Miscellaneous Tasting Notes 2005 - 2008

(most recently tasted at the top)

Last updated: 29 May 2011



1996  Meshach Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Grant Burge
Decanted off the sediment and served pretty much straight away, at cellar temperature, at least for the first couple of pours.
A bright mature garnet. Smoky tobaccao and bacon fat on the nose - and then you get some incredibly deep black fruit - there's restrained black and cherry fruit with a black pepper and cumin spice. Ripe and big of the attack. Lovely chewy palate with great depth. Super structure with pretty grippy tannins on the finish. There's a rich chocolately feel on the palate, but without any notable sweetness. This is flippin' marvellous.
I'd like to try this alongside a Chave of similar age to see how they compare.
Pretty bloody magnificent.  94/100

2006 Guru, DOC Douro, Wine & Soul
Very pronounced legs. It has a pale straw colour, with just a touch of lemon yellow. Very rich, nutty nose with some over-ripe pears and fresh hay. Possibly a hint of banana skin? Quite direct on the attack. Fills out gradually and widens enormously across the mough. There's rich fruit and very good acidity, which combine to give it a super balance. Very complex flavours. This is one of wines that almost defies analytical description. Initially it seems very savoury. Then there's a sort of polished leather feel in the mouth. It's very difficult to pin down the flavours - there's a bit of nuttiness, a bit of madeira, a hint of cakiness, some olives and other things that would probably only come together otherwise on a Ferran Adria plate. Huge length. Fascinating stuff. 93/100

NV Brut 1er Cru Grand Réserve, Champagne Dumangin Fils
Very good constant and very fine bubble stream. Fairly muted nose, but very attractive. Some black and cherry fruit with a sweetish, smoky vanilla edge. Lovely full palate with a very nice, attractive, fruity richness. Not too aggressively dry, but without verging on any sweetness. Super finish.  91/100

2007 Homestead Reserve Riesling, Finger Lakes, New York State, Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards
A very, very, very pale straw colour - almost clear. Crisp lemon and lime nose with a touch of 3in1 oil. Good palate: fairly fresh with good crispness. There's some RS evident which gives it a peachy and peary character. There are layers of minerality behind the fruit. Very persistent in the mouth. It lacks a bit of acidity, with the result that as it warms up, it carries its sweetness a bit heavily. But chilled, it's an attractive, food-friendly drop.  88/100

2006 Agiorgitiko Nótios, Gaia Estate, Nemea, Peloponnese, Greece.
Sealed with a Supremecorq.
It has a very young purple colour, but a lightish texture and a certain murkiness fits better with a two year old. There's quite a perfumed black fruit scent coming out of the glass, even before I get my nose in. There's sweet black fruit, some raspberries, chocolate, cocoa, lavender and a general garriqueyness, along with a hint of bubblegum. Nice and open on the attack, there is some obvious fruit there, but it's got a very pleasant restraint - much more so than I was expecing. I was definitely expecting a more powerful glassful than this. It has good structure and balance, with soft tannins and a good acidity. Very nice, very characterful, very drinkable. More interesting than I was expecting. If you wanted a comparator, I think the closest I could get would be if you imagined a Beaujolais made in Tuscany.  90/100

NV Laurent-Perrier Champagne Grand Siècle "La Cuvée"
From a bottle bought in 2004.
It has a very pale, slightly lemon-yellow colour and a very fine, non-exuberant bubble stream. The nose is very attractive: quite subtle and biscuity with blackcurrant fruit notes.
An attractive, easy palate with some black fruit character to the fore. Very full and rounded - probably a fairly high dosage. Perhaps it's not the most elegant of champagnes, but it's very nice with great depth.  91/100

1977 Fonseca Vintage Port
A lovely bright, fairly youthful appearance (though more of the appearance of a youthful red wine, than a thick young port). There's black sweet fruit on the palate. Really quite young feeling. Nice class, but not really ready yet.  90/100

2007 Ernst Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett (Marks & Spencer bottling), AP Nr. 2 576 162 16 08, 8% (screwcap)
Pale straw. Closed, slatey nose with a hint of peach fruit. But feeling very closed. Really rather classy on the palate. Perhaps just a tad on the sweet side, and there's no in-your-face acidity. But it does have a nice balance. It feels more mature than I'd expect of a yearling Kab. But a very nice drink. 90/100

2006 Capatosta, DOC Morellino di Scansano, Poggio ArgentierA, 14%
This is a blend of 95% sangiovese and 5% alicante
Aged 12 months in French Allier 225 litre botti. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
The nose has rich red and cherry fruit with sweet toasty oak. Fairly ripe immediately, it opens up and calms down into something more austere. Very dominated by pretty fierce tannins. Very deep and concentrated. Really needs plenty of time. 86/100 for now
at The Italian Orchard, Broughton)

2005 Vigna del Merlo, DOC Langhe, Cascina Morassino, 14.5%
A very attractive colour - a bright plummy red with quite a glass-coating consistency. Very chocolatey nose, with a touch of blackberry fruit. Very warm and inviting on the nose and on the palate. Probably a bit too young, but very voluptuous and pleasurable. Just a little hot on the finish. 88/100
(30/11/08 at The Italian Orchard, Broughton)

2002 Eschendorfer Lump Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese, Horst Sauer, Franken, Germany
Absolutely marvellous. There's huge acidity, that's not quite obvious enough to start hurting your teeth. There is a full and intense sweetness, but there's so much acidity that you scarcely notice it.
The balance and purity is astoundingly good.  95/100

1982 Château Chasse-Spleen, AC Moulis en Médoc
A good, even mature garnet colour. Initially there is some (mainly) blackcurrant fruit and some (lesser) blackberry fruit on the nose, though that quickly blows off to give way to hints of coffee, cigars and pencil shavings. Just a very tiny bit high toned.
Fully mature and ready on the palate. This is a very nice mature claret, possibly a bit luncheon-y, but very nice. Excellent balance. Good soft red fruits are balanced and supported by the structure provided by lots of integrated tannins.
Very nice, though not particularly thrilling.
Remarkable absence of sediment.  89/100

1994 Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Spätlese trocken, Karthäuserhof
A fairly loose cork coated with gunky, tarry deposits that suggest seepage, although there's nothing wrong with the level.
Cor! Minerally and then some on the nose. Like a petrol spillage in a slate quarry.
Vibrant, racy palate. There's ripe pear fruit, and some almost cidery flavours alongside some strong, stoney minerality. There are also some hints of rather strange, almost vermouth-like notes, but on the herby side, rather than the oxidised side. A nice crisp minerality holds it all together. A big, mature-ish dry riesling, though old enough not be aggresively dry. But it just has that certain lack of satisfaction that I often find in trockens.   88/100

2001 Chablis 1er Cru Cuvée Première, Domaine Laroche
Well, this was a surprise. I was expecting it to be a bit average, but this was superb stuff. Starting with a lovely, rich, deep nose, touched by some beurre noisette overtones. Maybe there are some furniture polish and banana skins on the nose too, but there's also a bit of granite minerality. Lovely palate. Pleasantly rich and full, but with a very nice acidity, especially evident on the finish. There's a lovely depth of flavour and a mouthcoating finish. Superb with some mushroom tortelloni and a wild mushroom cream sauce.  93/100

2001 Pinot Blanc Spätlese trocken, Willi Opitz, Burgenland, Austria 
A deep golden colour. This has a rich, roast butter nose. Very nice, forward, friendly palate. Rich, buttery, with a very slight hint of raisins. It has a nice, but not overwhelming interesting character. Very good length. A very good food wine.
(18/10/08 at
The Box Tree, Ilkley)

2004 Primofiore, IGT Veneto, Giuseppe Quintarelli, 13.5%
An even ruby colour - bright, fresh and clean looking with a hint of youth. Licorice and cinnamon are the immediate impression on the nose. Then you get a touch of cumin; then the spice is joined by deep, black, plummy fruit with a floral lift at the finish. Nice and open on the attack, with forward red and black fruits. Then it really widens to completely fill the mouth, cheek to cheek. Oddly it seems to worth widtways in the mouth rather than vertically. It has a nice structure with good integrated tannins. Alongside this fruit, there's a bitter edge that's very appealing. Super stuff.  92/100

2004 Syrah "The Craic", Garretson Wine Company, Paso Robles, California
A very deep garnet, darkening to almost black at the centre. Very attractive nose: black fruit for sure, but there are lots of other interesting aromas too - floral, minty, antiseptic, violets, orangey-chilli chocolate. But there's also a hint of spirit.
Very velvety attack. This is powerful stuff. There are lots of bright fruit, but in quite an austere style and it actually feels a touc lean. Gentle, integrated tannins.  89/100

NV Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana, Bodegas Hidalgo
This was a bottle purchased June 2002 (lot number L-21503 to be more precise than is strictly necessary)
A very pale teak colour with orange hints. The nose is rich and complex, though with a slightly musty edge. There's a certain fishiness on the nose, like a mix of sardines and leather. Initially, it's quite subdued on the palate. There's a rich, intensely savoury feel in the mouth with some orange peel in there, along with big umami, almost parmesan-like savoury flavours.
It is interesting to try this wine with bottle age. It seems to have lost the vibrancy of a youthful bottle, withthe flavours more integrated, more even, and maybe a bit flatter. But it also lacks the slightly aggressive finish that some sherries can have. It hangs on, but with a very elegant, huge length rather than one that grabs your throat and refuses to let go.  88/100

2006 Valpolicella Classico Superiore Campolieti, Luigi Righetti
Quite a rich nose with velvety, plummy and black cherry fruit. Fairly simple on the palate, but very attractive. A nice drink. It has good mouthfilling fruit with a nice structure. There's a touch of alocholic heat on the finish, but nothing too distracting and it's barely noticeable with food. Definitely improved with food. Very pleasant drinking with food.  87/100
(7/10/08 at The Duke of York, Grindleton, Lancashire)

2006 Sandford Estate Shiraz-Cabernet
Solid, if rather unexciting black fruit nose. Forward sweet blackberry fruit on the palate, but it feels very cheap and simple, which is reinforced by a feeling of a chemical burn on the finish, lingering somewhat unpleasantly. 79/100

2004 Kaplja, DOC Collio, Damijan Podversic
A cloudy, mid-deep gold. Very minerally nose with citrus and tropical fruit. Full and open on the palate with peach fruit to the fore: peach and agrumes on a complex, layered palate. Very balanced. Not overextracted, which was a bit of a concern looking at the deep colour. There are some tannins on the finish, which really develop as it warms up.  94/100
(21/9/08 at The Italian Orchard, Broughton)

2000 Sauvignon Blanc Eclisse, DOC Colli Orientali del Friuli, La Roncaia
A mid gold. Very attractive nose with a lovely floral honeysuckle scent and a spirity note that for once is attractive. Nice fresh attack, despite being nearly eight years old. Good, food-friendly drinking.  90/100
21/9/08 at The Italian Orchard, Broughton)

2005 Vin de Pays des Côteaux du Libron, Domaine de la Colombette, 13%
An even, bright ruby colour, with a deeper-coloured core. The nose has ripe, subtly perfumed blackberry fruit and a bit of chocolate plum richness. There's ripe, forward fruit on the attack. quite a vibrant, almost zingy feel on the palate. Quite curiously sweet red and black fruit flavours give way to a tannic structure which starts to feel very bitter. This is a wine that has some high points, but overall fails to convince.
Returning to the bottle a day later, it had very significantly declined.  82/100

NV Champagne Raymond Boulard Champagne Petraea XCVII - XCIX
Very lively on opening: despite very careful handling and opening, a good third of the bottle gushed uncontrollably out.
Quite a deep straw colour. Fairly rich nose: there are some black fruit, plenty of candied pear and a touch of sherbert. Possibly the merest hint of menthol too? At least that's a smell coming from the carpet where so much of it ended up. The palate is rich and full with ripe to over-ripe pear flavours particularly noticeable, alongside a fruit-sourness that is out of proportion to the apparent acidity. Feeling quite evolved and maybe getting a bit too old - it does need drinking up, I think, which confirms the impression of Friday's bottle. Maybe it will continue to evolve and emerge from this slightly rustic stage? Don't know. It's a bit better a bottle than Friday night's ... but I suppose that might just be because tonight's bottle isn't being overshadowed and outclassed by a well nigh perfect Nyetimber. 88-89/100

2006 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc La Crau
A fresh, savoury nose. Very clean palate with a nice richness to it. Very well balanced.  89/100
(30/8/08 at The Angel at Hetton)

NV Oloroso Muy Viejo, Bodegas Tradicion
Bottle 414/875. Composite cork.
This has a lovely limpid orangey teak appearance. The nose is amazing: very fresh, very vibrant, with lots of citrus, combined with some nuts, but predominantly there are some tarry notes, some furniture polish, fresh sawn timber and a slightly stale sunflower oil note. No, it's actually more like a touch of a scent of oil that's had fish or prawns in it. This is fascinating stuff.
Very fresh on the palate, feeling much more like fino than oloroso. There are flavours of orange and grapefruit, then some cashew nuts, then some Pledge furniture polish. Then there are some white chocolate flavours. Incredibly complex stuff. It's not showing it's alcohol content at all. There's quite a bright acidity throughout.
This is much fresher and younger feeling than I was expecting. A fascinating wine.  94/100

2005 Vignot Barbera d'Alba, Cascina Morassino, 14.5%
A ripe nose with quite plummy black fruits and a touch of spirit. Velvety and mouthfilling on the palate: it has deep, brooding black fruit and a sort of sweaty, compost-like, mushroomy finish. A very fine wine. Very elegant. 92/100
(23/8/08 at The Italian Orchard, Broughton)

2006 Winston Hill Syrah
Quite a deep colour. Attractive nose - sweetish red fruits and some peachiness with a nice spicy (nutmeg & black pepper?) edge. Fairly simple on the palate, but really rather enjoyable. Nice forward fruit, a hint of sweetness. Worked well with pork tenderloin with peas and a pea and cider-cured bacon risotto. 89/100
(22/8/08 at The Dining Room, Rawtenstall)

2001 Clos du Causse, AC Minervois-La Livinière, Domaine La Combe Blanche
This has a maturing garnet colour. The nose is quite spicy, with nutmeg, cloves and a nice toastiness to the fore in front of black fruit. Possibly very slightly high-toned. Fresh, floral notes are to the fore on the palate, where the wine feels a bit more high toned than the nose. On the whole it's nice and clean, but feels a touch hot on the finish. It gives an impression of interest and character, but ultimately it feels rather simple and inelegant.  84/100

2002 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett, Weingut Kurt Hain, AP Nr. 2 596 432 8 03 8%
A nice, fairly fresh, fairly young, open riesling nose with appley fruit giving way to minerality. Fresh, clean and lively on the palate with quite appley-minerally flavours. 89/100

2002 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett, Weingut Kurt Hain, AP Nr. 2 596 432 8 03 8%
The nose is fairly subdued, yet still very attractive. This has lost the vibrancy of youth/infancy, but has yet to develop any real maturity. Lovely palate. Crisp, fresh riesling fruit with a marked appley overtone. Light and refreshing and delicious.  90/100

2006 La Rosée de Montesquiou, AC Jurançonm, Domaine de Montesquiou 
A pale straw appearance. Very fresh on the nose, with a grassy herbaceousness initially, but it opens out into a straw and rhubarb aroma with a hint of peach. Fuller on the palate than I expected. Really quite rich and full, with a slightly oxidised feel. Overall, really rather dull and uninteresting.  83/100

2006 Bourgueil Ca profite, AC Bourgeuil, Domaine de la Chevalerie, Loire, France
A bright cherry red. This has a really nice nose with red fruits some cocoa-y cum chocolatey cum coffee notes and an attractive, subtle touch of the farmyard.
Light and bright on the palate. Immediately attractive with very nice balance. There are soft, sweetish red fruits, with a fresh, firm acidity quickly following. It finishes very cleanly with soft, velvety tannins and a very notable length. Very Good Indeed.  91/100

2006 Three Peaks, AC Côtes du Roussillon, Domaine Treloar
A very young purple colour. The nose is rather closed with plummy black fruit and a bit of peppercorn spice. Very round, luscious and inviting on the palate. Red and black fruit flavours combine with a really savoury edge, and there are some attractive meaty and cheesy overtones. Broad, soft tannins make themselves felt on the finish. Needs time. 88?/100 for now.

2006 Domaine Saint Ferréol Vin de Pays d'Oc
A pale gold with a green tinge at the edge. It has a very, very delicate, elegant, restrained viognier nose with almonds, apricots and pears. Fresh and clean on the attack, it rapidly fills out. Fairly rich and full, but there's a hard edge to it, especially towards the finish and after. A restrained, but also a rather simple viognier.  83/100

2005 Pinot Bianco, DOC Friuli Isonzo, Masùt da Rive
This has green fragrant frits on the nose, with subtle melon and apple scents. Fresh and open on the palate, with very good fruit flavours, but also a nice structure, finishing with plenty of acidity. A very nicely balanced, fresh, fragrant wine.  91/100

2005 Collioure, Domaine Piétri-Géraud, Roussillon, France
A youngish ruby colour with a raspberry juice rim. The nose is perfumed and sweet with sweet chocolate-coated blackberries. On the palate, this is very silky with a bright, sweet fruit character. As time goes by in the mouth, the fruit develops an interesting bitter licorice anc cocoa character. Dry on the finish: a tannic dryness, but without any really obvious tannins. A nice, interesting wine.  88/100

2000 La Roncaia DOC Colli Orientali del Friuli Ramandolo Verduzzo
Verduzzo friulano, aged in French oak for 18 months.
A deep orange colour. Light and fresh on the nose, with some quite subdued ripe apricot fruit. Fresh and balanced on the palate. Sweet, but not very sweet and with some acidity noticeable on the finish. Good with mature Montasio cheese.   88/100
at The Italian Orchard, Broughton)

2001 Quattrocentario, IGT Toscana, Castello della Paneretta
A leathery, tobacco-laden cherry fruit nose. Really good feel in the mouth. Very serious stuff, but there's a delicious edge from a red fruit flavour. Good structure with firm tannins, which add a real spiciness to the finish. Great length.  93/100
29/6/08 at The Italian Orchard, Broughton)

2000 Le Blanc,  Vin de Pays des Côtes de Brian, Domaine la Combe Blanche
Deep orangey gold. Rich, marzipanny-nutty nose with perfumed orange and grapefruit notes.  Very rich palate with quite an oxidised feel. There's a bit of a dry orangey-marmalade flavour. Very long and powerful. Very deeply coloured.
A little challenging on its own (i.e. high geek appeal!), but much more accessible with food (actually went very well with a sirloin steak).  90/100

2006  Château de Selle, AC Côtes de Provence Rosé , Domaines Ott
A very pale pink, almost a vin gris. Gentle light red fruits on the nose with a hint of perfume. Decent palate - fairly fresh and clean, but it's pretty simple, and really I was expecting more depth and complexity from such a famous wine. Nothing wrong with it: solid stuff and good quality winemaking, but it's just rather simple and basic. 82/100
18/6/08 at Northcote Manor, Langho)

NV Grand Reserve, Champagne Vilmart (from a half bottle)
Gorgeous nose full of fresh, vivacious, slightly scented lemon. Mmm... this is a very enjoyable drink. Good balanced flavours: fairly full, but not too obvious. We were going to have this half bottle as an aperitif between the two of us and then take it through to the dining room to have with amuses/starters, but, oops, we finished it with canapés - just too moreish!  91/100
(18/6/08 at Northcote Manor, Langho)

2007 Riesling, Verus Vineyards,  Ljutomer-Ormož, Slovenia, 12% (screwcap)
A very pale straw colour. Superb, fresh, pure riesling nose - lemony citrus, a hint of pear, a faint hint of kerosene, and with a dominant stony minerality.
Quite light on the attack, but then it develops quite a mouthfilling feel with lots of minerality. It's absolutely bone dry, but without the savage austerity of some German trockens - in that it's got a bit of an Austrian feel to it, if you must pin it down to the style of a riesling from another country. There are some very stony, slatey flavours, which combine with a lovely acidity. Possibly a hint more fruit might have been beneficial? Though that would be turning it into something more Germanic. But still very good indeed and also a very interesting take on riesling.  91/100

1998 Acininobili, Maculan, Veneto, Italy
From a half bottle.
A bronzey deep gold. Rich, honeyed, fragrant nose, slightly raisined. Very poised palate. Lovely, haunting sweetness without any hint of cloying.  91/100

NV Susie Q, Tickle Hill Vineyards, New York State, USA
Not really sure what this is, and neither the bottle nor the producer's website really helps. The bottle merely says that it's white table wine from New York. Oddly, there's not even any alcohol content shown, though there's a surgeon general warning. So this is pretty much a blind tasting note.
It's a bronzed mid gold colour. The nose is very strange: the initial impression is of a perry (pear cider), with some candied orange, some citrus-based air freshener and a very slight hint of petrol. The palate is very strange too: quite sweet, but not cloying or sticky, with lots of peach and pear fruit flavours, and a very slight hint of sweet yeastiness. This feels almost like it has some fruit juice in it, maybe even more like fruit juice than wine. Or maybe, it almost feels a bit like a vermouth of sorts, weaker in alcohol than most vermouths, and the colour would sort of fit this too. But it seems more like a wine and fruit juice cooler sort of drink. But it can't be, as the one thing the bottle does say, it that it's wine. Ho hum.
It's certainly not unpleasant, but it is very odd. I think it must be a non-vitis vinifera variety. It's wine Jim, but not as we know it. I have to say, it's growing on me and I quite like it - as a drink, not necessarily as a glass of wine. 85???/100

2005 Tikves Vranec, Tikveš Wine Region, Macedonia, from 187ml screwcapped bottle, 13%
A very deep, dark young ruby appearance. There's tobacco, chocolate and black fruit on the nose. Quite rich and ripe on the attack, but a bit gentler as it sits in the mouth. Fruit forward, for sure, but there is a nice and interesting spiciness and good length.
Quite possibly the best 187ml screwcap bottle I've had.  89/100

2007  Lagar de Fornelos Albariño Rías Baixas Lagar de Cervera
A good albarino - refreshing and crisp. Worked well with the food at Rogan & Co, ranging from dressed crab to blanquette de veau. 89/100
(31/5/08 at Rogan & Co, Cartmel)

NV Croft Pink
This is the first rosé port to be produced and represents a certain reinvention in the port industry.  Warre’s Otima port with its innovative packaging and advertising was the first step, and Croft Pink is, I think, the next – and very big step.  Most ports come in at around 20% alcohol by volume, and to produce a light style is a challenge.  The grapes were pressed before the juice was cold-fermented for seven days off their skins.  The slow fermentation – twice as long as standard port – has helped to create a fresher, lighter style.
This has gentle, softer red fruit on the nose than an ordinary ruby port.  On the palate, it feels a touch on the sweet side, but it’s pleasant enough.  85/100
They suggested trying it over ice, so I did: the ice kills the nose, but definitely freshens it on the palate, and makes it feel cleaner and more refreshing.  Pleasant.  85/100

2004 Pinot Gris Rosenberg de Wettolsheim Calcarius, Domaine Barmès-Buecher, 14.5%
A subdued, gently fragrant, minerally pinot gris nose.  Good rich body; not too full, but it doesn’t really thrill me.  87/100


2004 Pinot Blanc Rosenberg de Wettolsheim, Domaine Barmès-Buecher
A greenish, dull nose that is tending towards the funky.  Good palate.  Decent balance and length.  Very drinkable, but with no fireworks.  85/100


2000 Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese, Fritz Haag, 7%, AP Nr. 2 577 050 701
A very minerally nose that feels like it is just starting to mature.  A lovely, maturing riesling palate.  It’s fairly austere, especially on the finish and after, but there is still some nice youthful fruit too.  There’s a bit of sweetness, but no so as you would called it sweet or even off-dry, and anyway, it’s balanced by an elegant and integrated acidity.  92/100
(20/5/08 at One-o-One, London)

2001 Vertente, DOC Douro, Niepoort, 13.5%
A deep ruby that's lost its first flush of youth. Rather closed nose, giving off some very gently perfumed black fruits. Gorgeous attack. Rich and cossetting on the palate. There's lots of fruit, but not over-ripe and bomby. Some rather sandy tannins appear towards the finish as the fruit fades a bit. Bit of alcohol on the finish. (But this was uncorked and poured straight away - it might improve having been open a while. There are lots of interesint flavours going on - mainly plummy black fruit, clearly redolent of the Douro, but also a bit of a licorice note.  Very Good Indeed.  92/100

1994 Forster Jesuitengarten Riesling Beerenauslese, Reichsrat von Buhl, Pfalz, Germany, 8.5%, AP Nr. 5 106 044 32 95
A coppery mid tan with a greenish tinge on the rim. Quite a dull, restrained nose with just hints of marmalade and raisins. A sweetish, rich palate. Nicely balanced. Not earth shattering, and a bit lacking in riesling character. But it's still a pleasant, very balanced sweet wine.  88/100

2005 Pinot Noir, San Antonio Leyda Valley, Chile, Amayna
A bright ,clean, raspberry-fruit pinot noir; soft, gentle, fruity with a juicy deliciousness.  Very Good Indeed -.  89/100

2006 Encruzado, Quinta dos Roques, DOC Dão
Served much too cold, which completely disguised whatever nose this might have. But on the palate, this is a nicely balanced Dao that manages to balance freshness and a touch of oxidation. Nicely food-friendly. Very Good+.  88/100

2005 Pinot Grigio Ramato, DOC Colli Orientali del Friuli, Azienda Agricola Specogna
A pale copper colour. Unfortunately served a bit cold, which initially I presumed was dulling it, but even once it had warmed up a bit, it was plain dull on the nose, with little character, and just a bit bland and watery on the palate, with just a hint of PG character. Very unimpressive.  81/100

2004 Peppertree Vineyard Shiraz, Clare Valley, Australia, Mitchell
Seemed a pretty basic Ozzie shiraz to me, and certainly didn't light my fire.  Good.  84/100

2001 Riesling Le Kottabe, Josmeyer, Alsace, France
Quite a pale straw gold. Very rich, oily, slightly honeyed nose. Rich and full on the palate. Feeling rather oxidised and spoiled. Drinkable. Just.  Not rated - faulty.

2006 Riesling, DOC Colli Orientali del Friuli, Valle
Initially there's a talcy minerality, and then a more oily minerality behind, along with some winey apples and honeysuckle. Quite deep on the palate with a good fruit character. A searing acidity, especially on the finish, keeps it feeling very fresh. 91/100
(11/4/08 at Latium, London)

2007 Chardonnay-Pinot Noir, Boschendal, W.O. Coastal Region, South Africa
Quite a creamy nose with a touch of red fruit and blackcurrant leaf. Open and round in the mouth, with some acidity and some slightly sweet oak balancing each other. Unsurprisingly, it's primarily reminiscent of a flat champagne, though without the acidity.  86/100

2003 Refosco, DOC Colli Orientali del Friuli, Moschioni, 14%
The nose has perfumed, very rich, sweet blackberry fruit. Very rich on the palate. A bit hot initially, with quite sweet black fruit blaanced by a pleasant acidity and some gentle, but drying tannins. With exposure to air the alcoholic heat seems to blow off.   90/100

2000 Trincadeira, Herdade do Esporão, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal (500ml bottle)
An even, fairly mature ruby. The nose is rather nice and evolved, with prunes, leather and nuts. A good, even palate with a nice touch of maturity evident, pushing some ripe fruit into the background. Pretty good balance and structure, carrying its high alcohol extremely well indeed. Initially some fairly firm tannins on the finish, but these become less noticeable with time. Not overly complex, but a thoroughly enjoyable bottle-ette. 91/100

2004 Vous en Voulez en Voilà, Domaine du Gravillas,  Vin de Pays des Côtes de Brian, Languedoc, France, 13.5%
Only 2004, but a considerable sediment in the bottle (as we found out when we poured the last of the bottle into one of our glasses). There are black plums and black cherries on the nose with some spicy garrique notes. Fairly simple on the palate, but perfectly pleasant. Good restraint and balance, though fairly gentle tannins dominate the finish.  86/100

1999 Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Spätlese trocken, Karthäuserhof, Saar, Germany
A very pale, lemon-straw colour. This has a really lovely nose: creamy apples, a refined, subtly petrolly, minerally backbone. It's clean and precise on the palate with a razor edge balance and razor sharp acidity. It maintains its character throughout. Excellent length. Absolutely bone dry.  89/100

1996 Edmunds St. John Syrah Durell Vineyard, Sonoma, California, 15%
A deep, dark, inky purple colour, though not a youthful purple - more a royal purple. Deep, very fragrant, very floral blackberry fruit. Open palate. Initially there's some soft black fruit, but it then falls away a bit on the finish, revealing some spirity, hot alcohol, that it doesn't really carry all that well (it's 15% abv). The sweetish, very pure black fruit remains. With time, exposure to air and food, it calms down a lot, though you can certainly still feel the high alcohol level.  88/100

2003 Silver Lake Pinot Cuvée Spätlese trocken, Willi Opitz, Burgenland, Austria
Nice weight and balance that worked well with a wide range of dishes and flavours. Rich and interesting.  89/100

2005 Afrós Tinto, Vinho Verde, Casal do Paço Padreiro 
A very dark, inky, glass-coating young purple appearance. The nose is vey rich, almost glossy with gently perfumed black fruits. There's juicy, quite crisp fruit on the attack, which makes you think that it's going to be full and a bit jammy; but quite the opposite. It's very light and fresh with a very pleasant, if idiosyncratic elegance. There's a nice, gentle bite of tannins on the finish with interesting flavours to boot.  90/100

1993 Laurel Glen Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Mountain
Lots of sediment in the bottle.
This has a very attractive mature cabernet nose with gentle, sweet and sour blackcurrant fruit and some subtle high tones. Nothing over complex though.
Open and wide on the palate with sweet fruit and a soft, integrated tannic feel that spreads across the whole mouth. This is a nice, attractive wine, feeling well mature, with a winning lightness. There's a nice bite on the finish with good fruit character again.  88/100
(1/3/08 at the Freemason's Arms, Wiswell)

2004 Edelzwicker, Domaine Materne Haegelin, Alsace, France
A rich nose with almost truffley hints, some minerality and some subtle floral notes. The nose pretty much carries through on the palate: it's rich, with an apparent touch of sweetness initially. It has a nicely poised weight on the palate, apparently combining the weight and richness of gewurztraminer with the buttery oiliness of pinot blanc (or gris?). Probably something else in it too, giving some freshness. Whatever, the blend, it's all nicely melded and worked well with a wide variety of foods and a revelation with a dish combining cep purée in a cep alginate ball, parmesan cream, parmesan panna cotta, maple syrup and brown bread ice cream. One of the better edelzwickers, I think.  91/100
(23/2/08 at L'Enclume, Cartmel)

1997 Trittenheimer Apotheke Riesling Kabinett, Laurentiushof, Mosel, Germany, AP Nr. 2 607 184 4 98 8%
A green tinged gold colour. Lovely nose: oily, gasoline, warm slate with a hint of honeyed richness. Forward and rich on the attack. Immediately, it feels a bit sweet. Then there's some acidity, which counterbalances the sweetness, but then, on the finish, there's a real toffee flavour, that's a bit odd.  83/100

1982 Madiran, Domaine Pichard (The Wine Society)
A nice, attractive mature garnet. The nose is nice and delicate with soft red fruits and a gentle minerality. A light delicate palate with a lovely freshness. There is also a very notable tannic structure - quite sandy, grainy tannins, which give a rather drying sensation. But there's some nice, round, mature fruit that balances the structure nicely.   Very Good Indeed.  91/100

2003 Cabernet Sauvignon, Yarra Valley, Australia, Yarra Glen (International Vintners Pty Ltd), 14% (Direct Wines/Laithwaites)
An even colour with apparently more maturity than youth.  Quite a light nose, with green hedgerows, a nice minerality and some very restrained, very reticent black fruit.  Thin and weedy on the palate initially, but then it displays a not entirely pleasant rawness, especially on the finish.  There is some balck fruit an minerality on the palate, but overall it just feels disjointed and dominated by the rawness.  78/100

2003 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Auslese, Kurt Hain, 8.5%, AP Nr. 2 596 432 15 04 (French & Logan)
A very attractive, very even mid gold.  Rather nice nose: very forward minerality, but more hot granite and limestone than wet slate.  Alongside the minerality on the nose, there is some slightly sweet apple fruit with a hint of honey.  In the mouth, it's much richer and sweeter than the nose would suggest: this is a rich, full Auslese that's already drinking really well.  There's some acidity, but possibly not enough to warrant long-term keeping.  Hmmm ... after a while, I begin to wonder if there's not more acidity than I first thought.  There's a marked sort of grapefruit character towards and on the finish.  A fairly interesting wine.  I'm not sure where it's going in the long term, but it's pretty nice stuff and pleasant drinking now.  91/100

