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Justerini and Brooks Tasting

by Tom Cannavan, 11/00

This was the Christmas tasting of Justerini and Brooks, British wine merchants with stores in London and Edinburgh, plus a by-the-case warehouse close to Edinburgh city centre. There was a wide range of wines on show, many of them exclusive to J&B.

Sparkling

Forget Brimont (France) Champagne 1er Cru - £15.50
Lots of toast here, walnut, butter and baked apple pastry, a nice nettly character too. Masses of cushiony bubbles and good citrus fruit rounded out by mellow toasty flavours. Good.

Whites

Moulin de Ciffre (France) Viognier VdP d'Oc 1999 - £6.45
Pale straw gold with quite subtle aromatics. There are notes of flowers, spice and some sweet, weighty peach. A full texture and slightly mealy quality in the mouth, good rich and lush fruit and a definite kick of spice in the finish.

Fontaleoni (Italy) Vernaccia di San Gimignano Casanova 1997 - £7.50
Pale lemon colour. Notes of herbs, nuts and lots of citrus on the nose. The palate is quite rounded and generous with apple fruit and a streak of pithy citrus acidity. Good length and concentration. Good.

Lucien Crochet (France) Sancerre 1998 - £8.50
This has an appealing nose with fine herbal aromatics and lots of sweet, crunchy lychee and gooseberry fruit. Balanced on the palate, it is sweet-fruited with good purity and well judged grapefruity acidity. A very nice Sancerre.

Pencarrow (NZ) Chardonnay 1998 - £7.95
This is a second label of the well-known Palliser Estate. There's an overwhelming impression of buttered toast on the nose, layered of sweet, peachy fruit. Lots of creamy, full-bodied peach on the palate too , a little nutty, peach kernal quality and good balance ultimately with freshening acidity.

Domaine Laurent Tribut (France) Chablis 1998 - £8.90
There's a nice streak of minerality here over keen, crisp apple fruit. The palate is quite rich and full, there's just a buttery edge to crisp green apple and citrus and an orangey nuance into a long, tangy finish. Very good.

Coste-Caumartin (France) St-Romain "Sous le Château" 1997 - £10.50
I wasn't sure what to make of this. A very, very dank, vegetal, dirty nose that almost suggested the wine was faulty, but then cleaner fruit on the palate. From a well-respected producer, but a controversial style if the wine is sound.

Château de Fuissé (France) Pouilly-Fuissé 1997 - £15.00
Lovely clean, ripe nose showing fine, succulent pear fruit and little hints of nutmeg and spice. Poised and elegant on the palate, this has fine fruit, concentration and length. A lovely style of southern Burgundy Chardonnay.

Albert Grivault (France) Meursault 1997 - £24.00
Chewy, buttery, nectarine and peach kernal aromas. Nutty and fine. Quite rich and fat on the palate, there is a fine quality of orchard fruit, but it seems just a touch hollow on the mid palate as if the fruit to really flesh it out is just lacking slightly.

Scotchmans Hill (Australia) Chardonnay 1996 - £11.50
Much brighter tropical fruit aromas over sweet, coconutty oak. Distinctly New World. Sweet and rich fruit on the palate too: lots of peach and pineapple chunks with that creamy vanillin rounding out the moderately long and low-acid finish. Good.

Palliser Estate (NZ) Sauvignon Blanc 1999 - £9.95
Really juicy, crisp lime and lychee nose, lots of bursting ripe fruit tinged with a gooseberry tartness. Quite full-bodied, this is powerfull, full-on stuff with plenty of sweet, punchy fruit and a backbone of balancing grapefruit acidity. Good.

Egon Müller (Germany, M-S-R) Scharzhof Riesling 1998 - £9.00
Justerinin and Brooks notes don't say, and I forgot to note the QmP level of this wine. I'd guess at Kabinett, possibly Spätlese. Quite a distinctive mineral, lime and sherbet nose. On the palate a weight of sweet, well-focused fruit carries through with that slaty, mineral edge. But the overriding impression is of sweet, ripe apple and pear, with good balance and a long, pure finish. Lovely.

Crawford River (Australia) Riesling 1998 - £9.90
This has that toasty, almost sesame-seed note that almost suggests oak in some Australian Rieslings. It is dry, with lovely succulence of lime and apple fruit, little nuances of waxiness and taut lime acidity. Good.

