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Misellaneous notes, 1998

Tasting notes from other years are available from links at the bottom of the page.

Seghesio (California) Arneis 1997
The Arneis is a grape variety from Northern Italy, planted in the Napa valley by Seghesio. The wine has a flowery, delicate nose with hints of mint-leaf, white fruits and acid-drops. On the palate the impression is like an iced lemon sorbet, with cool melon notes and zippy, slightly tart orange-pith acidity. The whole package is fresh, appetising and nicely balanced. Like Spain's Albariño, another wine that is a welcome antidote to heavier, oaky styles. (12/98)

Valdevieso (Chile), Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1996
This is a lovely wine. A nice dark colour and an immediately attractive nose of rich blackcurrant, vanilla and a slightly smoky edge. The palate is full of ripe fruit, but is nicely restrained by fine tannins and juicy acidity. It is well-balanced and stays sharply focused into a long, structured, creamy finish. Valdevieso does seem to make a very nice range of wines. (12/98)

Araldica, (Piedmonte, Italy) Barbera Novello 1998
The Piedmontese version of a Beaujolais Nouveau, made from barbera with 10% pinot noir. The wine has a vibrant cerise colour. On the nose, a blast of enticing cherry bubble-gum, strawberry and warm, spicy aromas. On the palate surprisingly tannic, with an earthy character and abundant red berry and bitter-cherry fruit. Mouthfilling, soft tannins and gentle acidity give the wine a broad, generous appeal and the finish is long and peppery. Lovely quaffing stuff. (12/98)

Louis Michel et Fils, Chablis Premier Cru Montmain 1997
Text book Chablis with a pale, straw colour and a steely nose, fresh lemon scents and just hints of a yeasty, leesy softness. On the palate it is quite rounded and easy to drink, though beautifully clean and fresh with plenty of citrus, apple and pear fruit. It is given some real authority through grippy, but balanced acidity and a core of pure, mineral, stony flavours. It finishes long, with a firm and spicy character. Very nice. We had a second bottle of this. (11/98)

Von Ortloff (South Africa), Merlot 1996
Currently available in Oddbins Fine Wine stores in the UK, this is a really nice merlot. Dark garnet red, touch of browning. A deeply wrought wine with dense, earthy, forest-floor aromas. Crunchy ripe fruit, creamy oak and a chocolate richness. Coats the palate with smooth, soft tannins. turns nicely crisp in the finish. Very good. (11/98)

Henri Bourgeois, "Petit Bourgeois" Sauvignon Blanc 1997
A VdP de Jardin de France classification, but the grapes come from just outside the Sancerre AC, and the wine is made by a first class Sancerre producer. A really lovely Sauvignon, with very fresh citrus and peach fruit on the nose and palate, a pleasantly nettly aroma and very good balance. It straddles New and Old World styles, with ripe, almost tropical fruit and well defined acicity. Good length too. A fine example of a classy, yet cheap and easy-to-drink wine. (10/98)
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Rothbury (Australia), Cowra Chardonnay 1997
Now this is quite a wine. I've long been a fan of the Rothbury Estate Hunter Valley Chardonnay which is full of luscious tropical fruit and creamy oak. This new wine is from vineyards in Cowra, tipped by insiders as the Chardonnay region to follow in the Antipodes. This wine has a pale gold colour and a stunning nose - quite refined and discreet - but with delightful aromas of powdered ginger, cream-soda and citrus fruit. The complex palate has more mineral and spice nuances behind ripe lemon, pear and more tropical fruit. It is very fresh with oak only just perceptible, and a long, zippy finish with balanced acidity and little sparks of ginger and acid-drops. A wee cracker. (09/98)

Château Capendu (Corbières) "L'Excellence" 1997
I was hoping for great things from this wine. Corbières is normally an appellation for cheap, fruity, "party" wines, but this is packaged very expensively in an elegant, tapering bottle and classy, discreet label. It reminds me of the outstanding Château Haut-Gleon (see below): a real favourite of mine - also from Corbières - that stands head-and-shoulder above most examples from the region. This wine has an opaque ruby/purple colour and a serious nose of raspberries, blackcurrants, cedar and oak. On the palate, very aggressive tannins and high acidity. It seems a little hollow, with some creamy oak showing through with food and decent, curranty fruit; however, the finish really is all tannin and harsh acidity at the moment. It is very young, but I seriously doubt whether it has the fruit to ever be in balance. I feel there is a very good wine in here struggling to get out, so maybe it's one to watch. (09/98)