1994 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red, Napa Valley, California, 14.3%
A blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec, petit verdot and cabernet franc.  A restaurant purchase, so opened and decanted and drunk. Quite a murky appearance. Mmmm ... nice nose. It feels very old, with rather subdued black fruits, polish and forest floors. At a cursory sniff, you could be forgiven for thinking this was early 1960s Burgundy. On the palate, it's very open, with evident age, but still very much alive. There's a nice balance here. Very smooth and silky initially, followed by great complexity of flavour and finishing with some gently sandy, fine-grained tannins. It starts off with some sweet black fruit flavours, then the sweetness tails off quite quickly and you get some leatheriness and bramble fruit, before it finishes with quite a marked woody licorice flavour (the woody licorice sticks that you chew).
It opened up a bit with time, but not as much as I thought it might. Definitely an interesting wine.  91/100
(9/2/08 at the Freemasons Arms, Wiswell)

2003 Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso, Giuseppe Lonardi, 13.5%
Initially a touch weedy on the nose, but it opens up well with time.  There is a nice richness of cherry fruit and chocolate on the nose, but there’s also a burnt rubber edge.  Decent straightforward palate initially, but improves over the course of a couple of hours.  There’s a nice depth and weight on the palate.  Pretty good.  85/100
(2/2/08 at The Sparling, Barton)

1998 Gran Colegiata Reserva,  Bodegas Fariña, DO Toro
Lightish nose - slightly green initially, but with some elegant black fruit and a minty note.  Good, open, fairly refined palate.  Maybe a touch weedy, but it's nicely mature.
(27/1/08 at Grado, Manchester)

2004 Pinot Blanc, AC Alsace, Domaine René et Vincent Fleith, 13% (French Regional Wines)
A pale-mid straw colour.  Rich, buttery nose with some boiled lemon sweets and a nice minerality.  Nice palate: there's some minerality immediately evident.  Builds enormously in the mouth, but without overblowing at any point.  Rich and full, and a very nice wine.  91/100

2001 Altano Tinta Roriz-Touriga Franca, DOC Douro, Symington Family, 12.5%
The first thing you notice is the really rather pathetic looking tiny cork.  It’s a deepish garnet colour.  Nice nose: not over-complex; with quite sweet black fruit with chocolate and leather notes.  Soft, gentle palate.  Interesting flavours: black fruit, with a nicely structured leathery feel.  Quite persistent in the mouth, with huge length.  Though there’s a touch of bittnerness on the finish with mars the overall sensation slightly.  Probably needs drinking up?  87/100

2003 El Filo, IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti (Trentino, Italy), Pravis, 13%
From the rare gropello grape.  The first bottle opened smelled to me rather high-toned and Musar-like in a way which when the wine isn’t Musar suggests a fault.  On the palate it was a bit green and weedy.  Possibly drinkable, but without great pleasure, and certainly a substandard bottle.  The second bottle was much better: immediately much more fruit on the nose and more open and fruity on the palate.  The nose has spicy blackberry fruit with some good raspberry and blackberry flavours along with a nice spicing.  Towards the end of the bottle, the flavours have taken on more of a strawberries with black pepper feel.  Good length.  An interesting wine.  Very Good Indeed.  92/100
(12/1/08 at the Italian Orchard, Broughton)

2003 Vacqueyras Les Christins, Perrin et Fils
, 14.5% (Costco)
An even ruby.  Rich-ish hedgerow nose with some chocolate notes.  But it just feels a bit flat.  There's ripe fruit on the attack; but it fades quickly to very big sandy tannins, which give a sort of mealy blotting paper feel on the finish.  After the initial bit of fruit it really falls away quickly.  It's a bit hot too.  Very unresolved and not exactly full of pleasure.  80/100

NV Don Pedro Romero V.O.R.S. Palo Cortado Viejisimo Prestige 50, Bodegas Pedro Romero
, 18%, 500ml (Halifax Wine Company)
A pale polished oak colour.  Delicious nutty nose, with a touch of raisins, some candied orange peel, a vague hint of teak oil and an overall note of salted cashews.  Rich and lush on the palate.  Quite powerful, but there's also huge poise and elegance.  There's a nice savouriness and a nice creamy texture.  Some acidity makes itself felt on the finish, which builds enormously on the tip of the tongue long after.  This picks up on the lime and tangerine notes I found earlier on the palate.  Delicious stuff.  97/100

2005 Mtsvane, Kindzmareuli, Kahketi, Georgia, Tamada, 12.5% (Laithwaites)
A golden colour with a hint of copper.  Sweetish, rich nose: nutty, fresh, with some notes of grappa without the spirit.  Full-on palate.  This is a big wine, but it has pretty good balance.  Quite crisp on the finish with an acidity that comes to the fore after.  Very, very long indeed.  90/100

2000 Aux Vignes Clos Rebberg Riesling, AC Alsace, Marc Kreydenweiss, 12% (Chateauonline)
Mid gold. Very full, oily nose with lots of oxidation. Very rich, full palate. Very concentrated, almost a touch raisined. But it does have an appeal, I suppose.
The next day, the oxidation and concentration was just too powerful and off-putting and the rest went down the sink.  83/100

2002 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Kurt Hain, 8%, AP Nr. 2 596 432 8 03 (French & Logan)
A very pale golden colour.  The nose has a hint of appley fruit, but the main note is a petroleum-based minerality.  Lively and really quite forward on the palate.  There's a real zing there, but it's very integrated now.  Lovely balance.  Overall, it has a nice elegance to it.  89/100

1998 Chianti Classico Lucarello Riserva DOCG, Borgo Salcetino, 13% (Edencroft Fine Wines)
On first opening, there were some bretty, VA, Musarey notes, but they quickly blew away, to reveal a deep, meaty nose, laden with tobacco notes and some deep black cherry fruit.  A nicely precise palate, feeling fully mature - and possibly just drying out a bit, especially on the finish.  There's a nice depth to the wine, but without it becoming over-serious.  There's fair complexity with some nice layering of flavours.  There's a touch of heat evident on the palate, but nothing unpleasant.  There is a nice sour cherry note on the finish, turning into cherry kernels as it lingers in the mouth.  88/100

NV Champagne du Mont-Hauban Blanc de Blancs Cuvée Prestig Brut, 12% (Champers)
Very lively in the glass, giving it a very persistent foam head.  Initially, it's toasty and yeasty on the nose, then you get some peach and white flowers after a few moments.  Very foamy in the mouth, but it immediately delivers a nicely refined perception.  There are some fairly powerful flavours, but it's all very nicely balanced by a fresh crispness.  Very persistent in the mouth and very long after.  There's more character here than is often the case in blanc de blancs champagne.  Very Good Indeed.  91/100

1997 Crozes-Hermitage Les Jalets, Paul Jaboulet Aîné, 12.5%, magnum (Oddbins)
A pale garnet with a very light pink rim.  The nose feels very old with sweet raspberry and blackcurrant.  Sweet palate; fairly astringent.  It tastes of very old Rhône that's past it.  Definitely over the hill.  78/100

2005 Dr. L Riesling, Qualitätswein, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Loosen Bros, AP Nr. 2 907 805 11 06, 8.5%
A simple but attractive nose with some nicely mineral-driven riesling fruit.  Light and very clean on the palate, with just a hint of sherbert behind the gently apple fruit and soft, slightly off-dry minerality.  Very Good.  88/100

2003 Selección Especial, Sardon de Duero, Vino de la Tierra Castilla y León, Abadia Retuerta, 14% (Halifax Wine Company)
A lovely deep, plummy ruby, with the youth fading.  The nose has deep plummy and blackberry fruit that's not too sweet and a sort of savoury vanilla edge.  It feels remarkably mature on the palate.  Very nice balance.  There's good structure with nicely knitted tannins and a very good balance of fruit and tannin lingering on the finish and long after.  Very Good Indeed.  91/100

1998 Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Aux Perdrix, Domaine des Perdrix
The nose is fairly open, and is really quite gorgeous, balancing nice fruit, mushrooms and some sous bois notes, together with (after a little while) a firm suggestion of dentist's waiting room (an oil of cloves scent). On the palate there is some good fruit to the fore, though the acidity feels a bit separate, especially on the finish. With aeration in a more open glass, the wine feel much sweeter and rounder, with more elegance.

2006 Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett, Dr. Loosen
, AP Nr. 2 576 162 18 07, 8%.  Screwcap.  (Booths)
A much deeper more yellow straw colour than I was expecting: still pale, but deeper than I was expecting.  There are lots of bubbles resting at the bottom of the glass.  Lemony, chalky nose.  It doesn't seem a typical Mosel nose.  Nice minerality though.  Much more normal palate: zesty, sherbetty; very delicious; very citrussy.  A lovely drink, though still not entirely typical.  Very Good Indeed.  92/100

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Aconcagua, Chile, Errazuriz Estate
, 14.5% (Booths)
A darkish ruby with a bit of youth at the edge.  The nose has good cabernet fruit: fairly pure blackcurrant initially, perhaps with some leather, possibly slightly reductive.  Then there's a real cheesiness, almost with the savouriness of cheese and onion crisps.  After a few moments, the nose starts to settle down and integrate a bit to give an overall impression of black fruit, cheddary cheese and tobacco.  Nice attack, with fruit and acidity nicely balanced.  Some structure builds in the mouth.  It feels a bit young and needing to integrate more.  Some drying tannins appear on the finish.  Good length.  I can't get past that weird cheesiness though.  Not the most impressive of wines; and not the most impressive of Errazuriz wines I've tasted.  81/100 but I suspect there's perhaps something a bit wrong with this bottle.

2006 Nivole Moscato d'Asti DOCG, Michele Chiarlo
, 5% (Booths)
A grapey, air-freshener nose with some peary spirit and a hint of oxidation.  This feels corked.  Very flat on the palate and very dull.  Corked.

2005 Mtsvane, Kakheti, Georgia, Tamada
, 12.5% (Laithwaites)
A mid straw colour with a slightly oxidised look.  A lovely creamy, citrussy nose with a hint of very fresh sardines, and a touch of gooseberries - a very attractive, very interesting nose.  Fresh and clean on the attack.  Lovely and full in the mouth: full, yet quite crisp, with very good balance and a very pleasing dry savouriness.  There's almost an umami feel to it.  Very Good Indeed.  90/100

NV Champagne du Mont-Hauban Séléction Brut
, 12% (Champers)
Pale straw appearance with a slightly coarse, uneven bubble stream.  Lovely, minerally nose with some very fresh citrus and air freshener notes.  Really quite dry with notably high acidity.  Very crisp and clean with some pear fruit on the finish.  Very good.  88/100

1994 Tempranillo Gran Reserva, Rioja, Bodegas Sierra Cantabria
A big nose - we could smell it from the decanter off the table.  Gorgeous, evolved nose with smoky, pruney, tobacco notes, with a slight hint of volatile acidity at the end.  The nose develops some vanilla notes with time.  Lovely palate, again feeling fairly evolved.  It has quite a Burgundy feel to it in terms of earthiness.  Refined and elegant, with some dried black fruits and some fresh raspberry/strawberry flavours.  Very Good Indeed (just).  89?/100
(3/10/07 at The Freemasons Arms, Wiswell)

NV Champagne du Mont-Hauban Rosé Brut
, 12% (Champers)
A mid salmon pink; and a very active bubble stream.  Dullish black fruit on the nose.  Decent palate: it has some interest and attraction, though there's a slightly stewed feel to the fruit and acidity.  Very Good.  87/100

2005 Armand Riesling Kabinett, Reichsrat von Buhl
, 9%, AP NR. 5 106 1044 73 06
A fresh clean nose, feeling quite developed and minerally.  Delicious palate.  Quite forward in attitude and development.  Nice finish with great acidity.  Great length.  Very Good Indeed.  89/100
(27/9/07 at the Bildeston Crown, Suffolk)

2004 Sablet Blanc, AC Côtes du Rhône, Domaine de Piaugier
, 13.5%
A waxy, slightly reductive nose with fresh white flowers and peach aromas. Nice clean palate with plenty of interest. Initially it has a nice freshness, but then reveals a lovely depth, with some gently spicy vanilla-ey notes. Very Good Indeed.
(26/9/07 at Maison Bleue, Bury St Edmunds)

1999 Beaune Les Épenottes, AC Beaune, Domaine Machard de Gramont
, 13%
The nose has some raspberry/cherry fruit with some sweet high tones and orange peel. Lightish, yet forward palate, feeling a touch disjointed. It has a slightly high toned, almost Musarey feel on the palate. It feels rather young and vibrant, but improved with food, which sort of stabilised it. Good.
(25/9/07 at the Roade House, Roade)

2003 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese, Dr. Loosen
, AP Nr. 2 576 162 63 04, 8.5%, 375ml (Tesco)
From a half bottle.  An extremely pale straw.  Rather dull on the nose, though there's a hint of apples and of petrol.  Fairly sweet on the plate, and a bit unbalanced, and just feeling a bit simple.  There's a bit of a caramelly feel.  Clean finish with good length.  Good, but deeply unimpressive for an Auslese from a good producer.  82-84/100

1994 Alluvium, Knights Valley, Sonoma County, Beringer Vineyards, 13.5%
A deep, mature ruby with a slight murkiness.  A rich and interesting nose with layers of black fruit and a nice spicing, together with a few high toned notes.  Smooth and inviting on the palate, with a really very good fruit character.  Excellent structure and softening tannins make themselves evident on the finish.  Very Good Indeed.  90/100
(15/9/04 at the Freemasons Arms, Wiswell)

1994 Forster Jesuitengarten Riesling Beerenauslese, Reichsrat von Buhl, 8.5%, AP Nr. 5 106 044 32 95
A deepish coppery gold.  There are sweet perfumed apricots on the nose with a hint of oxidation.  On the palate, there is immediately an impression of great balance.  Very fresh tasting.  Very clean and bright on the finish and after.  Very Good+.  88/100

2005 Mtsvane, Kakheti, Georgia, Tamada
, 12.5% (Laithwaites)
A rich, slightly nutty, creamy fragrant nose with lemon zest and a curious overtone of rotting melon.  Forward and direct attack.  The palate is full, but it has a nice freshness, alongside some fairly concentrated noted, which make if feel slightly raisined.  There's also some buttery creaminess on the palate, leading to a nice, clean, precise finish.  Very good length.  Very Good Indeed.  89/100

2001 Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Glenmore
, 14% (Halifax Wine Company)  Screwcap
There is some very, very deep blackcurrant fruit on the nose with eucalyptus and a certain metallic edge.  Quite concentrated attack.  Powerful, very concentrated, almost condensed fruit.  Moderate tannins seem to give a slightly rubbery note.  A bit strange on the finish and after, feeling a bit dumb and raw.  Interesting, I suppose.  Will it age?  Don't know.  87/100
A surprisingly poor match with a roast rib of Dexter beef.

2003 Pinot Gris, AC Alsace, Charles Schleret
, 13.5% (Yapp)
A bright, light gold with almost a coppery tinge.  Very rich, powerful pinot gris nose - very concentrated, with beurre noisette, a hint of roses, cinammon and some pear fruit.  Full and powerful on the palate, almost over-rich and with a touch of oxidation.  There's a richness tending towards a slight sweetness, but it sort of folds in on itself on the finish, with a slight harshness.  Good length, but with no development.  Good.  84/100

2003 Meruge, DOC Douro, Lavradores de Feitoria
, 14% (Halifax Wine Company)
A nice even ruby with just a hint of youthfulness. By the time we're down to the last couple of glasses, it's looking darker (cloudier?). The nose is just gorgeous: layers of black plums, chocolate and violets. There is some forward, fairly fresh fruit on the attack, followed up by some big ripe fruit on the palate. But it's not at all overdone. There are some interesting flavours, which become really fascinating after. Massive length. What's particularly interesting about this wine is that it combines some forward ripe fruitiness with what feels an most restrained approach: there's some nice acidity which combines with or maybe to produce a pleasing astringency that neatly balances the wine. Jolly interesting stuff.

2004 Wiebelsberger Dachs Silvaner Trocken, Franken, Weingut Behringer, AP Nr. 5040-021-05, 12%
I think this is my first Bocksbeutel closed with a screwcap. Not very easy to open. Also, for someone used to ordinary bottles, you do have to readjust your pouring technique - or at least the bottle holding technique when pouring.
A palish straw colour. The nose is delicate, lightly scented with hay, talc and lemon. Open and inviting attack. This has a good depth of flavour on the palate and has a quite remarkable length. Quite interesting, with a nice overall feel to it. Needs food though. Very Good/Very Good Indeed.

1996 Gewurztraminer Brand, Alsace Grand Cru, Preiss-Zimmer, 13% (Morrisons)
A bright, even mid gold colour.  Powerful, concentrated lychee nose.  Very, very powerful on the palate.  Concentrated, but like the nose, very, very simple.  Lacking any depth at all.  Very difficult to drink.  One of the poorest gewurztraminers I've had.  76/100

2005 Bernkasteler Lay Riesling Kabinett, Dr Loosen, 8%, AP No. 2 576 162 14 06 (Tesco)
A lovely nose, feeling remarkably mature with a very marked petrolly and slate minerality outweighing some creamy apples.  Delicious and refreshing on the palate, this is a touch sherbetty, just off dry, but with some acidity.  Unfortunately, however, the overall impression is of simplicity and a lack of depth.  86/100

2005 Mtsvane, Tamada, Georgia, 12.5% (Laithwaites)
A full, sweetish nose with almondy and oxidised notes.  Round, full palate with very good balance.  It's rich and creamy in the mouth, but there's also a very integrated acidity that just starts to separate out on the finish.  A nice interesting wine, but not the best bottle I've opened of it.  87/100

2006 Nivole, Moscato d'Asti DOCG, Michele Chiarlo, 5% (Booths)
A light grapey nose with a delicate white flower fragrance.  Elegant, supremely refreshing fine palate.  There's some sweetness and a honeysuckle aroma.  Lovely.  91/100

2005 Dr L Riesling, Qualitätswein, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Loosen Bros, AP Nr. 2 907 805 11 06, 8.5% (Tesco)
A pale straw colour.  The nose is sherbetty and slatey with some lemon zest.  Light and fragrant on the palate.  Nicely balanced.  Pretty darn good for a generic Gutsriesling, particularly one as widely available in UK supermarkets as this.   Decent length too.  Good/Very Good.  85/100

2005 Mtsvane, Wine of Georgia, Tamada, 12.5% (Laithwaites)
A rich creamy nose with a musky perfume.  I think there's a bit of gooseberry or greengage fruit in there too.  Quite light and open on the palate, but there's a nice depth.  Some interesting flavours come along, some fairly powerful, but there's also some quite crisp, green fruit there, combined with a creamy texture.  There's also a certain fishy savouriness too.  Undoubtedly an interesting wine! While there's consistency between bottles, the style of the wine and the unfamiliarity of the grape seems to make it easier to find different characteristics each time I taste it.  Very Good.  88/100

2003 Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso non filtrato, DOC Colli Orientali del Friuli, Moschioni Davide Vignaiolo, 14%
A very deep, youthful ruby-purple colour.  The nose is very interesting: sour cherries, blackberries, a hint of leather and a hint of cloves.  The palate very much follows the nose with layer on layer of flavour, includes those cherries and blackberries and some real leathery tannins.  You just feel the alcohol a bit on the finish.  Very deep and rather powerful.  Immense length.  Very Good Indeed.  93-3/100

1999 Selección Especial, Sardon del Duero, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon, Abadia Retuerta, 13% (Chateauonline)
An even, attractive deepish ruby colour, with the merest hint of youth at the rim.  It's plummy and leathery on the nose; though possibly a tiny bit high toned.  A good, even palate, but with lots of layers of flavours: black fruit, leather.  There are some soft tannins which tighten their grip a bit on the finish.  Very Good Indeed.  89/100

2005 Mtsvane, Wine of Georgia, Tamada, 12.5% (Laithwaites)
A mid to deepish straw colour.  Rich and full on the nose: quite creamy, buttery and a touch biscuity with some nondescript tropical fruit character.  Very rich palate, feeling slightly sherrified.  Quite big, powerful flavours are backed up by good depth and great length.  It's not especially complex, with most of the interest probably coming from the character of the grape (which I suppose is how it should be, but so often isn't!).  It's a nice wine; round and open with some interesting flavours.  Jolly good value at under £6.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed. 89/100

2002 Langenloiser Grüner Veltliner, Kamptaler Terrassen, Weingut Bründlmayer, 12% (Costco)
A creamy nose with some delicate nectarine fruit curiously combined with salt and pepper crisps.  Quite fresh on the palate initially, before opening out into a nice fullness of flavour with a gentle pepper spice and a crisp freshness.  Very good length, though the overall impression is that it feels a touch simple.  Nice wine, though.  Very Good.  87/100

2005 Bernkasteler Lay Riesling Kabinett, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Dr Loosen, AP Nr. 2 576 162 14 06, 8% (Tesco)
A mid lemon gold colour.  Very soft, subtle nose with a nice wet stone minerality.  There's an immediate impression of subtle sweetness, but it quickly balanced out by an equally gentle acidity.  This is very attractive, with gret poise and elegance.  Not particularly complex, but it represents stylish easy drinking epitomised.  88/100

2005 Dr L Riesling, Qualitätswein, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Loosen Bros, AP Nr. 2 907 805 11 06, 8.5% (Tesco)
A pale straw colour.  The nose is sherbetty and slatey with some lemon zest.  Light and fragrant on the palate.  Nicely balanced.  Pretty darn good for a generic Gutsriesling, particularly one as widely available in UK supermarkets as this.   Decent length too.  Good/Very Good.  85/100

2004 l'Òra, IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti Bianco,  Pravis, 14.5%
100% nosiola, which has been lightly dried on graticci before being vinified in barrels of acacia wood. A deep gold. Nutty, slightly raisined nose with a creamy richness and a hint of polish. Powerful flavours on the palate. A nice concentration, but not overdone. It has a very good acidity that keeps it quite dry on the palate. Carries its high alcohol very well.  Very Good Indeed.
(15/7/07 at The Italian Orchard, Broughton)

2006 Chardonnay, Central Valley, Chile, Los Vilos
Nice, light, fruity chardonnay. Clean and fresh with Chilean purity. Very persistent in the mouth. I rather liked this. Very Good.
(14/7/07 at The Dining Room Restaurant, Rawtenstall)

2006 Alto Pampas del Sur Pinot Noir, Mendoza, Argentina, Bodegas Trivento (part of Concha y Toro)
A very warm cherry and blackberry nose with a hint of beetroot and a bit of spirit. Open, warm palate with good fruit, but also a slightly hard spirity, hot edge. Very good length. Good+.
(14/7/07 at The Dining Room Restaurant, Rawtenstall)

2005 Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett, Dr. Loosen, AP Nr. 2 576 162 30 06, 8% (Tesco)
A very minerally nose with some petrol hints, but all in all feeling rather closed.  Very nice attack.  Fresh, creamy and quite rich with a nice kind of sweetness.  Quite open and round in the mouth (unlike the nose).  Good length.  87/100

NV (but reportedly 2003) Piesporter Treppchen Riesling Traubensaft, Kurt Hain (non-alcoholic grape juice) (French & Logan)
A sweet, grapey nose with a sweet rose petal scent.  Clean and refreshing in the mouth.  Sweetish, but not at all sugary.  Very nice.

2005 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett, Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben, AP Nr. 2 602 041 003 06, 9%, screwcap (French & Logan)
An incredibly pure, clear colour with just the merest hint of green.  Zingy, sherbetty nose with fairly petrolly mineral hints.  Very attractive attack, which opens out into a creamy, sweetish palate with a  real zing to it.  There is noticeable acidity, which gives it a razor sharp precision.  Pretty good length.  88/100

1999 Brut Premier Cru, Champagne J. Dumangin fils, 12% (Yapp)
Quite a deep straw colour with lots of very fine bubbles.  The full nose has some yeasty fresh bread with some blackberry fruit and a faint hint of green pepper.  It is full on the palate with some remarkably strong flavours, but it really lacks charm.  It’s a touch green with a funny sort of coarseness on the palate.  Really rather unsatisfying.  Made a nice bucks fizz the next morning, though.  82/100

2004 Pinot Grigio, DOC Collio, Aldo Polencic, 14%
A full, fragrant nose that's quite zesty, along with some very subtle rose petal scents.  There are nice ripe, spicy flavours on the very open and expressive palate.  This is a nice, full-flavoured wine with a very, very lingering finish, though it really needs to be drunk with food.  Very Good Indeed.  91/100

1999 Zinfandel Planchon Vineyard, Contra Costa County, California, 15% (Edencroft Fine Wines)
The Planchon Vineyard is a small vineyard planted in 1902 by the Planchon family and now owned by Stan and Gertie Planchon.
It is an even, mature garnet.  There is some high-toned cherry fruit on the nose with some green blackberry fruit.  The palate has sweet black fruit with some clear tobacco and licorice flavours.  A touch hot on the middle, but it calms down again on the finish.  Great length.  An interesting wine, or at least an interesting bottle.  Very Good Indeed.  89/100

2005 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett, Weingut Kees-Kieren, AP Nr. 2 583 092 18 06, 9.5% (French & Logan)
A pale lemon gold.  The nose has lemon, baked apples and a sweet minerality.  Lovely palate: vibrant, fresh, clean.  Perhaps a bit too sweet and it could do with a touch more acidity.  88/100

1993 Burg-Layer Schloßberg Riesling Kabinett, Michael Schäfer, AP No.  7 763 076 21 94, 8%
A mid gold with a very marked green tinge at the edge.  It has a mature, creamy, petrol nose.  Similarly the palate is very mature and even feeling a touch over the hill.  There is some apple fruit in there, but it is dominated by a dry minerality on the palate.  Good/Very Good.  85/100

NV Champagne Yapp Brut, J. Dumangin Fils, 12% (Yapp)
This was a fairly recent purchase, but the cork was quite straight sided, revealing some bottle age.   Very deep, almost bronzed colour.   Very, very fine bubbles.   Quite a big nose: deep, full, and creamy, with peaches and yeasty notes.   Wide and full on the palate with very rounded, creamy flavours and a nice fruit croissant/brioche flavour.   Very Good Indeed.   89/100

2005 Vidal Icewine, iceBees, Niagara Vintners, Niagara Peninsula, Canada, 10%
There are concentrated pear and peach notes on the nose. Very pure flavours on the palate, but it gets a bit sticky at the end of the mouth. Good. 84/100

2005 Caché Special Reserve, Fall Creek Vineyards, Texas, 13.5% A blend of chardonnay, viognier and muscat, together with some riesling, gewurztraminer and chenin blanc. This has a nice floral nose, though it’s a bit sweet and confected. The palate largely follows the nose. It’s drinkable, but I wouldn’t bother. OK. 79/100

2003 Meritus, Texas Hill Country Red Wine, Fall Creek Vineyards, Texas, 14.5% This is a blend of 95% cabernet sauvignon, 4% merlot and 1% petit verdot. It’s a very strange colour: very mature looking, but also very deep. Unattractive nose: green and stalky. The palate is hot and simply unpleasant. 72/100

2002 Late Bottle Vintage Port, Casa de Santa Eufemia, José Viseu Carvalho & Filhos, Bottled 2007
Decent enough. A bit unexceptional. 84/100

2003 by Bollinger, Brut Champagne, Bollinger
A rich, fresh bread nose with some blackcurrant and flowers. An open, remarkably austere palate. Possibly a bit straightforward, but it’s fairly interesting. Very Good Indeed. 89/100

NV Prosecco di Valdobbiadene DOC, Vino Spumante Extra Dry, Bele Casel, 11%
A crisp nose with some zesty notes.  Dry palate: crisp but with a nice fruit character too.  Really very impressive and in a much more champenois style than many a prosecco, but it still has the edge of nectarine fruit.  Very Good Indeed.  91/100

NV Prosecco di Valdobbiadene DOC, Vino Spumante Brut, Bele Casel, 11%
This had only been bottled seven days previously.  It has a nice light, peachy nose.  Nice fruity palate.  Light and fresh with the same peaches and nectarines on the palate.  Very Good.  87/100

2006 Millesimato Luca Ferraro, Prosecco DOC Montello e Colli Asolani, Az. Agr. Luca Ferraro, 11.5%
Grape juice is used for the dosage.  This is a new line.  It has a somewhat coarser nose.  Very good palate with plenty of character.  Very gentle in the mouth and very foamy.  Lacks a bit of complexity which is where the non vintage blends can have an advantage.  Very Good.  86/100

2005 Grüner Veltliner Renner, Schloss Gobelsburg
This was a fairly rich, full GV with lots of spice and – because initially it was served far, far too cold – a lot of acidity.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed. 
(21/5/07 at the Capital Hotel, London)

2003 Riesling Brut, Deutscher Sekt, Mosel, Weingut Kurt Hain , no AP number, 12.5%
A mid straw colour.   Fairly rich nose: quite zesty with some lemon sherbert and a decent minerality.   Very good bubble stream.   Quite secondary on the palate, with little in the way of fruit flavours.   Very dry and biscuity on the palate.   Very Good+.   87/100

2002 Stravino de Stravino, IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti Bianco, Pravis, 14.5% (Italian Orchard)
A mid yellow gold colour.   Rich, minerally nose with some lemon zest.   This is quite a light fresh feel on the palate – most unusually for this wine: this is very atypical of the 2002 Stravino di Stravino.   It’s quite concentrated, but there’s also some fresh acidity.   It’s so different to the norm, that I suspect it’s probably a faulty bottle, but the fault, whatever it is, makes it very drinkable.   Very Good.   88/100

2003 Chardonnay Maxwell Vineyard, Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Peter Howland , 14.5%
A mid lemon gold colour with a green tinge towards the rim.   Rich, creamy, smoky-oaky nose with some papaya and sweet melon fruit.   Rich and very, very full on the palate.   It feels massive and really utterly overdone.   This has really suffered from being kept a year or two.   It’s very oaky, and rather reduced.   There is a decent flavour in there, but it’s on the finish that it over-concentrates, cries and becomes a bit unbalanced with an excessive pungency, which lingers forever.   Will it come around again?   I’m not sure.   But it’s not really drinking now, so I’ll keep my remaining bottles for perhaps another four or five years.   OK/Good.   81/100

1981 Saint-Joseph, J.-L. Grippat , alcohol content not shown (Yapp)
This had a mouldy, slightly raised cork, but the wine inside was fine.   A bright, light mature garnet colour.   There is some slightly reductive, massive sweet black cherry fruit on the nose with some sweet raspberry notes too.   Very mature appearance.   It’s quite sweet on the attack with a very old feeling.   Very light on the palate.   Curiously, it really needs food: it was so much better with some rib-eye steak, jersey royals and Kentish hop shoots in fresh Cumbrian butter.   Very Good Indeed.   89/100

NV Pink, Rosé Champagne Brut Premier Cru, Champagne Dumangin , 12% (Yapp)
A nice deep salmon pink.   Quite a rich nose with strawberries, musk and a hint of cinnamon.   Nice open palate with a certain richness and body.   Nice and creamy, yet still really precise.   Very Good Indeed.   90/100

1989 Vouvray Nectar, Vin Moelleux, Marc Bredif , 375ml, 12.8% (Byrne’s)
This comes in a baby clavelin style bottle, sealed with a very dinky, tiny cork.   It’s a bright mid yellow gold colour.   Very attractive, delicate nose with a zesty, sherbetty citrus note.   Light and fragrant on the attack, it then fills out a lot.   Possibly it’s just a touch oxidised.   It’s got decent balance with a gentle understated sweetness.   Nice and clean, especially on the finish.   This is fine and elegant, with notable length.   Very Good.   88/100

2003 Chablis Champs Royaux, William Fèvre , 12.5% (Frank Stainton)
A pale-mid lemon gold appearance, with a tinge of green.   Ripe, creamy, buttery nose with a chalky lemon zest minerality.   Very open and full on the palate.   It’s very big and ripe, and suffering from the “2003 disease” (i.e. of a very hot summer).   Quite buttery with some concentrated orange flesh flavours, melon fruit and a hint of grapiness.   It just feels overblown and overdone.   Good.   83/100
Actually, it improves with food quite a bit, and probably could be as high as 85/100

1998 Gewurztraminer Reserve Selection, Mór Region, Hungary, Hilltop Neszmely , 11.5% (The Wine Society)
A deepish coppery gold.   Concentrated reductive nose with some obvious oxidation too.   Old and badly oxidised on the palate.   This is simply past it.   Not rated.

