Decanter Magazine runs a number of
tastings each year: the biggest is the Fine Wine Encounter. This year it
took place, as in previous years, at the Landmark Hotel next to Marylebone
Station in London.
There is always a vast number of producers and individual wines to taste:
this year three grand rooms in the hotel held 101 producers' stands, each with
up to ten wines available for tasting (most had 6 to 8 wines). Most
producers bring their top wines, many unavailable in the UK or unavailable
anywhere as they're sold out (only 500 bottles were made of one wine I tasted!).
Obviously, it's not possible to taste all the wines on offer. I tend to
base my selection of what to taste based on two main factors: wines I'm
particularly interested in and stands that do not have huge crowds around
Alongside this huge walk-round tasting are a series of masterclasses,
offering in-depth looks at particular growers/producers or themes. I was
lucky enough to get a ticket for a Vega Sicilia masterclass, at which we tasted
six vintages of Vega Sicilia Unico, including 1964, 1953 and 1942 (click
here for the notes of that)
The following notes are in the order they appear in the useful notebook/catalogue provided, not the order tasted. Marks are on a roughly 4-9 scale.
Champagne Boizel Grand Vintage 1996
Gorgeous toasty nose. Super balance. Nice depth of flavour. 8++
Champagne Boizel Joyau de France 1995 Very yeasty nose. Light and very elegant. 7+
Weingut Jurtschitsch Sonnhof, Kamptal, Austria
Grüner Veltliner Alte Reben 2002
Lightish nose with some complexity. OK. 4
Grüner Veltliner Schenkenbichl 2001
The Schenkenbichl is a very small vineyard (< 1 ha).
No intelligible note on this, but it rated a 9.
Grüner Veltliner Spiegel Reserve 2002 50:50 aged in French oak and stainless steel.
Interesting nose. The oak is very prominent, but not to a detrimental
degree. Very round, rich palate. Possibly a little too full for a GV
for me. 7+
Riesling Zöbinger Heiligenstein 2002
Rather odd order they presented this in, directly after the oakiness of the
GV Spiegel Reserve, as there was still some oakiness in the glass, which
needed rinsing away with more of this.
Quite intense. Good acidity. Very good indeed. Nice and
racy, but all kept well in check and balance. 8+
Riesling Alte Reben 2002 Intense waxy nose. Very complex deep palate. Very excellent indeed. 9+
Riesling Zöbinger Heiligenstein Reserve 2002
Involved complex nose, but a bit unforgiving. Very full and
rich. Very good, but I'm not convinced about oaking riesling. 8
Riesling Zöbinger Heiligenstein Auslese 1999 Excellent nose. Beeswax candle and minerals. Quite sweet on
attack. Seems a little disparate. Ok. 4
Grüner Veltliner Trockenbeerenauslese 1998 A botrytis nose, and little else. Lovely palate. Real
grüner veltliner class with excellent botrtyis sweetness integration.
Riesling Zöbinger Heiligenstein Trockenbeerenauslese 2000 Very straightforward botrytised Riesling nose. Interesting palate:
not too dominated by sweetness. But rather simple. 6+
Weingut Knipser, Pfalz, Germany
Im grossen Garten, Riesling Grosses Gewächs 2002 Rather closed nose. Racy acidity. Very open. Good/Very
Himmelsrech Riesling Grosses Gewächs 2002,
Good Riesling nose. Not showing especially well says Herr Knipser, but I really like it. 8
Steinbuckel Riesling Grosses Gewächs 2002 Spicy nose hiding riesling fruit. Good weight. 7
Chardonnay & Weissburgunder Spätlese Trocken 2002 Made entirely in stainless steel.
Nice open nose with good interest. Very interesting. Light and
clean. Very good indeed. 8
Chardonnay *** Auslese Trocken 1999 Fermented in oak.
Interesting chardonnay nose. Very full. Too much oak. 3
Spätburgunder Spätlese Trocken, Red 1999
Fairly light PN nose. Lovely soft attack. Round, clean. Light soft. Very easy and very approachable. 8
Domaine Paul Blanck, Alsace I know the wines, or at least the rieslings, of Frédéric and Philippe
Blanck fairly well having first encountered them some five years ago on a visit
to Alsace. When we visited Kientzheim, where the domaine is based, we were
treated to a huge and fascinating comparative tasting of riesling terroirs, with
wines from each of the sites where the Blancks have vines (see map at http://www.blanck.com/eng/technique2.htm).
The Blancks are real 'terroirists' (and Philippe's style of leading tasting can
be terrifying for the novice!) to the point that sometimes I feel the terroir is
too dominant and overshadows the fruit, making the wines a little too
Pinot Blanc 2002 Bottled in a Stelvin screwcap, which excited some interest among many
tasters. I overheard Frédéric Blanck telling one particularly
insistent visitor to his stand that "Wine is made to age. Corks
do not age." Perhaps overstating it slightly, but the move to
Stelvin should banish the problems of corked wines until such time as the
Portuguese cork producers sort themselves out and remove the problem of TCA
during the production process.
