Miscellaneous Tasting Notes 2001 - 2004

(most recently tasted at the top)

Last updated: 11 Jan 2008



1972 Henschke Mount Edelstone, Premier Quality 740ml, alcohol not shown. Henschke 1994 Quality Assurance back label: recorked and recapsuled 1994. (Lay & Wheeler)
On pulling the cork (which curiously sparkles with tartaric crystals) a perfumed blackberry scent was released into the room. Promising.
A fully mature light ruby. Minty, perfumed crème de mure nose, with some secondary notes and a light dusting of sweet VA. Light on the attack. Very integrated and closely knitted. Very evolved flavours with fruit that's a touch dried out. Good balance. Completely mature. But doesn't really have too much to recommend it beyond the curiosity value. Would appear to be on its way down from its plateau.
Update: well it didn't fall apart (finished it early on 31st December), but it didn't get any better. Light, characterless and I think I've found my dud of the year ...

1995 Rheinriesling Spätlese Trocken, Willi Opitz, (T&W Wines)
A hand-written very heavy magnum without any proper label and no further information other than what's in bold. Noticed it leaking slightly, though it had been ok before Christmas.
Oddly the cork was not really very loose at all, and in very good condition (and huge).
Deepish gold, that had me a little worried. Raisiny petrol on the nose. Enormous weight in the attack. Ripe, riesling fruit with honeyed late harvest flavours. Bone dry - especially noticeable on the finish. Very, very long with lots of minerally petrolly riesling flavours long after. As with many of Willi Opitz's wines, this is a bit odd, but Very Good Indeed.
I don't think it's suffering from any premature oxidation.  It didn't deteriorate over the next few days it was open, but neither did it improve.

Lunch at the Italian Orchard Restaurant, Broughton, 27/12/04
I must have passed this restaurant, 5-10 mins from M6 J32, hundreds of time, but this was the first time we'd been (having been warned off by another local Italian restaurateur, keen to protect his own business!). Nothing particularly startling with regard to the menu, though the food was very good indeed, but a rather interesting wine list, unfortunately appallingly presented, with no vintages and no descriptions of the largely unfamiliar wines (their website has their core wine list on it). We just plumped for a couple that looked interesting and fitted in the appropriate price bracket. We weren't disappointed in the slightest:

Christmas 2004

Christmas Eve

Christmas Day

Boxing Day

Laurent Perrier, Grand Siècle, (Majestic)
Light and fresh with enormous fine elegance. Very Good Indeed.

Then, to keep us going through the doldrums of the afternoon, Martinique rum cocktails (made from the excellent La Mauny AOC Martinique 50% white rum, "one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak") and Planter's Punch.

Back to food, and with a platter of smoked fish and then more foie gras, more of the Pacherenc and more of the Karthäuserhof Auslese, both unchanged from the last couple of days. Then with roast turkey, it was time to pop another Karthäuserhof magnum:


With the turkey sandwiches in the evening, we continued with the

2000 Korem, IGT Isola dei Nuraghi, Argiolas, 13.5% (Edencroft Fine Wines)
A very deep, very dark purple starting to show some maturity.  Very concentrated nose with lots of deep violets, blackcurrant, crème de mure and lots of floral notes.  An intriguing nose.  Soft, gentle attack that suddenly shoots a bolt of flavour - leathery, concentrated, very complex plummy cherry fruit.  Huge concentration, yet also surprisingly elegant.  Good chewy structure with very soft yet slightly rasping tannins.  Incredible length - it just lingers in the mouth for ages.  Excellent.

1995 Cheval Noir, Grand Vin, Mähler-Bresse, 12.5%, (The Wine Society)

2002 Piesporter Treppchen Rivaner Trocken, Kurt Hain, 11.5%, (AP Nr. 2 596 432 2 03) (French & Logan)
In a clear Bordeaux bottle.  Palish straw.  You'd definitely guess this was English going by the nose: a gentle scented, rather indistinct buttery nose, with almost a green pea note.  Quite light and fresh on the attack, but fills and widens quickly.  Vaguely tropical fruit, some butteriness (is there a tiny bit of oak in this?) and a slightly artificial seeming acidic finish.  Quite tingling and puckering after, though not really much length from the wine itself.  If served this blind, I think I would guess at a cold climate chardonnay and something blend.  Undoubtedly a pleasant wine thought and interesting to try in an anoraky sort of way, but I think many would find it attractive enough to buy.  Very Good.

1999 Abadia Retuerta Selección Especial, Sardon de Duero, 13% (Chateauonline)
Very very dark black mulberry colour with a touch of purple at the rim.  Smoky, very leathery nose with slightly astringent plummy fruit and chocolate notes.  Very rich and smooth on the attack.  Nice warm spice in the mouth.  Remarkably restrained fruit.  Very concentrated and deep.  Soft yet firm tannic structure on the finish.  It's impossible, but it's rather more like one of their superior cuvées, than the simple seleccion especial.  Excellent.  Nice to see this wine back on form, after it went through a rather funny phase over the summer.

1997 Trittenheimer Apotheke Riesling Kabinett, Laurentiushof, 8% (AP Nr. 2 607 184 4 98) (Majestic)
Pale lemon gold with green tinges.  A glorious nose: ripe mineral-laden peaches with crisp green apples.  Not really any petrol yet.  Hint of sweetness at the end of the nose.
Ripe - very ripe - clean fruit.  A bit too much on the sweet side, with the acid only appearing right on the finish, and not a lot of it either.  Lacks depth.  But still a jolly good wine, especially at the price (£5.99).  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.

2002 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett, Kurt Hain, 8%, (AP Nr. 2 596 432 8 03) (French & Logan)
Composite cork, with solid cork ends.  Very very very pale, almost watery, straw colour.  Very fragrant, floral lime flowers on the nose, and rather sherbetty.  With more aeration, the nose still shows itself as sherbetty and limey, but there are also more mineral notes.  Light and fresh tasting with an exciting zingy acid balanced by very good, ripe, appley fruit.  A touch of sweetness on the finish.  Pretty good length.  Very Good Indeed.
Oops!  finished the bottle without noticing!

2001 The Futures Shiraz, Peter Lehmann, 14%  (Booths)
Mid ruby in appearance.  Very deep, very powerful dark plummy fruit on the nose, laced with tobacco, but also a rather young green note.  Ripe, round fruit on the attack, then the wine deepens and widens enormously.  Lovely balance.  A really wide, expansive palate, with lots of texture and character.  Spice and black pepper on the finish.  Excellent.

1998 Albariño Burgans.  Bodegas Martin Codax, Rias Baixas, 12% (Oddbins)
Medium lemon yellow.  An evolved mature buttery nose with plenty of citrus and a hint of elderflower.  Soft and rich on the attack.  A very mature feel to it, though not over the hill, and actually improving as the bottle is open.  Still a nice elegant fruit, balnced well.  Bit hollow on the middle but finishes well.  Very Good.

Berry's Wm Pickering Port, bottled 2004 (BBR)
This is a 20-year old tawny port made for Berry Brothers & Rudd by Quinta do Noval.  Lot No L4064.
Really very pale indeed - an orangey nut brown pale oloroso colour.  Is this really only a a 20-yr tawny?  It looks older.  Rich, nutty fruitcake nose.  Very very deep concentrated nose with lots of dried fruit, Dundee cake and french-polished antique furniture.  There's a bit of spirit on the nose initially, but it's not too distracting and quickly blows off.  Round and rich on the attack, almost creamy with lots of very concentrated ripe fruit, like an undersweetened Christmas pudding.  Lovely balance with a really nice fresh streak on the finish.  The length is incredible - it goes on forever, easily two minutes.  Really quite elegant and mellow.  Excellent.

2003 Villa Doluca Dry White Wine, Doluca, Eger, Western Anatolia, Turkey, 13%
A blend of "Sultanina" from the Aegian region and the "Semillon" of Thrace. Light and very fresh, slightly sauvignony, slightly muscatty. Pleasant and innocuous. Not one to worry about too much: just knock it back. Good.
(21/11/04 at Ozer restaurant)

2003 Late Harvest Riesling, Forrest Estate, Marlborough, New Zealand, 8.5%, 375ml
My first stelvinned dessert wine! Very light, citrussy nose with some beeswax. Really rather elegant and completely unsticky. Very Mosel-like and reminiscent of a particularly racy Auslese. A little short on the finish and after, without the finesse of its Mosel equivalent. Still a jolly good wine, though. Very Good Indeed.
(20/11/04 at Providores restaurant)

1997 Château de Beaucastel, AC Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 13.5%, 375ml
Very dark, even ruby with no signs of youth.  Very sumptuous nose - complex and multi-layered without any particular characteristic that stands out: just all very well integrated.  For Beaucastel, this is remarkably lacking brett: maybe some tobacco smoke and leather.  On the palate this is fabulous.  Immediately attractive with fruit and an excellent underlying structure.  Inordinately complex with fruit alternating with a drier structure, though hardly tannic at all.  Lovely leathery spice and cigar finish.  This is a really excellent wine: completely integrated in all respects, except perhaps the spice on the finish and long after, which becomes more pronounced with time.  With time (about an hour), the nose starts to show a certain char-grilled steak note and an elegant pinot noir earthy mushroominess: but still the usual Beaucastel farmyard is absent.  A remarkably Burgundian Beaucastel.  Excellent.
(19/11/04 at Tate Britain)

2003 Camel Valley Vineyard Bacchus, Cornwall
A very pale straw. Very fresh, herbaceous nose with floral and grassy notes. Very clean and refreshing. Crisp, but with an elegant floral note. Very pure. Very nice and fruity afterwards with very good length. Much more elegant than the Curious Grape Bacchus. Really lovely, fresh, crisp flavours. This would make an excellent aperitif. Excellent
(19/11/04 at Tate Britain)

2002 Rüdesheim Riesling Kabinett, Weingut Leitz, 9.5%, AP Nr. 24 079 011 03, (Booths)
A pale yellow straw colour.  The nose is rich and creamy with a touch of artificial pear.  Light and immediately fruity on the palate.  Superb balance of ripeness and acid.  Amazing length.  A jolly good bit of hock.  Very Good Indeed.

NV Moscatel Oro, De Muller, L-9136, 15%, 375ml (Frank Stainton)
A deep brownish gold.  Really nice light muscat nose with honeyed, orangey, grape and raisin jelly.    Excellent attack - remarkably light and very, very fresh.  Fills into a luscious but not overrich fragrant wine.  Light, fresh and fragrant.  A bit confected and artificially sweet-tasting on the finish - almost sacchariny - and a bit short.  Very Good.

2002 Riesling Brut Sekt, Flaschengärung, handgerüttelt, Weingut Kurt Hain, 12.5%, AP Nr.  2 596 432 27 04  (French & Logan)
Palish straw with a distinct green tinge.  Crisp, fresh lime zest and green apple nose.  There's a really lovely, attractive crisp and very fresh feel to the attack.  The wine then gets creamier as it sits on the palate.  Lots of depth and character.  A really solid ripe, but very dry fruity finish with long malic length.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Abadia Retuerta Selección Especial, Sardon de Duero, 13% (Chateauonline)
An even, very, very dark black plum colour with just a touch of purple at the rim.  Nicely integrated nose with plenty of ripe fruit and an oaky roundness.  Good fruit on the attack: very clean and quite fresh tasting.  Some sweet vanilla tannins on the palate on the middle: they seem fairly young tannins, but are nice and soft.  Flavours of tobacco and forest fruits on the finish.  Very well integrated on the finish.  An interesting wine.  Very Good Indeed.

2003 Yellowtail Chardonnay, SE Australia, 13.5%, (Morrison's)  Plastic cork
A pale to mid gold.  Smoky, toasty, peachy nose.  Very rich on the attack.  On the palate, it's full and fruity, but there's also a disjointed acidic note towards the finish.  very good length.  Not bad for a simple Oz chardonnay.  A touch off-dry and lacking any elegance.  Good.

2002 Passo Doble doppia fermentazione, Masi, Tupungato, Argentina, 13.5% (Everywine)
A blend of Malbec and Corvina made in Argentina by Valpolicella experts, Masi.
A very dark young purple.  Big, black fruit nose with leather and a bit of apricot kernels.  Quite forward.  Nice round fruit.  Very full and a bit amarone like in weight.  Interesting structure.  Very Good Indeed.

NV Buenos Aires BA Brut, Argentina (Majestic)

2001 Billi Billi Creek, Mount Langhi Ghiran, Victoria, Australia, 13.5% (Frank Stainton)
Although labelled Shiraz, this is a blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon.
A light, even ruby with some touches of youth evident.  Lots of soft, gentle red fruits on the nose - quite simple, but fairly elegant.  Lots of immediate attractive fruit on the palate.  Light and well-made.  Overall, it seems a bit simple with very forthright plummy spicy fruit flavours.  But it really comes into its own towards the finish, when it builds with lots of fresh notes of chocolate and spice.  Nice acidic structure.  Nice soft tannins.  Rather complex on the finish with plenty of depths, lingering on in its massive length.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Jerusalem Section Pinot Noir, Adelaid Hills, Chain of Ponds, 14.5% (Bibendum)
A light, fairly mature ruby appearance.  Soft red fruits with raspberry leaves on the nose.  Quite rich and very round on the attack, with plenty of delicate fruit.  It fills well with good structure building although the tannins are on the soft side.  There's a touch of greenness and acid towards the finish.  Some slightly spicy confected fruit on the finish and after.  Huge length.  Very Good.

1996 Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese, Willi Haag, AP No: 2 577 049 4 97, 8.5% (Wine Society)
The cork wasn't so much mouldy, as had several likely new antibiotics containing among their number a treatment for MRSA; and there was also a tartaric crystal the size of half a sugar lump hanging off the bottom of the cork.
A mid yellow gold colour.  The nose is an old petrolly riesling nose that seems rather older than it should be.  On the palate too, this is old ripe riesling.  Big and rich and very full in the mouth, though again feeling somewhat older than it should.  Very ripe fruit, but a bit dried out.  There is a touch of sweetness initially, but the overall impression, with the help of some nice acidity, is of a remarkably dry old Spätlese.  Very Good.

1977 Robertson's Rabello Valente
Remarkably young looking. Very fruity with a toasty fruitcake background on the nose. Rich ripe fruit on the palate. Very balanced and even. Seems quite young, though very little spirit at all. Very Good.
(25/10/04 at Knockinaam Lodge, Portpatrick)

1983 Coltassala, Castello di Volpaia, Vino da Tavola di Toscana, 13%, a blend of sangiovese and mammolo and, according to the bottle ‘specially selected for the Opimiam Society, Canada'. This was one of a number of wines sourced from brokers such as Fine and Rare: interestingly the wine list shows merchants, which in itself reveals some very intelligent purchasing.
A nicely mature garnet. The nose has meaty deep black fruits and sour cherries with a touch of leather, a tiny bit of sweet VA and a touch of earthy brett initially. Lovely soft attack. Fills to a nice soft roundness with plenty of fruits with a nice gentle tannic structure. Excellent clean finish and enormous length. I had this over two nights and on the second night the nose is much more mushroomy and the wine overall has hints of a fine burgundy. An excellent wine.
(25-26/10/04 at Knockinaam Lodge, Portpatrick)

1985 Quinta do Noval vintage port
From a bottle that the hotel staff claimed had only been opened the previous night.  An even, lightish garnet colour, showing clear signs of maturity at the rim.  Rather even, plummy, fragrant nose.  Quite sweet on the attack.  Very rounded initially, then it seems to hollow out a little, revealing a nice elegance.  Then it comes together again on the finish with soft tannins, dried fruit with sour cherries and chocolate, and a long sweet finish.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.
(24/10/04, at Kirroughtree House Hotel, Newton Stewart)

2001 Knight Riesling, Granite Hills, Macedon Range, Central Victoria, 13%
A high altitude Riesling from Central Victoria; winemaker: Llew Knight.
A light citrussy riesling nose.  Good weight on the palate, showing some more mature riesling flavours.  Quite a minerally oily weight to it.  Very Good Indeed.
(24/10/04, at Kirroughtree House Hotel, Newton Stewart)

1999 Haras de Pirque Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile
Smoky young cabernet sauvignon nose. Soft clean fruit. Very Good.
(21/10/04 at Beechwood Country House Hotel, Moffat)

1993 Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett, P.Licht-Bergweiler, AP 2 577 264 8 94 7.5% (Bibendum)
A mid greenish gold.  Petrolly, waxy nose.  Clean and fresh on the attack with crisp appley flavours.  Develops a certain creaminess with lots and lots of minerality.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Abadia Retuerta Selección Especial, Sardon del Duero, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León, Spain, 13% (Chateauonline)
An even, very dark ruby colour.  The nose is very ripe, very smokey, very leathery with black fruit.  Decent, rather forward ripe fruit on the attack and noticeably mouthfilling.  good, ripe, almost chocolatey fruit.  Good structure with soft tannins coming through towards the finish.  Unfortunately there's a touch of alcohol and of acid on the finish that unbalances it a little.  Very Good Indeed.

2000 Grüner Veltliner Dreikreuzen-Kadolz, Weinviertel, Austria, Graf Hardegg, 12.5% (Noel Young)
According to the back label, this was harvested by hand on 15-16 September 2000 and then cold-fermented in stainless steel at 17°C.  Bottled February 2001.
A pale lemon gold.  The nose has buttery green fruit with a hint of cardamom.  Big on the attack: full and rich.  Develops very good aromatic flavours in the mouth along with great weight.  This is a very impressive wine.  Very Good Indeed.

2001 Hécula, DO Yecla, Bodegas Castaño, 14%, (Chateauonline)
An even, dark black plum colour.  The nose is very very closed, giving virtually nothing away - just some hints of black fruit and hedgerow.  Lots of ripe fruit and some soft tannins on the palate.  It is a very straightforward wine and a bit simple, with no varietal character and no terroir character.  Dull, dull, dull.
But then sometimes tasting a wine in isolation isn't the best way to appreciate it: this wine really came into its own with a strongly flavoured chorizo and bean stew; and its rating takes that into account.  Very Good.

2001 Château Segonzac, Premières Côtes de Blaye, Bordeaux, 12.5%
A very dark mulberry colour with some youth at the rim. The nose is a bit closed, but has some soft, plumy black fruits. Lightish and quite fresh flavoured on the attack. Quite restrained with a very good balance of fruit and tannins. A little thin and unexceptional, but also rather young. A bit lacking in character.   Good.

2002 Gewurztraminer, AC Alsace, Domaine Joseph Scharsch, 13%  (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
Very light lemon yellow. A classic soft gewurztraminer nose dominated by sweet turkish delight. Really very sweet on the attack. Ripe, rich tropical fruit on the palate. This wine definitely has a marked sweetness to it, but it is a very nicely balanced wine. Fortunately, this is a gewurztraminer that avoids the trap of being too powerful and, and despite the dominance of turkish delight on the nose, it does not appear at all over-extracted. However, give it some time (I left half the bottle overnight) it develops a truly massive, almost excessive, power of gewurztraminer flavour. Really quite simple, but none the worse for that and certainly not below expectations. A very nicely made basic Alsace gewurztraminer. Very Good.

1998 Ch. Monconseil, AC Premières Côtes de Blaye, Famille J.P. Baudet,  (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
An even ruby colour, starting to show some maturity. A lightish nose with some mint and black fruits. Good clean attack. Nicely rounded fruit with some soft tannins, turning quite spicy on the finish when they give way to some greenness. Fruit seems a little underripe and dilute - if I remember rightly, the 1998 harvest was affected by rain. But a nice straightforward claret nonetheless. Good.

1997 Quinta do Noval Late Bottled Vintage Port, 19.5% (Noel Young)
Throwing quite a large sediment already.
Very dark, almost chocolatey purple.  Gorgeous nose - plums, chocolate, old vatted demerara rum, ginger and mixed spice.  Rich, velvety mouthfeel.  Lots of ripe fruit with very dark chocolate on the palate.  Excellent structure with lovely tannins.  Seems to be losing its sweetness a little and starting to evolve more.  Very Good Indeed.

1998 Reserve Selection Gewurztraminer, Hilltop-Neszmely, Mór Region, Hungary 11.5% abv (Wine Society)
Slightly cloudy mid copper gold: looking a bit oxidised.  Rich rose petal and lychee nose.  Good clean gewurztraminer fruit.  Unfortunately this is past it now: just a touch oxidised with an odd over-concentration of fruit turning it a little bitter.  Not rated.

2002 Château Peychaud, Côtes de Bourg, Bernard & Thierry Germain, 12.5% abv, (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
Very clear, very bright purplish ruby.  A little stinky initially, but that blows off to reveal leather and cedar, slightly masking light, elegant fruit.  Good, fresh, clean attack.. Light and elegant, with soft easy tannins growing on the middle and finish.  Nice structure and good character.  A very good light everyday claret for drinking in the next year or two.

2002 Château Charron, Premières Côtes de Blaye, Bernard & Thierry Germain, 13% abv   (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
Bright young ruby, but this is another corked wine from Germain.


2002 Riesling de Wolxheim "Réserve", Domaine Joseph Scharsch, 12.5%  (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A pale lemon colour. The nose is very light indeed - crisp, fresh creamy citrus with a slightly confected note. Light, fresh and clean on the palate. Nice crisp fruit and lots of stony minerality: absolutely bone dry. Very clean and elegant and very well balanced. Good crisp finish. Very Good - were it not labelled as Réserve, I think it would easily merit a Very Good Indeed: I would expect a bit more weight and riesling character from a wine labelled "Réserve".

2001 Tokay Pinot Gris Vignoble d'Epfig, Domaine Schaeffer, AC Alsace, 13%  (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A bright mid gold colour. Glorious rich pinot gris nose laden with spice and bags of tropical fruit, especially banana and sugar mango. Very rich and full on the attack, such that one is led to believe it might be quite sweet. Lots of fragrant tropical fruit on the palate with a nice creaminess and spice building towards the finish. Very ripe fruit, but a lovely, acidic streak comes through on the finish, lightening the wine and balancing the power of the fruit. A really lovely approachable Alsace pinot gris, though probably not one for long-term keeping.

2002 Ch. Mercier, AC Côtes de Bourg, 12.5%  (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
A bright young ruby colour. Very pleasant youthful nose with lots of soft plummy black fruit, a touch of crème de cassis richness and fresh mint. A light, fresh attack leads to a very young, crisp tasting wine. Unfortunately it doesn't quite have the same fruit in the mouth as it did on the nose, but it is soft, clean and well made. There is a certain raw green-ness to the fruit. A good tannic structure comes to the fore towards the finish, growing and adding a bitter touch on the finish. This seems almost like a barrel sample, and it would be interesting to try again in 6-12 months time to see if it has knitted together more. As it is, it's promising with some good structure and a youthful elegance. Decanting a few hours in advance and giving it a good exposure to air will undoubtedly do this wine nothing but good, making the tannins recede a little and the fruit show through more. Very Good.

2002 Ch. Peyredoulle, AC Premières Côtes de Blaye, Bernard & Thierry Germain, 13% (french-regional-wines.co.uk)
Mid ruby with a hint of youth in appearance. Corked.

2001 Reserve Shiraz, Jacob's Creek/Orlando Wines, South Australia, 14.5% (Sainsbury)
Interestingly the claims on the bottle are exactly the same as on the Riesling below (replacing "riesling" with "shiraz" of course).  So they're made to a formula.
The colour is a bright mid purple ruby.  On the nose, there are spicy blackberry leaves, plums and alcohol.  Good ripe fruit on the palate: and surprisingly light and elegant.  Good structure with nice acid and soft tannins on the finish.  There's a very strange hint of Cadbury's Caramel on the finish and after.  Decent length.  Very Good.  Not worth the money though.

2003 Reserve Riesling, Jacob's Creek/Orlando Wines, South Australia, 12%, Stelvin (Sainsbury)
According to the bottle this is "an outstanding wine of great structure and ageing potential" made from "premium Riesling grapes from South Australia's finest regions".
Very pale, green straw colour. A confected, zesty lime sherbert nose with a sort of rich pistachio-based marzipan note.  Light and fresh.  Very clean and pure.  Very crisp, with subdued citrus fruit flavours.  Rasping acidity and a wet stone minerality.  Seems a little dilute however.  Undoubtedly a bit over-priced.  Good/Very Good.

1994 Tokay Pinot Gris Sélection de Grains Nobles Clos St Imer, Alsace Grand Cru, Ernest Burn 14.5%, 375ml
A deep gold colour.  The nose is honeyed, with lychee and apples and a smoky raw tobacco note.  Luscious and rich on the attack, it fills very well and coats the mouth with a smooth gold velvet.  Rich spicy fruit comes to the fore on the finish, along with a squirt of acidity.  Not at all cloying.  Immense length with real spice lingering long after.  After an hour or so open and half drunk it gains a stunning elegance.  A lovely sipping wine.  Excellent.
(3/9/04, at Tate Britain Restaurant)

2000 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett, JJ Prüm, Mosel, 7.5%, 375ml (AP Nr. 2 576 511 23 01)
The first bottle of this was slightly corked.  When I was first offered it to taste, there seemed to be something not quite right; I was worried, however, that it might have been the SGN above that I'd begun with my blue cheese soufflé starter.  The second bottle proved the first definitely was corked.  A bright, light lemon yellow.  Restrained apple sherbert nose with a hint of soapiness (not unpleasant).  Very fresh and tongue tinglingly vibrant on the palate.   Good fruit, slightly overbalanced by acidity at this stage, but with decanting or a year or two more in bottle, this should knit together beautifully.  But as it is, this is a very pleasant luncheon or aperitif wine, going very well with my fishcake and chips.

(3/9/04, at Tate Britain Restaurant)

1999 Hochheimer Stielweg Riesling Auslese trocken, Franz Künstler, 12%, AP No: 40 060 025 00 (Frank Stainton)
A bright lemony gold.  Rich nose redolent of beeswax, lots of ripe peach and a touch of petrol.  Round and full on the attack.  Rich, with plenty of weight on the palate.  Good depth of flavour.  But it seems a bit uni-dimensional and doesn't really sing to me (perhaps I'm being a bit hard).  The richness means that it doesn't appear bone dry, but on the finish it becomes clear that it is really very dry.  Massive lingering length.  I think this is undoubtedly a very good wine indeed, but to me it's not really German Riesling: it shows excellence alongside Australian and New Zealand rieslings; and indeed the style seems similar, though the fruit flavours are quite different (admittedly I'm generalising regarding Antipodean riesling).  Very Good Indeed.

1997 Irouleguy, Domaine Etxegaraya 12.5%
Mid ruby, perhaps lacking a bit in clarity. A bit stinky on the nose - green leaves and an astringent note, with just a bit of black fruit. Rather unusual on the palate. Fairly light bodied. Soft fruit, soft tannins. A green astringent note as well though. Fills quite a lot and is really quite mouthfilling. Very unusual. Sort of like a cross between Madiran and a Loire Cabernet Franc. OK/Good.

1961 Nuit St Georges. Possibly an Avery bottling?
This was a bottle I'd bought a year or two ago at auction (Straker Chadwick) as part of a mixed pig-in-a-poke lot of mainly 1964 burgundy ("believed" this and that), working out about GBP 18 each. The grower/shipper/bottler is unknown. Indeed, this isn't so much a case of a cellar damaged label, as one that's been completely rotted away. The only complete part of the labelling is the neck slip which just says in black on white "Vintage 1961", which has just crumbled as I touched it. Of the main label, all that remains is (again black on white) "orges" and below that to the left is an uppercase "ÉE", presumably the remains of 'appellation controlée'. Gosh, this reminds me of doing Latin Epigraphy at university. The only other part of the label surviving is, left centre of where the label would have been, a line drawing (again black on white) of some leaves with what would appear to be a vine tendril below. A suggestion that there might have been something in red below that. A red capsule.

Right, let's see what this dodgy burgundy is like. Off comes the top of the capsule. Yuk! Filthy. I wipe it down with a bit of kitchen roll and water. Woah! Careful now! Nearly pushed the cork in. Oh dear. That's not too promising. Rummage around for the longest corkscrew and gently pull the cork. Comes out in one piece, and it's in reasonably good nick with good elasticity and not showing very much penetration by the wine at all. But no further clues to a more precise identification of the wine unfortunately.

