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International Wine Challenge

Training Day Part II - red and fortified wines, 03/99

Please see Part I for a full explanation of the event to which these tasting notes refer .

The tasting was double-blind - we knew neither the identity of the specific wine in the glass, nor the names of those wines included in the Training Day. Included were some wines that had been doctored to exhibit flaws.


Flight Five - Spanish/Portuguese style wines

Wine Number 29
Zingy purple colour. Ripe cherry fruit on the nose, but loaded with sulphur too. Unclean. Out of condition. Score=0
Casa de la Viña (Spain) Tempranillo 1998. Score=0 (H2S, added acidity, Cardboardy)

Wine Number 30
Dark red. Attractive berry nose. Quite earthy. palate displays good firm fruit, quite savoury with firm tannins and a long finish. Score=17
Viña Alacorta (Spain) Tempranillo 1996. Score=15.5-17.5

Wine Number 31
Very dense crimson/black. Rather brackish. Flat on the palate, vestiges of some nice fruit but rather high acidity. Score=13
Vila Santa (Portugal) Alentejo 1997. Score=16.5-17.5
I'm certainly prepared to accept I got this wrong, not being a great expert on Portugeuse reds and that peculiarly high acidity that seems to be a trait.

Wine Number 32
Darkish crimson/black. Minty, ripe fruit on nose. Quite chewy, serious stuff, tannic and tight but a good core of fruit. Score=16
Foral (Portugal) Douro 1996. Score=12-14

Wine Number 33
Deep ruby/crimson. Lovely fruit. A hint of vanillin. Ripe berries, cool and creamy palate. Fruit-driven with mouth-coating tannins but complex and balanced. Score=18
Palmela (Portugal) Particular Aliança 1996. Score=15-17

Flight Six - Italian style

Wine Number 34
Deep cherry red. Sweet mint-humbug and caramel nose. Sour cherry fruit on the palate and drying tannins. Chianti? Score=15
Ramandiola (Italy) Sangiovese di Romagna Riserva. Score=14.5-16

Wine Number 35
Cherry red. Nice nose of cherries, bright with an almondy edge. Rather non-descript fruit on palate, no great character, but decent balance. Score=14
Ghiberti (Italy) Chianti 1996. Score=12.5-14

Wine Number 36
Medium crimson colour. Appealing nose, slightly minty. Light/medium bodied. Bitter-sweet fruit and high acidity, but good with food. Score=15.5
Terme III (Italy) Barbera d'Asti 1996. Score=16-17

Wine Number 37
Dark crimson. Berry fruit, some old-wood, polished aromas. Palate has nicely balanced bitter-sweet cherry fruit. Lots of tannin and high acidity, but good balance and length. Score=17
PoggioPiano (Italy) Chianti Classico 1996. Score=16-17.5

Flight Seven - Cabernets and Merlots


we were told the last two wines of this flight were not necessarily Cab/Merlot.

Wine Number 38
Light ruby. Herbaceous, dull, hay-like aromas. Vegetal, thin and not clean. Score=0
Doctored wine. Score=0 (mouldy and volatile)

Wine Number 39
Medium/dark crimson. Similarly dull flavours. Tinny, unpleasant. Score=10
La Baume (France) Vin de Pays Cabernet Sauvignon 1997. Score=12-14
Panel decribed it as "not bad, but dull and green"

Wine Number 40
Medium ruby. Sweetish nose of light berry fruit. Light, herbal cabernet flavours but rather short and faintly medicinal. Score=13
Yvon Mau (France) Bordeaux Rouge 1997. Score=12.5-14

Wine Number 41
Very dark, deep colour. Nice nose of berry fruits. A little coffee and plum depth too. Big dusty tannins, though not quite living up to promise of nose and massively tannic. Score=16
Château Siran (Margaux) 1995. Score=16-17.5

Wine Number 42
Medium deep crimson. Nose has spice - cinammon - and bright cherry aromas. palate has more of the same but rather light, herbal flavours. Decent finish. Score=14
Hardys (Australia) Nottage Hill Cabernet/Shiraz 1997. Score=12.5-14

Wine Number 43
Dark red, some browning. Maderised? Score=?
Hardys (Australia) Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 1996. Score=16-17.5
Ehh....I took a first sniff of this and thought it burnt and volatile, took a second and thought it might actually be big, concentrated fruit. I decided to take a five minute breather. When I came back I forgot to re-taste it and left the score blank.

Wine Number 44
Dark crimson red. A bit sulphurous. Beyond that, some good dark fruit. A bit green, but really quite good with some airing. Some structure and decent length. Score=17
Mapocho (Chile) Merlot 1997. Score=13-15
Yes, I was a bit generous I think.