Back to the Pinot Blanc: nice nose. A decent, fairly basic Alsatian
pinot blanc. Fresh and aromatic; good but nothing particularly
Riesling 2002 The Domaine's basic riesling, vinified in temperature controlled
Quite a rich nose with some minerals. Good depth. A very
acceptable Alsace Riesling with loads of character. Very good. 8
Riesling Schlossberg 2000,
Riesling from the Grand Cru Schlossberg vineyard, so steep that it is
Excellent mineral laden nose, with some citrus and peaches coming through. Quite different to the "ordinary" Blanck riesling tasted immediately before. Amazing stuff. Huge elegance. Pure terroir. 9
Pinot Gris Patergarten 2002
Superb nose - steely tropical fruit. Very nice weight. Fair sweetness to it. Huge terroir character, unusual in PG.
Rather young of course, and still some way to go. 8+
Gewurztraminer 2002 Excellent restrained gewurztraminer nose - remarkably elegant.
Light, balanced, and not at all over the top, with an excellent, finely
judged level of extraction. 8+
Gewurztraminer Altenbourg 2001
Really elegant aromatic nose - herbaceous with light lychees. Superb palate. Lovely body. Richness, but v. well balanced. 8++
Pinot Gris Furstentum Sélection de Grain Nobles 1996
Furstentum is another Grand Cru vineyard, 400 m above sea level and
Magnificent nose with a real terroir feel - initially a coppery slatiness, then marmelade and honey. Gorgeous attack. Very intense and concentrated.
Fantastic now, but decades ahead of it. 9-
Clos des Lambrays, Burgundy
Puligny-Montrachet, 1er Cru Clos du Cailleret 2001,
Lovely nose. Very impressive. VG complexity. 8+
Domaine Laroche, Burgundy
Michel Laroche Chablis St Martin 2002 Clean, fresh. Decent. 4+
Michel Laroche Réserve de l'Obédience 1995 en magnum
Only 2000 magnums made, and no single bottles, this is a blend of Grand Cru
Much more evolved, more complex nose. Nice bit of age on it.
Round, big depths of interest. Very good, but in a middle phase
between clean, fresh minerality and maturity: at the moment it's neither one
nor the other. 7+
Michel Laroche Chablis 1er Cru Vaudevey 2001 Single vineyard. Quite steely nose. Decent complexity.
Michel Laroche Chablis 1er Cru Chantrerie 2001 A blend of premiers crus. Pretty classic stuff. Minerally.
Michel Laroche Chardonnay Peyroli South of France 2001 Very good chardonnay fruit. Good ripe, warm climate
chardonnay. Fairly simple. Good. 5+
Michel Laroche & Jorge Coderch Rio Azul Chardonnay 2002 Decent, well-made Chilean Chardonnay. Good. 5
Henri de Villamont, Burgundy
Bourgogne Chardonnay Prestige 2002 Nice lightly oaked chardonnay nose with some tropical fruit.
Lovely feel. Nice character. Very good indeed. 8(+)
Pouilly-Fuissé Clos Reyssie 1999 Dreamy nose. A bit simple on the palate. Very good though
and excellent after. 8
Auxy Duresses Blanc 2000 Very good nose. Very Good Indeed. 8+
Saint Romain Blanc 2000 Quite a closed nose, but still showing some complexity. Lovely
balance. Very Good. 7+
Meursault 2000 Very complex nose. Big complex palate. Lots of layers.
Huge. Massive length. Very Good Indeed. 8++
Savigny les Beaune, Le Village 2000,
Super nose. Lovely palate. Elegant. Depth. Very good indeed. 8+
Savigny les Beaune, Clos des Guettes 2001 More closed nose. Superb palate and body. Quite powerful and
serious. Very Good. 7++
Chambolle Musigny, 1er Cru Les Baudes 2000 Animal nose with raspberries. Very Good. 8-
Louis Jadot, Burgundy
Château de Jacques, Beaujolais Blanc 2001 Light, quite fragrant and delicate. Fair depth. Actually
quite good. 6
Château de Jacques, Clos de Loyse, Bourgogne Blanc 2000 Elegant, clean buttery nose with some toastiness. Unexceptional in
the mouth. OK. 5
Château de la Tuilerie, Rhône
Costières de Nîmes - Vielles Vignes White 2002 60% Grenache blanc, 40% marsanne
Pineapple nose with some vanilla. Very fresh, light & clean.
Complex with loads of layers. Very Good Indeed. 8++
Delas Frères, Rhône
Crozes-Hermitage White 2001 Very good nose - very enticing. Palate doesn't quite live up to
the promise of the nose. Seems a touch ordinary. Grows on me
though. Good. 7-
Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, Rhône
La Roquette White, Châteauneuf du Pape 2002 Bizarre nose. Highly confected and very distinctive. Not
entirely attractive though. On the palate, it is very full flavoured.
Just seems odd to me. Very powerful flavours with huge length.
