1998 Re-visited: wines from the 1998 vintage tasted at Bistro Mistral in Nottingham

4th April 2008

A very enjoyable evening at Le Mistral bistro in Nottingham. A nice relaxed evening with solid, simple food done well, though the room was slightly cramped, I thought.

Thanks for all the organisation are due to the organiser, Andy Leslie.

All the wines were served blind.

1998 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese, Weingut Eduard Hauth-Kerpen , 7.5%, AP Nr. 2 576 466 8 99
Fairly rich on the nose. Citrussy, but also with very good minerality. Fairly sweet on the palate, but without the weight for Auslese. A nice pleasant drink. Very Good.

1998 Chevalier de Sterimberg Hermitage Blanc, Jaboulet , 13.9%
A very rich, nutty, oxidised nose with some orange peel. Concentrated palate. Rich, oxidative and nutty. Clearly white northern Rhône. It has a very firm backbone and a very concentrated finish - quite intense. Very powerful stuff. Very Good Indeed.

1998 Gaiospino Fumé, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore, Fattoria Coroncino , 14.5%
On first pouring and tasting, maybe 15-20 minutes before the wine went round, this was a bit rank and sulphurous.
Later, it showed a very smoky nose with a certain dustiness, like the smell of fresh oak barrels in a winery. Very interesting palate. Quite rich and concentrated. There's a bit of an alcoholic burn on the tongue. Very interesting wine. Very Good Indeed?
What kind of lunatic winemaker not only ferments verdicchio in new oak, but then ages it in new oak for 23 months?

1998 Otin Fiorin Barolo Piè Franco-Michet, Teobaldo Capellano, 14%
Herbally, cherry jam nose with medicinal notes, and then some volatility lending it a sweet edge. Sweet, dried-fruit attack, but that's suddenly overtaken by grainy tannins, which quickly dominate. Yet there is still an interesting floral fruit note behind. An interesting wine. Very Good.

1998 Clos la Coutale, Cahors, 12.5%
The immediate impression is of mushrooms and cheese (a mild blue cheese) on the nose, then some meaty bovril notes come along.
This is light and fragrant on the palate with some gentle tannins on the finish. Very pleasant and easy: nicely open and very approachable. A nice wine to drink, rather than taste. Very Good.

1998 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Beringer Vineyards, 13.5%
A lovely attractive nose: very fresh, with blackcurrant fruit and sweet plums.
Sweet ish, fairly fragrant palate. Nicely balanced. some integrated oaky tannins make their presence known towards the finish. A bit straightforward, perhaps, but a very good wine, drinking nicely now. Very Good Indeed.

1998 Conde de Valdemar Rioja Gran Reserva, 13.5%
A fairly interesting nose, but a bit on the closed side. Quite savoury, with a buttery nuttiness to it. If this were served in a black glass, you could easily mistake it for a white Rhone on the nose.
The palate is smooth, with good black fruit followed by fairly mouthfilling tannins. Nice finish.
This seems pretty much at its peak to me: I can't think that it is going to improve much - it's simply not that good a wine. But it's a very nice gran reserva Rioja for drinking now. Very Good/Very Good Indeed

1998 Cornas Chaillot, Thierry Allemand
A syrupy nose with tobacco scents, a feel of black fruit cordial and some green peppers. Then a hint of licorice.
Rich, juicy, spicy palate with a firm structure. Lovely balance, but it's still very much a baby with a long life ahead of it. There's a hint of cheese right on the the finish. Very promising.

1998 Hermitage La Sizeranne, Chapoutier, 13%
Very complex, multi-layered nose with black fruit, some sweet oak, some violets and some warm spicy notes. Lovely, silky palate. Very precise. Good structure. Drinking very well now, but will last 5-10 years easily. Very Good Indeed.

1998 Penfolds Bin 389
Very young appearance. A minerally, very fresh nose with black fruit and a handful of crushed fresh mint. Big, full, ripe palate with some sweet fruit, but very little tannins. There are some sort of roast flavours too. It feels rather direct and straightforward, but is enjoyable nonetheless. A good wine for robust food. Very Good+.

1998 Château Cissac, Cru Bourgeois, AC Haut Médoc, 12.5%
A very restrained nose with lovely integrated black fruit and a nice minerality. It feels quite young on the palate, but very restrained and elegant. A really well made wine and very promising. But not ready now. Very Good Indeed.