2002 Stravino di Stravino, IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti Bianco, Pravis
Rich and very full flavoured, even more so than many Friulan or Trentino whites.   Very Good Indeed.   89/100

1999 Grave’s Gate Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Chain of Ponds , 13.5% (Bibendum)
A deep, moderately mature ruby colour.   Lovely nose with lots of fragrant black fruit, lots of leather and a hint licorice.   Rich and smooth on the attack.   There’s lots of ripe fruit initially, but there’s also a really lovely balance, with a nice freshness.   It finishes with a fine elegance, almost tending towards some high toned notes, but without getting there.      Very Good Indeed.   90/100
It continued to drink well over the next 36 hours.

1999 Maximin Grünhäuser Abtsberg Riesling Auslese, C. von Schubert’schen Schloßkellerei , AP Nr. 3 536 014 7 00, 7.5%
An extremely pale straw – almost clear.   The nose is rather dull and unexciting with some oily minerality only.   There’s big peachy fruit on the attack.   It feels rather sweet on the palate, but not overly so and it finishes very cleanly.   But it has these odd, very, very peachy flavours, which are really excessive and quickly become most unattractive.   OK/Good.   81/100

1972 PX Gran Reserva, DO Montilla Moriles, Bodegas Toro Albalá , 375 ml, 17% (The Wine Society)
This has the appearance of thick black cough medicine, leaving a dark oak smear on the glass.   There are licorice, sweet raisins and dandelion root on the nose.   Sweet and very rich and syrupy on the palate, but there is a very nice streak of acidity too, which stops it being too heavy.   In fact the acidity – which is a sort of grapey fresh acidity – really shows and almost dominates the finish.   This is very interesting stuff and rather delicious.   Very Good Indeed.   91/100

2000 Riesling Wineck-Schlossberg, AC Alsace Grand Cru, Meyer-Fonné , 13% (Lay & Wheeler)
A mid-deepish gold.   Big round, minerally nose with some baked apple fruit and a touch of sweetness.   Oh, hello, big boy!   This is big, powerful stuff on the palate.   Rather blowsy with some clear residual sugar revealing itself in a caramel flavour that slightly dominates the finish.   I think this needs more time.   And indeed, the next day the remaining half of the bottle was much improved.   Very Good.   86+/100

2005 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett, Kurt Hain , AP Nr. 2 596 432 8 06, 9% (French & Logan)
A very, very pale straw with a greenish tinge.   The nose has sweet, extracted, concentrated apple-pear drops, and is quite chalky.   It actually feels more sauvignon blanc-like than riesling.   Fairly sweet attack with lots of fruit, and then the sweetness builds on the palate.   It feels like a simple, slightly faded Auslese and a bit odd as a Kabinett.   For a Kabinett, it’s a touch oversweet.   84/100

2002 Quinta Generacion, Colchagua Valley, Chile, Casa Silva , 14%
This is a blend of 50% cabernet sauvignon, 30% carmenere, 10% shiraz and 10% petit verdot.   This has sweet black fruit and tobacco on the nose.   Very attractive palate with nice complex flavours and a spicy finish.   Very Good/Very Good Indeed.   88/100

NV Amontillado 1830, Vinos Viejos, Bodegas El Maestro Sierra , 375ml, 19% (Byrne’s)
Bottle number 505.   This is a deep, teak-tinged orange-gold colour.   Lovely nose: salted almonds and orange caramel with some slight gingery notes.   Wow!   On the palate, it’s very clear and bright and very focussed indeed.   Very smooth, there’s an initial feel of sweetness, but it reveals itself moments later as thoroughly dry and with a nice hint of acidity on the finish, lingering long after.   This is a particularly refined cherry with none of the alcohol having any presence whatsoever.   Very Good Indeed/Excellent.   93/100

2000 Ronco delle Acacie, DOC Colli Orientali del Friuli, Le Vigne di Zamo , 14%
A very deep gold.   Very rich, concentrated nose with some dried pears.   Powerful, rich flavours.   It’s a bit of a monster on its own, but is excellent with food.   Very Good+.   88/100
(7/4/07 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

2002 Nivole Moscato d’Asti, Michele Chiarlo , 5.5%   (Booths)
Light, fragrant and a touch sweet, with a firm petillance.   This is a very good moscato, though this particular vintage is now at the end of its drinking window.   87/100

2005 Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett, Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben , AP Nr. 2 602 041 004 06, 9%   (French & Logan)
Closed with a screwcap.   It has a fresh, very talcy, very slatey minerally nose with some green grapey fruit.   Very zingy on the palate, this is ultra-refreshing, although there’s a hint of residual sugar there too.   Quite mouthfilling without being heavy.   It actually has a nice cleansing feel.   Very Good Indeed.   90/100
Curiously, having left half the bottle overnight, it had refermented by the next day.

1993 Gewurztraminer Kappelweg de Rorschwihr, Rolly Gassmann , 14% (D. Byrne, Clitheroe)
A deepish lemon gold colour.   The nose is rich and smoky, initially with lots of gewurztraminer character, but then some smoky oxidised notes take over.   Very, very powerful palate: this is a very deep and full wine that almost feels rather spirituous.   Overall this feels a bit oxidised and a bit heavy and spirity.   Might be faulty?   Good-.   81/100

2003 Vespa Bianco, Az. Agr. Bastianich, DOC Collio Orientali del Friuli
This is a blend of 45% chardonnay, 45% sauvignon blanc and 10% late harvest picolit.
A deepish gold. Quite a rich buttery nose, with some pear drops and some raw green beans. Very rich and full on the attack. Blimey, this is powerful stuff! Very dense, concentrated flavours. It has a sort of grappa flavour on the finish. A very big wine, that tasted alone felt overdone, but improved greatly with food (in my case a nice involtini of pork with a creamy cheese sauce). Very Good.
(1/4/07 at The Italian Orchard, Broughton)

2000 Platinum, Barone Rosso, Vigneti Fantinel, IGT Rosso delle Venezie, 13%
A blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and refosco, aged for 12 months in French oak.
A nice even, maturing garnet colour. Smoky, old leather on the nose with some nice, peppery black fruit. Very nice flavours on the palate: there are layers of flavours with a nice complexity. Very rounded and ready. Very Good Indeed.
(1/4/07 at The Italian Orchard, Broughton)

1988 Vosne Romanée Les Maizières, Robert Arnoux,13%
An old colour, starting to brown. Chef-patron, Ian Martin, was concerned that it might be over the hill and falling apart.  But, no, it was just old - a lovely old wine.
It had a lovely old nose and palate. All in all, a very pleasant wine. What was interesting, was that it didn't develop in the glass or decanter over the two hours or so, but neither did it fall apart at all. I really enjoyed it. Very Good Indeed.
(31/3/07 at The Freemasons' Arms, Wiswell)

1998 Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Spätlese, Karthäuserhof , AP Nr. 3 561 303 20 99, 8%   (French & Logan)
A stoney-slatey-minerally nose with some developing kerosene notes greets you.   It’s a touch sweet on the attack, but that’s followed up by a very integrated feeling in the mouth.   There’s lots of minerality and some lovely acidity.   Some quince fruit flavours appear on the finish.   Very Good Indeed.   89/100

1997 Hermitage, Domaine de Colombier , 13.5%
A bright clear ruby appearance, starting to show some maturity.   After an initial blast of black fruit, the nose is big and meaty, and full of tobacco.   It’s velvety and caressing on the palate and there are some sweet black fruit and sour cherry flavours.   Deep and characterful.   After a few moments some lovely spicy chocolate richness coats the mouth.   This has a superb balance of fresh fruit, spice and an integrated tannic structure.   A very impressive wine.   93/100

1994 Barolo Bussia Soprana, DOCG Barolo, Poderi Aldo Conterno
Very mature appearance. On the nose, I'd have put this at nearer 1970 than 1990: old, sweet, nutty, figgy nebbiolo aromas. The palate too, seemed much more mature than I'd expect, even for an off year. But there's never been any storage problem with any other of the wines at the Freemasons Arms, so I presume this really is this mature. There's no oxidation and no faults, just a very mature wine, delicious in its own way, but I was wrong-footed by not expecting something quite so mature. Very integrated and open palate with some nice sweet black-figgy-pruney fruit and a nice depth and balance. On the evidence of this bottle, very much at a peak: drink up. Very Good.
(17/3/07 at The Freemasons' Arms, Wiswell)

1998 Messmer Riesling Brut, Pfalz, Germany, 12.5%, AP Nr. 501 609 522 01  (French & Logan)
Very good persistent, fine bubble stream. Attractive peaches & creamy apples on the nose - mainly peaches - with some cakey notes. Quite a foamy feel on the palate. Quite crisp initially but with very good rounded peachy riesling fruit. A rather nice drink: fuller and rounder, with lower acidity than many champagnes.  Very Good+.

NV Champagne Gavroche, Cuvée Albert Roux
A good aperitif champagne.   86/100
(26/2/07 at Le Gavroche, London)

2003 Barrel Selection Low Yield Roussanne, Domaine de Sainte Rose
A good roussanne that worked nicely with a clean, elegant and light lobster salad with mango, avocado, basil and lime.
(26/2/07 at Le Gavroche, London)

1998 Meursault 1er Cru “Poruzots”, Domaine Mikulski , served en magnum
Good meursault that worked reasonably well with a grilled scallop served with carrots and salad leaves and a tarragon sauce.
(26/2/07 at Le Gavroche, London)

2005 Cuvée Clarendon, AC Côtes de Provence, Domaine Gavoty
Mainly from the rolle grape, with just a bit of marsanne and roussanne, this has a sort of melon air-freshener nose (nicer than that sounds).   Fresh and crisp on the palate, with a nice fruity balance, this worked well with an excellent dish of roast john dory façon bouillabaisse.   89/100
(26/2/07 at Le Gavroche, London)

1997 Tokay Pinot Gris, Selection de Grains Nobles, Léon Beyer
Absolutely top class pinot gris SGN offering all that could be asked of it.   Worked superbly with all aspects of a dish of escalope of foie gras served with a duck pastilla flavoured with cinnamon.   92/100
(26/2/07 at Le Gavroche, London)

1998 Chateau La Croix Toulifaut, Pomerol
Decent stuff.   Served with agneau de lait des Pyrenées Rôti, ragout de flageolets with a delicate thyme scented jus.
(26/2/07 at Le Gavroche, London)

2002 Chateau Cabezac Grande Cuvée “Belveze”, AC Minervois
A blend of grenache, syrah and mourvèdre.   Nice enough, but a bit unexceptional.   Served with the Gavroche’s excellent cheese selection.
(26/2/07 at Le Gavroche, London)

NV Banyuls Reserva, Domaine de la Tour Vieille
A good, though not stunning banyuls that worked fairly well with Le Palet au Chocolat Amer et Praliné Croustillant (very similar to the Louis XV dessert that is a signature dish of Alexis Gauthier at his Roussillon restaurant in London).   86/100
(26/2/07 at Le Gavroche, London)

2005 Coteaux du Layon Saint Lambert, Domaine V. Ogereau
A lovely, light fresh Coteaux du Layon that was just a little overwhelmed by the roast pineapple with vanilla and dark rum and a white pepper ice cream that it accompanied.
(26/2/07 at Le Gavroche, London)

2005 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spätlese, Kerpen , 375ml, AP Nr. 2 576 562 506, 9.5%
A minerally, sherbetty, creamy nose.   Quite appley on the palate, but with very good balance.   Ultimately a bit simple.   86/100
(24/2/07 at Gary Danko restaurant, San Francisco)

2003 Pinot Noir, Peter’s Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, Papapietro Perry , 375ml, 14.5%
This has a very fragrant nose tending towards volatility and become even more so as it sits in the glass.   Quite zingy and explosive on the palate initially, but then with time it just seems rather flat and quite hollow on the palate with a touch of spirit and lots of orange peel flavours, with just a bit of red fruit.   This seems poor to me, to the extent that I can’t believe it’s right.   Eventually the head sommelier comes to discuss it with me, and quickly agrees it’s faulty.   She’s worried that it might be a batch problem, so we choose a different bottle instead of a straight replacement.
(24/2/07 at Gary Danko restaurant, San Francisco)

2004 Paraduxx, Duckhorn Wine Company , 375ml, 14.5%
This is a blend of 65% zinfandel, 28% cabernet sauvignon and 7% merlot.   The nose is laden with chocolate cherries, chocolate blackberries and tobacco.   It has a smooth, rich, velvety palate that’s quite big and immediately impressive.   But there’s also a nice balance and it’s quite fresh on the finish.   Very Good Indeed.   90/100
(24/2/07 at Gary Danko restaurant, San Francisco)

NV 30 year old tawny port, Ramos Pinto
This feels more like a 10- or 20-year old tawny, given the impressive fruitiness.   Obviously this is a very fresh bottling.   Very Good+.   88/100
(24/2/07 at Gary Danko restaurant, San Francisco)

2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Volcanic Hill, Diamond Creek
This has big oaky black fruits on the nose with cedar, smoke and some tobacco scents.   Very big and very tannic on the palate, with very powerful, forward flavours.   There’s huge oak and great gobs of fruit.   This feels like it needs years to integrate, if indeed it ever will.   Good/Very Good?   85/100
(24/2/07 left over from the next table at Gary Danko restaurant, San Francisco)

2003 Les Cailloux Chateauneuf du Pape
This was the last glass in a bottle that had been open some four and a half hours.   It had a lovely delicate balanced nose with just a hint of mourvèdre fruit.   There’s soft, refined fruit on the palate, but it then develops a real intensity.   Even open this long, there’s a huge structure, especially on the finish, with quite drying tannins.   Very Good?   85/100
(24/2/07 left over from an adjacent table at Gary Danko restaurant, San Francisco)

2004 Serriger Saarstein Riesling Kabinett, Schloss Saarstein , AP Nr. 2 555 014 09 05, 8%
This had a creamy, lemon zesty nose and zingy, fresh palate with lovely fruit.   Very clean with a slight hint of sweetness on the finish.   Very Good Indeed.   90/100
(23/2/07 at Slanted Door restaurant, San Francisco)

NV Champagne Demoiselle, Brut, Vranken , 375ml, 12%
A nice, fairly basic non vintage champagne.  88/100
(22/2/07 at Gary Danko restaurant, San Francisco)

2004 Syrah La Bruma, Sonoma Coast, Peay Vineyards , 375ml
No proper note, but this was 'correct' in all regards.  Bright, clean, with decent interest. An enjoyable wine that worked well with a pigeon (over)stuffed with couscous. 89/100
(22/2/07 at Gary Danko restaurant, San Francisco)

NV Crémant de Bourgogne, Simmonet-Febvre
A very, very slight nose.  Crisp, clean palate.  Nice bubbles.  Fairly innocuous.  Good.
(20/2/07 at Redd, Yountville, California)

2005 Rüdesheimer Magdalenenkreuz Riesling Spätlese , Weingut Josef Leitz
Fresh creamy apples on the nose.  Unfortunately served way too cold, but once it warmed up, everything was in order and the palate as you would expect. Very Good/Very Good Indeed.
(20/2/07 at Redd, Yountville, California)

2005 Dutton Goldfield “Dutton Ranch” Pinot Noir, Russian River
Warm raspberry and cherry fruit on the nose.  Warm fruit on the palate, but it has a good restraint.  Very Good+.
(20/2/07 at Redd, Yountville, California)

2005 Gewürztraminer, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, Navarro Vineyards , 13.6%
Quite a gentle lychee nose.   Fairly delicate on the palate.   This has really good balance and is a nice restrained, elegant gewürztraminer that will work well with food.   89/100
(17/2/07 at Passionfish, Pacific Grove, Monterey)

2005 Ashley’s Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, Brewer-Clifton , 15.1% 
A very powerful black cherry nose with chocolatey-appley notes.   Silky & smooth on the palate, this immediately feels very concentrated.   Quite sweet fruit on the palate with a good structure and soft grained tannins, especially on the finish.   Very Good Indeed.   92/100
(16/2/07 at Mattei's Tavern, Los Olivos, California)

A few wines tasted at the Los Olivos Tasting Room
This small wine shop attracted me in with its blackboard list of wines and advertised tasting: it looked a good opportunity to taste a range of good producers in an independent setting.   Unfortunately, the list of wines outside didn’t match what was available for tasting; what was available was poorly stored (the wines, including the whites, were served at the – warm – ambient temperature, and to judge from levels, many had been open a while); and furthermore, the shop was staffed by a seriously grumpy, miserable chap, who appeared to regard the intrusion of a customer as an inconvenient distraction from whatever else it was he was doing.   In such a wine-orientated small town, it was remarkable to find someone working in a wine shop who was so utterly disinterested.

2005 Mason Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley , 13%
A bit lacking in character on the nose and palate.   Straightforward and dull all round.   OK.   80/100

2005 Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, Au Bon Climat , 13.5%
An unexciting dull nose.   It’s a decent chardonnay, but – at least in the condition in which it was served – very unexciting.   Good-ish.   82/100

2001 Chardonnay Reserve, Santa Barbara County, J. Kerr , 14.5%
There is evident oak on the nose (apparently it spends 18 months in barrel), but with good fruit too.   A pleasant full palate with a nice structure.   Very Good/Very Good Indeed.   88/100

2005 Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, Lane Tanner , 14.6%
There’s clean raspberry fruit on the nose.   Nice fresh palate with a bit of a zing on the finish.   Good finish with gentle tannins and some woody spice.   Very Good+.   87/100

2003 Seven Twenty Eight Pinot Noir, Fiddlestix, Santa Rita Cellars, Fiddlehead Cellars , 14.1%
Dried meat, prosciutto nose with decent red fruit.   Good palate.   Very balanced.   Very Good/Very Good Indeed.   88/100

2003 Stolpman Vineyards Sangiovese, Di Bruno, 14.5%
Warm cherry fruit on the nose.   Straightforward, rather warm palate.   Pleasant enough stuff.   Very Good.   86/100

2005 Syrah, Santa Barbara County, Jaffurs Wine Cellars , 14.9%
Meaty, gamey black fruits nose.   Soft, precise palate with very good balance.   Nice peppery spice on the finish.   Very long and fairly powerful after.   Very Good Indeed.   90/100

2004 Piocho, Happy Canyon Vineyards, Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Santa Ynez Valley, Grown, Produced and Bottled by Barrack , no alcohol content shown
Deep, concentrated black fruits on the nose.   Sweet, forward, jammy fruit on the palate.   A crowd pleaser.   Good/Very Good.   84/100

2005 Pinot Noir, Cork Dancer, Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post
This is a blend of fruit from six vineyards which stretch from Santa Maria, through Los Alamos and into the Santa Rita Hills. It has muted warm red fruits on the nose. The palate is very lively with a real zing to it. It’s decent stuff, but not overtly interesting. After a while, the palate calms down a little. Good+
(14/2/07 at The Hitching Post, Buellton, California)

2005 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post
This had a warm inviting nose and a nice warm climate pinot noir feel on the palate. Quite silky and pleasing. Very Good+.
(14/2/07 at The Hitching Post, Buellton, California)

2004 Pinot Noir Highliner, Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post
This showed warm red fruits on the nose, along with a rather bizarre touch of cassis. The nose had a lovely perfume to it too. Very attractive on the palate: maybe not the greatest pinot noir, but undoubtedly very attractive. There’s plenty of interest and notably good balance. Very Good Indeed.
(14/2/07 at The Hitching Post, Buellton, California)

2005 Generation Red, Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post
This is a blend, primarily of cabernet franc, along with some syrah and some merlot. There are warm, leafy black fruits on the nose. Very attractive on the palate with a nice balance. There is some quite powerful black fruit initially, but it’s really nicely integrated. It’s a well structured wine, but by no means over-tannic. It’s possibly heretical to say so in Sideways country, but I think this is possibly the most impressive of the Hitching Post wines that I tried. Very Good Indeed.
(14/2/07 at The Hitching Post, Buellton, California)

2003 French Camp Syrah, Anglim, Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
A very dark appearance, but with a very young edge - though only right at the rim. Quite a strong, minerally black fruit nose: very elegant and a touch Hermitage like. There's also a real blast of chocolate violet creams on the nose. Lovely attack. It has a lovely freshness and balance which persists throughout. It has a good, rich, velvety feel, manifesting itself in some crème de mûre and chocolate flavours. Very Good Indeed/Excellent.
(12/2/07 at Artisan Restaurant, Paso Robles, California)

2003 Mer Soleil Vineyard White, Treana Winery, Central Coast California
A blend of two-thirds viognier and one-third marsanne. A deep golden colour. There are almonds and apricots on the nose. Very full and really quite concentrated on the palate. It has decent balance, but you feel the alcohol a bit on the finish and after. A decent wine, but I can't say I'm over-enamoured of it. Very Good.
(12/2/07 at Artisan Restaurant, Paso Robles, California)

2000 Radici Taurasi DOCG Mastroberardino , 13.5%
From the aglianico grape, aged three years.
It has a meaty nose with mint and eucalyptus, together with some blackberry fruit: a very powerful nose.   Not quite as powerful on the palate, though still no shrinking violet.   Rich and full, with quite a chocolatey, porty feel (though without the spirit of port).   Nicely balanced.   Lightly spiced on the finish.   Very Good Indeed.   89/100

1987 Clasico, Priorato, Masia Barril , 16.5%
A blend of 75% grenache and 25% carignan.   This is a mature, very clear garnet colour with some slight bricking at the edges.   Very porty nose, with bitter chocolate and blackberries and a hint of orange peel.   Powerful palate.   There’s some huge alcohol immediately evident, both in a generaly, slightly spirity feel, and also in a sweetness on the palate.   Very big and powerful, but it’s not heavy: it’s actually quite lightly textured with some very soft grained tannins appearing briefly on the finish.   After the first few sips, the alcohol is much less evident, and possibly even a bit of the spiritiness has blown off, leaving a well balanced, if quite unique wine.   There’s some mint and lavender flavours on the finish and after.   Very Good Indeed.   89/100

2004 Barbera d’Alba, Tre vigne, Vietti , 14%
30,350 bottles produced.   This has a sweet, gently perfumed cherry kernel nose.   Light and fairly delicate on the palate.   Overall, it feels very young, especially towards the finish and after, when it develops a certain power.   Very Good.   87/100
(28/1/07 at a restaurant I am not allowed to name for legal reasons)

2003 Mâcon-Farges, AC Mâcon Villages, Cave Talmard , 375ml, 13%
Lemony-zesty nose with good minerality.   Fresh, clean palate.   Nice fruit with really plenty of interest.   Very Good.   88/100
(27/1/07 at the Freemasons Arms, Wiswell)

1993 Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain Selection, La Jota Vineyard Co., 14%
Very deep, smoky tobacco and blackcurrant nose.   Very focussed, pure palate.   Soft, mature, delicious Cali Cab.   It really opened up over time, and after an hour it’s really superb.   Excellent.   94/100
(27/1/07 at the Freemasons Arms, Wiswell)

2000 Oslavje Bianco, Azienda Agricola Stanislao Radikon, DOC Collio, Friuli, Italy, 13.5%
The back label says that it should be served at 15°, but this was a lot colder and we had to let it warm up. The back label also states that there is no SO2. Curiously, what it doesn't say is that it's unfiltered. Perhaps that's because it's so blindingly obvious that it's unfiltered: it looks like apple juice, straight from the press, with a bit of onion skin and caramel for colour. That's to say, it's a markedly cloudy, orange onion-skin colour. There are dried figs, orange and cinnamon, together with some old wine, on the nose, though there's also a certain mustiness. As it warms up, it displays more Oloroso like notes on the nose. There's concentrated dried fruit on the palate - dried figs, pears, apricots and a hint of raisins. But there's also a slightly musty, murky feel. As it warms up, there are more dried orange peel flavours with a hint of caramel. But overall, it just feels a bit murky and muddy. The five of us come to the conclusion that this is a duff bottle (others had a magnum of the same a few months ago, and reported it to have been much cleaner and positively enjoyable, in contrast to this bottle) and the remaining half bottle is consigned to the kitchen for cooking. Flawed bottle.
(20/1/07 at The Italian Orchard, Broughton)

2000 Breg, IGT Venezia Giulia, Josko Gravner, 13.5%
The white Breg is a field blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling Italico, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, which are picked and vinified separately (sometimes in pairs) and then blended. This was my third time with this wine (once previously at a tasting with Miha Gravner and once at Locanda Locatelli in London, where we had to pass the sommelier's quick test before we were allowed it). This bottle was really singing. A bright, clear, brassy orangey-gold. The nose is quite raisiny nose with sweet agrumes and a very pleasant fragrance and a hint of sherrification (if that's not a word, it is now). The nose is much cleaner than the Radikon. On the palate too, it is much cleaner and more precise than the Radikon. The flavours are really quite concentrated and deep; it feels quite creamy, and there's an odd, but not unpleasant, hint of polish on the palate. Like the Radikon, this too was served a little too cold (cellar temperature), and it improved greatly as it warmed up (there's a comparison to be made with white Musar, I think), revealing much more fruit on the palate and much more of a delicious, savoury umami note. A superb bottle.  Excellent.
(20/1/07 at The Italian Orchard, Broughton)

2005 Sauvignon Kolaus, IGT Venezia Giulia,  Pierpaolo Pecorari
A rich gold appearance.   The nose has tropical fruit, bananas and cream, with a hint of asparagus.   Very full and creamy and quite un-sauvignon blanc like.   Very long indeed.   This has been barrique fermented and it’s given it quite a pinot blanc/chardonnay feel in the mouth.   Very Good Indeed.   89/100
(20/1/07 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

2005 Tocai Friulano Rive Alte, DOC Isonzo del Friuli, Masùt da Rive , 13%
A yellow gold colour.   Very fragrant on the nose and quite minerally and musky too.   Round and open on the palate, with quite strong flavours.   Very full, with a nice rich feel, but without any sweetness.   Very Good Indeed.   90/100
(20/1/07 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

2005 Kaseler Nies’chen Riesling Kabinett, Weingut Karlsmühle (Ruwer) , AP Nr. 3 536 016 10 06, 9.5% (French & Logan)
A pale straw appearance with a very slight green tinge.   There are lime, cinnamon, apples and some strong minerality on the nose.   Zesty, zingy attack: very fresh and vibrant, but not really at all together at the moment.   I think this needs a year or two integrate and settle down – or at least that’s what I hope will happen.   Decent balance, with good acidity on the finish.   Good.   85/100

2005 Tocai Friulano Rive Alte, DOC Isonzo del Friuli, Masùt da Rive, 13%
A lightish yellow gold colour. The nose is very fragrant, quite minerally and musky. Round and open on the palate, with really quite strong flavours. Very full, with a nice rich, weighty feel, but without any sweetness of over-ripeness. Went very well with a platter of assorted Friulan hams, sausages and salamis and with some mussels in a slightly salty cream sauce; less well with canneloni, but still not an unpleasant match. Very Good Indeed.
(13/1/07 at The Italian Orchard, Broughton)

2004 Sud Syrah , 12.5% (French Regional Wines)
A good ruby colour with a hint of youth.   Gorgeous, soft, fruity nose with cherry and raspberry fruit and a touch of sous-bois.   Juicy, juicy, juicy: this has really forward, juicy fruit and is very giving and open.   Simple, yet delicious and with remarkably good length.   Very Good Indeed.   90/100

2004 Sud Chardonnay , 13.5% (French Regional Wines)
Opened for cooking.   A mid gold, with a bit of a green tinge.   Fairly fresh nose with some butteriness, melon and tropical fruit with a hint of herbaceousness.   Light, fresh, round palate with lovely fruit.   Nice and clean with ripe fruit and decent length.   This is only a simple chardonnay, but it delivers in spades.   Very Good Indeed.   89/100

1995 Riesling Cuvée Bicentenaire, Kuentz Bas , 12.5% (ex cave 2/10/98, FF66)
A mid greeny gold – almost a lime gold.   A huge über-minerally nose with lots of wet petrol station forecourts.   Fabulous, precise attack, and then it opens out enormously in the mouth to give a very big mature riesling, very minerally palate.   It has enormous depth and concentration.   This really is a stunning wine: absolutely stunning.   98/100

2001 Eschendorfer Lump Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese, Horst Sauer, AP Nr 4397-029-02, 500ml, 7% (Noel Young)
A deep bronzed gold.   Very fresh nose with lots of rich, ripe apricot and warm apple pie.   Very pure and precise on the palate.   Surprisingly, this is not at all oversweet and not in the slightest bit cloying.   It has a very firm acidity, which gives it well nigh perfect balance and huge elegance.   I would guess it was an Eiswein from the purity and elegance rather than a TBA: even to the extent that it perhaps lacks the weight you might expect from a TBA.   It has fairly rich, creamy, quite apple-y fruit on the palate.   Enormous length.   Excellent.   95/100

2004 Cuvée des Peintres, AC Collioure, Cave de l’Abbé Rous, 13.5% (French Regional Wines)
This is a blend of 65% grenache gris; 20% grenache blanc; 5% roussanne-marsanne and 5% vermentino.   It has a sort of builder’s sand colour.   Immensely floral on the nose: scented and musky with some marzipan and faint banana hints.   Full flavoured and creamy in the mouth, this has very intense and concentrated fruit.   Very concentrated with immense length.   Very Good Indeed.   90/100

2005 Sauvignon Blanc Special Cuvée, Limited Release Estate Wine, Light Natural Filtration, W.O. Robertson, Springfield Estate , 12.5% (Sainsbury's)
A very pale light straw appearance.   Crisp gooseberry and cats pee nose.   Crisp, bright attack, but very creamy and round on the palate, yet it also retains some vibrancy.   It has an odd sort of floral back taste.   A fairly interesting wine, that’s quite deep on the palate.   Very good length.   Good+.   85/100

2003 Muskateller Kabinett, Weingut Herbert Meßmer , AP Nr. 501 609 521 04, 13%
A mid straw colour with quite a yellow tinge.   Powerful musky, muscatty nose with lots of pungent lychee fruit.   Very forward attack.   Full and round on the palate, though very even.   A bit hard and four square on the finish and somewhat odd after.   Good+.   85/100

2003 Beauvignac Merlot, Vin de Pays d’Oc, Les Vignerons de Pomerols , 13%
An even garnet colour with no evident youth.   Very strange nose: very perfumed, mainly of play-doh and pencil erasers.   Light, fruity attack.   Very open on the palate.   It has a confected note and is a tiny bit hot on the finish, but otherwise it’s a perfectly pleasant, simple wine.   82/100

2002 Passo Doble La Arboleda, malbec-corvina doppia fermentazione, Masi Tupungato , 13.5%
The nose is very, very obviously chocolate coated kirsch soaked cherries.   Maybe there’s a bit of cinnamon or mulling spices too.   Smooth, richly textured attack.   This is pretty powerful stuff, and feels much bigger than its 13.5% abv.   Very meaty with a somewhat grainy texture.   It has an attractive sour edge on the finish which contrasts well with the sweet fruit.   It was still drinking well five days later.   Very Good Indeed.   89/100

2003 Riesling Spätlese Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg, Karthäuserhof , AP Nr. 3 561 303 33 04, 9.5% (French & Logan)
A mid lemon straw.   Lots of lovely minerality on the nose, with some creaminess and a certain oiliness.   Big, wide attack.   There’s a nice off-sweet balance on the palate.   It’s quite direct and actually feels a bit simple.   But it’s still pretty attractive and a super food wine.   Very Good Indeed.   90/100

2000 Trilogy, DOC Collio, Vigneti Fantinel, 13%
A blend of Tocai Friulano, Pinot Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. £26 at the Italian Orchard in Broughton, near Preston. Good solid example of Friulan winemaking. Nothing weedy or insipid about it, but light enough for an easy drinking lunchtime wine, but with plenty of interest. Remarkably complex nose. Very Good Indeed. Went well with both my involtini cacciatore and pizza with prosciutto San Daniele.
(2/12/06 at The Italian Orchard, Broughton)

1996 Tokay Pinot Gris Altenbourg, Selection de Grain Nobles, AC Alsace, Albert Mann , 375ml, 13.5% (Lay & Wheeler)
High quality very long cork.   A very deep brassy gold colour.   Fantastic barley sugar nose that I can smell while the glass is still eighteen inches from me on the table.   Bring the glass to the nose and it’s amazing: apricots, honey, barley sugar, honeysuckle perfume, maybe some pear drops and a touch of polish and butter.   Very concentrated deep fruit on the palate.   Rich and full, but with a nice acidity that gives it an excellent balance.   There’s a nice buttery richness on the palate with superb tropical fruit flavours.   Deep and rich, but becoming fresher and lighter on the finish.   Stunning length.   Outstanding.   98/100

2001 Rutherford Ranch Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California
Very attractive nose, with a nice oaky feel, together with some buttery tropical fruit. Very pleasing palate, with nice depth and a good richness on the palate that meant it went very well with a confit duck terrine with shaved foie gras, scallops with an oyster emulsion and cauliflower purée and a variety of cheeses. Very good food wine. Very Good Indeed+.
(29/11/06 at Cassis Restaurant, Stanley House Hotel, Blackburn)

2003 The Manse Semillon, Riesling, Chardonnay, The Schrapel Family Vineyards, Bethany Wines Pty Ltd, 12% (Majestic Wine Warehouses)
A mid gold colour.  Zesty, lemony, mineral nose with a real musky overtone.  Nice, attractive attack.  In the mouth, there are rich, buttery, slightly tropical fruit flavours.  Quite full and direct with a hint of sweetness/ripeness.  It's a unusual blend of grape varieties, and I'm not convinced it entirely works.  It's an interesting wine, but not overly so.  Good.

