Tom Cannavan's   

Glasgow dinner, February 2014

by Tom Cannavan, 02/2014

One of the huge successes of is its discussion forums. The UK Wine Forum in particular is extraordinarily active, both with online discussion and with real-life tastings, lunches and dinners organised by the community - and generally known as 'offlines'. These notes are from an offline in Glasgow, where a dozen members of the forum gathered in the excellent West End restaurant, Cail Bruich. As is always the case with these events, all of the wines were brought along by the participants, with an extraordinary display of generosity given the rarity, value and - most of all - quality of the bottles shared on the night.

Cail Bruich certainly did not let us down with the food. Our menu for the evening is below, and absolutely everything tasted as good as it looks:

Canapés: Haggis bon bon, Onion & Mustard gougère, Beetroot macaroon

Amuse bouche: Foie gras royale, blood orange, ginger crumb

Loch Duart smoked salmon, cucumber, burnt apple and rye

Caramelised scallop, cauliflower, capers, raisins and curry

Breast of Goosnargh duck, spelt grain, smoked celeriac, cep and truffle

Braised beef short rib, braised onions, salt-baked carrot, beef jus

Mango & passion fruit crème, exotic fruit brunoise, passion fruit sorbet

Coffee & Petit Fours

the wines

These wines came from the cellars of the participants at the dinner, and many are not currently available. However some are still in stock with specialist merchants or auction houses, so I have provided indicative current prices for these vintages, and for more recent vintages if the specific wine is no longer available.

sparkling and white wines

Pol Roger Pol Roger, Blanc de Blancs Champagne 2002, France
Wonderfully tight aromatics, taut citrus and apple, but so salty and mineral-clean. Masses of acidity on the palate - sharp as a tack with a huge thrust of orange and lemon striking the palate and pushing through. The yeast and biscuit is developing on this, but the vitality and nervous energy is extraordinary. This feels like it will be close to immortal, and I would leave it for another five years before broaching. 93-94/100. Around 60 per bottle. See all stockists on

Cape Point Vineyards, Isliedh 2007, South Africa
Massively pungent green core to this - a real asparagus and green bean. There's a smokiness and flinty note. And then onto the palate it has a hugely lean core, pithy, tight. The oak sitting beneath. A wine with huge peaks of pyrotechnic aroma and flavour that is arguably a touch disjointed because of that, but it is singular, concentrated and serious too. 90-91/100. Around 33 per bottle. See all stockists on

Müller-Catoir, Haardter Bürgergarten Riesling Spätlese 1998, Germany
From the excellent Müller-Catoir estate in the Pfalz, this has a delightful beeswax and delicate floral nose: an almost freesia fragrance. The palate has wonderful luscious ripeness. A cut of orange through the fat lemon. Immense charm, delicate and yet substantially fruity with great length and purity. 91/100.

Dr Loosen, Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese 2005, Germany
Much tighter and leaner on the nose, much more leanly focused as one might expect from the Mosel. A touch of herb and rosy red apple fruit comes through. Lovely sweetness, and soft. There's structure here from the tongue-tingling acidity and subtle concentration of the fruit is superb, and there is delicate spice into the finish. 92-93/100. Around 30 per bottle. See all stockists on

Newton-Johnson, Family Vineyards Chardonnay 2012, South Africa
Really lovely nose, buttery brioche rich with Burgundian figgy notes and layering of fat over a lean orchard fruit core. Immensely taut and focused palate with such a huge intensity and pithy core of acidity. Shimmering. Long and gorgeous stuff that is very young. 92/100. Around 19 per bottle. See all stockists on

red wines

cantemerle Gros Frère et Soeur, Clos Vougeot, Musigni Grand Cru 1996, France
Beautiful nose, with an animal edge. That touch of game and a certain suggestion of solidity. The gentlest touch of Brettanomyces perhaps? But a lovely aromatic picture. The palate has real structure, with a lean citrus backbone. Very tight and sinewy. But there is flesh and there is pleasure. Maybe not for ageing any longer. 90-91/100. Around 100 per bottle. See all stockists on

Robert Arnoux, Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 2002, France
Quite a funky, truffly farmyard character with real spice and richness. There's plenty of funk but there's immense fruit concentration and lovely velvet texture to fill it with charm, spice and real richness. Delicious. Not without structure and backbone but there's elegance too with a cherry skin tartness and a lovely twist of bittersweet liquorice. Gorgeous and youthful still. 94/100. Around 130 per bottle. See all stockists on

Château Cantemerle, Macau, Bordeaux 1966, France
Old colour, some orange but still also a nice healthy ruby at the core. Inviting nose - a little oxidation and plenty of gamy, truffly notes, dusty and touched by green olive and bracken. There's a suggestion of sweet black fruit and a lovely wisp of tobacco and cedar coming through. This opened in the glass, the aromas becoming more distinct over time. In the mouth it is a touch thin, a little more lemony acid grip than you might wish for, but this has real charm, the softer red fruits are there and a gentle smokiness. Spicy notes too as the tannins and acidity give this a little grip and structure. 93/100. Around 120 per bottle. See all stockists on

Château Batailley, Pauillac, Bordeaux 1990, France
Much more buoyant fruit. Round, with a hint of plummy richness and the oak more obvious at this stage. That touch of dusty cabernet adds an edge. But this feels very young in the mouth. The tannins tight and a real grip of sandy tannin. Delicious sweet fruit reasserts in the finish with spice and that gravelly, earthy edge. This needs time I think, but those tannins are 24 years old, so the fruit has to outlast them. 91-92/100. Not available. Around 50 per bottle for recent vintages. See all stockists on

Almaviva 2003, Chile
The joint project between Concha y Toro and Philippine Rothschild of Bordeaux, much more youthful of course, a much more primary and dark-skinned, dense, blue-black fruit with intense cassis and buoyant damson bittersweetness. Beautiful palate, rich with glycerine and extract, a hint of mint or eucalyptus, then a leathery touch too adding a savoury, serious note. Very young. 92-93/100. Around 120 per bottle. See all stockists on

sweet wines

Rutherford & Miles Château Doisy-Daëne, Barsac 2001, France
A touch of brown sugar, a touch butter and mint. And then lovely delicate tropical fruit. The palate has huge sweet intensity - it is tightly defined and beautifully sculpted, tight and precise sweet concentration across a base that is slatey and mineral. Real length and shimmering concentration. 93/100. Around 40 per bottle. See all stockists on

Château Rieussec, Sauternes 1999, France
Slightly more open and luscious. More tropical and bountiful, with barley sugar and delicate leaf tea and tobacco. Such lush, rich texture. A fuller, bigger, more enveloping style with some leafy and chicory-touched bittering notes that are delicious and a huge, glycerine-rich but tangy finish. 93/100. Around 45 per bottle. See all stockists on

Rutherford & Miles Fine Old Malmsey, Madeira, Portugal
A bottle of my own, bought from a private cellar and probably dating from circa 1960-1970. From contacting the current owners of the Rutherford & Miles brand, The Madeira Wine Company, they guessed this would have been bottled as a '5-Year-Old', not a vintage wine, but a relatively inexpensive Madeira with an average of five years in wood. The colour was very good - a nice amber/orange glow to the tawny hue. The nose was immediately inviting, with that typical whiff of shellac and old polished furniture before walnut and prune, and some leaf tea delicacy. On the palate still masses of sweetness and glycerine richness, the prune and juicy raisin flavours delicious, that mellow nutty background, and good concentration of citrus acidity. Surprisingly good. 91/100. Not available.