Liverpool Off Line Tastings 

"Off-Line?"  I hear you ask.

Normally the participants meet only on-line, largely the wine lovers, readers of and contributors to the forum, on Tom Cannavan's  These by contrast are real meetings, off-line, not on-line

12th August 2003 Our inaugural meeting, at the bistro under the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool.

3rd September 2003 At the Everyman bistro again, this time with a Bordeaux theme

13th February 2004 A Rhone theme.

22nd August 2004 Blind tasting, with a theme of "what will match Simon's Cape Malay lamb bredie?"

12th August 2003

The wines, brought by the participants (about two bottles each!) were as follows, in the order of tasting (I think).  There was no plan or prior coordination of the wines that the participants provided, and curiously we ended up with something of a Gewurtraminer fest.

1989 Domaine Remizieres, Crozes Hermitage [Blanc] Cuvée Particulière, Desmeure Père et Fils
£8.13 in Bibendum Sale Summer 2003

Smokiness (rather than bottle stink) on nose blows off fairly quickly.  Round, slightly confected nose with marzipan and butteriness.  Good attack, smooth and quite luscious.  Rich mouthfeel with a certain oiliness.  Some of that confectionery feel on the palate too.  Really quite interesting with depth and no little character.  Excellent length too.  Very good indeed.

Went remarkably well with a lamb kofta, probably down to its (the wine's) very low acidity.

Grosset Polish Hill 1998 Clare Valley Riesling
Remarkably deepish gold.  Lovely limey new world Riesling nose.  Excellent attack.  Very full, complex and (to me) remarkably elegant for an Oz riesling.  Lots of nice ripe fruit on middle.  Big, minerally and really quite Alsatian in the mouth.  Excellent.
Tasted Blind.

Trimbach Gewurztraminer 2000

Very light, fragrant gewurztraminer rose petal nose, but actually a bit muscatty.  I can't detect any Riesling there, so it's probably not an Edelzwicker, though it has me wondering.  Very attractive, light flavours and textures, not overly spicy.  Very, very fresh ripe tropical fruit on palate, but tending towards flabbiness.  Touch of pepper on finish.  Reasonable character, just a bit unsatisfying.  Good.  Turns out to be Trimbach's basic gewurz 2000.
Zind Humbrecht Grand Cru Hengst Gewurztraminer 1998

Flippin 'eck.  16%.  Legally that level of alcohol takes it out of the table wine category, I believe.

At first this has a very dull nose, rather restrained.  With a bit of time, it develops quite an elegant though oddly melony gewurztraminer nose.  Incredibly rich attack.  Mmmm feel that alcohol: very full, very round, and just a bit fat.  This could easily pass for a Vendanges Tardives wine.  Notably spicy on finish.  Somehow the ripeness of the fruit and the sheer power of gewurztraminer manages to keep the alcohol in check and it's not too hot or spirity.  Somewhere between good and very good?  Not entirely sure what to make of this.  We might have been better leaving this to have with some cheese alongside the sweeties.

Tasted Blind

Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Hunter Valley Semillon 1995

Odd nose:  dry, dusty, smoky, earthy, mushroomy.  Acidic, oldish attack.  Quite a lot of acidity on the palate.  Fades quickly.  Could be an oldish (10-15 years old) Chablis maybe?  Unusual.  Not entirely sure I like it.  Iffy to OK.

Turns out to be a Hunter Valley Semillon.  Yes, it could be, I suppose.  Wouldn't say it was a classic example though.  After a while being open I wonder if there's not a bit of corkiness, though it's more dry crumbling cardboard than the wet cardboard I'd normally associate with corkiness.

