An Offline meeting at the Ubiquitous Chip, Glasgow

9th October 2003

These are my notes from the off-line at the Ubiquitous Chip on Friday night, before the SuperBOWL 2003.

We had a large table in the Chip's verdant conservatory, the tinkling water of the fish pond ensuring regular trips to the loo ...

It's worth saying that the Chip was excellent in all respects. Service was brilliant, there was a seemingly limitless supply of fresh glasses, food was very very good indeed, although the amount of drinking tasting and talking that was going on meant we probably didn't do the greatest justice to it! Many, many thanks to Stephen for organising this, Ali for the afters and everyone for the great selection of wines that had the Chip staff drooling!

It's a while since I've had so many wines that I've rated excellent in such a short space of time!

There was a very capable, if a touch under-seasoned cullen skink appetiser in a demi-tasse. I followed that with Lythe and Scotch Salmon Brandade in Caledonian 80/- batter with cauliflower cream. Well I couldn't come to Glasgie and not have something deep fried could I? Very good it was too. Very light and fluffy brandade, nice crisp batter and an ungrainy cauli sauce. A trilogy of Perthshire pig with madeira sauce turned out to be more of a quadrumporcinate: there was a slab of tongue (yum!), belly pork on black pudding (yum yum!) and what seemed to be a confit of cheek, but could have been knuckle (yum!). Grape and blue cheese brioche with grape syrup washed down the dessert wines.

Oh, yeah, wines ...

(these are only roughly in the order tasted/drunk)

Cristal 1996
Medium straw colour. Clear and bright appearance. Very lively with lots of very fine bubbles. An attractive nose with plenty of fruit. Very attractive, quite acid attack. Sour cherries on the palate. Rich, a little creamy but cut by the acid. Elegant and light. I rather like this - it's impressive if a bit lively and over exuberant in its youth.

Pol Roger 1990
Quite a deep colour - medium gold. Slow bubbles. Rather reticent nose. Excellent flavours. Soft, rich, full. Complex with lots of layers. Very interesting indeed on the finish. Completely blind, I don't think I'd have guessed from the nose alone that this was champagne, and even on the palate it is a little atypical. Not exactly thrilled to bits by this, and I seem to remember thoroughly enjoying Pol Roger 1990 at last year's SuperBOWL. I even wondered at one point whether there might have been some very slight corkiness to this bottle. At best, it seems to me to have aged a little too quickly.

Louis Sipp Kirchberg Riesling 1990
Palish gold. Smoky, minerally nose with plenty of beeswax and honey. Full and round. Very good. Easily the best Louis Sipp wine I've had.

1966 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Spätlese, Anheuser & Fehres
Pale gold. Minerally dusty smoke nose. Light. Still remarkably appley and creamy on the palate. A bit thin, but amazingly fresh: quite remarkable. Clearly a minor producer, but a remarkable wine - thanks Steve!

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 1994
Good medium colour. Very strong asparagus nose, with some garden peas mixed in. Unusual. Vegetal, green on palate - with beans and that asparagus still coming through in the mouth. Fascinating. Good.

1994 Meursault-Genevrières. Meursault 1er cru. Bouchard Père et Fils
Deep coppery gold. Oxidised toffee nose. Full on, oxidised. Not wholly unpleasant, but certainly not entirely pleasant. Poor.

1999 Macon Villages "Quintaine" Domaine Emilian Gillet, Jean Thevenet 13.5% abv. c.£8 ex cave
Medium straw. Really superb, intense nose - a really very impressive nose. Superb on the palate. Rich, creamy and full. Concentrated ripe fruit. Slight touch of acid on finish really helps it. Excellent length. Excellent.

Columella 2000
This is the first vintage of this wine named after the Roman agricultural writer Columella: the label is entirely in Latin and I should have paid a bit more attention to what it said. Looking on the web, it seems the wine is predominantly Shiraz (10% Mourvedre), made (in South Africa) by Eben Sadie, and just 5000 bottles were made in 2000, the inaugural vintage.
It's young looking - very young looking. A soft, fruity nose. Young, rather green attack, gives the impression that we're committing infanticide. After quite a while (probably 30 mins +) in the glass and much swirling, it is much improved. Good, but not really thrilling me.

Ch. Musar 1993
This was served blind by Jim Hosie, and the note is as taken.
It's red. Some age - a very even colour. Hey! Musar on the nose - PN with some nail varnish. Soft easy drinking. Bags of character. Very clearly archetypal Musar. Guess mid/early 1980s Musar.

Ch. La Lagune 1986
Lovely colour: neither young nor old. Very good, soft leathery nose. A light attack develops well on the palate. Still good fruit, but clearly maturing. Good length. Very impressive. Excellent.

1986 Estate bottled Carmenet Sonoma Valley 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc. 13% abv
Slightly mature burgundy colour. Very elegant nose. Soft, elegant. Lots of character and depth. Excellent.

Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Rioja Gran Reserva Especial 1989
Medium garnet. Cherry-ish nose with some vanilla. Good clean attack. Decent fruit. Touch spirity. Big tannins on finish. Very unimpressive. Ok to good.

1996 Mormoreto Cabernet Sauvignon, Frescobaldi. IGT Toscana 12.5% abv
Quite a deep colour. Very tough nose - unapproachable and raw cab sauv and wood. Meaty and gamey on the palate. Very much dominated by tannins. At the moment still very unapproachable.

Le Haut Lieu 1989 Moëlleux 1er trie. Huet 12% abv
Deepish gold. Elegant honeyed nose with hint of lemon. Very fresh - honeyed and intense. Very concentrated flavours. Very clean. Extremely well balanced. Excellent.

Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos 1990 Tokaj Kereskedohaz 12%abv
Deepish coppery gold. Very straightforward Tokaj nose with orange and barley sugar. Straightforward good Tokaji. Good.

The following wines were opened after the meal chez Downes. Nice cornice and nice, very welcome espresso - thanks Ali!

Ch. Coufran 1970 IECWS bottling. Bought recently at auction, as part of a mixed lot for the average per bottle princely sum of £3.00.
Sweet, warm christmassy nose with cloves and a slightly medicinal note, with iodine, plastic eraser and plasticine. After all that claptrap, there is still some fruit there, and it's clearly merlot or merlot dominated.
Very light on the palate. Not at all dead, but mainly secondary flavours. Very interesting, and I have to say very good.

Marques de Murrieta, Castillo Ygay Rioja Gran Reserva Especial 1970 c. £90 from the treasure trove of Raeburn.
Oaky, slightly oxidised nose. Quite musarish with some VA. Strong vanilla. Lots of fruit still. Spirity finish with lots of tannin. Improves with time, and I get the impression the more time the better. Very good. Much, much better than its baby cousin, the 1989, tasted & drunk over dinner (see above).

1965 Setubal Superior Moscatel. José Mara da Fonseca 18% abv
Pale tan leather. Rather madeirised, with a touch of muscat fruit on the nose. Soft, lusicous. Dried raisins soaked in armagnac. Amazingly fresh and clean. Remarkable for its age. But, on reflection, actually a touch ordinary if one didn't know its age.

Quinta do Noval 1985
Very bright, light red. Chocolate, dried figs and some spirit on the nose. Quite intense fruit, but still lots of spirit which becomes dominant on the middle, fading towards the finish when fruit reappears, finishing with soft tannins. The last tablespoon's worth in the decanter was much more open and rounded, showing that with time this is very good indeed.

A very nice warm up for the next day's onslaught.


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