Tom Cannavan's   

Misellaneous notes, 2004

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

Opus One (California) Napa Valley Proprietory Red Wine 1993
I have collected Opus One a bit over the years, and am starting to drink the early 1990's vintages now. This 1993 (Cabernet Sauvignon 89%, Cabernet Franc 7%, Merlot 4%) was aged in new French oak for 18 months, after a very good vintage season. The colour is still a really deep, glossy ruby/crimson. The nose is fabulous: the perfect marriage of abundant, juicy blackurrant fruit and elegant smoke and cedarwood, with complex suggestions of plumskin acidity and earthy tones. On the palate it is mouthfilling and ripe, with a medium- to full-bodied, rich texture and very well defined fruit. It is long, pure and driven by a combination of very precise, ripe fruit and perfect balance. Excellent. Around £130 per bottle.
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Shafer (California) Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon 1998
There are only around 2,000 cases per year of this ultra-premium wine from Shafer, which is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and spends almost three years in French oak. The fruit is well up to that challenge, as this overflows with deep, juicy, ripe fruit with a mass of berries and a real resonance of deep-set black fruit that is silky and pure. There is a fine intermingling of toasty, coffee-bean oak. It is also beautifully integrated on the palate, with a soft, cedary layer over svelte black fruit with plums and blackcurrants, and again that silky, seamless quality. This is a really superb wine I have to say, with excellent balance and huge length. Excellent/outstanding. Around £150 per bottle.
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Joubert-Tradauw (South Africa) R62 2002
Brought back from the estate as a gift by friends, I was delighted by this barrel sample of R62, a Cabernet/Merlot blend from the small estate of Joubert-Tradauw in the Little Karoo region of South Africa's winelands. It has a dense, opaque crimson/black colour, and a nose that is sumptuous and inviting, flooded with cedar, tobacco, and a rich core of blackcurrant. There is spice and an earthy, bramble quality, but this is quite polished and svelte, despite its plush depth. There are notes of exotic sandalwood and incense from ageing in a combination of French and American oak. On the palate it has a pure core of blackcurrant fruit, that has lovely fruit sweetness, and quite robust, chunky tannins adding grip and tension. Acidity is crisp, with a cherry-skin quality, and the mid-palate has plenty of flesh. Into the long, pure finish, the core of cassis persists, edged with smoky tobacco and and toast. A lovely wine, with excellent balance, and a long finish. Excellent. (09/04)

Warwick Estate (South Africa) "Trilogy" 2000
What a nice chance to retry an old favourite at a reasonable £25 on the list of Glasgow's Ubiquitous Chip restaurant. Norma Radcliffe's premium wine has a deep, opaque purple colour and a soaring, toast and cedarwood nose of ripe blackcurrant and plum, with depths of chocolate, charry oak and blue/black, violety complexity. The palate is medium-bodied and quite elegant, with a savoury tannic framework supporting a raft of sweet, rich, cassis and damson fruit, with plenty of spice and mellow tobacco intothe finish. Good acidity completes a balanced picture in a wine that is hitting its stride perfectly and is, in my opinion, one of the world's great claret-style wines. (03/04)
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Sterling Vineyards (California) Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Mountain Ranch 1993
I bought a few bottles of this back around 1996, on the strength of a tasting where I wrote "Black/purple colour. Array of mineral and toasty, almost burnt scents on the nose. Still young and tannic but strong cassis fruit. Potential". Tasting it again now some eight years later, the wine has come together more certainly, with a cedary component and still plenty of sweet, blackcurranty fruit. It still has a rather disjointed aspect on the palate however, with leanish acidity and a slightly drying finish. I suspect it is just a touch over-extracted, and those tannic and lean components are accentuated. My hopes for the remaining couple of bottles aren't too high, but we will see... (03/04)
The most recent vintage I can see listed on is 1997.

Riccardo Falchini (Italy) Vernaccia di San Gimingnano 2002
Drunk by the glass (from a freshly-opened bottle) in the excellent Vintners rooms in Edinburgh, this was a fabulous little wine: quite a deep, burnished gold colour, and an immediately vivid and attractive nose of acacia flowers and honey, with a mealy, buttery hint and plenty of soft, stone fruit aromas. On the palate it is quite rich and well-textured, with plenty of sweet, ripe apricot fruit and a lovely bracing acidity. I thought this was just an excellent wine, from one of this Tuscan region's best producers. It washed down Roast Prawns with Chorizo and a Pistou Sauce quite beautifully. (03/04)
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Georges Lignier (Burgundy) Morey-Saint-Denis 1993
This half bottle was also drunk in the Vintners rooms. It showed very good, healthy colour, and a lovely autumnal nose of earthy berries, mushrooms and truffles. Some sweet fruit is in there too, suggesting redcurrants and cherry. On the palate it has a raft of soft fruit, plenty of those sweet, tobacco and vegetal flavours and a long finish. Really delicious wine that has no great complexity on the palate, but is harmonious and absolutely perfect drinking now. We had this with an excellent braised shin of beef Bourguignon. (02/04)
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Masi (Argentina) "Passo Doble" Corvina-Malbec 2002
Agricola Masi is a well-known Italian estate, who's Valpolicella wines have been listed in the UK by Oddbins amongst others for years. I have enjoyed several bottles of their Campofiorin Ripasso in the past. A couple of years ago Masi took the bold step of expanding into Argentina, with the launch of this Corvina / Malbec blend. The fruit is sourced from the top Malbec region of Tupungato, and the Corvina proportion of it is Ripasso-style; refermented on grape skins to give a bitter-cherry and slightly raisined quality. The Malbec adds deep colour and a broad-shoudered, muscular fruitiness, with plenty of chocolate-depth, but the Corvina cuts through, adding that distinctive bittersweet note and giving the wine some real bite and cut. A most unusual style, and very good indeed/excellent. Around £9.00 (02/04)
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Château Ducru-Beaucaillou (Bordeaux) St-Julien, 2nd growth 1992
I have a couple of bottles of this in my cellar, so it was nice when friends turned up with it in tow at a recent BYO dinner. Always one of Parker's favourite wines of the vintage, this scored 87+points in a year regarded as very poor. The colour is quite bright and youthful, and the nose immediaitely appealing, with plenty of cedar and pencil-shaving quality, and quite a juicy cherry and blackcurrant appeal. On the palate, it is broad and well-proportioned, with a medium-bodied texture and good fruit. There is nothing very complex about this, but then it is also balanced and has some depth; there is some richness, though perhaps a lack of real concentration and length. A very enjoyable claret which I drank with some good venison. Very good, and should be fine for another few years. (02/04)
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