Vintage Pairs
Caldesi, London
15th July 2006

The premise was that everyone would bring two bottles of the same wine, but from different vintages, one of which should be mature.
All wines were served blind. Those attending knew which were their wines, but not necessarily which way round the pair was.

Pair One
2001 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Auslese, Kurt Hain, AP Nr 2 596 432 15 02
Lovely riesling nose: there's an underlying richness, but it's also a touch smoky and distinctly petrolly already. Rich attack. Ripe and full on the palate with a lovely elegant balance. Very Good Indeed. 91/100
1992 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Auslese, Kurt Hain
There's very little difference in colour. Perfumed minerally nose. While the nose doesn't seem too obviously older, the palate is definitely so. Good balance and depth. This seems fully mature, and is starting to lose its sweetness. A bit hollow on the finish, but there is also really good length. Very Good Indeed -. 88/100

Pair Two
1994 Bründlmayer Riesling Zöbinger Heiligenstein
A rich tropical nose that screams pinot gris. On the palate, it's very dry and has some very evident alcoholic power. Very austere, but lacks finesse. 85/100
1992 Bründlmayer Riesling Zöbinger Heiligenstein
A minerally, pure nose that's clearly not pinot gris. This is confusing. The nose of the first wine is so evidently pinot gris (but the palate, is rather less evident), but the nose of this second wine is clearly not pinot gris and the purity and minerality would point towards riesling, but it doesn't seem like riesling. There is high acidity on the palate with the minerality showing here too. Dry and a touch austere. Very interesting, but not for me. 88/100
With hindsight, the second wine of this pair should have pointed us towards riesling, obviously not German. An austere style of winemaking from Alsace could have been a reasonable suggestion, though the varietal character wasn't clear enough. Given time, a process of deduction could have led us to Austria. Or we could have just listened to CP Lin, who quickly worked out it was Austrian and kept telling us!

Pair Three
1996 Barolo Monfalletto, Cordero de Montezemelo
An open, fragrant nose with cherry fruit: quite integrated with a hint of volatility. Light and delicate on the palate. Soft integrated tannins with a touch of woody spirit on the finish. Very Good Indeed. 89/100
1982 Barolo Monfalletto, Cordero de Montezemelo
A more closed nose than the first of this pair, with quite concentrated darker fruit and a bit of stink. Concentrated fruit on the palate with soft tannins giving good structure. Excellent. 93/100

Pair Four
This pair was actually three different bottles, but what was in the bottles apparently might not in two cases have been what the label said (after the err... identity? of the bottles was revealed). I might not have got the identities of these three right. All that I was really absolutely positive about at the time was that we had three red wines in Italian bottles.
1996 Gaja Sperss
Sweet black fruit, cassis and roasty notes. Powerful stuff. Quite restrained fruit. Very full, big finish. Seems to lack a bit of focus. Very Good/Very Good Indeed. 87/100
1995 Voerzio La Serra Barolo
Sweet black fruit with some perfume. Complex, full palate. This feels like it needs time. Very fine finish. Very Good Indeed. 89/100
1996 Voerzio La Serra Barolo
Pledge furniture polish on the nose. Bit of an odd palate: there is some good black fruit, but it's overlaid with a sour, confected note. Big tannins on the finish. 82/100

Pair Five
1998 Henschke Mount Edelstone
A whiffy nose with gamey, fleshy scents and some blackberry fruit, making me think of Rhône and mourvèdre. Sweet and perfumed on the palate. This is really lovely and complex and very interesting, as well as being very pleasantly drinkable. Excellent. 93/100
1990 Henschke Mount Edelstone
Nice nose: minty with very sweet blackberry fruit. Very nice, interesting palate and again a really lovely drink. Excellent. 93/100

Pair Six
1970 Château Conseillante, Pomerol
Very old and very secondary on the nose with some funny, rubbery volatility. Old and very tired on the palate. This may have suffered in coming after the excellent Mt Edelstones, but to me this felt (prematurely) aged and past it. OK/Good. 78/100
2000 Château Conseillante, Pomerol

Pair Seven
2001 Château Leoville-Barton
A slightly dulled damp hedgerow nose. Pretty clearly a youngish claret, but remarkable mainly for not really having any characteristics worth of remark. But it's really quite pleasant. Very Good Indeed. 89/100
1988 Château Leoville-Barton
Fresh flowers on the nose with some meatiness, a hint of volatility and a hint of cassis. Really nice on the palate. This is almost ready, almost à point. Really rather good. Classic claret. Very Good Indeed/Excellent. 92/100

Pair Eight
1989 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron
Minerally-talcy cassis nose (cabernet dominated?), but there's plenty of blackberry and plummy fruit too. Soft and integrated on the palate. Nicely complex with lots of layers. An interesting wine with good character. Very Good Indeed. 91/100
1999 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron
A heady nose - utterly pleasant. Powerful on the palate, but this definitely needs time to integrate the flavours: it all seems a bit separate at the moment. Very Good/Very Good Indeed. 88/100

Pair Nine
1990 Penfolds Bin 707
Just a touch stinky on the nose, with sweet cassis and tobacco. Very ripe fruit on the palate. Very direct. Very straight and even with little development in the mouth. Very Good+ 87/100
1998 Penfolds Bin 707
Very minty and mentholly on the nose with some sweet cassis fruit behind. Very sweet ripe fruit on the palate. Very direct. Soft tannins. Very ripe finish. Doesn't excite me. Very Good+ 87/100

Pair Ten
1986 Château Lafaurie Peyraguey
Light, delicate, fragrant nose with a hint of caramelised orange. Quite high acidity, yet still rich on the palate. Very Good Indeed. 90/100
2000 Château Lafaurie Peyraguey
A much, much lighter colour. Light, somewhat closed, gently floral nose. Very elegant on the palate. This seems to have much more botrytis than the first wine of this pair, yet it's still very delicate and elegant. Very Good Indeed. 91/100

And a bonus half ...
1994 Forster Jesuitengarten Riesling Beerenauslese, Reichsrat von Buhl,
AP Nr 5 106 044 32 95; 8.5%
Deep orange colour. Orange, barley sugar, marmalade nose. Lovely, full, sweet palate with very good balancing acidity. Very Good Indeed. 91/100


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Last updated: 02 August 2006