Lay & Wheeler tastings 18-19 October 2002

Alsace: The Alsatian Gourmet 18/10/02

Notes from a tasting and dinner in the tasting "cellar" at Lay & Wheeler, Colchester on 18th October 2002. The first 6 were a tutored tasting, the remaining 8 were served with a rather good dinner (dishes noted below, the chef was Alan Ford of Hintlesham Hall)

2000 Muscat Vignoble de Katzenthal, Meyer-Fonné £8.95

Mid gold. Good muscat nose. Some fragrance, but not too grapey. Fullish attack. Very rich and quite buttery, but bone dry with a nice understated streak of acidity. V. rounded and well-balanced. Avoids being over-fragrant. Clean, rich and quite elegant. VG after, with nice length. I like this.

2000 Pinot Blanc Vieilles Vignes, Meyer-Fonné £7.75

Lightish lemony colour. Light nose, almost a hint of poached salmon to it. Clean, rich attack, with some sweetness. At first seems a bit simple and unchallenging (nothing wrong with that!), but after a couple of minutes comes across as quite concentrated, with a touch of complexity. Good finish and VG length, but a little oversweet.

1999 Gewurztraminer Tradition, Albert Mann £8.95

Rather deep gold. Big Gewurz nose, though not too heavily extracted: rose petals rather than rosewater. Full with a nice richness, but not too assertive. Some nice acid to keep it in check. V clean on finish with a good length. Perhaps a little simple. Doesn't have the class of the Meyer-Fonné muscat.

1999 Pinot Gris Grand Cru Furstentum, Albert Mann £12.95

Medium pinkish gold. V elegant nose - quite light. Lovely attack. Layers of flavour. Enormously complex. Extremely good.

1999 Riesling Grand Cru Wineck-Schlossberg, Meyer-Fonné £12.95

Pale to medium gold. Very delicate stylish nose - beautiful elegance.  I find the nose slightly waxy with just a hint of malic and noticeable minerality. Very attractive attack. Rich & full but bone dry. Elegant and stylish. Very good. Exceptional length.

2000 Pinot Noir elevé en pièces, Meyer-Fonné £12.75

Pale, not overly attractive, rather insipid colour. Passable nose with fair fruit. Light. Reasonably fresh. Fair fruit on palate. Thin. Fair. (Why do they bother ....?)


Onto the dinner wines ... Aperitif was

Crémant d'Alsace, Meyer-Fonné £8.95 

A blend of pinot blanc & chardonnay
Biscuity nose. Clean. Light. Good depth of flavour. Nice finish. Good. But the Dopff au Moulin Cuvée Julien that the Wine Society used to list was better.

Terrine of pressed duck, leek and parma ham

2000 Pinot Gris Réserve Particulière, Meyer-Fonné £9.95

Medium to deep gold. Nice light Pinot Gris nose - good fragrance. Nice attack. Slightly harsh notes on middle. Possibly a bit over-extracted.

2000 Gewurztraminer Tradition, Albert Mann £9.45

Deepish gold. Lightish gewurz nose - very, very obvious lychees and rose petals. Not over-extracted. Good attack. Very pleasant, full gewurz. Quite complex. Nice balance.

I found the gewurz worked best with the terrine, followed by the crémant. Somehow the PG didn't quite seem to work with the terrine for me.

Baked fillet of haddock, basil crust, riesling reduction

2000 Riesling de Katzenthal, Meyer-Fonné  £8.95

I'm convinced this was a bad bottle, but as nobody else on my table seemed to be particularly bothered, I'll give the full note. Dullish nose - smells like a fairly generic new world Riesling. V full on attack which barely carries through. Dull. Boring finish. Fair length, but dull. Verging on the poor.  I'm sure it was off and was going to try to get a taste from another bottle, but got distracted by the excellence of the wines that followed.

1998 Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg, Albert Mann £11.95

Wow! What a nose! Fantastic. Full & fresh nose - with a big touch of smoked haddock. Lovely attack. Oily, rich, quite fat. Very satisfying. Complex, full and generally excellent.

Munster cheese with cumin seeds

1999 Pinot Gris Grand Cru Hengst, Albert Mann £12.95

Very attractive, if very light PG nose - slightly nutmeggy and a bit oily. Reminiscent of baked egg custard. Lovely rich attack. Full and very definitely off-dry. V. v. full on palate. Might even think of gewurz if tasted blind. Touch of acid on finish keeps it in check and balance. Good length. Very good.

1999 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Wineck-Schlossberg, Meyer-Fonné £14.95

Exquisite nose - very fresh and very elegant for gewurz. Good attack, quite fresh with some fruit. Fills beautifully. Big, big deep gewurz on palate. V full, but not aggressive. Exceptionally well balanced. Very good indeed.

