Crozes-Hermitage Le Grand Courtil 2000
Samuel Ferraton is the young, and energetic winemaker now in charge of winemaking here, who is revolutionising this old estate which is now bio-dynamic. This has a terrifically dense, creamy, dark nose of old polished wood and a schisty quality. The aromas are leathery and dry, and very savoury. On the palate the fruit really pushes through: it is polished and harmonious, but there is copious blue/black berry fruit and a background of mellow, unobtrusive oak. This retains elegance and subtlety whilst displaying plenty of density. Excellent. £13.95

Domaine Coursoudon (Rhône) St Joseph 2002
This opens with a layering of new oak aromas of toast, coffee and vanilla over sweet and minty blackberry and cherry fruit. On the palate there is a raft of savoury fruit that is quite dry, with a peppery edge and plenty of spice. Good balance and length too, and very good indeed. £13.95

Domaine de la Charbonnière (Rhône) Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Vieilles Vignes 2001
This wine is big, sweet and generous on the nose, with floral nuances to a solid core of Morello cherry and darker berry fruit. There's only a background note of tobacco and toast. on the palate plenty of juicy fruit sweetness and really good concentration. This has excellent quality, with a chocolaty richness emerging, some toast and strapping tannins framing the picture. Balanced, long and very good indeed/excellent. £25.95

Domaine Vins de Vienne (Rhône) Côte-Rôtie, Les Essartailles 2001
Vins de Vienne is the three-way collaboration between Yves Cuilleron, Pierre Gaillard and Franç'ois Villard. This cuvée spends 18-months in all-new oak barriques. Despite that, the dominant note on the nose is slate and schist, with a very polished, muscular briary fruit quality, though plenty of sweet blackcurrant starts to emerge. The palate is concentrated and complex, with a really sinewy, muscular quality of chewy fruit that is sweet and dense. Good purity here, as the fruit pushes through the balanced, very long finish. Very good indeed/excellent. £32.95

Corte Rugolin (Italy) Valpolicella Classico 2003
The estate of Bruno Coati, who's son and daughter, Frederico (Vineyards) and Elena (winemaking) are now in charge. This is quite cool, dry and classy on the nose, with a savoury plum and cherry fruit quality. On the palate it is all about clean, crisp fruit that is quite ripe and full, but with a polished, smooth tannic background and lovely harmony. Very good/very good indeed. £7.45

Corte Rugolin (Italy) Valpolicella Classico Superiore di Ripasso 2000
Ripasso is a method of re-fermenting a wine on dry grape skins to give a bitter-cherry and slightly raisined quality. This aromatic wine has a pronounced raisiny, fruit-compote and currant note to dried herbs, cherries and a sweet impression of raspberry and chocolate. On the palate it has lovely ripeness and sweet edges to a raft of raspberry and bright redcurrant fruit, layered with plush bramble, chocolate and exotic spice notes. The tannins are polished and subtle, and there is a lovely lift of cherry acidity to give perfect balance. With good length and masses of chewy texture, this is a lovely Valpolicella that will age five to eight years. Very good indeed. £12.25

Corte Rugolin (Italy) Amarone Classico Monte Danieli 1998
Elena Coati makes this wine from five hectares in the heart of Valpolicella Classico. Vinification is traditional, although small oak barrels are used for maturing the wines. This has a big, sweet, highly-concentrated nose of currants, dried cherries and Chinese tea. There's a herbal note, and plenty of deep-set fruit. It has gorgeous sweetness of fruit on the palate, with pastille-like qualities then a wonderful thrust of dry, sinewy, plum-skin and bittersweet cherry succulence. The mid-palate fills out with a chocolaty weight, and the richness pushes through into a well-balanced, crisp finish. Very long and satisfying, this excellent wine has a heady 15.5% alcohol, and will drink now - 2012 quite comfortably. Excellent. £19.95