Can't say I like it. 4+
Vieux Télégraphe White, Châteauneuf du Pape 2002 Much more normal nose than the La Roquette. Attractive. Nice
structure. Super length. Very attractive. Very Good.
Maison Chapoutier, Rhône
Condrieu 2002 100% viognier.
Very elegant, restrained Condrieu nose with nice ripeness and a bit of
marzipan. Good attack. Bit disjointed on plate. Excellent
after, but doesn't really show on the palate. Good. 5+
Hermitage Chante-Alouette Blanc 2000, Chapoutier
100% marsanne. Very full nose. Very striking. Excellent palate. Really very
savoury. Real weight. Excellent. 9+
Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers 2001 Closed, spicy nose. Bit plain. 4+
Saint Joseph Deschants 2001 Soft fruity nose. Excellent soft structure with nice fruit.
Very good. 7
Domaines Ott, Provence
Domaines Ott, Clos Mireille, Blanc de Blanc, Provence 2001 50% Ugni Blanc: 50% Semillon.
Light colour. Fresh, simple nose. Showing more on the palate
than on the nose. Some weight. Interesting honey note.
Good length. I'm impressed by this. 6
Domaines Ott, Château de Selle Rosé, Coeur de Grain, Provence 2002 A blend of cabernet sauvignon and cinsault.
Dull nose. Light. Innocuous. 3
Château de Leoube, Rosé, Provence 2002 A blend of cinsault, grenache and mourvèdre.
Ok nose. More body than the Château de Selle. Fair. 3+
Mas de Daumas Gassac, Languedoc
Mas de Daumas Gassac Blanc 2002 A blend of equal quantities of chardonnay, viognier and petit manseng,
with 10% from various other varieties (including some rather weird ones
better err "known" from places like Armenia and Georgia).
Fabulous nose. Very floral and herbaceous. Excellent rich
attack. Good weight with lots of class, though not especially
heavy. Very good indeed. 8
Mas de Daumas Gassac Blanc 1992
Unoaked. Much more evolved than the 2002 tasted immediately prior (which had had a bit of oak). Huge interesting depths. Lots of body. Very ripe flavours. 9
Domaine Rabiega, Provence Owned by the Swedish company V&S, better known for Absolut Vodka and
Clos Dière Blanc 2002, Vin Du Pays du Var 30% Chardonnay, 60% sauvignon blanc, 10% viognier, aged six months in
Oak-dominated nose. Light and unstructured on the palate.
Clos Dière Blanc 1999, Vin Du Pays du Var Same blend and process as the 2002.
Much more integrated nose with peach and gooseberry fruit now coming
through. More complex that the 2002 on the palate too, but still a bit
Clos Dière Cuvée I 2000 100% syrah, aged for 12 months in new French oak.
A very enticing garriquey nose with animal notes. Good. 6+
Clos Dière Cuvée I 1999 Same cépages and process as for the 2000.
Good nose, if a bit dull. Nice body, but a bit unexciting.
Carbase Rabiega 2001 Made from Carignan grapes at the Château d'Esclans.
Soft, gentle berry nose. Very nice in the mouth. Lovely fruit
character. Very Good Indeed. 8(+)
Mourbase Rabiega 2000 Made from Mourvèdre grapes at the Château d'Esclans.
Animalistic, slightly cheesy nose. Quite simple on the palate.
Clos Dière Cuvée I 1993 The top wine from Rabiega, now with some decent age on it.
Excellent nose. Really elegant fruit on palate. Long and quite
complex. Soft tannic finish. Very Good Indeed. 8-
Domaine de l'Hortus, Languedoc
Bergerie de l'Hortus, Blanc, Vin de Pays, Val de Montferand 2002 A blend of chardonnay, viognier, sauvignon and roussanne.
Elegant floral nose. Good body, well structured. Pleasing.
Domaine de l'Hortus, Blanc, Vin de Pays, Val de Montferand 2002 A blend of chardonnay and viognier.
Very young, slightly closed nose. Rather disjointed. Bottle
shock? Rather thin. 4
Les Vins Skalli, Languedoc
Robert Skalli Chardonnay 2001 The grapes come from two terroirs: one hot, one cool. One third is
fermented in oak (half of which is new, half one-year old), two-thirds in
Very fruity nose - load of peach and even a bit of honey. Fresh, quite
zesty. Not too fat. Good. 6
Château de Lascaux, Languedoc (Pic St Loup)
Rouge 'Les Nobles Pierres' Pic St Loup 2000 Very warm, inviting nose. Nice character. 6-
Rouge 'Les Secrets' Coteaux du Languedox 2000 Very dark.. Good fruit. Nice depth. Good. 5+
Blanc Coteaux du Languedoc 2002 Mainly marsanne and roussanne.
Citrussy garriquey nose. Light body. Quite round. Fresh
and very clean. 5+
Blanc 'Les Pierres d'Argent' 2002 Mainly marsanne and roussanne again. 10 months in barrique with
batonnage of lees.
Complex nose with good use of oak. Much more rounded style and
easier to drink, with more body than the Coteaux du Languedoc white.