I gently pour the first taste direct from the bottle. Very bright and clear, and (naturally) a mature burgundy in colour, but remarkably little browning. Oh dear, bit of a strong whiff of sweet VA on the nose. But, no, that's quickly blowing off revealing a fabulous lovely nose - lovely mature pinot noir, that really does not smell 43 years old. Dried stawberries and dried cherries with an earthy background, like a newly opened bag of compost. Is that a hint of white chocolate, or am I imagining it? Only the merest hint of VA now. Ok, I take the plunge and give it a good swirl: with a bit of time and aeration, the fruit really comes to the fore and develops a nicely perfumed sweet cherry note.

Quite light on the attack. Dry fruits. Very intense. My impression is that this is just starting to dry out, but for now it still has a very deep rich clean red fruit core that lasts and lasts and lasts in the mouth. Fully mature (hardly surprising!), but still some very soft tannins adding a pleasant structure.

But ... well ... it just keeps getting better the longer it's opened. The fruit becomes fresher and more vibrant and more open; the dryness recedes. Remarkably vigorous, with really good balance.

The last glass is finally poured just before midnight, some seven hours after opening, and it's still completely together. And I was worried it might be a bit fragile and need drinking up quickly!
Not really a wine to rate, as it was unique, but at least Very Good Indeed.

1991 Trierer Deutschherrenberg Riesling Spätlese, Vereinigte Hospitien, Mosel, 7.5% (AP Nr. 3 561 104 5 92), (Majestic)
Mid lemon gold.  Slightly soapy, very citrussy petrol wax nose.  Immediate up-front fruit - ripe and rich.  Crisp and clean on the palate with excellent balance.  Good length.  Really developing complexity after.  Very Good.

NV Pigassou, Vin de Table Français, 12.5% (Laithwaites/Sunday Times Wine Club)
Unexceptional appearance - an even dark burgundy with some signs of youth.  Massive farmyardy brett dominates the nose to the exclusion of any fruit.  Rather light attack.  Soft and spicy.  Very even and a bit characterless.  bit of a bitter note on the attack and the middle.  Very spicy on finish and long after.  Good.

2003 Beaujolais Villages Combe aux Jacques, Louis Jadot, 12.5% (Tesco)
An even raspberry colour with youthful purple at the rim.  Quite a warm nose - attractive with lots of soft red fruit.  The nose reminds me of some sort of fruit drink, but I can't quite place it.  Soft, juicy attack.  Light with bags of soft fruit on the palate.  Soft tannins and a bit of cinnamony pepper/spice develops.  Minor bitter note right on the finish and after.  Very good length.  It's been a long time since I had any Beaujolais, so I'm a bit lacking in a reference point.  Improved with being lightly chilled.  Very Good.

2003 Sauvignon Blanc, Cederberg, South Africa, 12.5% (Woffenden Wines)
Very pale straw.  Very grassy nose with hints of pea pods.  Crisp and fresh on the attack.  Quite full and rich; rather lacking in sauvignon blanc typicity.  Really quite rich on the palate with a bit of floral spice.  Touch of harsh acidity on finish.  Good.

1999 Crozes-Hermitage, Domaine des Remizières, 12% (Bibendum)
Dark mauve to a young mid purple at the rim.  Rich, warm black fruit on the nose with cinnamon and cloves.  Big slightly raw fruit on the attack.  A big wine with hefty tannins lingering on finish.  Possibly a touch green.  With air and time, it is much more open and approachable.  Rich fruit, some warm spicy notes.  Good structure and character.  Very Good.

2000 Estancia de Carrodilla, Malbec, Lujan de Cuyo, Oak Aged Reserva, Bodegas Nieto Senetiner, Argentina 13.5%, (Laithwaites/Sunday Times Wine Club)
Youngish rather murky purple.  Initially light and fairly fresh, but quick develops into a strong green weediness, finishing very green.  Unpleasant.

2000 Ermitage du Pic St Loup, Cuvée Sainte Agnès, AC Côteaux du Languedoc, Ravaille Frères, (Waitrose)
Dark blackberry colour with some youth at rim.  Very astringent nose with quite a lot of VA.  Really very nasty on palate.  Off, but not corked.

1999 Seyssel, La Taconnière, Rousette Altesse, Maison Mollex, 12.5% (The Wine Society)
A tiny cork.  Floral nose - rather unusual.  Honeysuckle and lavender.  Lots of flavour immediately.  Full, with a certain richness.  Lychee-like floral tropical fruit on the palate.  Quite unusual.  But perhaps more of a curiosity than sheer enjoyment.  Just something a little odd about it.  Good/Very Good.

1994 Eselsbiss Welschriesling Spätlese Trocken, Willi Opitz, Austria, 13% (T&W Wines)
From a bottle that had been open c. 24 hours, and just over half empty.
A deepish mid lemon gold.  Very raisined nose with honey and citrus..  Quite full on the attack, but bone dry and with high acidity.  Slight sherry feel to it (and in fact of the six bottles of this, at least three were so oxidised as to be undrinkable - and it's worth mentioning that T&W Wines refused to replace or credit them, which was not good).  Most unusual (as is often the case with Willi Opitz).  Not especially complex but rather different and rather interesting.  spicy finish, which lasts ages and ages.  Very Good +

2001 Laroche Chablis 1er Cru, Cuvée Première, 12.5%, (Bibendum)
From a bottle that had been open c. 24 hours, and just over half empty.
Palish, slightly greenish straw.  Very fresh, crisp nose with light butteriness.  Rich and immediately attractive on the palate.  Good depth.  Strong mineral backbone.  Good finish with very good length.  Very Good Indeed.

1998 Chianti Classico Riserva, DOCG, Borgo Salcetino Lucarello, 13%,  (Edencroft)
Dark garnet with a slight hint of youth at the rim.  Soft, warm red fruit on the nose.  Light, fresh attack.  Very pleasant, light with acidic freshness until soft, but quite dominant tannins arrive on the finish.  Very good length.  Very Good.

1991 Wiltinger Hölle Riesling Spätlese, Sanctus Jacobus, Vereinigte Hospitien, Mosel, 8%, AP 3 561 104-38-92 (Majestic)
Lage im Alleinbesitz - a monopole vineyard, that is.    A pale, very lemony gold.  Rather dull petrol nose, lacking fruit.  Light and clean on the palate.  Good balance.  Nice acid giving it quite a fresh feel, though becoming just a little prickly on the finish.  Very Good.

1997 Pesquera Tinto Crianza, Ribera del Duero, 13%
A tight cork - almost glued to the inside of the neck of the bottle.  Mature colour.  This is a bit dodgy.  Fruitless nose - just lots of farmyardy brett and sweaty saddles.  Soft and full on the palate.  Very even and dull and a bit green.  Quite severe acid on the finish.  Something wrong with this bottle.  Not rated.

1989 Oberemmeler Karlsberg Riesling Auslese, Reichsgraf v. Kesselstatt, 8.5%, AP 3 561-077-103-90
Another one of these with a leaking cork.  There's a noticeable viscosity on pouring.  Bright, mid lemon gold fading to clear at the rim.  Very petrolly old riesling nose with smoke and a bit of dried quince.  On the palate, this is suffering from oxidation, but still drinkable.  A good balance of sweetness and acidity, but virtually all the fruit has gone through oxidation.  Shame.  Faded very very fast.  Not rated.

2000 Korem, Isola dei Nuraghi IGT, Argiolas, Sardinia, 13.5%, (Edencroft)
Very dark purple-tinged garnet.  Very deep black fruits nose with lots of licorice and leather, and some clear ovine notes too.  Some menthol and eucalyptus too, giving it a slightly medicinal touch.  Big, soft rounded attack.  Lots of fruit.  Not much development in the mouth, just some spicy tannins coming towards the finish.  Seems a bit simple and not as good as the 1997.  Very Good.

2000 Pansal del Calàs, Montsant DO, Celler de Capçanes, Vino de licor, 500 ml, 16.5%, (Booths)
A bright young purple with a consistency of lightly crushed raspberries.  Very attractive fruity nose of chocolate coated prunes and a light port-ish-ness.  Very chocolatey fruit on the palate.  good weight, nice body and not heavy.  Not too sweet.  Big, big tannins.  Light peppery spice on the finish.  Very good length.  A bit different!  Excellent.

2001 Bukettraube, Cederberg Cellars, Cederberg, 13%  (Woffenden Wines)
Very light, slightly scented nose - quite elegant.  Light, clean attack.  Fills with some vaguely gewurzy richness.  There's a hint of rich sweetness on the finish and after, with a nice spicy character.  Very Good Indeed.

2000 Quinta do Vale D. Maria Vinho Tinto, Rio Torto, Douro, Portugal, 14.5% (Bibendum)
The colour of youngish mulberry juice.  Leather, black fruit and green branches on the nose.  Colour and nose combine to suggest that this is going to be a bit of a bruiser.  Rich and smooth on the attack.  Good fruit, but also an alcoholic sweetness.  Good structure.  Some tannins on the finish and after.  Remarkable length.  Very Good Indeed.

2000 Muscat Vignoble de Katzenthal, Alsace, Meyer-Fonné, 12%, (Lay & Wheeler)
Delightful perfumed nose - a really lovely developed Alsace flowery muscat.  Big attack.  Lots of excellent grapey floral, scented, tropical fruit.  Slight spritz on the tongue, but from acid I think, rather than CO2: I don't think I've detected this tingle in other bottles of this wine, but it doesn't really mar the wine.  Very Good.

2000 Domaine des Berthiers, Pouilly Fumé, Jean Claude Dagueneau, 12.5% (possibly from The Angel Inn at Hetton)
Pale to medium greenish gold.  Fresh mown grass with a bit of gooseberry fruit on the nose.  Very light attack.  Crisp and clean.  Bit short on fruit.  Develops quite a round, spicy depth on the palate, and there's a good acidic streak throughout.  Very refreshing but not expecially satisfying.  Good/Very Good.

NV Champagne Raymond Boulard, Cuvée Rosé Brut, 12%,  (Original Wine Company)
A rosé de saignée (meaning the colour comes from skin contact, not blending red and white, which is common in Champagne, though virtually unheard of in any wine aspiring to quality elsewhere).  Quite a deep raspberry pink.  Very lively mousse on pouring (and from a well rested bottle!)  Curiously, the first glass showed very little bubble development (perhaps the glass was a little greasy?), but the second glass with a larger measure shows a very uneven bubble stream initially which settles down into a steady stream after a minute or so.  Nice full nose: good fruit with plenty of pinot noir character.  Good full flavour.  Very clean and crisp, but not too dry.  Falls away a it on the finish and a slightly acidic streak develops, lingering after, when tasted without food.  Much more character than many rosé fizzes, no doubt down in large part to the saignée method as well as to careful and precise winemaking.  It's worth noting that the rosé de saignée method of making champagne is much riskier than the blending method, as the amount of skin contact (the colour leeches out of the skins into the juice) is critical: Francis Boulard who makes this wine has been known to stay up all night with his vats of rosé waiting for the precise moment when the juice has had enough skin contact.  This is a wine that is not only excellent in itself, but also stands well in comparison to the meatier rosé table wines from, e.g., the south of France.  One word of caution though: this is not a wine that will improve with cellaring - indeed it starts to deteriorate within a year of purchase.  Excellent.

2001 Grüner Veltliner Drei Kreuzen-Kadolz, Graf Hardegg, Austria, 13%, (Noel Young)
Top of cork rather mouldy.
Pale to mid gold.  Bit of a dull nose with more than a passing reminiscence of a sauvignon blanc in it's green fruit, though there's also citrus and a big blast of white pepper here.  Decent attack.  Rather unimpressive.  Lacks depth, very simple, low in fruit.   A substandard bottle, I think.  Fair.

2000 Riesling Steinbügel-Seefeld, Graf Hardegg, Austria, 13%, (Noel Young)
A pale to mid straw.  Very very austere, waxy, appley nose - very flinty/slatey.  Rich round attack.  Fills enormously.  Big rich, spicy riesling.  Slatey riesling fruit on the palate with lime jelly.  Not a textbook basic riesling by any means.  On balance, I think it's better: it has real character and power, but also a lovely riesling character.  After being open a couple of days, it shows a much more straightforward mineral-driven riesling character.  Very Good Indeed.

2003 Sauvignon Blanc, Rietvallei Estate, Robertson, South Africa, 12.5%
Pale lemon gold.  Lemon and raw asparagus on the nose - all herbaceous notes with no fruit.  Bright and racy on the attack.  Searing dryness.  The overall impression is of an all-conquering greenness.  Very austere, but without any real redeeming elegance.  I'm not really sure what to make of this: it's not unpleasant, but very far from appealing.  Bit of sulphur on finish, where it's a little watery.  Odd and totally unsatisfying.  Poor.

2002 Sauvignon Blanc, Wine of Origin Groenekloof, Neil Ellis, 13% (Woffenden Wines)
Very pale yellowish green.  Some gooseberry notes, but dominated by a huge chargrilled (there's a smoky note) asparagus scent on the nose.  Clean, very light attack.  But fills a lot on the palate.  Medium to full-bodied, bit flavour, quite creamy and rich with a toasty spiciness.  Excellent length - just goes on for ever.  Very Good Indeed.

2000 Planeta La Segreta (Rosso), IGT Sicilia, 14%, (Everywine)
A blend of the traditional Sicilian variety Nero d'Avola with the more international Merlot.
Dark purple, but starting to mature.  Lovely plummy, blackberry and sweet cherry nose.  Very good attack.  Good, nicely balanced fruit.  Good depth and character on the palate - really very full and round.  Very nice spice notes and medium tannins on the finish.  Very Good Indeed.

2001 Cabernet Sauvignon, Cederberg, South Africa, 13.5%, (Woffenden Wines)
Dark, youngish ruby.  Light, slightly floral minty blackcurrant nose, seemingly with some spirit.  Light attack.  Fresh and fruity body.  Quite light on the palate.  A hint of spice and very very soft tannins on the finish.  A bit lacking in varietal character (any character indeed) and a bit dilute.  Easy drinking though.  Good.

2000 Grüner Veltliner Drei Kreuzen-Kadolz, Graf Hardegg, Austria, 12.5%, (Noel Young)
The back label tells me the grapes for this were harvested by hand on 15-16 September 2000, with a yield of 5,000 litres per hectare.  Fermented in stainless steel and bottled February 2001.
Pale to medium green-tinged mid gold.  Lovely nose: slightly scented, very crisp green fruit with a marked butteriness and a bit of warm nutmeg/turmeric/white pepper spice.  Quite light on the attack, and even seems a bit dilute.  But fills well.  Good body with nice structure.  Interesting rich spiciness.  Big and very long indeed on the finish.  Very Good Indeed.

2003 Tim Adams Riesling, Clare Valley, 12%, Stelvin,  (Tesco)
According to the back label this is made only from free-run juice, 470 litres per tonne.  A blend of four vineyards]
A very pale green.  Crisp, clean limey riesling nose.  Good, crisp attack.  Lots of floral notes and citrus on the palate with a tingling acid on the tongue after.  Excellent length.  Quite weighty.  Very Good Indeed.  The back label says it has potential for cellaring for 10 years, so I'll secrete the second bottle away for a while.

2000 Schwarz The Butcher, Zweigelt Rosé trocken.  Neusiedlersee, Erzeugerabfüllung Johann Schwarz "with friendly help of Mr K.", 16% (!), 37.5 cl, (Noel Young)
A curious rubbery wax capsule.
Deep salmon pink.  Very curious nose - citrus and vanilla with a hint of sweet VA and some raisins.  Big and heavy on the palate.  Good fruit, with a bit of sweetness and high alcohol.  Spice and soft tannins on the finish.  Much improved with food.  Suggestive of a rosé amarone and really quite a mad wine!  Very Good Indeed.

2001 Beyerskloof Synergy Cape Blend, Stellenbosch, 13.5%, (Tesco)
[39% merlot; 36% pinotage; 25% cabenet sauvignon)
Very dark, inky, blood purple.  Deep black fruit and wet forest floor nose.  Black fruit on the palate too.  Deep and a bit brooding.  But a bit even across the palate to finish.  Tannins apparent on the finish with a touch of bitterness.  Quite an interesting blend.  Good/Very Good.

2001 Oak Aged Red Burgundy, AC Bourgogne, Tesco Finest Selection.  Bottled by Louis Josse, 12.5%, (Tesco)
A slightly muddy light raspberry red.  Wood spice with red, sweet cherry fruit on the nose.  Quite light and fragrant.  Seems quite mature, with fruit, oak and tannins all completely knitted.  Very light.  Blind, I'd think more of Loire pinot noir.  Good.  Just something a bit odd about it - a slightly industrial, confected note, I think.  Good.

1999 Gelber & Roter Traminer, Burgenland, Austria - Weinbaugebiet Neusiedlersee, Umathum, 13/5% (T&W Wines)
Mid deep orangey gold - almost Sauternes-like in appearance.  Powerful, yet very elegant.  Lightly perfumed rosewater gewurztraminer nose (though this is Traminer, not Gewurztraminer).  Light and fresh on the attack.  Fills into a rich mouthful with nice weight and powerful, spicy tropical fruit.  Huge finish with great length.  Powerful, yet also very elegant and fragrant throughout.  Very Good Indeed/Excellent.

2002 Thomas Hyland Chardonnay, South Australia, Penfolds, 13.5% (Tesco)
Mid gold.  Rather attractive, buttery oaky chardonnay nose - nice and rounded.  Good full attack.  Nice depth of flavour, though perhaps a bit uni-dimensional.  Clean and fairly fresh.  Good use of oak.  Good length.  A very nice, simple Oz chardonnay.  Very Good.

Fine Old Rare Sherry Manzanilla Pasada de Sanlucar 1/80, bottled in Spain by Emilio Lustau from the Solera of Manuel Cuevas Jurado.  Specially selected by Berry Brothers & Rudd, 17%, (BBR)
Very very pale straw colour.  Elegant flor nose with salted almonds and semi-dried figs.  Very refined and elegant on the attack and in the mouth.  Crisp and very clean but without any overpowering sherry-ness.  Very Good Indeed.

1998 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Tedeschi, 15%, (Majestic)
A dense deep plum in appearance.  Big, expansive nose with marked port-like overtones: lots of blackberry, prunes and woody tobacco.  Remarkably light on the attack and even a hint of freshness.  Fills hugely.  Very big, with good fruit.  Towards the finish you get a really prominent amarone bitterness coming to the fore - rather more so than commonly found.  Lots of peppery spice on the finish and after.  Good length, but loses its character after.  Very Good.

1928 Solera Maury, Vin Doux Naturel, Les Vignerons de Maury, 16%, 50cl, (Frank Stainton)
A bright mahogany with a just-ruby core.  Very viscous and oil like, reminiscent of a PX sherry.  Tarte tatin nose - buttery, caramel and a certain doughiness with some surprisingly crisp fruit.  Off-sweet on the attack.  Rich, with some tannic structure.  Most unusual.  Very nice, light freshness cutting the rich sweet fruitiness.  Very Good.

2002 Avery Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand, Craggy Range Winery, 13% Stelvin (Edencroft Fine Wines)
An extremely pale straw.  Fabulous intense nose with oodles of lychee and passion fruit with a herbaceous background.  Very full.  Lots of rich fruit, quite peachy, but also a huge amount of slatey minerals.  Nice acidity develops on finish.  Powerful stuff with strong flavours.  Very Good Indeed.

Warre's 20 year old Tawny Port, (Tesco)
A very pale, slightly pinkish tan.  A good, very nutty fruitcake nose - more Christmas cake, as I detect some almond and sweetness on the nose.  Soft and attractive on the attack.  Rather simple for a 20 year tawny.  As with the colour, I would expect a little more complexity.  Quite orangey on the middle and as the alcohol kicks in on the finish, it is more than a little reminiscent of Grand Marnier.

1999 Crozes Hermitage (Rouge), Domaine des Remizières, Earl Desmeure (Bibendum)
Dark, very dark, almost inky dense young purple.  Soft red fruits and a very bitter-chocolate nose.  Big attack with lots of soft fruit.  Develops a real tannic structure in the mouth.  Big spice develops towards the finish and almost submerges the tannins.  The spice lingers forever in the mouth.  Very Good Indeed.

NV ba sparkling, 11.6% (Majestic)
In my cellar for a couple of years or thereabouts.  Good mousse.  Very active, rather coarse bubble stream.  Lemon sherbert on the nose with white bread.  Crisp, clean attack.  Good fruit.  Nice rich, toasty feel on the palate.  Very Good Indeed.

1989 Crozes Hermitage Blanc, Cuvée Paticulière, Domaine des Remizières, Desmeure Père et Fils (Bibendum)
Very bright, clear medium copper gold, fading to clear at the edges.  Very rich nose - a touch oxidised but lots of honeyed - oh dear - wet cardboard.  Oh dear.  Corked.

1998 Kallstadter Kobnert Beerenauslese, Zimmerman-Graeff, Pfalz, AP 5 907 009 204 99, 37.5 cl, 10% (Morrison's)
Bought at Morrisons in January 2000 for what seemed a bargain £3.99.
A deep gold.  Rich citrussy, heavy botrytis nose with a rather chemical note and more than a hint of artificial banana essence.  Rather simple on the palate.  Surprisingly not too sweet and not even the merest hint of cloying.  But simple and uni-dimensional.  Not at all bad for the price.  Not at all sure what the grapes are.  OK.

2001 Seigneurs d'Aiguilhe, AC Côtes de Castillon
The second wine of Château d'Aiguilhe.  An even ruby, not looking especially youthful.  Deep black fruit on the nose with cedar and a bit of vanilla.  Rather young on the attack.  Quite a light texture, but really very astringent with soft tannins - very bitter on finish.  OK.

2002 Sancerre (blanc), Jean & Michel Naudet, 12.5%, (Waitrose)
Very, very pale green-tinged straw.  A rather closed nose with a touch of stink dominating initially.  Given a little while, it's a creamy, leafy nose with a hint of coriander seed and vanilla.  Quite round and fairly full, with reasonable fruit and body.  Not too dry, but a really searing acidity on the finish and after.  Good length.  Good.

Petraea XCVII-XCIX Brut Champagne Raymond Boulard 12%, (Original Wine Company)
A pale to mid straw with a pinkish tinge.  Very good bubble stream with very fine bubbles.  A very attractive nose with blackberries and blackberry leaf and also some toasty notes. Crisp and very clean on the attack, with good fruit.  Excellent, crisp and hugely attractive on the palate.  Good complexity especially towards the finish. Excellent.

2000 Tretes de Capçanes.  Oak aged.  DOC Montsant, Celler de Capçanes  (Byrne's)
An even, young ruby.  Very soft, reticent nose.  Soft, light fruity attack, but a big structure lurking behind.  Filling enormously and finishing with great power and spice.  Very Good Indeed.

1964 Nipozzano Chianti DOC, Frescobaldi, 72cl, 13%. (bought at auction: Straker Chadwick)
Bottle 120,609 of 150,000.  Level: top shoulder.  The cork appeared to be in good condition with a good seal, but snapped right at the last moment of drawing.
A mature appearance reminiscent of a 40 year old tawny port, but not totally brown.  A very cedary nose with acetone VA sweetness dominating the merest hint of fruit.  On the palate, it's really very, very old and past it.  Completely dead even.  Not rated.

NV Pétillant de Muscat, Cave de Saint Sardos, 2.5% (yes, only two point five), (DeVigne Wines, Welshpool)
A very pale strawberry pink with some bubbles visible in the glass, but clearly merely pétillant.  Very delicate, light, fragrant nose with huge muscatty, grapey fruit.  Very fresh, very clean tasting.  Not too sweet - more rich and fruity than a real sweetness.  This is a very nice glass of posh pop on a hot day.  It would make a great low alcohol Bellini or other champagne cocktail that can stand that little bit of sweetness, but is gorgeous on its own.  Very Good Indeed.

Berry's Wm Pickering Port, bottled 2002 (BBR)
This is a 20-year old tawny port made for Berry Brothers & Rudd by Quinta do Noval. 
A straightforward 20-year tawny appearance, though possibly a little browner than one might expect.  A definite note of cloves on the nose, but otherwise showing fruit cake, plums, mulberries and tobacco.  A lovely, smooth, luscious attack: excellent concentrated, complex fruit which builds to a very powerful finish with a pleasing hint of bitterness and just a dash of spirit.  Excellent.

2000 Incyon Aglianico, IGT Rosso di Sicilia, 13.5% (widely available)
An even, very dark garnet.  Bitter cherry and apricot kernel nose.  Soft attack with good fruit.  Very nice structure with developing tannins and interesting depths of fruit.  Good length.  Very Good Indeed.

1997 Ch. Saint Estève d'Uchaux, AC Côtes du Rhône, 13%,  (The Wine Society)
A very even ruby, with a light-bodied, mature-looking appearance.  Lovely soft red fruit - cherries - on the nose.  Light and very clean on the palate.  It seems probably pretty much à point to me.  Good fruit, very soft ripe tannins on the finish.  Excellent length.  Very Good Indeed.

NV Fizzy Willy Rosé Cuvée, Jahrgangssekt trocken, Neusiedlersee, Austria, 12% (T&W Wines)
A delicate coppery salmon pink colour with a very fine bubble stream.  Very full, earthy nose with some strawberry fruit.  A fair mousse on the palate.  Crisp and searingly dry.  A full, rich flavour, but a touch unclean and muddy also.  Rather interesting and with good character.  Good/Very Good.

2002 Nivole Moscato d'Asti, Michele Chiarlo, 375ml, 5.5% (Booths)
Mid straw colour, with the pétillance clearly visible in the glass, with lots of bubbles clinging to the side.  Light, quite elegant muscat nose with a hint of marzipan.  Very attractive, quite full attack.  Gently sweet.  Clean and pleasing.  Very attractive indeed.  Some depth too.  Very Good Indeed.

2002 Domaine Gavoty, Cuvée Clarendon Blanc, AC Cotes de Provence
Made from the lesser known variety Rolle (the Italian vermentino).  Fresh, quite herby and creamy.  Very Good Indeed.
(24/3/04 at Le Gavroche)

1999 Barbera d'Asti Superiore "Il Sogno", Scrimaglio
Ripe blackberry and cherry fruit.  Tending towards an "international" style?  Very Good.
(24/3/04 at Le Gavroche)

1998 Zweigelt Reserve, Umathum, Burgenland, Austria
Soft cherry fruit.  Very Good Indeed.
(23/3/04 at Gordon Ramsay, Royal Hospital Rd)

2000 Loibner Grüner Veltliner Smaragd trocken Vinothekfüllung, Knoll, 14%
Very fragrant, full nose - scented and honeyed.  Nice spritz initially, but blows off after a moment in the glass in contact with the air.  Rich fruit.  Excellent.
(23/3/04 at Gordon Ramsay, Royal Hospital Rd)

Club Gascon 23/3/04

2001 Lapeyre Jurancon Sec, J. Bernard Larrieu
Now this is a striking wine. A touch off-dry, but very minerally. I wonder if it's slightly oxidised, but apparently not. Big and very rich flavours with an interesting savouriness. Good/Very Good.

2001 Ch. du Cèdre "Le Prestige", Cahors, Verhaeghe et fils
Powerful stuff, but also very approachable. Concentrated plummy nose with a touch of licorice. Big palate, serious wine with very good balance. Very Good Indeed.

Pacherenc Symphonie d'automne, Berthoumieu (Didn't note the vintage, I'm afraid).
Very elegant light dessert wine which went very well with the range of foie gras dishes which were set before us.

1996 Saumur Champigny "le Grand Clos", Ch. de Villeneuve
 a very pleasant wine: a nice earthiness, good soft fruit. Very Good.
(The Lindsay House, 22/3/04)

Tate Britain 22/3/04

As an aperitif, we had a gorgeous half bottle of 2000 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett, JJ Prüm 7.5% abv.
Crisp, clean with a nice background richness. Very Good Indeed.

Moving on, there came 2002 Muscadet de S&M Sur Lie, Domaine de la Quilla 12%
At £8 for the half bottle, we didn't think we could be done, and indeed it was a pretty good, decent basic muscadet. Nothing to get overly excited about, but perfectly adequate. Good.

A half of 1998 Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Aux Combottes, Domaine Dujac initially had an odd nose, reminiscent of a rather medicinal forest floor. But that medicinal note blew off after a while leaving some soft cherry fruit to come through. Excellent soft fruit on the palate, with the body building all the time. Really very full. Finishes with some interesting tannins and great length. Very Good.