Bodegas Montecillo "Viña Monty", Rioja Gran Reserva 1989
I was a little disappointed in this. The dark robe and sweet vanilla scents are classic and inviting and there is light-berry fruit on the nose that also promises much. On the palate I found the wine rather sour and acidic, with some plummy, bitter cherry fruit (but not enough of it), a dose of oak and a rather astringent, lemony finish. A shame, because their Viña Cumbrero Rioja Crianza (younger wine, with less time in wood and bottle) is superb: one of my favourites made in a modern style, but for me this was run-of-the-mill and tasted slightly dried-out. (09/98)

Château Haut-Gleon (Corbières) Haut-Gleon white 1996
A new vintage of this absolute favourite, sensationally good wine from Corbières. Haut-Gleon is a uniquely lavish, "super-estate" for this appellation. With a a no-expense-spared approach to fruit selection, new oak and quality control, it is a truly superb wine. Beautifully creamy and fresh with exhilirating flavours of butterscotch, apricot, liquorice and vanilla, it has lovely spice and flowery notes and a long, balanced finish. It's not an easy wine to find - the Peat Inn restaurant near St-Andrews in Scotland being the only Scottish source I know - but what a wine! (09/98)

Louis Jadot, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux St-Jacques 1989
Deep and relatively youthful colour. Pure nose of black fruit, cedar and vanilla. On the palate this wine is very composed, concentrated and supple, with smoky black fruit and a very clean character; little in terms of tertiary flavour development, and a long, tightly-defined finish of sweet cherry and blackcurrant fruit, oak and tannin. Good, but needs drinking soon. (09/98)

Sonoma Cutrer, Chardonnay "Les-Pierres" 1994
My first experience of this Californian chardonnay specialist. The colour is a luscious, glowing gold. Nose is Chablis-like, with a fairly steely, reserved, mineral quality suffused with butter and cinammon spice. On the palate the wine maintains a certain steeliness, with good citrus fruit and only hints of riper, tropical fruit beneath. A deep and really attractive core of liquorice is quite intriguing. There is fine balance and the finish is long, tightly-wound and pure. A very good wine in a restrained style that is excellent with food. Impressive. (08/98)

Wolf Blass (Australia), President's Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 1994
Dense ruby/purple colour. Richly fruity nose of blackcurrants and spice with plenty of vanillin oak. Nicely rough on the palate with chewy blackcurrant fruit and a definite green note of olives and green pepper. This adds interest and isn't unpleasant. Chewy and packed with fruit, but underpinned by firm tannins. Acidity and oak well integrated. Good length. £10.99 is maybe a bit expensive for what it is. (08/98)

Scotchmans Hill (Geelong, Australia), Pinot Noir 1996
Very deep colour. Enticing nose of wood smoke, rich black fruits and charcoal embers. Lovely, lush, ripe raspberry fruit is mouthfilling and sweetly juicy, with more of the the smoky, spicy, charred oak that is evident on the nose. This wine is delicious and very easy to drink. It has developed few tertiary flavours at this stage, but it's probably a wine to enjoy now for its up-front fruit and opulence. (08/98)

Domaine de Virginie (Vin de Pays d'Oc, France), Marsanne 1997
Inviting golden colour. Served nice and cold (the way I prefer Marsanne), there is unctuous peach and apricot fruit on the nose and plenty of creamy oak. On the palate, a bit lightweight, but nice ripe fruit (peaches again) and a fairly steely acidity which tends to grip the finish whilst the fruit is fading. In the style of New World Marsanne, but I'd prefer a bottle from Château Tahbilk or Mitchelton from Australia, where the fruit is more opulent and there's more weight to the wine. (08/98)