2004 Tocai Friulano, DOC Collio, Azienda Agricola Branko, 14%
A fairly pale gold.  Nice attractive nose with some delicate floral scents.  Clean and fresh on the palate, which rather understates what a nice wine this was.  Very Good Indeed. 
(19/11/06 at The Italian Orchard,Broughton)

2003 Tocai Friulano, DOC Collio, Aldo Polencic
A deep golden colour.  Quite spirituous on the nose, or rather with a hint of grappa sort of concentrated fruit, without the fiery spirit.  Very concentrated on the palate.  Made in a more oxidative style than the Branko: the Polencic is a lot more complex, fuller and deeper.  I'd presume late harvest and probably older vines.  Difficult to compare alongside the Branko, as although they are both the same grape, from the same DOC, and produced remarkably close to each other, the two wines are really quite different.  The Polencic is deeper, more serious and more concentrated, but that's not to downplay the charm and attraction of the Branko.  Very impressive wine. Very Good Indeed. 
(19/11/06 at The Italian Orchard, Broughton)

2004 Pinot Grigio, Il Carpino, DOC Collio
This was a treat served by chef-patron Ivano: produced in very small quantities, not mentioned on Il Carpino's website and (in 2004 at least) released in magnums only.
The immediately striking thing about this is its colour: it's an onion-skin pink rosé!  Deeper than a Listel Gris de Gris.  This must have spent ages macerating on the skins!  Quite a slight nose.  Very full on the palate, but with some elegant, delicate flavours.  There's even - a first time for me from a Pinot Gris, let alone an Italian Pinot Grigio - more than a hint of tannins in the mouth.  A vague touch of evidently deliberate oxidation adds another layer of flavour and complexity. There's a concentrated, almost grappa-like flavour on the finish, with a touch of raisins too.  Fascinating, remarkable stuff.  Excellent.
(19/11/06 at The Italian Orchard, Broughton)

1999 Grauburgunder Spätlese Trocken, Weingut Heitlinger, Baden, Germany, AP Nr. 605 17 00, 13.5% (French & Logan)
A deepish gold colour.  Very rich, buttery nose with some toffee notes, some pear and some banana.  It's rich and very full on the palate.  The immediate impression is that it's hardly trocken (dry), but the dryness really hits in on the finish.  Very rich and full, but it doesn't feel especially pinot gris-like: it could easily be pinot blanc or chardonnay.  Very Good+.

2004 Vamvakada, Tsiakkas Winery, Topikos Oinos Lemesos, 12.5% (from the producer)
Matured in French oak for six months. Sealed with a very high quality cork. This has a deep, vibrant, very young appearance, with a glass-clinging purple. On the nose there is deep, plummy, cherry fruit with some chocolate fruit and tar. Smooth and silky on the attack, this really opens up beautifully in the mouth with really good fruit. There's an interesting, very weighty, slightly tarry/treacly richness on the palate. There are also some interesting flavours and a loose sandy tannic structure. This is a very interesting, well-made wine showing very good balance. Very Good Indeed.

2005 Schloss Vollrads Riesling Kabinett, Rheingau, Germany
Fresh sherbetty and zingy.  Very good with the excellent food at L'Atelier du Robuchon in London.
(14/11/06 at L'Atelier du Robuchon, London)

2005 Wachenheimer Goldbächel Riesling Spätlese Trocken, Weingut Josef Biffar, Pfalz, AP 5 106 026 062 06, 13% (French & Logan)
Mid yellow gold.  The nose is rather dull, but very heavy on the minerality.  Dry and precise attack.  Pretty much bone dry in the mouth, which makes it feel a bit hard on the finish.  I'm sure it would have been better left as a Spätlese, rather than fermented to trocken.  But it's still a good example, and very well made.  Very Good.

2005 Piesporter Kabinett, Reinhold Haart, Mosel, Germany, AP Nr. 2 596 429 406, 9.5% (French & Logan)
Sealed with a screwcap.  This has a pale straw-gold colour.  The nose is sherbetty, lemony and zesty, with a strong granite/slatey minerality.  Fresh and zingy on the palate, and it's really as sherbetty and delicious as the nose.  Very Good Indeed.

2003 L'Originel, AC Madiran, Domaine du Crampilh, 14% (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
There are deep red fruits on the nose with some blackberry.  Nice and open and inviting.  Good palate: initially a touch astringent, but it fills out with some good fruit before a green astringency returns on the finish.  There are virtually no noticeable tannins, which is a little surprising.  Good.

1998 Gaiospino Fumé, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore, Az. Agr. Fattoria Coroncino di Lucio Canestrari, 14.5% (Lay & Wheeler)
Fermented and aged in new oak for 23 months before being bottled unfiltered.  It is a mid, bright yellow gold.  Rich, creamy nose with some spirity nutty notes.  Very full palate: very rich and powerful, almost too much so.  Very deep and concentrated flavours.  Utterly enormous finish, followed by immense length.  Very Good.  87/100

1979 Château Léoville Las Cases, AC St. Julien, Bordeaux, alcohol content not shown
Remarkably deep colour, showing very little of its 27 years of age. Rather closed nose, feeling rather underdeveloped, and it didn't really open much at all over the 2 hours of lunch. Though, predictably, the last sip was the best! Really quite good on the palate. On first tasting it, it did feel a bit thin, as you might expect, but it did improve with being open and with food. There was a sort of feeling that the wine was holding something back, if you see what I mean. But it has a nice mature claret feel to it, with some sweet black fruit eventually coming through on the palate. Pretty good length, as well. Surprisingly good.
(4/11/06 at The Freemasons' Arms, Wiswell)

1997 Santenay La Comme Dessus, Domaine Amiot Guy et Fils, 13.5% (Bibendum)
A pale, mature garnet colour: nice and clear but it doesn't half look old!  There is sweet, slightly high toned red fruit n the nose - strawberries, cherries and touch of rose scent.  Light and fresh on the palate, again with some high toned notes, but on the palate the high high tones just push the fruit to the side a bit.  Possibly a bit dried out?  Still fine and elegant though.  As I've got some more of this, I'm hoping this is a below par bottle.  Good.  84/100
It was no better when finished the next day: still too high toned and lacking character.

2001 Domaine du Garinet, Fûts de Chêne, AC Cahors, 13%  (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A deep, very young ruby colour.  The nose is concentrated and powerful with blackberry fruit, leather and some brett.  Pretty concentrated attack with some very direct fruit.  This has a really nice structure with some fairly grippy tannins and a nice chocolatey richness on the palate with some pruney fruit and a certain freshness on the finish.  Very Good Indeed. 91/100

1994 Forster Jesuitengarten Riesling Beerenauslese, Pfalz, Weingut Reichsrat Von Buhl, AP Nr. 5 106 044 32 95, 8.5%
A very mouldy cork.  In the glass, this has a deep orange caramel colour - a bit suspiciously dark a colour.  Very rich, sweet nose with some barley sugar, but really quite slight.  There's lots of acidity immediately evident on the palate.  It has a luscious, rich silkiness in the mouth.  There's huge balance with the sweetness just coming slightly to the fore on the finish when the acidity recedes.  Very long and with huge freshness after.  Very Good Indeed/Excellent.

2003 Riesling Brut, Flaschengärung, handgerüttelt, Deutscher Sekt, Mosel, Weingut Kurt Hain , no AP number, 12.5%
An attractive pinky mid-straw appearance, with a good fine bubble stream.   Peach biscuits on the nose.   Full and round on the palate with a nice ripe peach fruit character.   Very Good.   87/100

1997 Late Bottled Vintage Port, Unfiltered, Quinta do Noval, 19.5%
A very deep, very dark ruby appearance with just the merest hint of youth.  Deep and full nose with loads of blackberry and chocolate to the fore.   There are some lovely pure flavours on the palate, which is sweet, rich and rounded with deep chocolatey, plummy fruit, and with a very velvety, caressing texture.  Soft tannins gain a bit of grip on the finish, where there's just a touch of spirit initially, but that's blown off after five minutes in the glass.   Very Good Indeed (+)

1999 Tokay Pinot Gris, Selection de Grains Nobles, AC Alsace, Fleith , 500ml, 13%
Pale gold appearance.   Fragrant, gently spicy, gently honeyed nose with a strong minerality behind.   Very precise, focussed attack with very clear fruit flavours.   Absolutely superb balance.   Not terribly complex, but it’s absolutely spot on.   95/100

2002 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico BG, Italy, Tommaso Bussola, 16%
Looks more mature than it should. Black cherry, perfumed violets and a bit of chocolate on nose. Quite restrained and elegant on palate with really good structure. A very impressive amarone indeed. 95/100

1998 Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos, Hungary, István Szepsy 11.5% 50cl
Lovely fresh mamalade nose. Rich and full. Utterly delicious. It has a lovely acidity on the finish and after, which gives it life and vivacity. 94/100

1992 Mußbacher Eselshaut Riesling Auslese Pfalz, Müller-Catoir11.5% AP 5 174 079 21 93
Very delicate, hugely attractive, very focussed nose with some peaches and apricots. Gorgeous palate with lots of lovely peachy fruit. 93/100

1975 Château Montrose, AC St. Estèphe, Bordeaux
Somewhat high toned on the nose and quite meaty. Quite precise and proper on the palate. There are lots of nicely integrated tannins but with decent fruit still. It has a nice elegance on attack, but is a touch hollow towards finish. Very firm blackberry fruit flavours accompany tannins on the finish. 92/100

1999 Meursault En La Barre, François Jobard, 13%
Slightly smoky beurre noisette nose with some talcy minerality and some passion fruit. Lovely palate. Really precise with nice depth. Very pure. Nicely austere on finish.
Interestingly, did not go well with onion tart. 

2000 Huët Vouvray Pétillant 12%
Dry nose with some citrus. Crisp attack. Really quite classy.
There was no diaresis over the e in Huet anywhere on the label. 

1979 Château Climens, AC Barsac, alcohol content not shown
This has a somewhat muted nose with a light grapey botrytis character and a slight tobacco hint. Quite light initially but very full on finish. Perhaps lacks depth, but very well balanced. Nice elegance. 

1989 Madame François Colin Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Demoiselles, 13.5%
very deep colour. Deep, fairly sweet more - very rich. Rich full palate, but not dominating. Just a touch three maybe.

1997 Quinta dos Roques Touriga Nacional Dão, Portugal, 12.5%
Lovely deep black fruit on nose - very ripe fruit - blackberries with a touch of leather. Rise palate - very smooth and velvety but with a racy acidity. 

1996 Bodegas Roda Rioja Roda II Reserva, 14%
This has a rich full nose with minty black fruit. Quite spicy especially on the finish. Immediately I think of Australia but it isn't. A syrah-cabernet blend maybe?
There's a slightly rubbery quality, so I guess South Africa as the character seems too match. I don't think I'd have ended up in Spain, less so Rioja, until many more options had been exhausted!
Oddly the back label says 57713 bottles produced, but it also says this is bottle no 070918. 

NV Warre's 20 Year Old Tawny Port, 20% (Tesco)
Decanted off a not inconsiderable sediment.  This has a browning orange-strawberry brick red colour.   Very nutty nose with some hints of maderisation and some dried figs.  Smooth and fairly rich attack. This is fairly round and attractive on the palate with lots of dried fruit flavours.  On first pouring, some spirit on the finish detracted, but after being open just 30 minutes that was less of a problem and was replaced by some fairly complex flavours on the finish with some flavours of raspberries dipped in dark chocolate.  Very Good Indeed.

2003 Merlot enfin!, IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti, Pravis, 13.5% (Italian Orchard)
100% merlot from the Grumel vineyard, 400 m above sea level.  Aged for 12 months in small oak botti.  3336 bottles produced.  It has the colour of dark youthful plumskins.  Plummy black fruit with lots of tobacco on the nose.  But there are also some acetic notes that give it a bit of an off-note.  Quite light on the attack.  It does feel a big high toned with light fresh fruit.  Very Musarey.  There are very soft grained tannins towards the finish.  Marred by the excessive high tones.  Good.

2005 San Thomà, Müller Thurgau, IGT Vigneti Delle Dolomiti, Pravis, 12.5%, 13320 bottles produced.
Pale to mid gold. Not especially giving on the nose, but on the palate, this is really very pleasant. It feels like there might be a touch of oak, which lends it a bit of depth and creaminess. If it's not oaked, then I've no idea how they've coaxed those characteristics out of M-T. Very pleasant, light, lunchtime/afternoon wine. Very Good+.
(15/10/06 at The Italian Orchard, Broughton)

1998 Tokay Pinot Gris Dorfburg, AC Alsace, Meyer-Fonné, 13.5% (Lay & Wheeler)
A fairly full golden colour.  Rich nose - very rich passion fruit and mango fruit, with some beurre noisette.  Very rich and full on the palate.  This is really powerful stuff: there's very concentrated tropical fruit on the palate witha fair bit of sweetness turning almost caramelly.  Really, this is a bit over-blowsy.  A Riedel Sommelier Montrachet glass neturalises some of the sweetness compared to the Vinum chardonnay glass or an ISO.  This is undoubtedly a really good wine and has a real Vendanges Tardives weight to it, but there's no indication whatsoever on the label that you might expect this rich weightiness.  Nice stuff, but it's the sort of stuff that can give Alsace a bad name.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.

2003 Pinot Noir, Carneros, Napa Valley, Clos du Val, 14.1% (Byrne's)
From a cooler climate are of the Napa Valley, this is aged for twelve months in French oak.  It has an even ruby appearance with some youth still showing.  There's sweet strawberry fruit on the nose with a bit of spirits, and with some cherries too.  There's very fragrant, ripe pinot noir fruit on the palate and it's very attractive, with a nice freshness from a touch of acidity.  It feels very young indeed, however, and a touch hot.  Soft - very soft - tannins round it off.  Very good length.  Really, I think, it needs time.  Very Good.

2003 Vulcaia Après Vino Dolce, IGT Veneto Bianco, Inama , 12%, 375ml (Wine Traders UK)
A medium orange gold.  A fairly rich nose with some fresh marmalade notes.  Good fresh palate with a nice light sweet richness and some lightly caramelised orange flavours.  Really good balance with very precise, clear, clean flavours.  Lacks the opulence and decadence of richer sweet wines.  Not at all cloying and leaves the mouth nicely refreshed.  Very Good Indeed.  91/100

1964 Gevrey Chambertin, Patriarche Père et Fils no alcohol shown (Straker Chadwick)
Lots of white puffy mould on top of the cork,which doesn’t augur well, but the cork came out almost complete, just breaking right at the end.  The wine was decanted off the considerable sediment.  It has a lovely even garnet appearance, but is not at all over-mature looking.  Sweet, delicate red fruits on the nose with some volatility and raw mushrooms.  Restrained sweet fruit on the palate.  Quite delicate.  Again, a touch high-toned, and there’s a rather odd hint of cough medicine on the finish.
After a couple of hours, the volatility was less evident on the nose.  Warm, sweet, raspberry and strawberry fruit.  Just a hint of air-freshener and lime.  A light attack with sweet red fruit.  Some light, gentle tannins appear towards the finish.  Quite even throughout.  Very long.
Some ten hours later, the nose had faded a bit, but the palate remained very similar.  Very Good Indeed.  91/100

1989 Oberemmeler Karlsberg Riesling Auslese goldcap, Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt , AP Nr. 3 561 077 103 90, 8% (The Wine Society 26/1/05)
The cork was seeping a bit.  A rich gold appearance.  Big, very minerally nose with lots of wax, pollen-honey and some raisins soaked in sauternes.  Quite rich and sweet on the attack, but feeling nicely mature overall.  Very stylish and elegant with enormous balance.  There’s some lively acidity evident on the finish and after.  Nice concentration too.  Very Good Indeed+.  93/100

2004 Tormaresca (Antinori), Neprica, IGT Puglia , 13%
Antinori, best known for their Tuscan wines, including the deservedly famous Tignanello bought the Azienda Tormaresca in 1998.  This is a blend of 60% negroamaro, 15% primitivo and 25% cabernet sauvignon.  There’s sweet prune and tobacco notes on the nose along with some undergrowth.  Fairly easy, sweet black fruit on the palate, with good tannins on the finish.  Very good length.
(20/9/06 at Twelve Restaurant, Thornton)

NV Champagne Deutz
Good fruit and nice balance.  Not a bad non-vintage big name champagne.
(20/9/06 at Twelve Restaurant, Thornton)

1998 Chianti Classico DOCG, Lucarello Riserva, Az. Borgo Salcetino , 13% (Edencroft)
Sangiovese-canaiolo blend.  A bright clear garnet with no youth apparent.  There is lovely warm cherry and black fruit on the nose, which is really soft and inviting.  Lovely attack with gorgeous pure flavours.  Lots of lovely elegant fruit, but it’s well balanced by good acidity and tannins.  The tannins come to the fore on the finish.  Very Good Indeed.  91/100

2004 Chardonnay Signatures du Sud , 13.5% ( french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A rich creamy nose with a nice fresh fruit note.  Fresh on the palate initially, though there’s also good body and decent depth.  Quite powerful on the finish.  Very Good Indeed.  91/100
(17/9/06, opened for cooking)

1983 Côte-Rôtie Les Jumelles, Paul Jaboulet Aîné, no alcohol content shown  
Good colour, but starting to fade. Initially the nose was rather reticent, but about five minutes after decanting it started to open out: not a great deal of fruit at all, but there was a nice meaty gaminess. On the palate this was still fine and lovely drinking, but evidently showing its age without being at all dried out. Good balance, still fruit lingering, and very soft overall. Elegant drinking, but I had expected more. Very Good+.
(16/9/06 at The Freemasons' Arms, Wiswell)

2004 Syrah Nobles Vignes, Vin de Pays d’Oc, Vanel , 12.5% ( french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A young, deep purpley ruby.  Black fruits, undergrowth and hedgerows on the nose.  Lovely round, open fruity attack.  A bit hollow on the middle and there’s a bit of acidity that hardens it.  But it finishes well with notable length.  Simple, but Very Good+.  88/100

2004 Merlot Nobles Vignes, Vin de Pays d’Oc, Vanel , 12.5% ( french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A youthful bright ruby..  Rather slight nose with hot plummy fruit.  Very fruity palate: smooth and round with really juicy young fruit.  Simple and very pleasant.  A very good simple wine.  Very Good Indeed.  90/100

NV Vino Aromatizado, Masia Barril , 15% (Everywine)
Obtenido con la mezcla de vino tinto semiseco y vino blanco viejo sin adicion de alcohol.  Aromatizado con hierbas procedentes del jardin botanico en torno de la Masia.  The herbs, in alphabetical order, by their Spanish names are: ajenjo moruno, angelica arcangelis, cantueso, cardo santo, hierba luisa, marrubio, melisa, mento poleo, romero, salvia española and tomillo.  The base wine has two-thirds white wine (3 years old) and one third rancio red wine.
The wine’s appearance is close to a 20 year tawny port.  The nose too is quite port-like, just a bit lifted by some volatility, or is it the herbs?  An interesting palate, like a mild vermouth, but rather nice.  This seems one of the better bottles of this, unless it’s just the extra bottle age that has benefited it.  This is really very drinkable, if still a bit odd – but much less odd than bottles in previous years have been.  It seems to have integrated more.  Very interesting and Very Good Indeed.  92/100
A second bottle was very similar, but had much more marked herby notes on the palate.

2004 Chassagne-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes, Bernard Morey & Fils, 13.5%, 375ml
Fairly pale gold. Elegant, quite rich nose with minerally citrus and soy. Good freshness on the palate balanced by very good weight & balance. Very long. Very Good/Very Good Indeed.
(9/9/06 at The Freemasons' Arms, Wiswell)

2001 Château Siaurac, AC Lalande de Pomerol, SCE Baronne Guichard , 13.5% (Majestic)
An even ruby colour with no youth.  The nose has black fruit and tobacco.  Nice, round and open on the palate – quite warm.  Very good balance.  Soft-grained tannins appear towards the finish.  Very Good+.  88/100

2005 Zonte’s Footstep Shiraz Viognier, Langhorne Creek, Australia, Zonte’s Footstep Pty Ltd , 14.5%, Stelvin (Sainsbury)
93% Shiraz; 7% Viognier.  A deep, young purple with a very heavy appearance and quite glass-coating.  The nose is very hot and a blend of sweet blackberry jam and cough medicine – really quite unattractive.  Initially very similar to the nose on the palate, but it improves a bit with exposure to air.  On the palate, there is sweet, very sweet blackberry fruit and alcohol – lots of spirity alcohol, which dominates rather.  Grainy tannins after.  This is just hot and overblown and ultimately really quite simple and lacking in any charm whatsoever.  Good.  81/100

2003 El Filo, IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti Rosso, Az. Agr. Pravis , 13%
From the less well-known gropello grape; a mere 2496 bottles were produced in 2003.
This has a youngish deep ruby appearance.  The nose is rather muted and very integrated with warm woody spices – cinammon and a bit of cloves, along with some pruney blackberry fruit.  Very interesting on the palate: fresh and fairly light chewy and raspberry fruit.  There are lightish tannins which really grip on the finish.  A very interesting wine.  Very Good Indeed+.  93/100
(2/9/06 at The Italian Orchard, Broughton)

2005 Special Late Harvest Gewürztraminer, W.O. Robertson, Van Loveren , 11% (Woffenden Wines)
Pale straw with a slightly pinky gold tinge.  Fairly simple, very straightforward sweet gewurztraminer nose: creamy, rich with a spicy perfume, but no rose petals to speak of.  Sweetish, fairly delicate palate.  Very even, with good balance.  This seems very much in its own style and completely lacks the weight of Alsace.  Very Good+.  87/100

1974 Colheita Old Tawny Port, Quinta do Noval, Bottled in 2002 , L2332, 20.5% (ex cave)
A pale orangey tawny with an almost teak core.  Dry, very nutty nose with lots of citrus, sultanas and prunes.  This seems older than I’d expected and clearly shows some development in the bottle since the last bottle of this that I tasted.  Nice and open, and just a bit sweet on the palate.  Lots of complex dried fruit flavours.  Initially it feels a touch hot, but that seems largely to blow off.  Actually, this has a really lovely balance and a nice elegance to back up the sweetness and alcohol, which remains very smooth.  This is very fine and elegant and a lovely drop.  Maybe just a touch high toned.  Very Good Indeed/Excellent.  94/100

2000 Crozes-Hermitage Cuvée Albéric Bouvet, Gilles Robin , 13% (The Wine Society)
A bright, even ruby with just the merest hint of youth.  Very rich, powerful nose with very solid, sweet cherry and blackberry fruit and new leather.  Very big attack.  Very ripe and very full with apparently a touch of brett that wasn’t evident on the nose.  This is powerful stuff, but has a good structure that falls away towards the finish to reveal some lovely elegance and fragrant, floral fruit.  Soft grained tannins appear on the finish.  Very elegant after, with superb length.  This could really do with a few more years yet.  Very Good Indeed+.  91/100

2003 Vacqueyras Les Christins, Perrin & Fils , 14.5% (Costco)
An attractive colour: very dark black plum skins with just a hint of youth at the rim.  Enormous nose – utterly massive.  Sweet blackberry fruit with a hint of quince and some velvety suede/leather.  Sweet, rich and powerful attack.  Very big, very ripe fruit.  Huge structure with lots of tannin on the finish.  Very young and very hot.  Seems to need three to four years to integrate properly yet.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.  88/100

2004 Pinot Blanc, Fleith , 13% ( french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A very pale straw with a greenish tinge.  The nose is very rich with butter, straw and fresh-mown grass, along with some mineral perfumes.  Rich and very pure attack.  Fills enormously and there’s huge depth and character on the palate with massive richness.  Behind all the richness there is some fresh melony greengage fruit and some nutmeg/cinammon woody spice.  A very interesting wine indeed.  Excellent.  95/100

2001 Domaine du Garinet Réserve, AC Cahors , 13% ( french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A youthful, purplish ruby.  Lively, youthful, zingy blackberry nose with floral violets.  Very soft and mouthfilling with lots of giving fruit.  But then you find some really good character with a nice fresh, plummy chocolate note.  Very Good Indeed.  90/100

2002 Château La Colombière Tradition, AC Côtes du Frontonnais , 12.5% ( french-regional-wines.co.uk)
An even deep garnet with no youth.  Dusty, cedary nose with fresh leather and ashtrays and some rather lean black fruit.  Very attractive attack.  Very open and inviting with lovely fruit and excellent balance.  Loads of good character, and it has an interesting freshness.  Very good length.  Very Good Indeed.  89/100

1994 Chapoutier Hermitage Monier de la Sizeranne , 13%
A meaty, gamey nose.  The palate is savoury and delicious.  Mature and rounded notes.  Superb balance.  Goes down very easily!  Very Good Indeed(+).  92/100
(12/8/06 at Nutter’s, Cheesden)

2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Nobles Vignes, Vin de Pays d’Oc, Vanel , 12.5% ( french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A bright ruby with some youthful purple at the edge.  The nose is rather unimpressive: there are some hedgerow fruits, but overall it’s very, very simple.  On the palate, there’s lots of pleasing juicy fruit.  Very simple, but not without attraction.  Soft, grainy tannins dominate the finish.  Good.  82/100

2005 Viognier Nobles Vignes, Vin de Pays d’Oc, Vanel , 12.5% ( french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A pale straw gold colour.  Sweet, nutty, creamy nose with marzipan, but also with some furniture polish and used cooking oil.  Fairly rich and full, but unfortunately rather unsatisfying, simple, and a bit plasticky and industrial.  Competent and drinkable, but unsatisfying.  OK/Good.  80/100

2005 Ugni Blanc –Colombard, Domaine de Millet, Vin de Pays des Côtes de Gascogne , 11.5% ( french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A palish straw colour.  There are marked herbaceous notes on the nose with notes of hay and raw mushroom.  Open and round on the palate.  Refreshing and easy, but really wide and expansive with some rather interesting flavours.  Very clean on the finish with good length and really quite decent complexity.  Very Good Indeed.  90/100

1993 La Jota Vineyard Co., Howell Mountain Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, 14%
As soon as the decanter was brought to the table, the air was filled with a powerful, perfumed Ribena, sweet blackcurrant scent. Unfortunately the glasses were recently washed and must have had a bit of detergent lingering, as in the glass the nose was much more muted at first, but once the wine had washed out the glasses, the same sweet Ribena was there in spades. On the palate, this tasted pretty much à point, without having started to descend into full-blown old wine status: the edges of youth had gone, leaving a beautifully smooth elegant, very pure cab in the mouth. A very nice drink and, despite its 14% alcohol, nice and elegant. Very Good Indeed.
(5/8/06 at The Freemasons' Arms, Wiswell)

2005 Chardonnay Nobles Vignes Vin de Pays d’Oc, Vanel , 12.5% ( french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A pale-medium lemon gold.  Good, crisp chardonnay nose.  Sweet, lightly perfumed melony nose with some apple/pear notes and a hint of lavender.  Quite big on the attack, and it has an immediate feel of sweetness – is this chaptalised?  Big and round on the palate.  Very simple.  A decent wine, but a bit dull and uninteresting.  Good.  82/100

1999 Original Vineyard Pinot Noir, Bindi, Macedon Ranges, Victoria, Australia
A very fragrant nose with touches of new carpet. Nice, gentle soft red fruit on the palate. Gentle tannins on the finish. This is a nice and easy pinot noir, but overall it seems a bit flat with no peaks or troughs of interest. Very Good+.

2004 La Pierre Blanche, AC Jurançon Sec, Domaine Bellegarde , 13.5% ( french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A pale, slightly greenish gold.  Fragrant nose with peachy, melony fruit and some herbaceousness.  There’s rich, creamy fruit on the palate with a nice structure.  Really quite full with very interesting flavours.  Very good balance.  Very big on the finish with utterly huge length.  Very Good Indeed+.  93/100

2004 Afros Tinto Vinhão Vinho Verde, Casal do Paço Padreiro , 12%
Very, very deep black, blackberry dark purple with very young purple at the rim.  A deep, very powerful nose with strong blackberry fruit, lots of chocolate, some tar with a nice elegant perfume.  A bit of a fruit juice zing on the attack.  Extremely fruity palate, with plenty of acidity.  A very unusual flavour – definitely very fruit juice juiciness.  A bit of a sweet balsamic flavour.  Very, very gentle tannins on the finish give a bit of structure.  Very interesting flavours – unusual, verging on the odd.  Very long.  Very Good.  87/100

2003 l'Òra, Az. Agr. Pravis, IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti Bianco, 14.5%
From the nosiola grape.  The grapes are lightly appasito on graticci before being vinified in acacia wood barrels.  The name comes from l'Òra (Aura in Latin), the name of the wind that blows from Lake Garda.
A bright, deepish gold.  Sweet nose with some raisings and some furniture polish: like old polished wooden furniture.  Rich and full on the palate.  A very unusual flavour, presumably largely from the grape, which is previously unknown to me.  The wine carries its high alcohol well.  Very smooth, very rich, very dry.  Very Good Indeed.
(22/7/06 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

2002 Palliser Pinot Noir
Tamarillo (according to CP, though I've no idea what that smells like) and roast beetroot nose. Great palate very elegant.
(15/7/06 at Providores, London)

2001 Fleurs d'Automne Condrieu, Domaine Pierre Gaillard
Delicate fresh nose, not at all identifiable as viognier. Rather nice. Lovely sweetness, but very restrained and quite elegant.

1996 Tokay Pinot Gris Vendanges Tardives Domaine Weinbach (from a half)
Deep gold with bronzey hints. Bit oxidised on the nose with little in the way of pinot gris fruit. A touch dried out, with an oxidised feel on the palate. Pleasant drink, but in this state unexceptional.

2001 Château de Saurs Réserve Eliézer, AC Gaillac , 13.5% ( french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A blend of merlot, brancol, syrah and duras from vineyards on the right bank of the Tarn.  A deep, even plummy ruby colour.  Ripe red fruit with mulberries on the nose: very deep, rich, ripe fruit.  Ripe, very balanced palate with a background of soft sandy tannins.  Very full, very concentrated fruit with bitter chocolate notes on the finish.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.  89/100

2004 Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Sec, Domaine du Crampilh, SCEA Oulié Père et Fils , 12.5% ( french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A yellow-straw colour.  Zesty nose with lots of grapefruit skin alongside some round melony fruit.  Fresh attack.  Nice and round and open on the palate with good fruit.  Very round, inviting and attractive.  Lovely finish with some depth.  Very Good Indeed.  90/100

2005 Syrah Rosé Nobles Vignes, Vin de Pays d’Oc, Vanel , 12.5%, plastic cork ( french-regional-wines.co.uk)
There’s very attractive strawberry fruit on the nose.  Light, fresh and fruity palate, with a touch of residual sugar on the finish.  Simple and fun.  Good length with really quite interesting fruit flavours.  Long after, with strawberries, orange and cherries.  Very Good.  86/100.  (Very Good Indeed at the price.)

2005 Sélection Le Lutin, AC Côteaux du Tricastin, Les Vignerons de SCV La Suzienne , 12.5% ( french-regional-wines.co.uk)
Plastic cork.  A blend of viognier and grenache blanc.  Pale-mid straw.  Fresh crisp nose.  Fresh, relatively crisp and very open on the palate.  Served blind, I’d be guessing this was from the Loire.  Good/Very Good.  85/100

2005 Chateau de Saurs, AC Gaillac , 12% ( french-regional-wines.co.uk)
Plastic cork.  Mid straw colour.  Very fragrant, floral nose with hints of grass and asparagus.  Fresh, very elegant melony and gooseberry fruit on the palate.  Lots of character.  A very pleasant drink.  Very Good Indeed.  91/100

2001 Domaine du Pech, AC Buzet, Magali Tissot & Ludovic Bonnelle artisans vignerons, 13% (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
Low yields (25-30 hl/ha). Two years' ageing in oak foudres (50% new). Bottles unfined and unfiltered. According to the back label, this should be decanted and is "un hymne à la nature"!
A mature mid garnet colour. Fantastic nose with blackberry and violets with some plummy fruit too. Elegant ripe fruit on the palate. This really has lots of character and is a very attractive wine indeed. Soft, grainy tannins on the finish provide a good structure. Very Good Indeed. 91/100

2003 Pinot Bianco, Vino Bianco degli Ulivi, Az. Agr. Aldo Polencic, DOC Collio, 14%
A deepish gold. Ripe, buttery fruit on the nose, with a whiff of oak: quite sweet-grapefruit on the nose. Round and full on the palate. Really quite complex and multilayered. Very fine finish with huge elegance taking over from the earlier power. Very Good Indeed +
(24/6/06 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

2003 Domaine du Crampilh, AC Pacherenc du Vic Bilh, SCEA Oulié Père et Fils, 13.5%, 50cl, 
A bright mid gold with the merest hint of green. The nose is redolent with pear and apricot jam with almonds. Very fresh, almost melony sweetness on the palate. Well balanced if you like it fresher and not too sweet, as there's plenty of fresh acidity on the palate. With the acidity, this is more off-dry rather than sweet. Lovely sweet pear and apricot flavours linger for ages after. Very Good/Very Good Indeed.

