Wines for a barbecue party
5th June 2009

The visit of Australian wine-auctioneer Mark Wickman to the UK was as good an excuse as any for a get together near Birmingham to share wine and food.  When the evening was organised, we were in a mini heatwave, so a barbecue sounded a good idea, but come the day, the heavens had opened and the venue was pelted with rain ... until we were ready to fire up the grill, when there was a Pythonesque parting of the clouds and a ray of sun shone down into the garden.  We enjoyed some grilled halloumi, home-made beefburgers from Derby, some excellent rib eye steaks from butcher Roy Porter's shop in Chatburn, Lancashire and some pavlova and cheesecake for afters.

While waiting for the last of the participants, including the one with the Vilmart(!), to arrive, we opened an aperitif:

2001 Nyetimber Classic Cuvée, West Sussex, England
A yeasty, cheesy nose. Quiet grapey on the palate - there's lots of fresh fruit in here. Good acidity, without being in your face. It has a home-spun, refreshing drinkable character, which probably isn't the most ringing of endorsements. 87/100

Then, while still waiting for the Vilmart to arrive, a pair of distinctly curved balls, not as far as I know available in the UK: the white (the pošip) certainly seemed to win some attention, particularly among those who weren't died in the wool red wine drinkers.  The red was a good wine, but a little outshone by the company.  Apart from a couple who had holidayed in Croatia, these were the first Croatian wines most had tasted.

2006 Pošip Vrhunsko Vino S Polozaja Cara , Korta Katarina, Croatia
A mid golden colour. There's quite fresh, green fruit on the nose, with a bit of mirabelle plum. On the palate, it's rich and fairly creamy, yet also citrussy, and with a real bite of fruit. There's a slight hint of caramel sweetness. Very different. But it's well made and very enjoyable. 89/100

2006 Plavac Mali Vrhunsko Vino S Polozaja Dingac I Postup, Korta Katarina, Croatia, 14.2%
This has smoky, tarry black fruit on the nose with stale tobacco overtones. Initially tannins were pretty dominant, but after some considerable time, the tannins softened well, revealing a firm, sweet fruit character with hints of blackberry and cherry, turning to sour cherry on the finish, when the very firm, grippy structure still reveals itself to be there. It has some interesting lfavours and character, and manages to balance a certain rusticity with decent elegance of fruit. 89/100

2002 Grand Cellier Rubis, Vilmart
There's very precise black and raspberry fruit on the really rather gorgeous nose. Lovely palate. Very precise and focussed, but also very smooth, apparently with fairly low acidity. Very seductive. Lovely. 92/100

2001 Nuits St Georges Les Roncières 1er Cru, Domaine Robert Chevillon
With aeration, there's some red fruit on the nose, but predominantly it's giving off earthy, mushroomy notes. On the palate, it's got some quite forward red fruit and lots of acidity. Really very deep flavours. 88/100

1997 Côte Rôtie, Cuvée Terroirs, R. Rostaing
A lovely meaty, sweaty nose. Very attractive, enticing, fresh palate. There's very precise black fruit with good acidity, and gently firm tannins. 91/100

1993 Mount Edelstone, Henschke
The nose is full-on Ribena, with hints of eucalyptus. There's sweet black fruit on the palate. This seems to be a bit lacking in structure, though there's a firm acidic street on the finish. But my dominant impression is of the very sweet fruit, that actually feels just a bit too sweet and jammy to me. 86/100

1996 E&E Black Pepper Shiraz, Barossa Valley Estate, 14.5%
There's lots of peppery spice and black fruit on the nose, with a nice, almost musky, sweaty perfume. On the palate, there's immediately a good balance, followed up by lots of perfumed black fruit and a good structure. 89/100

1997 Grange, Penfolds
There's black fruit and menthol on the nose, which feels very refined. A lovely flavour. Nicely classy on the palate. But it doesn't blow me away. Try as I might, I can' find any of the crushed ants that Mark insists are in there. I obviously didn't mis-spend my childhood crushing enough ants and smelling them. 91/100

1990 Bin 707, Penfolds
Quite a murky, black fruits nose, feeling very gamey. But on the palate, it's very fine indeed. There's quite a meaty feel, alongside really nice fruit and very good structure. Yummy. 93/100

1997 Cabernet Sauvignon Hyde Vineyard, Carneros, Napa, Paul Hobbs
A fascinating nose with blackcurrant and a touch of rubber. Lovely, precise palate. Very open, with nice, fresh black fruits, but with huge balance. Very deep and very long, but keeping fresh throughout. 94/100

2003 Mendocino Ridge Zinfandel, Mariah
This has lovely, direct black fruit on the nose; fairly sweet, with a slight medicinal edge. On the palate, there's forward black fruit with a big structure. Really very nice after. 91/100

1995 Luce, Frescobaldi-Mondavi, IGT Toscana
This has simple black fruit on the nose with some oak. Nice palate. This is well made and very drinkable. Fairly hefty tannins round it off on the finish. But really, it doesn't stand out at all for me as something I'd want to rush back to. 87/100

1990 Clos Baudoin Moelleux, Prince Poniatowski
Quite a delicate honey, citrus and lanolin nose. Very soft and elegant on the palate. This feels more off-dry than moelleux. There's some lovely fruit here, and the overall impression is of a very elegant and restrained wine. 90/100


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Last updated: 27 April 2009