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Tasting notes for my top wines of 1997

by Tom Cannavan

Red - Domaine Dujac, Echézeaux, Grand Cru 1989
Lovely pale mahogany colour. Gorgeous animal nose with burnt sugar and deep, caramel, slightly sherried scents, but beautiful. Really rich mocha coffee notes becoming more and more pronounced. Lovely on the palate too: mouth filling, rich, lovely sour cherry fruit and a raft of soft, silky tannin. A sumptuous wine with clove spice notes in the finish and great length - really first class. A complete and beguiling wine.

White - Niellon, Chassagne-Montrachet, 1er Cru "Champgains"
Straw colour, perhaps edging towards gold. Huge concentration of leesy aromas. Really powerful on the nose. Excellent integration of fresh oak, buttery fruit and a very clean, mineral edge to the acidity. Full bodied but not flabby. Classy finish. Very good indeed.

Budget red - 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.

Budget white - CVNE, Monopole barrel fermented white Rioja 1993
Lovely pale golden colour. Yeasty, buttery, tropical fruit nose and good weight on the palate with luscious fruit, buttery oak and hints of cinnamon spice. Finish is very pure and quite long. Tastes like a decent white burgundy. Very good. updated Still drinking very well indeed. Gloriously complex, bready, minerally, non-fruit characteristics evolving. Must try the latest vintage.

Sweet - Château d'Yquem, Sauternes, Premier Cru Supérieur 1989
Tasted 4 times now with very consistent notes. Beautiful honey gold colour. Rich botrytis nose of honey, nuts, candied fruits, orange marmalade and amaretti biscuits. Little bit of vanilla custardy new oak. Amazing complexity on nose and palate. Tropical fruits - dried pineapple, banana, guava, mango. Texture is rich, luscious, almost syrupy. Acidity is round and expansive and maintains the finish which is long, pure and fills the senses. Wonderful now but hinting at quite a future.

Sparkling - Pol Roger Vintage Champagne Extra Dry 1988
Nice deeper gold colour. Very fresh on the nose, with lovely biscuity component and hints of green beans. Seems sweet on the palate, almost sherbety, yet round and full with beautiful grapefruit acidity and a harmonious, elegant finish. Great length with a lingering purity of fruit. Reserved and complex, without being austere. Excellent.

Fortified - Gonzalez Byass, Amontillado del Duque NV
Consistently my favourite sherry and one of the world's great wines. Glowing tawny colour. Stunning nose of walnuts, sultanas, rich sticky toffee pudding. Medium body and absolutely packed with harmonius flavours of toasted nuts, caramel and something with an edge - minerals? Absolutely bone dry. Extraordinary finish (50 seconds easily) evolving all the time with warm, toffee and chocolate nuances. Stunning.

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