Finally, with the end of the cheese and instead of pudding we had a delectable 50 cl of sweet Condrieu: 2000 Condrieu Fleurs d'automne, Pierre Gaillard
A gorgeous gold colour that had the waitress coo-ing as she poured it. The nose is fantastic - glorious perfumed nature with citrus and honeyed raisins. On the palate, rich, but not cloying. Layers and layers of flavours that wash over the taste buds. Excellent depth. A very interesting wine indeed, and my first dessert condrieu. Excellent.

2000 Crémant de Limoux, Cuvée Eugénie, Antech 12% (DeVigne Wines)
Medium straw.  Slightly uneven bubble stream.  Nice butter toasty nose.  Crisp attack.  Good fruit.  Fills very nicely - hasthe creaminess I often associate with Blanquette de Limoux.  Very clean.  Good fruit.  Quite low acid: so not as good as a basic non-vintage champagne with my fish and chips.  Very Good Indeed.

NV La Cuvée d'Angélique Brut Méthode Traditionelle E.A.R.L. Geoffroy, Gironde. 12% (DeVigne Wines)
Mid straw, good fine bubble stream.  Soft citrus-peach fruit nose.  Light crisp fruit.  Very hard middle with strong acid.  Very undistinguished.

2001 Riesling, Forstmeister Geltz Zilliken 9% abv (Lay & Wheeler)
Zilliken's Gutsriesling.
Greenish pale gold. Rather dumb waxy nose. Very malic. High acidity, finishing with richness and a bit of creaminess. Good. Seems to be preparing for a year or two's snooze to me.

2000 Rosso Conero Monte Schiavo "Adeodato" 13.5% (The Wine Society)
Inky dark purple with some clear signs of youth.  Sweet and sour cherries on the soft fruity nose.  Soft attack.  Full bodied, but not heavy.  Good fruit and balance.  Big tannins on middle and finish.  good character.  Excellent length with much of interest.  Very Good Indeed.

Domaine de Montgilet, Crémant de Loire 12% (DeVigne Wines)
Good mousse. Mid lemon gold. Fresh, fruity herbaceous nose. Lots of mousse in mouth. Good depth of flavour. Lots of apples and peach fruit and a touch off-dry. Good.

2000 Domaine Aupilhac Les Servières 'Un Siècle de Cinsault', Vin de Pays de l'Hérault (The Wine Society)
Bright garnet with obvious youth at the rim.  Lovely soft raspberry nose with some cherries.  Very soft, enticing attack.  Good fruit, nicely balanced.  Not overripe.  Good character.  Soft tannins.  Light, clean finish with fresh spiciness.  Good.

1999 Abadia Retuerta Pago Negralada, Sardon del Duero. Vino de Mesa de Castilla y Leon 13% (Chateauonline)
Youthful dark purple.  Deep concentrated black fruits with a very slihgt lavender perfume.  Very smooth, full attack.  Powerful, intense extract of tempranillo.  Bittersweet cherries and chocolate on the finish.  Excellent.

2002 Ch. Thieuley AC Bordeaux. 12.5%
Not sure where this appeared from: I can't remember the last time I bought a dry white Bordeaux. Maybe it's from the Waitrose Jefford case?
Pale to medium straw. Fragrant, grassy nose with bit of feline pee, but with a warmer citrus note. Fresh, crisp attack. Fills very well. Rich and creamy on the middle and finishes with dry acidity. Very Good Indeed.

1998 Mussbacher Eselshaut Riesling trocken Kabinett, Müller Catoir 12%, AP 5 174 079 06 99 (From Wine Time, Milnthorpe)
Medium straw. Very interesting nose - perfumed grassiness - ah, yes, lemon grass - and a very subtle but evident petrol.
On the palate, good fruit and bone dry. Interesting: initially rounded but developing accents of character in the mouth with significant acidity. One of the more successful trockens I've tried. Very Good.

1995 Masia Barril Clasico (From Booths)
A whopping 16% and, as the back label says, "el Priorato al estilo antiquo".
Remarkably Booth's Everywine outfit still seem to have stock of this to sell: they must have bought up world stocks a few years back.
Bright mature garnet. Very heady nose, slightly port-like. Leather, creme de mure and a touch of garriquey lavender. Ripe, rich attack. Fills with lots of very ripe fruit and liquorice. Concentrated, wild and racy. And just a bit weird. Liquorice bark on the very dry finish. Very Good, perhaps even Very Good Indeed if you can get past the 'estilo antiquo', which just seems a bit weird in these days of commercial, monotone winemaking.

1991 Castillo Labastida Rioja Reserva 12.5%. I think this might be a Laithwaites wine that my dad passed on from one of his STWC cases.
Very good, bright maturing garnet. Lovely nose - gentle oakey, concentrated blackberries with leathery notes. Good soft fruit on attack. Quite light bodied. Really good structure on the middle with an interesting sweetness on the finish. Good length. Very Good Indeed.

2002 Sauvignon Moulin des Cailloux, Cotes de Duras (an area south of the Dordogne, if you were wondering) 12.5%.  Stelvin.
Possibly another from the Jefford case from Waitrose.  Good fresh grassy citrussy nose with a hint of asparagus.  Fresh clean flavours.  Not seemingly particularly dry/acid.  Good balance.  Some depth.  Big on finish and after.  Notably good length.  Good.

1997 Gewurztraminer Altenbourg Vendanges Tardives, Albert Mann 50cl 13%  (Lay & Wheeler)
Mid gold. Lovely, intense honey and lychees nose with a hint of lime and watermelon. Rich and mouthfilling. Lots of buttery tropical fruit and a good level of sweetness, without being over the top. Develops a lot of complexity on middle and towards finish, with several layers of fruit, sweetness, acidity and gewurz richness. Very Good Indeed.

1999 Hermitage Blanc Le Chevalier de Sterimberg, Paul Jaboulet Ainé 14%  (Lay & Wheeler)
Medium gold.  Powerful sweet nose.  Very rich and full.  Very Good Indeed.

2000 Pinot Gris, Bodega Lurton, Mendoza, Argentina, 12.5%, (The Wine Society)
Mid yellow gold.  Very powerful pinot gris nose with huge mango fruit and a touch of cinammon.  Full, rich attack.  Weighty, creamy, tropical fruit palate which dries towards the finish and develops an interesting spiciness after.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.

2000 Planeta La Segreta Rosso IGT Sicilia, 14% (Everywine)
A blend of the traditional Sicilian variety Nero d'Avola with the more international Merlot.
Very intense, slightly spicy bitter cherry nose.  Soft enveloping fruit on the palate: concentrated berry fruits.  Nice structure.  Lots of character, building towards a huge finish.  Nice bittersweetness and intense, light, almost underripe fruit on finish. Very Good Indeed

2001, Vale de Clara by Quinta de la Rosa, Douro DOC, 13% (Booths)
Very short cork (and a rather open texture too).  Made up in the wild Douro Valley of Portugal, where port comes from: this wine is made from the same grapes as port.  Young vibrant purple.  Black hedgerow fruits on the rather subdued nose.  Good attack: clean and fresh, though possibly a little acidic.  Young fruit with some decent structure and soft tannins on middle and finish.  Spicy finish.  Good length.  Good.  Though not as good as a bottle of the same opened a few days earlier for cooking.  Darn.

2000 Muscat Vignoble de Katzenthal, Meyer-Fonné, Alsace, 12% (Lay & Wheeler)
Rich and fragrant creamy ripe muscat nose.  Lovely rich attack.  Very full flavoured; quite floral, almost with a rose touch.  Excellent finish (some muscats can fall apart on the finish and be very hard) - still deep flavoured richness.  Extremely good length.  Very Good.

Grahams LBV 1996
Another one of unknown provenance. Must have been a present from someone.
Very good chocolatey nose with acidic black fruit. Decent attack. Nice rich fruit. Quite a big hit of spirit on middle and towards finish. A good, simple LBV.

2000 Cabernet Sauvignon Passito, Ruvello, DOC Garda, 13% (Asda)
Attractive bright dark ruby.  Quite an intense nose with some black fruits, though not blackcurrants oddly, and also a certain weediness.  Soft and fruity, round and full.  good structure with nice soft tannins.  Spice on finish.  Slight greeness on palate and throughout though.  OK.

1999 Franus Zinfandel, Planchon Vineyard, Contra Costa County, Oakley, California, 14.8% (Edencroft Fine Wines)
Bright, very dark ruby with a touch of youth at the rim.  Ripe, jammy hedgerow fruit with some hedgerow greenery too, and a soft vanilla envelope.  Ripe fruit on attack.  Huge, very big, very ripe flavours, starting to verge on jamminess.  Very clean and intense.  Excellent finish with massive length.  Very Good.

2001 Umore Nero, Castello di Luzzano, Pinot Nero, DOC Oltrepe Pavese, 12.5% (Frank Stainton)
Apparently a young vine pinot noir with no oak, according to the back label.  An even ruby in appearance, with some youth visible at the edges.  Lots of soft red fruit - clean, fresh cherries with some truffles and mushrooms.  Very fruity style - a young and vibrant pinot noir.  Good texture with a certain chewiness on the middle.  Clean, peppery spice on finish with excellent length.  Very Good.

2002 Muscadet sur Lie, Côtes de Grandlieu, Fief Guérin, Luc & Jerome Choblet, 12% (Waitrose)
A very appealing nose: crisp honeydew and watermelon with a notable iodine touch.  Fresh, very fruity and crisp.  Fills rather well and quite full-bodied on the middle and finish with a nice lees-y character showing on the finish.  Excellent length.  Very Good Indeed.

2002 Ch. de Caraguilhes, AC Corbières, 13%.  (Waitrose)
"Agriculture biologique" and vegan to boot.  An attractive bright strawberry juice colour.  Absolutely gorgeous nose - pure fresh fruit - strawberries, oranges and white peaches.  Good, clean fruity attack.  Good weight of fruit, yet still delicate, crisp and fresh.  Spice develops on the palate, and this is very full, spicy, peppery on the finish and long after.  Very Good Indeed.

2001 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Beerenauslese, Kurt Hain, Mosel (AP Nr. 2 596 432 20 02), 8.5%,  (French & Logan)
(continuing the same half bottle opened on 24th December 2003)
Mid gold.  Lots of honey on the nose, but very elegant, with caramelised apples and pears and a bit of lavender.  Lovely balance on the palate, initially with lots of fresh, sweet fruit.  Very good acidity keeps it in excellent balance.  Very clean and fresh with a certain crispness on the finish.  Very Good Indeed.

NV Bicary Brut Méthode Traditionelle, AC Gaillac, Roger Rouquié, 11.5% (From DeVigne Wines, Welshpool)
Apparently an assemblage of those well-known grape varieties Mauzac and Len de L'El.
Medium straw.  Coarse-ish bubbles, but after a few moments, it settles down to a very fine bubble stream.  Very creamy blackberry nose (almost an eau de vie de mûre).  Good mousse.  Fresh and fruity.  Fairly full flavoured.  Zesty, lemony hints on the palate, but not too acide.  Interesting aftertaste of crisp roasted apple.  Very Good +. 

NV Champagne Brossault Brut (Majestic)
Mid straw, turning deeper.  Very good, very fine bubbles.  Rich, bready nose with some fruit.  Very good mousse.  Not searingly dry and with very nice fruit.  Not especially shy, but not only powerful flavours either.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Moss Wood Glenmore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, 14%
Very nice smoky leathery nose, laden with cabernet sauvignon fruit.  Good fruit on the palate, though a little flat overall.  Good flavours with nice structure.  Soft gentle tannins on the finish.  I'm not really quite sure what to make of this, as I feel it should be rather more impressive: it might be in a bit of a dumb phase, or it might be about to start fading.

NV Castello del Poggio Moscato d'Asti, DOCG
Very good light fruity nose.  Nice petillance.  Not overly sweet and avoids the artificial taste of some moscati d'Asti.  Very Good.

2001 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Beerenauslese, Kurt Hain,  Mosel, (AP Nr. 2 596 432 20 02), 8.5%,  (French & Logan)
A bright mid gold.  Lovely nose: a touch of apples, lots of honey with a waxy herbal perfume with some very gentle lavender notes.  Acid and pure fruit on the attack.  Then it fills to a luscious richness, yet still cut by a fine acidity.  Sweet, haunting body and length with a crisp after.  Very Good Indeed.

1976 Roxheimer Mühlenberg Riesling Beerenauslese, Günther Schlink, Bad Kreuznach, Pfalz, (AP Nr. 1 710 077 075 77), 9.5%
Almost a coppery colour.  Honey and beeswax with raisins on the nose.  No riesling characteristics to speak of.  On the palate, it's raisined and slightly oxidised.  Again lacking Riesling characteristics and elegance.  Moderately sweet, with some acid.  But really rather flat and uninteresting.  OK.

2000 Tokay Pinot Gris, Rolly Gassman
With the Christmas goose.  A good rich pinot gris, but really very sweet.  Good.

NV Taittinger Brut
2 or 3 years since purchase.  Slightly stronger flavour than usual.  Very good bubbles, but virtually no mousse in the mouth.  Good.

1996 Quinta do Passadouro Late Bottled Vintage Port, 20.5% (Peckham's, Glasgow)
Quite a light, curiously mature colour - bright and fairly pale, like a basic tawny.  Deep tarry fruit with chocolate on the nose, but also a bit of spirit, caramel and also a touch raisined.  Good fruity attack.  Quite a sweet style.  Lacks the depth and layers of something great; and in fact it begins to seem a little workmanlike, lacking any marked character.  But still a very acceptable drop.  Very Good.

2001 Guardian Peak Shiraz, South Africa, 14.5%
Darky ruby to vibrant purple at the edge: a deep, glass-staining colour.  Warm, spicy nose with cinnamon and dark black fruits.  Pretty solid fruit - ripe and round.  Develops an interesting character with plummy fruit and a warm pepperiness.  An acidic streak shows itself too.  Finishes with soft tannins.  Very Good +.

2001 Cuvée des Fées, Chateau Cazal Viel, AC St Chinian, Henri Miguel, vigneron, 13.5%
Young and dark blackberry colour.  Exceptionally attractive nose - light, fragrant, fruity Syrah with intense blackberry fruit and a touch of milk chocolate.  Pure concentrated fruit attack.  Very big and very full.  A real powerhouse of a wine.  But also very approachable.  Nice soft tannins with a pleasing astringency towards the finish.  Very Good Indeed.

2002 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett, Kurt Hain, Mosel, 8% (AP Nr. 2 596 432 8 03),  (French & Logan)
Bright pale gold with green tinges on the rim.  Bright, vibrant citrussy sherbetty, very crisp apples.  Very good attack.  Clean and immediately attractive with a pleasing roundness.  Then the acid starts to cut in, giving it a real vibrant edge.  Gorgeous stuff.  Excellent length, and clean and crisp after.  Excellent.

2001 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett, Kees-Kieren, Mosel, 8.5%, (AP Nr. 2 583 092 16 02), (French & Logan)
Medium gold.  Slightly oxidised petrol nose with beeswax, but no fruit.  Acid on attack, followed by rich fruit and honey.  Rather flat on the middle.  Good length with acid after.  Good-ish, but seems prematurely aged.

2002 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett, Kurt Hain, Mosel, 8% (AP Nr. 2 596 432 8 03),  (French & Logan)
Vibrant, rich creamy nose with some minerality.  Fresh, clean ripe fruit.  Very definitely off dry, but with good acidity.  Very clean, zingy and refreshing.  Very Good Indeed +.

2002 Les Quarterons, Thierry Amirault, AC St Nicholas de Bourgeuil, Loire, 12.5%  (Waitrose)
A bright young even ruby.  Soft berry fruit and early morning dew on the hedgerow nose.  Very young on the attack.  Some fruit; fair bit of acid.  Slightly astringent.  Seems a pretty basic Loire cabernet franc with no particular characteristics.  Good-ish.

2001 Niersteiner Paterberg Riesling Spätlese ***, J & HA Strub, 8% (AP Nr. 2 596 432 8 03),  (French & Logan)
Medium straw.  Rich, peachy, minerally nose.  Good fruit on attack with pleasing sweetness.  Nice depth with an interesting character.  Slightly loses something on the middle, but finishes well enough with good length.  Good/Very Good.

1995 Morey St Denis, Huber Lignier (at Angel Inn, Hetton)
A very classic earthy mushroomy Burgundy pinot noir nose, with a fragrant raspberry and cherry streak.  Very attractive mature colour.  Very good on the palate - elegant fruit and structure with light tannins.  Very good fresh fruit with a nice acidic streak.  Very Good Indeed.

2001 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Auslese, Kurt Hain, Mosel, 8% (AP Nr. 2 596 432 15 02),  (French & Logan)
Pale green with light lemon yellow highlights.  Honey baked apple nose, but a little closed.  Big fruit, round, full attack.  Very clean with very good acidity.  Lovely weight in the mouth.  Inordinately more-ish.  Very Good Indeed.

NV Domaine de Montgilet, Crémant de Loire, Victor & Vincent LeBreton, 12% (DeVigne Wines)
Medium straw.  Fair mousse. Nice fine bubbles.  Very pleasant nose with grass and honey, and a nice biscuitiness.  Lovely attack - very neat and crisp, followed up by very good flavours.  Crisp, citrussy, with a touch of exotic fruits.  Very striking and quite powerful flavours, but not aggressive.  Very good length.  Very clean and fresh after.  Very Good Indeed.

2002 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett, Kees-Kieren, Mosel, 8%, (AP Nr. 2 583 092 14 03), (French & Logan)
Greenish lemon gold.  Subdued citrussy, creamy apples.  Very fresh, clean, crisp palate with good fruit and acidity.  Nice clean finish.  Very Good.

2002 Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese feinherb, Kees-Kieren, Mosel, (AP Nr. 2 583 092 12 03), (French & Logan)
Very bright, clear green-tinged pale gold.  Very scented nose with light honey, waxy creaminess.  High acidity immediately apparent on the palate.  Rather reticent fruit.  Very light structure and body.  Crisp with an odd confected finish.  I don't like this wine, though I don't think it's off.  Fair.

2001 Brouilly, Duboeuf, 12.5% (Sainsbury)
Bright, light even red with a touch of youth at the rim.  Softred fruit and a rather astringent green note.  Light, fairly fresh tasting.  Some fruit.  Some green tannins.  Tolerable.

2001 Les Vieilles Vignes de Chateau Maris, AC Minervois La Livinière, 14%  (Waitrose)
A biodynamic wine made from 80-year old carignan vines.  A rather unexceptional nose - soft fruit: bilberries and hedgerow, or rather the green of the hedgerow, not the fruit.  Fruit and acid on the attack.  Lots of green flavours, but also bundles of spice - very herby.  Powerful flavours.  Very soft tannins, just perceptible on the finish and after.  Superb length.  Very Good.

2002 Pago de los Capellanes tinto joven roble, Ribera del Duero, 13.5% (Byrne's)
80% tempranillo, 10% cabernet sauvignon, 10% merlot; 3 months in medium toast American oak barrique.
A very young ruby with a vibrant purple rim.  Huge fruity nose - quite brutish with an animalistic bretty astringency and delicate oak.  On the palate, there is fruit initially, then some greenness and a slightly unsettling bitterness, all accompanied by some very very soft tannins.  Fair balance.  Interesting character.  I'm not sure where it's going (if anywhere) or what the winemaker's intentions for this wine might have been.  Good.

1999 Vosne-Romanée, Domaine René Engel
Drunk over dinner at the Lindsay House (Romilly Street, London), so not a proper note.  Very earthy and truffley.  Decent fruit.  A bit spirity on the finish.  Very Good.
(The Lindsay House, 22/11/03)

1999 Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune, Vielles Vignes, Nicolas Potel, 13%, (Lay & Wheeler)
An even, rather uninspiring young burgundy colour.  Big, expressive nose full of cherries, raspberries and pepper.  Good, soft fruity attack.  Nice weight on the palate.  Big flavours - quite intense and very forward.  Quite serious.  Medium tannins on the finish.  Excellent - notably fruity - length.  After being open for a day, the remainder of the bottle showed a much more expansive and open wine, with softer tannins and even more fruit and balance.  Very Good Indeed.

2002 Le Vieux Clos, AC Cheverny, 12.5%  (Waitrose)
The appellation of Cheverny, drawing its name from the town of the same name, lies on the left bank of the Loire in the north east of the Touraine region.  The region, with around 2,000 hectares under vine, was promoted from VDQS to an appellation in its own right in 1993. As elsewhere in the Loire, red wines are made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, and Pinot Noir.  Gamay, along with Pinot d'Aunis and Grolleau, also goes to make some rosé wines, while for white wines, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay are also grown.  A sub-region, the AC Cour-Cheverny, makes white wines from the less well known Romorantin variety.
This wine is made from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, and matured on its lees.  A pale straw colour.  Excellent, very fragrant nose of gooseberries, elderflower and a buttery creaminess.  Very good attack: very crisp and clean.  Good fruit with some depth and interest.  Fair complexity, especially on the finish.  A really weird (though not unpleasant) finish and aftertaste though: a real tropical fruit salad of banana, mango and cream.  The blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay clearly aims to temper the freshness and vibrant acidity of a Loire SB with the round creaminess of Chardonnay - and I think it's managed to make something that really is a little more than the sum of its parts.  A very interesting wine.  Very Good.

2001 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Spätlese , Kurt Hain, Mosel, 8% (AP Nr. 2 596 432 13 02),  (French & Logan)
A pale goldy straw with green at the rim. Mineral nose with wax and slate, but a bit subdued really.  Superb attack.  Gosh, this is good!  Fresh, huge fruit and heft acid initially.  Nice weight with a hint of sweetness.  Very good acidity - all nicely balanced, and not a too searing acidity.  Very Good Indeed.

2001 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett , Kurt Hain, Mosel, 8% (AP Nr. 2 596 432 8 02),  (French & Logan)
Very pale greenish straw.  Fragrant, slatey nose.  Excellent, fresh attack.  Nice, elegant richness and creaminess.  Light, fresh, round and elegant with a nice acidity.  I find it more straightforward with less of the sherbetty-ness of the 2002.  Very Good Indeed.

2002 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett , Kurt Hain, Mosel, 8% (AP Nr. 2 596 432 8 03),  (French & Logan)
Pale, green-tinged straw.  Fantastic fresh, vibrant nose - slightly sherbetty.  Very vibrant attack - zinging fresh fruit with good acidity.  Excellent body.  A rich Riesling slightly oily palate with more than a hint of honey.  Very Good Indeed.

2001 Mosel Valley Riesling, Qualitätswein, Moselblick GmbH, (AP Nr. 2 907 009 250 02), 11% (Sainsbury)
Very very pale - almost clear.  Rather confected Riesling nose with some plasticky notes alongside a waxy oiliness.  Very commercial, but as such a fair Riesling.  A good cooking Riesling, as it has some clear varietal characteristics.

NV Quinta da Pacheca Tawny Port, Produced and bottled by Eduardo Serpa Pimentel, 19% (bought ex-cave in October 2002)
A light, slightly tawny pale ruby.  Prunes, leather and chocolate on the nose with some alcohol.  Extremely smooth and round.  Good soft fruit - quite concentrated.  Quite nutty on the palate too.  Very Good Indeed.

1998 Korem, Argiolas, Isola dei Nuraghi IGT (Sardinia), 13%  (Everywine)
An even, bright ruby.  Alcoholic red fruit nose.  Soft fruit and prominent, if softening tannins.  Complex depths, but not as impressive as on purchase.  Either a substandard bottle or in a dumb phase.

Tate Britain 28/10/03

Of course, I had really gone to the Turner Prize, and it was purely coincidental that the Tate Britain's restaurant has an amazing wine list (see http://www.tate.org.uk/britain/pdf/wine.pdf).

That is of course an out and out lie. Though I did blag my way into to see a bit of the Turner prize, before being chucked out by the BBC, who were filming. Bloody press. Just because it was the press only day, why shouldn't I be allowed in too? And I was so impressed with myself for talking my way in the first place!

The Tate Britain's restaurant, with Whistler's famous mural, has changed very little since I was last there probably about 20 years ago. Then the food was distinctly British (Hindle Wakes, I remember), now it's got an Italianate touch. It's fair value, refreshingly simple food, that's on the whole remarkably wine friendly. The whole set up for me was more than a little reminiscent of the glory days of British Transport Hotels. 2 male maitre d's meet and greet; 3 waitresses, straight out of a Lyons Corner house or, err ... well, BTH ... do everything else, with the assistance of a couple of male commis waiters who carry back and forth to the kitchen.


1996 Ornellaia, Marchese Lodovico half bottle
Quite cool and the waitress was rather concerned about this, but I'm not keen on hot red wine, so was quite happy with that. It soon warmed up anyway.
Lovely earthy mushroomy nose with blackcurrant and mint leaf. Very full attack. Excellent fruit, but huge massive tannins all the way through (though these did soften as the wine warmed). Enormous length - just went on forever. Very good.

The Ornellaia went well my duck and bean salad with soft boiled duck egg and rump of lamb with mint salsa verde and balsamic onions.

For dessert, after the previous night's port tasting, I nearly had a chocolate dessert just so I could have a glass of Taylor's 20 year, which they correctly serve lightly chilled. However, sense got the better of me, and I remembered I had to drive all the way back oop north, so it was an immaculate bread and butter pudding, helped down by a glass of

Ch. Rayne-Vigneau 1986 Served by the glass at £9.50 for a generous glass.
Gorgeous mature sauternes colour - deepish tarnised gold. Elegant honey and marmelade nose. Very good attack. Very clean and fresh tasting. Great acidity, and although there's a touch of caramel sweetness in the mouth, it is not at all cloying in any way. Very elegant. Very Good.

To take away, I bought a bottle of 1964 Huet Clos du Bourg Moelleux.

A stiff, large espresso and I was ready for off. But what's this? A glass with their compliments.

Dow 1977
Clearly the bottom of the bottle, as there were some sizeable chunks of sediment floating around, but fortunately nothing much in suspension.
Dark and inky colour, but with no apparent youth showing. Dense, dark fruit on the nose - quite forward with violets, rose petals and a hint of Johnson's baby powder.
Concentrated and deep on the palate. Huge depth with some of the floral notes coming though. Tannins develop in the mouth - quite big on finish and after. Lingering, bitter chocolate and burnt coffee flavours after. Plenty of life left in it. Seems to be a remarkably dry style. Very Good Indeed.

Better have another espresso and a good brisk walk. Unfortunately, it meant I was behind schedule, and so had to suffer the rush hour from Victoria, laden down with wine and other comestibles. I do not miss the London rush hour one little bit.

1996 Blanquette de Limoux, Cuvée Exception, Antech, 11.5%  (DeVigne Wines)
Deepish gold colour.  Quite a powerful nose with fresh bread, creaminess and green beans.  Clean and rich on the palate, with a slightly oxidised character.  Low-ish acid.  Fine small bubbles with a good moussy feel.  Full-flavoured and rich.  Lingering aftertaste.  Strong flavours.  Very Good Indeed.

2001 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Beerenauslese, Kees-Kieren, Mosel, (AP Nr. 2 583 092 28 02), (French & Logan)
A remarkably light colour - light to mid gold.  Rather humble nose.  Creamy, honeyed beeswax.  Excellent, fruit-driven attack.  Fills hugely.  Sweet and quite luscious, but also very elegant on the palate.  Quite intense, concentrated Riesling fruit and honey on the palate.  Immense length.  Excellent.

2001 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese **, Kees-Kieren, Mosel, 8% (AP Nr. 2 583 092 20 02), (French & Logan)
Pale gold with a green tinge showing at the edge.  Very light nose indeed with a certain grape-syrup note to it.  Quite buttery too, and really a little odd.  But it comes through as clearly Riesling with a strong waxy note, underpinned by honey.  Quite full on the attack with some acid very noticeable on the tongue.  Round and rich, yet quite elegant and structured.  A bit of sweetness on the middle, but also some acid.  But I find the acid rather discrete and not knitted into the structure of the wine: I feel this makes the wine seem a little disjointed and lacking structure.  Good length.  Good.