Mount Difficulty Wines, Central Otago, New Zealand
Good chardonnay nose - nothing special. Very little oak. Excellent palate. Good, complex depth.
Very Good Indeed. 8
Chardonnay 2002 Ripe butter nose. More oak immediately obvious - and on the palate
as well as the nose. Probably about to close down a bit. Very
Sauvignon Blanc 2002 An asparagus nose. Much fatter than the 2003 (14% alc!). Full. 8
Sauvignon Blanc 2003 Very classic nose. Good acid. Quite searingly dry. 8
Pinot Gris 2003 Lovely PG fruit nose. Very well-knit. Round with a nice
ripeness. Huge, huge spice on finish. Good. 6+
Seresin Estate, Marlborough, New Zealand
Sauvignon Blanc 2003
Part oak fermented and a touch of semillon in the blend.
Classic cat's pee nose, but moderated (by the semillon?). Excellent
palate. Huge length. 5++
Marama Sauvignon 2002 100% aged in French oak for 12 months.
Big oaky nose. Too much oak. Really a very different style and
not to my taste. 5
Pinot Gris 2003 Very clean, pure PG nose with lots of tropical fruit. Rich on
palate. Good weight and body. Very clean, classic pinot gris.
Riesling 2001 Very pure, limey nose. Pure, light, yet intense. Very good
acidity on finish. Not hugely impressive. 4
Reserve Chardonnay 2002 Barrel fermented; batonnage of lees.
Clean chardonnay nose. Very pleasant. Good structure and very
nice depth of flavour. Very Good. 6-
Kim Crawford Wines, Marlborough, New Zealand
Marlborough Dry Riesling 2003
Clean crisp pure riesling nose. Great depth of flavour. Touch of spice Excellent length. 8
Marlborough Pinot Gris 2003 Not especially open nose. Clean. Simple. OK. 4-
Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2003 Heavy gooseberry-laden nose. Very good mouthfeel. Tropical
fruit and herbaceous muskiness. Goodish. 4+
Marlborough Unoaked Chardonnay 2003
Perfumed stone fruit on the nose. Big on the palate. Excellent
fruit - lots of rich tropical flavours and a touch of sweetness. 7-
Casa Lapostolle, Colchagua, Chile
Classic Sauvignon 2003
Very grassy, green style with floral notes. Good mouthfeel on
attack. Very interesting richness. Very Good Indeed. 8-
Classic Chardonnay 2002 50% matured in oak.
Classic chardonnay nose. Not distinctive, but very good. 7(+)
Tanao de Casa Lapostolle 2001 A blend of chardonnay, semillon and sauvignon blanc. Designed for the
on-trade and to be drunk with food.
Light nose, a bit less than the sum of its parts. Quite simple.
OK for what it is. 5+
Fransola, Sauvignon Blanc/Parellada 2002 Really attractive nose. Rather harsh on plate. Ok-ish. 3
Milmanda, Chardonnay 2001 Restrained, quite pure chardonnay nose with light oaking. A touch
austere, but reasonably attractive. 4+
Lopez de Heredia, Rioja
Viña Gravonia White Crianza 1993 100% viura.
Big nose: oak, citrus, marzipan. Nice richness. Very good. 7
Viña Tondonia White Reserva 1987
Interesting light elegant nose. Herby, biscuity, nutty with a touch of honey. Excellent balance.
Viña Tondonia White Gran Reserva 1981
Gorgeous evolved nose. Light and delicate. Clearly showing its age. Immensely elegant. Dry, nutty. 8
Viña Tondonia Red Reserva 1996 Very atttractive. Plenty of fruit. Very Good Indeed. 8
Viña Bosconia Red Reserva 1996 Soft fruity nose. Nice light fruit. Quite a light
style. Very Good. 7
Viña Tondonia Red Gran Reserva 1985, Rioja
Lovely colour - nice and mature. Lovely gentle fruit nose with a touch of VA. Delicate, elegant attack. Bit lacking fruit. A very graceful old lady.
Very Good Indeed. 8+
Viña Bosconia Red Gran Reserva 1981, Rioja
Delightful colour. Gorgeous nose. Very full. Pleny of fruit and life. Real elegance and class.
Very Good Indeed. 8+(+)
Bodegas Bretón, Rioja
Loriñòn White Oak Fermented 2002 100% Viura. Completely different style to Lopez de Heredia. Light,
elegant. Good character on finish. Nice acid. Good. 6
Loriñòn Red Reserva 1998 OK nose. Lovely mouthfeel. Very ripe fruit and very good
structure. Very Good Indeed. 8
Loriñòn Red Gran Reserva 1996
Aromatic nose with vanilla and light spicing. Very good soft
fruit. Elegant. Good length. Very Good. 7
Dominio de Conte Reserva 1998 Rather nice nose. Good. Great structure. 6+
Alba de Bretón Reserva 1998
100% tempranillo. Very round soft nose. Concentrated - super concentrated pure
tempranillo. Nice structure. Clean, elegant, balanced. 8
Pagos del Camino 2000
100% grenache. Soft, rather closed nose. Huge fruit. gentle tannins. Interesting spice on finish. Great length.
