Preston Wine Club Annual Dinner, 29th November 2003

Many thanks to Stephen Burns for the invitation to this and the incredible organisation he put into the organisation and running of the event. And if that wasn't enough, he cooked the dinner too! 

Onto the wines: 

Alfred Gratien 1988 en magnum  
Elegant pure nose with biscuity-ness and also some citrus notes. Excellent mouse. Very clean and remarkably fresh. Pure dry crispness in the mouth. Finishing with touch of citrus and melon. Very Good Indeed. 

Alfred Gratien 1988 (single bottle)
We all know that large format bottles are supposed to age more slowly, but how often do we get to try the same wine en magnum and in single bottles. Very interesting. The single bottle has a much stronger character, with more yeastiness. Stronger flavours and a lighter mousse, which fades much faster. Notably more mature. Much bigger on the finish. Very Good. 

2001 Giaconda Nantua Les Deux 85% Chardonnay, 15% Roussanne 
Rick Kinzbrunner is perhaps better known for his chardonnay, but this blend, apparently one of those felicitous results of an accidental experiment in the winery, is an excellent example of his winemaking skills. The nose is immediately big and obvious with oily almonds and is curiously rather hermitagey: that roussanne knows how to make its presence felt. Huge attack. Rather over-oaked, though improves greatly with food, especially the trout fillet with which it was served. Seems a bit big an obvious to me, although the fruit and power of flavour disperses the 14.5 abv. Very Good. 

1993 Gevrey Chambertin Clos de la Justice, Pierre Bourée  
Restrained elegant red fruits with light mushroom notes - really quiet delicate on the nose. By contrast, quite meaty and full on the palate. Round soft fruit. The fruit seems to be starting to recede a little, so its either about to enter a dumb phase or not, in my view, going to get much better. Rather nice finish. Very Good Indeed. 

Blind wine #1: Wynns Coonawarra Cabernet 1990  
Very closed nose. Greenish notes, with the merest hint of blackcurrant. Fresh fruit, medium tannins. Guessing S or SW France, possibly carignan based. Bit light for cahors, though it is a bit reminiscent of tannat. If he's being evil, this could be something like a Uruguayan tannat, though it doesn't quite have the tannic structure for that. OK. Very surprised to learn that it's a Coonawarra Cabernet, as it seems a quite untypical cab sauv to me. A taste from another bottle shows more tannins, which would have probably sent me off into the wrong hemisphere again. 

1966 Ch Rausan-Ségla 2e cru classé, Margaux. 
A very unusual (in my experience) square bottle. 
Good old claret nose - sweetish wth minor volatility. Delicate and quite scented, though mainly secondary. A bit of reallocation of pourings followed as it was immediately obvious that the bottle that had been poured on the other side of the table had gone over and was now pure VA. Very elegant with a slight sweetness on the palate - merest hint of fruit remains. Still some tannic structure. With more exposure to air, the touch of VA on my bottle seemed to blow off almost completely allowing more cassis notes to become apparent, together with some walnuts. Excellent. 

1952 Ch. Branaire-Ducru, St Julien  
Another unusual bottle - this one's a normal shape, but has no punt. Extraordinarily deep nose with quite a lot of VA. Astonishing amount of fruit on the palate. Very drying middle with tannins building towards finish. Pretty huge structure. A curious combination of sweet fruit and dried-out-ness, but still just enough fruit and structure to carry it. Much less satisfying than the Rausan. More tannins and more fruit, but it seems to be on a plateau descending. Excellent indeed. 

1997 Cims de Porrera Classic Priorat  
Deep black fruits with tobacco. Immediately satisfying with huge ripe fruit. Immensely full in the modern Priorato style. Very very concentrated with tobacco notes coming through on palate. Massive character. Not especially Parkerised. Excellent. 

Blind wine #2 : 1979 Oestricher Lenchen Riesling Auslese Eiswein, Deinhard AP 2 902 401 9 80 
Pale reddish brown. Concentrated waxy dried fruit nose with some botrtyis. Initial thoughts are a mid 70s Muscat de Rivesaltes (though it's too elegant for that) or a very old monbazillac. Very concentrated nose and palate. Smokiness on the nose makes me think of Riesling and the acidity points me to Germany, but definitely not M-S-R. But what on earth is happening with the colour of this wine??? I ended up getting this one right, but only by a process of elimination: if I'd been given the choice of monbazillac or rivesaltes at the outset, I'd have gone for that. A subsequent taste from another bottle reveals much more Riesling character, with great concentration of fruit and goodish acidity. The light coppery red colour is very odd though. Very Good Indeed. 

1962 Ch. LaTour Haut Brion, AC Pessac-Léognan  
Brett and VA on the nose, but with aeration showing an intense blackcurrant streak and heavy cigar box. Soft, rather oxidised palate. Lacking fruit and drying. Acidity on the finish. OK but completely past it.

1963 Offley  
Bright and vibrant appearance. Superb dried fruit and nut nose - christmas cakey, with really good concentrated spicy black fruit streak with tar. Good fruit on attack - concentrated and remarkably fresh. Very smooth and rich. Very classy indeed. Excellent.

For further information on the Preston Wine Club, please contact Stephen Burns on 01772 724775.


Andrew Stevenson

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Last updated: 15 December 2005 13:52