1975 Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Spätlese, P. Licht-Bergweiler, Mosel, (AP Nr. 2 577 264 9 76) (Bibendum)
Medium lemon gold.  Citrussy nose with a smoked salmon oiliness and layers of minerals.  Excellent attack - clean and incredibly fresh for a 28-year old wine.  I can almost detect that smoked salmon on the palate too: the rich waxiness and smokiness of older Mosel Riesling.  Good fruit.  Fills really well.  Rounded and full, with great complexity.  Very good finish.  Very good acidity throughout.  Very Good Indeed.

2001 Riesling Qualitätswein, Forstmeister Geltz Zilliken, 9% (AP Nr. 3 511 083 8 02) (Lay & Wheeler)
Very pale, watery lemony straw.  Mineral driven nose - slatey with paraffin notes.  No creaminess, no apples, no waxiness (such as one might expect to find in such a wine).  Light vibrant attack.  Very clean and crisp.  Good fruit.  Quite austere, but full-flavoured.  Very good length.  Very Good Indeed.

NV Escaladou Late Harvest, vin de table français.  Mis en bouteille par SOE 33330 à 11200 Lezignan Corbières, 37.5cl, 14.5% (Sunday Times Wine Club/Laithwaites)
Medium straw with a lemony rim.  Odd nose.  Slight minerality, butter and steel, and just a bit of very hard muscat - but not especially forthcoming.  And not an entirely attractive nose either.  Unpleasant attack.  Sugar sweet with a nasty bitterness that develops.  Very unbalanced.  Very unpleasant.  Very Poor.

1997 Pesquera Tinto Crianza, Ribera del Duero, Bodegas Alejandro Fernandez, 13%  (Chateauonline)
Signs of slight recent seepage on the cork.  Excellent, even blackberry juice colour.  Nice nose: vanilla oak immediately evident, then plummy dark fruits and a bit of brett.  Very good attack.  Immediately enticing.  Warm, ripe fruit initially, but then the wine builds in structure.  Elegant with nice tannins on the finish.  Very Good Indeed.  (probably experienced somewhat accelerated ageing due to the mechanical failure of the cork.)

1999 Grand Prébois Rouge, VdP Principauté d'Orange, Domaines Perrin, 12% (Wine Society)
Even ruby.  Soft, black fruits with some farmyardy brett on the nose.  Soft fruity attack, which follows throught without noticeable development.  Soft acidic streak with ripe tannins on the finish.  Needs drinking up.  OK

1998 Grand Prébois Rouge, VdP Principauté d'Orange, Domaines Perrin, 12% (Wine Society)

2002 Marlborough Dry Riesling, Kim Crawford, (New Zealand) 13%, (BoothsStelvin.
Very, very pale lemony straw.  Very full nose - waxy lemons and furniture polish with a bit of honey. Very attractive attack.  Light, very fresh.  Very well-balanced.  Full flavours on the palate, but still the freshness comes through.  Nice acid, but very well-balanced by the fruit and the merest hint of sweetness.  Maybe lacks depth.  I'd like to try this one with more age on it.  Very Good.

Gutierrez Colosio Pedro Ximénez Muy Dulce, (Sherry), 18% (Byrne's) Stelvin.
On pouring, it appears to lack something of the unctuousness of the Lustau (see immediately below).  Medium mahogany colour, fading to tan.  Citrussy nose with salted almonds.  Luscious mouthfeel.  Quite fresh fruit impression initially.  Rather syrupy, but not at all oversweet - it actually has quite a balancing acidity.  Remarkably different to the Lustau.  This is much lighter and fresher, though the fruit is not especially developed.  Interesting.  What look like tartaric crystals at the bottom of the bottle, though you do wonder if they might actually be sugar crystals!  Good.

Lustau San Emilio Pedro Ximénez, (Sherry), 17% (Booths)
Really rather sensuous to pour.  Very unctuous, almost syrupy.  Pale mahogany, facing to a lemon yellow.  Very interesting nose: not at all raisiny or sweet, but rather a salty treacly nose, though also a touch spirity.  An interesting honeysuckle note.  Rich, sweet attack.  Syrupy mouthfeel.  Intense, clean fruit flavours, slightly medicinal.  And slight commercial I feel.  Huge length of course.  Has the same spiritiness on the palate.  For me, the dominant impression is of the physical weight in the mouth - the very mouth-coating, syrupy texture.  Good.

2001 Puerta de Cadrillo Bobal, Selección Limitada, D.O. Utiel-Requena [an area due west of Valencia], 13.5%
Bobal is the grape variety: the same as the Sardinian Bovale.  Very bright ruby with marked youth at the rim.  Young nose with grassy/herby fruit: warm and silky with licorice, cedar and oak.  Rather Grenadine-y on the nose.  Good enough on the attack.  Quite forward with young fruit.  Doesn't really develop a great deal, but huge tannins appear on the middle and continue on the finish, where there is a touch of alcohol.  Fairly pleasant, but not great.  Actually, this grows on me.  It's quite big, not too powerful.  Full, if simple flavours.  Good.

2001 Bukettraube, Cederberg, 13% (Woffenden Wines) Supremecorq
Pale straw with a greenish tinge.  Very attractive floral nose with lots of melon and passion fruit, but also a very noticeable streak of envelope glue.  Rich and full on the attack.  Rather sweet.  Full, ripish tropical fruit palate, but very flat and even rather uninteresting.  Plasticky confected notes on the finish.  Poor to fair.

1999 Abadia Retuerta, Selección Especial, Sardon del Duero, vino de la tierra de Castilla y Leon, 13%   (Chateauonline)
Attractive plum colour with remains of youth at the rim.  Rich, intense nose.  Some leather with warm black fruit and a touch of confected licorice on the nose.  Very good attack.   Immediate ripe fruit and power.  Develops nicely with tannins coming forward and receding a little on the finish.  Good fruit.  Very good character and really quite elegant.  Very Good Indeed.

2001 Chateau de Pennautier, AC Cabardes, Comte Nicolas de Lorgeuil, (Wine Society)
Attractive youthful colour, darkening to a bright yet deep ruby at the centre.  Decent nose: hedgerows, touch a spice and a bit of burnt plastic.  With aeration, the plasticky note develops into very clear raspberries.  Good fruit attack, but develops a slightly acid note, which makes it feel disjointed.  Quite green and raw on the middle with soft, yet substantial tannins.  Spice on the finish.  Just doesn't seem to hang together.  Poor to Fair.

1999 Abadia Retuerta, Selección Especial, Sardon del Duero, vino de la tierra de Castilla y Leon, 13%   (Chateauonline)
A blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, aged in oak for 18 months, before being bottled without filtering.
Very dark ruby with some youth.  Rich leathery nose with lots of ripe black fruit.  But the nose is a bit reticent and needs plenty of agitation to release it, after which there are also some very fresh herby, very slightly licorice notes too.  Impressive attack.  Immediate power and lots of ripe fruit.  Quite light too, so it appears nicely elegant.  Fills very well.  Soft tannins develop on the middle together with an appealing bitterness.  Good character and no little finesse - a winning combination.  Fruit fades on the finish to more herbaceous flavours.  Good length.  Good to Very Good.

1999 Domaine de la Rectoire La Goudie, VdP de la Côte Vermeille, Parcé Frères (Byrnes)
This is essentially a Collioure rosé.
Quite a rich strawberry juice colour.  Dull nose, though it's a little to cold - redcurrants and citrus?  Fair attack - quite light with nice acidity.  Fills enormously.  Huge, big slightly confected flavours on the palate with an unusual tongue-coating acidity which lingers long after.  Not the best of bottles of this particular wine.  Not rated.

Dow 1963
Unlabelled, vintage port from the cellars of a Cambridge College.  A remarkably pale ruby red, not entirely unlike a 10 year old tawny.  It has a big nose, which immediately assails with dried fruit, mixed peel and a subtle aniseed note.  Interesting perfume to it, like violet cream mixed with dried figs and a plum pudding finish.  On the palate, it is clean with the same intense dried fruit.  But, boy, it's really rather spirity which undoubtedly detracts from the overall experience.  There's a decent-ish finish with some length, though nowhere near as long as you might expect.  Clearly this has quite a bit of life left in it, and it could probably do with longer to tame the spirit.

1991 Wiltinger Hölle Riesling Spätlese.  Vereinigte Hospitien, (AP Nr. 3 561 104 38 92) 8% (Majestic Wines)
Very tight cork.  Lightish to medium lemon gold.  Ripe, mature Riesling nose.  Plenty of minerals and some petrol, but a bit dull overall on the nose.  Odd, plasticky attack.  Off dry.  Thin and unimpressive.  Fair fruit.  Decent length.  Fair.

Fine Old Rare Sherry Manzanilla Pasada de Sanlucar 1/80.  Bottled by Emilio Lustau S.A.  From the solera of Manuel Cuevas Jurado.  Specially selected by Berry Brothers & Rudd  17%  37.5cl  (Berry Bros & Rudd)
A bright mid copper in the glass, this has an excellent nose: initially there is flor, then an ozone-y saltiness, then raisiny fruit and molasses.  Very good attack: this really is lovely. Light and remarkably fresh tasting initially, this fills with layers of interest, building steadily to an engrossing richness.  Lovely salty tang, but loads and loads of fruit - quite an intense fruit.  Returning to tangy dry-ness on finish, and searingly dry after.  Thoroughly excellent.

1998 Pesquera Tinto Crianza
Good colour.  Very interesting nose with fruit, earthiness, mushrooms and a hint of vanilla.  Good restrained fruit on palate, but seems a bit lacking somewhere.  Possibly a slight tendency to weediness.  Fair.
(14/9/03 at Solo Restaurant, Goosnargh)

1998 Koberner Weisenberg Riesling Auslese (Freiherr von Schleinitz) (AP Nr. 1 649 017 7 99) 9% 50cl (Everywine)
Part of a mixed case of von Schleinitz wines bought from everywine, none of which have risen much above the level of being merely OK, and too many didn't even rate that "accolade".
This is in a very neat little 50cl bottle, well packaged, nattily labelled, with what appears to be a disk of red wax on top of the cork.  The wax isn't sealing the bottle, just sitting on top of the cork - odd!  Style over content?
Unfortunately, once opened it's clear that it is style over content and that this bottle is only too representative of the mediocrity of these v. Schleinitz wines.  A medium, green-tinged straw.  Very dull, appley nose, but giving virtually nothing away.  Fair attack.  Clean, quite fresh with some richness behind it, which develops in the mouth.  Some apples and some cream on palate, but very mean-spirited.  A very odd harsh note towards the finish.  Dull and uninteresting.  Very mediocre.  Poor.

1989 Oberemmeler Karlsberg Riesling Auslese Goldcap, (Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt)  (AP Nr. 3 561 077 103 90) 8.5%
Pulled from the shelf as there was some sign of cork leakage.  Rich lemon gold.  Honey and petrol on the nose.  Excellent attack.. Light, quite fresh.  But steadily develops and fills to elegant honeyed roundness.  Very well balanced, despite an apparently low acidity.  Well structured, elegant wine.  Though definitely not showing at its best due to minor cork failure.  Still merits at least a Good though.

Meyer Fonné 2000 Muscat Vignoble de Katzenthal 12% (Lay & Wheeler)
Medium to deep straw.  Fairly big muscat nose with lots of tropical fruit.  Light, fresh attack.  Fills into a real mouthful.  Rich and quite pungent.  But a bit dull.  Definitely not the best bottle of the case of this.  OK.

1999 Bodega Lurton Mendoza Pinot Gris, (Argentina), 13% (Wine Society)
Deepish gold.  Over the hill.

1998 Tokaji Furmint Late Harvest, Oremus, 375ml, 12%, (Byrne's)
Rich coppery gold.  Intense nose - honeyed, slightly raisined tropical fruit and citrus.  Elegant and rich.  Very good mouthfeel.  Attractive sweetness that avoids being cloying.  Intense, very fresh fruit flavours with very good length.  Very Good Indeed.

1997 Wintricher Ohligsberg Riesling Spätlese, Reinhold Haart, 8% (AP Nr: 2 596 429 10 98) (Ex cave, September 1998)

1996 Pinot Gris Réserve Personelle, Trimbach (Alsace), 13% (Wine Society)
Bright medium yellow-gold.  Excellent nose - quite restrained: ripe peaches and melted butter with a hint of citrus and a nice warm spice.  Very full attack.  Good, very rich fruit on palate with a subtle but clear spiciness.  Extremely elegant.  But somehow in its elegance and smooth, rich clarity it misses some of the edge that the plain Trimbach reserve pinot gris has.  This is top stuff, however.  The plain reserve has more of a sugar sweetness to it, while the reserve personelle has a richness, evidently from riper fruit.  Exceptional length.  Very Good Indeed.

1996 Pinot Gris Réserve, Trimbach (Alsace), 13% (Wine Society)
Bright lemon-yellow pale gold.  Elegant nose - soft tropical and stone fruit underlined by creamy butteriness.  Good attack - light and fresh.  Quite light, very clean and fresh.  But also a touch of sweetness.  Really elegant basic Alsace pinot gris.

1999 Littlehampton Innes Vineyard Pinot Gris, Henschke, Adelaide Hills 13.5% (Byrne's)
Pale copper. Very buttery PG nose with peaches, apricots and warm buttery cinammon/nutmeg. A light fresh attack fills nicely. Very buttery on palate with a nice herbaceousness and lots of spice on the middle and finish. Very spicy after, with excellent length: lingers in the mouth forever with pretty big spice, though a nice lemon curd note that runs throughout cuts the spice-power and stops it being overwhelming. Very rounded, fairly rich. Personally, I'd like to see a bit more elegance and finesse. Good/Very Good.

1999 Bodega Lurton Mendoza Pinot Gris, Argentina, 13% (Wine Society)
Medium gold.  Corked.

1988 Tokay d'Alsace, Eugène Meyer, 13.5% (Ramsbottom Victuallers)
When trying to open it, the cork completely crumbled, and after pouring the wine through a fine sieve, it showed a worryingly deep colour: a slightly coppery gold. It actually looked less worrying in the glass than it did in the decanter, and as it turned out, I needn't have worried about its health at all. A rather mild nose - smoky, maple, peaches and pears with some honey. Good clean attack. Fills to a fairly full mouthfeel. Rich, rather honeyed flavours, but searingly dry. Really excellent elegant mature pinot gris fruit and spice - intense and concentrated. Very good finish and length. Very good indeed/excellent.

2000 Pinot Gris, Bodega Lurton, Mendoza, Argentina, 12.5% (The Wine Society)
Medium straw in appearance.  A good pinot gris nose; and not an overpowering one.  An interesting lemony note on the nose.  Quite light on the attack - fresh and clean.  Develops well on the palate: really quite elegant - surprisingly so for such a budget wine.  Nice spice notes - almost reminiscent of pepper-smoked mackerel.  Decent finish with fair length.  Very Good.

NV Champagne Brossault Brut, (Majestic)
Initially a rather coarse bubble stream, but it does settle down a bit to give mixed streams of very fine bubbles a a stream of coarser bubbles.  Nice fruity nose with yeasty notes and some slightly sour stone fruit.  Very good fruit on the attack.  Very forward.  Crisp and clean with excellent length.  A lovely, round, easy drinking NV champagne.
The coarse bubbles seem just to be a bit of over-exuberance straight after opening: there are much more impressive fine streams after being open a little while.  Seems to gain a little elegance with time too.  Very Good Indeed.

2002 Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Gris, Marlborough, New Zealand, 14.5%, Stelvin closure (Booths)
A very pale straw.  Good nose, with excellent pinot gris character - peachy with a nice spicing and quite scented floral notes.  Fair attack.  Initially quite light, but then it fills enormously.  Very, very big and full flavoured: almost a bit too powerful.  Lacks individuality, elegance and character.  Very round and full, with nice drying spice.  But a bit simple.  Good.

1998 Chateau Pech-Céleyran Saint Exupery La Clape, AC Coteaux du Languedoc. 12% abv (Wine Society?)
Very even dark, almost chocolatey ruby. Gorgeous nose - lots of ripe brambly fruit with a minty herbaceous, hedegrow backbone. Very good attack. Lots of soft red fruit - presumably a fair proportion of grenache in this. Fills very nicely. Full, round ripe fruit with a hint of peppery spice and nice soft tannins to hold it up. Very satisfying.
Excellent length with a slight bitterness after. Very good.

Clos d'Yvigne Cuvée Nicholas Bergerac Sec 2000 Vin non filtré Patricia Atkinson propriétaire-récoltant. 13% abv (Booths)
Couldn't resist picking up a couple of bottles (from the back of the shelf, away from the lights) of this in Booths after reading encouraging comments on wine-pages.com.
Quite a deep colour - coppery gold at the centre, fading to clear at the rim. Attractive nose - deep, buttery toast with more than a hint of gooseberry. Very good attack. Rich and rounded. Very ripe fruit. Good use of oak. Quite complex on palate. Very full and rounded. A pleasant spiciness develops on the finish with a certain floral note. Decent length. [Back label says it's a blend of Sauv. blanc, semillon and muscadelle, and fermented in oak for 9 months.]
Very good.

2000 Quinta do Vale Dona Mario Rio Torto Vinho Tinto Douro DOC 14.5% abv (Bibendum)
The table wine from this Van Zeller owned lovely little quinta up in the Rio Torto valley, that used to produce Smith Woodhouse vintage in the 1970s, 80s and early 90s. There are just 10 hectares under vine, and, according to Sandra Tavares, the winemaker, the vines are believed to have an average age of 60 years. Around 28 varieties have been identified and all are foot-trodden (for the table wines as well as the ports) 10,000 bottles of the 2000 Douro Rio Torto red were produced
Young dark purple. Very good, concentrated fruity nose - dark fruit, plums and leather, with a touch of aniseed. Very smooth and mouthfilling on the palate. Big and rather concentrated with a richness not just from the high alcohol content, but also from lovely ripe fruit. Soft tannins. A sort of chocolatey chewiness on the finish. Huge length. Should improve with a few years' age. Excellent.

2000 Rioja Crianza, Campo Viejo
Very vanilla on the nose.  Quite a light attack.  Round and full on the palate with an interesting acidity.  Very light tannins.  Quite open.  Good.

2000 Grüner Veltliner Breiter Rain Rohrendorf Sepp Moser, Kremstal. 13.5% (Byrne's)
Pale straw with a greenish tinge at the rim. Very big nose - rather chardonnay like with oak a touch too dominant at the moment. Quite big and round on the attack, fills enormously with ripe GrüV on the palate. Very full and rich with a bit of honey. Some decent acidity, keeping the power in check. A bit too young at the moment, I'd hazard. Good now, but potentially very good.

1998 Koberner Weisenberg Riesling Spätlese Von Schleinitz 9% abv (Everywine)
Part of a mixed case of von Schleinitz wines bought from everywine, none of which have risen much above the ok level.
This Spätlese has a medium yellow gold colour in the glass. A rather dull, closed nose with some creaminess and minerality. Rather sweet on the attack. Fair fruit. Lacking acidity. Lacking elegance. Inoffensive.

1993 Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett P.Licht-Bergweiler AP 2 577 264 8 94 7.5% (Bibendum)
Medium gold, but still with a marked green tinge, like the innermost hear of a little gem lettuce. Rather thin, minerally nose - petrol and slate foremost. OK on attack. Decent fruit. Minerality again. Light, quite refreshing, if a bit simple and uni-dimensional. Creaminess after, with apple notes breaking through the wet stones it seems I've been sucking. Good (just).

Quinta do Noval Unfiltered Late Bottled Vintage Port 1997 19.5% L2352 (Noel Young)
Dark raspberry blood red, showing a bit of youth on rim. Excellent nose - fruit laden with licorice and violet cream chocolates. Excellent attack. Actually quite light and with more than a bit of elegance. Huge depth of flavour. Lots and lots of rich ripe fruit. Very elegant, especially on the middle. No trace of spirit. Beautiful. Really very good indeed/Excellent.

Gaiospino Fumé Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore 1998 (Fattoria Coroncino) 14.5% (Lay & Wheeler)
Fermented and aged 23 months in new oak; unfiltered and not clarified.
An interesting medium lemony yellow. A powerful, complex nose assails you with honeysuckle, citrus and a nice toastiness. Good attack. Lots of fruit and a hint of acid. Fills enormously - gosh, this really is a powerful mouthful. Great depth and complexity. Excellent structure. Oak just right. Huge, huge length with acid returning after. Very impressive indeed. Excellent.

Masia Barril Clasico 1987 (Vinedos y bodega en el Priorato Historico Hermanos Barril, Bellmunt del Priorat) A whopping 16.5% abv. (Everywine)
The Barrils retired a few years ago, selling up to a large producer, so what's still available are left over stocks, and the storage over the years of some of it seems to have been a little questionable. There were various grades (with increasing alcohol) made, but only the Clasico, which was I believe the penultimate grade, still seems to be around, together with a bizarre wholly rancio dominated non vintage Vina Aromatizado. According to the label the 1987 Clasico is made from 75% garnacha and 25% cariñena.
Fully mature brickish red, deep and heavy at the centre. Much darker than previous bottles I've opened from the 11 (one was broken by the carriers) bought a year and a half ago. Very intense passito nose with hints of rancio - very big and intense stewed plums and rich fruit cake. Very full attack. Intense, super-concentrated, almost too much so. Lots of licorice and cedar wood on the palate, but there is also some fruit - dried blackberries and raisins. Has a port-like heaviness and mouthfeel. Soft tannins. Huge length. Probably the best bottle of this so far. Good.

Durius 2000, Vino de la Tierra Arribes del Duero (Bodegas Durius, Alto Duero, part of Marques de Grinon's Haciendas de España).  (Sainsbury)
"Durius" is the Latin name for the river Duero, which becomes the river Douro in Portuguese.  There are some exciting things going on here, near Fermoselle, right on the Spanish/Portuguese border.
An attractive, even, youngish ruby.  Attractive forward fruity nose with lots of interest and character.  Some oak on the nose, but not at all overpowering.  Lots of dark plummy fruit. Fair attack with decent fruit.  Rather acid, rather volatile.  Quite spirituous (and spirited).  Not convinced this bottle is 100%, though I'm pretty sure it's not corked.  Not rated.

Cheshire Fruit Wines Blackcurrant Grown and bottled at Eddisbury Fruit Farm, Kelsall, Cheshire, 10% abv
"What?" I hear you cry ... Well, grapes are fruit, so why not ... (at least it's not parsnip wine or something)
I got this from their stand at the NW Fine Food Lovers Fair, thinking it might make a nice change with some very fine English cheeses also bought from the producers' stalls.
Wellll, here goes ... It's got the smallest cork I've ever seen. Oddly they bottle their (very good) apple juice under screwcap, so putting this pathetic little cork in this is just stupid.
Blimey. It's a fluorescent red. You could use this to warn shipping off the rocks! Rather cloudy. Some CO2 evident. Fruity nose, but weirdly not as blackcurranty as some cabernet sauvignons. Very forward. Quite sweet. A marked petillance. Just about pleasantish, but no depth of character at all. I suspect it's not actually been particularly well made. Avoid.

Zilliken 2001 Riesling AP 3 551 083 8 02 9% abv (Lay & Wheeler)
Pale to mid straw with a slight green tinge. Creamy peachy nose. Nice rich attack. Quite full, with good ripe fruit. Rich and full on middle. Decent length, but a bit undistinguished on the finish. OK to Good.

1999 Domaine Tempier, AC Bandol, 13.5% (The Wine Society)
A bright, even, youngish purple.  An excellent fruity nose: slightly floral and very elegant.  Lovely and smooth on the attack, with forward fruit.  It has good character on the palate with rather feisty fruit and supple tannins, which develop towards the finish.  Just a touch spirity on the finish and after.  A very appealing, soft, yet very serious wine - not one for quaffing.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.

1993 Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett (P. Licht-Bergweiler) (AP Nr. 2 577 264 8 94) 7.5% abv (Bibendum)
Pale gold with a hint of green.  Medium old Riesling nose - still some apples but lost its creaminess and starting to show petrol.  Not overly elegant.  Nice attack.  Good clean fruit with notable minerally dryness - like sucking a stone.  Fair length.  Good.

1997 Coteaux du Layon Saint Aubin Vieilles Vignes (Domaine Banchereau) 13% abv (Everywine)
Even mid gold.  Very honeyed nose but rather simple and uni-dimensional.  Very sweet attack.  Very simple.  Nice and pleasant, but no notable complexity or particular interest or character.  Fair.

NV Table du Roy (Paul Jaboulet Aine) 12.5% (Wine Society, 2001)
Very murky darkish purple. Very tired nose, spirity with compost. Tolerable attack, but then unpleasant. As the nose suggested, off.

A second bottle: Darkish purple with some youth and clarity.  Good warm Rhone-ish nose - quite soft with dark fruit, plums and raspberries.  Good attack.  Simple Rhone Syrah/Grenachey style.  Quite youthful and lots of tannin, especially on the finish.  Good.

1999 Brown Brothers Late Harvest Orange Muscat & Flora 375ml 10.5% abv 
Deepish gold.  Sugary citrus nose - fairly fragrant but only just noticeable.  Decent attack.  Rather simple.  Doesn't really develop in the mouth.  Lacks finesse.  Fair.

1998 Penfolds Botrytis Semillon 375ml 10.5% (Everywine)
Medium orange gold.  Very nice fruity nose.  Honey, raisins, grapefruit peel.  Very good attack - light and fresh.  Very clean and almost crisp.  Not at all cloying.  Nice acidity towards the finish, but fades to a fresh fruity sweetness.  Possibly a little simple, but still Very Good Indeed.

2001 Sainsbury's Good Ordinary Burgundy AC Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire 12.5% abv (Sainsbury) Plastic cork
Light strawberry pink with burgundy at centre.  Rather nice pinot noir nose.  Initially earthy and mushroomy but also lots of nice red fruit.  Good light attack.  Fresh but not over fruity.  Very clean.  Very nicely balanced.
Does exactly what it says on the label.  Good/Very Good.

1995 Henriques & Henriques Single Harvest Fine Rich Madeira  500ml 19% abv  (Booths)
Pale copper orange.  Rich nutty nose with lots of dried apricot and sultanas.  Nice fresh, very fruity attack.  Quite light initially, then fills very well.  Citrus, honey, puréed sultanas.  Hint of caramel with orangey notes on finish.  A very elegant drink.  Very good.

1975 Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Spätlese (P. Licht-Bergweiler) (AP Nr. 2 577 264 9 76) alcohol content not shown (Bibendum)
Mid gold with a definite lemony hint.  Creamy apples and paraffin wax.  Touch of honey and a bit of smoke.  Nice light attack.  Apples and cream.  Very attractive mature riesling. Light, nice acid keeping it fresh.  Very good.

2000 Fattoria Coroncino Gaiospino Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC Classico Superiore 14% abv (Lay & Wheeler)
Bright pale lemony yellow.  Attractive nose - very buttery with lemon grass and a hint of smoked haddock.  Quite fresh and notably light on the attack.  Really fills enormously.  Very rich and rounded.  Buttery again, but also notably spicy and warming, with a hint of coriander and pepper.  Elegant finish. Very good indeed.

2000 Muscat Vignoble de Katzenthal (Meyer-Fonné) 12% abv (Lay & Wheeler)
Massive, rich muscat nose with almost gewurztraminer overtones.  Big, rich attack.  Very full.  Very full-flavoured.  Extremely rich and so feeling almost sweet.  Drying acid on the powerful finish.  Very good indeed.

2000 Libertad Chenin-Sauvignon Blanc 12% abv (Bibendum) Plastic cork
Medium straw.  Good fruity nose with nice depths.  Quite big and full on attack.  Rich and quite butter with nice peppery spice.  Good.

1998 Reserve Selection Gewurztraminer, Mor Region, Hungary (Hilltop-Neszmely) 11.5% abv (The Wine Society)
Slighty lime-ish rich gold fading to almost clear.  Rather restrained and quite elegant gewurztraminer nose - not at all over-extracted.  Good, quite rich attack.  Very clean, rich gewurz flavours.  Very good.

1999 Santo Tomas Barbera, Baja California, Mexico 13.7% (Bibendum)
These Santo Tomas Barbera & Tempranillo wines from Bibendum have been a really mixed lot, with huge bottle variation and a quite high proportion of off bottles.  This one's a good one.
Even, cherry red with very merest hint of youth.  Restrained minty nose with hedgerow, prunes and apricot kernels.  Light attack with some body.  Fills ok, developing character.  Big on middle and massive on finish.  Fairly simple and rustic, but with a nice character and interest to it.  Very spicy on finish with some soft tannins.  Good.