Justerini & Brooks Mosel Wine N.V.
J&B, with stores in London and Edinburgh and a good mail order service, are excellent merchants. This is one of their house wines that retails for less than £4.00. A bright, pale colour leads to a fresh, peachy nose and mouthwatering citrus notes. In the mouth the wine is light to medium bodied, with more juicy, lemony fruit. It is just off-dry (9.5% alcohol) with green apple acidity giving excellent balance. Clean, savoury and beautifully made, this is an excellent, cheap everyday wine. (07/98)

Aroona Valley (South East Australia) Cabernet/Shiraz 1996
Another Justerini & Brooks labelled wine, and another fine example of how to make a wine cheap, yet make it tasty and characterful. This is a solid and straightforward with deep damson colour, plenty of chunky black fruits, soft, mouthfilling tannins and a chewy texture. There is adequate acidity in the backgound. For a fiver you get a round, easy-going, food-friendly wine. (07/98)

Marc Kreydenweiss (Alsace) Riesling Andlau, 1995
From memory, this is the first wine from Kreydenweiss that I've tasted. I will now actively seek them out - yet more confirmation that Alsace is producing some of the most exceptional and reasonably priced wines in the world. Brilliant pale gold colour, superb nose of rich, fresh flowery scents, intense mineral and stony notes and a developing edge of waxiness. The palate is medium bodied with superb balance of limes, rich lychees and tropical fruit and very positive grapefruit acidity. The wine has brilliance, great purity and wonderful length, with tingling flavours you can savour for minutes. Superb. (07/98)

André Bonhomme Mâcon-Viré 1995
This comes from one of the great names in Mâcon wine-making. It declares "vendanges manuelles" on the label, so maybe the hand-picked grapes have helped give it an extra dimension of complexity? It has deep, golden yellow colour, a very sensuous nose of melon and star-fruit, honey and a hint of vanillin oak. Quite luscious on the palate, the wine is dense and chewy, with more of that typically Mâcon melon fruit. There is something of an aniseed or liquorice note too and a toasty richness. With decent underpinning acidity this is a wine with plenty of character. Excellent. (07/98)

André Auvigue Mâcon-Villages 1997
A sharp contrast between this and the wine above, both really good quality wines which I had with fish dishes on successive nights in London restaurants. This is almost Chablis-like, young, super-fresh and racy. It has a pale, straw colour, a fresh, inviting nose of summer flowers and bright, though restrained, tropical fruit. Dominated by zippy acidity, the overall impression is of a stripped-down, brisk and breezy wine that still has plenty of high-quality fruit and charm. (07/98)

Arciero (California) Chenin Blanc, 1995
Served far too cold, the wine only started to reveal hints of some lush, tropical flavours as it warmed. Still fairly understated though, and very taut with bracing acidity and a very dry finish. It is quite elegant, and though not under-ripe, a bit too severe for my taste. (07/98)

Agricola Masi, Recioto della Valpolicella 1995
This is a semi-sweet red wine made from dried grapes (a process which concentrates natural sweetness). I'm not a huge fan of the Reciotos I've tried so far and this didn't really change my opinion. Bright, deep, ruby colour, nose of almonds and bitter cherries. On the palate the fruit has an intense sweetness that reminds me of Italian amarena cherries soaked in syrup. There is more bitter almond flavour that follows through from the nose. The wine has medium body, and quite a tart acidity in the finish. It's certainly unusual. A style I guess you'd either love or hate. (07/98)

Guirouilh, Jurançon Sec 1990
This is lovely old Jurançon, from the Gros Manseng grape which, with bottle age, has taken on a slightly honeyed, almost Burgundian character. A nice boiled sweet nose, with some tropical fruit and a flowery, ethereal component. On the palate fairly luscious, but staying very bright and focused with subtle pineapple fruit, nice non-fruit nuances of flowers and spice, good balancing acidity, purity and considerable length. (06/98)

Paul Jaboulet, Crozes-Hermitage "les Jalets" 1994
Rubbished by Robert Parker (75/100), but I didn't think this was too bad at all. Maybe a bit lightweight, but good strong colour, an appealing, classic peppery, leathery nose and some good, chewy, earthy, raspberry fruit on the palate. Not great length, but a nice dense mouthful of wine with no sign of dilution, astringency or "green" character. Good, and better than the rather weak '92 I've tried a couple of times. (06/98)

