North Rhône Tasting
Rôtisserie Jules, South Kensington
7th January 2006

All wines were served blind.

2000 Chablis Premier Cru Montmains, Jean Marc Brocard, 13%
(This wasn't meant to be a Chablis: Rani got the wrong bottle out of his fridge! Very North Rhône ...)
Palish lemon gold. Rich, fresh fairly citrussy nose with butter and a bit of butterscotch. There's a slightly oxidised feel on the attack. Big and very open. Richly flavoured, but nicely crisp. Very clean finish. Great length. With more aeration it becomes fruitier on the palate with more marked lemon oil flavours. Interesting spicy finish. Very Good. 87/100

1944 Chante Alouette, Hermitage, Chapoutier
A deep tan, fading to a yellow-green rim. Dirtyish caramel nose with some fresh citrus notes and nuts. Very lively on attack. Good acidity with some quite concentrated dried fruit, which lends it some sweetness. This is rather good, despite the evident age. God knows how old it it. I assumed - wrongly - it was from Linden's stock of ancient wines, and so could be anything from the north Rhône before about 1950. Judged on its own, before the reveal, I thought it was Very Good Indeed. 92-93/100.
Coming back to this around 6 p.m. (i.e. some four hours or so later), there is sweet dried fruit on the nose together with some citrussy agrume-like notes. It has remarkable balance of some sweetness (not exactly sweet fruit flavours, just a sort of sweet richness hinting at residual sugar) and some quite lively acidity; especially remarkable (to me at least) considering its age. It's really remarkably lovely, and has undoubtedly improved with being open. Incredible stuff. 96+/100

2002 Chante Alouette, Hermitage, Chapoutier, 14%
A bright, open nose, though a touch stinky. Very concentrated palate with rich stone fruit and pear flavours. Very rich. I'd guess it was a relatively young white Hermitage. very Good Indeed. 91/100.

1991 Hermitage Blanc de l'Orée, Chapoutier
A lovely, deepish gold. A big nose; quite marzipanny. Very rich attack, feeling a touch oxidised. Rich and mature. Initially, it just appears very palatable indeed, with lots of interest, though not feeling particularly great. With time, however, it really grew on me. It's quite sumptuous and very deep, with excellent balance. Excellent. 95/100.
Coming back to this one, again around four hours later, it still has a sweet marzipanny nose. good attack. Very well balanced on the palate. Quite intense. Very dry, very concentrated fruit. Very Good Indeed +. 93/100

2003 Condrieu, Domaine Clusel-Roch, 13.5%
A hazy lemon yellow. Very fresh nose: with lots of citrus and perfumed talcum powder. Rich and full on the attack. Very full on the palate. Rich, clean, very intense, and very, very, very long. Quite exceptional length. But there's just something a bit odd and dried out about it, although not in an unpleasant way. Lacks the elegance of the previous four wines. Very Good. 88/100.

2001 Crozes-Hermitage Caprice de Valentin, Domaine du Murinais, 12.5%
An impenetrable, very dark mauve. A touch green on the nose, but also quite perfumed and a touch gamey - a bit reminiscent of grouse legs. Full and rich on the attack. Quite open. Quite attractive. Light and fresh and there are some almost minty notes towards the finish. Very good. 87/100

1997 Hermitage, Tardieu-Laurent
A very even garnet. Very interesting nose: sweet, very elegant berry fruit with talc and violets. Very lovely, pure attack. This is exceptionally pleasant stuff. Lovely balance with huge elegance and good structure. Excellent. 96/100

1997 Hermitage, Domaine du Colombier
A very even, maturing mauve: quite hazy. Delicately perfumed nose with plummy fruit and blackcurrants, together with a refreshing touch of brett. Very pure fruit on the attack: very direct and narrowly focussed. Really rather concentrated with a spicy, lightly tannic structure and some freshness/acidity on the finish. There's a slight syrupy muddiness on the palate, but then it resolves into a touch of oak on the finish. Very Good Indeed. 91+/100

1999 Côte-Rôtie, Jamet, 12.5%
A very deep, murky mauve. Very elegant, fragrant nose: sweet black fruit with some viognier apparently evident. Light and fragrant on the palate. Lots of tannic structure. Very even throughout. very Good Indeed. 89/100

1999 Côte-Rôtie La Sarrasine, Domaine de Bonserine

1998 Hermitage, Domaine du Colombier, 13%
This is an incredibly heavy bottle - full, it feels more like a magnum than a single bottle. A light-ish, clear-ish mauve. Light, elegant and nicely fragrant on the nose. There's really pure fruit on the palate. Very, very spicy on the finish. Remarkably low tannins, and actually, it lacks structure a bit. Very attractive. Very easy to drink. Though it's a bit unbalanced on the finish. Very Good(+). 86/100