1999 Santo Tomas Tempranillo, Baja California, Mexico (Bibendum)
Cork failure.  Again.

2000 Brolio Chianti Classico (Barone Ricasole) 13.5% (Sainsbury)
Fairly deep garnet colour.  Quite young fading to very young at rim.  Attractive nose - really quite fragrant.  Cherries, walnuts, touch of orange peel.  Good, soft attack.  Fruit develops nicely on palate.  Good balance with nice structure.  Some ferocious tannins on finish.  Good.

1999 Henschke Noble Rot Riesling, Eden Valley 375ml  11.5% (Lay & Wheeler)
Orangey copper.  Very intense, heavily botrytised nose.  Baked apple with sultanas, lime and honey.  Quite full on attack.  Very rich and luscious.  A touch cloying, especially towards the finish.  Very intense and very sweet.  Oranges and liquid raisins.  Noticeably sticky on the lips.  Rather underdeveloped acidity shows on finish.  OK/good.

1999 AC Ladoix Vieilles Vignes (Domaine Edmond Cornu & Fils) 375ml (at Northcote Manor, Langho)
Ladoix-Serrigny is the most northerly appellation of the Côte de Beaune, and undoubtedly one of Burgundy's lesser known appellations.
Bright, young burgundy colour.  Rather raw pinot noir nose with some black/red berries.  Very young on palate.  Quite intense, but dominated by a certain rawness and even a bit spirity on the finish.  OK now, but needs time.

2001 Sainsbury's Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico (A.V.U.R. Osimo Scalo) 12.5% abv (Sainsbury)  Plastic cork,
Very pale straw.  Nice fresh nose with bags of fruit - very fresh and grassy.  Nice attack - fresh and crisp.  But fills enormously.  Very rounded and buttery on middle.  Then develops spiciness on finish and after.  VG length indeed.  Very good.

1989 Reserva Chivite, Navarra 12% abv  (unknown source - possibly STWC in mid 90s?)
A blend of tempranillo and garnacha.
Very dirty, mouldy cork.  Very light bodied.  Palish mature red with a hint of brick at rim.  Very dry nose with some hedgerow fruits hiding in there.  Light attack.  There is some fruit in there, but it's very subdued.  Almost has overtones of dried fruit.  I wonder if it's a bit cooked and prematurely aged.  Has a tightness from a touch of acid too - quite pleasant.  Light, pleasant, thoroughly mature Navarra that's definitely going nowhere further.  OK/Good.

1999 Santo Tomas Barbera, Baja California, Mexico 13.7% abv (Bibendum)
Bright garnet with no signs of youth.  Warm rich fruit nose with cherries and a bit of marzipan and almond essence.  Attractive attack.  Very forward with lots of very ripe fruit, but nice varietal character too.  Not especially heavy given the alcohol content.  Probably one of the better bottles of this.

2000 Libertad Chenin Sauvignon Blanc 12% abv (Bibendum) Plastic cork
Medium sandy gold.  Pleasant fruity nose with nice elegant floral note.   Seems more chenin dominated with a sweet butteriness on the nose.  Nice clean attack - quite big with decent fruit.  Fills very well.  Quite rounded and mouthfilling - rich and buttery.  Touch of spice and merest hint of acid on finish.  Good.

1999 Grand Prébois Rouge, VdP de Principauté d'Orange, Domaines Perrin, 12% abv (Wine Society)
A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Counoise.
Very tight cork.  Very dark ruby, slightly brooding with hint of young purple at rim.  Very Beaucastel-y nose with lots of farmyardy brett with rich warm black fruit and spiced pears.  Seems quite young on palate.  Fruity attack - quite soft.  Fills into a bit of a tannin monster - quite soft tannins, but very drying especially on the finish.  Good length.  Remarkably serious wine for £4. Very Good.

1987 Masia Barril Clasico, Priorato 16.5%  (Everywine)
Very pale orange brick.  Very thin  - looks oxidised.  Big deposit in bottle.  Very oxidised nose with rancio notes.  Quite sherry like with distinct raisins.  Huge legs.  Light attack.  Which fills into incredibly rich fruit - dried blackberries and raisins.  Very port like finish.  More than a passing resemblance to a 30 year old tawny port.  Very Good (if a bit odd).

1995 Chianti Reserva, Uggiano (Morrisons)
Fairly mature, bright ruby. Nice gentle nose with cherries and a hint of licorice. Good soft attack. Some fruit, but more an impression of a fully knitted mature wine. Soft tannins towards and on the finish, then just a bit of spirit. Excellent length. Very Good Indeed.

NV Crémant d'Alsace Cuvée Julien, Dopff au Moulin, Alsace, 12% (The Wine Society)
A big mousse and a pale to medium straw colour.  Good fruity nose with hints of exotic fruit.  Good clean attack.  Nice mousse in the mouth.  Quite an interesting, fairly strong doughy flavour.  Good, clean and full.  Very Good Indeed.

NV La Table du Roy, Paul Jaboulet Aîné, Vin de Table, 12.5% (The Wine Society)
Rather brooding black plum purple colour, with some youth evident.  Lots of soft dark fruit on the nose, with a touch of farmyard.  Good, clean attack.  Nice soft fruit with a few tannins in the background, giving a touch of structure which follows through into the finish.  Good finish with excellent length.  Very Good Indeed.

1997 Gewurztraminer Altenbourg Vendanges Tardives, Albert Mann, Alsace, 13%, 500 ml (Lay & Wheeler)
An attractive bright medium gold.  A big, rich gewurz nose with emphatic rose petal scents.  Lovely attack with nice acid keeping it fairly fresh.  Fills enormously on the palate.  Lusicous without any hint of cloying.  Very full, rich gewurz flavours - very elegant and a bit floral.  Super length.  Excellent.

2000 Les Pins Couchés, Domaine de la Côte Bleue, Jean-Luc Colombo, Vin de Pays des Bouches-du-Rhône, 12.5% (Lay & Wheeler)
Medium yellow gold.  Peach and peary, and slightly honeyed on the nose, combined with a certain grassiness.  Quite a big attack - round and full.  Really rather heady on the palate.  Pales a little on the middle to a freshness.  But there's a big marzipanny finish with very good length.  This had improved a lot after being open half an hour and more so when it was finished the next day.  Very Good Indeed.

NV Buenos Aires Brut, Argentina (Majestic)
Big mousse.  Slightly greenish mid straw.  Nice attractive fruit-driven nose.  Nice thick  mousse in the mouth.  Clean, crisp, dry.  But seems a bit less champagne-like and a bit more cava-like than other bottles I've opened of this.  Very Good.

1999 Shiraz, Ironstone Vineyards, California, 13.5% (Sainsbury)
The third bottle opened tonight in the hope of finding something drinkable ...
Deep, very dark purple, reminiscent of a young Rhône.  Very big, bitter plums/prunes nose.  Big, rich and mouthfilling on the attack.  A real blockbuster!  Soft and luscious, with lots of fruit, feeling quite sweet and with a touch of vanillin.  Good finish with fair length.  A slight astringency after.  Very Good.

1996 Rioja Reserva Señorio Amezola, Bodegas Amezola de la Mora, Rioja,  Spain, 12.5% (gift)
A very mouldy cork that felt a bit soft, but it was very long and very tight.  A dark garnet colour.  The nose is rather tannic and acidic: very oaky with very little fruit evident.  Very plain on the palate.  Completely lacking in fruit and any character.  Poor enough to be undrinkable.

1999 Barbera, Santo tomas, Baja California, Mexico  (Bibendum)

1990 Rosé des Riceys, Jean-Jacques Lamoureux, Champagne region, France, 12% (bought at auction: Straker Chadwick)
This is the rarely found still rosé wine (from pinot noir grapes) from Champagne.  I don't think you're normally meant to drink it as old as this ...
Very light colour, like a very mature burgundy - brickish orangey pale red.  Very mushroomy and farmyardy nose.  Light attack.  Very light on the palate.  Virtually no fruit left, but some clean pinot noir characteristics - just very much watered down.  An interesting curiosity ... no more.  Not rated.

2000  Muscat Vignoble de Katzenthal, Meyer-Fonné, Alsace, France, 12% (Lay & Wheeler)
Medium straw.  Lovely full muscat nose.  Glorious elderflower, citrus and a touch of vanilla nose.  Notable legs.  Very clean and crisp on the attack, which rounds out and fills rather nicely.  Notably dry, yet full and rich.  Nice streak of acidity, though some of it feels a little harsh on the finish.  Very Good.

1993 Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett, P. Licht-Bergweiler Erben, 7.5%, AP 2 577 264 8 94 (Bibendum)
Palish bright lemony gold with a slight green tinge.  Lovely Mosel Riesling nose: minerally and oily, with waxy apples and cream.  Very good attack.  Fresh, clean, appley fruit on the palate.  Very nicely knitted together; very nice balance.  Very elegant and restrained.  Very Good Indeed.

NV Champagne Brossault Brut, 12% (Majestic)
Medium straw. Rather dull nose. Quite fruity. Bone dry. Crisp & clean. Very Good.

1994 Viña Salceda Rioja Crianza, 12.5%, 1500ml (Wine Society)
Even ruby colour.  Attractive brambly nose.  Light and quite fresh on the attack.  Fills quickly and comes across as very mature.  Rather thin and weedy, but quite spicy on the finish.  Good.

1997 Riesling Cuvée de Cinquantenaire, Albert Mann, Alsace, 12.6%; 1500 ml (Lay & Wheeler)
A bright lemony gold.  Truly magnificent riesling nose: apples, pears and citrus with just a touch of minerally petroleum wax.  Very full attack: creamy and rich.  This must be at or very close to vendanges tardives levels of ripeness.  Massive.  Utterly massive.  Incredible power.  Quite huge and stunning.  Very ripe fruit.  Stunning wine.  Remarkable elegance for all its power.  Huge length.  Excellent.

1997 Gewurztraminer Altenbourg Vendanges Tardives, Albert Mann 50cl 13%  (Lay & Wheeler)
Very fine nose. Luscious fresh attack. Very fine, rich, sweetish elegance. Very Good Indeed.

1988 Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, Champagne Ruinart
Good even stream of bubbles, but slightly coarse bubbles.  Extremely toasty nose.  Nice clean, full-flavoured attack.  Dry but not aggressively so, and very low acidity.  Clean and full on the palate, where there's also a bit of toastiness.  Decent finish.  Very Good Indeed.

NV The Wine Society's Sparkling Saumur, Gratien, (The Wine Society)
Off dry.  Very fruity.  Good mousse.  Quite strongly flavoured.  Bit of harshness towards the finish but okay on the finish with decent length.  Very Good.

1975 Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Spätlese, P. Licht-Bergweiler Erben, alcohol content not shown, AP No: 2 577 264 9 76 (Bibendum)
Medium to deep yellow gold, possibly with the merest hint of copper.  A lovely rich, mature riesling nose: honeyed paraffin and a very smoky, almost peaty note.  Quite light on the attack, with good appley fruit still showing, tempered by that same peatiness coming through on the palate.  Not dry; not sweet - the sugars and acid are beautifully melded.  Splendid, massive length.  Very Good Indeed (but not breathtaking)

2000 La Segreta Rosso, Planeta, IGT Sicilia, 14% (Everywine)
A plummy ruby colour with a youthful purple at the rim.  Very big, black-fruit nose dominated by bramble and mint.  A decent, quite light attack, but it then fills quickly: quite plummy, ripe flavours, but with a definite sour cherry note and a touch of bitterness.  It has some interest, but isn't particularly special.  Very Good.

2001 Mosel Valley Riesling, Qualitätswein, Moselblick GmBH Weinhandlung, 11%, AP No: 2 907 009 250 02 (Sainsbury)
A very pale straw colour. The nose is round and forward with decent fruit and nice waxy apple skins. Fair attack with some fruit. Fills nicely and develops a rather odd pepperiness. The initial impression is of over-sweetness, but after a few sips and swirls there is some acid structure there. Seems to become a bit plasticky after an hour or so open. Curiously it tastes much more elegant and classy after eating a square of Green & Black's white chocolate. OK, and probably just about rates as Good at the price.

2001 Cuvée de Richard (Red), Vin de Pays de l'Aude, 12% (Majestic)
A cheapo wine, mainly grenache, from Majestic.  A young purple with ruby hints.  Rather dull, herbaceous nose, more hedgerowy actually.  Fair attack.  Light and youthful.  A bit unbalanced.  Quite a streak of acid and some unformed bitter tannins.  Deeply unimpressive.  Very little fruit on the nose or on the palate.  Poor.

1997 Brown Brothers Noble Riesling, 10%, 375ml (Everywine)
A rather unctuous orangey brass colour.  There's not a lot of Riesling varietal character on the nose, just huge raisiny honeyed botrytis.  Fabulous attack: remarkably fresh and light (particularly given the nose).  Fills very nicely, but it's by no means a heavy wine.  Very good acidity and not even the merest hint of cloying.  Rich, slightly raisined, distinctly citrussy - like an orange oil background.  Quite distinctive and thoroughly enjoyable.  Very Good Indeed.

2000 Libertad Chenin Sauvignon Blanc 12% abv (Bibendum) Plastic cork
Pretty much as usual.  Very Good.

2002 Lawson's Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand, 13%, Stelvin (Lay & Wheeler)
This will be the new classic problem with wine closures: stelvins where the whole capsule turns ...
Part barrique-fermented and part malolactic fermentation.
Very pale, slightly greenish straw.  Big fresh herbaceous sauvignon blanc nose with mango and cat's pee.  Very fresh attack - very clean, crisp fruit.  Fills into a very pleasant acid herbaceousness.  Nice body.  Good structure.  Finishes very well with notable length.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Santo Tomas Tempranillo, Baja California, Mexico 13.6% abv (Bibendum)
A second bottle of this.  Very bright youthful garnet in appearance.  A warm, sour cherry nose with a hint of citrus and of spice.  Nice and inviting and almost Christmassy.  Quite big and fruity on the attack.  A full-on, no messing wine.  Very ripe fruit; hefty and full; and very mouthfilling.  Good length follows a clean finish.  Very Good Indeed, although you'd be hard pressed to guess it was tempranillo.

1999 Santo Tomas Tempranillo, Baja California, Mexico 13.6% abv (Bibendum)
A bright even garnet with just the merest hint of youth. Flat, dull, cardboardy nose with spirity alcohol. Off.

1992 Cabernet Sauvignon, Franciscan, Napa Valley, California, 13% (Oddbins)
A nice mature colour (though it is ten years old now), with some ruby at the centre, fading to a pale slightly bricked ruby at the rim.  An attractive, lightish cabernet nose that fades quickly.  Still quite full on the attack.  Some fruit, but it's struggling to make itself known.  Very good structure - long and notably mouthfilling with good soft tannins.  Excellent length.  Pretty much à point.  Very Good Indeed.

1996 Langenlonsheimer Löhrer Berg Scheurebe Spätlese, Nahe, Germany, Weingut W. Schweinhardt, 9.5%, AP No: 77 38 150 03 097 (Everywine)
Quite viscous looking.  A greenish gold colour.  Rich nose, with a touch of apple, touch of gooseberry - but all in all rather dull.  A light fruit-juice attack, which fills into quite a rich, rather over-sweet mushy goo-ey-ness.  Nothing on the finish: it just stops.  If it had been served blind, I'd have guessed that it must be a cheap Liebfraumilch.  Very Poor.

2000 Pouilly-Fumé, Domaine des Berthiers, Loire, France, 12.5% (Angel Inn, Hetton)
A pale, green-tinged straw. A very rich sauvignon blanc nose - gooseberry and a bit flinty and steely. Nice attack: full with a lovely richness, almost a buttery oiliness towards the finish. Big and complex. Slightly hard on the finish. Enormous length. Very Good Indeed.

1999 Riesling Vineyard Selection, Jelka vineyard, McLaren Vale, Brokenwood, 12%, 50cl (Everywine)
Made from raisined grapes affected by botrytis.
A nice orangey gold: deep fading to quite pale at the edge.  An interesting nose - pleasantly honeyed and waxy, with a touch of orange flower water and vaseline.  Lovely attack: quite fresh and with good fruit.  Then it fills enormously: big, rich, honeyed flavours.  A bit on the sweet side, and personally I'd prefer a touch more acid, but this is a very fine dessert wine indeed.  Very pleasing and rounded.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Santo Tomas Barbera, Baja California, Mexico 13.7% abv (Bibendum)
A light, bright garnet colour with a hint of youth.  There was a bit of bottle stink, but that quickly blew off, to reveal a big alcoholic nose with lots of ripe fruit.  Quite nutty on the nose: slightly stale walnuts and almonds.  Very pleasant on the attack: lots of fruit; soft and very mouthfilling.  Very big and rich on the palate with a bit of an alcoholic kick towards the finish.  Good clean finish with nice soft tannins.  Slightly bitter after.  Very good length.  Very Good Indeed.

NV La Table du Roy, Vin de Table Français, Jaboulet, 12.5% (wine Society)
A bright young garnet.  The nose is reminiscent of a slightly sweaty Rhône blend, with a tiny touch of farmyard brett and hedgerows.  Clean and quite fresh on the attack.  Good fruit, and there's a fair bit of character to the wine.  Decent tannic structure.  Good finish with very good length.  Very warming after.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Portugieser Rotwein, Qualitätswein, Rheinhessen, Kühling-Gillot, 10%, AP No: 4 343 179 17 00 (Everywine)
A rather dull strawberry burgundy colour.  Earthy, mushroomy nose with strawberry and citrus.  Pleasant enough on the attack: again a hint of strawberries.  Decent fruit, but really seems quite sweet and lacking acidity.  Very light finish, with some fruit.  A bit weird.  It seems to be lacking something, but I'm not sure what.  It's got fruit, it's got length.  Interest.  Maybe it's interest that it's lacking.  Poor.

2001 Chardonnay, Vin de Pays du Jardin de la France, Jean Balmont, 11.5% (Majestic)
Unoaked.  A pale yellow-ish straw.  The nose is subdued, but with marked butteriness and with a hint of grassiness.  A big, rich attack.  Very full and buttery on the palate: rich and fruit-driven.  But it also has a really nice freshness.  Doesn't quite come together on the finish.  Very Good.

2000 Libertad Chenin Sauvignon Blanc 12% abv (Bibendum) Plastic cork
A floral herbaceous nose - quite scented.  Nice attack: light, fresh, very crisp.  Some acidity develops towards the finish and becomes slightly harsh.  Decent  length.  Very Good.

1992 Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese, Jos. Christoffel, 8%, AP No: 2 602 144 1 93 (Majestic)
A very dodgy looking cork.  Very pale greenish gold.  Very badly corked.

2000 Muscat Vignoble de Katzenthal, Meyer-Fonné, Alsace, 12% (Lay & Wheeler)
A blend of 55% muscat Ottonel and 45% Muscat d'Alsace.  A pale, rather lemony colour.  Delightful fruity muscat nose - light and elegantly floral with just a touch of sweetness.  Full attack: rather big and mouthfilling.  Bone dry, but very rich with a touch of racy acidity.  The wine doesn't quite have the same elegance on the palate as it does on the nose, and there's a certain touch of muddiness on the middle.  But it finishes well and cleanly, with notable length.  Very Good Indeed.

2000 Trittenheimer Altärchen Riesling Kabinett, Grans Fassian, 7.5%, AP No: 3 529 042 03 01 (Asda)
A rather posh cork for a £5.99 wine - long and real cork of good quality.
The wine's colour is that of pale granny smith flesh.  A bit of a dull nose - waxy with a hint of apples.  Good attack: fresh and clean.  Fills quickly with lots of ripe fruit.  Exceedingly apple-y.  Fair acidity, but a bit more wouldn't do it any harm whatsoever: but still a very nice, refreshing, crisp, clean wine.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Les Orfèvres, AC Côtes de Provence, Les vignerons de Sainte Victoire, 12%
A young, even, blackberry purple.  Attractive nose with lots of ripe young fruit and quite herbaceous.  Nice soft attack.  Quickly fills with bags of fruit: very attractive and very interesting.  Tannins kick in towards the finish: not aggressively, but there are plenty of them.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Santo Tomas Barbera, Baja California, Mexico 13.7% abv (Bibendum)
Very attractive, bright cherry red.  Big fruity nose with a sort of bitter peach kernel scent.  Very nice attack - rich and with bags of fruit.  Fruit develops in the mouth.  Quite complex towards the finish when some alcohol kicks in.  Nice acid bitterness running throughout, with soft, pleasing tannins on the finish.  Very Good Indeed.

2001 Chardonnay, Vin de Pays du Jardin de la France, Jean Balmont (Majestic
Pale yellow.  Good nose - fresh and quite vibrant - buttery and herby.  Nice attack: light, fresh.  Bit of body.  Fills ok.  Rather harsh towards the finish and especially so after.  OK.

NV Buenos Aires Brut, Argentina, 12.3% (Majestic)
A medium straw.  Nice, light, fruity nose with a hint of peach and another of bread.  Good clean attack.  Nice mousse-y feel, but not excessive.  Fairly fruity and fresh initially, but then deepens.  Quite a rich creamy middle, following through to the finish.  Good length and nice and clean after.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 La Goudie, Domaine de la Rectoire, Vin de Pays de la Côte Vermeille, Parcé Frères, (Byrne's)
A medium orangey-strawberry pink.  The nose is deep and fragrant, though perhaps a little lacking in fruit: warm, with lightly dried orange peel.  Fairly full on the attack.  Fills rapidly.  Very big and full for a rosé.  Complex with good depth.  Bone dry with nice acid.  Excellent.

1989 Oberemmeler Karlsberg Riesling Auslese, Reichsgraf v. Kesselstatt, 8.5%, AP No: 356 1077-103-90, Goldcap, but not sold as such (Wine Society)
Noticed the cork leaking, so quickly opened it for drinking.  Heavy tartaric deposits.  A nice bright, lemony medium to rich gold.  There's a bit of stink on the nose initially, but it blows off revealing vaseline, almonds and a touch of honey.  Clearly affected by the cork failing though.  Fairly rich attack.  Slightly oxidised, but still good fruit and acid in nice combination.  Drier than previous bottles.  Caught it in time.  Very Good.

1994 Classic Cuvée, Nyetimber, West Sussex, England, 12% (Berry Bros & Rudd)
Medium straw with lemon-ish tints.  A notably yeasty nose with some blackberry fruit.  Fair bubbles and mousse.  Nice moussey attack; quite foamy throughout.  Fair fruit.  Clean with OK length.  Well balanced.  But it just seems a bit average.  Good.

1999 Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Spätlese, Weinhaus C. Le Moguen, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany, AP No: 3 551 093 007 00 (Sainsbury)
Very very pale greenish gold.  Rather dull, creamy nose with a hint of apple.  Clean attack.  Fairly rich and creamy.  Fairly full on the middle.  Nice clean finish.  Very simple, rather uni-dimensional.  Pleasant, but very unexceptional.  It's nice to see the supermarkets bothering to source some proper German wines, but it's a shame they can't come up with something a bit more exciting to counter the mass market liebfraumilch yeuch. Good.

1999 Santo Tomas Tempranillo, Baja California, Mexico 13.6% abv (Bibendum)
A deep, slightly muddy, garnet colour with a hint of youth at the rim.  Fair nose, though there is not a great deal of fruit.  Some alcohol shows through on the nose too and it's a bit okay with green leaves/hedgerows and a touch of mint.  Quite big on the attack.  Very forward fruit and very mouthfilling.  Fills even more as it remains in the mouth.  Very full on the palate, but not overly fruity and not overly varietal.  Bit, quite fat and notably alcoholic.  Fair.

2000 Libertad Chenin Sauvignon Blanc 12% abv (Bibendum) Plastic cork
A medium straw.  Lovely nose - lots of fruit - fresh and quite zingy.  Nice clean attack with good fruit.  Fills enormously.  Quite rich and rounded on the middle and a certain creaminess appears towards the finish.  Very good length.  Very Good Indeed.

NV Masia Barril Vino Aromatizado, Cosechado, elaborado y embotellado par Hermanos Barril.  Obtenida con la mezda de vino tinto rancio semiseco y vino blanco viejo.  Sin adicion de alcohol.  Aromatizado con hierbas procedentes del jardin botanico, en torno a la Masia, 15% (Everywine)
The back label calls it Vino Aperitivo and says that it's a blend of two thirds white wine (3 years old) to one third red rancio.
An intriguing reddish brown, vaguely reminiscent of madeira.  The nose is sweet and more like port than madeira, and has a slightly medicinal note, presumably coming from the herbs; but overall, on the nose, one would think it's more wine than, say, vermouth.
Full and fruity on the attack.  Wow! this is weird.  A bit oxidised and a bit maderised.  It has an intense dry streak, but also raisiny and orange notes.  Very dry - a real tannic dryness.  It seems to be a sort of a cross between port, madeira and vermouth.  Weird, wacky and wonder-inducing (rather than wonderful).  Defies rating really, but how about Very Good?

1995 Chianti Riserva, Uggiano (Morrisons)
Fairly mature, bright ruby.  Nice gentle nose with cherries and a hint of licorice.  Good soft attack.  Some fruit, but more an impression of a fully knitted mature wine.  Soft tannins towards and on the finish, then just a bit of spirit.  Excellent length.  Very Good Indeed.

1998 Tokay Pinot Gris Hengst Clos du Vicus Romain, AC Alsace Grand Cru, Domaine Aimé Stentz, (Booths)
A medium gold and looking fairly viscous.  Forward tropical fruit on the nose - heavy on the mango with a warm spiciness behind.  Big attack.  Very clean, but very full.  Very big pinot gris flavours with more than a hint of residual sugar.  There is some acid to balance the touch of sweetness, though it does become a little harsh after.  Stunning length.  Very Good Indeed.

2000 Libertad Chenin-Sauvignon Blanc, Medoza, Argentina, 12% (Bibendum)
A medium, slightly greenish straw colour.  Nice herbaceous nose: fairly rounded without the zinginess of a pure sauvignon blanc.  Good attack - fresh with some acid.  Fills a lot on the palate.  Fairly rich and creamy on the middle.  A touch of harsher acidity appears on the finish.  Massive length.  Very Good.

2000 Libertad Chenin-Sauvignon Blanc, Medoza, Argentina, 12% (Bibendum)
Mid straw.  Excellent nose: a fairly classics sauvignon blanc nose tempered with some warmth from the chenin blanc.  Nice attack: fresh, with fairly forward fruit.  Fills well.  Quite big and rich on the middle with good structure.  Very full flavoured and rounded.  Finishes nicely with great length.  Very well balanced.  Absolutely exceptional at the bargain sale price (£1.58)  Very Good Indeed

1999 Santo Tomas Barbera, Baja California, Mexico 13.7% abv (Bibendum)
A bright even ruby that has lost any youthful purple.  Big fruity nose - warm, cedary spiced cherries.  Good attack; very mouthfilling.  Very full and with a lush mouthfeel.  Lots of fruit.  Big and hefty: by no means a quaffing wine.  Powerful stuff.  Very big with good fruit, but not all upfront fruit.  Soft tannins on the finish.  Impressive, though possibly not quite showing all the characteristics of barbera.  Very Good Indeed (at the price - £3.53)

1999 Grand Prébois Rouge, Vin de Pays de la Principauté d'Orange, Domaines Perrin, 12% (Wine Society)
A rather muddy looking ruby.  Warm spiced red fruit nose.  Nice attack: warm and full.  Nicely rounded with a decent structure.  Not exactly a great wine, but very pleasing.  Hint of bitterness on finish and after.  Good length.  Very Good.

2000 Cabernet Sauvignon, La Mira, Maipo Valley, Chile, 13% (Majestic)
Deep, fairly youthful ruby.  Smoky tobacco-rich nose masking some cassis fruit.  Good attack.  Fairly forward fruit.  Clean and full.  Well structured with some pleasing tannins on the finish.  Very Good.

1999 Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie, Domaine des Ratelles, Daniel et Gerard Vinet, 12% (Wine Society)
Pale to medium lemony gold.  Nice nose - fairly herbaceous with a hint of gooseberry.  Nice attack.  Still fairly fresh and it's immediately obvious that this is a wine that has character.  Nice and full on the middle - almost creamy.  Nice crisp acidity on the finish, but also a rather weird vanilla essence taste.  Fair length.  Very Good Indeed.