Very Good Indeed. 8(+)
Bodegas Primicia, Rioja Alavesa
Bodegas Primicia Reserva 1999 Lovely classic Rioja nose. Good fruit. Very good. 7+
Juan Ramón Madrid Reserva de la Familia 1999 Closed nose. Concentrated fruit. Big structure. Very Good.
Viña Carravalseca Reserva 1999 20 months in new French oak.
Very deep concentrated fruit on nose. Big tannins. Brooding. 7
Abadia Retuerta, Sardón del Duero, Spain
Pago Negralada 1999
100% tempr, 24 months in Allier & Limousin oak. Deep powerful nose, but with an elegant aromatic, herby note. Intense and immediately mouthfilling with gorgeous complex sweet (but not
jammy) fruit. Would guess it had lots of cab sauv in it. Heavenly, (as it should be at £50-£60 a bottle) 9+
Pago Valdebellón 1999
100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24 months in Allier & Limousin oak. Very intense, concentrated nose with sweet, spices and fruit and an interesting
minerality. Intense fruit on the palate. Highly enjoyable now, but 20 years ahead of it. 9
Zuani Collio Bianco 2002 Barrel fermented, barrel aged. Cold maceration. Made to
Nice oakiness, but not overdone. 6-
Fazi Battaglia, Italy (Marche & Tuscany)
Le Moie - Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Superiore 2002
Single vineyard le Moie, entirely stainless steel production. Very fresh and fragrant and floral. Very interesting. Very full flavoured and very elegant. 8(+?)
San Sisto - Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Superiore 1999 Used oak barrels.
Complex, interesting nose, but unlike the Massaccio, the complexity is
clearly from the oak. Superb in mouth, but I feel that the oak is
turning it into a chardonnay lookalike, muffling the verdicchio
Massaccio Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Superiore 2001
Late harvest, entirely stainless steel. Widespread green harvest July.
Very subtle and complex nose. Very interesting, complex, deep flavours. Good fruit. Great depth. Very good length. 8+
Arkezia Muffo di San Sisto Marche 2000
This is essentially a botrytised verdicchio dei castelli di Jesi, aged in French oak 225 litre barrels for 14 months, followed by 6 months in bottle before release.
Rather simple botrytis nose with floral notes, ripe fruit and a touch of light honey. Excellent. Very fine and very elegant with a haunting length. Acid from the verdicchio keeps it from being too sweet. Gorgeous stuff. 8++
Pasiteo - Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2000 Restrained nose. Good clean fruit. Lots of structure.
Tannic finish. Good/Very Good. 7-
Gersemi - Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2000
90% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot & CabSauv. 12 months in Slavonian oak vats, then 12 in
barriques, followed by 10 months in bottle.
Open, approachable fruity nose. soft gentle attack. Excellent fruit and structure with a nice bitterness on the middle. Long. 8 (just)
Salarco - Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 1999
85% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and Mammolo. 3 years aging - 24 months in Slovenian oak vats, 12 months in small
Broad, expansive nose. Very attractive. Good structure. Very attractive mouthfeel. 8
Grattamacco - ColleMassari, Tuscany, Italy
Grattamacco Rosso Bolgheri Superiore 2000 55% cabernet sauvignon; 20% merlot; 25% sangiovese
Very deep involving nose. Complex structure on the palate. Deep
and interesting but still too young. 7+
Collemassari Rosso Montecucco 2000
A Tuscan DOC that I wasn't aware of. 95% Sangiovese. Meaty gamey nose. Big boned, lots of body, well shaped. Very interesting. Lots of character. Super length.
Very Good Indeed. 8+
Castello della Paneretta, Tuscany, Italy
Chianti Classico 2000
85% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo No oak - stainless steel only.
Deep serious nose. V impressive immediately. Full deep flavours, Good structure & length without excessive tannins.
Very Good Indeed. 8+
Chianti Classico Riserva Torre a Destra 1998
100% Sangiovese from a single vineyard planted with 35-year old vines and an average yield of 4500 l/ha. 50% aged in barrique, 50% in large oak vats for 14 months, then 18 months in bottle.
Very good warm, inviting nose with spice. Lovely smooth, velvety attack. Very big structure, yet delicate and remarkably elegant. Pureness of character.
Very Good Indeed. 8++
50% Sangiovese; 50% Canaiolo. 12 months in barrique - one third new - 12 months in bottle.
Excellent character on the nose for a super Tuscan - much more Italianate than most. Soft, round, very ripe fruit. Slightly international style.
Very Good. 8
Brancaia, Tuscany, Italy
Brancaia Il Blu 2001
55% Sangiovese, 40% merlot, 5% cabernet sauvignon
Fascinating nose. Dark and super concentrated. Soft ripe fruit with a nice level of acidity. Lots of tannic structure. 8
Brancaia Chianti Classico 2001 20 months in oak (half new French barriques, half in used barriques),
followed by 6 months in bottle
Very concentrated nose. Good, very young, but approachable now.