1998 Hermitage Cuvée Emilie, Domaine des Remizières, 13%
A maturing garnet. Elegant, very perfumed nose. Sweet, concentrated fruit on the attack, but it doesn't really go anywhere. Just a bit too primary and a bit overdone. Good/Very Good. 84

2001 Saint Joseph Offerus, J-L Chave
A very hazy, curiously mature purple. Stinky, dirty and bretty on the nose, though the stink quickly blows off, but that just leaves it feeling really quite high-toned. There's a lot of acidity in this on the palate: it's very acidic and over-fresh. There's something very weird about. Must be spoiled.

1985 Hermitage, J-L Chave
Disguised in a 2002 Deakin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon bottle ... Mature appearance; starting to brick. Very delicate, lightly perfumed nose: quite high-toned, but not in an unpleasant way. With aeration, some mushroomy notes appear on the nose. Very bright and light on the attack. Lovely balance. This has a totally mature feel. I'd guess it was a late '70s Hermitage. Very Good Indeed/Excellent. 93/100

1991 Hermitage, J-L Chave, 13%
A mature light garnet. A bretty, animalistic nose: really quite charming and almost a pinot noir Burgundyness. Very interesting on the palate: light and very fragrant. While there were some slight high-tones on the nose, there are none on the palate. Light and very mature and utterly charming, with some soft-grained tannins on the finish. 91/100

1994 Crozes-Hermitage Les Varonniers, Chapoutier, 12.5%
Another heavy bottle. An even, murky garnet. Attractive, floral, violetty nose with sweet herby notes. I can hear Linden opining curry spices, but I don't find them, though there is a light brettiness. Very meaty on the palate, but also very tight with lots of tannins which explode on the finish. Very claret-like. Very Good+. 86/100

1996 Crozes-Hermitage La Guiraude, Alain Graillot, 12.5%
Very ripe pig manure on the nose, and it's quite difficult to get past the pong to the fruit, but there is a little strawberry and cherry fruit hidden in there.
Sweet, intense black fruit on the palate: very deep, concentrated, pure fruit. Light-grained tannins on the finish. Some around the table think this is corked. I'm not sure: there's no trace of corkiness on the nose, though there is a certain musty cardboardiness at the edge of the palate. I'd be inclined to think that it's just dirty winemaking though. 81/100

1996 Crozes-Hermitage Vieilles Vignes, Paul Jaboulet Ainé
A very dark, even garnet. Initially a bit stinky, but then there's sweet, leathery chocolate. Good palate. Decent balance. Nothing over-special. Nice fruit and decent tannic structure. Rather good, though a bit dwarfed by some of its company here. 89/100

1999 Crozes-Hermitage Domaine Raymond Roure, Paul Jaboulet Ainé, 13%
Smoky, cedary, black fruit on the nose. Intense and very direct on the palate. Lovely balance. Nice character with lots of lovely flavours. Very Good Indeed+. 93/100

1994 Cornas Chaillot, Thierry Allemand
A dark maturing garnet, suggesting mid 1990s to me. Very closed nose, with just a bit of black fruit behind. Very young on the palate. Buckets of tannins overpower everything in the mouth. Good. 82/100

2000 Côte Rôtie Sélection Vieilles Vignes, Bernard Guy
A very dark purple, fading to an almost clear rim. Quite impressive on the nose, with sweet black fruit. Very sweet on the attack. Very lush. Huge oaky flavours, though it's not overly tannic. A very modern, Rolland-style wine. Attractive, unchallenging, lacking typicity. Very Good/Very Good Indeed. 88/100

1994 Côte Rôtie La Mordorée, Chapoutier, 12.8%
An even, semi-mature garnet. Sweet black fruits on the nose, together with some cigar smoke and currants. Lightish attack. Rather simple on the palate, though also fairly elegant. I'm not entirely sure what to make of this one. Whatever it is, it seems a bit prematurely aged to me. Very Good+. 87

2001 Hermitage Vin de Paille, Chapoutier, 15%
Deepish gold. Very reticent on the nose, though it eventually reveals some garriquey, herbaceous, honey notes. Light, fragrant and delicious on the attack. Very concentrated, sweet fruit flavours, together with a touch of savouriness. Not a hint of cloying. There's a touch of spicy wood on the finish. Almost immortal length. Stunning. 98/100

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Last updated: 10 January 2006