Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Vertical Tasting - Held at the Seafood Restaurant St Andrews, 22 December 2005

Toasted butter & mushroom nose with a hint of sherry. Mousse looks perfect; tiny bubbles. The palate is lovely, rich & long. Fine, luscious texture that goes brilliantly with the smoked salmon. *****

More citrus on the nose than the '59 - fresher, though there's a suppleness as well. The palate is very sexy with elegance but a bit more simple than the '59. Mousse a bit more active. There's a note of age on the finish. ****

Sadly past it. Very little mousse. Not terrible, but not there anymore. Especially compared to the older wines. *

Colour is vibrant and fresh, with fast, tiny bubbles. Freshness continues to the nose, which is fantastic: that perfect balance of fruit and buttery biscuits. The palate is an explosion - candied oranges & pears with toasty edges and amazing length. Awesome. *****

The colour is older than the '71. Bit more brass. The nose is rich and toasty, as is the palate - rounded, mouth-filling and brilliant. Not as sexy as the '71, but possibly more complex and refined. Lovely with the cod. *****

Fresh yeast on the nose, with lemon sherbert as well - rich and boisterous palate but slightly untamed. I think this needs a bit of time. ***(*)

Really fun nose & palate - this is just moving from being a serious youthful champagne to being a very serious aged champagne. The fruit is dominant and the secondary flavours haven't quite some forward yet. Lovely. ***(*)

Active mousse with perfumed nose - quite lemony & tangy. Palate is beautifully rounded with a great, long finish. *****

Fresh & zesty with hints of greatness to come. The fruit is already knitting with the secondaries, so if you almost chew the wine you can get a sense of its future. ***(**)

1996 (from magnum)
Incredibly tight-knit. This has years to go (especially in large format), but I look forward to monitoring its progress. **(***)

This tasting was put on by The Naughton Dining Club with kind help from The Seafood Restaurant St Andrews.

Saturday, October 29, 2005


I've not updated in awhile. Partly because I'm not a wine merchant anymore. But I will; there's a massive pile of untyped notes that I brought with me down to London just so that i could update this blog. And to type into my database. So anyway, it will be awhile because I'm in Ireland for a week.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Vigne de l'enfant Jésus 1997 Beaune Gréves 1er Cru Bouchard Pere et Fils

Colour is lovely, light crimson - classic Burgundy.

Nose - perfumed and fantastic with hints of spice and rich raspberries.

The palate is dark Beaune cranberries and strawberries. Very well structured and delicious with the smelly Epoisses!


Tasted 8/9/05 at Shorehead

Chateau Gruaud Larose 1995

The colour is reasonably youthful - with that dark, foreboding tint to the core that looks fantastic.

Nose - very smokey - classic, earthy Gruaud with cedar, woodspice and a bit of cassis. (Euan noticed blackberries and black cherries).

Palate - classic Gruaud, though somewhat forward. This is lovely stuff. Mouthfilling woodspice, cedar and the like with fruit coming through towards the end. That rustic, Gruaud-y mid palate is unmistakeable. Such classic and individual Bordeaux. This is great!


Tasted 8/9/05 at Shorehead

Chateau Magdalene 1995

Very dark colour, with deep core.

Nose is quite hot: plummy was well with some herbal hints.

Palate has quite a bit of sweet, forward dark fruit. Very pleasing and approachable. There are darker notes that come through on the back palate. The rich, sweet, plummy fruit is more-ish. Lacks somewhat in structure - it is very modern Bordeaux, but I like it.


Tasted 8/9/05 at Shorehead

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Pol Roger 1982

Colour: nice - medium gold with the slight green turning richer.

Nose: rich cheese with butter and a shade of citrus honey.

Palate: fresh and lively with great mousse. It's compelling and very more-ish. The mouth-feel is fantastc. Green apples, slight cheese & mushrooms but the latter on the edges. The mid-palate is mostly fruit driven. Long on the finish and the complexities of age are just beginning to come through and, importantly, this is a fun wine!