Long. Clean. Very Good. 8-
Brancaia Tre 2001 A baby Super-Tuscan. 80% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot and Cabernet
Sauvignon. From 2002, Tre will have some Petit Verdot in it as well.
Intriguing nose. Quite light on attack but fills enormously.
Good balance. Very young. Huge tannins. Promising. 6
Agricola San Felice, Tuscany, Italy
70% vermentino, 30% sauvignon blanc
Very delicate and elegant. Slightly honeyed orangey nose. Very interesting. Very unusual style. Searingly dry, but very full and complex. Very attractive indeed.
Chianti Classico 2001 From the second selection of grapes.
Elegant, slightly scented nose. Big fruit. Soft, forward fruit
on the palate. Soft tannins on the finish. 5
Il Grigio Chianti Classico Riserva 2000 From the first selection of grapes.
Fuller richer style (as you'd expect!). More mature and more
evolved. Lovely classic Chianti. 6+
Poggio Rosso Chianti Classico Riserva 1999 Single vineyard, aged in 500l barrels.
Earthy aromatic nose. Soft rich fruit - quite ripe. Opening
out. But a lot of tannic structure, especially on the finish. 6
Vigorello 2000 60% sangiovese : 40% cabernet sauvignon
Deep an interesting nose - cherries, oak and a trace of blackcurrant.
Soft and enveloping. Good fruit. Nice structure. Shines
particularly on the finish when the sangiovese seems to show through. 7
Campogiovanni Brunello di Montalcino 1998 80,000 bottles produced.
Deep, elegant nose with an elegant truffle note. Super fruit.
Very round with great depths and layers. Very Good Indeed. 8
Il Quercione Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1997 Single vineyard. 8,000 bottles produced.
Soft elegant nose with deep concentration of fruit. Oddly, it eems a
touch simpler and less satisfying than the 1998 Campogiovanni. 6
Agricola Querciabella, Tuscany, Italy
Batàr 2001 IGT. 65% Chardonnay.
Very interesting nose - creamy and buttery with a good use of oak.
Seems a slightly oxidised style. OK. 4
Camartina 1997 Round leathery dark fruit. Soft luscious attack. Very big,
smooth and mouth filling. Huge, massive monster. Big tannins on
finish. Very Good. 7
Camartina 1999 Nice deep nose - very attractive. Excellent fruit. Pretty serious
Camartina 2000 60% Sangiovese, 35% cabernet sauvignon, 5% Merlot/Syrah
Dull nose. Goof fruit and structure. But a bit dull. 6(+)
Palafreno 2000 55% merlot : 45% sangiovese
Big, slightly jammy nose with some greenness. Excellent
mouthfeel. Very balanced and elegant with good tannins. 7-
Querciabella Chianti Classico 2001 90% Sangiovese
Good soft berry fruit on the nose. Light, elegant, nicely-balanced
attack and middle with tannic structure showing on finish. Very Good.
Querciabella Chianti Classico Riserva 1999 85% sangiovese
Aromatic cedary cherries on the nose. A lot more structure than the
straight 2001. Light fruit. A little disjointed at the moment. 5
Azienda Agricola Musella, Veneto, Italy
Bianco del Drago 2001 Old vine chardonnay.
Lightish chardonnay nose. Unexceptional. Pretty
straightforward. Good. 5
Conte Loredan Gasparini-Venegazzù
Falconera Bianco Marca Trevigiana 2002 A blend of manzoni bianco and chardonnay
Clean round nose with some fruit. Light and unexceptional. 5
Prosecco Brut Montello e Colli Asolani NV Light, fragrant fruit nose. Good mousse. Good clean mouthfeel.
Del Duque VORS Amontillado
Light, very elegant nose. Light palate fills enormously. Very complex. Very dry. Immense length, lingering without any change.
Very Good Indeed8+
Apostoles VORS Palo Cortado 3-5% PX. Very round rich nose - sultanas. Good fruit.
Nice balance. Creamy. Good. 7
Noé VORS PX Engine oil appearance. Very intense raisins and orange peel on
nose. Very Good Indeed. Excellent balance. Not
over-sweet. Excellent example of a PX sherry. 8++
Añada Vintage Gonzalez Byass 1979
Classified as a Palo Cortado. 500 bottles made. Fortified to 18%. In barrel for 18-20 years. Needs a large amount of air to release the nose - but ... wow! when it's released ... glorious: initially seems very dry and a touch astringent, but blossoms into creamy fruit. Quite un-sherry like on the attack. Rich, elegant fruit with some sherry characteristics. Really very very interesting indeed and very excellent indeed. Fascinating stuff. 10.
Lovely nutty nose - salted walnuts and almond. Very good, very complex mouthfeel. Searingly dry. Incredible length. 8
Gerovassiliou, Macedonia, Greece
Domaine Gerovassiliou Malagousia 2002 Curiously bretty nose - quite complex. Very full, rich flavours.