Dom. Chanson Pere et Fils, Rully (white) 1995
Very supple and attractive wine with sappy character and flavours of melon, pear and white fruits. Some nice rounding out with creamy oak. Fresh, not at all blowsy, with medium body and enough acidity to balance. Straightforward but very nice. (06/98)

Campbells Old Rutherglen Liqueur Muscat (Australia)
Lovely walnutty colour. Inviting nose of caramelised brown sugar, burnt oranges and raisins soaked in liqueur. Very PX style of super-concentrated, super-ripe, raisins. Acidity only asserts in the finish. Like a cross between an old tawny port and a fully sweet sherry, but I'm not sure I'd prefer it to either. (06/98)

Marcassin, Upper Barn Gauer Vineyard Chardonnay 1994
A rarity brought over by a wine-loving friend from the States, Charles C. This bottle was very cloudy, due to a week of travel around a thankfully cool Scotland. It didn't suffer at all in drinking though. Very complex and classy nose of hazlenuts, toast, sweet oak and pears/white fruits. Palate was quite unctuous but beautifully balanced with plenty of concentrated, classy fruit and all sorts of subtle, non-fruit nuances of spice and herbs. A tremendously long finish too. World Class. (06/98)

Rostaing, Côte-Rôtie 1989
This is Rostaing's basic C-R, but surprisingly we had to agree it was over-the-hill. Surely an oxidised or flawed bottling? Has anyone else tasted this recently? on the nose I got an unpleasant peanut aroma and imediate suggestion the wine was dried out. On the palate more of the same, with little evidence of fruit. We left half a bottle, which was a shame. (06/98)

Shafer (Napa), Barrel Select Chardonnay 1993
This is one of the most impressive Californian chardonnays I've tasted. Quite a deep, golden colour. Intriguing nose: liquorice, amaretto, roasted almonds and Jack Daniels whiskey. On the palate the same components carry through, with the addition of a complex array of non-fruit flavours like caraway seeds, nutmeg, smoke and buttered toast. There are hints of a steely, mineral core with some citrus fruit. The wine has medium body and a nice chewy mouthfeel, with a little heat and spice of alcohol in the long finish. The acidity is subdued but fine, and gives good balance. An expressive chardonnay that could hold its own against many a top wine from the Côte de Beaune. Excellent. (06/98)

Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, St-Julien, 2nd growth 1989
At La Tante Claire. This is drinking beautifully just now from a half bottle. Halves do tend to mature earlier, but if you're waiting for the right time to open a full bottle, I wouldn't hesitate to do so, maybe in a year or two. Lovely youthful colour and a very fragrant nose of fresh blackcurrants and cedar with a peppery note. Gorgeous silky texture on the palate, with medium weight and very rich, blackcurrant fruit. The tannins and oak are already well integrated and the overall impression is fruit driven. A nice clove and spice component kicks in on the finish, which is long, savoury and elegant without being too tannic. A beautifully balanced, concentrated and well integrated claret. (05/98)

Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume, Domaine de la Paulière 1995
A very elegant, mineral scented Chablis. Dry and minerally on the palate too, but with quite a lot of ripe, lemony fruit adding roudness. Tasty, refined Chablis. (04/98)

Château Lynch-Bages, Pauillac, 5th growth 1985
Really needs more time. Powerful nose redolent of blackcurrant and smoky oak. Oak and some tannin still dominating the wine on the palate, but plenty of rich, ripe, black fruit at the core, with good body and plenty of structure. I would guess this won't reach its full glory for another 5 years. (04/98)

Brumaire Novembre 1995, AC Pacherenc du Vic Bilh, Alain Brumont
Unknown Appellation to me (the area is Madiran for red wines) with an obviously talented winemaker producing limited amounts of vendange-tardive wines marketed as "Octobre", "Novembre" and "Decembre" refelcting the time of harvest. This is excellent wine. A very fresh style with aromatic herbs on the nose and loads of marmalade orange fruit on the palate. Lovely, zippy acidity keeps it clean and not at all cloying, with a range of interesting flavour components showing up in the lingering finish. (04/98)

Château Gruaud-Larose, St-Julien, 2nd growth 1985
Drunk from a half. There's an earlier note for this wine further down the page. Still absolutely glorious claret with great concentration, complexity, a massive, meaty, earthy quality and huge depth of fruit. (03/98)