Reds

Domaine Teisserenc (France) Cuveé de l'Arjolle - £5.45
This red from the Vin de Pays de Côtes de Thongues has lots of Syrah character with charcoally, peppery fruit on the nose and plenty of bright raspberry on the palate. Good balance with soft tannins and fresh acidity. Easy to drink and good.

Daviddi (Italy) Rosso di Montepulciano 1998 - £8.50
Quite firm cherry fruit with hints of tobacco and leather. Nice bright fruit on the palate. Good body and plenty of warm, southern fruitiness before drying tannins. Quite long and stylish. Very good.

Ramos-Pintos (Portugal, Douro) Duas Quintas 1997 - £5.95
Distinctive smokiness and earthiness with slightly gamey notes and lots of robust, earthy fruit. Similar qualities on the palate. Although this is quite rustic with grippy tannins, it has plenty of character and interest.

Pata Negra (Spain) Gran Reserva 1991 - £6.45
Sweet custardy vanilla and ripe, juicy berry fruit. This is very Rioja-like, with a velvet-textured palate of creamy berry fruit and nice smoky quality. Good.

Altos las Hormigas (Argentina) Malbec 1999 - £5.90
Good example of a dense, meaty Malbec with a fine, sweet, ripe core of blue/black fruit on nose and palate, full-body and good balance. Very good.

Eaglet (South Africa) Pinotage 1998 - £6.50
Pinotage from the funky, gamey, animal spectrum with pepper, earth and berries on the nose. Good ripeness with pepper-edged fruit, plenty of stuffing and considerable depth into a decent finish. Good.

Leconfield (Australia) Shiraz 1998 - £11.95
Typical mulberry, pepper, spice and currant fruit on the nose. Lovely. Quite densely packed with vaguely baked fruit, but good balance and length. Good.

Clos des Cazaux (France) Vacqueyras "Cuveé St-Roch" 1997 - £7.50
Lots of schisty, charcoally terroir evident here. Really packed with gravel and earth aromas. Biting tannins on the palate, but then a savoury quality of leathery black fruit emerges. Good.

René Rostaing (France) Côte-Rôtie 1994 - £21.00
Gamy qualities again, some beef and blood, a sweet core of minerals and stones. Lacking some fruit on the palate, but there is some power and richness before grippy tannins grasp the finish. An average year for Northern Rhône, so though it has appeal now, I wouldn't expect the fruit to outlast the tannins on this.

Picardy (Australia) Pinot Noir 1998 - £12.50
Quite sweet, earthy, damp aromas. A touch of animal and autumnal berry fruit. Rich palate, with slightly clumsy acidity, but quite good.

Henri Prudhon (France, Burgundy) St-Aubin 1997 - £9.90
I quite like Prudhon's white St-Aubin, and the nose of this has a deal of raspberry, violet and soft fruits over subtle mineral and dry earth aromas. The palate is a bit acidic and fine tannins coat the mouth leaving a rather lean impression before some crisp raspberry fruit. Quite good.

Frank Follin (France, Burgundy) Aloxe Corton 1996 - £17.00
Distinctive browning to the colour. Nose is quite gamy and has a little brown sugar sweetness. The palate doesn't flatter at present with very tight acids and a lack of richness. There's a sweet cherry and earth core and its medium-bodied format is quite elegant, but only quite good.

Château Robin (France) Côtes de Castillon Bordeaux 1995 - £9.90
Tight, creamy nose. Well-focused with crunchy blackcurrant fruit and a little gravelly core. Some cedary qualities. The palate is full and flavoursome with quite a ripe fruitiness and creamy texture. Good balance and very nice claret for current drinking.

Château Charlemagne (France) Fronsac Bordeaux 1995 - £18.00
Sweet, ripe and quite classy claret fruit on the nose. Little hints of overripeness with a a jammy intensity. A little hint of pomegranate on the palate and decent fruit and balance, as well as moderately good length. Good.

Sweet

Aroona Valley (Australia) Botrytis Semillon 1996 - £3.95 per 37.5cl
Very disntinctive. There's an odd note here: something herbal or like roasted pine-nuts, but beneath there is honey, lots of fig and rich, lush quince jelly and walnut. The palate is sweet with overtones of toffee and honey, plum and orange. The finish is a little short. Quite good.