Big round mouthfull. Quite interesting. Good. 5+
Domaine Gerovassiliou Viognier 2002 Elegant viognier nose with hint of oak. Fairly international
style. Good. 5
Domaine Gerovassiliou Syrah 2000 Very soft syrah nose with a muskiness to it. Excellent fruit on
the palate. Very approachable initially, but tough tannins on finish,
ameliorated by huge spice. 5+
Domaine Gerovassiliou Red 2001 Interesting soft nose. Nice fruit. Clean, fresh. OK. 4
Red Greek varietals. Aromatic garriquey marjoram nose. Very attractive. Soft, approachable.
Tsantali, North Greece The Tsantali wines I found characterised above all by very pure fruit.
Metoxi Red 1999 (£7.49 Oddbins) Light slightly floral nose, which is reflected on the palate.
Chromitsa White 2002 Very light nose with butter and floral notes, but subdued. Decent
fruit and balance. Good. 5+
Rapsani Reserve Red 1998 (£6 Laithwaites)
Soft undistinguished fruity nose. Excellent clean round fruit in a
very balanced style. Very Good. 8-
Mt Athos Vineyards Red 1998 (£7 Laithwaites)
Mainly cabernet sauvignon and merlot.
Rather standard nose with good fruit. Ripe, slightly jammy on
palate. Good fruit. Excellent balance. 7+
Tsantali Organic Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 (£5.99, Waitrose)
Oak dominated CS nose. Good pure fruit. Elegant.
Balanced. Very Good. 7+
Michel Torino, Cafayate, Argentina
From what Nicolas Cornejo was saying, it sounds like the climate is not dissimilar to that of the Ribera del
Duero, with 350 hours of sunshine on average and wide diurnal temperature variations (typically 12 - 36 degrees C), which lead to the vines shutting down overnight. Michel Torino were showing wines at three quality levels, all of which had much of interest: the Coleccion wines, the Don David wines and Altimus (going up in that order).
Don David Torrontes 2003
Around 10-15% of the Don David Torrontes spends 10 months in American oak.
A very interesting nose - elegant and floral with a light oaking. Very good on the plated. Rounded and full. 8+
Don David Chardonnay 2003 30% barrel fermented and then aged in American oak for 10 months.
Complex nose - excellent balance. Very good balance and structure.
Very Good. 7+
Colección Malbec 2002 A rather unyielding nose hides concentrated plummy dark fruit.
Very approachable. Good, ripe but not overripe fruit. Nice
balance. Very Good. 7+
Colección Merlot 2002
Very soft plummy merlot fruit. Hugely approachable (as were all the Torino wines). Superb fruit.
Very Good Indeed. 8
Don David Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 Very elegant CS nose - very concentrated. Big, huge fruit.
Huge and complex. Very serious. Needs time. 8-
Don David Malbec 2002 Dark fruit nose, a bit unyielding. Big fruit attack. Huge
structure. Very Good. Serious stuff that needs time. 8--
A blend of malbec, syrah and cabernet sauvignon which spends 18 months in French oak.
Fascinating nose. Huge balance. Big fruit. Nice structure. Very integrated. Impressive & excellent. 9
Château Dereszla, Tokaji, Hungary (camped out on the stand of Bodegas
Alta Vista, Mendoza, Argentina)
Château Dereszla Furmint Vendanged Tardives Reserve 2000
Lovely honeyed nose with very elegant fruit. Very clean, precise and elegant. Lovely balance. Very Good Indeed. 8+
Château Dereszla 5 Puttonyos 1997 Marmalade-y nose that's a bit unexceptional. Unbalanced. Too
sweet and lacking acidity and fruit. 3+
Fermoy Estate, Margaret River, Australia
Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 Excellent nose. Lovely fruit. Pure expression of cabernet
sauvignon. Quite simple though. 7
Soft plummy nose. Gorgeous pure merlot, not messed about. Very good indeed. 8+
Extract of cabernet sauvignon nose. Fabulous fruit on palate. Nice structure. Not at all
aggressive. Excellent. 9.
Diamond Creek Vineyards, Napa Valley, California All 80% cabernet sauvignon, with cabernet franc and merlot making up the
Volcanic Hill 2000 Oddly mineral nose. Very austere style. Difficult to
approach. Completely mouth-puckering. 7+
Red Rock Terrace 2000 Soft clean nose. Good fruit. Lots of tannin. 6+
Zinfandel 2000 Upfront fruit - soft and attractive. Attractive, clean,
Cabernet Sauvignon 'Bella Oaks' 1998
Leather and pencil shavings with blackcurrant fruit on the nose. Excellent fruit on palate. Round and restrained in a lightish style.
Very Good Indeed. 8
Cabernet Sauvignon 'Trailside Vineyard' 1998
Lovely nose. Quite pure fruit. Light, elegant. Ripe fruit, but no tendency to jamminess at all.