1999 Domaine Gauby La Jasse, Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes, 14% (The Wine Society)

2001 Domaine du Garinet Classique, AC Cahors, 13%   (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A young deep purple colour. There is stinky leather on the nose with lots of black and red berry fruit. A touch high toned on the nose. Ripe, rather simple black fruit on the palate with a big tannic structure. Just a bit out of balance: the fruit is just a bit too fresh to balance the tannins fully. Fresh, slightly high toned acidity on the finish. Good/Very Good. 83/100
This was much improved the next day, when it was rounder and much more open with better fruit and much better balance.

2002 Chateau La Rayre, Premier Vin, AC Bergerac, 13%   (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A very deep, dark inky purple. The nose is ripe, cedary and heavily laden with tobacco, and with lots of sweet black fruit. Ripe, very fruity attack. Big and round with very good character. Just a touch of hot alcohol on the finish. A very big, ripe wine. Very Good Indeed.
There was significant sediment in the bottle, so I'd recommend this be decanted.
This was beautiful with Mrs Kirkham's tasty Lancashire, served with Sue Forrester's Buttermilk Slice (a fruit loaf made with flour, butter, lots of sultanas, sugar, nutmeg and buttermilk)

2004 Waitrose Valpolicella DOC, G. Campagnola, 11.5%  (Waitrose)
A light, bright, clear raspberry red with a touch of youth. Weedy cherry fruit on the nose with some warm woody spice. Ripe and very fruity attack. Fresh and clean on the palate. Really quite simple and bit too hot on the finish. Very Good.

2003 CT, Les Vignerons de La Suzienne, AC Coteaux du Tricastin, 13%  (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
An even, lightish garnet with a youthful rim.  Big, very fresh nose full of hedgerow fruits and a hint of amaretto and peach stones.  Ripe and very open on the palate.  This shows a lovely restraint, with soft tannins on the finish.  Very Good Indeed.

2002 Pinot Nero Madruzzo, Pravis, IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti, 13% abv
6648 bottles produced in 2002 says the back label. Perfumed, minerally, violets and soft red fruits on the nose. Ripe, fruity and full making a very satisfying palate. Totally different to most other pinot noirs, and with a real sense of place. It's soft and fruity with slight medicinal hints, but underlain with the pinot noir delicate character. Excellent length. Very Good Indeed.
(9/6/06 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

2000 Côte-Rôtie, Robert Niero
With dinner at Hipping Hall near Kirkby Lonsdale, so no proper note. This was a really classy wine in superb nick with the elegance to match the excellent food.  Very Good Indeed+
(7/6/06 at Hipping Hall)

1999 Morey St. Denis, Domaine des Lambrays, 13.5%
From a half bottle. Fairly youthful raspberry red appearance. Soft red fruits on the nose with a touch of volatile acidity, which follows through onto the palate. Elegant ripe fruit with a bit of woody spice on the finish.  Very Good +.
(3/6/06 at The Freemasons' Arms, Wiswell)

1999 Riesling Altenberg de Bergheim Grand Cru, Gustave Lorentz
A fairly closed, mature riesling nose.   Rich, oily palate, with a very mature feel.   Good acidity, and it’s bone dry.   Very Good Indeed+.   93/100
(16/5/06 at Le Gavroche, London)

1983 Chateau Gilette, Crème de Tête
A very deep gold.   Creamy, botrytis nose.   Very fresh and light on the attack, it then fills out nicely.   On the palate it doesn’t feel at all heavily botrytised or oversweet.   Very fine, with a touch of fresh acidity on the finish.   Very Good Indeed.   91/100
(16/5/06 at Le Gavroche, London)

2005 Viognier, Mendocino County, California, Bonterra (RRP £9.99)
Very perfumed nose with musky notes.  Nice and fresh and clean.  It has a really rather interesting fruit character and a pleasant sweetness cum richness.  Very Good Indeed.  90/100

2005 Amayna Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Valley, Chile, Viña Garces Silva (RRP £13.49)
A very full sauvignon blanc nose that’s a touch on the hard side.  Full palate: quite spicy.  Very good length.  An interesting sauvignon blanc that makes a nice change from the classic New Zealand and French styles.  Good/Very Good.  85/100

2000 Tokaji Cuvée Llona, István Szepsy
Wow! The nose is like an apricot fruit salad. This better than dessert. Deep, complex and delicious. This is like drinking a grilled apricot tart with honey cream. Excellent.
(15/5/06 at Pied à Terre, London)

2002 Grüner Veltliner Ried Grub, Schloss Gobelsburg, 13.5%
A very inviting nose - full and rich. Very deep and complex. Excellent
(15/5/06 at Pied à Terre, London)

NV Carluccio's Vin Santo, Vino Bianco da Tavola, 15%, 375ml (Carluccio's)
This was included with a panettone that I was given for Christmas a couple of years previously.  It's a caramel gold.  Sweet, sugary nose with some banana and mango notes, though with very little fruit overall.  A sweet attack, but with fairly high acidity.  It has a slightly oxidised feel.  This has nothing at all to recommend it and is all but undrinkable.  A cheap, nasty industrial vin santo.  Yuk.

2002 Nivole Moscato d'Asti DOCG, Michele Chiarlo, 5.5%, 375ml (Booths)
Mid straw.  Soft, sweet, zesty, grapey, floral-scented nose.  Initially quite delicate in the mouth, but it quickly develops a very-ripe-nectarine flavour.  Though, while it does have a sweetness, the wine doesn't quite match a very ripe nectarine for sweetness.  Very Good Indeed.

1995 Château Beaumont, Cru Bourgeois, AC Haut-Médoc, 12.5% (magnum: 1500ml), (Bibendum)
A rather nice colour - a slowly maturing garnet.  Loads of leather and tobacco on the nose, with tar, sweet black fruit and crème de mûre in the background.  Open and very attractive attack.  Quite big and full on the palate with dense black fruit and a softening, yet still firm tannic structure.  Dense and complex, but with a hint of spirit on the finish.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.

2001 Riesling QbA, Forstmeister Geltz Zilliken, AP Nr. 3 551 083 8 02 (Lay & Wheeler)
A very, very perfumed, rather soapy apple/crab apple and blossom nose. Fragrant, slightly confected palate.  A touch sweet.  Absolutely fine, though hardly earth shattering.  A good Gutsriesling.  Very Good.

1964 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Grande Cuvée, A. Ogier & Fils, 13.5% (Straker Chadwick auction)
After the last bottle was completely dead, I really only opened this to save the bottle taking up space, expecting to pour it down the sink. Unfortunately the cork snapped in two and the bottom half was welded solidly to the bottle, meaning the only option was to repeatedly bore through it until there was a big enough hole to pour the wine through. So this was decanted, though not left to rest after decanting. A very mature, very pale ruby with fairly significant bricking. Very high-toned on the nose with lots of citrus notes and secondary fruit. Though there actually is a vestige of sweet black fruit there too. Light, very mature palate. Still with some fruit, if largely rather secondary. A certain sandiness at the edge of the mouth presumably represents the last vestige of the wine's tannins. Well, this is a nice surprise: this bottle isn't dead, and is even really quite pleasant. I don't know that my first thought would be Châteauneuf, or even any part of the Rhône if tasting it blind. But then it's clearly not old claret, and it's clearly not old Burgundy, and it doesn't seem to be like old sangiovese or nebbiolo, so maybe I would end up heading off to the south of France. A lovely old wine that (just about) held up to the mutton and Dent Brewery ale pie served with it.  

1999 Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Spätlese Trocken, Karthäuserhof, 12% AP Nr. 3 561 303 14 01   (French & Logan)
A minerally, sweet fruit  nose with a creamy edge.  Very clean attack.  Quite powerful.  This has a ripeness to it, but is really very dry.  Very pure, with very clean flavours.  Very Good+.

2001 Tullio Zamò, Le Vigne di Zamò , DOC Colli Orientali del Friuli, 14%
This is a 100% pinot bianco from Zamò, the Friulian winery with the Ridge-look-alike labels. According to Zamo's website, the grapes are hand picked and cold-macerated before fermentation in new barriques, followed by 10 months on its lees in barrique.
Quite a rich gold colour. A big, round, expressive, creamy nose, initially with lots of banana, though the banana mostly blows off after a few moments, leaving rich, buttery tropical fruit aromas. Very full flavoured. Very rich. Huge concentration and massive length. A big wine, possibly to my tastes a bit overblown. Slips down a treat though. Very Good Indeed.
(17/4/06 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

2000 Sauvignon Riserva non filtrato, Il Carpino, DOC Collio, 14%
The Azienda Agricola Il Carpino in Borgo del Carpino, a short distance from Gorizia, has about 15 hectares of vineyards between Oslavia and San Floriano del Collio, on the border with Slovenia.
This sauvignon has had a touch of the Gravner treatment, being subjected to long maceration in large Slavonian oak barrels. Fermented in French oak, followed by a further 12 months' ageing in oak.
A lovely pale gold. On the first sniff, it's really rather impressive immediately: crisp and fresh, not at all oaky, with some sweet grapefruit aromas and a certain green freshness. This bears as much relation to Marlorough Sauvignon Blanc as ... errr ... well as a thing which has virtually nothing in common with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
On the palate, it's really lovely. Rich, clean and very deeply flavoured. Difficult to pin down any particular flavours, though there's virtually no evident oak masking anything. Deep, textured, very serious and just a really superb, extremely well-balanced wine. Very persistent length. One of the best sauvignons I think I've ever had. Excellent.

Very good drinking on its own and it also went beautifully with some mixed meats (San Daniele, speck, bresaola, some slowfood (I think, certainly artisinal) pork bresaola from Piedmont that had been cured in Barolo, and that the restaurant had been "affining" for several months, etc.); with some fabulous, very meaty, smoked tuna (looking to all intents and purposes like a very lean bresaola) as antipasti; and then equally well with some ham and mushroom tortelloni (probably bought in, I guess) in a nice light cream sauce with more ham and mushroom.
(17/4/06 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

2000 Vigneti di Foscarino, Azienda Agricola Inama, DOC Soave Classico Superiore, 13.5%
From pergola trained garganega vines, 20-30 years old, on a 10 ha plot on the Monte Foscarino, picked late when fully ripe. The grapes are destemmed and crushed followed by 4-8 hours maceration. After pressing, the must is left for two to three days at around 5°C before alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in barriques (some new, some old).
A glorious deepish gold colour. The nose is sweetish, waxy and buttery with a herbaceous edge. This is very big on the palate, with rich citrussy flavours and a nice acidity, together with some good oak. Very well balanced. An interesting and complex wine. Very Good Indeed/Excellent.
(15/4/06 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

2003 Peter Howland Individual Vineyard Chardonnay, Maxwell Vineyard, Hunter Valley, New South Wales, 14.5% (Establishment Boutique Wines)
A mid straw colour.  Lovely, elegant nose with lots of melony tropical fruit, nicely knitted together with a good use of oak.  Big and open on the palate.  There are some big, concentrated, powerful tropical flavours, with hints of melon, pineapple and banana, together with a bit of caramel on the  finish.  Very concentrated and with huge length.  Very impressive.  Very Good Indeed +.

1996 Mas de Bicary AC Gaillac, 12.5% ( (DeVigne Wines)
A pale, very pale, very mature garnet.  Sweet, high-toned nose with some strawberry and cherry fruit.  Light and fragrant on the palate.  Fully mature, to the point of needing drinking up quickly.  Light and very even, with only the merest hint of tannin.  I suppose it really lacks structure.  But it's very pleasant!  Very Good+

2004 Château Laval, AC Costières de Nîmes, 13% (Booths)
From an 83 hectare estate, this is a blend of syrah, grenache and cinsault.  An even, very clear garnet colour with just a hint of youth at the rim.  Rather dull, hedgerow nose.  Decent, fresh, fruity palate with good structure and soft grained tannins towards the finish.  Not at all overdone, and I'd actually guess at a cooler climate than Nîmes if given this blind.  Good balance.  Perhaps a bit green on the finish.  Very Good.

2000 Ronco delle Acacie DOC Colli Orientali del Friuli, Le Vigne di Zamò, 14%
A blend of chardonnay, tocai friulano and pinot bianco.  Deep gold colour.  Smoky, rich, tropical nose.  Nice use of oak.  Nice minerality.  Round and full, with lovely balance.  Very well done.  Very Good Indeed.
(10/4/06 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

2000 Il Fusco, La Roncaia, IGT delle Venezie, 13.9%
A blend of 30% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Franc, 10% Refosco and 10% Tazzelenghe.  A remarkably high-toned nose with lots of citrus and a real meaty bolognesy scent.  Ripe and very fruity flavours in the mouth.  A touch high toned on the palate, but it's very very slight.  Light and very elegant, with a nice spicy feel on the finish.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.
(10/4/06 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

1995 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Lorenzo Begali, 15%
(Served blind, again from a bottle that had been open a couple of days to confuse me!)  Minted hedgerow fruit on the nose, and just a touch hot.  Precise, fairly elegant fruit.  Quite warm, with a big tannic structure.  Possibly a Bordeaux blend, maybe with some sangiovese thrown in?  Very Good+.
I'd never have guessed this was Amarone.
(8/4/06 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

2001 Tigiolo, Lorenzo Begali, Rosso Veronese IGT, 14%
Served from a magnum that had been open - and largely drunk - for around 5 or 6 days.  It doesn't keep that long, unfortunately!  Really rather dead.
(8/4/06 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

2003 Vigneti Sant' Helena Refosco del Pedunculo Rosso, Vigneti Fantinel, DOC Friuli-Grave, 13%
A big, minerally nose with blackberry and mint.  Ripe, yet very elegant fruit.  A touch simple perhaps, but very attractive with good interesting flavours.  Very Good+
(8/4/06 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

1999 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Brigaldara, 16.5%
(served blind)  Lots of orangey volatile acidity on the nose, along with syrup of figs and tobacco.  Big, full and fruity on the palate, and quite portlike.  Presumably Amarone, and not especially young.  Fooled a bit by this having been open a couple of days.  Very Good+
(8/4/06 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

2002 Cabernet Franc, Masùt da Rive, DOC Isonzo del Friuli, 13%
A fresh, vibrant nose with herbs, fresh hay, blueberries and quite minerally after.  Remarkably complex palate with real depth: there is ripe fruit initially, then complex, layered sweet and sour flavours knitted together with a soft tannic structure.  Very Good Indeed.
(8/4/06 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

2004 Château Rousseau de Sipian Rosé, AC Bordeaux Rosé, 13%  (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A deepish pink with a slight coppery hue.  The nose is redolent of those little strawberries-and-cream sweets.  Very open on the palate, this has a touch of sweetness/richness that makes it easy going, but there's quite a bit of body, so that this is by no means a frippery.  Will go well with many foods, including red meat.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.

2001 Gevrey-Chambertin, Drouhin-Laroze
From a half. Perfectly decent stuff. It seemed a bit young and in quite a forward fruity style. Not especially identifiable as a Gevrey.  Good/Very Good.
(1/4/06 at The French Restaurant, Midland Hotel, Manchester)

NV Canard-Duchene Champagne Brut
From a half. Nice and crisp with a hint of apples. Worked well with the food. Very Good+
(1/4/06 at The French Restaurant, Midland Hotel, Manchester)

NV Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Premier, 12%
This bottle was bought about ten years previously.  Like most of the big houses' non-vintage champagnes, mid to long-term bottle ageing really helps.  Even a year helps.  This was a mid straw-gold and had a good fine bubble stream.  A rich leesy nose with some butter and a hint of blackberry and an air of spring meadow after a rain shower.  Very full-flavoured on the attack. Rich, creamy and full on the palate with a sort of grape must/balsamic sweetness flavour.  Very clean finish, with great depth and huge, huge length.  Very Good Indeed + (with this sort of ageing)

1983 Ch. Talbot, AC Saint-Julien
Decanted, but only off the dregs, about five minutes before drinking.
A fully mature garnet. Pencil shavings and blackcurrants on the nose. It has a very mature feel on the palate, with a touch of VA-like sweetness and plenty of soft mature tannins. Lovely, sweet blackcurrant fruit on the finish. Notable length.
When I first tasted it, I thought this was going to be one to tip for getting your stocks drunk up quickly. But over a few hours, over lunch, it changed very little, remaining hugely enjoyable throughout. Definitely ready to drink now.
Very Good Indeed.
(25/3/06 at The Freemasons' Arms, Wiswell)

2004 Collioure Cuvée des Peintres, AC Collioure, La Cave de l'Abbé Rous, 13.5% (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A blend of 65% grenache gris, 20% grenache blanc, 10% vermentino and 5% roussanne-marsanne.  35% of the harvest is fermented in new wood and then aged for 4 months in 600-litre oak vats on its lees with frequent stirring.  Bottled March 2005.
A pale to mid yellow straw colour.  The nose is sweet and nutty with marzipan and a touch of woody spice.  This wine has a lovely rich weight on the palate.  Very precise, clean flavours with lots of interest and depth.  Some acidity appears on the finish and freshens it up.  This will work well with seafood, especially prawns and scallops and with white meat such as chicken and pork, especially when served in a cream or butter sauce.  I opened this bottle on the 25th March 2006, but didn't get round to drinking it all and discovered to my surprise and delight that it was still drinking very well over a week later on the 2nd April!  Very Good Indeed.

1994 Banyuls Grand Cru, Cuvée Christian Reynal, La Cave de l'Abbé Rous, AC Banyuls Grand Cru, 18.5% (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
From selected grenache noir vines in the best sites, yielding between 18 and 22 hectolitres per hectare.  Macerated for a further 20 days after fortification (mutage sur grains) before ageing for six years in small oak vats and demi-muid (300 litre) barrels.
This has a fabulous tawny mahogany colour: bright and clear with a touch of tan at the rim.  The nose is hugely attractive, with muscovado sugar, pure black fruits, and some citrus peel, raisins and nuts.  Smooth and very open on the palate, and remarkably delicate for its 18.5% alcohol.  Very integrated   Very fine flavours, with elegant fruit.  Though it falls away a bit on the finish.  Excellent length overall, however.  Very Good Indeed.

2003 Banyuls Rimage, muté sur grains, mise précoce, Cornet & Cie, La Cave de l'Abbé Rous, AC Banyuls, 16% (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
100% grenache noir, harvested between the 15th and 20th of September 2003.  The grapes underwent a long (20-day) maceration after the addition of alcohol (mutage) to fortify the wine.  Bottled in April 2004.
A young ruby colour, with a fair bit of purple at the rim.  Quite a heavy nose, fresh with violets and really weedy blackcurrants.  Rather sweet and thin.  Very disappointing.  Quite weedy.  Oh! ... Ah! ... when I went back to sniff the bottle there was a strong, unmistakable whiff of TCA.  An object lesson in always sniffing before swirling, as the aeration can mask some off scents.  This is corked.

2004 AC Mâcon Villages, Louis de Jolimont, 12.5% (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A pale, very slightly pinkish straw appearance.  Very nice nose with buttery richness and a nice fragrance vaguely reminiscent of geraniums, and a nice minerally touch too.  Open and quite richly-flavoured on the attack, this has a very creamy feel in the mouth, with good simple buttery chardonnay flavours.  Quite pure and direct.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Abadia Retuerta Selección Especial, Sardon del Duero, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León, Spain, 13% (Chateauonline)
A blend of tempranillo, cabernet sauvignon and merlot, bottled unfiltered.  A deep ruby colour.  Lovely nose: blackberries and plums with a touch of anise and tar.  Good attack, with plenty of forward fruit to invite you in.  Then a great structure takes over - not at all overly tannic, but it's nicely knitted with a really good depth of flavour.  Not at all overripe and there's no hint of jamminess, although clearly the fruit is very ripe.  Good, precise, clean black fruits on the finish.  Very good length.  Coming along nicely.  Very Good Indeed +

2001 Château Rousseau de Sipian, AC Médoc, 12.5% (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A very deep ruby colour with a bit of youth at the rim.  This has a nose of restrained green hedgerows, with some tobacco and slightly hot plum fruit appearing with aeration.  Decent attack with some fruit.  Decent structure and balance.  A bit green, but overall a decent luncheon claret, that's really helped by being drunk with food.  Good+

2001 Châteauneuf du Pape, Les Vieilles Vignes, Domaine de Villeneuve, 14% (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
"ce vin," the label helpfully points out, "doit être carafé et servi à 17°.  Ne pas chambrer."
A very attractive, lightweight even ruby colour that's starting to mature.  There is blackberry fruit on the nose, with some plums, a bit of leather and some wet galet minerality: a gorgeous nose.  Hugely attractive on the palate.  There is lots of lovely, clear fruit initially; then it builds in the mouth with layers of flavours - plummy fruit, hints of chocolate and a soft tannic structure.  This has lovely balance and elegance.  An excellent clean finish gives way to exceptional length.  This is quite a stunner, distinguished by its poise and elegance.  And this is straight out of the bottle!  When you do follow the instructions and decant it, the room-filling scent is quite gorgeous.  Excellent.

2004 AC Petit Chablis, Alain Geoffroy, 12% (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
Pale straw with a slight greenish tinge.  Quite a rich buttery nose with some melon fruit and a bit of pear drops.  Very crisp on the attack, it then broadens out a little in the mouth with fresh, open, greenish, vaguely tropical fruit.  There is noticeable acidity, which makes it a very refreshing drink, though perhaps the acid is a touch harsh on the finish.  Very Good +

2003 Rosso Carpino non filtrato, Il Carpino, Vino da Tavola, 14%
This is a blend of 80% merlot and 20% cabernet sauvignon. It undergoes a 15-day long fermentation and maceration in open tanks, with daily pigeage. It is then aged for 18-24 months in large Slovenian oak barrels before being bottled.
Quite a murky garnet colour. A minerally nose with lots of sweet black fruit (especially blackcurrants), blended with fresh wet hedgerows, and really quite perfumed. Very interesting on the palate: it has ripe, yet very elegant fruit on the attack, which really broadens out into a very attractive mouthful. Soft grainy tannins appear on the finish with a bit of sour cherry fruit. Very Good Indeed +.
(4/3/06 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

2003 Bianco Carpino non filtrato, Il Carpino, IGT delle Venezia Giulia, 14%
This wine is a blend of 40% Chardonnay, 30% Ribolla gialla and 30% Sauvignon.  It has a rich, buttery, caramel, nose with an oxidised feel and evident overtones of Gravner, though there are also some grassy sauvignon notes in there, together with just a hint of sweet oak.  Rich and powerful on the attack, this has huge fruit and very interesting flavours: rich, dried stone fruit flavours with a powerful integrating oaky, drying feel.  Again, on the palate it's reminiscent of some of the Gravner whites.  This is a big powerful wine with real body, character and flavour.  Excellent with food.  Very Good Indeed +.
(4/3/06 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

2002 Gigondas, Montirius, Christine et Eric Sauret, 14% (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A biodynamic wine (think organic with knobs on!), this is a blend of grenache and mourvèdre, of which some of the parcels of vines were planted in 1925.  The Saurets have some 54 hectares that have been cultivated biodynamically since 1996.
This has an attractive, even ruby colour with just the merest hint of youth.  The nose is quite restrained, with scents of lavender and the garrique, though it seems a touch green.  Open and fruity on the attack, this is quite jammy-textured and quite a concentrated wine that needs time yet.  After being decanted around 20 minutes, this opened up a lot.  There are chocolate coated plums and rolling tobacco on the nose.  It's fairly sweet on the palate with concentrated black fruit.  Very firmly textured, this is firm and full.
After 24 hours, the nose is more muted with leather and really rather restrained fruit with lavender and tobacco.  Open, wide and rich on the palate with good elegant fruit that's quite restrained and even a bit green.  There's a touch of spirit on the finish together with big, fleshy, grainy tannins.
Very Good, maybe Very Good Indeed with time.

2003 AC Collioure, Cornet et Cie, Cave de l'Abbé Rous, 13% (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A blend of 40% grenache noir, 10% carignan, 30% mourvèdre and 20% syrah; the grapes were harvested between the 2nd and 4th September 2003.  After destemming and crushing, the grapes were macerated for 21 days.  Around 20% of the grenache noir underwent carbonic maceration, before alcoholic fermentation, followed by malolactic fermentation, before bottling in July 2004.
This has a refined, plummy, Rhôney nose with violets and chocolate.  Very smooth and rich on the attack with loads of ripe fruit.  It then broadens out in the mouth and freshens up; and avoids any jamminess whatsoever.  Indeed, it goes a bit too far the other way for a Collioure in that it's a bit hollow and a bit flat (especially curious for 2003), though it still offers decent easy drinking.  Good.

2002 Refosco dal Pedunculo Rosso, Lison Pramaggiore, Cantine da Villa Frattina
Good fruit. Fair structure. Nice finish. Very Good+
(26/2/06 at Solo Restaurant, Goosnargh)

2001 Rubrato dei Feudi Di San Gregorio, Rubrato Aglianico, IGT Irpinia , 13%
A minerally, quite slight nose. Fairly simple on the palate with some sour (in a nice way) red fruit. Very soft, but quite puckering tannins that fill the mouth on the finish. Good/Very Good.
(25/2/06 at San Carlo Restaurant, Manchester)

N.V. Mulsum, Mas Gallo Romain des Tourelles, Elaboré et mis en bouteille au Mas Gallo Romain des Tourelles, Produit en Gaule, 12%, 375ml
Made in a reconstruction of a Gallo-Roman winery. The bottle describes it as a "boisson aromatisé à base de vin, aromates et épices. Miel 5%.", this is a recreation of a Roman style of wine, as described by Columella and Pliny the Elder and mentioned by Plautus and Cicero (e.g. Cicero, De Oratore 2.282 )
Herby grapes and apples mingle on the nose with sweet black fruit. Open and very smooth on the palate: fruity and very attractive. Quite grenachey. This would make a lovely aperitif, especially if lightly chilled. Quite tannic on the finish - quite puckering, but the tannins fade very quickly at the end. Really good length indeed. Very Good/Very Good Indeed.

2001 Pinot Noir Vieilles Vignes, Domain Nudant, AC Bourgogne, 12.5%
An even, maturing raspberry-burgundy colour.  Bright red fruits on the nose with an earthy mushroomy background and a hint of black truffles.  Light and fresh on the attack, this has decent fruit on the palate, but is just a bit dominated by a slightly raw acidity, which recedes with time.  This is a basic AC Bourgogne pinot noir that's not pretending to be anything more serious.  Much improved with food, especially some Trotter Hill Tasty Lancashire from Butlers.  Good/Very Good.

2004 Sauvignon Vin de Pays d'Oc, Signatures du Sud, 12.5% (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A very pale straw with a hint of green.  A very, very light nose with just a hint of gooseberry; also a very curious suggestion of balsamic-pickled onions, which perhaps suggests a touch of acetobacter infection and perhaps a heavy hand with the sulphur.  Very light on the palate initially, but it does open out a bit after a while.  It's very much a sauvignon that's not going to frighten people who don't like sauvignon blanc, as it's not especially strong on sauvignon blanc characteristics.  There's a bit of a lack of clarity to the flavours.  It's quite minerally, especially on the finish, when it's quite pebbly and has a fair amount of acidity too.  This was actually much improved by the half empty bottle being kept 24 hours.  Very Good.

NV Berry's Wm Pickering Port, A tawny port of the highest quality, bottled in 2005.  Produced and bottled by Quinta do Noval, 20% (Berry Brothers & Rudd)
There is some evident mechanical failure of this cork, which is badly mishapen.  The wine looks ok, with a deepish teak colour with bright red highlights.  But it's evidently suffering, from oxidation at least, on the nose, where it's very nutty and spirity; persistently so and very much lacking fruit.  This is obviously spoiled, with virtually no fruit on the palate, just loads and loads of harsh spiritiness.  Very flat.  Off.

2004 Chardonnay Vin de Pays d'Oc, Signatures du Sud, 13.5% (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A pale straw gold appearance.  This has an attractive, citrussy, floral nose, with scents of lemon grass, and a hint of butteriness behind.  Fresh and open on the attack, this wine is very clean with very clear, precise fruit.  Quite lightly flavoured, but with decent balance and structure.  It's really quite rich and minerally on the finish.  Very Good Indeed.

2004 Syrah Vin de Pays d'Oc, Signatures du Sud, 12.5% (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
Quite a vibrant, youthful dark purple.  There is lovely ripe fruit on the nose with scents of violets and rosemary.  On the palate it's good, ripe and very fruity.  Nice and clean tasting.  Really quite simple, yet also very delicious and fantastically gluggable.  Very Good Indeed.

2001 Château Moulin de Cantelaube, élevé en futs de chêne, Vignobles J. Dupuy, AC Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, 13% (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
This is a blend of 85% merlot and 15% cabernet franc from 30 year old vines from a small (7.5 hectare) property in  Saint Emilion.
A fairly mature ruby, nice, even colour.  The nose has green, weedy (in an nice way!) hedgerows and licorice, together with loads of tobacco.  Light and fresh on the attack, with good plummy red fruits.  Very elegant and restrained.  Good soft tannins round out a very attractive wine.  Very Good Indeed.

2003 Sancerre, Nicolas Verdier, 12.5% (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A very pale lemon gold.  Very rich nose - quite buttery and creamy, but also with a slight asparagus note.  Open and round on the attack, this has ripe flavours in the mouth with a creamy body and just some acidity coming towards and on the finish.  Seems to lack focus a bit.  Fine but dull.  Good.

2003 La Caplana, Barbera d'Asti DOC, La Caplana Guido Natalino sas & C., Bosio
A leathery, cherry-fruit nose.  Light and open on the attack.  Very good fruit.  Nice character.  Soft tannins on the finish.  Very good length.  Very Good Indeed.
(11/2/06 at Chicory, Lytham)

2004 Terre de Fumée Sauvignon Blanc, Terroir de Silex, AC Côteaux du Giennois, Henri Bourgeois, 12.5% (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A very pale straw.  Fairly full, attractive sauvignon blanc nose, heavily laden with fresh green pea and a bit of gooseberry fruit.  The wine is open on the attack, with good fruit flavours.  It has a lovely refreshing crispness balanced by ripe fruit.   Very clean indeed with a very good finish.  Exceptional length.  Very Good Indeed.

2001 Château de l'Estagnol, AC Côtes du Rhône, 13% (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A syrah-grenache blend, of which a total of 16,000 bottles were made, from vineyards in the commune of Suze-la-Rousse.
A good colour - a deepish garnet - with some maturity starting to show.  The nose is fragrant and very perfumed: indeed, it seems rather confected and lacks fruit.  Very light and simple on the palate.  Simple and easy.  No particular interest and no distinguishing features.  A bog standard Côtes du Rhône.  OK/Good.

2003 Château de Lacarelle, AC Beaujolais-Villages, 13%  (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A light, clear burgundy colour.  There are strawberries, raspberries, orange and bubblegum on the nose, though it's a touch high-toned.  Light and fruity on the attack.  It then broadens out a bit on the palate with some interesting depth.  Light, round and very open, fruity flavours: this seems to be all that Beaujolais should be.  Though it seems a touch confected and a bit hot on the finish.  This benefited enormously from being left open overnight, especially the wine's finish in the mouth.  There is also some considerable, flaky sediment: the wine needs decanting off the sediment and to help even out the finish.  Very Good (+).

2003 Brouilly, Domaine Demiane, Jacques Dépargneux, 12.5%  (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
Light, bright, youthful raspberry-ruby colour.  Very perfumed red fruits on the nose - stewed raspberries and strawberries, together with a bit of lavender and a blast of soap powder.  Light, fresh and very fruity attack.  Attractive and very open, with a hint of Trebor fruit salads especially on the finish.  A bit simple, but very pleasant and attractive.  Very Good (+?)

