Sunday, June 19, 2011

Schloss Johannisberg Grünlack Riesling Spätlase 2007

So this is the second time I've drunk this in the last two months. The first was as part of a masterclass that included wines dating back to 1964. I recognised it's potential then, but considering the circumstances, I graded it more for it's potential than anything else. Masterclasses are awesome, and provide incredible opportunities to taste extraordinary wine. They are a perk of the trade. But they can somewhat undermine the pleasure in drinking wine. Tasting this was entirely about pleasure. It was wonderful.

Silver and green with gold highlights.

Nose is that crunchy bit of honey that collect on the corners of proper honeycomb. Lemon and lime pastels. Granite and flint. You have to concentrate to get it all though, because when something smells that good, you just want to say, 'fuck, that smells fucking good'.

Rich, decadent palate. Incredibly giving. That honey is so clean, so honeysuckle-like, with flower petals and it's so mouth-filling. There a classy, light, lipid quality that somehow runs along with that mouth-filling richness. The sherbet lemon and lime are there too, running on that bright, lively acidity. And underneath it all is rock, stony flint atop granite. Again, it tastes awesome. Seeking all these notes for it is simply distracting from just how awesome it is. So, you know, just drink it and enjoy.

***** (will remain 5 stars for at least three decades)

Tasted at Shorehead 16/6/2011

IMG 0395

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Conundrum 2009

This is apparently a blend of Cardonnay, Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier. I'm not sure how much of each, mind, and it doesn't really matter too much. I get the impression that this is meant to stand outside its varietals as it were, to be something of its own, rather than pieces of something else. That's not meant to be as grand as it sounds - Twinkies, for example, exist as something other than the sum of their parts, which is for the best.

Quite a rich, Californian gold.

Mangoes and apricot soaked in lemons with hay. Fleshy nose. Rich.

Very much a 5-Alive or Lilt. This is not rocket science wine. It's fleshy, juicy, ripe and bright with peaches, mangoes, apricots, and lemon peel. There's toasty shortbread and a touch of hay. Ripe and bright, this is fun stuff. There's a crowd-pleasing hint of residual sugar. You could possibly drink this by the pint.

This is not an easy style of wine to make. It's also quite difficult to assess critically. It's utterly drinkable and yet in no way confected. It reminds me of something you'd find at a spectacular juice bar rather than something you'd find in a wine bar. I'm not sure how I feel about that. It's a lot of money (£25) for something so pleasing and, let's be honest, unchallenging. But at the same time, it's not easy to do, and it's a lot of fun to drink. And so I find Conundrum a bit of a - wait for it - conundrum.


Tasted 15/6/2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bandol Tasting

Bandol is one of those regions where my fondness is not reflected in my frequency of consumption. I don't drink it often enough.

Domaine Tempier Bandol 2008

Ruby with violet highlights. Dark but still translucent in the light.

Briary, spicy and herbal on the nose. Smells of the Garrigue if that makes any sense. Peppered salami appears with a bit of coaxing.

Wow, that's like getting punched in the face with a bunch of dirty blueberries. In a nice way. Earthy, wild blueberry and cherry fruit with fistfuls of violets and rosemary, seemingly stuck together with elegant tar. This is big, rustic and right at the end there's a burst of juiciness. More forward than I remember it.


Domaine Tempier Bandol 'La Migoua' 2008

Darker, but still ruby and violet - the core is nearly impenetrable.

More fruit-forward on the nose - plums, cherries and blueberries, and then there's more meatiness. The herbal notes take more time to come through.

The fruit is softer here, more plummy and surprisingly forward compared the the basic Bandol. There also seems a touch less structure. It's more full in the mouth, which is saying something, but the tar-y, sinewy grip is somewhat less so. That said, there's a cool stoniness that comes through on the finish, bracing and dry, that suggests there's probably more to come.


Tasted 31/5/2011


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Veuve Clicquot Le Grande Dame 1979

I've never really been grabbed by this wine. I tend to prefer Veuve's standard vintage releases.

Quite brassy. Not Amber yet though.

Nose is more amontillado than oloroso. Pickled walnuts and almonds. Grilled limes.

Tired, but pleasant. Old wood and leather. Not too dried out though and with a bit of life left. Charming. Rich and toasty with pleasing nuttiness.


Tasted 29/5/2011 at Naughton

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Krug 1996

While not wanting to advocate irresponsible drinking, I should probably say that I'm a big fan of drinking Champagne hungover. Not that I'm a fan of being hungover, or even drinking heavily on back-to-back days. But if that is going to be the case, if events have unfolded in such a manner that my life choices lead me to having a glass the day after, let's hope that glass is bubbly.

Proper gold. Rich and bright.

Rich, fresh melted butter and honey with roasted apples and toast. Lots of toast. Intense. Touch of gruyere cheese, touch of roast orange.

Powerful stuff. Rich and intense roasted oranges smeared on buttered toast. Layered and textured and deep. Gripping, dry and moreish. That fruit is intensely ripe and rounded. Lemons, limes and oranges go from ripe to to roasted to confit as it goes through from the start to the finish. It's very long on the finish. Tis is far better than the last time I had it. Delicious.


Tasted 29/5/2011 at Naughton

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gruaud Vertical at Naughton

This tasting wasn't really planned - it was more a happy accident. The notes are simple, for which I apologise, but I was concentrating more on having a good time at dinner than writing notes. I should say that while the scores are all respectable, I wasn't really feeling it at the time. The points are as objective as possible - it was an evening for bubbly and fortified and wedging a flight of claret in there, even one of my favourites, did a bit of disservice to it.