I would happily drink it breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Tasted 5/9/05 at Naughton. With bacon butties.

Croft 1945 (a gift to the club from Ann Turner)

Colour is fading, but still red, not brown. Ageing gracefully.

Nose: quite boozy but with damsons, sloe berries, morello cherries and herbaceous spice as well! Heady perfume. Quite lovely.

Palate: lovely - one of the most elegant port wines I've ever had, but hidden power behind it. There is heat, but it's ok, it works. The fruit's slightly dry. Very enjoyable - excellent with the Dunsyre Blue & quince jelly.

2 hours later was a revelation - full integration with dryness and heat being replace by glorious richness and unity. A complete and almost perfect wine in terms of structure, maturity, complexity. Wonderful. Should you be fortunate enough to obtain a bottle, please decant and allow to breathe for at least 3 hours.


Tasted 4/9/05 at Naughton

Chateau Margaux 1995

Colour: almost black with crimson/purple edges.

Nose: deep, with chocolate & pencil lead, edges of violets - its youth cannot hide its feminity!

Palate: mouth-filling - its youth is evident; big, rich, with immense black currant and floral violets on the edges - incredible, but the secondaries aren't quite there yet. Very hedonistic & will be awesome in the future but is a bit simple at the moment. Very long finish.


Tasted 4/9/05 at Naughton

Chateau Petrus 1985

Colour: crimson through to the core. True brilliance as well. Big legs.

Nose: remarkable: an explosion of herbs, forest fruits, cedar, currants & blueberries. Perfumed with luscious sweetness on the nose (which almost makes you light-headed).

Palate: ephemeral. Not massively unctuous, as I was expecting, but elegant, possessing a level of structure, poise and balance that I have not experienced with merlot (even fine Pomerol). The tannins grip but with silk gloves. The fruit & secondaries are integrated and lovely. Remarkable allspice, cinammon and other exotic spices on the finish. Saddle leather, suede, pipe tobacco & cloves emerge as well. But with refinement and structure.

Truly amazing. In flavour this, being my first sampling of the legendary Petrus, is worth its reputation. It is indeed the equal of the greatest wines in the world and not simply a status symbol. However, it is tremendously overpriced. And not worth the outrageous mark up it receives. For what you pay for this wine you could have 2 magnums of Mouton Rothschild 1985. And I'd choose the latter.


Tasted 4/9/05 at Naughton

Dom Perignon 1971

Fine, petite bubbles.

Colour: rich, butterscotch gold

Nose: clotted cream & lime sorbet with toast & chai tea. Soft mushroom notes as well.

Palate: rich, elegant & slightly austere, this hides some of the fruit. Very dry & long with nice floral edges. Superb with wild smoked salmon. Very much my sort of Champagne - refined, elegant & slightly herby with texture & class. A delight.


Tasted 4/9/05 at Naughton.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Perrier Jouet 1961

Colour: slightly brassy, obvious age. Pinprick mousse rises slowly.

Nose - bit austere with farmyardy notes. No fruit to speak of, but hints of past richness. Slightly cheesy as well.

Palate - bit cheesy with hints of smoke; fruit gone but the secondaries give good mouthfeel and there's a lot to be said for it. Certainly past its prime but interesting nonetheless. Not everyone's cup of tea though, be warned.


Tasted at Naughton 17/8/05

Perrier Jouet 1959

Wire cage designed to twist clockwise instead of anti-clockwise. Strange.

No mousse. Nose pungent & dirty. Palate: non.

No stars

Tasted at Naughton 17/8/05

Laurent Perrier Blanc de Blancs 1975 (Commemorative Bottling, Charles & Di's wedding)

I should preface this note; we were told by Laurent Perrier UK that some old stock of this they found was considered undrinkable and chucked.

Colour: quite deep, brass & gold with a hint of caramel.