Antiguas Reservas 1994, Cousiño-Macul (Chile)
One of Chile's oldest and most respected wineries producing this cabernet based wine said to be reminiscent of claret. Good clarety nose, slightly leathery and with oak, blackcurrant and some older, cedary notes. Medium bodied with good balance of oakiness and mature blackcurrant on the palate and a soft finish of moderate length. Good rather than great. (03/98)

Pinot Noir Reserve 1996, Idle Rock (Romania)
Less than £4 in Sainsbury, I bought this to cook with (Boeuf Bourgingon) but couldn't resist a quick tasting. Deep ruby red, with warmth on the rim. Quite a nice, briary, undergrowth nose but a hint of stalkiness. Firm and chewy palate, without enough concentration or real flavour. Dies rather quickly. Couldn't honestly recommend it.

Rioja 1997 (Rosé), Marqués de Cáceres
I really enjoyed this with a seared fresh tuna dish. Nice fragrant wine, with an almost chardonnay-like body and overall character, nice backbone and a warm, strawberry fruit finish.

Rosé Champagne (NV), Billecart-Salmon
The best NV rose I've tasted. Very delicate nose. Floral and mineral, and a fine, sweet, strawberry note. Charming and elegant on the palate with a very fine mousse and a little kick of tannin in the finish. (03/98)

Pouilly-Fuissé "Les Brûlées" 1996, Château Fuissé
Pale/medium straw/yellow colour. Very "big" on the nose with bags of oak and ripe, tropical fruit and a nutty component. Forward on the palate, with unctuous texture and same depth of ripe, luscious fruit. Enough fresh, appley acidity to balance and a long, savoury finish. I really liked this, although I usually go for a more restrained style. At this stage I preferred it to the more expensive "vieilles-vignes" 1996 from the same Domaine, which I tasted recently. (03/98)

Pommard "Les Tavannes" 1995, Fery-Meunier
I tasted this last summer and found it a little lacking in fruit, but it has definitely evolved and is drinking quite nicely. Dense crimson colour, delicate nose of violets and quite bright fruit. A little softer on the palate than before, with less "grapey" flavours. More cherry and stawberry fruit now and still a good backbone of acidity and tannin. Good, if straightforward. (03/98)

Crozes-Hermitage "Les Jalets" 1992, Paul Jaboulet Aine
I have had this many times over the past few years. It is a very pleasant, straightforward wine and excellent with food (lamb in this case), but shows the dilution and lack of oomph of a poor year in the Rhône valley. Colour is a striking crimson/purple, and the nose shows nice smoky, peppery warmth. On the palate a bit dull and with not quite enough raspberry fruit, but a decent, if short, finish showing more peppery character. I would be drinking this up now if I owned some. (03/98)

Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1987, Cuvaison
Polished off the remains of this at home as a reward for helping assess the private cellar. Deep, even purple colour with loads of cool, minty, cassis fruit. The palate is smooth, but medium bodied. Again plenty of ripe fruit and pencil-shaving notes, with soft tannin structure and orange-pith acidity. Finish is good, though a little short. 2nd night on this wine (after inert gas storage) finds it a little acidic and short. Maybe reaching end of drinking plateau, but still no great hurry. (02/98)
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Gewürztraminer Réserve Particulière 1991, Domaine Weinbach
Beautifully deep, golden colour. Inviting nose with lots of peachy, honeysuckle fruit and some exotic ginger and spice. Full bodied and very cool and elegant on the palate. Plenty of balancing acidity to ripe tropical fruit. Overall a steely quality dominates, but there is warmth in the dry, nutty finish which is long. Lovely stuff. (02/98)
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Ruffino, Chianti Classico Aziano 1995
Deep ruby red. Straightforward nose of cherry fruit that follows through on the palate. Some smoky, tobacco notes too, but really just a chewy mouthful of simple fruit and a bucket-load of acidity. Finish is medium-short and a wee bit on the fierce side. (01/98)

Columbia, Yakima Valley Gewurztraminer 1996
Very pale colour. Distinctive rose petal nose. Quite luscious and oily on the palate and very sweet. Some delicate, citrus fruit and hints of exotic, lychee, perfumed flavours. A pleasant, if short finish which shows up a touch of cinnamon. A good match against a spicy cajun soup. (01/98)