Wine Number 45
Dark, youthful crimson/black. Red fruit nose. Quite good definition of fruit, with firm tannins and high acidity, but juicy and savoury. Score=17
Mapocho (Chile) Merlot Reserva 1995. Score=14.5-16

Wine Number 46
Medium ruby. Nose of blackcurrant fruit, some cedary notes. Medium-bodied, with juicy, uncomplicated fruit and some structure. Needs food. Score=15.5
Hautes-Côtes de Nuits (producer not given) Bourgogne 1995. Score=16-17.5

Wine Number 47
Pale ruby/orange. Slightly sherried quality on the nose. Subdued red fruit. A bit harsh and lacking fruit on the palate. Mean. Score=13
Drouhin (France) Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge 1994. Score=13.5-15

Flight Eight - General Reds

Wine Number 48
Mid crimson. Rather weak pastille fruit on the nose. Palate is lacking fruit too - lots of tannin and acidity, a bit unbalanced. Score=12
Paul Boutinot (France) Julienas 1996. Score=15.5-17
The maker of this wine, Paul Boutinot, was on the panel. I may have been a bit harsh, but I still can't see it being worth a silver medal.

Wine Number 49
Pale, bright ruby. Similar to previous wine, with rather weak high-toned fruit. Slightly better on palate with hints of strawberry fruit but again swamped by angular acidity and tannins. Grenache? Score=12
Waitrose Côtes du Rhône NV. Score=12.5-14

Wine Number 50
Deeper crimson/ruby. More distinctive nose, but similar profile of peppery, creamy fruit. Weightier in the mouth, nice mouthfeel and substantial earthy fruit. Tannic. Score=16
Waitrose Gigondas (France) 1996. Score=16-17.5

Wine Number 51
Vibrant cherry/ruby. Dank nose. has some good, robust fruit beneath though. Peppery and dense. Score=15
Hardys (Australia) Stamp Series 1998. Score=11-13

Wine Number 52
Very dense, dark, purple/black. Big, minty, high-toned shiraz nose. Robustly fruity, peppery and dense. Very grippy too. Score=18.5
Chateau Reynella (Australia) Basket Press Shiraz 1995. Score=17-19

Wine Number 53
Light red. A bit leafy, but vegetal, flabby and out of balance. Score=10
Stonebridge (California) Zinfandel 1995. Score=14-16
No way could I see this as a medal winning wine

Wine Number 54
Unpleasant nose. Rubbery, little fruit. Stinky. Score=10
Culemburg (South Africa) Pinotage 1997. Score=12-14
Panel decribed it as "green...iodine character....unripe, hard finish".

Wine Number 55
Dark blackish/crimson. Forest-fruit nose. Quite intense. Again, cool palate of some berry fruit, but doesn't quite convince. Score=14
Château Pech-Latt (France) Corbières 1997. Score=14-16

Wine Number 56
Healthy dark crimson/purple. Burning embers and sweet, peppery fruit. Zinfandel? Lots of tannin and some slightly baked fruit. Decent, but lacks vitality. Score=13
Waitrose Minervois (France) NV. Score=11-12.5

Wine Number 57
Vivid crimson/purple. Dark, vegetal nose. Nicely ripe fruit on palate with some charcoal flavours, but fruit to the fore. Drying tannins swamp the finish. Score=14
Clos Malverne (South Africa) Pinotage 1997. Score=15-16.5

Wine Number 58
Pale ruby. Stalky, rhubarby, oddly vegetal nose. Wishy-washy and carrying little fruit or class. Score=10
Doctored wine. Score=10 (Volatile Acidity)

Flight 10 - Fortified wines

Wine Number 59
Fine Fino sherry nose. A little salty note - could be Manzanilla? Nutty, apple fruit and bone-dry. Score=15
González Byass (Spain) Tio Pepe Sherry. Score=16.5-18

Wine Number 60
Pale yellow. Dry sherry nose. Dry on palate with some nutty, yeasty flavours, but a bit raw and alcoholic. Score=13
Tesco Finest Solera Fino Sherry. Score=12.5-14

Wine Number 61
Very dark ruby. Quite sweet, chewy fruit. Some caramel. A bit raw, a bit hot - not great class ruby Port. Score=13
Sandeman Partners Ruby Port. Score=12.5-14

Wine Number 62
Dark ruby. Rather dull, flabby nose. Tastes dull and oxidised, a bit tired. Score=10
Sandeman LBV Port 1994. Score=16.5-17.5
I would have dearly loved to re-taste this. A big aberration, or was my bottle a bad one?

Wine Number 63
Sweet and caramelly Tawny Port. Nuts, cream and toffee. Decent. Score=15
Sandeman Finest Tawny Port. Score=12.5-14

Wine Number 64
Another Tawny Port, but much better. Sweet vanilla and coffee scents, depth, good sweetness and length. Score=16
Sandeman 20 Year Old Tawny Port. Score=17.5-19

Wine Number 65
Red/tawny colour. This is back to Sherry and a nice old wine. Good walnut and caramel flavours. Nice acidity, lovely balance and length. Score=17.5
González Byass Apóstoles Sherry. Score=18-19.5

Part I - white and sweet