1998 Rioja Alavesa Reserva, Bodegas Fernando Remírez de Ganuza, 14% £45
90% tempranillo; 10% graciano; aged in barrique for 24 months.
A fairly bretty nose with raspberry fruit and a touch of spirit. Big, fruity attack. Very open and much more Pesquera/Ribera-like than Rioja. Some spicy oak appears towards the finish. Good length. After a while, some quite sandy tannins make an appearance. Surprisingly little development in the glass even as we got to the end of the bottle. Very Good Indeed.
(1/2/06 at The Freemasons' Arms, Wiswell)

1994 Le Cigare Volant, Bonny Doon, 13.5%
41.5% grenache; 33.2% mourvèdre, 24.7% syrah, 0.6% cinsault £30
Very fresh nose, with lots of fruit: red fruits and grapefruit. After a little while, the nose is more figgy, pruney. This is completely different to my last bottle of 1994 Cigare Volant (also here at the Freemasons Arms). Ray says it's like tawny port on the nose, and he's spot on. It's sweet, spirity and figgy. And that all pretty much follows through onto the palate. This is like Beaucastel made by Serge Hochar!
About an hour and a half later, and it's coming together a bit better: there's more plummy fruit on the nose, though there's now a powerful whiff of struck matches and a bit of smoky bacon. In the mouth it feels cleaner and fruitier now, though it's still a bit pruney on the finish, when it's a bit hot too. Not the most impressive of bottles of this, but still enjoyable in a weird way. Good/Very Good.
(1/2/06 at The Freemasons' Arms, Wiswell)

2001 Les Tourelles de Sipian, AC Médoc,  Château Rousseau de Sipian, 12.5%  (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
An even, youngish ruby.  Quite a fresh, vibrant nose with dark plummy fruits and hedgerows in the rain; just a hint of chocolate too.  Light and fresh on the palate.  Very well balanced.  Quite an austere style with good elegance.  Interesting vanilla-cinammon spice flavours after.  Very good length.  After 24 hours in the decanter, the nose is showing more fruit and tobacco, though there's been little development on the palate.  Could probably do with two or three years.  Very Good+

1999 Laubenheimer Vogelsang Riesling Auslese, Michael Schäfer , Nahe, 8% AP 7 763 076 9 00 (Majestic)
A pale lemon gold.  Very light nose indeed - just a hint of wet slate and light, floral honey.  Notably sweet on the attack with a creamy richness underpinning it.  Very even: doesn't really develop much in the mouth.  Very pleasant, but also very simple.  Good.

2000 Fratagranda, IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti, Pravis, 13.5%
A Bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot, from the Fratagranda vineyard, aged in small botti. 6672 bottles produced in 2000.
Claretty hedgerows on the nose with a background of blackcurrant and mint: initially a touch weedy, but it developed well after opening. Again, initially it was a bit tight, but after a while it opened up nicely. Good, nicely integrated flavours and a great lunchtime wine, with just a little bit more to it than the average 'luncheon claret'. Very Good/Very Good Indeed.
(22/1/06 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

1993 Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett, P. Licht-Bergweiler Erben, 7.5%, AP 2 577 264 8 94 (Bibendum)
(Opened for cooking a veal tail blanquette.)  Pale to mid gold.  Extremely minerally nose.  Round and mature on the palate.  Quite buttery, creamy rich.  Good acidity, but it's firmly in balance.  Very Good +

2002 Tautavel Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Gardies, Côtes du Roussillon
A dark, relatively youthful ruby.  Very leathery nose with lots of prunes and some mushrooms.  The attack is vibrant and fruity.  There are fresh, fruity flavours in the mouth, yet there is also a real depth and concentration.  It manages to maintain a nice lightness throughout too.  There is a hint of spirity vieille prune towards the finish.  Good structure, but with gentle tannins.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.
(18/1/06 at Roussillon Restaurant, London)

2004 Godello Guitián, D.O. Valdeorras, Bodegas La Tapada from Galicia.
It had an interesting smoky nose (that I don't think was entirely due to the wood-fired oven and charcoal grill going full tilt in the open kitchen at the rear of the restaurant!), and seemed to have the roundness that a touch of oxidation brings. Very fresh and fruity on the palate, with a good depth of flavour and loads of character. A very pleasant wine. Very Good Indeed.
(18/1/06 at Moro, London)

2000 Breg, IGT Venezia Giulia, Josko Gravner, 13.5%
A light, bright, very clear brassy orange. Lightly caramel orangey nose with currants and light manzanilla hints. Full and round on the palate. A bit weird, as we expected: it must be a challenge for restaurants who choose to list Gravner's wines, as the return rate must be high! Quite round, yet also very dry on the finish. Nice balance and works very well with the food. Very Good Indeed.
(17/1/06 at Locanda Locatelli, London)

2001 Passito di Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG, Antonelli, an Umbrian red passito dessert wine.
Very young, dark purple. A slight nose, with some plummy black fruit. Very tannic on the palate with young black fruit. Didn't like it at all. It was, however, made drinkable in combination with a an amaretto mousse, coated in chocolate and served with super-concentrated espresso sorbet.
(17/1/06 at Locanda Locatelli, London)

2003 Grüner Veltliner Eiswein, Schloss Gobelsburg, Kamptal
A very pure essence of GV fruit on the nose. Searingly pure and super-concentrated on the palate. Remarkable stuff. Excellent.
(16/1/06 at The Ledbury, London)

2003 Recioto della Valpolicella, Pergole Vece, Le Salette
Corvina 60%, Rondinella 20%, Croatina, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese e Oseleta 20%; aged 20 months in barriques.
I didn't take a proper note on this, but just enjoyed it. It was a good, though perhaps a little young, recioto that worked well with a chocolate soufflé
(16/1/06 at The Ledbury, London)

2004 Aglianico d'Irpinia IGT,  Terredora, Campania, Italy
A very deep, chocolatey, blackberry nose. Rich and ripe fruit on the palate. Possibly a bit overripe. This was the better match with the lamb. Very Good
(16/1/06 at The Ledbury, London)

2002 Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes, La Rosine, M&S Ogier
A young blackberry-mulberry nose. Very young flavours with lots of bright berry fruit. Youngish, simple flavours. Very satisfying wine. Good/Very Good.
(16/1/06 at The Ledbury, London)

2002 Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Axpoint, Franz Hirtzberger, Wachau, Austria
Floral, melony tropical fruit with a hint of white pepper on the nose. Very open and round on the palate with nice depth. Lots of flavours that are quite difficult to pin down. Very rich, open fruit attack and middle, with good spicing on the finish. Very Good Indeed.
(16/1/06 at The Ledbury, London)

NV Ruinart Blanc de Blancs
A remarkably rich, toasty nose. Surprisingly full on the palate, yet very delicate and elegant. Confirms my faith in the general reliability of Ruinart and the odd éclat of brilliance. My companion wanted to know where to buy this. Very Good Indeed.
(16/1/06 at The Ledbury, London)

1982 Château Lascombes, Grand Cru Classé, AC Margaux, 13.2%, Bottle no. 15,107
A mature ruby - fully mature but no bricking. Sweet, really rather high-toned nose: all quite secondary and a touch medicinal. With aeration - and even more so with time - the nose became much more rounded and started to show more fruit. On the palate, it's clean and very open: very delicate and noble feeling. This is fully mature and needs drinking now. Quite evolved, and initially it seemed to be starting to tire a bit, but by the time we were getting down to the (considerable) sediment, it seemed to be stirring itself slightly and coming to. This could well have benefited from being decanted an hour or two in advance. Though there's no great life ahead of it, I think. Very Good/Very Good Indeed.
(14/1/06 at The Freemasons' Arms, Wiswell)

1999 Jerusalem Section Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills, Chain of Ponds, 14.5% (Bibendum)
An even, light burgundy red, looking fairly mature.  Earthy high tones on the nose with some strawberry fruit behind.  Sweet strawberry/raspberry fruit on the attack.  Decent structure.  A bit hot and spirity on the finish.  Very Good+

2002 Durius Tempranilla, Hacienda Durius, Alto Douro, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon
An even, bright, youngish ruby.  Quite an austere nose - surprisingly so - with lots of green hedgerow alongside bright plummy fruit.  Good clean attack.  Very good balance with nice elegant character.  Perhaps a bit spirity towards the finish, but overall very vibrant and lively.  Very Good.

1998 Amarone della Valpolicella DOC Classico, Tedeschi, 15% (Majestic)
An even garnet: clear and bright, and starting to mature.  Sweet cherry and chocolate nose with a nice perfume.  Very open and expansive on the attack, with big, ripe, sweet fruit flavours.  This wine has a velvety textured richness, and enough structure to stop it being over the top.  Soft tannins with some acidity on the finish.  But all in all, it seems a bit of an average Amarone.  Very Good +?

1996 Cuvée Exception Brut, AC Blanquette de Limoux, Antech, 11.5% (DeVigne Wines)
A really grotty looking cork: black, dirty and a bit crumbly where it's been in contact with the wine.  But it's done its job.  The wine has a deep gold colour, with a good, fine bubble stream.  Deep and biscuity on the nose, with lots of pear and peach.  Rich and very creamy indeed.  Powerful, very oily flavours.  A touch reductive.  It almost has a hint of concentrated Krug.  Very Good Indeed +

2002 Passo Doble, Malbec-Corvina, La Arboleda, Doppia Fermentazione, Masi Tupungato, 13.5% (Everywine)
Big, black-fruits nose with green hedgerow notes.  Very open on the palate with soft grainy tannins evident from the start.  Quite green flavours.  Very good length.  Very Good.

1945 Rivesaltes "Vieil Homme", Pierre Janny, 16%, 50cl, Bottle No 472 (Chateauonline)
A rather cloudy mid tan, fading to a deep yellow, with a slight pinkish tinge.  Sweet, nutty, oxidised nose with a fair dose of volatile acidity and general rancio notes, together with lots of agrumes.  Light, remarkably fresh attack.  Good weight.  Tastes much better than the nose.  Good weight, really quite lively.  Light chocolatey, sultanas and roast nut flavours with lovely balance.  Extraordinary length.  Very, very clean tasting throughout with no spirit.  Not quite as extraordinary as you might think or hope, but it is really excellent and certainly not showing its 60 years of age.  Excellent.
This 50cl bottle lasted me a few days, and it was still going strong five days later.  This is one that's going to keep a while yet, and certainly needs decanting if you're drinking now.

2002 Passo Doble, Malbec-Corvina, La Arboleda, Doppia Fermentazione, Masi Tupungato, 13.5% (Everywine)
A bright, clear, even ruby - quite light-bodied looking.  Ripe hedgerow fruits on the nose, with chocolate and a lovely floral perfume.  Light and quite fresh on the attack.  Good depth of fruit with tobacco and a concentrated chocolate prune flavour.  Soft tannins on the finish.  Very much drinking now.  Very Good+

1994 Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Spätlese Trocken, Karthäuserhof, (magnum) 10.5%, AP 3 561 303 8 95  (French & Logan)
Minerally, gassy nose.  Very dry with lots of acidity.  Very good, but just not really very satisfying.  Very Good +.

NV Show Reserve Muscat, De Bortoli (Frank Stainton)
A slightly oxidised, lightly maderised rich, raisiny muscat nose.  Rich, sweet, raisiny palate, but very well balanced.  A steal at the price (under a tenner for a full bottle).  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Vin de Constance, Klein Constantia, 14.5% (The Wine Society)
A very deep, orangey gold.  Very deep nose, totally dominated by botrytis - but very attractive indeed.  Sweet and richly-textured; quite silky.  Beautiful balancing acidity.  Very concentrated pure flavours.  Excellent.

1990 Krug, Champagne (Byrne's)
A deepish straw.  Rich, creamy, beurre noisette nose with a hint of honey.  Lovely, fine persistent bubble stream. Lovely, rich and balanced on the palate with a fabulous freshness, which builds into a real lemony note.  Very crisp and fresh and clean on the finish.  Very rich and lively.  Outstanding.

2003 Penny's Hill Mclaren Vale Specialized Shiraz Cabernet Merlot
Ripe plums, black fruit and leather on the nose.  A full-on, direct attack.  The shiraz is dominant on the palate.  I'd guess this was probably something like 40% shiraz, 40% merlot and 20 cabernet sauvignon.  Good balance, though the the varieties don't seem completely integrated.  Soft, leathery tannins become evident towards the finish.  Very Good.
(25/12/05 at Kwizzeen, Blackpool)

NV Champagne Bollinger
Evidently a recent bottling to judge from the cork and the taste.  Full flavoured.  Rather green and young.  Very Good.
(25/12/05 at Kwizzeen, Blackpool)

2003 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Spätlese Halbtrocken, Kurt Hain, 13% AP 2 596 432 10 04  (French & Logan)
A pale gold with green tinges.  Very rich nose - very minerally.  Full and complex on the palate.  Completely atypical for Mosel riesling and completely outside the normal frame of reference.  Perhaps there's a certain muddiness to it?  Very unusual.  Very Good +

2004 Kremser Pfaffenberg Grüner Veltliner, Dinstlgut Loiben, Kremstal, Austria, 12.5% Stelvin closure (Majestic)
An extremely pale straw.  Very rich nose, quite buttery, with some woody spice.  Medium bodied, very round and fragrant.  Quite lively, with loads and loads of white pepper spice.  Very Good+

2002 Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese Feinherb, Weingut Kees-Kieren, 10% AP 2 583 092 12 03  (French & Logan)
A light, lemon gold.  Very perfumed, minerally nose.  Nice attack, with exceptionally good balance.  Has a Spätlese weight that makes you think it's going to be a touch sweet, but it's only very marginally just off-dry, and there's plenty of good acidity to give it a zip on the palate.  Very Good (Indeed).

2001 Château Siaurac, AC Lalande de Pomerol, 13.5% (Majestic)
An even garnet with just a touch of youthful purple at the rim.  Very attractive nose: cedary, smoky, chocolatey with a delightful black fruit core.  Good attack: fairly fresh, with light fruity notes.  Very attractive, round and open.  Lovely depth and character with amazing elegance.  Light tannic structure, becoming grainy on the finish.  Huge length.  Excellent.

2004 Grauburgunder Spätlese Trocken, Etage Tradition, Weingut Heitlinger, 13.5% AP 605 03 05  (French & Logan)
Bright, clear mid-straw.  Fragrant, fairly light pinot gris nose: tropical fruit with gentle cinnamon spicing.  Rather straightforward on the attack.  Fresh, very clean pinot gris flavours build on the plate to a really spicy mouthful.  Very Good+

2003 Villa Heitlinger Blanc Trocken, Weingut Heitlinger, Baden Kraichgau, AP 605 15 04  (French & Logan)
A blend of rivaner, riesling and pinot gris (grauburgunder).  Mid straw.  Beautiful nose: fragrant with pinot gris richness and a touch of riesling minerality.  Light and fresh on the attack, but fills out well.  Good body on the palate, with a nice, rich weight from the pinot gris, balanced by lovely acidity and elegance, presumably from the riesling.  Very Good Indeed+

1999 Riesling Spätlese Trocken New Style Master Etage, Weingut Albert Heitlinger, Baden Kraichgau, 13% AP 605 10 00  (French & Logan)
This comes in a trendy long-necked bottle without a capsule.  It is a fairly deep gold colour.  Very nice nose with interesting depths - very peachy indeed with a touch of wet pebbles.  Very rich on the palate: some acidity is immediately obvious, but it fades a bit and gives way to a rather flabby peach fruit with quite a sweet feel.  Really just a bit odd, and a bit too simple on the palate.  Good.

2002 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett, Weingut Kurt Hain, 8% AP 2 596 432 8 03 (French & Logan)
Pale lemon gold.  Minerally nose: quite slatey with a touch of honey and a touch of petrol.  Delicate attack.  There's a nice bit of fruit, which quickly gives way to much more minerally, stony flavours.  It has a nice balanced off-dryness throughout, counterpointed by a balancing acidity.  Very long and very bright and vibrant after.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Rasteau vin doux naturel, Domaine la Soumade
A fairly slight nose. Very young with lots of fruit. A bit unbalanced. Good. Didn't really work that well with the soufflé - it was just a bit too fresh and fruity.
(27/11/05 at The Ledbury, London)

2003 Grüner Veltliner Eiswein, Schloss Gobelsburg, Kamptal
Served blind, this was immediately recognisable as a grüner veltliner eiswein and even if he'd not told me, I'd have guessed at Gobelsburg, as it was very reminiscent of previous Gobelsburg GV eisweine, although it was clear it wasn't the 1995 that had firmly ingrained itself onto my memory when tasted at Gordon Ramsay. A very pure essence of GV fruit on the nose. Searingly pure on the palate - not so much concentrated as condensed; and almost painfully so. It is sweet, but that is so coincidental to the pure, utter concentration of GV fruit. Remarkable stuff. Excellent.
(27/11/05 at The Ledbury, London)

2002 Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes, La Rosine, M&S Ogier
This has a sweet black fruit nose and very vibrant fruit on the palate. Very young, very simple, very light tannins. Good.
On its own a rather unexceptional, very simple wine, but it worked exceedingly well with the venison dish and all its sweet flavours.
(27/11/05 at The Ledbury, London)

2001 Muscat de Rio Patras, Parparoussis, Patras Peloponnese. This had a lovely fragrant - if straightforward - muscat nose. Quite delicate on the attack; and then fills out to a lovely sweetness. Exceptional balance for a sweet muscat. I would suspect this was lightly fortified (though apparently it's not.) Very Good Indeed.
Thanasis Parparoussis' vineyards for the muscat de Rio Patras sit on a mostly stony soil 450 meters above the sea in a north facing valley. Roughly half the vines are ungrafted. The grapes are handpicked and then left to dry for a few weeks, before being fermented in stainless steel.
(27/11/05 at The Ledbury, London)

2002 Bourgogne Blanc, Clos du Château, Château de Puligny Montrachet.
Served blind to go with a Loin of cod with rosemary butter and a cèpe, fennel and garlic emulsion.
The wine had quite a rich nose; buttery with a hint of oak. Clearly chardonnay, but I wonder if there's something else in it too, as there's a touch too much freshness for a straight chardonnay, although it could be a basic burgundy or chablis. Crisp, yet creamy on the palate with very good length. Good/Very Good.
(27/11/05 at The Ledbury, London)

2004 Kerner Praepositus, Abbazia di Novacella, Alto Adige was served to accompany the rabbit. The Kerner had a fascinating nose of biscuity, lavender bubble bath with vaguely sauvignon blanc like hints behind. Very full and seeming a touch sweet on the attack. It becomes more focussed on the palate as it's held in the mouth. A very interesting wine - full and rich yet with a lovely freshness. Very Good Indeed+
(27/11/05 at The Ledbury, London)

2004 Riesling Donatus, Kurt Angerer, Kamptal, Austria
Very minerally nose - almost to the exclusion of any real riesling character! Good attack, very clean and fresh, though with a nice weight on the palate, when the riesling starts to show through. Good length and with a very nice aftertaste. A bit simple maybe, though a good match for the tuna. Very Good.
(27/11/05 at The Ledbury, London)

NV Larmandier-Bernier, Blanc de Blancs, Terrre de Vertus Premier Cru Champagne
Creamy, autolytic nose. Really good, fine bubbles that persist very well. Remarkably full-flavoured for a blanc de blancs. Mouthfilling and long. Very nice balance. Very Good Indeed.
(27/11/05 at The Ledbury, London)

2002 Riesling Grand Cru Saering, Schlumberger
A dull nose, but lovely on the palate. A nice, concentrated, very minerally, very wet-pebbles riesling that worked very well with the spice-crusted scallop. Very Good/Very Good Indeed.
(26/11/05 at  Rasoi Vineet Bhatia Restaurant, London)

2002 Sancerre Vieilles Vignes, Jean-Max Roger
A crisp nose but with real depth and richness. It's crisp and clean on the palate too, though again with some depth. Notable length. Very Good +.
(26/11/05 at  Rasoi Vineet Bhatia Restaurant, London)

2003 Pinot Noir, Cornish Point, Central Otago, New Zealand
Very forward, fruity nose with a touch of spice. Rich and fresh on the palate with very ripe fruit and a touch of sweetness. Really very simple, but with a warm spicy feel on the finish. Good.
(26/11/05 at  Rasoi Vineet Bhatia Restaurant, London)

1999 Cabernet Sauvignon, Franus, Napa Valley, 13.6% (on the US label); 14% (on the UK label) (Edencroft Fine Wines)
A deep ruby colour with just the merest hint of youth at the rim. Very powerful ribena cum crème de cassis nose with hints of leather and green leaves. Good, attractive attack with lots of sweet ripe fruit. But any fears of overripeness or jamminess are quickly dispelled. This has a really good balance with a nice lightness and freshness. Ripe sweet fruit returns on the finish with traces of some light tannins. Decent length with a real tobacco aftertaste. Delicious and very drinkable. Very Good Indeed +

2004 Weissburgunder Trocken Etage du Chef, Baden Kraichgau, Weingut Heitlinger, 12.5% (French & Logan)
A glass closure! It took me a few moments to work out how to open this: you can't unscrew it and there's no obvious 'lift here' indication. But it opens just like taking a cork out of a bottle once you've pushed it back in. The glass stopper has a small rubber seal - it's very easy to reseal the bottle and you get a very good seal, once the bottle is re-stoppered.
Mid straw appearance. A fresh, creamily herbaceous nose. Quite rich and full flavoured. But there are also some quite harsh, unfocussed flavours, and a raw acidic streak underpins the finish. Very long, but not an excessively pleasant flavour. Poor/Ok.
Interestingly after 24 hours, this was much, much improved and, while still quite simple, was very drinkable.
The bottle doesn't have an AP Number.

2002 Molino Real Mountain Wine, Compania de Vinos Telmo Rodriguez, DO Malaga, 13%, 500ml (The Wine Society)
The back label tells me this is a very old vine moscatel, of which 9200 bottles were produced in 2002.
A mid lemon-gold with an almost clear core. Very powerful muscat nose (which was evident on simply drawing the cork), but when you get your nose in, there are lots of creamy honey and lavender crème caramel scents. Very mouthfilling on the attack. A very concentrated wine. Then some sweetness hits you ... lots of sweetness, but it's not cloying. Smooth, rich, and quite elegant with some really quite unusual flavours that are reminiscent of a grapefruit crème brulée with the burnt caramel notes appearing just towards the finish and then receding, leaving a very clean, rich, sweet finish with extraordinary length, maintaining its power and concentration for ages.
This isn't a sweet muscat in the mould of other sweet muscats or fortified muscats, but has a style and character all of its own. Remarkable stuff actually, and really very interesting, but above all, hugely enjoyable. Excellent.
It's worth noting that it didn't hold very well once opened, and the next day it had declined significantly.

2001 Tinta Barocca, Die Krans, Wine of Origin Calitzdorp, 13.8% (Woffenden Wines)
Sealed with a plastic cork.
An even, maturing ruby, but with a bright purple rim. Fragrant, almost scented, red fruits on the nose with eraser-topped pencils. Light fresh and fragrant on the palate. Yet it seems to lack varietal character ... and really any character at all. A very commercial, almost industrial wine. OK

2002 Ribolla Gialla, Le Vigne di Zamó, DOC Colli Orientali del Friuli, 13%
Very interesting nose - quite earthy, with lots of truffly, mushroomy aromas.  Very attractive on the palate.  Nice, round and open, yet with good character and an interesting fruity dryness (or maybe a dry fruitiness?).  Really good finish and very creditable length.  Very Good Indeed.
(13/11/05 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

2002 Master Etage Blanc, Weingut Heitlinger, Baden Kraichgau Trocken, 12.5% (French & Logan)
AP 605 05 04. A blend of pinot gris and pinot blanc, aged in barrique.
Mid-straw. The nose is very even and very undistinguished with hints of stone fruit, grapes and a touch of oak. Nice, rich, rounded attack. Good, fairly interesting flavours. Maybe a bit dull on its own, but a good general food wine. This was much improved after being open a day and a half, when it revealed a fuller, more pinot gris nose and it had very nice, restrained, but evident fruit on the palate, with a very attractive roundness and fragrance and freshness. Great length, with the lovely freshness persisting. Very Good Indeed.

1995 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett, SA Prüm, 7.5% (Byrne's)
AP 2 576 510 4 96
Lots of dust on top of the cork for some reason. A mature, clear lemon-gold. Wet slate and lightish petrol scents on the nose - very minerally, though there's also a touch of honeysuckle fragrance. Good attack. The immediate impression is that it's totally integrated. Lovely balance. Very open and expressive with really good length. A really good, mature riesling Kabinett. A Riedel Mosel glass freshens it slightly and brings out some zingy sherbert. Very Good Indeed+

NV Manzanilla La Gitana, Bodegas Hidalgo, 15% (Sainsbury)
Bottled September 2005. A very pale lime yellow. Very dry, minerally, flinty nose with just a touch of iodine. Nice and fresh - very crisp and savoury with a real seaside air tang. Fragrant, delicate and restrained. The fresher bottle makes a real difference.

2001 Frascati Cannelino, Conte Zandotti, DOC Frascati, 11+3% abv (not sure what that's supposed to mean!), 500ml
A late harvest Frascati. Mid coppery gold. Orangey raisined nose, but now showing distinct oxidised notes (which isn't surprising given how long it's been open). Initially light and fragrant on the palate, with some body and weight following close behind. A fairly gentle sweetness. Obviously doesn't do to keep it open too long. Very Good/Very Good Indeed.
(2/11/05, though opened 29/10/05, with around a third left in the bottle)

After lunch at Le Mont Restaurant in Manchester's Urbis, we were offered some port, left over from a recent Symingtons bash. Unfortunately the 1924 Graham's was now just an empty bottle. But a fascinating, hand-made bottle that must have been several decades old when the port was originally bottled. We had to settle for these, both of which had been open for just under a week:

1970 Graham's
A mature garnet colour. The nose is chocolatey, very fruity and quite figgy. Sweet and fruity on the palate. Impeccable balance. Really lovely. Excellent.

1977 Smith Woodhouse
A very dry nose, with lots of tobacco and bitter chocolate - and a touch of spirit at the end. Quite gentle on the palate. Quite dry with cherry and griotte flavours. Very nice port, but outshone by the 70 Graham's. Very Good Indeed.
(26/10/05 at Le Mont, Urbis, Manchester)

2000 R.H. Phillips EXP Estate Bottled Syrah, Dunnigan Hills, California, 13.5%
No proper note on this one.  Was a decent drinkable Californian syrah.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.
(26/10/05 at Le Mont, Urbis, Manchester)

2002 Château Haut Cruzeau, AC Bordeaux Supérieur (red)
A very floral nose.  Soft an open with a gentle spicing.  Good fruit.  Elegant and clean.  Very Good Indeed.
(25/10/05 at Le Chapon Fin, Bordeaux)

2004 Château Brondelle, AC Graves (white)
A rather closed nose, with some floral notes just about detectable.  A fruity, open style.  Very Good Indeed.
(25/10/05 at Le Chapon Fin, Bordeaux)

2003 Château Villa Bel-Air Blanc, AC Graves (white)
A delicate, lightly scented nose.  Very crisp and clean.  Very Good Indeed.
Lovely match with a great oyster sandwich sort of disk (longuets toastés aux huitres et farce crépinette: a layer of thin toast, topped with a veal farce, then a layer of oysters, and then topped with another layer of thin toast, served with a very concentrated veal stock and lie de vin sauce.
(25/10/05 at Le Chapon Fin, Bordeaux)

2002 Château de Chantegrive Cuvée Caroline, AC Graves (white)
A fairly dull nose and a little uninteresting.  Nice palate.  Fresh, with good body and a good depth of flavour.  Nice finish, with notable length.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.
Went particularly well with a crispy ravioli of confit duck, though less so with the accompanying chicken bouillon flavoured with rosemary and ceps.
(25/10/05 at Le Chapon Fin, Bordeaux)

2002 Réserve du Château, Château Clos de la Tour, AC Bordeaux Supérieur, Vignobles Dourth, 14%
Very undistinguished.  Very straightforward, modern, Rolland-style wine.  Fairly tannic.  Very short.  A whopping 14% alcohol.  Good.
(23/10/05 at La Tupina, Bordeaux)

NV Vinihana Le Bousas, Vin de Table (from Gascony)
A bit dull and a touch oversweet. Ok as an aperitif maybe.
(23/10/05 at La Tupina, Bordeaux)

2001 Coume del Mas Quintessence, AC Banyuls
A vin doux naturel from Roussillon made from grenache noir grapes.  Served cold.  More or less what you'd expect of a grenache VDN.  Ripe, dried fruit with some coffee and bitter cocoa.  Didn't really stand up to a millefeuille au chocolat d'origine Saint Dominique, fréchinettes rôties au sirop d'érable.
(22/10/05 at Le Jardin d'Ausone, Bordeaux)

2004 Domaine des Granges de Mirabel, Viognier de l'Ardèche,  Vin de Pays des Côteaux de l'Ardèche, M. Chapoutier
A very pale, almost clear yellow.  Very rich, extract of viognier on the nose - maybe a bit overdone?  Very heavy nose.  Redeems itself a bit on the palate.  But overall just a bit blowsy.  Very Good.
Worked very well with a dégustation de trois millésimes de Comtés affinés par Bernard Antony (the 2001, 2002 and 2003 vintages).
(22/10/05 at Le Jardin d'Ausone, Bordeaux)

2003 Château Canon Pécresse, AC Canon-Fronsac
A young, deep ruby colour.  Fresh, fruity nose with warm red fruit and a hint of talc.  Warm and ripe on the palate, yet quite restrained.  Pretty significant tannins appear towards the finish.  Very Good.  But Very Good Indeed with the food, which it really needed (Cochon du Cantal en côte épaisse, rôtie, cèpes poêlés aux échalotes confites: a plain roast 2 rib t-bone pork chop, served off the bone, the loin sliced, the tenderloin and the intercostal meat whole.  Beautifully cooked, served with some fabulous fried ceps and parsley, though it could have done with just a bit more of the pan reduction sauce.)
(22/10/05 at Le Jardin d'Ausone, Bordeaux)

2001 "De La Salle", Château de la Salle, AC Premières Côtes de Blaye
This is a 100% sauvignon blanc, vinified in new barriques and then matured on its lees for eleven months.  Made in small quantities (6-7,000 bottles a year).  (Château de la Salle also make a more traditional Château de la Salle blanc that is an unoaked blend of 70% sauvignon blanc and 30% semillon.)
A deep, toasty sauvignon blanc - imagine fresh peas kept in fresh oak.  A remarkably big wine for the Côtes de Blaye.  Big, round, expansive palate and in quite a new world style.  On the palate, one might quite easily mistake this for a semillon, or even a chardonnay.  Could this be a step too far for Bordeaux sauvignon blanc?  Though, I rather like it and find it a very satisfying wine.  Very Good Indeed.
(22/10/05 at Le Jardin d'Ausone, Bordeaux)

1998 Château Tour Faugas, AC Cadillac
A deepish gold.  Very fragrant nose with hints of violets and lavender behind a slightly oxidised honey citrus.  Makes a nice, light well-balanced aperitif.  Very Good Indeed.
(22/10/05 at Le Jardin d'Ausone, Bordeaux)

2003 Weisser Riesling Noble Late Harvest, Paul Cluver, 14%  (Woffenden Wines)
A deep, brassy gold. Marmalade, candied oranges and lemons, and cane sugar syrup on the nose. Sweet and mouthfilling on the attack. Very intense, very powerful, but with great purity. There is decent balancing acidity too. Very clean and fresh on the finish. Very Good Indeed.

NV Moscatel Oro, Vindo de Licor, De Muller, Reus, Spain, 15% (375ml) (Frank Stainton)
A brassy orange appearance. The nose is notably dumb - all there is is some sugar sweetness and a hint of caramel. It has a real liquorous weight on the palate. Very full and quite white port-like. But it lacks any muscat character and as such is not like other bottles I've had of this. Good acidity and not at all cloying. Very Good.

1999 Ronco dei Roseti Rosso, Le Vigne di Zamó, DOC Colli Orientali del Friuli, 13%
A blend of merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and schioppettino.  A good, very deep, maturing garnet colour. Spicy, very meaty-gamey nose, very slightly reminiscent of Beaucastel. After a while the meatiness recedes somewhat (but doesn't go entirely), leaving some talcum powder notes. Very smooth and rich. Very interesting fruit flavours - really deep and contemplation-worthy. A really spicy feel, especially on the finish, when some fine-grained tannins appear. Cracking wine. If this is what Vigne di Zamo's wines that don't get tre bicchieri are like, the ones that do must be astounding. Not cheap (£46 in a relatively low markup restaurant), but worth every penny. Excellent.
(9/10/05 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

1997 Réserve, Mas de Bicary, AC Gaillac, 12.8% (DeVigne Wines)
An even garnet with a hint of youth at the rim. It has a nice nose - something rather different: green hedgerows and hedgerow fruit with soft licorice overtones, a hint of cloves and some fresh sawdust. Nice attack. Ripe fruit, but very restrained and elegant. Fills out well into a pretty full mouthfeel with lots of cherry fruit and nutty flavours. After a while, it has really quite an orangey feel to it. Very wide on the finish, with gentle soft tannins. An unusual wine and very attractive once in a while, but it wouldn't be an everyday wine for me. Very Good Indeed.