E&J Gallo, Turning Leaf Chardonnay 1996
At first I thought I was going to quite like this. It has a nice healthy golden colour, and a very distinctive melon aroma on the nose, followed by quite a substantial weight on the palate and good, savoury acidity. There is fruit there, but the oak soon became dominant and a bit tiresome - would have been much worse without food I'm sure. It's a good, well made wine and might appeal more to other palates. (12/97)

Jean Marc Brocard, Chablis "domaine St-Claire" 1995
This is a lovely, cheap(ish) Chablis from Jean Marc Brocard. Pale golden colour with a very clean, mineral nose and just a hint of leesy, buttery character. Lots of lemon fruit on the palate. It has a round, rich texture, but enough balancing acidity to keep it very fresh and clean. Fine finish and good length. Excellent wine which I think Brocard produces in volume from bought-in fruit. (12/97)

Cline cellars (Sonoma), Cotes d'Oakely red wine 1995
Back label gives all the grape varieties used, but basically a Rhône selection. Super ripe, dark garnet/purple colour. Great nose, with wild blackberry, gamey, rich, dusty fruit. On the palate very good concentration, crunchy berry fruits, a nice, chewy texture and an earthy/gamey edge. Pepper too in the finish. A lovely wine and beating most Cotes du Rhône in its price range hands down IMO. Cline does it again. (11/97)

Anton und Michael Gebhard (Nahe), Riesling Auslese (Trocken) 1992
This is the premium wine produced by a bio-dynamic producer who works on very small scale. Hand imported, I doubt if this is available outside the local area, but it is a wonderful advert for bio-dynamic techniques and for modern German wine-making - very fresh and luscious, with scents of tropical fruits and a luxurious character. Full and satisfying, with a great depth of fruit in the fine, long finish. (11/97)

Marqués de Cáceres, "Satinella" white Rioja 1996
This is a new wine to me from the modern thinking Márques de Cáceres bodega. Made from the traditonal Viura & Malvasia grapes of white Rioja, only late-harvested. Light golden colour. The nose is honeyed, with subtle, fresh, figgy fruit. Quite weighty on the palate, again with more honeyed, floral, even herbal flavours rather than intense fruit. Really quite sweet, with more warmth in the finish and a touch of spice, though good length and purity. An interesting, modern wine that reminds me of Alsace. Not complex or profound, but enjoyable. (10/97)

J. Raventos Rosell (Penedès) "Heretat Vall-Vertas" Chardonnay 1996
Pale straw colour and immediate citrus scents with yeasty/bready notes. Lovely weight of buttery fruit on the palate, but a very clean, dry, fresh style. Stylish citrus fruit, notable but soft grapefruit acidity and complex hints of minerals and honey. Long finish which emphasised the tightly balanced, very compact nature of the wine. Really impressive. (10/97)

Mitchelton (South East Australia) Marsanne 1995
Golden yellow colour. Nice peachy fruit on the nose and a floral component. Fresh and zingy, maybe just off-dry with a honeyed edge to loads of peachy fruit and good acidity. Medium bodied and quite luscious. A very cleanly made, quaffable wine. (09/97)

Lindemans (Coonawara, Australia), Pyrus 1993
Opaque black/deep purple colour. Almost no light at rim. Blockbuster nose, with swirling scents of blackcurrants, sloes and damsons, lovely creamy oak and dark liquorice notes. Same impression of crunchy, bursting black fruits on the palate, though plenty of complexity too with vanilla and coffee bean oaky flavours, firm background tannin and excellent acidity keeping everything in check. Quite full bodied. The finish is pure and smooth, though acids/tannins persist. Very long. Gorgeous. Has the components and class to last 15 years+ I guess. (08/97)

Château Haut-Gleon (Corbières) Haut-Gleon white 1995
Slightly brassy but nice deep, golden colour. Wonderul aromatic nose, with citrus and tropical fruit nose, minerals and stones, and buttery, tarragon notes. On the palate it is clean and elegant, with beautiful mango and guava fruit, a nice dose of buttery oak and a terrific twist of unusual spice and flower flavours and acids thrown in. It finishes long and pure, staying very focused. Delightful. (08/97)