1998 Rosso dell'Abazia, Nervesa della Battaglia Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, IGT del Veneto, Serafini & Vidotto, 13%
There's rich black fruit on the nose - blackberry with a bit of blackcurrant. Rich, ripe, forward fruit on the palate. Mmmm, this is a nice wine, with lovely balance and an impressive elegance given the ripeness. Feels a bit international, but I like it a lot. Very Good Indeed.

1998 Gigondas Prestige des Hautes Garrigues, Domaine Santa Duc , 15%
Urgh. Ach. There's odd and there's nasty, and this is nasty. I reckon there's some sort of bacterial infection, particularly evident on the nose. Risking a taste, it feels hot, sweet, sweaty and volatile.

1998 Prince Probus, AC Cahors, Clos Triguedina, 12.8%
Plummy black fruit and shittiness on the nose, pointing strongly towards mourvèdre. Not entirely integrated on the palate. Nice acidity. Very soft, velvety tannins. Clean and fresh. The shittiness makes it feel slightly Beaucastel-like, but there's nothing else Rhoney about it. Very Good Indeed.

1998 Château de Ferrand, Heritiers du Baron Rich, AC Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 13%
Another very savoury nose. Savouriness seems to be the hallmark of the 1998 vintage across Europe. Very meaty nose. Very juicy on the palate, with some greenness. Definitely feels like claret. Luncheon Claret. Good/Very Good.

1998 Minervois-La Livinière La Chandelière, Domaine la Combe Blanche, 14%
Very muted nose, just slightly savoury. A touch hot on the palate. This is a decent wine, but I'm not blown away by it. Does this bottle suggest Combe Blanche isn't for ageing? Good.

1998 Les Cailloux, Châteauneuf du Pape, 14%
Sweet, slightly spirity nose with some vanilla. A touch high toned on the nose too. On the palate, it has a sweaty, hot feel; and feeling a touch high toned too. A bit unbalanced and unimpressive. Goodish.

1998 Cabernet Sauvignon, Domaine A, HP & R Althaus, Tasmania, 13%
Rich, velvety, chocolatey nose. Rich sweet black fruit and chocolate on the palate too. There's a distinct lack of depth and it's very short. Good.

1998 Vinha Pan, Luis Pato Vinho Regional Beiras
Greenish black fruit on the nose, with some alcohol and some bready notes. Very short and uninteresting on the palate. If this is a typical bottle, this wine has no life ahead of it and needs drinking up quickly. Very disappointed by this, not least as it cost £18 at Byrnes in 2001. Good.

1998 Cornas Les Ruchets, Jean-Luc Colombo
A big, bretty, meaty nose. There's ripe, rich black fruit on the palate. It feels very young. Very rich and cossetting on the palate. There's a hint of heat on the finish. There's a touch of acidity in the mouth which doesn't quite balance the richness. Very Good/Very Good Indeed.

1998 Bricco dell'Uccellone, DOC Barbera d'Asti, 14%
A sweaty, meaty, savoury nose with a touch of tea. On the palate, it feels rich, clean and fairly fresh with red and black fruits. There's a touch of alcoholic heat on the finish. It has an interesting lightness and elegance to it. Very Good/Very Good Indeed.

1998 Primo Amore, Primitivo di Manduria, Cantine Pervini, 15%
Corked. Badly.

1998 Mas Llaro Grande Reserve, AC Muscat de Rivesaltes, 500ml, 15%
A pretty dreadful nose verging on the nasty. Raisiny palate. This is just a very, very simple, sweet wine. Virtually no muscat character. Drinkable but not enjoyable. Poor.

1998 Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos, Disznókó, 11.5%
A rich, sweet, marmaladey nose with a certain grapiness. Orangey notes on the palate. Huge acidity. Delicious, though perhaps not the best 5 putt Tokay that I've had. Very Good Indeed.

2006 Domaine de Montesquieu, AC Jurançon, 13.5%
The nose has a combination of fresh pineapples and canned pineapples. Huge, massive acidity. Touch of apricot jam. This is a nice, fresh, clean Jurançon, though it perhaps lacks depth and complexity. Very Good.


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Last updated: 30 December 2008