1996 Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Kabinett Trocken, Karthäuserhof  (French & Logan)
AP Nr. 3 561 303 17 97
Used primarily for cooking, but a quick glass revealed it to be Very Good Indeed.

2000 Recioto della Valpolicella Classico DOC, Lorenzo Begali, 13.5%
A very dark, inky-black royal purple - incredibly glass coating.  Gorgeous nose.  Concentrated black fruit - sweet but not at all jammy, with a touch of cinammon.  Equally gorgeous attack - very pure and precise, sweet fruit flavours.  Loads of character with layers of flavours.  Lovely soft tannic structure.  Superb balance, and not at all oversweet or sticky.  A very fine wine indeed.  Beautiful finish with citrussy dried blackberry flavours.  Very long indeed.  Exceptionally good.  Excellent.
(1/10/05 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

1995 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC, Lorenzo Begali, 15%
A very, very dark mulberry colour, fading to ruby at the centre.  Very fruity nose indeed on the first impression, but there's real depth and complexity on closer inspection: bitter cherries, orange peel, sweet tobacco and Green & Black's cherry chocolate.  This is a glorious nose, and I could sniff it forever.  Very clean, quite pure fruit on the attack.  soft grainy tannins appear quite quickly.  It has a remarkably light feel overall, despite the concentrated fruit. Amarone-bitter finish.  Much improved when drunk with food. Very Good Indeed.
(1/10/05 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

2003 Pinot Grigio, Az. Agr. Branko, DOC Collio, Italy, 14%
A pale lemon gold.  A rather musty nose with creamy, warm lemon, warm spices, especially some white pepper and a touch vanilla oak.  Quite light on the attack, but fills nicely.  Fuller and richer than many Italian pinot grigios, yet it remains gentle and refined.  There's a nice gentle spiciness, and it's round and very clean throughout.  Exceptional length.  Very Good Indeed.
(1/10/05 at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

2001 Castelmaure Grande Cuvée, AC Corbières,14%  (The Wine Society)
A deep, even, very dark mulberry colour. Quite a fresh, deep ripe black fruit with a real hedgerow aroma and some mint and tar. Good, even, ripe fruit attack. Powerful flavours with some real depth, complexity and loads of character. Very soft tannins on the finish. Very Good Indeed.

2003 Fleurie, Domaine de la Madone, Jean-Marc Despres, Georges Duboeuf, 13% (375ml)
A very concentrated gamay nose with sweet strawberry fruit and a touch of bubblegum.  Soft and fresh tasting.  Light, perhaps served a touch too warm.  Light and nicely fragrant on the palate with very good balance.  Notable length.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.
(24/9/05 at Anthony's Restaurant, Leeds)

2000 Chardonnay, Edna Valley Vineyards, Edna Valley, California (375ml)
A big beurre noisette nose. Very smooth and full with a good weight but not at all overbearing. Possibly a touch oxidised, with dryness showing towards the finish. Exceptionally good length. Very Good/Very Good Indeed.
(23/9/05 at Pool Court, Leeds)

2000 Ridge Lytton Springs (375ml)
Initially the nose showed tobacco and smoke (and no, the dining room is no smoking :)) but then some really intense blackberry and blackcurrant fruit reveals itself. Very powerful, intense sweet fruit, with crème de mûre flavours, yet without any feel of a descent into jamminess. Really wide, expansive flavours and very smooth. Very Good Indeed.
(23/9/05 at Pool Court, Leeds)

2003 Jurançon Ballet d'Octobre, Domaine Cauhapé - Henri Ramonteau, 13.5%  (Chateauonline)
An even mid gold colour.  Absolutely beautiful, utterly winning nose - very elegant, with honey, lime marmalade, pear drops and honeydew melon.  Light and fairly fresh tasting on the attack, but overall the palate doesn't live up to the promise of the nose: it doesn't have the elegance and focus that the nose has. There is a touch of restrained sweetness on the attack, which builds and builds, so that there's are quite a fragrant crème brûlée caramel flavour on the finish.  Very even flavours throughout, though without any great depth.  Nice length.  Probably a bit too young.  Very Good.
The same bottle, a few days later.  This has really improved with being open.  Honey, almonds and lime marmalade on the nose.  Very good attack: lightly sweet at first, with a nice depth of fruit and very good balance, but then there's a certain hollowness.  But it comes together again with nice weight.  On the finish a citric acidity balances the gentle sweetness very well.  Very Good Indeed.

1996 Bandol Cuvée Spéciale La Tourtine, Domaine Tempier, 13.5% (Lay & Wheeler broking)
The labels on the box (and the box itself) indicated that this wine had been stored by (and so originally purchased from) The Wine Society, so no problems with provenance.  In the glass, the wine's appearance is of a very even, maturing ruby with the very, very tiniest hint of youth at the rim.  The nose is meaty and savoury with damson fruit, new leather shoes and rosemary.  Good attack - very round and balanced with good fruit and loads of spicy character.  Soft, gently drying tannins on the finish with a nice acidic balance after.  Excellent length.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Juliénas, Domaine du Clos du Fief, Michel Tete, 12% (Lay & Wheeler)
This was the remaining half magnum left over from the previous night's tasting and dinner.  An even cherry red with a hint of youth.  Nicely perfumed stewed strawberries and cherry kernels on the nose, with a hint of volatile acidity that wasn't there yesterday, and also some orange peel.  Light and fresh on the palate with very good balance.  Soft, fine-grained tannins appear towards the finish and after.  Decent length.  A few high toned notes on the palate too: this is a wine that's starting to fall apart now.  This was confirmed when I tried the last couple of glasses' worth the next day: it was past it.  If you've got some - even in magnum - drink up soon.

1999 Moscato d'Asti, Araldica, 5%  (The Wine Society)
It was a very tight cork in this bottle.  The colour is a pale straw with a markedly deeper core.  Interesting, very delicate muscat nose with lovely musky rosewater.  Obviously, this is now quite old for a moscato d'asti, and it's not surprising that it's lost its pétillance, and there's now just a light, almost acidic prickle on the tongue on the attack.  Nice grapey flavours.  More than a hint of sweetness, but very clean.  Very Good Indeed.

2002 Lolol Viognier, Casa Silva, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 13.5% (Frank Stainton)
Mid straw appearance.  A very curious nose indeed: sherbetty toilet block with walnuts and marzipan.  Very broad on the attack - very full and powerful.  There's a certain ripeness, but also a pretty dominant acidity.  Lacks complexity and any depth other than a brutality of flavour.  A touch hard.  Very long after.  I have to say, this isn't to my taste at all.  Good.

2003 Akarua Pinot Noir, Bannockburn, South Island, New Zealand
Soft cherry nose with some savoury meaty back notes.  Very fresh, yet very nicely integrated.  Very Good +
(13/9/05 at Providores, London)

2000 Tokaji Cuvée Llona, István Szepsy 
Gentle heather honey and marmalade botyrtised nose with a light caramel.  Very fresh attack.  Very racy, fresh acidity.  Initially it's very fresh, but then you get layers of complex fruit.  This is a stunning wine and almost obscenely complex.  Excellent.
(12/9/05 at the Capital Hotel, London)

2003 Scheurebe Spätlese Trocken, Franken, Hans Wirsching, 14.5%
Creamy yet very dry.  Very direct attack.  Physiologically very ripe, yet with a searing acidity.  All in all nicely balanced though.  An interesting wine.  Very Good Indeed.
(12/9/05 at the Capital Hotel, London)

2003 Pinot Gris Lerchenberg, Marc Kreydenweiss
Very light pinot gris nose.  Much fuller on the palate.  Very full and rounded.  Very elegant for a pinot gris.  Very Good Indeed.
(12/9/05 at the Capital Hotel, London)

2003 Gewurztraminer, Paul Cluver, Elgin, South Africa, 13% (Woffenden Wines)
An even straw colour.  A rather harsh seeming nose that seems a bit sandy and coarse with a touch of air-freshener: it seems very lacking in varietal characteristics, which is one thing gewurz usually has in abundance.  Light to the point of watery on the attack, but then builds a little to give some flavour.  But again, it's very, very light on gewurztraminer characteristics - but then it's also very light on any characteristics whatsoever.  Some rather tough, almost tannic acidity on the middle, then it reverts on the finish to a fairly characterless liquid.  Some figgy notes on the finish.  Drops away suddenly on the finish, but it's actually quite long after.  It is really gewurztraminer?
There was a distinct improvement after 24 hours, but still not worth the effort of opening.  OK.

2001 Riesling Le Kottabe, Josmeyer, Alsace, 12% (Auction purchase: Straker Chadwick)
This was from a 12 bottle lot in a sealed original case: all the other bottles appear perfect, but this one was actually stuck to the bottom of the case by the wine that had leaked out of the cork at some point: the bottle was ullaged to about 1cm below the capsule.  Mid straw to deep straw.  Ripe, quite sweet, minerally riesling nose, but with a layer of oxidation.  Very oxidised on the palate.  Spoiled.  Not rated.

1999 Jerusalem Section Pinot Noir, Chain of Ponds, Adelaide Hills (Bibendum)
An even, relatively mature-looking burgundy.  Warm nose with ripe red fruits and a touch of cloves.  Light and fairly elegant on the attack.  But quickly fills into a powerful spicy pinot noir, though there is still some restraint.  For me, this lacks elegance and, despite the ripe fruit, there's a raw green note, especially on the middle and fading towards the finish.  Good/Very Good.

2003 Riesling Brut Sekt, Weingut Kurt Hain, Flaschengärung; handgerüttelt, 12.5% (French & Logan)
A lightish, mid, green-tinged straw.  Fresh nose with creamy green fruit and minerals.  Quite a gentle attack with a nice moussey feel.  Develops quickly in the mouth, revealing quite strong flavours.  Creamy and round with some light peach flavours.  For the most part clean, but there's a little hardness on the middle.  Good clean finish.  Very good length.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.

NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut, Champagne (about 8 months in my possession)
Big foamy mousse.  Pale to mid straw.  Clean, ripe green fruit on the nose - even a hint of gooseberry.  Good, clean attack with a nice depth of flavour.  Feels a touch green: would have benefited from further keeping (in general most of the basic non-vintage champagnes from the big houses benefit from at least 18 months maturing after purchase: I'd pulled the wrong bottle off the shelf!)  Good.

2001 Castelmaure Grande Cuvée, AC Corbières, 14%  (The Wine Society)
Full, dark, plummy red.  Very unimpressive green nose initially, with just a bit of bottle stink.  With a little time, the nose is very leathery, tobacco-laden with red fruit.  Ripe and round on the attack.  There's a real backbone of character and soft grainy tannins.  Full and round, with lots of ripe fruit, lots of spice and a good tannic structure.  Very good length.  Top notch stuff.  Very Good Indeed.

2003 Weisser Riesling Noble Late Harvest, Wine of Origin Elgin (South Africa), Paul Cluver, 14%, 375ml  (Woffenden Wines)
A rich, slightly heavy looking gold with orange hints.  Lots of botrytis on the nose with peaches, pears and apples.  Very attractive.  Excellent attack: fresh and elegant.  Builds and fills on the palate.  A very full wine, but with lots of fresh acidity and elegance.  Very Good Indeed.

NV Champagne Brut, L. Jaunay, 12% (Majestic)
A very pale straw with almost a hint of pink.  Round open green fruits on the nose.  Round and full-flavoured on the palate, with white pepper on the finish.  A touch rough and ready, with really quite a rustic feel.  If I'd been served this blind, I don't think I'd have guessed it was champagne, or even French.  OK.

2001 Prestige Trockenbeerenauslese Grand Année, Lenz Moser, Neusiedlersee, Austria, 11%, 375ml   (Auction purchase: Straker Chadwick)
St PNr E796003
A fairly pale mid lemon gold.  Heavily botrytised nose with loads of honey, masses of beeswax and even a hint of maple syrup (but without the caramelly scent of maple syrup).  Honeydew melon and a hint of cheesiness (like a sweet, nutty cheddar).  Really quite fresh on the attack and throughout.  Quite a syrupy texture, but without being cloyingly sweet - it's just the texture.  Clean, elegant flavours, with a citrussy freshness throughout that balances the sweetness, showing itself as some nice acidity towards the finish.  There's a touch of spiciness on the finish and after.  Absolutely enormous length with lively, lingering, clean flavours.  Excellent.

1989 Oberemmeler Karlsberg Riesling Auslese Goldcap, Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, 8.5%, AP 3 561 077-103-90  (The Wine Society)
Mid gold, fading to clear at the edge.  Smoky, honeyed nose.  Very concentrated and slightly oxidised on the palate.  Very intense flavours, but I think this is suffering from a bit of oxidation.  Very Good+

1999 Mas de Bicary AC Gaillac, 12.5% (DeVigne Wines)
A mature, very light garnet: looking really very thin and watery.  Initially, thin and weedy on the nose, with some red fruit.  But with aeration, it's beefed up quite a bit, revealing soft, minty, red fruit and leather, together with some floral scents.  Good, round attack.  Light bodied, yet characterful with a nice balance of fruit, acid and soft, almost creamy tannins.  Nice spice notes on the finish.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.

2001 Umore Nero Pinot Nero, DOC Oltrepò Pavese, Castello di Luzzano, 12.5% (Frank Stainton)
An even burgundy/ruby colour with no evident youth.  Sweet, slightly high-toned cherry and raspberry nose - quite floral and scented.  Light and clean on the attack.  Lots of forward, sweet, ripe fruit with a nice elegance.  Fragrant with soft tannins on the finish and a bit of acidity after.  Good length.  Very enjoyable wine.  Very Good Indeed.

2004 Echeverria Unwooded Chardonnay, Molina, Chile, 12.5%
Crisp lemony, rather undistinguished nose.  Clean and round.  Good flavour.  Slightly artificial on the finish. OK.

1999 Maximin Grünhauser Abtsberg Riesling Auslese , C. von Schubert'schen Schloßkellerei, 7.5%, AP 3 536 014-7-00  (Auction purchase: Straker Chadwick)
Very pale straw.  Beautiful nose - very delicate and fragrant, with a combination of fresh peach and tinned peach with some applies and a blast of sherbet.  Very peculiar on the palate: a light sweetness with a strong artificial peach flavour.  Very light on acidity.  Good length.  But this is very weird and I'm not sure what to make of it.  I can't say I particularly like it, but it's so weirdly peachy that I'm prepared to accept there might be something wrong with this bottle.

1999 Abadia Retuerta Selección Especial, Sardon del Duero, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León, 13% (Chateauonline)
A blend of tempranillo, cabernet sauvignon and merlot.  An even dark ruby with the merest hint of youth right at the rim.  Lovely nose - perfumed blackberries with a plummy background and some green minty notes.  Some chocolate and some spirit too.  Good, rich, full attack.  Powerful flavours on the palate: rich and a touch sweet with chocolatey richness.  Soft, grainy tannins.  Excellent length.  Very Good Indeed+/Excellent.

1989 Oberemmeler Karlsberg Riesling Auslese Goldcap, Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, 8.5%, AP 3 561 077-103-90  (The Wine Society)
Opened as I noticed a slight seepage, which seems to have been a common problem with all these.
Mid gold, with a touch of green at the edges.  Very minerally nose - very full, with a touch of petrol and some oxidation.  Very complex on the palate: waves of dryness, acidity, sweetness and fruit.  Lots of minerals evident on the palate, as is a touch of oxidation.  Would have been great without the oxidation from the leaky cork.  Very Good.

2004 Valpolicella Classico, Allegrini
The basic Valpolicella from Allegrini.  This bottle had very little to recommend it. A bit weedy, very, very young flavours with noticeable acidity.  Fair.
(7/8/05 at Solo Restaurant, Goosnargh)

2000 Eclisse Bianco, DOC  Colli Orientiali del Friuli, La Roncaia
A blend of 95% sauvignon blanc and 5% picolit, produced from low yielding vines in La Roncaia's Angorie vineyards in Ramandolo, in the Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC area. Apparently the picolit grapes are slightly later harvested once they've started to dry off a bit.
Round, open nose with some buttery melons. A fairly international style. Quite round and full, with buttery fresh fruit - it would have been difficult to guess it was sauvignon blanc if served blind, though after a while and with food some more sauvignon characteristics came out. 5 years old and not showing it at all. Very Good Indeed.
(6/8/05 at Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

1999 Cabernet Sauvignon Antiquas Reservas, Cousiño-Macul, Valle del Maipo, Chile, 12.5% (Edencroft Fine Wines)
An even garnet with just a touch of youth still evident.

2004 Red Muscadel, Rooiberg Winery, Wine of Origin Robertson (South Africa), 16.5%  (Woffenden Wines)
Stelvin closure.  A mid salmon colour.  Fabulous, winning nose, heavily laden with floral muscat fruit and Fry's Turkish Delight without the roses.  Smooth and luscious on the attack with a marked spicy edge.  But too much hard acidity on the middle, and from then on it feels rather unbalanced.  The sweetness returns after the finish, with a rather odd, plasticky confected note.  Lingering long after.  OK/Good.

2002 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett, Weingut Kurt Hain, 8%, AP 2 596 432 8 03 (French & Logan)
A pale-to-mid straw with a greenish tinge.  Delicate nose (though this bottle's a bit too cold), with crisp, clean green apples.  Bright and very fresh on the attack, with clean dry fruit.  Pure, and possibly a touch simple (but again, it's worth noting this is being served a bit too cold).  Good ripe fruit.  Lovely acid though it's not totally integrated.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.

2001 Recioto della Valpolicella La Roggia, Speri, 13.5%, 500ml (Byrne's)
An even young ruby: very, very glass coating.  This bottle had been opened three days previously (just uncorked, none poured, then the cork replaced)  Warm, soft red fruits on the nose with cloves, ground coffee and a hint of chocolate.  Round and full on the attack with some sweetness immediately apparent.  Rich and mouthfilling with a luscious creamy richness.  Chocolate and some fresh acidity, especially on the finish when some alcohol is evident.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Spätlese Trocken, Karthäuserhof, 12%, AP 3 561 303-14-01  (French & Logan)
Note the 2001 AP number: presumably a long ferment?  Very, very pale straw - almost clear.  A bright vivid nose: some stone fruit; lots and lots of minerals, a bit of green pepper and lime and some sweet pea fragrance.  Crisp and clean on the attack.  Good wide palate, with lovely fruit and powerful acidity giving a real zingy, almost sherbet fountain freshness.  Quite deep and long on the finish.  This seems a particularly successful trocken to me.  Very Good Indeed/Excellent.

2005 Pinot Grigio 11.05, Beelgara Estate, New South Wales, South-East Australia, 11%, Stelvin closure
According to the back label, this is an early harvest pinot gris, harvested "while the grapes were still crunchy".
A very even, very pale straw.  Very crisp on the nose with some green fruit - initially you could be fooled into thinking this was a sauvignon blanc, or at least had sauvignon blanc in the blend.  But then there's a buttery richness with the merest hint of mango and banana on the nose.  Very crisp and clean on the attack.  Really quite austere, with lots of fresh acidity.  Then it fills out with richer, fuller flavours.  The acid reappears on the finish.  Very clean, crisp and balanced throughout.  Interesting.  Very Good.
(23/7/05 at Tapenada Restaurant, Forton)

2003 Weisser Riesling Noble Late Harvest, Wine of Origin Elgin (South Africa), Paul Cluver, 14.5%, 375ml  (Woffenden Wines)
Paler than the 2001, but still a caramel colour with orangey-brassy hues.  A much nicer nose than the 2001: more open and more floral with bright, elegant fruit scents redolent of honey and overripe nectarines.  This makes the 2001 seem a bit oxidised, and duller and more even - even a touch fortified in comparison when tasted side by side.  This (the 2003) is sweet, fragrant and very elegant on the attack.  Clean and refreshing with very nice balance.  The acidity is very integrated here.  A fuller, rounder mouthfeel than the 2001.  Stunningly better than the 2001.  Very Good Indeed+

2001 Weisser Riesling Noble Late Harvest, Wine of Origin Elgin (South Africa), Paul Cluver, 14.5%, 375ml  (Woffenden Wines)
A mid-caramel colour with a coppery rim.  Powerful raisined, botrytis nose with barley sugar and candied grapefruit peel.  Really rather sweet on the attack.  Very concentrated.  A very fresh, acidic melony streak that doesn't so much balance out the wine, as sit to out side pointing out the sweetness.  Quite warm on the finish.  Very even throughout and a touch uni-dimensional.  A bit simple maybe; but rescued by the racy acidity which completely refreshes the mouth on the finish and long after.  Exceptional length.  Very Good

2001 Tigiolo, IGT Rosso Veronese, Lorenzo Begali, 14%The Begali family
The 6 hectare Begali estate, just northwest of Verona, dates from the end of the Second World War, but it was the next generation, Lorenzo and Adriana that concentrated on wine-making, selling their first bottle of Begali wine in 1986. Lorenzo and Adriana are now joined in the winemaking by their children, Giordano and Tiliana: the name of this wine, Tigiolo comes from their first names: Tiliana, Giordano and Lorenzo.
A blend of 40% Corvina, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Rondinella and 10% Merlot.  The grapes undergo the same Passito process as when making Amarone and Recioto: the grapes are layed on mats and allowed partially to dry out, so that they are on the way to becoming raisins: this concentrates the the grapes' sugars and flavours.  The wine is aged for about 15 months in large oak barrels (tonneaux).  The Begalis had been trying to make this for some time, but had had a lot of problems getting the Cabernet Sauvignon to dry properly: unlike the native Italian grapes, it had a tendency to rot quickly.  They are now drying indoors in temperature and humidity controlled rooms and seem to have got it working now: this is the second vintage, and around 30,000 bottles were made.
The wine was decanted and left for about 15 minutes.  A dark ruby colour, at first the nose was very deep and intense, but with time it really opened up, with lots of elegant perfume and spice notes.  The improvement on the palate was similar over time: very Amarone like initially, it blossomed, showing off its own character with time.  Very elegant wine, that carries its 14% alcohol.  Really lovely lingering flavours, that really needed food to bring out the best.  Excellent.
(16/7/05 at Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

1997 Tokay Pinot Gris Sonnenglanz, Alsace Grand Cru, Domaine Bott-Geyl, (Majestic)
Mid gold.  Rich creamy nose, though it's a bit flat overall.  Really very sweet on the attack with loads and loads of sweet honeydew melon and lychee flavours.  Very rich indeed, and I'm about to check that it really is pinot gris, when some pinot gris spice appears towards the finish.  I'm not sure that grand cru vineyards really help pinot gris ahcieve the greater heights that other varieties acheive in Alsace grands crus: this example certainly seems a bit flat and fat.  But then Majestic don't seem that good at sourcing Alsace either.  Very Good.

1999 Domaine d'Aupilhac Le Carignan, Vin de Pays du Mont Baudile, 13.5% (The Wine Society)
A bright, youthful mauve at the rim, deepening to an even deep ruby at the centre.  Tarry nose with lots of dark chocolate, sweet black fruit and scented violets.  Round and expansive on the attack.  Loads of sweet ripe fruit with a cinammon and pepper spice.  Soft, velvety tannins appear towards the finish.  Lots of ripe, round, concentrated fruit throughout, on the finish and long after.  Excellent.

1996 Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Kabinett Trocken, Karthäuserhof, 9%, AP 3 561 303-17-97  (French & Logan)
A very pale greenish straw.  Zesty, citrus-fragrant nose with lots of minerality: but a bit short and curt.  Crisp and very clean on the palate.  Superb balance: good ripe fruit, fresh acidity and bone dry.  Decent length.  Probably the best Kabinett Trocken I've had.  Very Good Indeed/Excellent.

2002 Pinot Gris, Mount Langi Ghiran, Grampians, Australia, 13% (Frank Stainton)

2003 Gewurztraminer, Paul Cluver, Elgin, South Africa, 13% (Woffenden Wines)
Very, very pale straw.

2002 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett, Weingut Kurt Hain, 8%, AP 2 596 432 8 03 (French & Logan)
A very pale straw at the centre, deepening to a lemony mid straw at the edge.  Very creamy nose with more than a touch of soapiness: but really quote a light nose overall.  A touch sherbetty on the attack.  Good ripe fruit with very nice balance.   Lots of acidity, giving a very dry impression towards and on the finish and after.  This bottle seems simpler than previous bottles, and I wonder if it might not have now closed down for a year or two?  Good/Very Good.

1982 Madiran, Domain Pichard, Vigneau Auguste, no alcohol content shown (The Wine Society)
A mid, very even garnet which doesn't really look like it's 23 years old.  Quite a light nose with plenty of sweet cassis and masses of tobacco with a hint of port.  With aeration, some minty, greener notes appear.  Soft, sweet fruit on the attack.  Very elegant and rich on the palate, yet really quite light.  There is some power towards the finish, when there's a really chocolatey feel.  Enormous length.  Very Good Indeed.

2003 Chablis L'Églantière, Jean Durup Père et Fils, 12.5% (Booths)
Mid straw.  Sweet, buttery nose with a touch green beans and cabbage.  Round and full on the attack.  Rich flavours with quite a lot of spicy wood.  Very unexceptional and quite industrial.  Good.

1967 Château Montasset, AC Bordeaux Supérieur, A. Bleyne propriétaire (Auction purchase: Straker Chadwick)
A bright, clear mid garnet with some slight bricking at the rim. Sweet blackcurrant fruit with some orange zest and some high-toned volatile acidity notes on the nose. With aeration some more sweet high tones are released, but also lots of old soft leather. Light and a touch sweet on the attack. Plenty of fruit still in this, though quite sweet fruit. Very clean, even with a touch of freshness. I don't think this was ever a great wine, and it's still not. But it's a really lovely elegant wine, that's a nice surprise on a Monday night. Completely mature. The tannins are all completely integrated and well softened, just leaving a touch of dryness on the finish. Sweet clean fruit on the palate, with quite plummy flavours. Lovely.
Bottle size and alcohol content not shown, of course. Though it's a very light bottle with a very shallow punt. It feels quite low in alcohol - around 11-12% maybe?

NV John Harvey & Sons Palo Cortado, 20.5% (The Wine Society)
A brassy even light teak.  Powerful nose, immediately evident as soon as the bottle is opened.  First impression of the nose is of salt with lots of umami flavour-layours: almonds, chestnuts with a touch of tinned sardines.  A big wine on the palate.  Intense and pure with sweet fruit, yet a very dry feel.  Quite a light feel, with a certain freshness, but lacks complexity.  Very Good+.

1995 Clos Vougeot Grand Cru, Domaine René Engel, 13%
A good, very even totally mature colour.  Earthy animalistic nose that's really quite subdued and closed.  Around seven hours later, it's opened up a lot, with plenty of sweet, nutty fruit, with lots of mushroom and forest floor scents, together with a strong whiff of mouldy lemon (that dry, spore-rich sweet citrus smell).  Light, elegant, sweet fruit on the attack with excellent balance.  Full and round on the palate with sweet fruit and a light fresh acidity.  Soft, grainy tannins give good structure, and the tannins build on the finish.  Quite drying on the finish and after.  Enormous length.  Very Good Indeed.
(28/5/05 at The Freemasons' Arms, Wiswell)

2000 Riesling Wineck-Schlossberg, Meyer-Fonné, AC Alsace Grand Cru, 13% (Auction purchase: Straker Chadwick)
Deepish straw.  Ripe, minerally nose with honey and sufficient mango-ey tropical fruit that it would be easy to wander off to pinot blanc or even pinot gris if tasting blind.  There's just enough wet paving slabs there on the nose to comfort me that this hasn't got the wrong label.  Holy cow!  This is one humdinger of a ripe wine.  Very concentrated and very powerful.  Initially there's more than a touch of sweetness, but there's also lots of a curiously soft acid, which becomes more apparent the longer the wine is in the mouth, and on the finish at the tip of the tongue.  Enormous length.  Really quite a strange wine, even for an off-dry Alsace riesling.  Shows a bit more riesling character in a Riedel riesling glass.  Very Good Indeed.

2000 Pinot Gris Hinterberg de Katzenthal, Meyer-Fonné, AC Alsace, 13% (Auction purchase: Straker Chadwick)
A mid-, slightly oxidised looking brassy gold.  Fairly soft, quite elegant pinot gris nose, laden with tropical fruit with hints of coriander and cumin.  Clean, fresh attack.  Really spicy immediately after.  Then a full richness with quite a bit of sweetness and fat.  But well-balanced and not at all overdone.  Powerful stuff, all the same.  Very Good Indeed.

1998 Tokay Pinot Gris Dorfburg, Meyer-Fonné, AC Alsace, 13.5% (Auction purchase: Straker Chadwick)
A rather posh cork with the vintage and wine name on it.  Mid gold colour.  Very rich, rather blowsy nose.  Very heavy, perfumed, musky, tropical fruit nose with some green banana skins.  Very rich and very full on the attack.  Big ripe fruit - huge flavours.  Very powerful and very ripe fruit with a real touch of sweetness.  Manages to clean itself up a bit on the finish, but does really rather lack finesse.  A very big wine for robust food.  Very Good Indeed.

2003 Sylvaner, Domaine Ostertag
A lightly fragrant nose.  My first guess would be Alsace pinot gris.  It's not gewurztraminer, far too light for that.  Definitely feels Alsatian, with that sort of body and weight.  Very full and fragrant and a touch spicy on the palate.  Yes, I'll stick with my first guess.  Well, yes, now I know it's Sylvaner/Pinot Blanc, I can see it, though it's a heavyweight version.  Very Good Indeed.
(18/5/05 at Tom Aikens)

2002 Gewurztraminer Fleur, Schlumberger
Lightly perfumed gewurztraminer nose.  Round and rich gewurz palate; quite full with fair residual sugar.  Very Good.
(18/5/05 at Tom Aikens)

2002 Walter Hansel, Russian River Chardonnay
My initial impression on the nose was a Chardonnay – toasty oak and in a new world style.  Very full on the palate, and it seems to have more to it than a straight chardonnay, so I guessed at an American Chardonnay-Semillon blend.  Very rich and a bit overpowering, both on its own and with the food.
(18/5/05 at Tom Aikens)

1998 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Sequoia Grove, Rutherford, Napa Valley
This had presumably been opened earlier in the day, as there was just a large glassful in the bottom of a decanter.  Presumably a trade sample they'd been given, as it's not a wine that is on their list.  It had a very deep, tobacco-dominated nose, with blackcurrant sweet fruit.  A huge nose.  Sweet fruit on the attack, but with an interesting minerality.  There are lots of tannins present in the wine – well integrated, though they do seem to separate out towards the finish and start to dominate.  An interesting wine.  Very powerful initially, then really rather elegant, and then finishing with the big tannins.
(18/5/05 at Tom Aikens)

2003 Passito di Pantelleria Ben Ryé, Donnafugata
A deep gold.  Elegant, raisined muscat floral nose.  Immediately sweet on the attack, then some fresh acidity cuts in.  Very elegant indeed with excellent balance and a clean finish.
(18/5/05 at Tom Aikens)

2002 Saumur Blanc, Domaine du Val Brun
A creamy nose.  Fresh, clean and vibrant.  Very Good Indeed.
(17/5/05 at 1880 Restaurant, The Bentley Hotel)

2002 Semillon-Sauvignon, Cullen, Margaret River, Western Australia
A fragrant lightly oaked nose.  Reminiscent of a decent standard Graves on the palate; not earth shattering, but Very Good.
(17/5/05 at 1880 Restaurant, The Bentley Hotel)

1996 Riesling Spätlese, v. Kesselstatt
A lovely, honeyed mineral nose.  Very fresh on the palate, with some sweetness but above all well-balanced.  Sherbetty notes on the finish.
(17/5/05 at 1880 Restaurant, The Bentley Hotel)

2001 Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc
A mellow sauvignon blanc nose, that develops more smoky, toasty notes as it warms up. Rich on the attack, and I have to say it's taken the oak well.  Not a wine I'd ever have chosen, but it works extremely well with the scallop dish that arrived a few moments later.
(17/5/05 at 1880 Restaurant, The Bentley Hotel)

1994 La Rioja Alta 904
A gorgeous nose of sweet vanillin fruit with a touch of volatile acidity.  Sweet, spicy, gentle red fruits on the palate.  Completely integrated fruit, ripeness and acidity; just waiting for the last of the spicy tannins to integrate finally.
(17/5/05 at 1880 Restaurant, The Bentley Hotel)

NV? Aleatico di Puglia, Candido, Salice Salentino (fortified?) negroamaro   An elegant, slightly floral nose.  Very fresh and light textured with a nice sweetness, but also lovely balance.  If served this blind, I'd have guessed it was a black muscat.
(17/5/05 at 1880 Restaurant, The Bentley Hotel)

1998 Quinta do Noval Late Bottled Vintage Port
Having bought the 1997 Noval LBV in quantity, I sought out the 1998 to see how it compared. Very dark appearance, and positively murky. Greenish spirity fruit on the nose. Ripe, tannic. Decent fruit, but very spirity. Not a patch on the 1997, even at the same stage in its development. Good. 84/100

A few selected Pinotages with Peter May of the Pinotage Club.