Nose: Honey & butterscotch with a touch of toasted limes.

The palate is rich and a touch sherried with loads of acacia honey, butterscotch and toasted brioche. The fruit is subdued, slight notes of citrus. Nice spice and quite lovely. Rich & long.

There was a curious initial mustiness that departed with air.


Tasted at Naughton 17/8/05

Monday, August 15, 2005

Boekenhoutskloof Semillon 2002

Colour - quite pale straw. How many times can you say a young white is like that? Or that a red has a crimson rim? The nuances and whatnot never come out right in the descriptions, so what's the point? Broadbent can detect '45 Mouton by the colour. Bully for him. But he's unable to describe it properly, because if he did, everyone would be able to detect it by its colour after reading his notes.

Nose - Started off with light honey and lime overtones. There's now an odd earthiness to it that Andy ascribes to unbalanced sulphur. He's probably right as wine faults have become his area of study and obsession of late.

Palate - Exceptional. None of the nose confusion comes through. Pure fruit of peaches and limes well integrated with mineral texture, earth, hints of smoke and a long, mineral spice finish. Fantastic with the balsamic lobster. Make that really long on the finish as well. Wow.

Stars... well, it's awesome. And I think in terms of South African whites its *****. In fact, in terms of pure expressions of Semillon it's *****. But it smells a bit shitty. So it only gets ****. Sorry. I'm also sorry that it's only available through Oddbins. Gits.

I should also say that this is by far the best and most unique South African wine I've tasted throughout the vintages I've tried. But that note isn't directly related to this vintage - just a general note on the cuveé. Oh, and the reds from this place seem to suck, possessing that horrendous burnt rubber shite that seems endemic in South African reds and that most wine writers seem to avoid talking about. It should be discussed. South African reds are terrible. Pinotage is an abomination. Bring on the comments.

Dom Perignon Oenoteque 1985

Colour - sort of a dirty hay, golden brilliance comes through with closer inspection though.

Nose - earthy butter and toast with a hint of sage. Quite engaging. The smell of the country on a warm summer day, whatever that means.

Palate - the texture is truly amazing. The mousse is incredible but moreso is that it's bonded with the wine itself. It gives a sensation of drinking fine dimpled leather. But fine dimpled leather that tastes of butter, toast & honey-roasted lemons with edges of sage and mint. Extraordinary, as is the finish, which lingers on the mid palate like the echo of fine music. Or some such nonsense. It's really, really good. Buy some.


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Salon 1982

Criminally madeirized. Very upset.

Friday, August 12, 2005

La Reserve de Leoville Barton 2000

Colour is deep but with more crimson on the edges than purple - good core.

Nose slightly woodsmoked with cassis & a hint of blueberry - bit of pencil lead as well. Slight heat comes out at the finish but still lovely.

Palate is big & well-integrated but not terribly complex? Will age deepen this, has it been over-shadowed by the Ducru? The former I think not, the latter yess.. nice long finish though. A wine to come back to in 5 years.

Tasted at Naughton 9/8/2005


Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou 1966

Colour is light, but with no amber - still ruby on the edges with a slightly deeper core.

The nose is forest floor & cedar - wild berries as well. Hints of classic pencil lead and a slightly floral edge.

The palate is elegant with soft, plush fruit - rich with toasted raspberries, blackberries, blackcurrant - then comes really good secondaries; forest cedar, gentle wood spice, leather all supple and beautifully integrated. The structure is sublime because it's invisible - you don't notice it until later because everything tastes so right. I'm loving this. The finish brings out some of the tannins. Incredible with the venison sirloin. My red of the year so far...

Tasted at Naughton 9/8/2005


Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blancs de Blancs 1995

Pale gold colour (hint of green there as well) with tiny bubbles.

Very fresh lemon-zest nose, with suggestions of the richness to come with age.