2000 Bourgogne Passetoutgrains, AC Bourgogne Passetoutgrains, Cave des Vignerons de Buxy, 12.5% (Majestic)
A pinot noir-gamay blend.  An attractive bright, light ruby colour that shows more maturity than I'd expect.  An earthy nose with hints of mushroom, but also some strawberries.  A nice, light, fruity fresh attack.  good fruit.  Fills nicely and develops some structure.  Perhaps a little acid and the fruit is a bit withdrawn.  Finishes with some hefty soft tannins and lots and lots of peppery spice.  Quite interesting.  Quite attractive.  Quite good.  Very Good (at the price)

1999 Tesco Alsace Riesling, V.A.K. Ammerschwihr, 12% (Tesco)
Mid gold with a greenish core.  Very nice riesling nose: creamy, minerally with a bit of petrol - a notably rich, creamy nose.  Light on the attack, but develops in the mouth and there are quite hefty flavours on the middle and on the finish.  But overall, a bit unsatisfying and a bit out of balance.  Some acid on middle and after.  Very good length.  Very average, verging on Poor.

NV Cuvée Elise, Blanc de Blancs Demi-Sec, Medium Dry White French Table Wine, Producteurs Réunis Cebazan (Majestic)
Very very pale straw.  Attractive floral nose with a hint of grapiness.  Light and fresh, slightly floral, attack.  Fills with some richness and acid.  More richness than sweetness to my mind.  There is definitely some nice acid to counterbalance the sweetness, which isn't at all overpowering anyway.  Fairly simple, but it does have some interest on the palate.  Very attractive and easy to drink.  Very pleasant.  Very Good.

2000 Domaine des Bois du Garn, Côtes du Vivarais, (Majestic)
A very young looking deep purple.  A warm, rich Rhôney nose.  Good fruit, slightly scented.  Fair attack.  Quite light.  Fills ok.  Bit of acid.  Clean and lightish, with some very young tannins.  A bit lacking in fruit and a bit too much bitterness on the finish.  OK but uninteresting.

2001 Merlot, IGT Venezia, Cantine dei Marchesini (Majestic)
Very light looking - a bright, very even ruby with the merest hint of youth.  An attractive fruity nose - raspberry/blackberry with a touch of plum.  Nice clean attack: fresh, light and lots of fruit.  Nice light tannins.  Fairly simple, but very attractive indeed.  A touch of complexity develops on the finish a after, when it's a bit chewy.  Very good length.  Very Good Indeed and a real bargain at under £3.

2001 Cuvée des Amandiers, Vin de Pays d'Oc,  12% (Majestic)
A Rhône-ish blend of 70% grenache and 30% syrah.  Bright, vibrant raspberry/blackberry with clear signs of youth.  Lots of very slow, fairly thin legs.  An inoffensive nose - warm and notably Rhône-ish - with some slightly scented spice.  Nice attack: light with lots of fruit.  Fills well, developing a nice structure.  Very clean.  Finishes nicely with very great length.  good fruit.  Not bad at all.  Very pleasant.  Very Good (esp. at the price)

2001 Domaine de Richard, Vin de Pays de l'Aude, 12% (Majestic)
A lightish, very even, slightly youngish burgundy colour.  Fat legs.  The nose is even and rather unexciting - a bit dull even, with just some very warm stewed plums.  Decent enough attack.  Light, with some fruit.  Develops a slightly acid flavour on the middle which isn't entirely pleasant.  Slightly bitter on the finish.  Very unexceptional.  OK.

1998 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett, Robert Eymael Mönchhof, 8%, AP 2 602 029 004 99 (Bibendum)
A light pale green.  Lovely soft Riesling nose - soft, creamy apples.  Clean attack with fair acidity.  Fills and enrichens.  Quite full and creamy on the palate.  A bit more acidity returns on the finish and after.  Very good length.  Very clean and harmonious.  Very Good Indeed.

2001 Bacchus, Chapel Down, England, 11.5% (Booths)
A pale, slightly greenish straw.  Very attractive fruity nose - very fresh and zesty, but with a mango richness below.  Very fresh, bright attack.  Clean and crisp.  Very attractive.  Doesn't develop a great deal, but has nice length.  Very clean after.  Very Good.

2001 Cuvée de Richard Blanc, Vin du Pays du Comté Tolosan, 11.5% (Majestic)
Very very pale straw with the merest hint of pink.  Attractive, light, fresh peachy nose.  Good attack: clean and fresh.  Quite crisp with nice acidity, especially on the finish.  But not searingly dry.  Bit rough and ready on the middle, but finishes well, with decent length.  Light and attractive.  Very Good at the price (£2.89)

NV ba brut, Buenos Aires, Quality Sparkling Wine, Argentina, 12.5% (Majestic)
A traditional method sparkler made with pinot noir and chardonnay, and spending 8 months on its lees.)
Medium gold.  Quite a warm nose - distinctly peachy with quite a scented note in the background.  Light and clean on the attack.  Fills well.  Very fruity.  Lacks acidity.  Quite foamy in the mouth.  Very much off-dry, tending towards demi sec.  Very clearly not champagne and doesn't even have the elegance of a good crémant.  But clean and pleasant.  Good finish.  Something different, with a bit of character.  Very Good Indeed.

2001 Cabernet Sauvignon, Bon Courage, Robertson Wine of Origin, South Africa, 13% (Sunday Times Wine Club)
A young light purple.  The nose is dullish, with slightly acidic notes and a very light blackcurrant scent - more scented with basil.  Clean attack.  Lacking character.  Some depth and interest on middle, but overtaken by some fairly savage tannins.  I don't like it at all.  Poor.

NV Champagne Brossault Brut (Majestic)
Fair mousse.  A good, even bubble stream.  Quite golden with a hint of pink.  Bready nose (rather than toasty).  Slightly vegetal-herby on the nose too.  Good, clean attack.  Nice mousse in the mouth.  Good.  Fine with a bit of elegance.  not great but exceedingly pleasant and Very Good Indeed at the discounted price of £7.99.

2001 Pasqua Chardonnay, IGT Puglia, 12% (Majestic)
Very very pale goldish straw.  Rather dull nose, with a bit of toastiness masking the tropical fruit.  Remarkably rounded attack.  Then it sort of thins to freshness.  Develops into a very typical international chardonnay.  Fairly full and quite attractive, though it seems a little superficial.  Fair to Good.
Dull and a bit uninteresting. Perfectly ok.  Just very dull.

2001 La Mira Chardonnay, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14% (Majestic)
Palish gold with some depths.  Big, fresh nose - very complex.  Quite fragrant with grassy, lemony and a hint of vanilla overtones.  Very full and rounded on the attack.  Big and rich with the alcohol clearly showing through on the palate.  Clean, very rich and very full.  Very mouthfilling.  A hint of oaky richness.  Massive length.  Very Good Indeed.
Big.  full.  Not as much character as Planeta's Chardonnay (for example) - but that's five times the price.  Very Good Indeed.

2001 Jean Balmont Chardonnay, Vin du Pays du Jardin de la France, 11.5% (Majestic)
Very pale straw colour with a slightly greenish tinge.  Very pleasant nose - bright, zingy fruit with a certain butteriness.  Light and very fresh attack.  Fills nicely.  Fresh and clean; fair length.  Very clean.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed (especially at the price)
Very pleasant indeed.  Very drinkable.  Not too in-your-face.  Very Good Indeed.  I like it lots.

1999 Chardonnay, Planeta, IGT Sicilia, 14% (Everywine)
A fairly rich gold with some orange tinges at the rim.  Very hefty legs.  Big nose - buttery, toasty, but with a sort of smoky garrique feel.  Good clean attack.  Fills enormously and continues to do so.  Very big, especially towards the finish, but not aggressive.  Very nicely balanced.  Big chardonnay buttery richness, followed by smokiness and pepperiness after.  A very nice wine.  Very Good Indeed.

1996 Pinot Gris Reserve, Trimbach, Alsace, 13% (Wine Society)
A pale straw with pinky-greeny hints.  Very big pinot gris nose with almost butterscotch notes.  Good attack.  Clean and remarkably fresh n the palate.  Fills quickly, and becomes very big, almost fat, but with a nice acidity just coming through.  Pretty textbook Alsatian pinot gris - quite fine.  Very Good Indeed.

1998 Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico DOCG, Barone Ricasoli, 13.5% (Valvona & Crolla)
An even, very dark, rather too youthful purple.  Very elegant legs.  Very deep, complex nose.  Bags of fruit initially, followed by layers of leather, a certain mintiness and grassiness ending with a hint of bramble jelly.  Soft, fresh attack.  Fills beautifully.  Very interesting and complex: layer on layer of flavour.  Lots of attractive fruit.  A very impressive wine.  The tannins start to pick up towards the finish and inject some bitter notes.  This is far too young to drink now.  Damn.  Very Good Indeed, will be Excellent.

1997 Côtes de Saint Mont, Collection de Plaimont, VDQS, élevé en futs de chêne (Wine Society?)
Very deep, dark blackberry black colour with a marked youthful tinge at the rim.  Attractive nose - warm, spicy, plummy with marked hedgerow notes.  Fair attack.  Not overly fruity.  Develops fairly well in the mouth; tannins grow and grow and grow and grow until it's completely dominated by tannins on the finish.  OK.

2000 La Segreta Rosso, Planeta, IGT Sicilia, 14% (Everywine)
A young, deep mulberry colour.  An interesting nose: deep with very ripe fruit and some bitterness, alongside spicy, leathery and tobacco hints.  Very good attack.  Bags of flavour.  Very deep, intense fruit.  Some bitterness on the palate as on the nose. A very interesting wine, with lots of character.  Very ripe.  Excellent length.  Very Good Indeed.

1997 Dr. L Riesling QbA, Dr Loosen, Mosel, Germany, 9%
Off-pale straw with greenish tinges.  Dullish nose - mild, slightly spicy riesling, with just a hint of apple.  Light attack, with a bit of sweetness on the palate.  Clean and refreshing, but with a little bit more sweetness than one might expect in a Kabinett.  But there's still some fair acidity to balance.  Not inelegant.  Very acceptable at the price. (£3.99)

1987 Masia Barril Clasico, Priorato 16.5%  (Everywine)
A very attractive mature ruby.  Very heavy looking - lots of glycerine - enormous legs.  Strong, powerful, almost port-like nose - very intense blackberry and also a little earthy hedgerow.  Very nice attack - deceptively light and even fairly fresh.  Then it creeps up and hits you, grabs your taste buds and beats them around until they surrender.  Very full.  Good ripe fruit.  Lots of alcohol.  Touch of licorice.  Good soft tannins.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Bodenheim Heitersbrünnchen Scheurebe Kabinett, Kühling-Gillot, Rheinhessen, AP 4 343 179/2000 (Everywine)
A bright appearance - a very bright pale-ish straw.  Rathery dull, nutty nose: quite warm, with hints of almond and banana.  Fairly full attack.  Quite sweet.  Fills ok.  Fullish on the palate, with more than a hint of sweetness.  An odd metallic, plasticky note towards the finish.  Fair length.  Deeply unimpressive.  OK.

1998 Reserve Selection Gewürztraminer, Hilltop Nezmely, Mór Region, Hungary (Wine Society)
A light to medium orangey gold.  Lovely, very big gewurz nose - fragrant tropical fruit.  Not over-extracted, as some cheap gewurz can be.  Nice attack.  Pleasant and light.  The gewurz characteristics develop fairly quickly in the mouth.  This is a lovely, rounded, fragrant gewürztraminer and a real bargain.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Chardonnay, Planeta, IGT Sicilia, 14% (Everywine)
A remarkably deep gold cum very very deep yellow: I wonder if this is a bit oxidised?  Very big, forward nose - smoky, rich, buttery.  Big and rounded on the attack.  Rather fat on the middle with an odd non-acidic harshness.  Rather flat and unidimensional.  A bit of a duff bottle.  Not rated.

1997 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett, Robert Eymael, Mönchhof, AP 2 602 029 003 98 (Wine Society)
Pale to very pale colour: but more lemony than green.  A nice appley nose with great depth; just starting to develop some petrol hints.  Light on the palate; reasonably fresh, but not overly so.  Nice acid on the attack.  Fairly creamy and rich.  Slightly coarse acid on the middle and a rather odd hint of wine gums on the finish.  Very good length.  Possibly not the best bottle?  Good.

NV La Table du Roy, Paul Jaboulet Aîné, Vin du Table, 12.5%.  (Wine Society)
A bright young vibrant purple deepening to ruby at the centre.  Soft Rhoney fruit with dominant grenache on the nose (this bottling is apparently a blend of grenache and syrah).  Soft, light attack with a fairly dense undercurrent of sweetish fruit coming through.  Soft tannins towards and on the finish and after.  Very good length.  Fairly light and simple, but does have some interesting depths.  Very Good.

1996 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese, Joh. Jos. Prüm, 7.5%, AP 2 576 511 7 98 (Lay & Wheeler)
Note that the AP number indicates not bottled until two years after vintage.  A pale, but fairly vibrant greenish straw.  Intense, maturing riesling nose: creamy and petrol.  Fresh apple-y attack with nice acidity.  Fills beautifully on the palate and deepens with a marked sweetness coming through, but perfectly balanced by an elegant acidity.  Very good length with the acid lingering alongside a lovely creaminess.  Elegant and moreish.  Excellent.

2000 La Segreta Rosso, Planeta, IGT Sicilia, 14% (Everywine)
A blend of Nero d'Avola and Merlot.  An attractive, bright garnet colour with a youthful edge.  Good nose with lots of fruit: soft red fruit with a hint of grapefruit.  The attack is clean and with good fruit.  Fills very well on the palate: bags of fruit, then some structure develops, finishing with good, not too harsh tannins and a certain bitterness.

1983 Wehlener Abtei Eiswein, Kloster Machern, AP 1 640 767 25 84.  No alcohol content shown. (Willoughby's)
A second bottle with the same AP number says explicitly Riesling Eiswein and 9% abv.
A deep, rather oxidised looking orange colour, but with a somewhat healthier looking green rim.  Very smoky on the nose, with petrol and raisins.  Round and fairly sweet on the attack.  Quite forward and distinctly lacking fruit.  Some acid.  A bit inelegant perhaps.  Very Good.

1995 Cheval Noir, AC Saint-Emilion, Mähler-Besse, 12.5% (Wine Society)
An even, slightly young garnet.  Pleasant nose.  Slightly herbaceous, slightly minty, red fruits and cherries on the nose.  Nice attack.  Full and warming.  Soft tannins develop on the middle.  Then the fruit fades and a bitter cherry streak comes to the fore and follows through to the finish.  Notable length, but still that bitterness.  Good.

1995 Koberner Weisenberg Riesling Beerenauslese, Freiherr von Schleinitz, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, 11%, 375ml, AP No: 1 649 017 8 96 (Everywine)
A medium gold colour, with a greenish tinge.  A fragrant, honeyed riesling nose, but a bit unexceptional.  Good attack.  Then a hit of acid, which gives way to quite a luxurious sweetness.  Possibly a bit cloying on the palate, but then some acid reappears towards the finish, but then the sweetness takes over again.  This wine does not have the best balance of sweetness, acid and fruit, but it's very acceptable: better than workmanlike.  Very Good.

1987 Masia Barril Clasico, Priorato, Viñedos y bodega en el Priorato Histórica Hermanos Barril, Bellmunt del Priorat. 16.5%  (Everywine)
75% grenache, 25% carignan.
Massive sediment in the bottle.  A warm, but bright and very notably mature brickish-brownish red.  Hefty, slow legs.  Fabulous nose with some very ripe fruit - more than slightly raisined - and a hint of oxidation.  The nose is perfumed with vanilla and violets - in fact, the nose is actually rather reminiscent of Taylor port.  A rich, luscious attack.  Very port-like.  Raisiny notes on the palate.  This is an incredibly huge wine.  Massive.  Remarkable stuff.  Like port and sherry combined.  Hmmm yes... there's even a sort of hint of flor to it.  In the mouth, it feels remarkably sweet.  Very powerful and noticeably alcoholic.  On the middle, it lightens and freshens a little.  Then it finishes with some elegance - remarkable given the full-on nature of what has gone before.  Lovely soft tannins and great length after.  Completely idionsyncratic.  Unlike anything before.  While there are reminiscences of port and of amarone, it doesn't have the weight of either.  Very Good Indeed.

1998 Slatestone Riesling Dry, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, by von Schleinitz Estate, Qualitätswein, AP No: 1 649 017 14 99 (Everywine)
A pale to medium straw.  Exceptionally fragrant nose - really quite scented, and with a touch of paraffin wax.  No apples on the nose though.  Fair attack - nice and clean.  Fills well.  Fresh and fragrant.  Nicely rounded.  Very clean.  A very atypical M-S-R riesling.  Quite strong flavours - more like a new world example.  Very Good.

1998 Wiltinger braune Kupp Riesling Kabinett, Le Gallais (Egon Müller), 8%, AP No: 3 567 142 5 99 (Lay & Wheeler)
Extremely pale - virtually clear: just the merest tinge of greenish straw.  A gorgeous nose - creamy, waxy apples.  Light and very clean on the attack.  Fills very nicely.  Very fine acid, but kept in check by some nice ripe fruit.  Very, very elegant.  Very light, very clean.  Good length.  Excellent.

NV Manzanilla La Gitana, Hidalgo, Sherry, (Wine Society)
I'd had this bottle in stock about six months before opening it, so probably not at its best.  A pale straw in appearance.  Heavy salty flor nose.  Lovely light attack. Fills very quickly and deeply.  Clearly has matured a little, but that's actually not done it any harm.  Quite big towards the finish.  Great length.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Pinot Gris, Bodega Jacques y François Lurton, Mendoza, Argentina, 13% (Wine Society)
A medium gold: unusually deep, suggesting some oxidation.  Poor nose.  Very watery attack.  Little character.  Would you believe it?  The second bad bottle in a row.  Though this isn't off, it's just a very bad bottle.  Poor.

1998 Niederfeller Kahltag Riesling Spätlese halbtrocken, Weingut Freiherr von Schleinitz, 11%, AP No: 1 649 017 13 99 (Everywine)
A very loose cork.  The overall appearance is of a medium straw colour, with bright yellow on the rim fading to a green tinge, fading to almost clear at the centre.  The nose is very dull, with only a faint hint of riesling fruit.  This is a rather suspect bottle.  Tolerable on the attack, but then rather nasty: plasticky and a bit acrid.  Off.  Not rated.
(2/2/02) (the second of the second of the second)

NV La Table du Roy, Paul Jaboulet Aîné, Vin de Table, 12.5% (Wine Society)
A bright, youthful purple at the rim, deepening to a ruby centre.  Slightly dull on the nose initially, but after a good swirl, a definite Rhone nose comes through with grenache dominant.  Good soft fruit on the attack.  Fills well and the fruit develops more character.  Rich berry and cherry flavours with some soft tannins providing a backbone.  There's a slightly jarring note of alcohol towards the finish.  Good length.  Very Good.

1999 Pinot Gris, Bodega Jacques y François Lurton, Mendoza, Argentina, 13% (Wine Society)
Quite pale, but distinctly golden in appearance.  Slightly bready, distinctly pinot gris nose - rich and quite spicy.  Quite full on the attack. fills a lot.  This is a very full-flavoured, almost heavy pinot gris.  A bit of acid appears, which becomes a bit harsh on the finish and after.  Fair length.  A very acceptable, basic pinot gris: not great, but good at the price.  Good/Very Good.

1995 Masia Barril Clasico, DO Priorato, Cosechado, elaborado y embotellado por Hermanos Barril, Bellmunt del Priorat, Bottle no. 102769, 16% (Everywine)
Clearly unfiltered - masses of coarse, very loose sediment.  Very even, slightly mature burgundy red.  Slow, but fairly thin legs.  Quite a hot nose with lots of cherry fruit.  Very ripe fruit, and slightly amarone-like on the nose.  Good, fruity attack.  Fills enormously.  Very, very full.  Unusual flavours, lots of tannins (but not aggressive tannins).  Hint of violets on the palate.  Very good length.  Very Good Indeed.

1997 Koberner Weisenberg Riesling Kabinett, von Schleinitz, AP No. 1 649 017 10 98 (Everywine)
A medium gold with bright green edges.  The nose is dull and subdued with some apple just about coming through.  Fair attack, with a slight spritz.  Fairly creamy, but with a very dry apple juice character on the middle and the finish.  Good length.  Clean.  Possibly a bit lacking in acid.  Very Good.

1957 Tokaji Aszú 6 puttonyos Allamigazdasagi Borkombinat Satoraljaujhely, 50cl
This was a rather badly stored bottle that my dad had had upright on a shelf in his bar for years.  The cork crumbled virtually to dust.  A deep caramel colour.  Very raisiny nose, lacking in character.  A good attack: this is still very much alive.  Pretty decent acidity.  Remarkably clean and fresh.  Honeyed, with orange flavours on the middle.  Sweetens towards the finish.  Not at all cloying.  Fair length only.  Remarkable survivor.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Pinot Gris, Innes Vineyard, Littlehampton, Henschke (Byrne's)
Good colour with the pinkish hue of the pinot gris very noticeable.  Smotth, but not especially rich.  Cleaner and crisper than most Alsace pinot gris.  Good, but not great.  Very Good.

1993 Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial, Champagne
Medium straw.  Excellent, long lasting mousse.  A deep nose with plenty of fruit.  Quite dry, but seems very low in acidity indeed.  Exceptionally long-lasting bubbles.  Great depth of flavour.  Very fine and clean, though perhaps not the most elegant of champagnes.

1997 Schloss Reinhartshausen Riesling Qualitätswein trocken, 11.5% AP 3 207 10 30 98 (Everywine)
A pale to medium straw, with the merest hint of green.  Nice riesling nose - though very simple and unidimensional.  Clean attack, but distinctly lacking flavour.  Bone dry, and there's the problem: as often, all the character's been fermented out to make a trocken wine.  A hint of harsh acidity develops on the palate on the middle, then fades.  A very undistinguished, merely competent wine.  OK.

NV Schloss Koblenz Cabinet Halbtrocken, Sekt, 11% (Everywine)
This has a fair mousse and is a pale to medium straw in colour.  There's a good stream of bubbles, but though the stream is a bit uneven.  The nose is bland and lightly fragranced.  Good attack: it's clean and fresh, and has a nice mousse in the mouth.  There is a distinct sweetness that develops, but does not dominate.  This is a simple Sekt, largely innocuous and without much at all to recommend it.  OK

1994 Nyetimber Classic Cuvée Brut.  Traditional Method.  Quality Sparkling Wine.  West Sussex, UK. 12% (Berry Bros & Rudd)
70% Chardonnay, the rest pinot noir and pinot meunier.  A rather tight cork.
Quite a deep colour - a medium lemony gold.  Virtually no bubbles.  Powerful nose, but very odd.  Uh oh, the nose is actually very flat and rather nasty.  Very off.

1997 Graacher Domprobst Riesling Kabinett, Reichsgraf v. Kesselstatt, 9%, (Oddbins)
Very pale straw with greenish tinge.  Nice nose: attractive, if a little subdued.  Plenty of creamy apples on the nose, tempered just a touch by a hint of petrol - but a very slight hint only.  Good clean attack.  Very crisp with good acidity.  Fills well - quite rich and rounded.  Slightly slatey-metallic taste on the finish.  Fair to good length.  Very Good.

Smith Woodhouse Fine Vintage Character Port, Selected for Direct Wines Ltd, 20% (Sunday Times Wine Club)
A bottle purchased late '80s to 1990.  A fairly even ruby colour, just showing some signs of maturity.  The nose is rather dull - not a great deal of fruit, yet fairly soft and rounded with a hint of alcohol at the end of the nose.  Good on the attack, showing loads of soft fruit.  Rich and rounded throughout, though a bit lacking in depth and complexity.  Lots of alcohol on the finish, making it seem a little raw.  But taken for what it is, i.e. just an upmarket ruby port that I've had in stock for at least 10 years, this ain't half bad.  Very Good.

1998 Reserve Selection Gewürztraminer, Hilltop Neszmely, Mór Region, Hungary 11.5% (Wine Society)
A medium to deepish yellow gold appearance.  A very full gewurztraminer nose - scented but not over-extracted. Good, clean attack.  Fills well.  Rich and full on the middle.  Tails off a bit towards the finish as more acidity comes through.  There's a rather odd gewurz scent in the mouth on the finish and long after.  Exceptional length.  Very Good Indeed.

1997 Sommerhäuser Ölspiel Silvaner halbtrocken, Ernst Gebhardt, Franken, 10.5%, AP No: 300 4 030 00 (Everywine)
Very very pale straw - almost clear at the the rim.  Gorgeous nose - delicately scented and a touch grassy.  Fair attack, which suggests possibly a lack of coherence.  On the sweetish side and very much lacking acidity.  Quite full on the finish - rich, but with a bit of acidity coming through, though unfortunately the acidity is a bit too harsh.  Rather Average.  OK.

1986 Banyuls L'étoile Cuvée Réservée
Rather mature port-like appearance.  Interesting nose - almost muscatty.  Masses of very fine legs.  Served lightly chilled, with cuts the richness of the attack.  Develops nicely in the mouth.  Distinct raisiny flavours, with the weight of prune fruitiness.  Rather odd, but far from unattractive.  Good/Very Good.
(6/12/01 at Restaurant John Burton-Race, Landmark Hotel, London)

1998 Riesling Turckheim, Zind-Humbrecht, AC Alsace
Medium rich gold: a remarkably deep colour.  The nose is excellent with surprisingly mature riesling characteristics, but without any overt petrol notes.  Quite full and fairly rich on the attack.  Very pleasant wine indeed.  Very mouthfilling, though a streak of acidity develops on the middle and is especially prominent on the finish, which keeps it nice and light.  Very Good.
(6/12/01 at Restaurant John Burton-Race, Landmark Hotel, London)

1999 Sylvaner, Domaine Ostertag, AC Alsace
A notably greenish straw.  Slightly fragrant on the nose with some sauvignon blanc type characteristics.  Fine and fresh on the attack.  On the palate there is a touch of sweetness that shapes it up well for food.  It even survives a dish of pigeon with plums and plum jus fairly well - indeed, the dish actually knocks off the wine's hint of sweetness and makes it appear finer than it really is.  Overall, a light, very fresh, very attractive wine, that's very moreish.  Very Good Indeed.
(5/12/01 at Lindsay House, London)

1996 Pinot Gris Reserve, Trimbach, AC Alsace, 13% (Wine Society)
Pale to medium straw with a yellow tinge at the rim.  Very full, very rich, buttery pinot gris nose, with lightly perfumed tropical fruits.  Full attack with a touch of acid.  Fills well.  Rather flat on the middle, but there is a streak of acid to freshen it up.  Not too aggressive or heavy a flavour.  Nicely balanced.  Very good length with plenty of spice long after.  Very Good.

1981 Ch. Haut-Bailly, Grand Cru Classé, AC Graves, alcohol content not shown (Byrne's)
A good colour - mature; brickish orange at the rim, but not overly brickish.  Very attractive nose - overtly leathery with a touch of mint.  Some cherry and blackcurrant (?) fruit receding into the background.  some freshness and even a bit of acidity on the attack, but opens up very quickly.  Soft tannins and the merest hint of fruit on the palate.  Fully mature and a very attractive wine.  A pleasant and interesting example of a very mature decent wine from a less regarded vintage.  After some seven hours since decanting, this has improved somewhat: it is slightly more open and approachable, and the tannins are softer.  Very Good Indeed.

NV Champagne Brut, Baron-Fuenté, Tradition à Charly-sur-Marne, 12% (Booths)
Unusually this champagne is made predominantly from the pinot meunier grape (the lesser of the three champagne grapes), with a touch of chardonnay and a pinch of pinot noir.
Displays a big mousse initially.  A notably pinkish straw.  Reasonable nose.  Plenty of fruit and just a hint of yeast.  Good, clean attack.  Nice flavours.  Attractive.  quite full-flavoured.  Very clean.  Good mousse in the mouth.  Very good length.  Nice and clean after.  Very Good.