 2003 Pinotage La Cave, Wellington, South Africa
Powerful, spicy, slightly astringent nose.  Lightish, fairly elegant.  A touch astringent and very tannic on the finish. 80/100

[current vintage] Ashbourne Single Vineyard Pinotage, Anthony Hamilton Russell
Gorgeous spicy cloves nose.  Light and fresh flavoured with a background of nice spice.  Very Good.    86/100

2001 Jacobsdal Pinotage
A very green nose.  Green and astringent on the palate; and especially so after. 79/100

2003 Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett, Dr Loosen (£11.99 RRP)
Fresh and creamy nose. Good fruit. Quite 2003 in its ripeness. Sherbetty feeling/flavours. 5/10

2004 Riesling QbA, (£9.75 RRP)
Quite a limey nose. Fresh and zingy. Fairly simple. 4/10

2002 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett, JJ Prüm (£13.95 RRP)
Much more minerally, but also a touch sulphurous. Pure and quite zingy on the palate. Good depth. 6/10

2002 Kiedrich Grafenberg Riesling Spätlese, Weingut Robert Weil
Not especially giving on the nose. Lovely palate. Quite sweet, but very nicely balanced. 6/10

1996 Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese, Willi Haag, 8.5%, AP 2 577 049 4 97 The Wine Society)
Pulled this one as I noticed that the cork was slightly sticking out, but on closer inspection, I think it had been like that since bottling as the extruded bit is flattened across the top of the bottle.  Very lemony gold colour.  A lovely rich nose with lots of petrol and honeysuckle notes.  Rich and creamy on the attack.  Very nice weight and balance on the palate.  Distinctly off-dry, but also very pure with nice minerally ripe fruit.  Very Good Indeed.

2000 La Segreta Rosso, Planeta, IGT Sicilia, 14% (Everywine)
A clear, fairly mature garnet.  Interesting scented damson nose.  Light, rounded and completely mature on the attack.  Very soft on the palate.  Beginning to tire and the fruit has certainly receded.  Drink up.  Very Good.

1999 Ruster Ausbruch Essenz, Weingut Feiler-Artinger, Burgenland, Austria, 9%, (Byrne's)
A chardonnay-pinot blanc blend.
Just pouring this, it's a luscious heavy brassy gold that pouts at you lasciviously. Oooo...
Utterly gorgeous nose heavily redolent of botyrtis with honey and orange zest with intense concentrated fresh peaches.
Luscious and creamy on the attack and already lip-lickingly thoroughly gorgeous. Very sweet, of course, and just a bit sticky on the lips (you know - like kissing someone when she's just applied her lipstick).
But on the palate, the sweetness actually seems to subside a little and it's really elegant and poised with a totally lovely balance: a very delicate, yet clear acidity balancing the ripe sweet fruit. Truly outstandingly gorgeous and really quite a sensous, hedonistic experience.
Also a truly worthy partner for my Riedel Sommelier sauternes glass, which really did seem to show it off at its best, slightly reducing the sweetness.

1995 Mas de Bicary, AC Gaillac, 12.5% (DeVigne Wines)
A bright, clear mature garnet colour.  Very soft, gentle nose with hedgerows, hedgerow fruits and tar.  Light and quite fresh on the palate.  Quite a simple wine, but lots of fairly rustic character.  Quite lean flavours: no hint of Parker here!  Really good balance.  Very good on the finish and after.  Excellent length.  No tannins to speak of.  Very Good.

2000 Crozes Hermitage, Cave des Clairmonts, 12.5% (Waitrose)
A mid burgundy colour - still fairly youthful.  Gorgeous, sweet, spicy nose, full of black fruits.  Attractive attack.  Sweet, elegant fruit.  Very nicely balanced.  Soft grainy tannins on the finish.  A good basic Crozes.  Very Good.

1994 Mas de Bicary, AC Gaillac, 12.5% (DeVigne Wines)
A very dirty cork that crumbled.  There's a strong stink coming from the bottle, that does not bode well, as even at a distance I think I can detect corkiness.  The stink blows off very quickly to leave a delicate undertone of TCA.  Corked.

2002 Branko Rosso, IGT Venezia Giulia, Azienda Branko
A bright, clear ruby that's quite youthful in appearance.  Big plummy nose, yet light and fragrant at the same time.  Very open on the palate: clean and approachable with good fruit that deepens and becomes more complex.  Layers of flavours that become more interesting as it's held in the mouth.  But this is far from the most interesting wines that they've come up with at the Italian Orchard for us to try.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.
(7/5/05 at Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

1994 Mas de Bicary, AC Gaillac, 12.5% (DeVigne Wines)
A mature, murky dark ruby.  Very weedy nose that quickly reveals itself to be rank with TCA.  Corked.

2003 Crane White Colombar, Goedverwacht, Wine of Origin Robertson, South Africa, 12% (Woffenden Wines)
Pale straw.  Very light, very fresh, fragrant nose with some tropical fruit and bananas.  Light and clean on the attack with a bit of a watery feel.  The flavours come in and build into very dry and just off-crisp fruit flavours.  Rather simple.  One for by the pool waiting for the braai. Very Good.

2000 Pinot Gris, Estate bottled, Bodega Jacques y François Lurton, Mendoza, Argentina, 12.5% (The Wine Society)
Mid yellow gold.  Powerful, spicy pinot gris nose - tropical fruits in abundance and some toastiness.  Quite rich on the attack, though not overfull.  Good mouthfilling ripe pinot gris fruit, but not at all overdone.  Quite elegant and very dry.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Cape Vintage Landskroon, Paarl Wine of Origin, South Africa, Lot A151, 18.5% (Woffenden Wines)
A young, rather murky violet-tinged ruby.  Very sweet black fruits on the nose with more than a little scent, giving way to some warm spirit.  Sweet, chocolatey, candied damson fruit on the nose.  Fairly simple and straightforward on the palate, with no great depths and rather grainy soft tannins on the finish.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.

1993 Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett, P. Licht-Bergweiler Erben, 7.5%, AP 2 577 264 8 94 (Bibendum)
A pale lemon gold with green tinges.  Minerals and cream on the nose, though not especially petrolly.  Fully mature on the palate with an interesting smoky flavour.  Very crisp and very clean, precise flavours.  A nice balance of fruit (if not especially fresh fruit) and a clean acid.  Very Good Indeed.

2003 Weisser Riesling Noble Late Harvest, Estate Wine of Origin Elgin (South Africa) Paul Cluver, 14% (Woffenden Wines)
A deep brassy gold.  The nose is almost completely dominated by botrytis honey and peach extract.  Immediately elegant and quite floral on the palate.  full and rich, but with a lovely elegant perfumed acidity.  No great huge depth or complexity, but utterly enormous length.  A good one for the Riedel Sauternes glass, where it's amazingly cleaner and more elegant.  Very Good Indeed.

1994 Viña Mara Gran Reserva, DOC Rioja, Bodegas Berberana, "Selected by Tesco", 12.5%, (Tesco)
Bright, clear, notably mature ruby.  Warm, ripe black fruit in abundance on the nose with stewed plums, a touch of vanilla and just a bit more than a touch of volatile acidity.  Quite lgiht on the attack.  Sweet fruit, gentle tannins, some background fruit, but overall seems a bit dried out.  Good/Very Good.

1992 Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese, Mönchhof Robert Eymael, AP 2 602 029 -19 93 (Morrison's)
A pale lemon gold.  Glorious ripe, mature riesling nose with minerals, petrol, some lime zest and creamy sweet golden delicious apples.  Pure and clean on the attack, but develops quickly in the mouth, deepening and broadening out.  A layer of sweetness; a layer of slate; a weighty almost buttery fruit layer.  Rather an odd mercaptan flavoured richness on the finish with a certain salami meatiness: unusual and presumably a fault, but not at all distracting.  Extraordinary length.  Very Good Indeed.

1989 Orion, Napa Valley Syrah, Sean Thackrey, 14.3%
Still needing time to open up in the glass - it really came into full song only about an hour after decanting.  A very intense deep nose with lots of back fruit and some meatiness and leatheriness that blow off leaving quite a pure fruit nose.  Open and elegant on the attack.  Round and fully mature with great purity.  Soft suede-like tannins towards the finish.  This is a very impressive wine, probably completely à point now.  Excellent length.  What's quite interesting is that it's both a very impressive, fairly big wine, yet also eminently drinkable. Excellent.
(23/4/05 at The Freemasons' Arms, Wiswell)

2002 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spätlese **, Kees-Kieren, 8%, AP 2 583 092 21 03 (French & Logan)
A very very pale lemon gold.  Glorious nose that's fresh and rich at the same time, with lots of green apples and peaches backed up by a touch of wet slate and the merest hints of mineral-petrol notes.  Very fresh and zingy on the attack with a bit of sherbet.  The sugar then kicks in and it's got a lovely and balanced, just-sweet body.  Then some acidity kicks in towards the finish, but then it's sweet and elegant again afterwards.  Very attractive, but only really on quite a superficial level.  It seems quite simple, lacking depth and complexity.
Trying it in a variety of glasses: the best nose is in the ISO tasting glass, though it's feeling quite sweet.  Much more citrus notes in the Riedel Riesling glass.  Much, much more elegant and refined a nose in the Riedel Sauternes glass.  Tastes the least sweet in the Riesling glass, the most sweet in the ISO.  The best rounded wine comes in the Sauternes glass.

NV (but it will be 2003) Piesporter Treppchen Riesling Traubensaft, Kurt Hain, 0% (it's just grape juice!), (French & Logan)
A brassy mid gold.  Mucatty baked apple nose.  Very refreshing, but also quite rich feeling.  Like a cross between apple and grape juice.  Very refreshing on the finish with nice acidity.  Lovely length.  Very Good Indeed.

2000 Côtto Grande Escolha, Vinho Tinto, DOC Douro, 12.5% (Byrne's)
A very dark mulberry red with hints of youth at the rim.  Very big, sweet blackcurrants nose with raw red meat and a toasty note.  Quite light on the attack.  Immediate fruit, but remaining very elegant.  Fairly light-bodied, but very full, elegant ripe fruit which turns chocolatey on the finish.  Marked grippy tannins appear on the finish - seems a bit odd that there was no trace of them earlier and that they don't add much structure or body.  An interesting wine.  Very Good Indeed.

NV Moët & Chandon Champagne Brut Impérial, 12%.
From a bottle I've kept in stock for 7-8 years, expressly for the purpose of letting it age as Moët can often be a bit green on release.
Mid straw in colour with a very gentle bubble stream of tiny bubbles.  Quite a creamy nose with stone fruit and a hint of white chocolate.  Nice moussey feel.  Crisp on the attack and quite fresh, but it's lost all the greenness.  Feels very integrated.  Lovely finish with depth and complexity and notable length.  Very Good.  After a day, it was much improved again.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Hermitage Blanc, rives nobles, Cave de Tain l'Hermitage
A mid to deep gold colour.  The nose initially (well for the first hour or so) is rather closed: after decanting and once it's recovered from being too cold, the nose is lightly spiced with honey roast quince.  On the palate it was at first again rather closed and unforgiving, with a rather hollow note towards the finish.  Decanting, further aeration and taking the chill off it revealed a complex, long wine with great depths.  Yet there is still a nagging feeling that it should be better than this.  Very Good.
(16/4/05 at L'Enclume restaurant, Cartmel)

1999 Jerusalem Section Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills, Chain of Ponds, 14.5% (Bibendum)
A bright mature raspberry red with a hint of youth at the edge.  A powerful, ripe pinot noir nose with lots of soft red fruit with some floral notes and a hint of bubble gum.   Fresh and clean on the attack.  Develops really nice fruit in the mouth.  Citrussy feel on the finish.  But a bit hollow and cold on the finish.  Very Good.

1997 Poderuccio, IGT Toscana, Castello di Camigliano, 12.5%, (The Wine Society)
A mature, rather characterless-looking burgundy colour.  Really lovely, soft, warm nose with crushed blackberries and sour cherries.  Excellent attack: soft, light and mature.  Very elegant indeed..  Warm fruit on the palate, with soft tannins towards the finish.  Very fine finish with excellent length.  Excellent.

1999 Chardonnay, IGT Sicilia, Planeta, 14% (Everywine)
A very deep, rather oxidised looking gold colour - looking a bit like a Mosel trockenbeerenauslese.  Not a lot on the nose - nutty butter with some stone fruits.  Rich and round on the palate, with lots of depth.  Doesn't feel at all oxidised in the mouth.  Lovely ripe fruit that really opens up towards the finish when it develops a lovely rounded elegance, though it's in a world and a style of its own.  Very interesting to see how it's aged.  Very Good Indeed.

1992 Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese, Mönchhof, Robert Eymael, 8%, AP Nr: 2 602 029 019 93 (Morrison's)
The cork crumbled to dust when I tried to remove it and the remaining wine was decanted through muslin.  A mid to deep gold.  Some gasoline on the nose, but the main impression is of oxidation.  Badly oxidised.

1999 Erte e China, IGT Rosso di Toscana, Paolo Masi, 13% (Sunday Times Wine Club)
A mature, even ruby colour.  Rather indeterminate nose - some sweet cherry, but also some hot alcohol.  Good light attack.  Very clean.  Open up with limited fruit on the palate.  Feels a touch dried out.  Plenty of soft tannins and some alcoholic spirit.  Good.

2002 Schioppetino, Le Vigne di Zamò, DOC Colli Orientali del Friuli, 13%
Spicy nose that doesn't really impress overly. But that impression is completely reversed once the wine is in the mouth. Wow! Really unusual and remarkably complex for a 100% schioppetino, a variety previously used only in blends to beef them up. Great depth of flavour and lots of character. Very Good Indeed.
(2/4/05 at Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

2000 Chianti Classico Brolio, Barone Ricasoli, 13.5% (Sainsbury?)
A good basic Chianti.  Nothing particularly stunning but very acceptable.  Very Good.

2001 Corbières Grande Cuvée Castelmaure, AC Corbières, Castelmaure, (The Wine Society)
Taken as BYO to Luna Restaurant, so not a proper note.  Good, full bodied, very attractive, nice character. Very Good Indeed +.

2003 Riesling, Fût 702, Château de Schengen, Thill Frères, AC Moselle Luxembourgoise, 13%, Bottle # 534, (The Wine Society)
Pale lime green.  Very fragrant apple and elderflower nose with some pink grapefruit.  Excellent attack.  Nice mid-weight.  Good fruit.  Beautiful balance: fresh and crisp but with a creamy weight.  Lovely finish.  Utterly massive length.  Excellent.

1986 Chateau de Rayne-Vigneau, 1er Grand Cru, AC Sauternes, 14% (Byrne's)
A slightly raised cork, but the mushroom shape at the top suggests it's been this way for a long time. A limpid rich gold, brassy at the edges. Intense honeyed botrytis nose with perfumed honeysuckle notes. Rich and at the same time quite fresh and racy on the attack. Quite heavy and full on the palate, with a rich creaminess, but also a strong streak of acidity throughout. Turns relatively spicy on the finish with peppery tropical fruit. Very Good/Very Good Indeed.

2000 Refosco dal Pedunculo, IGT delle Venezie, Cantine da Villa Frattina, 12.5%
Slightly youthful plummy red.  A very interesting nose - chocolate-coated prunes and orange zest - quite Christmassy.  Good soft, fruity attack, which fills and broadens out.  Woody licorice root flavours on the finish.  A bit simple perhaps, but rescued by excellent, unusual flavours.  Very Good Indeed.
(25/3/05 at Solo Restaurant, Goosnargh)

1983 Riesling Vendanges Tardives Cuvée Frédéric Émile, Trimbach, 375ml, 12.5% (Byrne's)
A heavy deep gold appearance.  Perfumed, creamy pears with wafts of kerosene on the nose.  The immediate impression on the attack is of surprising dryness, with dried apples and pears flavours, with an elegant creamy backbone.  Very very far from sweet.  Immense elegance and beautifully balanced.  But I have to admit that as a Vendanges Tardives (late harvest), I was expecting something rather sweeter than this.  On the other hand, the structure and elegance of this is completely winning.  Seems a little older than I might have expected and there is a touch of oxidation.  Still Very Good Indeed.

1996  Nyetimber Classic Cuvée Brut, 12% (Majestic)
Mid straw with a slightly pinkish tinge.  Deep biscuity, citrussy, slightly cheesy nose - a very powerful nose.  Round and fruity, but also very crisp and clean.  Lovely complexity.  Like a cross between Krug and Bolly.  Very Good Indeed.

1996 Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Kabinett Trocken, 9%, AP 3 561 303 17 97 (French & Logan)
A very bright pale gold.  Peaches and cream on the nose and more minerals than you can shake a geologist's stick at.  Light and very limey on the attack.  Then a certain muddy richness on the palate, with a really oily feeling to it.  Good finish.  Very Good.

2003 Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett, Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben, 8%, AP 2 602 041 004 04  (French & Logan)
A pale to mid straw.  Bit of a dull, un-focussed nose initially, but eventually a very fragrant note comes through - sort of sherbetty deodorant.  Quite sweet and a touch sugary and watery on the attack.  Really rather unfocussed.  Has a real spätlese feel to it - but undoubtedly a lesser spätlese.  Rather hollow on the middle, but comes back again on the finish with immense length.  Improved by drinking with food, and also improved by a Riedel Chardonnay glass (much fuller, fruitier flavours in the Riedel Chardonnay than the Riesling).

1989 Nederberg, Cabernet Sauvignon, Private Bin R161, Auction Selection, Paarl, South Africa 12% abv
An interesting nose, with a touch of cassis, and quite cedary with a lot of truffley mushrooms. Very soft on the attack. Lovely, elegant restrained fruit. A moderately old feel to it, with elegant softened tannins. Really well integrated. A mature elegant lady. Lovely earthy finish with magnificent length that goes on forever.
After time a touch of soapiness appears on the nose and a hint of violets. Also with time, it is slightly more drying on the palate.
I took just over a half of the bottle away with me, and having fed some to Wilson Logan in exchange for all the rieslings he gave me to try, finished the bottle at about 9.30 that night. No further development (despite having been on the long drive home) and it wasn't showing any signs of fading.
Excellent wine.
(18/3/05 at the Champany Inn, Linlithgow)

1970 Warre's Vintage Port
The last few glasses from a bottle decanted about three days previously.  A tarry chocolate nose with deep dark plums.  Quite dry on the attack with concentrated Christmas cake fruit.  Opens out well and sweetens in the mouth.  Very clean and chocolately on the finish, where there's a touch of spirit, but not at all detracting.  Very Good Indeed.
(15/3/05 at Establishment Restaurant, Manchester)

2001 Pinot Noir by Farr, Geelong, Grown and made by Gary Farr at Bannockburn, Victoria, Australia, Lot 001, 14%
Tar and paracetamol on the nose with some very concentrated raspberry notes.  Very elegant attack.  Needs plenty of time to open up.  Very round and elegant with a fine tannic backbone.  Lovely fruit structure too, with excellent balance.  Excellent.
(15/3/05 at Establishment Restaurant, Manchester)

2000 Mas Cristine, AC Rivesaltes
The sommelier told me to try it first and he'd come back after I'd tasted it to explain it.
A fantastic coppery colour like a very very very very very pale tawny: imagine a 10 yr tawny diluted 50:50 with white wine. Interesting nose - and it's obviously not a muscat - with dried fruit and nuts, mocha and a hint of vanilla. I guess this is a lightly fortified grenache, like a Banyuls, but in a much much lighter style. On the palate, it's round and soft, with more dried fruits and a marked cognac flavour: but only the flavour - there's no trace of spirit.
Apparently it is grenache, but it's grenache blanc, that is fortified and then left outside in large glass jars at the Mas for three seasons (winter, spring, summer) to develop some rancio notes. I didn't quite get the rancio notes, but I really liked this wine.
(11/3/05 at Lindsay House, London)

2003 Villa Vieja Sangiovese, La Agricola, Mendoza, Argentina
Lots of ripe cherry and raspberry fruit on the nose. Very fresh and fruity. Remarkably light. Reminiscent of chianti, but only reminiscent: this is rather lighter and fruitier. And rather simpler than the better Italian examples. A nice wine for lunch though. Very Good Indeed.
(11/3/05 at Lindsay House, London)

2003 Chablis, Domaine Perchaud
A mid gold and very ripe on the nose, though some nice aromatics too. Very full on the palate and marked by low acidity. Has an oaky weight to it, but without any oaky flavours. A very atypical chablis. Very curious. Went well with a ravioli of pig's head though.
(11/3/05 at Lindsay House, London)

2003 Albariño, DO Rias Baixas, Pazo de Señorans
A good, round, herbaceous nose. Full and round on the palate - quite green, but a very nice green-ness. Very Good Indeed.
(11/3/05 at Lindsay House, London)

2000 Blanquette de Limoux Grande Réserve, Antech, 12% (DeVigne Wines)
Mid gold.  Rich, citrussy creamy nose.  Quite full and rich on the palate.  Excellent balance.  Full-flavoured with nice round fruit.  Very Good Indeed.

2003 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Spätlese halbtrocken, Kurt Hain, 13% (!!), AP 2 596 432 10 04 (French & Logan)
Mid gold.  Gorgeous rich, very ripe Riesling nose redolent of perfumed honeyed nectarines.  Very full on the attack with lots of ripe fruit.  Very intense flavours with a slightly coarse dryness.  Just enough acid to keep it balanced.  Very full, with a lovely weight totally unlike a normal Mosel Riesling.  Enormous length.  A very impressive wine, though very atypical.  Excellent.

1998 Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Kabinett, Karthäuserhof, 8.5%, AP 3 561 303-19-99 (French & Logan)
Very bright crystal pale gold.  Very very minerally nose with a touch of peach jam.  Round and very fresh on the palate, but with the same mineral power, backed up by a touch of sherbet freshness.  Quite full, with a certain ripeness, but very precisely balanced by some lovely crisp acid.  Excellent.

2003 Beaujolais-Villages, Combe aux Jacques, Louis Jadot, 12.5% (Tesco)
A bright light raspberry red colour.  Excellent nose - really attractive.  Very soft red fruits with lots of strawberries and the merest hint of bubble gum.  Light and fresh, with lovely soft fruit, but also a very attractive structure.  Interesting depths, or rather layers.  Soft sandy tannins on the finish.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Zinfandel Planchon Vineyard, Franus, Contra Costa County, Napa, California, 15% (Edencroft)
Attractive bright maturing ruby.  Green nose with light TCA.  Corked.

2002 Tocai Friulano, Vino Bianco degli Ulivi, DOCG Collio, Aldo Polenci, 14%
From a small (6 hectare) estate.  The grapes are harvested as late as October and the wine is aged in large tonneaux.  An unusual grassy, smoky nose. Very, very full and rich on the attack, and that continues throughout. Indeed there doesn't really seem to be any real development in the mouth: it's just big, full and rich. There is oak very clearly present, but it's a very integrated oak, built into the depths of the wine, not an additional flavour. It's quite a weighty wine with 14% alcohol, no doubt owing something to the grapes being late harvested around October. Somewhat reminiscent of a late harvest Condrieu. I can't quite make up my mind about this wine: it's lovely drinking, but just seems a little simple with no depth. Very Good/Very Good Indeed.
(26/2/05 at the Italian Orchard, Broughton)

1991 Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Spätlese Trocken, Karthäuserhof from a magnum. 10% AP No: 3 561 303-13-92 (French & Logan)
Quite an interesting colour, that seems to change as it catches the light differently, but I'll settle on calling it a pale straw. A really good, old Riesling nose: lots of minerally petrol and wet slate - entirely mineral driven now, with no fruit noticeable on the nose. Dry and quite intense on the attack. Very minerally. Fairly rich-flavoured, but bone dry. Really quite intense. Very zingy acidity on the finish and after. Enormous length. Very Good Indeed.

1999 Chain of Ponds Amadeus Cabernet Sauvignon, Adelaide Hills 13.5% (Bibendum)
An excellent looking, bright maturing dark-plum skins colour. Very very elegant, fragrant Italianate nose that seems quite sweet. Very fresh and light on the attack. Nice elegant fruit that's quite delicate on the palate. A hugely elegant wine with excellent balance. Soft tannins on the finish. Perhaps not overly expressive of cabernet sauvignon - certainly I don't think it would be immediately recognisable as an Australian cabernet. Very Good Indeed.

2000 Chain of Ponds Ledge Shiraz, Adelaide Hills 13.5% (Bibendum)
A bright even garnet colour. There's a slightly green edge to the nose, but it opens up nicely into really nice, elegant, slightly scented plummy fruit with coffee notes. Very good on the attack: immediately impressive. It has a restrained elegance from the fruit and a spicy backbone with black pepper on the finish. Really well balanced and integrated. Excellent.

1989 Marc Bredif Vouvray Moelleux Nectar 12.8% (Byrne's)
A dinky little 375ml bottle with a noticeably deep punt. Sealed with wax. Trying to find bottle size and alcohol content on the label is a bit like looking at one of those magic eye things.
Bloody hell! - it's fizzy! I wasn't expecting that. A deep straw colour. The nose is rather weird, though includes notes of honeyed botrytis and apricots: a very intense, super-concentrated and very dry-smelling nose. But a rather odd nose. On the palate it's very full and has a demi-sec weight to it. A gentle pétillance on the palate. Quite intensely flavoured. A bit like a touch oxidised moscato d'Asti but made from chenin not muscat. Very strange wine, and not one I'd buy again. OK.

NV Crémant du Jura Brut, Frédéric Lorner (DeVigne Wines)
A deepish straw.  Very full on the palate.  The initial impression is reminiscent of a sparkling Normandy cider.  Deep stone-fruit nose with a hint of raisining/oxidation.  Full and very far from aggressively brut on the attack.  Deep and richly flavoured.  Good, solid character, but perhaps not terribly interesting.  An unusual wine.  Very Good Indeed.

1993 Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett, P. Licht-Bergweiler Erben, 7.5%, AP 2 577 264 8 94 (Bibendum)
A watery mid gold in appearance.  This has a really gorgeous aged riesling nose with smoky petrol notes and some elegant slightly raisined fruit.  Very good on the attack: clean, ripe and full.  Excellent balance.  Elegant yet very rich.  ripe fruit, yet really quite dry.  Excellent length.  A magnificent wine.  Excellent.

2001 Castelmaure Grande Cuvée, AC Corbières (The Wine Society)
A very dark mauvey purple.  Lovely young plummy ripe fruit on the nose with sweet chocolate and tobacco notes.  Sweet and ripe on the attack - quite portlike actually.    Very intense fruit with lots of character, a vanilla note, and a bitter note, not unlike pinotage. A very impressive wine.  Very Good Indeed +.

2003 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Auslese, Kurt Hain, 8.5%, AP 2 596 432 15 04,  (French & Logan)
A pale gold.  Wow!  Totally gorgeous nose: honey roast apple with cream and very fragrant honeysuckle, but also a mighty mineral streak.  Round, rich and full on the attack.  Really quite sweet, but with luscious ripe riesling fruit and character.  Overall, the wine has a real zingy character and is perhaps just a little out of balance: there's a sugary element, a fruity element and a limey element.  But it's not yet properly integrated.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.

1999 Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Spätlese Trocken, Karthäuserhof, 12% AP No: 3 561 303-14-01 (yes, 01!) (French & Logan)
A very, very pale straw with the merest hint of green.  Quite a solid feel to the nose - lots of fragrance with lime zest and Right Guard and lots of wet stone mineral notes.  Immediately full and quite dry on the attack.  But by no means aggressively dry.  Good weight to it, but also a rather odd rubbery-watery feel.  There's a real tingle of acid on the tip of the tongue.  Overall, however, this is very even and a bit flat.  As is often the case, the fermentation to trocken has taken much of the character out of it: sometimes character can return with age, but who knows what will become of this?  At the moment, it lacks flavour, although it's still reasonably pleasant.  A curious hybrid of a wine.  Good/Very Good.

2001 Grüner Veltliner Drei Kreuzen-Kadolz trocken, Graf Hardegg, Weinviertel, Austria, 13%, (Noel Young)
(opened for cooking and tasted unchilled)
A filthy, mouldy cork.  Very rich nose - buttery with lots of spice and with some deep, very, very concentrated tropical fruit, including a hint of pineapple.  Lush and rich on the attack, with lots of tropical fruits on the palate.  A bit too warm for proper judgement, but still very rich and with lovely spice.  The richness dominates throughout, though it undoubtedly still warrants its trocken designation.  Very Good.

2002 Pinot Noir, Cottesbrook Wine Co. Ltd, South Island, New Zealand, 13% (Byrne's)
From vineyards in Canterbury and Marlborough, the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in French oak for six months.  The bottle was closed with a Stelvin closure, which had an inner cap that made a satisfying cork-style pop on opening.
A very clear and a very, very light appearance: a pale raspberry colour.  Very very light on the nose: quite crisp with light cherries and the merest hint of toasty oak.  This is a fairly typical light, crisp, slightly zingy New Zealand pinot noir: nicely together and well integrated.  Crisp, fresh red fruit.  Excellent length.  Very Good Indeed.

2001 Niergal, IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti Rosso 13%
100% Lagrein. Matured in a mixture of French and American oak. 6720 bottles produced in 2001. Sweet vanillin and red fruit on the nose, seeming very rounded and integrated and promising something a little different. Really quite unusual (unless you're used to lagrein, I guess!). Soft and rounded with quite forward elegant fruit with some lovely bitter chocolate notes. Very nice easy drinking. Very Good Indeed (perhaps merits a little higher a score, given its geek-friendly status as a less common variety!)
(23/01/05 at Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton)

1997 Pesquera Tinto Crianza, Bodegas Alejandro Fernandez, Ribera del Duero, Spain, 13% (Chateauonline)
A rather murky maturing garnet in appearance.  The nose is deeply uninspiring: very light cherry notes with lots of greenness.  Very lean on the palate with no development in the mouth.  Very even, soft tannins with some freshness on the finish.  Fair.

1997 Gran Reserva, Viña Albali, DO Valdepeñas, Spain (Sainsbury)
100% tempranillo, aged for 24 months in American oak.
An attractive, bright, clear ruby colour.  The nose is round and integrated, lightly oaky and plummy.  Light and fruity on the attack.  Very clean and rounded.  Soft and gentle sweet fruit on the palate, with very very gentle tannins on the finish.  Fresh, clean flavours throughout.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.  But it hardly seems a gran reserva.

NV Crémant d'Alsace Cuvée Julien, Dopff au Moulin, Alsace, 12% (The Wine Society)
Pale straw colour.  Good mousse.  Quite a gentle, fine bubble stream.  Rather herbaceous on the nose, with some white bread doughiness.  Good mousse feeling in the mouth.  Crisp and remarkably fresh (this bottle was purchased in December 2000), very clean, with an almost green apple freshness.  Quite deep, with decent complexity.  An unfortunately green, raw note on the finish.  Last of my bottles of this, and it wouldn't have done to hold onto it any longer.  Very Good.

1998 Dow Late Bottle Vintage Port, L4345, Bottled 2004, 20% (Sainsbury)
Very very dark plumskins colour, almost black, but also very young looking.  Very viscous and glass coating.  The nose is quite gorgeous - with chocolate, black cherries, plums and new leather, but also a rather charming fresh note too.  Immediately attractive on the palate: medium to light on the attack, with lots of fruit and a nice freshness.  Deepens hugely in the mouth.  Really deep and full, with velvety treacle-textured bitter chocolate flavours and plummy fruit.  An amazing wine for the discounted £4.99 price at Sainsbury's.  Very Good Indeed+

1994 Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Spätlese Trocken, Karthäuserhof 10.5% abv AP 3 561 303-8-95. Magnum. (French & Logan)
Pale straw colour.  Very minerally on the nose, with crab apples, petrol and gas.  Wow!  This is so much better than the first magnum of this I opened on Boxing Day.  Light and crisp on the attack; then it fills nicely with a very interesting soft structure on the palate.  Crisp and remarkably fresh, with a lovely balance.  Nice weight of fruit in the mouth, followed by wet slate flavours on the finish.  Very Good Indeed.


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Last updated: 29 May 2011