2000 Beaujolais, Olivier Ravier £4.99
A good deal of minerality on the nose with raspberry fruit. Good fruit on the palate, strawberry and hints of sweet, chocolaty richness along with a herbal edge and more of that raspberry fruit and acidity. Very good Beaujolais.
1999 Monthelie 1er Cru 'Les Duresses', Domaine de Château de Puligny-Montrachet £10.79
Nice, sweet strawberry and custardy oak nose. Hints of violet and fat, ripe cherries. Good fruit on the palate, with a tannic backbone propping up a round, ripe fruit quality. Very good.
1997 Ptomaine Des Blagueurs Syrah, VdP d'Ardèche £4.99
Charcoal and sweet black fruits on the nose. The palate is quite silky with a fat, chocolaty, soft character. There's a bit of dusty tannin, though it perhaps lacks a little acidity. Good.
2000 Labeye 'Cuvée Gauthier', Minervois £4.99
Good, ripe, thick blackcurranty fruit with notes of cherry. Thick, dry and stylish on the palate with good fruit, a plummy acidity and decent length. Good/very good.
1999 Camplazen L'Ermitage Vignes des Deux Soleils, VdP d'Oc £6.99
Big, sweet, coffee nose with earthy notes, dark spice and pepper and plum. Rich, spicy palate with dry tannins and a nicely sour plum depth. Real concentration, a mouth-coating texture and lovely tannins. Very good indeed.
2000 Château Les Deux Terres 'Cuvée des Pins', Minervois £8.99
Vegetal nose exhibiting cabbagy, overripe aromas. a big, dry, dusty palate and really great intensity of black fruit. Needs time to shed some of that dusty tannic grip, but should be a keeper and come good over 5 years. Very good.
1998 Château Puech-Haut, Coteaux du Languedoc £9.99 FW
Sweet, minty, super-ripe blackcurrant nose. A little slick of cassis on the palate, and again big blockbuster tannins. There's a real grippiness, but plenty of deep, serious fruit too. Very good indeed.
2000 Clos Petite Bellane Les Echalas, Valréas £8.99
Nicely earthy charcoal edginess to cassis-like, sweet blackcurrant fruit. There's a hint of herbal complexity too and on the palate this is deep and very fine with inky concentration but not over-extracted. Great complexity and good length. Very good indeed/excellent.
1999 Château de Beaucastel, Châteauneuf-du-Pape £25.99
The latest Beaucastel has an inviting nose filled with sweet, juicy fruit; raspberry and blackcurrant and a sweetness of cooked summer fruits. Smooth, spicy palate has a lovely weight of fruit with a nice combination of elegance and power. Good concentration and fine balance. An excellent Beaucastel and one for laying down.
1999 Côte Rôtie 'Les Jumelles', Paul Jaboulet Aîné £25.99*
A great sense of minerality over raspberry fruit, with good, bright, peppery red fruit quality and a supporting background of oak. On the palate dry and intense with a great, serious depth of structured, savoury black fruit and balanced acidity. Very good indeed/excellent.
1999 Hermitage 'La Chapelle', Paul Jaboulet Aîné £47.99*
Gloriously focused nose of ripe, sweet, glossy blackcurrant fruit. Coats the palate with thick, dusty tannins and an intensity of black fruit again. There's an orangy acidity, little hints of earthy minerality and sweet, overripe notes of jam and liquorice. Deeply impressive stuff. Excellent.
2000 Cruz de Piedra Garnacha, Calatayud £3.99
Jammy nose with a little ozone/salty quality. Big fruity palate that is juicy and sweet, with drying tannins. Good.
1997 Glorioso Reserva, Rioja £9.99
Attractive vanillin and sweet berry nose. Lush, with a peppery quality to the fruit and lots of bold, black, crunch. Fine quality and a nice balance between ripe fruit, a mineral core and plummy acidity with that rounding-out of the finish. Very good.
1998 Alejandro Fernández 'Dehesa La Granja', Vino de Mesa £10.99 Ltd
From the man who makes the famed Pesquera in Ribera del Duero, this has a deep, attractive chocolate and baked plum-pie nose. There's a big, oaky vanillin spiciness. On the palate masses of chocolaty tannins and a palate-coating texture to sweet black fruits. Very impressive and very good/very good indeed.
1991 Marqués de Cáceres Gran Reserva, Rioja £14.99
Nose is suffused with sweet, spicy American oak. There is a layering of vanilla on top of ripe fruit. Powerful palate is a bit of a monster with tannic grip, leather, tobacco and tight, focused, plummy fruit. Good length and concentration. This needs time. Very good indeed.
2000 Cortes de Cima, Alentejo £9.99*
Crunchy raspberry fruit that is creamy and sweet with a mint-humbug overlay of new oak. Fine ripeness on the palate with bold, fresh fruit and good acidity. Very long and really very good indeed.
2000 Cortes de Cima Incógnito, Alentejo £14.99*
A deep vein of chocolate-dipped raspberry fruit is edged with charcoal and earthiness, but the dominating influence is that terrifically sweet, pure fruit with notes of cassis and blackberry. The palate is hugely endowed with fat, rich, sweet blackcurrant fruit. This is deliciously powerful and open, yet there is concentration and structure with elegant tannins and real complexity. Hedonistic and excellent/outstanding.
