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23 red and fortified wines.

by Tom Cannavan

Second set of notes on a large tasting organised by the Scottish based fine wine and food group, Peckham's. Below are notes on 20 reds plus a few fortified wines. This was another very good line-up at reasonable prices. The Ceps de Sud old vine Mourvedre is a great £5($8) worth, the Californian wines were strong as a group and Australia and South Africa showed very well. Not to be forgotten, France was represented by some fine, classic wines as well as more "internationally" styled examples. White wines in part I.

Reds

Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune Tastevinage (Cave de Hautes-Côtes) 1995 - £7.99
Pale crimson colour. Subdued nose, rather stalky at first then bright berry fruit shows through and hints of more complex, darker components. Medium bodied and could do with a year or two to open up. Some spice in the finish and reasonable length.

Latour-Giraud, Volnay Premier Cru Clos de Chenes 1994 - £17.49
I've been impressed by various Meursaults from this domaine in the past, but this is the first of their red wines I have tasted. Colour is a soft ruby red, just browning. Nose is rather closed and needs some coaxing. Refined violet aromas emerge, along with red berry fruit and just hints of vegetal, composty notes. Fine, soft strawberry fruit on the palate, very creamy with a nice framework of toasty oak and supporting acidity. Integrated and long, this is nice stuff, drinking well.

Bouchard-Finlayson (South Africa) Galpins Peak Pinot Noir 1997 - £12.99
Lightly perfumed nose with toasty oak and rather weak fruit character. Palate is medium bodied and chewy, with moderate tannins and acidity but not enough fruit or substance. Rather disappointing compared to their Chardonnay.

Ninth Island (Tasmania) Pinot Noir 1998 - £8.49
Medium crimson red colour. Nice cabbagy nose suggesting wet earth, truffles and toasty oak. Lightly charred quality on the palate followed by very bright strawberry fruit with a smooth, chocolaty body and creamy finish. Successful commercial style, and very nice indeed. A much better buy than the wine above.

Clos Malverne (South Africa) Pinotage 1996 - £6.99
Robust aromas of pepper and grilled meat. Good chewy fruit in the mouth too, tasty and spicy with meaty density and a decent finish. Individual stuff.

Château Canada Bordeaux Supérieur 1994 - £5.75
Soft ruby red. Nice, meaty, mature nose with plummy fruit. Rather dry on the palate, but decent balance of tannins, fruit and acids. Drink up.

Château Teyssier St-Emilion Grand Cru 1995 - £11.99
Bright ruby/crimson colour. Earthy nose with ripe, dark, berry fruit and hints of charred wood. Very firm on the palate. Some raspberry and redcurrant fruit, but tight and very dry on the finish. Needs a year or two.

Clos Malverne (South Africa) Cabernet/Shiraz 1996 - £6.49
Charred and toasty nose. Coffee-beans. Good weight, slightly green, herbaceous edge but lots of creamy, red-berry fruit too leading to a dry, peppery finish with quite high acidity. Good.

Balgownie Estate (Australia) Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 - £11.49
Very dark, inky colour. Cool, minty, typically Australian nose of sweet, ripe blackcurrant fruit, sloes and damsons. Firmly structured palate with fine tannins rounded by the quality of the fruit. Balanced, with good length and developing complexity. Very good.

Balgownie Estate (Australia) Shiraz 1996 - £11.49
Very deep, opaque crimson/black. Concentrated nose of peppery, black fruits. Quite Port-like, with high, confectionery notes, shoe-polish and mulberries. Palate is serious, dark and tannic with good length and spicy concentration. Very good again.

J.Lohr (California) Syrah 1996 - £9.99
I enjoyed the 1994 of this, and the current vintage doesn't disappoint. Vibrant crimson colour. Attractive nose of creamy, summer- pudding berries on the nose. Scented and lush. Plenty more black and blueberry fruit on the palate, seamless, toasty-oak and a long, flavourful finish. Very nice.

Tortoise Creek (Languedoc) Syrah/Mourvèdre 1997 - £4.49
Yes, despite the name, this is a French wine. Purple/crimson colour. Quite leathery and briary on the nose with earthy, peppery notes. Decent quality of fruit, subdued acidity and barely noticeable tannins. Not bad and easy-to-drink.

Ceps de Sud (Languedoc) Old Vine Mourvèdre VdP 1996 - £4.99
Second wine from this producer and another little gem. Medium/pale crimson colour. Nose of saddle-leather, damsons and plums. Good depth of berry fruit on the palate, raspberries and cream and a nice smoky edge. Smooth and full of flavour with a nice long, pure finish. Excellent.

Colori (Puglia, Italy) Primitivo IGT 1997 - £4.49
Vibrant cerise colour. Bright black cherry fruit with hints of aniseed and spices. Nicely structured palate with liquorice, bitter-sweet cherries and black pepper. Fine, drying tannins. Good stuff at the price.

Amador Foothills (California) Sangiovese 1996 - £10.99
Pale ruby red. Smooth, characterful nose with tobacco, herb and cherry notes. Same on palate, very smooth but with enough acidity to keep it sharp. More red berry and bitter-cherry fruit, good long finish. Nicely done.

Martin Brothers (San Luis Obispo, California) Nebbiolo 1996 - £9.99
The great, tannic grape of Barolo made in a fruity, more approachable style. Pale orangy-red colour. Dusty, sweet, red fruit nose with creamy oak. Palate is rounded and smooth with darker, bramble fruit and dark-roasted coffee. Really quite grippy still and might need a little time. Very good.

Amador Foothills (California) Zinfandel 1995 - £10.99
Dark crimson colour. Tight, restrained, nose. Hints of pepper and spice. Tannic wine, dry and seriously styled. Rich fruit beneath the grippy tannins, cherries and blackberries. Dis-jointed, but should come together with time.

Quinta de la Giesta (Portugal) red wine 1996 - £4.99
Lightly perfumed nose, but giving little away. Very stripped-down style on the palate. Chewy, with dry, woody tannins and high acidity. Not giving much pleasure.

Cartuxa (Portugal) Tinto (red wine) 1995 - £10.99
Ruby red with brown on rim. Seductive nose of vanilla and red fruits with a distinct peppery note and some sweet, flowery, violet scents. Broad, creamy palate with plenty of ripe, vibrant fruit softened by oak. Long harmonious finish. Styled like a decent Rioja Reserva, I'd have been happier if this was a pound or two cheaper.

Fortified wines

Valdespino Fino Innocente Sherry - £7.95
Beautifully delicate, dry nutty nose with refined yeasty aromas and mineral notes. The dry, balanced palate is very clean and structured with layers of non-fruit flavours, great length and lovely harmony.

Valdespino Manzanilla Sherry - £7.49
Very pale, hint of straw. Delicious, cool nose with some citrus fruit and a nutty aroma. Palate has a classic and very distinct salty tang, more dry, elegant nutty flavours and a long finish. Another fine Sherry.

Niepoort "Petres" Vintage Port 1990 - £14.99
This wine, "Petres" is something like a Bordeaux "Second wine". It is not a true Vintage Port (made only in years declared as vintage) and it's not a "Single Quinta" either, as it is often made in years when a vintage is declared. Production is small and, unless you live in Scotland and near a branch of Peckham's, this might be hard to track down - but it would be worth it. Quite a youthful, dense, ruby colour. Silky and seductive nose crammed with warm summer berries, chocolate and rich, sweet plummy fruit. The palate continues the opulent theme, smooth and very concentrated with lush, ripe tannins, a creamy depth and lighter, flowery notes peaking through. Good length. A fine, mature Port, but still with 10 years ahead of it.