Tasted Blind

Isabel Marlborough Pinot Noir 2000

Touch young on the colour.  Earthy, mushroomy.  Pinot Noir.  Light, pleasant, clean attack.  Soft fruit on middle.  Tiny bit of tannin.  Reductive.  Very good length with soft tannins and slightly sour fruit finish.  Very good, though needs food.  
Turns out to be Marlborough PN from Isabel.
Tasted Blind

Dalton 1999 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Upper Galilee.  Dalton Winery, Merom Hagalil Israel.  "Kosher for passover"
£8.99 from Costco.

Warm spicy nose with fair bit of vanilla oak.  Merlot and/or Sangiovese?  Very big attack.  Huge flavours.  Big ripe fruit with buckets of spice on finish.  Quite soft.  Warm.  Almost overpowering spice on finish.  Can't place this at all.  But going with the Merlot/Sangiovese hunch, it might be an Italian IGT?  Excellent.
Turns out to be an Israeli Cabernet Sauvignon, and Kosher with it.  Well, knock me down with an Ugni Blanc!  Remarkable.  Extremely good value.
Barbaresco Valeirano 1995.  Ada P. Nada
Quite pale, brickish on rim.  V. v. light nose with a touch of cherries.  Light attack.  Clean.  Remarkably fresh, but lacking fruit.  Lots of tannin on middle going onto finish and ending really rather spicy.  It's good, but I'm afraid I still just don't "get" Barbaresco.
Hidden Valley 1998 Pinotage.  Stellenbosch.  Jeremy Walker and Guy Webber
Very herbal nose and slightly weedy.  Rich attack.  Nice fruit, but then I suddenly get that vicious astringent bitterness I usually get from the Pinotage grape.  Maybe I need to taste Pinotages blind, in case I'm looking for the bitterness.  Sorry Simon, not for me at all.  Barbaresco I don't think I understand; Pinotage I really just do not seem to like.
Domus Aurea 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon.  Maipo Valley, Chile
Very very dark.  Massive cabernet sauvignon nose with a touch of herbaceousness and a streak of astrigency.  Lovely attack.  Lots of soft sweet fruit.  Intense, very pure Chilean cabernet sauvignon.  Some nice acidity and confident tannins.  But really just a bit too simple.  The top end of Good, but too simple to make Very Good.
Alain Brumont Pacherenc du Vic Bilh Doux Octobre 1996
£3 at auction!
Very closed on the nose: reticent, with a minor touch of honey.  Light fresh attack with nice honeyedness.  Citrussy orange peel on palate.  Actually really rather nice.  Very fresh, clean and neat.  Elegant and light footed on the tongue.  Excellent length.  Very good indeed.
Domaine Bott-Geyl Gewurztraminer Furstentum 1997 Vendanges Tardives 
Light and elegant gewurztraminer nose - very light extraction, with very little rose.  Excellent attack.  Fills well.  Rich and spicy.  Actually a bit oversweet.  Inelegant.  OK.
1989 Rolly Gassmann Gewurztraminer Selection de Grains Nobles
FF225 ex cave in 1997.
Very nice nose.  Not overly gewurzy, but rich and lush with a lot of botrytis on the nose.  Light attack. Extraordinarily clean and fresh. Very well balanced indeed. Ethereal finish lasting for ages.  Excellent.

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3rd September 2003

The theme this month was Bordeaux.  All wines were tasted blind (though obviously we all knew what we had brought)

Ch. Verbois Bordeaux Rosé 2002
Quite a bright raspberry/strawberry juice colour.  Fairly full nose.  Soft restrained fruit, not giving much away.  Fairly light, quite refreshing.  Clean with a good flavour.  Perhaps a bit innocuous, but very acceptable.
Pauillac 1995 NM Rothschild & Sons Reserve Special 
According to the label "A wine specially blended by Lafite in celebration of the bicentenary of NM Rothschild & Sons".

Unfortunately, totally corked.