2000 La Segreta Rosso, IGT Sicilia, Planeta, 14% (Everywine)
Bright and young.  Plenty of fruit - bags and bags of it on the nose, combining the bitterness of the nero d'avola and the softness of the merlot.  Good attack.  Fair fruit.  A bit tannic on the middle.  Not the best bottle of this.  Interesting to note that there is some bottle variation, despite the plastic cork.  Good.

1996 Crozes Hermitage, Domaine Raymond Roure, Paul Jaboulet Ainé, 13%, (Wine Society)
A plastic capsule under the metal capsule.  Very long cork.  Very very deep, dark ruby with the merest hint of youth.  Lots of fine legs.  Very fruity nose: rich and rather jammy, but with an odd extract-of-tannin scent.  A very big nose.  Fairly fresh and fruity on the attack.  Fills with tannins developing, more complex flavours and lots of structure.  Very good finish - tannins, but also some fruit lingering.  Very Good Indeed.

1998 White Cloud, Medium Dry White Wine, Nobilo, North Island, New Zealand, 11% (Sainsbury)
Greg Foster from Nobilo told me that "The White Cloud wine is a blend of Muller Thurgau, Muscat, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. The 98 blend does have less Sauvignon Blanc than the 97 blend. We are still using Sauvignon Blanc in the blend but most of the grapes are coming from the North Island vineyards instead of Marlborough. The 98 vintage was hot and has less acid then the 97 vintage. The fruit ripened very fast in 98 compared to the normal slow ripening generally experienced in New Zealand."
Medium gold.  Lots of slow fat legs.  Attractive, very fragrant nose of gooseberry, apple and elderflower.  Fairly full on the attack.  Then it fills a lot too.  Very full flavoured on the middle - even some hints of tobacco and tar on the palate!  Attracive and full-flavoured. The bottle says "drink fresh and young".  No!  Let it mature a couple of years, I say.  Nice clean finish (but its starting to thin again now) with fair length.  Very Good.

2000 La Segreta Rosso, IGT Sicilia, Planeta, 14% (Everywine)
A plastic supremecorq seals this bottle of new wave Sicilian wine, a blend of nero d'avola and merlot.  A good, even, very dark garnet.  Oddly only a touch of youth.  Very slow, heavy legs.  An interesting nose with lots of character: very ripe fruit; great depth; and a hint of licorice and mint behind the fruit.  Nice attack.  Quite fresh.  Fills enormously.  Very full, very ripe.  Hints of licorice toffee.  Bags of character.  Excellent.

1998 Château Sainte Eulalie, AC Minervois, 13% (Wine Society)
A rather nice colour: a very attractive even burgundy that maturing with no signs of purplish youth remaining.  Very hefty legs.  good nose - warm and inviting.  Plenty of fruit.  Not bad on the attack.  But then - ugh! - a blast of acid.  No fruit at all on the middle and a soured finish.  My first impression was that this was a poor bottle of an indifferent wine.  But it got worse as it was open - much worse.  Truly foul, and so much so, that it must be off, presumably with some acetobacter infection.  Not rated.

1995 Chianti Riserva, Azienda Uggiano, 12.5% (Morrison's)
Attractive colour - a mature tawny ruby.  Fairly fat, rather uneven legs.  Rather reticent nose, but a good red berry nose comes through with nice evening soft oak.  Excellent attack.  good fruit.  Soft tannins.  Fruit develops on the middle and tannins diminish, returning on the finish to give structure to an attractive after.  Very good length and very clean after.  Very Good Indeed.

NV Manzanilla las Medallas de Argüeso, Herederos de Argüeso, 375ml, 15% (Wine Time)
Fairly deep colour for manzanilla: almost a medium straw with coppery touches.  Good nose - notably salty.  Good clean attack.  Fills as one would expect.  Very clean, but more body than some manzanillas.  Very Good Indeed.

NV "R" de Ruinart Brut, Champagne (Oddbins)
Pale straw and an excellent mousse.  Good firm bubbles.  Good nose: yeasty and herbaceous with some stone fruit.  Good, clean attack.  Nicely balanced.  good acidity.  Develops and fills on the finish (which is good, as I was thinking that it was seeming a bit light).  Excellent length.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Domaine des Ratelles, Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie, Daniel & Gérard Vinet, 12% (Wine Society)
Very pale straw with lemon yellow hints at the edge.  Very full nose: quite tart with some gooseberries and a touch of herbaceousness.  Clean and crisp on the attack.  Fills reasonably.  There's unfortunately a touch of harsh acidity towards the finish.  Good, full-flavoured, with very good length and good after.  (The harsh acidity blows off after a while.)  Very Good.

2000 La Segreta Rosso, IGT Sicilia, Planeta, 14% (Everywine)
A blend of Nero d'Avola and Merlot.  The appearance is of a youthful deep purple starting to turn more of a garnet colour.  Very hefty legs.  Good nose - lots of ripe fruit without being to cooked or overripe, with notes of blackberry and plum.  Good attack: forward with plenty of fruit.  Develops well on the middle.  Lots of structure and interest and character.  In the mouth it feels quite heavy on alcohol without being too heavy and full in the mouth.  Finishes well: cleanly and with fair length.  Very Good Indeed.

1998 Reserve Selection Gewurztraminer, Hilltop Neszemely, Mór Region, Hungary, 11.5% (Wine Society)
Medium straw with pinky orange touches.  Deeply perfumed gewurz nose, but with a certain elegance.  Hints of rose on the nose.  Good attack.  Clean and quite fresh tasting.  Fills very well and sweetens/becomes richer on the middle.  Rich and creamy on the finish with notable length.  Very Good Indeed (and quite a bargain at under £4)

1997 Merlot Reserve, Villard Estate, Maipo Valley Chile, 13% (Wine Society)
Deep, dark garnet.  Lots of stewed fruit - plums and a touch of mint.  Powerful legs.  Full attack.  Smooth and rounded.  Fills quite well (though it's also very full to start with).  Very mouthfilling with plenty of character.  Rather bitter on the finish.  Pretty good.  Spoiled a bit by bitter fruit finish.  Very Good.

1995 Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Spätlese, Willi Haag, AP No: 2 577 049 4 96, 8.5% abv (Wine Time)
The top of the cork was rather damp and mouldy.
Medium greenish very yellow gold.  Good, moderately mature Riesling nose with apples subsiding towards more kerosene notes, but still very creamy.  Nice attack.  Rounded and clean with a nice streak of acidity.  A bit unidimensional: it doesn't grow or develop much in the mouth.  Acidity is a little hard on the finish.  Not particularly marvellous.  Good.

1997 Ch. Saint Esteve d'Uchaux, AC Côtes du Rhône, 13% (Wine Society)
Attractive, clear, maturing ruby - no sign of youth remains.  Rather muted nose: more hedgerow and wet grass than fruit.  Light attack.  Fairly fresh tasting.  Little bit too much acid.  fills OK and fairly full on the middle.  Simple.  A bit lacking in Rhône characteristics.  Touch of tannins on the finish.  OK

1998 Gevrey-Chambertin, Jean-Philippe Marchand, 13% (Tesco)
Light, if slightly dull cherry red, showing some signs of age.  Lovely pinot noir nose with warm, soft, stewed raspberries.  Good attack.  Clean and quite fresh, but also full.  Fills well.  Rather big and a bit brutish on the middle.  Tannins kick in towards the finish.  Very pleasant finish - lots of kick from spice and plenty of tannins (though not harsh tannins).  Very Good, but perhaps a bit inelegant.

1999 Grand Prébois Rouge, VdP de Principauté d'Orange (Domaines Perrin) 12% abv (Wine Society)
Moderately youthful, raspberry/cherry red.  Slightly minted nose.  Nice if undistinguished fruit.  Fairly simple on the attack.  Quite light.  Bit of hard acid on the middle.  Tannins on the finish, which are beginning to soften.  Much better than the first bottle today, but still not terribly good.  OK.

1999 Grand Prébois Rouge, VdP de Principauté d'Orange (Domaines Perrin) 12% abv (Wine Society)
Moderately youthful, almost raspberry red.  Rather acidic brambly nose.  This isn't right.  Just about drinkable.  Not right though.  Bad bottle.  Not rated.

1997 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett, Robert Eymael Mönchhof, 8.5% (Wine Society)
Very very pale greenish straw.  Big nose: creamy apples giving way/developing into waxy petrol.  Fresh, zingy, vibrant attack.  Crisp and very very clean.  Not overwhelmingly apple-y, and showing some age and roundness of the middle and especially on the finish.  Very fine indeed.  Very elegant.  Excellent.

1991 Amarone della Valpolicella DOC classico superiore, Giuseppe Quintarelli, 15% (Bibendum)
A bright, notably mature ruby.  Heavy, very well defined legs.  A massive nose with bags of fruit and almost port-like overtones.  Deep and intoxicating.  Big attack: this is powerful stuff! Heavy alcohol, almost spirituous on the middle.  Massive on the finish.  Any tannins have evened out nicely.  But ultimately, I'm a little disappointed by this; it's a bit too dominated by the alcohol (and I wonder if 15% is an under-claim) and a bit short on fruit.  Very Good (with the potential to be better)

1999 Domaine des Batailles, AC St Chinian, 12% (Wine Society)
A bright, attractive medium ruby.  No youth showing.  Fast, fairly fat legs.  Good solid, if unexceptional nose.  Plenty of ripe fruit.  Ok on the attack; good middle.  Lots of flavour and some character.  Bit tannic on the finish.  Length comes mainly from the tannins.  Not bad, but unexceptional.  Good.

1998 Korem Isola dei Nuraghi, IGT Sardinia, Argiolas, 13% (Everywine)
A deep maturing ruby with only mere hints of youth remaining.  A lovely nose: deep and rich with plums, licorice and a hint of honeysuckle.  Very nice nose: very attractive and quite unusual.  Elegant, very slow legs, though quite thin.  Fairly full attack.  Fills well.  Powerful flavours.  Lots of fruit with some spice.  Tannins develop on the finish.  Slightly bitter after.

NV La Table du Roy, Vin de Table, Jaboulet Ainé, 12.5% (Wine Society, 2001)
A nice bright youthful ruby, but not too youthful.  Fairly hefty, quite fat legs.  Good nose: lots of fruit with some maquis and floral scents.  Good, warm inviting nose with a bit of something to it.  Light attack.  Lots of fruit.  Fills a bit, but retains lots of light, quite fresh fruit on the middle.  A real kick on the finish with some tannin, but mainly lots of peppery spice.

1998 Burgans Albariño, DO Rias Baixas, Bodegas Martin Codex, 12%, (Oddbins)
Pale to medium straw colour.  Pleasant herbaceous nose with floral notes.  Light and quite fresh on the attack.  But fills very well into something quite rich and definitely very full and rounded.  Very clean.  Lots of character.  Very Good.

1989 Tokay Pinot Gris Sélection de grains nobles, Léon Beyer, 375ml, 14% (Wine Society)
Fairly hefty tartaric deposits.  Medium gold with orangey hints.  Fine, slow legs.  Intense, perfumed, honeyed nose with tropical fruit and beeswax.  Sweet on the attack.  Fills enormously.  Utterly luscious, heavy, rich and hedonistic.  Very very sweet and tending towards cloying.  I have to admit that this is a bit disappointing: it's fairly simple and straightforward.  It lacks elegance and fruit, but is dominated by the sweetness.  Rather odd on the finish with burnt caramel with a bit of harsh, unrounded acidity.

1989 Oberemmeler Karlsberg Riesling Auslese gold cap, Kesselstatt, 8.5%, AP No: 356 1077-103-90 (Frank Stainton)
Some cork leakage.  Medium to light gold (much richer gold in a full glass).  Creamy petrol nose.  Fine attack.  Seems quite fresh with some acidity.  Then it fills well and very quickly.  Luscious and mouthfilling.  Really quite sweet, but with a zingy acidity running throughout.  Very much the same after - with a rich, almost buttery feel, but with a tingling sensational acidity.  Very Good Indeed, but not the best bottle of this.

1996 Crozes-Hermitage Domaine Raymond Roure, Jaboulet Ainé, 13% (Wine Society)
Unusually this wine had an inner plastic capsule underneath the foil capsule.  An exceptionally long cork.  Medium ruby appearance, maturing.  Very bright.  Hefty legs.  Veyr full nose with lots of ripe fruit, but also an odd rather unpleasant bitterness.  Fairly full attack, but a big acidic streak.  The alcohol is very noticeable, along with bags of chewy tannins. Rather disjointed - doesn't come together.  I know from previous experience with this particular wine that this is just a duff bottle.  Not rated.

1998 Korem Isola dei Nuraghi, IGT Sardinia, Argiolas, 13% (Everywine)
Medium ruby.  Darkening, but still the very faintest hint of youth at the rim.  Bright, with notable clarity.  Lovely nose - very attractive - spicy and maquis herbs with vanilla.  Clean and fresh on the attack: very smooth and attractive.  Fills enormously.  Very full on the palate.  Lots of spice.  Growing and growing in the mouth.  Very fine finish with lots of spice (and a distinct prickle on the tongue).  Lots of character, yet it also has a rounded international style to it as well.  Very Good Indeed.

NV Crémant d'Alsace, Cuvée Julien, Dopff au Moulin, 11%, (Wine Society)
Rather uneven bubbles and a very short-lived mousse.  Lots of yeast on the nose.  Plenty of bubbles and mousse affect in the mouth.  Clean and very crisp.  Bone dry attack.  Bags of flavour.  Distinct hint of citrus and perhaps coriander on the finish.  Very Good.

NV La Table du Roy, Vin de Table, Jaboulet Ainé, 12.5% (Wine Society, 2001)
Vibrant, bright youthful purple with a bit of maturity at the edge.  Solid if unexceptional Cotes du Rhone nose.  Nice attack.  Lots and lots of fruit.  Fills well with structure building.  Powerful finish with a boost of spice and some noticeable tannins.  Very Good.

1997 Moscato, DOC Piemonte, Cantine Gemma, 5.5% (Oddbins)
Medium straw with almost copper touches.  More bubbles than would normally be found in a Moscato d'Asti, and even a bit of a mousse.  Rather dull muscat nose.  None of the floral fragrance that I would expect.  Light and fresh on the attack with a good moussey feeling in the mouth, although it's not too fizzy.  Nice and clean, not too sweet at all.  Pleasant if simple.  Good.

1995 Auxerrois Moenchreben de Rohrschwihr, Rolly Gassmann, 11.5% (ex cave)
Very very pale, almost clear straw.  Super nose - fresh, clean, crisp, bags of fruit with herbaceous overtones and even hints of melon.  Good attack.  Very full and a touch off-dry.  fills enormously.  Very very buttery and rich, but with a very nice streak of acidity.  Very clean and notably crisp on the finish.  Excellent length and very clean after.  It is just a bit off-dry, but still very fresh and clean.  Very Good Indeed.

1994 Erdener Prälat Riesling Auslese Goldcap, Dr Loosen, 7%, 375ml (Berry Bros & Rudd)
A lot of wine on top of the cork under the capsule - something you come across occasionally with Mosel Ausleses.
Very pale, almost clear.  Yet at the same time a deep, rich lemon gold at rim.  very pale watery green at the centre.  Honeyed nose with a hint of apples, but rather thin.  Quite light on the attack.  Some honey and richness comes through on the middle.  Then some acidity comes through to balance it. Very good length.  Very clean and elegant throughout: fresh and quite bracing.  Disappointingly thin.  This wine fell so far below my expectation of it that I don't think it can rank more than Very Good at most.

1994 Ch. Langoa Barton, AC St Julien, 375ml (Byrne's)
Quite a vibrant light burgundy, still with some youth showing.  Very leathery nose with nice very ripe fruit and a slight hint of clove with coriander seed.  Rich and full-flavoured on the attack.  Fills enormously.  Lots and lots of tannins, but very soft now.  Nice chewy fruit on the middle.  Bit of spice arrives to join the rather drying tannins on the finish.  A bit unexceptional.  Very Good.

1994 Late Harvest Orange Muscat and Flora, Brown Brothers, 375ml, 10% (Booths)
Deep gold with hints of caramel.  Deep, rich nose with clear citrus notes.  Also slightly sherried.  Nice attack.  Still fairly fresh.  Fills nicely and sweetens on the palate.  Then becomes a little sugary and cloying on the finish.  Very good length.  Very Good.

1996 Tokay Pinot Gris Vendanges Tardives, Albert Mann, 13.5% (Lay & Wheeler), 500ml.
A bright, medium gold.  Slow, hefty legs.  A deep, intoxicating nose: there is sweetness on the nose, but with a notable freshness from citrus, honeysuckle and perhaps a hint of deodorant.  Very much an extract of pinot gris nose - so much extract indeed that one would possibly not immediately guess that it is a pinot gris.  Lush and rich on the attack.  Very elegant.  Some very classy acidity.  Mouthfilling.  Rich and very, very ripe rather than particularly sweet.  Extremely intense and very elegant.  Beautiful finish.  Very full and clean, with a haunting linger after.  Excellent.

1999 Chardonnay, Planeta, IGT Sicilia (Everywine)
Deep gold: looks quite heavy.  Long fairly heavy legs.  Massive nose:  fresh, very rich buttery, smoky with tropical fruits.  Very full and powerful on the attack.  Absolutely massive on the middle.  Utterly overwhelming really.  Really powerful and concentrated.  Massive length with pepper and spice on the finish.  Very Good Indeed but needs time.
[Same bottle, the next day]
Deep rich gold with a hint of an orange tinge.  Luscious, massive nose - very powerful, smoky, orangey scented tropical notes.  Very big on the attack, but lots of fruit and a pleasant acidity too.  Fills enormously.  Utterly massive and powerful - almost overpowering.  Full, rich, rounded.  Enormous length with a full blast of fruit and some spice still showing.  Very Good Indeed.

1997 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett, Studert-Prüm, Gutsabf., 8%, AP 2 576 537 4 98 (Tesco)
Pale greenish tinged gold.  Impressive nose - very full.  Apples, cream and paraffin wax.  Clean and fresh on the attack.  Fills reasonably well, but not dramatically.  Bit muddied on the middle and a bit dilute on the finish.  Clean finish with good length.  Good, but it's over its price.

1998 Reserve Selection Gewürztraminer, Mor Region, Hungary.  Produced and bottled by Hilltop Neszmely, 11.5% (Wine Society)
Light gold.  Great gewurz nose - fragrant, but not over-extracted.  Very floral with nice soft rose petals.  Good attack.  Fair weight to the wine.  Perhaps just a tad off-dry.  Full flavoured.  Lots of varietal character.  Beautifully clean and well balanced all the way through.  A textbook gewurztraminer.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Pinot Gris, Bodega J & F Lurton, Mendoza, Argentina, 13% abv (Wine Society)
A medium deep yellow straw.  Lovely rich nose with lots of pinot gris character, together with some hints of lime and orange flower water.  Good attack.  Quite light but good depth of flavour.  Quite fresh too.  Fills very quickly and enormously.  Rich and very noticeably spicy on the finish and after.  Perhaps a bit uni-dimensional.  But very honest and clean.  At first I thought it was a bit hard on the finish, but it's actually the spice and dryness giving that impression.  Tending to the Alsatian style.  Good.

1999 Grand Prébois Rouge, VdP de Principauté d'Orange (Domaines Perrin) 12% abv (Wine Society)
A bright fairly even, fairly young raspberry red.  Nice warm Rhone nose with an attractive scentedness - perhaps citrus and/or violets?  Attractive on the attack - plenty of fruit immediately evident.  Fills very well.  A nice structure from some soft tannins.  Spice on the finish and a touch of tannins, but still with the fruit showing through.  Very pleasant after - with nice peppery spice and warmth.  Very Good.

2000 Aglianico, Incyon, IGT Rosso di Sicilia, 13.5% (Sainsbury)
Very light, youthful raspberry red.  No legs.  Lovely, very forthright fruity nose.  Delicately perfumed cherry and damson nose with lots of strawberry.  Plenty of pepper spice on the nose too.  Lovely and soft on the palate.  Very fruity indeed.  Light peppery raspberry flavours, and slightly perfumed.  Very attractive.  Might usefully be lightly chilled.  Nice soft tannins come to fore on the finish.  Good length with tannins and spicy fruit persisting long after.  Very Good Indeed, especially for a fiver.

NV Three Choirs, Dry, United Kingdom Table Wine, 10.5% (Wine Society)
Actually made from the Phoenix grape, but that could not be stated on the bottle, which also explains the designation as UK Table Wine - Phoenix was at the time not a grape variety permitted by the EU for winemaking.  This also explains why this wine - from the 1998 vintage - does not bear any vintage on the label.
a pale lemon colour.  Massive nose.  Grassy, herbaceous, lots of perfumed elderflower.  Quite big on the attack and not at all lightweight.  Some freshness, but nicely rounded and full.  Very well balanced, but still nicely refreshing.  Some of the elderflower floral notes come through on the palate.  Very clean.  Nice finish with good length.  Very Good.

1996 Tokay Pinot Gris Hengst, Clos du vicus romain, AC Alsace Grand Cru, Domaine Aimé Stentz, 13.5% (Booths)
Medium gold with pinkish hints.  Rather slow, uneven legs.  Rich, rounded, almost buttery nose with a nice subtle backbone of pinot gris spice.  Rich attack.   Rounded and full.  Then there is a little bit of freshness from its acidity on the middle and it actually lightens a little.  Finishes with great elegance and clarity of flavour.  Very fine indeed.  One could almost wonder abut VT levels of ripeness.  Very impressive.

1999 Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie, Domaines des Ratelles, Daniel & Gerard Vinet, 12%, (Wine Society)
Quite a bit of tartaric crystals in the bottle.  Pale to medium greenish straw.  Fresh, vibrant, zingy lemony nose.  Light fresh attack.  Fills a little. Some pétillance.  Some sulphur too.  Very dull and uninteresting overall.  Fairly clean.  Finishes well.  But dull.  A bit old perhaps?

1998 Korem, Argiolas, Isola dei Nuraghi IGT (Sardinia), 13%  (Everywine)
A good even ruby.  Perhaps a bit murky?  Maybe it's a bit shaken up.  Quite viscous on the glass with very slow strangely fine legs.  It looks still bright and vigorous, but has lost any youthful purple.  A very deep, intense nose.  Laden with ripe fruit.  Plummy - stewed/jammy plums or damsons.  And I get a slight hit of bay/eucalyptus from it.  Very intense fruit.  Quite fresh and light on the attack, but very quickly fills and some tannins set in.  Very ripe.  Layers of flavours - slightly bitter tannins towards the finish.  but finishes with massive spiciness.  Very complex wine, which needs rather more time to knit together.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Grand Prébois Rouge, VdP de Principauté d'Orange (Domaines Perrin) 12% abv (Wine Society, 2000)
A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Counoise.
A bright, youthful ruby.  Soft nose with definite hedgerow notes.  Pretty good fruit.  Nice attack.  Fresh.  Light.  Fruity.  Really rather forward.  Fills well.  Quite mouthfilling with some tannic structure.  Pepper and spice on the finish.  Not as good a bottle as others.  Good.

1998 Ch. Pech-Céleyran, Saint-Exupery, La Clape, AC Coteaux du Languedoc, 12.5%, (The Wine Society)
A youngish ruby, but quite notably dark.  Acidic nose - blows off a little revealing a very flat, dull, uninteresting nose.  Fairly soft attack.  but lots of tannins and lots of acid. Like chewing on a dried out teabag reconstituted in a mild vinegar solution.  Off.

1999 Incyon Chardonnay, IGT Bianco di Sicilia, 14% (Sainsbury)
Plastic cork.  Very full gold colour, slightly tinged with green.  A notably buttery nose but with good, distinct fragrant lemony and thyme notes.  A distinct smokiness on the attack.  Very full, and it smooths out rather than fills.  Ripe fruit, but on finish dominated by a biscuit-y-ness.  A bit bitter on the finish, not up to the promise of the attack.  Pretty good at the price.  Good.

1998 Burgans Albariño, DO Rías Baixas, 12% (Oddbins)
A mid, very yellow straw.  Very odd nose with artificial scents dominating - lemony melon crossed with bubble gum.  Light on the attack.  Fills quickly.  Very odd.  Distinctly lees-y.  Possibly a bit of secondary fermentation, though there's no trace of pétillance.  Full flavoured, very dry, rather herbaceous - a sort of wet lawn flavour.  It almost has a gewurz hint to the middle.  This is most probably a faulty bottle, but not unpleasant by any means.  Good.

1999 Morellino di Scansano DOC, Elisabetta Geppetti - Fattoria Le Pupille, 13% (Wine Society)
An even bright, youthful cherry ruby.  No discernable legs.  Soft fairly fruity nose - very backward though; perhaps some cedar nose.  But a very reticent nose.  Soft and fairly round on the attack.  fills with a few bitter tannins.  Fair length.  Bit of harshness on the finish.  Seems initially a bit too unremarkable, but again it seems to me to be more reticent than poor.  Bit of structure comes through after much aeration.

1997 Merlot Reserve, Maipo Valley, Chile, Villard Estate, 13% (Wine Society)
Lovely even ruby - perhaps just the slightest hint of youth at the edge.  Copious heavy legs.  Gorgeous nose.  Fairly hot fruit.  Lots and lots of leather and hedgerow fruits with a hint of mint.  Gorgeous attack.  So silky and smooth ...  Packed with flavour.  Doesn't fill especially much once it's in the mouth though.  Feels high alcohol.  Almost has a syrupy note to it.  Tannins are very soft, though add a noticeable bitterness.  Very good length.  Packed full of fruit and character.  Big stuff.  Excellent.

1997 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinet Halbtrocken, Reinhold Haart, 10.5%, AP 2 596 429 2 98 (ex cave)
Very, very pale straw - virtually colourless.  Very reticent, closed nose initially.  With plenty of aeration it starts to show itself - very sharp apples and a hint of kerosene in the background.  Nice smooth attack.  Very crisp apples initially on the palate, which then soften and become more rounded.  Very very elegant.  Nice acidity - entirely in check.  Very harmonious.  Excellent - almost extraordinary - length.  Very impressive.  And so refreshing too.  Excellent.

1999 Grand Prébois Rouge, VdP de Principauté d'Orange (Domaines Perrin) 12% abv (The Wine Society)
Bright, young raspberry red.  Loads of gorgeous ripe fruit on the nose - fresh, clean and lightly floral with a hint of tobacco.  Good soft fruit-filled attack.  Fills well with some light tannins and increasing spice.  Very good mouthfeel - I'd expect a higher alcohol content than 12% if I were tasting this blind.  Clean on the finish with very good length.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 La Goudie, VdP de la Côte Vermeille, Parcé Frères, 14% (Byrne's)
A rosé from the Collioure region.  Medium strawberry pink colour.  Rich nose with strawberries, plums, red pepper and a bit of citrus.  Medium attack with a good depth of flavour.  Fills well - very well.  Very smooth and rich, almost buttery.  Just a tiny bit off-dry. Finishes cleanly - very cleanly for a rosé.  Good length.  Very Good Indeed.

1995 Montlouis Vendanges Tardives, Michel et Laurent Berger
A medium gold.  Fairly light nose with gentle, slightly floral honeyed scents.  Very elegant attack which follows through all the way.  There are fairly highly levels of acidity which keep it nice and fresh, such that it actually feels only just sweet.  Very elegant.  It really sings with some fourme d’ambert cheese, served at peak condition.  90/100
(18/5/01 at Petrus, St James, London)

1997 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett, Robert Eymael, Mönchhof, 8.5% (The Wine Society)
A very marked greenish tinge, with a deeper colour overall than many 97 kabinetts.  A delicate nose: creamy, appley, but with distinct petrol notes.  Seems more mature than the last bottle of this that I had.  Quite full on the atack.  But doesn't fill or develop much at all.  Uni-dimensional.  OK, but this is just a very poor bottle of an otherwise good wine.

1997 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett, Dr Loosen, 8.5% (ex cave)
A very pale, greenish lemon colour.  Initially the nose is rather reticent, but then opens up into a very good Mosel riesling nose - still fairly young and fruity, but starting to develop some petrol hints.  Very crisp and clean on the attack: still very fresh with lots of apples and cream.  Very dry, with almost a slight impression of pétillance from the acid.  Very refreshing and very clean.  Possibly a bit simpler than when I remember tasting it chez Loosen.  Perhaps it's closing up for a period?  Very Good Indeed.

