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Misellaneous notes, 2003



Tasting notes from other years at the bottom of the page.

Domaine Armand Rousseau (Burgundy) Gevrey-Chambertin le Clos Saint-Jacques 1990
I drank this wine at dinner recently, immediately before the magnificent Clos Saint-Jacques 1969 from Domaine Fernand-Pernot. It is hard to say if this wine will be as great in another 21 years time, as the old wine rather overshadowed this, but at the time of drinking this was undoubtedly extremely fine. The nose had that classic perfume of floral sweetness and bloody game on top of ripe red fruits, and the palate, whilst slightly more austere than the 1969, was also more stuctured perhaps, with a sinewy tannic framework beneath plenty of soft, elegant raspberry and cherry fruit and nuances of spice, woodsmoke and gamier qualities. A lovely wine, with great balance of acidity and length. Excellent. (09/03)
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Kolbenhof (Italy) Gewürztraminer 2001
A terrific Gewurz from Alto Adige near the Austrian border. Full, waxy, lychee and floral nose with some peach-skin aromas and something nutty/apricot kernel. Heavyweight palate with oily texture and notes of honeysuckle and sweet-edged, full pear fruit. This was served too warm and was a touch flabby on the finish, but there was good acidity at the core of this, and chilling would have really improved it again. (07/03)

Domaine Garaudet (Burgundy) Puligny-Montrachet 2000
Nice sweet, forward nose, with lots of new oak and butter over clean white fruit. The palate has a lovely orange pithy dryness of fruit and fine quality, with a hint of minerality into a long finish. (07/03)
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Quintarelli (Italy) Valpolicella Classico Superiore 1993
Giuseppe Quintarelli is a legendary artisan producer of super-premium Amarones and Valpolicellas, now well into his 70's. His tiny production wines are almost impossible to get hold of at any price. This, his "basic" Valpolicella is £32.99 from Luvian's in St Andrews, and was my first introduction to this wine on a recent visit there. I don't know if Quintarelli uses some Amarone techniques of fermenting on dried-grapes in this wine, but it certainly tasted like that: the nose has that dusty, complex, dried-cherry and herbal character that is typical of the style. It has a lovely full palate that is at first quite rustic, with earthy tones, berries and crisp cherry acidity, but in the glass this began to open out revealing a very sweet, ripe core of fruit, framed by dusty tannins and cedary, old oak (this wine spends 6 years in Slovenian oak before release). With fine balance and length, this savoury, really individual wine is quite something, and makes me wonder what the Amarone must be like (various vintages of this are also in Luvian's temperature-controlled fine wine cellar). Excellent/outstanding. £32.99 from Luvians (06/03)
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Silvio Jermann (Italy) Pinot Bianco 2001
Brief notes on this and the wine below, both drunk with some fine Italian food at Glasgow's La Parmigiana restaurant. This has a lovley nose, with full, limpid lemon fruit and just a creamy touch of gentle oak. The palate is quite weighty and rounded, though fresh with zesty acidity. Quite pure and with just a hint of lush, honeyed fruit, this is a clean, long and delicious Pinot Bianco. Very good indeed. About £14 retail. (06/03)
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Umani Ronchi (Italy) Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2001
Deep coloured wine, with an earthy, slightly leafy nose of undergrowth, layered with berry fruit and a little hint of cherry. On the palate it is a nice, old-fashioned, honest style of wine with rustic tannins and plenty of fruit, but all quite savoury and dry with no sweetening of new oak. Lovely robust stuff to accompany medallions of venison. Very good indeed. About £5 retail, inc: Waitrose, Edencroft (06/03).
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Catena Zapata (Argentina) Zapata 1999
I drank this wine over dinner with Laura Catena in London, as well as sampling some of the current crop of the consistently excellent "Catena Alta" range. This is only the second release for Zapata, the ultra-premium red which, in its first year of 1997, caused a stir when it beat all-comers in a blind-tasting challenge. There was no 1998 because of El Niño, the flood storm which devastated Argentinean production. For 1999, the blend is 18% Malbec, the rest being Cabernet Sauvignon. Zapata comes from a few rows of 50-year old vines in one of Catena's best high-altitude vineyards and spends 18 months in new French oak barrels. The 1997 was a great wine, but this is even better: it has a wonderful nose; intense and full of black fruit and a dusty, mineral quality. It is infused with cedar, coffee and clove with lots of warming tobacco and woodsmoke. On the palate it is richly-textured with a savoury core of plum and blackcurrant, some damson-skin bittersweetness and a massive tannic structure that is ripe, but gripping. Acidity is good, and there is a terrific sense of purity into a long finish. Excellent. from Luvians, Bibendum, Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, Peckhams, Noel Young Wines at around £49.99, but in very short supply. (06/03)
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Château Siglas-Rabaud (Sauternes) 1999
Sweet, thick, melon and fig notes with honey and lovely botrytis character. Lush and pure fruit onto the palate, with again a honeyed edge to apricotty fruit and a nutty note. Good acidity and length. Very good indeed. (05/03)
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Poliziano (Italy) Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 1999
What a lovely wine, drunk in Gordon Ramsay's Amaryllis restaurant in Glasgow, to accompany some lamb. It is dark and dense, with a very tight, authoratitive nose of cherry, black, plummy fruit and smoky oak. Very concentrated and polished. On the palate a winning combination of that sleek black fruit and fine, silky tannins. Good balance and lovely length, this is a terrific wine with bags of class. Excellent. (05/03)
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