Quinta do Cotto (Portugal) Douro 2001
A blend of traditional Douro grapes, this has quite a wild, herbal, sauvage streak with plenty of aniseed and herbal notes and cherry fruit. On the palate currants and herbs dominates, with lots of drying, imposing tannins and a tobacco and woodsmoke quality. It is really quite meaty through the mid-palate, developing leathery, robust fruitiness and lots of earthy character. Ripe fruit and good balance combine to make this a very moreish wine. Very good indeed. £12.45

1998 Latorrevieja, Bodegas Garciarevelo (Spain) Crianza
From Rueda, this is 100% Tempranillo aged in American oak. It is quite rounded and open on the nose, with spice and sweet coconutty quality overlaid on dry raspberry and blackcurrant fruit. It has a big, dry, robustly fruity palate with plenty of juicy cherry and earthy flavours. It is warm, spicy and mouthfilling, with a framework of grippy tannin and acidity. Very impressive wine in the Rioja reserva mould, at a good price. £6.95

La Rioja Alta (Spain) Gran Reserva 904 Rioja 1994
One of my favourite Riojas, 904 is produced only in exceptional vintages, from a blend of 85% Tempranillo with Graciano and Mazuelo. It is matured for nine years before release. Coconut and marzipan dominate the nose at first, with slightly volatile notes followed by a weight of tobacco, earth and ripe red fruit. There is great sweetness of fruit on the palate, joined by layers of dried herb and grilled meat complexity. This is very savoury, the mid-palate filling in with keen acidity and a spicy tannic structure. I would say this is a very good, but not great 904, and it is drinking well now. Very good indeed. £26.95

Vega Sicilia (Spain) Valbuena Ribera del Duero 1998
Vega Sicilia's Valbuena is mostly Tempranillo, with some Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. This has a big, cedary, blackcurrant-infused nose with a very solid, leathery quality and lots of ripeness. That intense cassis-like fruit is very pure. On the palate it has a creamy texture and a slightly fudge-like quality of harmonious, sweet fruit. Dense and powerful, this is very classy stuff where background tannins and cherry acidity add sharpness to a long finish. This needs time (Maybe a decade?). For now it is very good indeed/excellent, but is potentially outstanding for those with patience. £61.00

Isabel Estate (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Marlborough 2002
Massively toasty and coffee-infused oak dominates, with some earthy character and a core of cherry fruit. The palate has a silky texture, but is medium-bodied with sweet fruit sitting quite harmoniously before smoke and spice builds up on the palate. With fine sweetness at its core, this moderately long Pinot is very good indeed. £17.25

King Estate (USA, Oregon) Pinot Noir 2000
The entry-level Pinot from Oregon's King Estate comprises both estate and purchased fruit. It spends 12 months in French oak, about a quarter new. It is quite rounded and sweet, with plenty of vanilla over leafy strawberry and a delicate cherry character. On the palate it is medium-bodied, with a really nice depth of fruit and a silky, black chocolate density. The tannins are gentle but effective, and the balance is good in this approachable, fruity Pinot. Very good indeed. £12.95

King Estate (USA, Oregon) Pinot Noir Reserve 2000
Made from estate fruit from two vineyards, this spends 16 months in French oak, again about a quarter new. It seems very much sweeter and more dense on the nose, though with a violet and rose-hip fragrance as well as solid cherry and kirsch fruit. There's a little touch of mint-humbug, and a background earthiness that is very attractive. On the palate this is an undeniably hedonistic style of Pinot, with sweet, unctuous cassis and bittersweet plummy fruit, a great mocha-coffee support of oak and gentle but balanced tannins and acidity. Very fine and delicious, and excellent. £17.75