Ch. Lynch Moussas 1997
Fairly even deep colour, not especially old.  Late '90s?  Powerful nose - very farmyardy and not a lot of fruit.  Quite light on the attack.  Soft and integrated.  Full flavoured.  Slight touch dried out, maybe.  A bit uni-dimensional.  Softish tannins on finish.  Good length.  Almost seems a bit cabernet franc-y to me.  Lacks fruit.
Ch. Fourcas Hosten 1996
Rather bizarre nose.  Initially a hint of banana and polish.  Bit mushroomy and farmyardy.  Very concentrated plummy fruit, and also rather minerally.  Fair attack.  Lots of tannin.  Decent fruit which grows on me.  Finish dominated by tannins.  OK.  Better after being open a while, but still rather rustic.
Laborie Cabernet Sauvignon 1996
Much more mature appearance, though very dark.  Very attractive nose in a popular style - ripe rich fruit with lots of oakiness.  Big fruit attack.  This is never claret.  I'd say it was a full, ripe, easy drinking Bordeaux blend from the new world - probably not South Africa, but probably South America.  (Well, I was right that it wasn't claret ...)
Ch. Beau-Site, St Estèphe 1996
Cru Bourgeois
Very delicate, elegant nose.  Blackcurrant/raspberry leaf with blackcurrant fruit.  Lovely attack.  Fills well, but rather hard and almost slatey on middle.  Quite light on finish.  A touch short.  Good.
Ch. La Tour de By 1990
Cru Bourgeois
Even colour, starting to mature.  An oddly bitter, slightly malic nose, with some mint too.  Very light, slightly acid fresh attack.  Remarkably bitter on the palate.  Light, quite fruity with a bit of youth.  Lots of soft tannins on the finish.  Medium length.  I don't like it, but I can't quite work out why I don't like it.  I had a bit of a problem with this wine, not shared by others present.  I didn't like it one bit (my written TN actually starts off "really quite nasty"), and despite going back to it a few times, I could not work out why.
Carruades de Lafite Rotschild 2000
Very dark with youth on appearance.  The nose has mint leaf and is immediately attractive in an in-yer-face sort of way.  Soft, lots of fruit on the attack.  Quite rich and rounded.  Light tannins.  Guess at 2000.  Guess at Pauillac, purely on the basis that I can imagine drinking this with a roast leg of lamb.  Very young.  Very smooth.  Good tannins, which seem to me to be just starting to soften.  Guess at 2000 Forts de Latour.
Ch. La Barde 1973
Cru Bourgeois
Alcohol content not shown
Looks a bit like madeira.  Very old nose, but far from dead.  Sweet nose, but sweet doesn't quite describe it.  More than a touch of cigar box to it too, with a slight hint of sour cherries.  Good attack.  Sweetish again, slight baked flavours.  Very mature.  Very acceptable.  Still some fruit.  Very much still alive and really impressive.  Curiously for a wine of this age, when tried again at 1 a.m., it hadn't faded, but in contrast had really opened up and improved still more.
Jurançon Clos Guirouilh Moelleux 1989
Medium gold.  Rather cheesy on the nose in a sweaty socks way.  Not corked.  Not oxidised.  But there's something wrong.  Very dried out and past it.  A touch grapey.  Very odd and not entirely pleasant.
Ch. Caronne Ste Gemme 1985
Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel
£20 at Booths!
Smoky nose - gamey and jammy.  Very attractive.  Very pleasant attack with plenty of fruit.  Excellent and all in perfect harmony.  My wine of the night.


13th February 2004

An off-line with a Rhone theme, kindly hosted by Simon Goldberg, who also fed us admirably (with some slight assistance with cheese and pud). Interestingly (because it's unusual) there were equal numbers of men and women. 

Because it was Friday 13th I came off the wrong motorway junction, got horribly lost on the Wirral and equally so in Birkenhead. So when I arrived, those present had made progress with the first wine, though it was still some time before Graham turned up, having been let out of Oddbins. 