The mousse is softer than I remember. The palate is lovely and fresh but with hints of the nuances to come (it helped to try the '61 beforehand) - infant notes of heather & honey hiding behind the zingy lemon-lime fruit. Finishes with a really long zing. There's a long life ahead of this one.

Tasted at Naughton 9/8/2005.


Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blancs de Blancs 1961

We have mousse! Always a nice surprise when the bottle is 44 years old.

The colour is deep gold with copper hints - nose is heather honey with a bit of citrus spice, but light, elegant & refined... rich toastiness comes out with air.

The palate is luscious - gentle mousse with the fruit & secondary flavours achieving unity. Silky, textured & mouth-coating. The length is remarkable, with those heather honey notes lingering without cloying.

This is without a doubt the finest example of Comtes that I have tried. More than that though, I feel it is at its apex. I think it is the best that Comtes can be and as such it was wonderful to taste.

Tasted at Naughton 9/8/2005


Tuesday, August 02, 2005

No notes...

I've burnt my tongue on hot pizza, so I can't taste very well and, to add insult to injury, it was a rubbish pizza.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Isole e Olena Vin Santo 1997

The colour is a deep, burnt orange gold with hints of copper. It looks like a serious dessert wine.

Aromas of marzipan, amaretto, flambé orange leap out. Soft, exotic spicy notes rise from the glass in a more dignified manner. There is a candied nuttiness throughout.

The palate is extraordinary. Thick, unctuous and mouth-filling, all that is hinted at on the nose comes through with bells on. Massive flavours, but kept in check by structured acidity: Every note of the palate seems to fit perfectly: citrus, honey, almonds, hazelnuts and a slight hint of woodspice. The texture is phenomenal and the finish, thanks to the acidity, long but clean. Wonderful.


I'm not telling you where to find it, because I want it all. I'll give you a hint though... not Oddbins or in supermarkets.


I work for a wine shop. My views are not their views, as it is a shop and its views are of the University of St Andrews Buchanan Lecture Theatre & School of Modern Languages. Mine are many, varied and often disparaging of New World wine.

A lot of the wines I will taste on this blog will be from this shop. That is due to convenience, not some canny marketing ploy. Just wanted you to know. To be honest, I'm not even sure if I'm going to tell my bosses that I'm doing this. We'll see.

Oh, and if you happen to be a customer and I recommend a wine to you in the shop that I've slammed here - it means I don't like you.


I should have mentioned this before. I don't do a 100 point scale, mostly because it reminds me of being at school. Instead I use stars. Well, asterisks, really, like this *. It's a five-star scale. It will tend to be relative. The Burra Burra Shiraz scored **** because, when compared to other good Australian Shiraz, it ranks highly up there. If I'd scored a 1989 Leoville Barton at **** that doesn't mean they're as good as eachother. It means that they achieved that score relative to their playing field. And they are not on the same playing field. At least not on this blog.

Burra Burra Lone Star Shiraz 2001

The colour is deep purple at the rim and almost black at the core. Big legs, unsurprising as it weighs in at 14.5%!

The nose a bit understated, sweet cassis and pepper with earthy, almost charcoal tones. Floral notes on the edge combined with a slight herbiness give it a bit more dimension than most of the rubbish Aussie powerhouse jam that's kicking about and commanding high prices...

The palate is big and tannic - Nice integration between wood and fruit. The cassis doesn't follow through from the nose though, instead there's black forest fruit with great earthy secondary flavours. This is pretty bloody good actually. And at £14.99 not bad value. The finish isn't quite as lingering as I'd hoped, but there's none of the jammy sweetness that many of these winemakers seem to think they need in order to sell wine.


Available from Luvians

Hello and welcome...

This is going to be a selection of tasting notes and thoughts on the world of wine. These are my own, personal views and I make no apologies for the comments made here. I call them as I taste them and have no time for poorly made, sloppy wine.

I also have a personal blog. I try not to talk about wine on that one.