King Estate (USA, Oregon) Domaine Vineyard Pinot Noir 2000
The top wine takes 100% organic fruit from the King Estate Vineyard, and spends 16 months in oak. The nose is big and ripe, but is also elegant and aromatic with a really lovely perfume of old roses, briar, and woodland notes of truffle and leaves. There is plenty of sweet, kirsch-like fruit too. On the palate this is lovely, with an initial hit of fantastically sweet, ripe cherry fruit soon joined by bittersweet plum, cherry skin and softer chocolate and tobacco notes. There's a hint of gaminess here and plenty of warming spicy, in a wine that is sumptuous and very flattering, but retains elegance. Delicious for current drinking. Excellent. £34.95

Weinert (Argentina) Carrascal 2001
A blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Sweet, fudgy, very distinctive herb-tinged aromas on the nose. The palate is deep and damsony, with a big lick of chocolate and a robust, quite rustic fruitiness with savoury, bloody edges and a hint of something herbal. There's a bit of cherry lift to the acidity here, and solid tannins add up to an impressive package in terms of "bangs per buck". Very good indeed, and great value. £6.25

Hewitson (Australia) Miss Harry Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvèdre 2002
In screwcap, the fruit for this is mostly from dry, bush-grown vines aged 80-years or more. The nose is herbal, with a green edge to keen raspberry fruit, that is inter-weaved with a jammier, black fruit quality. It is perhaps a touch medicinal. The palate has lots of cherry and red fruits, and the mid-palate fills out with more depth, where earthy, dark flavours add a lot of interest. Sweet fruit is the driving force however, into a well-balanced finish. Very good/very good indeed. £12.95

Hewitson (Australia) l'Oizeau Shiraz, McLaren Vale 2001
Sourced from McLaren Vale vines of between 40- and 80-years of age, l'Oizeau is aged in French oak. It has just a huge nose: a superripe, minty, chocolaty blackcurrant blast with a bit of volatility and a super-sweet depth of violet and black fruit. The palate is fittingly dense and liquorice-deep, with a solid raft of black fruit and fantastic sweetness. This is vibrant stuff, with a core of shimmering cassis and real focus and staying power. Long, very polished and impressive, this also manages fine balance and is outstanding. £15.75

Hewitson (Australia) Old Garden Mourvèdre 2001
These ancient Mourvèdre bush vines were planted the Barossa in 1853. They are unirrigated and produce tiny yields of super-concentrated fruit. Fantastically deep concentration on the nose, with powerful, sweet cherry and dark berry fruit and a characteristic meaty, bloody edge - but this is well into the background along with some chocolate and coffee ground oak, and the driving force is ripe, pure fruit. On the palate it is creamy and dense with a fantastic balance of peppery oak and tannins, good acidity and abundant fruit. A real show stopper that is drinking well now, but will cellar until 2015 at least. Excellent. £16.75

The Observatory (South Africa) Carignan/Syrah 2002
The Observatory is the project of Tom Lubbe, who is also winemaker at Domaine Gauby in the South of France. Lubbe follows a determinedly "artisan" winemaking philosophy, decrying "chemical confections" and harking back to his training in Bordeaux and Burgundy. Individual berries were selected by the dozen-strong cellar team, and the grapes were crushed by foot for this fantastically aromatic wine, with a soaring, bright nose of cherry, and wild, herbal, exotically spice fruit with floral nuances and chocolaty notes. The palate is supple and savoury, with loads of cherry and tight, tense, muscular structure. Fine tannins and keen acidity play against the flesh and sweetness of the fruit, and whilst it is plush and full into the finish, it stays pin-sharp and supple. Excellent stuff which again, is drinking beautifully, but will cellar until 2010. £17.95

The Observatory (South Africa) Syrah 2001
Berry Bros only have limited stocks of this, otherwise it would have been in my last "wine-shop" offer. The nose is impressively rounded and full, with loads of fruit playing against a mineral and schisty quality that is remarkably like a fine northern Rhône wine. It is very dense and concentrated on the palate, with layers of pure raspberry fruit, a big malt and chocolate undertow, but that mineral acidity fine-tuning the sweetness into a very harmonious finish. Excellent. £22.95

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