Seven decades of wine with lunch at Simpson's Restaurant, Birmingham
20 October 2007

 The menu at Simpsons was something (but not exactly?) like :

And now the wines:

1976 Diebolt Vallois Blanc de Blancs
Some passing mousse when poured, but in the glass there is a good firm bubble stream. Deepish gold. It has a rich, creamy nose. Lovely on the palate, with a sort of delicate richness. Nicely layered. There's an attractive nuttiness, plus some oxidation, but just the right amount. Not as good as it was two and a half years ago at the Champagne Offline, but still Very Good Indeed+.

1988 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese, J J Prüm
A very dark gold. Lightly petrolled nose with a hint of honey and a touch of wet slate. Glorious in the mouth and showing some age. Perfect balance. Stunning. Excellent.
No rush to drink up.

2002 Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, Louis Latour
A glorious golden colour. The nose is lovely and delicate with an attractive lemony minerality. There's nice refinement on the palate initially; then it feels rather full and forward, but it also has a leanness which turns into savouriness on the finish. Very restrained use of oak. Very Good.

1945 Mas Desirée, AC Rivesaltes, 500ml, 16%
A mid polished teak colour. Quite a restrained nose: nutty, raisiny and pleasingly oxidised. Very good palate. Superb balance. Gently caressing, with no spiritiness. Very Good Indeed+.

1967 Romanée St Vivant Les Quatres Journaux, Louis Latour
Remarkably (and a touch worryingly) close in colour to the Rivesaltes. But let's not worry about the appearance, just get the nose in and soak up that gorgeous old Burgundy nose: there's lots of sous bois with a very gentle VA lift, along with some curranty fruit. Very good on the palate. There's still enough life left, with some very nice fruit still in the middle. Very fine and delicate, with a lovely, lifted finish. Lasted reasonably well in the glass, though gone over after about an hour. Very Good Indeed.

1952 Château Margaux
High fill, well into the neck. In the glass it is an opaque, cloudy red-mahogany. The nose is very old claret with some stewed pruney fruit. On the palate, there's no doubt this has an old, somewhat tired feel, but it does has some good, sweet black fruit still. Drying and with a grainy feel (grainy tannins or is the graininess simply from sediment in suspension?). Faded a bit in the glass. Very Good/Very Good Indeed.

1997 Hermitage, Domaine Jean-Louis Chave
A youngish dark ruby appearance. Spicy, meaty nose, feeling quite young and brooding. Very attractive palate. There are big chewy tannins, but it's not too young to be drinkable (though would benefit from more time). It feels somewhat tighter on the finish. Super balance. Very Good Indeed.

1995 Oremus Essencia
A mere 3% alcohol. From a dinky little 25 cl bottle, this didn't so much pour as drop out of the bottle, revealing an amazing tan gold colour. There is honey and tea and lots of nice things on the nose. On the palate it's sweet, sweet, sweet, but then a very, very searing acidity comes along. This is so damn good that it's very difficult to write anything sensible about it. It's not in the slightest bit sticky or cloying, though there is a sort of rich gloopiness in the mouth. How do you score this? Outstanding.

1993 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Cras, Domaine Ghislaine Barthod
The nose has lifted strawberry and cherry fruit, with significant forest floor overtones. A vibrant, lovely palate with good, elegant, restrained fruit. There's noticeable acidity. Very fine finish with very good length. Very Good Indeed.

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Last updated: 11 January 2008