Gruaud Larose  1990

Lots of eucalyptus on the nose with candied cherries and spice.

Palate is toasty and earthy with that plummy fruit. Sinewy and rustic with good grip and a nice, long, spicy finish.


Gruaud Larose 1995

More pencil on the nose. Brambles.

Quite elegant and sweet, plummy fruit. Charming and lengthy. I don't think I'm in a Bordeaux mood.


Gruaud Larose 2000

There's a touch of cocoa and ripe confit dark fruit.

Tight knit and gorgeous. Sinewy but showing nice balance of fruit and secondaries.


Gruaud Larose 2006

Caramel on the nose, toasty.

Palate understated. Needs time. Nice balance, but still pretty much one dimensional.


All tasted 28 May 2011 at Naughton


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pol Roger 'PR' 1971

When I drank this, I was unaware of a curious tidbit of information: 1971 was the first vintage of 'PR' Pol Roger released, and it was released in 1976. It's neither here nor there, but it's nice to know. I think 1990 was the last vintage of PR that was released, but I'll have to confirm that with my fizz-geek friends.

The beginning of brass. Touch of green.

Classic - roasted buttered mushrooms and apples with brioches and biscuits amid toffee and caramel notes.

Serious Oloroso tones. Crazy complete on the palate - just so much richness, toastiness and decadence bordering on sinful. Rich to the point of a heart attack. Roast caramelised apples with pecans and brown sugar. Wood spice and pretty much perfection of mouthfeel. So long and supple. Tastes very much of Christmas. Truly wonderful. Brilliant.


Tasted 28/5/2011 at Naughton

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Salon 1979

Salon is pretty much my favourite Champagne house. It's ridiculous. It's like saying my favourite place to pop out for a bite is El Bulli, my favourite book is Ulysses and my favourite car is the 1961 Ferrari 250GT California. Exquisite things all, but not a practical favourite among them. But there you go.

Deep, but bright gold. Still very young looking.

Candied apples and pineapples with baked oaty biscuits. There's cinnamon. Cloves. Oatmeal raisin cookies. Filling nose.

Fantastically vigorous. Lemon zest and candied apples - still so young and fresh. Practically crunchy. The mousse is youthful as well. Mouth filling with sherbet and winter spice on the edges. Orange flower water too. Then some shortbread texture comes through as it settles in the glass a bit. My goodness. Quite remarkable. So very young.


Tasted 28/5/2011 at Naughton

Friday, June 10, 2011

Dom Perignon 1996

I first tasted this in the summer of 2004. I said at the time that I felt it was the finest young Champagne I had ever drunk. I remember opening a bottle with friends on the 28th of October 2004, pouring out glasses in celebration of the Boston Red Sox winning their first World Series in 86 years. I had two in my cellar and opened one. It has gone from being the finest young Champagne I've ever drunk to being the finest teenage Champagne I've ever drunk.

Bright and young - the bubbles are plentiful, but slow, rising with weight.

Lemon and flint with biting cheddar and white flowers. Lively. Elegant.

Silky and seductive, good lord that's a pretty wine. Roast lemons with spearmint wrapped around Flint and granite with grip and power underneath. This is a snapshot, having tried this when it was young, pure citrus and stone, now with a bit of weight and so elegant and perfumed. Light, biscuity shortbread. Stunningly textured mouthfeel. Gorgeous.


Tasted 29/5/2011 at Naughton

Birthday Blind Pinot Noir Tasting

I'm odd about birthdays. They can run hot or cold for me. Regardless, it's nice that people want to do cool things for you on a given day of the year. Especially when one of those things is handing you three different glasses of splendid wine and asking you what they are.

Volnay 2006 Domaine Michel Lafarge

Quite perfect brilliance with that light, bright Burgundy translucence.

Fresh strawberries, cranberries and raspberries on the nose but with dark, woody spice as well. There's savoury roast ham that comes out with a bit of time. Bit of dried herb. Cinnamon.

Bracingly dry on the front palate - gripping but not rasping and incredibly tightly knit structure that releases those brilliant red berries right in the middle. That is serious stuff with a long life ahead. The sinewy bonds between the fruit, the tannin and the peripherals coat and grip the mouth. Then, as it finishes, it lifts. Very long.


Sean Thackrey Andromeda Pinot Noir 2006

Quite a deep Pinot tint, with crimson and maroon.

Intense, exotic nose of stewed rhubarb, confit strawberries, cinnamon and vanilla pods. There's something very pleasing on a primal level about it. It makes me smile.

Quite hedonistic on the palate, with pithy confit red fruits and soft, supple, layered tannins. All of the exotic spice from the nose comes through as well, and the impression is one of a rich, beautifully rounded wine. I would say this will keep, but I'm not sure how much better it will get. I think it's made for now, and I'm happy to oblige.


Flowers Andreen-Gale Pinot Noir 2006

A little more rusty than the other two. Not by any means looking mature, but in relative terms, the oldest looking of the three. Still very pretty.

There's some lovely red fruit on the nose, but it seems a touch mute.

Not so the palate. In many senses, it is the reverse of the Lafarge - ripe red fruits arrive first, practically bursting still in their bunches. As that bright, juicy fruit fills the mouth, then comes the grip, not as firm as the Lafarge but still quite serious. Superb texture right through to the finish.


Tasted 27/5/2011

I guessed the Volnay correctly, but went against my gut instinct on the following two and thus got them mixed up. Ah well.