NV Amontillado Seco Napoleon, Hidalgo, 17.5% (Laymont & Shaw)
An attractive light (to medium) tan with orangey depths.  Very full, very attractive nose with clear PX notes.  Lightly raisined on the nose, but perhaps tending to caramel scents.  Good attack: really quite fresh.  Very dry.  Fills enormously in the mouth with flavours of sweetish caramel and raisins, but only flavours, as this is really quite aggressively dry.  Very hot and spicy on the tongue at the finish and long after.  Remarkable length - but all coming from that hotness.  A very good example, with real complexity, but for me it is merely an interesting wine to have once in a while.

1999 Syrah, VdP des collines Rhodaniennes, Cave de Tain l'Hermitage, 12% (The Wine Society)
A light, very young garnet red - but very bright and very attractive.  Big fat legs.  Very attractive young Rhone like nose.  Bags of fresh ripe fruit - almost slightly floral.  Lovely fresh, clean attack.  Bags of fruit throughout.  Very clean, very fresh, very rounded.  Very Good Indeed.

1998 Bacchus, Chapel Down, England, 12% (The Wine Society)
A medium greenish gold.  Light and very fruity on the nose - nicely fragrant with distinct elderflower notes.  Good fresh attack.  Lots of fruit.  Fills very well.  Lots of interest - I rather like the Bacchus grape.  Very pleasant indeed, but also with some character and depth.  Very Good Indeed.

NV Crémant d'Alsace Brut Cuvée Julien, Cuvée du 90e anniversaire, AC Crémant d'Alsace, Dopff au Moulin, 12% (The Wine Society)
Good mousse.  Fair bubbles, though a bit uneven in size.  Good nose - very dry, rather biscuity with some fruit coming through.  Rather nice mouth-feel.  Quite light on the attack, but a very fruity, structured flavour develops.  Very dry, very clean, very crisp.  Good depth of flavour and structure.  Finishes well, with good length.  Very Good Indeed.

1998 Valpolicella, Valpolicella Classico Superiore, Serego Alighieri in collaboration with Masi, 13% (Byrne's)
An even, slightly muddy ruby.  Wow! What a nose!  I actually had my doubts initially as there seemed to be a lightly vinegared stinky scent coming from the glass when poured, but this now has masses of wet hedgerow scents.  If you dig around in there, you get some stewed strawberry fruit together with some cherries after aeration.  Transferred to a Riedel Burgundy Bordeaux glass, it shows a really intensely strawberry nose.  Massive, slow, heavy legs.  A little disappointing on the attack: light and lacking in fruit and freshness; just rather a lot of acid instead.  But it improves in the mouth and especially with time.  Quite soft initially, then it builds slowly.  Lots of character, but still remaining soft.  A fair amount of tannin, but not at all overpowering.  The acidity never quite goes away, and there's a streak of acidity running through to the finish.  Unfortunately, this wine seems to me to lack complexity:  it's definitely unduly simple and rather disappointing.  I feel it should have more to it than this.  Maybe the price (under a tenner) hints that it's not going to be a great wine.  It's certainly not in the mould of other Serego Alighieri wines I've had from higher up the quality scale.  In fact there's not really much to set it aside from much southern French vin du pays.  Good.

1997 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett, Robert Eymael, Mönchhof, 8.5% (The Wine Society)
A pale, distinctly greenish straw colour.  Fresh, crisp apple nose with some kerosene notes.  Lovely fresh attack: clean and crisp, with the merest hint of a slight pétillance, probably coming from the acid rather than any real bubbles: this has a fairly high acidity giving it a real crispness.  Quite a lean style, with no flab whatsoever.  Yet the acid is not at all harsh and the wine is thoroughly clean in the mouth from the attack to the finish and long after.  Very good length with the fruit lingering long after.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Grand Prébois Rouge, VdP de Principauté d'Orange (Domaines Perrin) 12% abv (The Wine Society)
A blend of grenache, syrah and mourvèdre with a dash of counoise.  A bright attractive young purplish ruby.  Slow, sparse fat legs.  Good nose - bags of fruit with some structure.  Light and fairly fresh on the palate with loads of fruit and a good weight.  Finishes with some soft peppery spice and agood, soft, slightly tannic mouthfeel after.  Very round and pleasant.  Very Good Indeed.

1998 White Cloud, Medium Dry White Wine, Nobilo, North Island, New Zealand, 11% (Sainsbury)
A pale to medium straw.  Very slow, rather uneven legs tending to fatness.  The nose is attractive and fragrant with some slightly artificial rose scents and maybe some juicy fruit gum.  Ok on the attack, and the same fragrant character comes through on the palate.  Fills well.  Very definitely a medium - probably a bit too sweet to carry itself.  Tends towards simplicity and innocuity.  OK.

1995 Sylvaner Réserve Millésime, Rolly Gassmann, AC Alsace, (ex cave)
Even, fairly coloured and markedly green in appearance.  Slow, big, fat globular legs.  Deep herbaceous nose - very attractive and very deep.  Nice attack.  Quite a light wine, and there's still some freshness.  Very rounded on the palate: not massive flavours, but very attractive.  The flavours seem to be enhanced as it goes towards the finish.  Finishes very cleanly with a massive spicy finish and enormous length.

1995 Masia Barril Classico, DO Priorato, 16% (Byrne's)
Lots of loose clumpy sediment, so decanted.  Rich, rounded plummy ruby colour - quite even with just a few younger hints right at the rim.  Remarkably thin, elegant legs.  Very powerful nose that's noticeable from afar, even before nosing the glass.  Quite sweet on the nose with masses of soft black fruit - blackberries and stewed plums; and a fair amount of leather too, with a slight hint of a violetty floral note.  Lush attack: very mouthfilling.  Lots of tannin immediately evident, but all fairly soft.  Very intense flavours with immense character.  Lots of fruit.  This is distinctly powerful stuff, yet, although some alcohol is noticeable initially, it disappears as the wine opens up in the glass.  Almost chocolatey on the middle, but then a rather bitter finish.  Very powerful, distinctive stuff and very unusual: a very old-fashioned style of Priorato the like of which is unlikely to be seen again.  Bags of character.  Excellent.

1995 Cheval Noir, AC St. Emilion, Mähler-Besse, 12.5% (The Wine Society)
Good clear ruby, clearly maturing at the edge ... hmmm, actually quite a brownish ruby.  Good, interesting nose with some blackcurrants, some hedgerow and some leather.  Fairly elegant legs.  Quite a light attack - clean and fresh.  Fills well.  Very full on the middle and finish.  Powerful after.  Quite soft tannins, though there's still plenty of structure and backbone.  Bit of raw alcohol and acid on finish.  Quite interesting.  Good.

1999 Grand Prébois Rouge, VdP de Principauté d'Orange (Domaines Perrin) 12% abv (The Wine Society)
A nice youngish colour; very bright.  Good nose: fruit with warm spiciness.  Nice gentle attack.  Lots of fruit.  Then some structure kicks in.  Finishes very well with some soft-ish tannins and great length.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Crozes Hermitage, Duboeuf, 375ml
A very soft, very fruity Crozes - almost a Crozes made in a Beaujolais style, which is not surprising given that this half was indeed made by Mr Beaujolais, Georges Duboeuf.  Very nice and fresh and fruity.  But it does also have a bit of a characterful backbone to it.  Good.
(4/4/01 at Café 21, Newcastle-upon-Tyne)

1999 Villa Wolf Pinot Gris, Deutscher Tafelwein, J.L. Wolf, Abfüller: Gebr. Loosen, 12% (Byrne's)
Pale-medium straw.  Rather mixed legs.  Soft, rather buttery pinot gris nose: rather flat and dull with no great fruit.  Nice on the attack - very pleasant.  Fills well, but not enormously.  Very rounded, rich and buttery on the middle.  Very pleasant and remarkably light.  None of the richness of Alsace pinot gris.  Very clean through.  Very good on the finish.  Clean and fresh after, with fair length.  Very elegant for a pinot gris.  Very Good. (though a lingering feeling that I might as well have an Alsace PG)

1990 Chianti Riserva DOCG, Prunatelli, 12.5% (The Wine Society)
A rather dull, markedly mature, brickish ruby.  Unfortunately I'd missed the slight build up of sediment, which had ended up in suspension.  Lots of very fast medium legs.  A good lively nose - lots of cherry fruit: quite hot and with some scentedness (violets?) and vanilla.  Nice attack.  Smooth and rounded bit lots of soft fruit and even some soft acid.  Fills well.  Quite powerful on the finish with some nice soft tannins and a warming after.  Good length.  Very Good.

1989 Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Auslese, Staatsweingut, Staatliche Weinbaudomäne, Trier, AP No: 3 561 107 004 90, 8% (Cambridge Wine Company)
A pale lemony gold with no legs.  Quite a powerful nose: fairly mature riesling, but still plenty of fruit and with hints of honey, and with apples and kerosene behind.  Fairly rich on the attack, with noticeable sweetness.  Then some acid becomes apparent and balances it out very well indeed.  Very full on the palate.  Far from excess sweetness.  Lots of ripe riesling fruit with good acidity levels.  This has a nice elegance.  Perhaps it tails off a it on the finish to become more ordinary, but it has very notable length.  Very Good at the price.

NV Champagne Lanson, black label
Not bad.  Very good mousse and bubbles, but rather undistinguished.  Gave me a headache too.

1997 Collection Plaimont, Côtes de Saint Mont VDQS, Producteurs Plaimont, vendange à main, 12% (The Wine Society)
Saint Mont is sort of between Pau and Toulouse, if you were wondering.  The main grape is the tannat.
A very dark, rich inky purple with marked youth at the rim.  Uneven, but very viscous legs that even hold the colour.  Good nose - deep and mysterious - crushed blackberry and mint leaves and quite farmyardy.  Nice attack: very clean.  Fills very quickly and enormously.  Very chewy on the middle.  Lots of powerful flavours and great intensity.  A bit rough round the edges on the finish.  Quite rustic, with little finesse to tell of, but really rather impressive.   It has a sort of rawness to it, but is quite unusual, and the character of the tannat grape is obvious.  Good length and clean on the finish, though fairly heavy tannins.  Very Good Indeed.

1991 Gewurztraminer Oberer Weingarten de Rohrschwihr, Rolly Gassmann, AC Alsace, 13.5% (ex cave)
A fairly pale straw with yellow/green edges.  Slow, bit fat legs.  Fabulous gewurz nose - really quite perfumed with tropical fruit, rose and a hint of nutmeg.  Very full and rich on the attack.  Almost creamy.  Fills beautifully.  Really lush and round; possibly even a bit fat.  Powerful gewurz flavours.  Very fine and elegant, despite the intensity of flavours; and very clean indeed with no harshness - until quite long after, anyway, when there's a bit of roughish acid.  Will live much longer.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Domaine des Batailles, AC St Chinian, 12% (The Wine Society)
A lively young purplish burgundy red.  Very slow, fairly powerful legs.  good young Midi nose - warm, rounded, with some hedgerow fruit and spice, and a hint of pepper.  Very attractive on the attack.  Light, fresh and quaffable.  I wonder if there's some cabernet franc in this?  No great body, and doesn't fill particularly, but very nice and light with lots of character and interest.  Very Good.

NV Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana, single vineyard sherry, Hidalgo (Laymont & Shaw)
A medium brownish golden tan with orange hints.  A good consistent medium nose: deep, roasted nuts with a definite salty tang, the saltiness dominating any fruit.  Very clean attack, developing into a real mouthful.  Very light and fresh, but very powerful flavours at the same time.  Almost seems like an extract of manzanilla.  Intense flavours overlaid on a light body.  Incredible length.  A real stunner.  An excellent alternative to Hidalgo's excellent Manzanilla La Gitana where something more substantial or showy is required.  Excellent.

1998 Reserve Selection Gewürztraminer, Hilltop Neszmely, Mór Region, Hungary, 11.5% (The Wine Society)
Medium gold with tinges of orange and yellow.  Slow, quite fine legs.  A nice spicy gewurz nose, verging on the heavily extracted: perfumed roses dominate.  The roses are also there on the attack, like a very light rosewater (unusual in my experiences over several cases of drinking this wine).  Light, slightly fragrant and very pleasant on the palate.  Fills a little and finishes with some elegance.  A bit different to other bottles I've had of this same wine: this one is lighter and more fragrant.  Very Good.

1985 C.S. Malbec, Mildara, Coonawarra, 12.3% (Sunday Times Wine Club)
55% cabernet sauvignon; 35% shiraz; 10% malbec
Fully mature, brickish red with distinctly brownish tinges.  A very good nose that was noticeable immediately upon decanting (though there was virtually no sediment, by the way): strong blackcurrant fruit with crushed fresh mint.  Good attack.  Lots of fruit.  Really quite light and fresh.  Doesn't fill a great deal but it's really quite big on the middle.  Good tannins lend structure.  The shiraz has definitely softened/faded from previous bottles.  This has a remarkable elegance and finesse - a very fine old lady.  Still well able to hold its own, but very definitely ready now.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Syrah Nobles Rives, Cave de Tain l'Hermitage, Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes, 12% (The Wine Society)
An attractive, mauve-tinged ruby.  Rather hot nose, with lots of deep, dark berry fruit.  Nice attack: soft and gentle, with lots of fruit.  Nicely balanced and fairly light throughout.  There's a touch of acidity at the start, then there's peppery spice on the middle, then some fruit comes through again on the finish.  Fair length.  Unusually good for a cheap red wine from the Wine Society.  Very Good Indeed.

1998 Mußbacher Eselshaut Riesling Kabinett Trocken, Müller-Catoir, Pfalz, Germany, 12% (Wine Time, Milnthorpe)
A very pale, lemon yellow.  Nice fragrant, young riesling nose wit lots of apple, though perhaps a bit watery.  Slight prickle on the tongue from the acidity: very even and light on the attack, with very little fruit.  Very austere wine.  Very dry on the finish.  High acidity throughout, and absolutely bone dry making it a bit out of balance.  Rather average, really, and you could say, it's a bit thin, characterless and generic.  Good (ish)

1999 Le Grand Prébois Rouge, Domaines Perrin, Vin de Pays de la Principauté d'Orange, 12%  (The Wine Society)
An almost iridescent young mauve that's strangely attractive.  Good, soft nose - very attractive and gentle; and very soft with nothing in particular to pin down, other than a general fresh hedgerow feel.  Good fruity attack.  Fills fairly well: a nicely rounded wine.  Good fruit flavours throughout with developing spice.  Finishes with pepper and a bit of (pleasing) acidity.  Fairly simple, but thoroughly enjoyable.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.

1998 Les Aurièges, Domaine de Clovallon (Catherine Roque), Vin de Pays d'Oc, 12.5% (The Wine Society)
A blend of riesling with more typical d'Oc varieties.  A remarkably heavy bottle!
Medium gold.  Very interesting nose: primarily buttery, but with notable floral/green herbs and he merest hint of petrol.  Quite clean and fresh on the attack, but quickly fills out and it's very rich and buttery on the palate, with a great depth of flavour.  A very unusual wine.  There's a bit of harsh acidity on the finish.  Massive length.  Very interesting and unusual, though perhaps more of a curiosity than particularly desirable.  Very Good Indeed.

1997 Teófilo Reyes, Ribera del Duero, Spain, 13% (Laymont & Shaw)
A deep, slightly youngish ruby.  Nice stewed plum fruit, leather and tobacco on the nose, with a touch of bretty fresh manure.  Warm and soft on the attack.  Very full berry fruit with some spice.  Very concentrated on the palate and almost syrupy.  Lots of tannin on the middle and finish lend an oddly attractive twigginess.  Big and fairly impressive, but not in perfect harmony.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.

NV Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana, single vineyard sherry, Hidalgo (Laymont & Shaw)
Very pale, slightly lemony gold.  Very full nose - rather a heavy flor scent.  Attractive, but in a different way to the same bodega's benchmark manzanilla La Gitana, whose freshness this (naturally, as an aged manzanilla) appears to lack.  Nice light attack, but it fills very quickly.  Much more body and character than La Gitana.  Much more power, and depth of flavour.  This is not a beginner's sherry by any means.  It's complex and multi-layered with a long, haunting aftertaste evocative of charcoal smoke and sea air.  Very Good Indeed, though you'd not want it every day.

1995 Clasico, Masia Barril, Priorato, 16% (Laymont & Shaw)
Lots of loose sediment in the bottle.  Darkish, deep burgundy colour, almost black at the centre.  Very powerful nose with bags of fruit: ripe mulberries and plums with a deep, intense raspberry backbone and some heady violet scents.  Very full on the attack: fabulous mouthfeel.  Very filling with incredibly intense flavours with great depth.  Bags of character too, and then more.  Although it's 16% abv, you don't notice any alcohol until long after when there's a slight rasp on the tongue.  Remarkable stuff.  Great depth and huge layers of flavour.  Nice tannins on the middle, which fade away on the finish.  Very Good Indeed +

1999 Alsace Riesling, selected by Tesco, V.A.K. Ammerschwihr, AC Alsace, 12% (Tesco)
A greenish mid straw.  Good, fresh nose with bags of riesling fruit.  Some hardness on the attack.  Fills nicely and rounds out in the mouth, but there's some harshness again after.  Jolly good length.  Quite fresh on the palate with decent fruit (but not as much as the nose would suggest).  Fairly well balanced.  A bit rough around the edges.  Goodish.

1997 Santenay "La Comme Dessus", Domaine Amiot Guy & Fils, 13.5% (Bibendum)
A warm strawberry juice red with a more slightly purplish cherry centre.  Lots of long, thin, quite fast legs.  Nice nose: very attractive cherry and soft red fruit with style and class.  Full on the attack, then developing complexity in the mouth.  There are bags of fruit and nice soft tannins on the finish.  On first opening, this showed itself as a good, light, attractive Burgundy, but after being decanted around 18 hours, it was absolutely superb, so it could probably do with some time.  Very Good Indeed/Excellent.

NV Don John, Vino de Mesa Tinto, Bodegas Los Tinos, Spain, 12%  (Laymont & Shaw)
An attractive, very even, slightly brickish raspberry red.  The nose is very odd, though suffering initially from a touch of bottle stink: very green and green oak indeed, with some soft berry fruit and traces of malolactic fermentation.  Light attack.  Light, rounded fruit flavours with some tannins giving structure.  Could well be good lightly chilled, and it would also make a great sangria wine.  Good+

NV Cockburn's Special Reserve Port
A very lightweight appearance and it looks rather young: bright ruby with hints of mauvish purple.  Rather poor on the nose: insipid with more alcohol/spirit than fruit.  Fairly light on the attack.  Very sweet.  Virtually no fruit.  Sugar, sweet and sour alcoholic finish.  Awful.  (This must be a bad bottle.)

1997 Merlot Reserve, Villard Estate, Maipo Valley, Chile (The Wine Society)
There's a bit of sediment forming in this now.  Very deep, plummy red.  Lovely nose - good fruit with plenty of oak.  Also a slightly odd, raw potato scent.  Very silky attack, which fills enormously: this is incredibly full and has massive character.  Lots of texture.  Good tannins, firmly in check.  Very well structure.  Very Good Indeed.

1999 Pinot Gris, Bodegas Jacques y François Lurton, Mendoza, Argentina, 13% (The Wine Society)
A pale, vibrant yellow gold.  Very clear, bright and light in appearance.  Soft and round on the nose with very fragrant melons coming through.  Good, lightish attack.  Fills well, with lots of buttery fruit on the middle.  Powerful finish: very clean.  Enormous length.  Perhaps a bit more lacking in pinot gris character than other bottles of this.  But Very Good.

1995 Cheval Noir, Grand Vin, Mähler-Besse , AC St Emilion, 12.5% (The Wine Society)
Very attractive, bright, medium-mature garnet colour.  Rather uneven, slightly thin legs.  Characterful, warm nose, a bit lacking in fruit but with warm, soft cedar and tobacco.  good attack: bright and crisp and clean.  Fills reasonably well with plenty of tannin and body.  Quite astringent on the finish with more than a hint of sucking on a vanilla pod.  Good.

1992 Les Cyprès de Climens, AC Barsac, Bordeaux, 14%, 500ml (Bibendum)
A very yellow, medium gold.  The nose is somewhat unusual: very intense, honey and orange with a strong raisiny undercurrent and a bit scented too - there's almost a hint of retsina to the nose.  Nice attack: very light and fresh.  Then it fills dramatically and develops in richness and sweetness.  Very concentrated indeed.  Very well balanced and with great structure and finesse.  It has a lovely 'feel' to it and is very enticing.  Very rich and concentrated - almost marmaladey flavours.  Very Good Indeed.

1997 Quinta do Côtto Vinho Tinto, Douro Den. de Origen Controllado, Portugal, 12% (Laymont & Shaw)
A deep, dark, blackberry juice colour, showing youth at the edges.  Nice, deep, plummy nose with some herbaceous notes.  Wow!  Smooth, utterly delicious attack: quite fresh and light.  Fills well, but not enormously.  This has real structure and character.  Good firm tannins that really contribute.  Intense rich flavours - fruit, but also herby flavours and a definite floral note, somewhat reminiscent of Taylor's Vargellas.  Very Good Indeed.

NV Fino Superior Napoleon, Bodegas Hidalgo (Laymont & Shaw)
Mid yellow gold.  Nice nose: light with lots of raisiny fruit and a slight saline tang.  Nice attack: very clean and crisp, though perhaps lacking in freshness.  Very full and rounded on the palate, yet it also has great elegance and finesse.  This is not at all an in-your-face bottle of "sherryness": it's very light on the flor and much more wine-like.  There are also hints of amontillado about it.  It's remarkable how completely different in style this is to La Gitana: there's virtually no comparison.  Very Good Indeed.

1993 Falkensteiner Hofberg Riesling Kabinett, Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany, (Wine Time, Milnthorpe)
A very light yellow with greenish tinges.  Petrol-soaked apple nose - full and crisp, but with a creamy undertone.  Light, fairly fresh attack.  Fills well.  very dry, with creamy undertones and a fairly solid malic flavour.  Very attractive, though it perhaps lacks the elegance of the finest Mosel wines; but very good for the price indeed.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.

NV Amontillado Viejo Pastrana, Single Vineyard Sherry, Bodegas Hidalgo, 18%,  (Laymont & Shaw)
A gorgeous light coppery caramel colour.  Fabulous nose - rich and deep with citrus, almonds and a light caramel, together with some smoky or even tobacco notes and a fair bit of vanilla too.  Maybe even some christmas pudding ice-cream on the nose too.  Quite light on the attack, but then it suddenly fills.  Wow - this is very delicious indeed.  Rich, rounded and warming.  Very clean flavours with absolutely massive length.  There's also a very savoury tang to it, with citrus notes in the background.  Very impressive, very elegant and very refined  Excellent.
It is worth noting, however, that it suffered after being open a couple of days, when it became rougher and more alcoholic.

1997 Meden Agen, Papantonis Winery, Dry Red Table Wine, Malandreni, Nemea, Greece, 12.5% (Oddbins)
From the agiorgitiko grape; aged in French oak barrels for one year.
A clear, bright, even garnet, possibly with some hints of maturity.  Slow, rather uneven legs.  Young, fruity nose with almost grenache/gamay notes, though there's nothing particularly striking or outstanding about the nose, which is attractive, but without any great character.  Quite a fresh, clean attack.  Very full bodied, especially towards the finish.  Very, very great length.  Lots of soft tannins.  This probably has some short-term ageing potential and is likely to improve as a bit of age balances it out a bit.  Very Good+

1996 Muscat d'Alsace Reserve Personnelle, Kuentz-Bas, 12.5% (ex cave)
A very pale straw - almost watery - very bright and clear.  Slightly uneven, very fat legs.  Real tropical fruit salad on the nose: lots of mango, but also some grassy notes.  Very nice attack - clean and crisp.  Fills well and it's really rather full and almost creamy on the palate.  Very fragrant and also very elegant.  This is really an incredible powerhouse of flavour, with buckets of tropical fruit, yet it's also extremely clean, very harmonious and well balanced.  Very clean and bright on the finish with remarkable length.  Very Good Indeed/Excellent.

1989 Dopff au Moulin Tokay Pinot Gris Vendange Tardive de nos domaines de Riquewihr, AC Alsace, 14.5% (Byrne's)
A medium gold - quite yellow.  Rather peculiar nose with very little pinot gris character, but marked botrytis.  A very reticent nose with virtually no fruit and just a hint of scentedness.  Fairly light on the attack, then a bit of syrupy-ness.  Fills fairly well, but on the palate it's distinctly lacking in fruit and elegance: it's rather like drinking sugar-water actually.  No real character; no finesse, no elegance whatsoever.  Very disappointing, though it did improve slightly with food and warmth, when it filled out a bit and showed a bit more fruit on the nose.  Still disappointing though.  OK.

1998 Pepperwood Grove Zinfandel, California, 13.5% (Wine Time, Milnthorpe)
A slightly young looking ruby.  Lots of mature cherry fruit on the nose with strong greeny leathery notes.  Nice attack: full and rich, with good fruit.  Very clean, with lots of fruit and a bit of spice on the finish.  Very attractive.  Nicely balanced with good structure.  Really rather good.  Very Good Indeed.

1994 Hermitage, Guigal, Rhône, 375ml
Deep intense nose: quite fragrant and almost chocolatey.  Very fine attack.  Fills well.  Possibly a bit too young, but great potential.  Actually, a very elegant wine.  Very full on the palate, but lots of fruit together with a fair blast of tannins.  The tannins are particularly noticeable after.  Great length.  Very Good Indeed.
(8/1/01 at Restaurant John Burton-Race, Landmark Hotel, London)

1998 Château Sainte-Eulalie, AC Minervois, Languedoc-Roussillon, 13% (The Wine Society)
A blend of carignan, grenache and syrah.  A bright, young, even garnet with a purplish tinge.  Attractive nose - light and very fruity with a bit of mint and smokiness.  Very clean attack, feeling quite fresh.  Fills nicely.  Very full flavoured with lots of body and lots of fruit.  Some tannins led decent structure.  Very peppery spice after.  Very Good+

1999 Pinot Gris, Bodega Jacques y Francois Lurton, Mendoza, Argentina, 13% (The Wine Society)
An even, mid yellow-straw.  Very dull nose.  Some pinot gris character, but very flat with earthy tones.  This is a dodgy bottle.  Clean, light attack.  Fresh tasting.  Fills a little, but still very light.  A bit of pinot gris richness just comes in on the finish.  This is a duff bottle.  OK.

1997 The Society's Châteauneuf du Pape, Domaine du Vieux Lazaret, 13.5% (The Wine Society)
A very bright, medium cherry colour.  Uneven, slow, fattish legs.  Nice, attractive warm nose with lots of soft red fruit - cherries and strawberries.  Very light attack with lots of fruit.  Then it starts to fall apart.  Very unbalanced on the palate: acidity and tannins are all a bit out of kilter.  Very soft and not particularly characteristic of Châteauneuf: the colour, nose and flavour are actually more reminiscent of pinot noir, possibly with a bit merlot than they are of Châteauneuf du Pape.  Poor.

1990 Taittinger Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne, 12% (ex cave)
A very attractive medium gold.  Excellent, if rather excited stream of bubbles.  Nice light nose: toasty and nutty with extracts of butter and vanilla, and just a hint of lime.  Very fine, long, thin legs.  Very creamy attack.  Not overly mousseux in the mouth.  Very crisp on the palate, with loads of fruit; and it's very creamy with just a nice hint of acidity towards the finish.  Finishes very cleanly and with great elegance.  Very Good Indeed +
(31/12/00 - 1/1/01)

NV Alear Capataz Fino, Montilla-Moriles Den. de Origen, Spain, 15% (Laymont & Shaw)
A very pale, slightly greenish straw.  Light, slightly fragrant nose with sherry notes, but much lighter and more fragrant than most fino/amontillado sherries.  Very lightly flavoured.  Clean attack - quite light but fills enormously.  Very rich, but also very dry.  Cleans up nicely on the finish.
A couple of days later: possibly a little deeper straw colour, but there's still that greenish tinge.  Attractive, fruity dry sherry nose with smoky, tropical fruit, a light fragrance and some briny-ness.  Nice fresh attack.  Clean and fruity and light.  Very full on the middle, and very dry.  Incredible length.  Very clean after.  Very Good Indeed/Excellent.


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Last updated: 11 Jan 2008