1999 Ktima Kir Yianni Syrah, Macedonia £8.99*
Cool, elegant, but rich black fruit nose. The palate has creamy blackberry and spicy, peppery fruit and massive, dusty tannic presence. Huge and impressive of its style, this is very good indeed.
2000 Terra dei Messapi, Brindisi Rosso £4.99*
Bright, juicy cherry fruit with little nuances of chocolate and autumn berries that are fudge-like and deep. Big dry tannins dominate the palate, but this weighty wine has a good quality of black fruit and nice length. Very good.
1999 Terra dei Messapi, Salice Salentino £4.99*
Baked plum pie aromas that are dark, deep and juicy suggesting damsons and black cherries. A little bit baked on the palate, dry and a touch sluggish, but has character. Good.
2000 Terra dei Messapi Primitivo Salento £4.99*
Herbal nose with soft strawberry fruit, spice and a little floral sweetness. Big, soft, full palate that is quite silky-textured with cherry fruit, a little bite of acidity and lots of class for the money. Very good indeed.
1998 Renwood 'Lindsteadt' Barbera, Amador County £16.99
Opaque crimson, almost black at core. Very rich, juicy, mint and berry nose. Highly aromatic with tarry, slightly medicinal notes, toffee, fig and ripe berry fruit. Lovely. The palate is quite full and rich with masses of raspberry and sweet plum fruit. Slightly baked quality, but loads of concentration, spice and lip-tingling tannins. Good acidity here and balance. Very good indeed/ excellent.
2000 Nepenthe Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills £12.99 FW
Fine nose. Slightly vegetal quality, but nose of love-hearts, rose-hips and lovely rich, full, smooth strawberry and redcurrant fruit. This has lovely quality on the palate too with juicy acidity that adds and edge through the mid-palate, but exotic spiciness, tannins and vivid fruit offer fine balance into a long finish. Excellent.
1999 Nepenthe The Fugue, Adelaide Hills £12.99 FW
Sweet, ripe, almost jammy fruit quality with hints of baked plum. Creamy and ripe palate with a rich mouth-feel. This has a cherryish and raspberry brightness at its core, with tight, controlling tannins and fresh acidity. Well-balanced, savoury and very good indeed.
Bordeaux 1998 vintageI tasted several of these from barrel when I visited Bordeaux in 1999, so nice to reassess some very promising young wines.
1998 Château Fontenil, Fronsac £12.99
Dense, plummy, blackcurranty nose that is very deep with nuances of cedar. Mostly this is driven by dense black fruit that adds a chocolaty depth of extraction on the palate, some plum-skin roughness and plenty of depth. There are ripe tannins and this finishes with class and length. Very good indeed in a fruit-driven, powerful style.
1998 Château La Gaffelière, St. Emilion Grand Cru £29.99
Massively sweet, creamy, ripe nose. Loaded with blackcurrant and cassis, crunchy, vibrant fruit. Deep seam of black fruit on the palate: damsons and ripe, fat, juicy berries. Oak is only an undertone. Very fine and very good indeed/excellent.
1998 Château Beauregard, Pomerol £29.99
Classically savoury cedar-wood and cassis nose. Lovely depth of coffee-bean, hints of violets. Large-scaled wine on the palate with thick, sweet tannins and a pure core of black fruits. This has good acidity and there is a terrific sense of brooding complexity that suggests this well be outstanding given time. Excellent.
1998 Château Lynch-Bages, Pauillac Grand Cru Classé £29.99
Nose of quite bright, sweet, focused black fruit. There's an underpinning by creamy oak and a little bit of game and pencil-shavings. The palate is very tight and focused with glossy layers of black fruit and a little vegetal, animal note of interest. Fine tannins and length. Very good indeed.
1998 Château Léoville-Barton, St-Julien Cru Classé £32.99
Lovely depth on the nose here; tremendously creamy and dense. Powerful palate of cedary black fruit, chocolate and deep, bittersweet blackcurrants. Thick texture is enlivened by good tannins and balanced acidity. Very good indeed.
1998 Château Petit Village, Pomerol £39.99
Juicy, full and very ripe fruit again. Quite large-scaled, with nice vegetal overtones to a massive core of fat, but stylish black fruit. Lovely silky tannins and good concentration leading to a long, well-balanced finish. Very good indeed.
1998 Château Figeac, St. Emilion 1er Grand Cru Classé £49.99
Much more cedary, coffee-bean savouriness at first on the nose, but classic with a core of blackcurrant and an almost minty, cassis ripeness. Fine fruit on the palate, this is structured with good tannins and acidity and a very long finish. Very good indeed/excellent.
1998 Château Angélus, St. Emilion 1er Grand cru Classé £59.99
Sweetly-ripe with a density of blue/black fruit, little floral highlights and a precise, tight, blueberry and plum savouriness. Very dark, rich and bittersweet on the palate with notes of chocolate, liquorice, plum, damson and a little earthiness. Structured and finely-balanced, this is long, serious and definitely built for the long haul. Excellent.