Segura Viudas Brut Riserva Cava NV   A good fresh, fruity cava. 
1999 Chevalier de Sterimberg, Hermitage Blanc, Jaboulet   Mid gold. Marzipan and caramel nose. Very full flavoured, rich and even with a touch of sweetness. Interesting spic on finish. The weight and sweetness helped it stand up to the Gateau au vin blanc and Gugelhupf. 
2002 Chateau Guiot, Costières de Nîmes 13.5%, served blind.  Glorious strawberry pink (oh yes, it's a rosé). Fruity, rich nose that's a bit reticent at first. Good fruity attack. Quite full bodied. Nice fruit. Falls away a tad on the finish, but a pretty impressive rosé. 
1999 Rasteau, AC CdR Villages, Chapoutier   13.5%, served blind. Slightly murky appearance and with a definite bit of age. Soft, fruity nose with a blast of bretty farmyard and a bit of vanillin. Quite thin and weedy texture, but powerful flavour. Almost has a hint of pinot about it. 
1997 Rasteau, AC CdR Villages, Domaine la Soumade, served blind  Fairly mature colour. Reticent nose with cheesy, sweaty brett and concentrated dried fruit. Quite light on attack. Notably mature and balanced. Fading and very dried out on finish. Guess a late 80s Chateauneuf from a minor producer. 
2001 Crozes Hermitages Les Meysonniers, Chapoutier 12%, served blind I think  Thin, fairly youthful but not young dull mauve colour. Very nice nose - very attractive. Soft red fruit. Light, soft fruit attack. Light bodied initially, but fills on the finish with good tannins and lots of spice. More Syrah than Grenache I feel. Very attractive indeed. Very drinkable. 
2000 Hermitage Bernard Faurie 13% served blind  Very young inky black. Gorgeous nose. Deep plummy fruit, chocolatey tobacco. Something says Vacqueyras to me. Lovely attack. Full and rich and fruity. Incredible depth and concentration. Excellent and Wine of the Night. 
1998 Côteaux de Tricastin, Domaine du Vieux Micocoulier, Cave Vergobbi 14%  Initially farmyardy. Sweet plumminess. Very spicy. Quite light. Not overly impressed. 
1996 Crozes Hermitage Domaine Raymond Roure, Jaboulet 13%  Maturing but still very deep colour. Deep black fruit, but really rather reticent, with just a hint of chocolate. Complex attack. Full, complex and very satisfying indeed. I believe 1996 was the first year of Jaboulet's ownership of the Roure estate. But I prefer the Faurie Hermitage. 
2000 Castelnau de Suduiraut AC Sauternes 13%.  The second wine of Suduiraut. Mid gold. Not an especially Sauternes-y nose: more Tokay like. Not overly botrytised. Attractive citrussy nose. Lovely attack. Very attractive, very well balanced. Very concentrated finish. 
1999 Balm of the Night, Krone, Twee Jonge Gezellen, Tulbagh, South Africa 15.5%  [A fortified muscat de frontignan] Orange creme brulée nose. Rich and sweet. Huge depth of flavour, especially on the finish. Fascinating. Excellent balance. Quite light for a fortified muscat. 
De Krans Cape Ruby Port 15%.  Screwcap third bottle. Dull porty nose. Decent up front fruit. Solid, decent unexceptional ruby port.

22nd August 2004

An off-line, kindly hosted by Simon Goldberg, who also fed us admirably with Cape Malay dishes: pickled fish, lamb bredie and malva pudding.  I contributed the cheese from the excellent Churchmouse Cheeses in Kirkby Lonsdale: Crofton, Snowdonia Cheddar, Curthwaite with herbs, Single Gloucester, Blue Wensleydale and Garcia de Paredes (unfortunately, the ewes' milk Lancashire got left in the shop ...)

With the exception of the Ratafia, all wines were served blind.

