Rhône and Rhône clones
by Tom Cannavan, 05/97
Wines were served in 4 groups: white blends,
viogniers, red blends and syrah/shiraz. The last flight was
exceptionally good. Overall, the new world showed as more
up-front and, in some cases, stylised, whereas the french wines
were on the whole a little more subdued and classical. The
whites confused me slightly: ranging in
price from £9 to £25 they were all pleasant
drinking, but at these prices "pleasant" isn't enough - I'd be looking
for a more serious experience, and I probably wouldn't be looking here.
Some very impressive, individual wines on show amongst the reds.
Flight 1, white blends
Mitchelton (Victoria, Australia), Mitchelton III White 1995 - £8.49
(marsanne,with a little roussanne and mourvedre)
Very pale golden colour. Melon scents buried
beneath big, oaky and alcoholic nose. Rich on the palate, full bodied and
again lots of new oak flavour. A wee bit too much like a slightly
flabby chardonnay for my liking.
Marchand, Châteauneuf-du-Pape "Clos des Pontifes" Blanc 1995 - £14.99
(mostly roussanne). Darker golden colour. Restraint on the nose, less oak. Rounded in
the mouth with a not unpleasant sour edge and a squirt of lemon
acidity. Spice in the long-ish finish. A more complex wine.
Flight 2, viognier
La Jota (Howell Mountain, Napa), Viognier 1995 - £16.49
Pale straw gold. Very pungent aromatic nose - not soft or flowery.
Richly honeyed wine, long and seems sweet with an alcoholic
burn on the tongue as it finishes.
Rostaing, Condrieu "La Bonnette" 1995 - £24.99
Very similar colour. A little deeper. Hints of roses on the nose, but
not as fragrant as the La Jota. Very pure on the palate but I found
it rather overbearing. At £25 I'm not sure who would be buying
this - does it keep? does it go with particular food? Is it really
Flight 3, red blends
Bonny Doon (Santa Cruz Mountains), Le Cigare Volante 1994 - £12.99
Deep, deep colour. Striking blackcurrant nose. Almost like
a young bordeaux in a leafy way. Plenty of structure behind a
warm, open licorice sensation on the palate. Nice long finish.
Good QPR, and very good, though didn't show quite as well
after tasting the next wine.
Charles Melton (Barossa, Australia), Nine Popes 1995 - £15.99
Tiny production "cult" wine. Darkly coloured and minty on the
nose. Absolutely velvet smooth with loads of warm, spicy
berries and crunchy sloes on the palate. Great concentration and
length too and loads of class. Very well made and a terrific wine
with lots of structure and an attractive style.
Château La Nerthe, Châteauneuf-du-Pape "Cuvee des Cadettes" 1992 - £19.99
Inky dark colour again and a slightly damp, pungent element to
the nose. Big, mouth filling wine with plenty of fruit and and earthy, truffley
aspect too. Some class, if not totally together at this stage.
Flight 4, syrah/shiraz
Orlando (Padthaway, Australia) "Lawsons" Shiraz 1991 - £14.99
A little bit of stinky burnt rubber on the nose. Gorgeous licorice
richness to taste and a definite peppery spice too. Prickle of
acidity is nicely in harmony with the crunchy fruit and other
components. Really quite a deep and complex wine which is
also full bodied, silky and easy to drink. Good value.
Sean Thackrey (Bolinas, California), Orion old vines 1994 - £29.99
Astonishing nose - high confectionery notes - like industrial strength
tutti-frutti ice cream! Very intense and incense like fragrance carries
through on the palate. A very ethereal, high, other-worldly wine
has been conjured out of the grapes. Elegant too, with good length
and real character, but almost overbalanced towards an extreme
pungency. Highly unusual and just possibly wonderful???
Chapoutier, Côte Rotie "La Mordoree" 1989 - £55.00
Really stinky barnyard nose. Wet nappies too I'm afraid, though
this subsided over half an hour. Mouth coating tannins and rich,
earthy flavours. Black fruits and plenty of clove spice too.
Extremely long finish - a full minute at least. I grew to like this
a lot over an hour or so in the glass, though others remained
Paul Jaboulet Aine, Cornas "Domaine St Pierre" 1995 - £18.95
A new vineyard for Jaboulet and an exceptionally fine wine. Deeply
hued, with a very fine nose of pure fruits. Great structure to this
wine with elegance and complexity, mouth coating tannins and
flavour and a very smooth and long finish. Stylish and Bordeaux
like, and enough concentration to keep. Excellent.
Lès Clos de Paulilles, Banyuls 1993 - £10.95
Very difficult to judge having tasted 4 such profound and
individual wines in the previous flight. My opinion is that it was
a little bit one dimensional, with rather obvious sweet cherry fruit
and not enough complexity. It might gain some with age? I'll
reserve final judgement.