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White wines, Old World and New

by Tom Cannavan, 1998

This was a tasting organised by the Scottish based fine wine and food group, Peckham's. I tasted over 30 wines from their range, mostly new lines or new vintages, ranging from classic Premier Cru Burgundies, to a selction of Tasmanian wines (and very good too!) to Ports and Sherries. A fairly strong line up all told, and lots to delight the ABC club (Anything But Chardonnay/Cabernet). The 2 old vine wines from Ceps de Sud are cracking buys at under £5($8), as are the wines of Ninth Island at less than £8.50($14). Whites below, red and fortified wines in part 2.

Whites

Cray (Loire) Cremant de Loire 1992 - £5.99
Very pale, pinkish colour. Nose is all talcum powder and fizzy lemonade, but the palate is very pretty with acid-drop fruit and acidity. Lively party fizz with some character.

Savennières Clos du Papillon 1995 - £9.49
Very pale straw/gold. Beautifully fresh, floral nose with apple fruit, hints of limes and a background of exotic spice. Noticeable alcohol. On the palate white fruit and wax, very fresh and long with clean acidity. Very good chenin blanc indeed that will no doubt improve even further.

Ceps de Sud (Languedoc) Old Vine Vermentino VdP 1996 - £4.49
Pale straw colour. Really bright, fresh, aromatic nose with fresh flowers, peach and lime-zest. A soft but zippy mouthful of peach and apricot fruit and gentle, but persistent acidity. Loads of character and a long, pure finish. Excellent stuff.

Jepson (Mendocino) Viognier 1997 - £11.99
Beautifully perfumed, fragrant nose full of peach and apricot fruit. Sparky, chilli-pepper notes on the palate with more peachy fruit and an intriguing sugestion of spicy oak in the background (oaked viognier??). Excellent concentration and good length. One of the better Californian viogniers I've tasted.

Cray (Loire) "Domaine de Cray" Chardonnay 1997 - £4.99
Nice boiled-sweet nose with melon fruit and hints of tropical, lychee aromas. Very fresh and zippy palate with more melon and peach fruit and well measured acidity. Long, clean and appetising.

J.Lohr (California Central Coast) "Cypress" Chardonnay 1996 - £7.99
Cypress is Lohr's "basic" line. Pale lemon yellow. Nice buttery nose, with plenty of citrus fruit. Controlled and elegant. Cool, well-balanced palate with some creamy oak influence, but mostly refined fruit. Good length. Nice stuff.

Cottin Frères Pouilly-Fuissé 1995 - £12.49
Pale straw/yellow. Minerals, slate and white fruits on the nose. Very tight with steely acidity but a great concentration of fruit. Apples, pears and pear-drop acidity. The finish is long and savoury. This is good and will get better.

Bouchard-Finlayson (South Africa) Kaaimansgat Chardonnay 1997 - £10.99
This is a link up between the Burgundian Paul Bouchard and Peter Finlayson, ex Hamilton Russell wine-maker, so a very promising pedigree. Made in the cool Walker Bay, the colour is pale straw/gold, followed by an arresting nose, crammed full of charred oak, dark-roasted coffee beans, vanilla and a leesy softness. On the palate loads of ripe, peachy fruit and a nice nutty dryness. Fine fruit, good acidity and great length. A very good Chardonnay.

Ninth Island (Tasmania) Chardonnay 1998 - £8.49
Pale straw colour. Restrained nose of boiled-sweets and pear and apple fruit with a background hint of sweet oak. Restrained on the palate too with more of the same fruit character, steely, mineral edge and lots of bracing acidity. Good length, savoury and refined.

Ninth Island (Tasmania) Sauvignon Blanc 1998 - £8.49
Very ripe, striking, tropical fruit of mango and lychee on the nose with a streak of harder, nettly, herbaceous notes. Super-ripe palate with tropical and grapefruit flavours and keen lime acidity. Lively stuff with terrific concentration.

Tokay-Pinot Gris Grand Cru Brand 1994 - £9.59
Pale gold colour. Slightly sulphury at first, with hay-like aromas. Sweet white fruit pushes through. Off-dry on the palate, lightly honeyed with ripe melon and lychee fruit and a dryer, nutty element. Good length, quite unctuous, maybe a bit simple in the final analysis.