Nicolas Feuillatte, Ratafia NV 18%   (Not served blind.)  The champagne region's equivalent of Floc de Gascogne or Pineau des Charentes: a sweetish aperitif-cum-liqueur made from grape must blended with alcohol.  A slightly grapey rich nose with a touch of caramelised apple.  Very smooth and not at all cloying.  Curiously orangey and above all apple-y on the palate as well, with flavours going from sweet apple to crab apple.  Good.
2002 Muga White Rioja Interesting nose - a fresh greenness, but also some buttery, smoky toastiness.  Light, citrussy and fresh, but also a good full structure.  Very Good.
Guess it's something like a sauvignon/semillon/chardonnay blend.  Wrong! 

90% Viura, 10% Malvasia, barrel fermented; bottled February 2003.

1990 Riesling Silberberg, Rolly Gassmann Quite an old riesling nose. At first it seemed a little tired, but with a bit of time, it started to open up, and I thought it actually went rather well with the lamb bredie.  Absolutely bone dry and very intense.  Very Good.

(I'd brought this, so knew what it was)

2000 'The Butcher' Zweigelt Rosé, Schwarz, 16%, 37.5 cl bottle A very unusual nose - a touch steely, quite intense - warm cherries and stewed strawberry.  Big round and full in the mouth.  A bit hot, maybe, and very alcoholic.  Big fruit.  Very complex and really quite a bruiser.  If drunk blindfolded, you would assume this was a red wine.  Very Good Indeed.

(I'd brought this, so knew what it was)

1998 Crozes Hermitage Thalabert, Jaboulet A very nice nose - delicate and quite reticent fruit, sweaty leather and a touch of brett.   Soft, lovely spice; elegant, long and a lovely softness. Pretty sure this is syrah from the North Rhone, but not full-blown Hermitage.  Something's telling me St Joseph, though it might be Crozes, with 4 or 5 years age.  Haunting length.  Very Good Indeed.
1997 Gen Carlou Grand Classique, Paarl, 13.5% Leather on the nose and a touch farmyardy - then a deep hit of blackcurrants.  Spicy.  Big tannins.  A big wine.  Lots of fruit, but in a subdued way.  Hint of transient bitterness on the finish.  It's a big wine, but also quite light, soft and elegant.  Very Good Indeed.  It's Simon's so I'll guess it's South African; probably a Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon blend.

In fact it's a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend, 2 years in oak.

1997 Kanonkop Estate Wine, Paul Sauer, Simonsberg Stellenbosch 14% A closed, dark mulberry nose: very rich, dark and smooth.  Also very rich and smooth on the palate.  Quite big tannins appear on the finish providing a soft chewiness.  Very deep and quite concentrated.  Possibly Shiraz/Cabernet?  Some Cabernet Franc in it?  Very Good Indeed.

Actually 80% Cab Sauvignon; 10% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Franc.  Though the back label, despite its quite ludicrous detail manages to omit the grape varieties.

1999 Domaine des Bosquets Préférence, Gigondas, 14% Elegant, rather floral nose with a touch of alcohol.  A lightish attack, which isn't really followed up by much: little fruit and rather acidic.  Quite a lot of tannin.  In all, a bit unsatisfying.  OK.  I'd given up guessing by this point.
Dellrust Jerepigo, NV(?),16%, 50 cl bottle A really lovely colour.  A botrytised nose, with lots of orangey marmeladey notes.  Rich and sweet, but with really good fruit and it's very very clean.  Really lovely stuff.  Excellent.
Apparently it is a botrytised Chenin Blanc, fortified with neutral grape spirit.
1996 Elk Cove Vineyards Ultima Riesling, Willamette Valley (Oregon Ice Wine; 14% residual sugar; 10.8% abv) Deepish orange.  Orangey botrytis nose.  Hints of petrol and creamy apples.  Very light and very fresh with citrus and honey on the palate.  A nice concentration of flavour.  I'd brought this, so knew what it was, but was surprised by just how classy it was, being more than a little reminiscent of a similar wine from the Mosel.


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Last updated: 15 December 2005 13:47