Château Gruaud-Larose, St-Julien, 2nd growth 1985
This is getting better and better. Drunk from a half, this is a lovely, bright colour, showing a wonderful cassis and cedar, claret nose. It has abundant fruit married to smoky, cedary oak and beautiful structure. Another example of how gorgeous the '85 Bordeauxs are for drinking now. Real elegance and restraint, but not at all lacking in interest or fruit. (08/97)

Gould Campbell, Vintage Port 1985
Ruby red colour and gorgeous chocolate, sweet, fudge nose. Quite a blast of raw alcohol on the palate before rich and luscious sweet fruit takes over. Broad tannins dominate the finish, and again it is rather grapey. Good, rather than great. (08/97)

Veuve Clicquot, Vintage Champagne 1989
Darkish gold/biscuit colour. Lovely hazelnut and biscuit aromas. Quite full in the mouth with lovely mousse. Hints of minerals and apples on the palate. Very delicious, very long, very good. From magnum. (08/87)

Stringy Brae (Clare Valley, Australia), Riesling 1995
Pale straw colour. Quite pungent nose of citrus fruits and a little "petrol". No herbaceous note. On the palate a very reticent, light style with cool flavours of lemon, ogen melon and guava. Very sharp acidity. In the finish this was pure grapefruit, but very bitter and detracted from enjoyment of the wine: the bitterness kicked in and swamped all other flavours. Left a third of a bottle. (08/97)

Kuentz-Bas (Alsace), Riesling 1983
Amber tinged golden colour. Very nice, clean, straightforward nose of flowers and bright fruit. Tasted youthful and fresh on the palate with medium body and quite a racy, spritzy character. Lovely lychee fruit notes and excellent balance. Very good and holding up well. (07/97)

Trimbach (Alsace), Riesling cuvée Frédéric-Emile 1989
Quite dark straw/gold colour. Mineral scents and flowers on the nose. Good weight on the palate, medium viscosity. Quite herbaceous edge to flavours of lemon and tropical fruit. Just off dry, with woody notes evident and good acid structure. I hadn't tasted this wine before and began to wonder if the woody/herbaceous notes might have been a touch of corkiness? Excellent length showing a keen edge to lots of fruit. Very good. (07/97)

Joseph Drouhin, Pommard 1990
Healthy ruby red colour. Nose of sweet oak and cherries. On the palate quite lightweight, but nicely smokey, with a touch of bacon fat and gaminess, good bright cherry fruit and a nice mellow, warm finish. Medium length. Very good, not great. (07/97)

Château Lynch-Bages, Cordeillan-Bages, Pauillac 1985
At Cordeillan-Bages restaurant, owned by Lynch-bages. Really powerful, upfront aromas of blackcurrants and smoke. A big, generous, in-your-face style of Claret which is so like the Lynch-Bages I've tasted. Very dense and chewy texture, but loaded with cassis and bramble fruit and mellow, dusty tannins. Lovely long finish too. I can only imagine the Lynch from this year must be simply brilliant as it was more than twice the price on the wine list! (07/97)

Château Léoville-Las-Cases, 2nd Growth, St-Julien 1983
I've tasted this a few times recently and this confirms my impression that, though a great food wine with excellent structure and balance, it lacks the concentration and ultimate class of some other '83s and certainly of the LLC '85. Gorgeous nose of blackcurrant fruit and smoky, toasted oak. Nice cedar component on the palate with plenty of ripe black fruits. Rich and well structured with a long, pure finish. (06/97)

Château Malartic-Lagravière, white Graves 1959
Astonishingly deep, old Sauternes-y gold/amber colour. Gorgeous herbaceous nose - sweet grass and new mown hay. On the palate the wine was totally luxurious with full, oily texture, melon and peach fruit, a mineral edge, and sweet botrytis flavours. All of this could have been overpowering in such an intense wine, but it was so well deliniated by a good acid structure that the whole taste "picture" seemed to unravel one glorious element at a time. The long finish showed up the initial herbaceous notes again, but rounded and complex with all sorts of interesting nuances. A real delight of a wine. Wearing its age well. (06/97)