8Very Good Indeed. 8++
Cabernet Sauvignon 'Martha's Vineyard' 1997
Musky cabernet sauvignon nose. Still the lightness that seems to be a characteristic of Heitz. Huge structure. Excellent. 9
Chimney Rock Winery, Napa Valley, California
Fumé Blanc 2002 Excellent nose with pear and melon. Big complex mouthfull.
Interesting. But towards the finish, it becomes too big and powerful.
J Vineyards & Winery, Russian River Valley, California
Vintage Brut 1997 en magnum
Both this and the following 1994 are the classic blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with a touch (<5%) Pinot Meunier.
Very good nose - crisp, clean and very fresh. Gorgeous enticing nose - not so much yeasty as freshly baked pastry. Extremely fruity style, with apples and citrus notes. Quite forward. Very clean and crisp.
Very Good Indeed. 8+
Vintage Brut 1994 en magnum
Only 1% pinot meunier this year.
Remarkably green appearance. Quite appley crisp nose. Clean, crisp and impressive, finishing with pear and almonds.
Very Good Indeed. 8+
Pinot Noir, Robert Thomas Vineyard 2000
An interesting, classic pinot noir nose with cherries and a touch of smoky vanilla. Nice expansive fruit on the palate.
Very Good Indeed. 8+
Pinot Noir, Nicole's Vineyard 1999
Gorgeous nose with lots of soft red fruit and a hint of vanilla and earthiness. Huge, intense elegant fruit on the palate. Very full, esp on finish.
Very Good Indeed/Excellent. 8++
Pinot Noir, Nicole's Vineyard 1997 More earthy nose than the 1999. Less fruit, more tannic
structure. Very austere, having probably entered a dumb phase.
Very Good. 8-
Dry Creek Vineyard, Sonoma County, California
Dry Chenin Blanc 2002 Bought-in grapes.
Very interesting nose. Excellent palate. Clean, fresh and full-flavoured.
Very Good. 7
Fumé Blanc 2002 Attractive nose. Light, crisp. Very French-style sauvignon
blanc. A touch harsh and steely. Good. 5
DCV3 Fumé Blanc 2002
Unoaked, single vineyard & not available in the UK.
Crisp and clean fruity nose with citrus ang gooseberry. On the palate it is also very crisp and clean: quite refreshing indeed, with excellent flavours.
Very Good Indeed. 8(+)
Heritage Clone Zinfandel 2001 Young light raspberry juice colour. Light, fresh nose with
raspberries and cherry. Light, soft. Easy drinking. Very Good.
Old vines Zinfandel 2000
A lot more complex nose than the Heritage Clone 2001, with berries and a curious spiciness. Very concentrated, slightly jammy damsony/blackberry fruit. On the palate quite intense, with round complex layered fruit. Soft tannic structure. 8+
Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 18 months in American & French oak.
Oaky CS nose. Very good. Classic Californian cabernet sauvignon.
Bordeaux blend: 70% merlot, 13% cab franc, 12 % cab sauvignon, 5% petit verdot.
Cedary nose with soft merlot fruit and a slightly floral (lavender?) note. Very good on the pate. Good rich fruit, nicely balanced. Huge structure.
Very Good Indeed. 8(+)
Quinta do Noval, Douro, Portugal
Silval Vintage 2000 Slightly closed nose. Very good, but infanticide. 8
Quinta do Noval Vintage 2000
Intense black nose. Gorgeous, ripe. 9+
Quinta do Portal, Douro, Portugal
At Quinta do Portal, I started with an interesting vertical of their top wine, the Grande Reserva: Mainly touriga nacional, blended with tinta roriz. 12 months in new French/US oak. They also do a range of single varietal wines, which were very
Quinta do Portal, Grande Reserva 1996
Intriguing nose: citrus, tobacoo tar, chocolate. Silky, very integrated fruit. Beautiful balance. Very excellent.
Quinta do Portal, Grande Reserva 2000
Very closed nose. Sleeping. Not giving much on the palate either.
Quinta do Portal, Grande Reserva 2001
Not yet released (due for release March 2004), bottled only 3 months previously.
Very young looking. Lots of sugary fruit on the nose. Very good on the palate. very tannic, but huge fruit to compensate. Lots of spice on finish. Will be interesting to see how it evolves. 8
Quinta do Portal, Tinta Roriz 2000 A more earthy nose than the touriga nacional. Good soft clean
fruit. Lots of tannins. Very interesting. 7
Quinta do Portal, Touriga Nacional 2000 Concentrated, quite aromatic nose. Very full, soft, lots of
fruit. Impressive. 7+
Quinta do Portal, Reserva 1999 Interesting nose - quite chocolatey. Remarkably fresh. Good
balance. Excellent interesting fruit. Very Good. 7+
Quinta do Portal 2000 Very soft round nose, somewhat lacking. Excellent palate -
explodes with fruit and spice. 7
Quinta do Portal, Frontaria 2000
Fantastic nose. Lots of fruit. Fresh and very Portuguese. Soft, fresh, quite full-bodied and very approachable. Impressive. 8-