Individual peach tart with vanilla syrup

1995 Riesling Rosenberg, Vendanges Tardives, Albert Mann £13.95 50cl

Lovely gold. Really fabulous nose. Some honey and beeswax, though also oddly a touch spirity. Magnificent nose. On the nose, it knocks spots off both bottles of the SuperBOWL Rolly G Riesling VT. Magnificent attack... fresh with good acid. Fills quickly. Very concentrated, though still with the acid. But in the mouth, it's curiously un-satisfying and even seems a touch simple - could it really be just past its peak and going over the hill??? Finishes very dry. Don't drink it, just sniff it!

1997 Gewurztraminer Altenbourg, Vendanges Tardives, Albert Mann £14.95 50cl

Delicate, restrained, mightily elegant gewurz nose with smoky notes. Full attack. Nice sweetness, though very well balanced. Full and verging on the ethereal. Massive finish. Quite magnificent.



Oyster Feast 19/10/02

Tasted in an oyster shed somewhere on Mersea island 19/10/2002, as part of a fabulous seafood binge that Lay &Wheeler are pleased to call an Oyster Feast.

Dozen oysters (or organic smoked salmon) to get you in the mood, then bucketsful of crab, lobster, scallops, huge langoustine, whopping prawns, whelks (really good whelks too), winkles, etc. Whole Somerset bries (could've been a touch riper) and then a crème caramel just to beat you into final submission.

Fantastic, native Colchester oysters, by the way. Big and meaty and as fresh as they possibly come.

Also in attendance were some of the wine producers - from Guilleminot champagne and from LeGrys in New Zealand.

Champagne Michel Guilleminot Brut (en magnum) £30.95

Very rich nose. My initial impression was that it was a decent, full flavoured champagne, lacking the elegance of the best, but very acceptable. I have to say that after about four or five glasses (glasses were constantly re-filled), it was definitely growing on me!

2001 Muscadet Sur Lie, Domaine Saupin £5.75

Attractive lemony colour. Nice fresh nose. Light and slightly fragrant. Fresh, clean, light. Nice crisp acid. Perhaps a bit on the dull or neutral side, but it's not a bad price. For me, it felt like it could have done with a bit more lees contact.

2001 Sauvignon Blanc, LeGrys, Marlborough, NZ £7.95

Pale lemony colour. Big nose - v. heavy gooseberry scent. Attractive attack. Fills nicely. Lots of fruit. Nice and elegant. Good.

2000 Chablis, Domaine Billaud-Simon £9.95

Bright light gold. V light buttery nose. Nice fresh attack. Light and very clean. VG finish and exceptional length. Quite crisp and a bit slatey. Good.

2000 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore, Gaiospino, Fattoria Coroncino £14.95

And they say German wines have long complicated names!!!
Italian whites usually fill me with something between distaste and disdain. On the showing of this, I might be converted.
Deepish gold. Attractive, very fresh, herbaceous nose with some nettles. Notable legs - long, thin and very distinct. Remarkably full attack. Fills very well on the palate. Quite rich and buttery. I really would not guess at this being an Italian white: would probably think in terms of a new world chardonnay/chenin blend. Definitely has a touch of chenin about it. Falls away a bit on the finish and fades a little, but very fair length. Perhaps a bit in your face and upfront, but I'm definitely impressed. Good, verging on very good.

1999 Meursault 1er Cru, Genevrières, Domain Michel Bouzereau £36.75

Lovely elegant restrained nose. Very good attack. Lots of fruit, clean. Fills very well. Lovely buttery rich flavours with good complexity. Fair length. Pretty much a textbook young white burgundy. (that's not 100% a compliment)

1999 Hermitage (blanc) Chevalier de Sterimberg, Paul Jaboulet Aîné £32.95

Fantastic deep gold. What a nose! - gorgeous! Slightly honeyed. Rather light attack. Fresh and clean, but then fills beautifully. Really rich, superbly well balanced. Super length. Excellent.

2000 Pinot Noir, Hope Vineyard, Greenhough, Nelson NZ £15.95 (20 year old vines apparently)

Fairly deep if muddy-ish purple. Very nice Pinot Noir nose - touch farmyardy & mushroomy. Fair attack. Fills ok. Bit acidic on middle with unformed tannins coming through on finish. Has a bit of complexity to it. Probably needs more age before it starts to show properly. Just a touch too astringent at the moment. In theory, it should probably have gone nicely with the brie with which it was served, but the mushroom and acid in both just seemed to compete a little too much. The Hermitage was a much better match.

1987 Quinta do Panascal, Fonseca Guimaraens £19.95
Deep youngish purple. Curiously minerally nose - almost flinty. Very odd nose. Good attack with bags of fruit. Then some spirit kicks in on middle. But finishes well. Lots of character. Not overly distinguished, but still pretty good all the same. Again, as with the champagne, it grows on you after two or three glasses.


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Last updated: 15 December 2005