Always fun to dig up some older posts from a few years back. :-)
Some of these tastings are quite recent and some are from last year
(shame on me!) from which I have been digging up my notes. Also, some
notes might be very brief and some more extensive, all depending on
memory and the notes I have available.
Let’s begin with one of the most recent gatherings, from last Friday.
The purpose of this occasion, other than enjoying some good food and
wine, was twofold. First of all, I wanted to have a gathering with those
unique and oh-too-few friends that are generous enough to organise
dinners themselves that do NOT belong to these formal tastings that come
with a high price tag, but on the contrary, are just friends inviting
you to grab something to eat and pop a wine or two from their
several-hundred-bottles-cellar. I find these occasions far to rare these
days, and I have elaborated to this sad state of affairs in a previous
thread. Second, I wanted to have a dinner where I gathered some wine
geeks without having a proper wine tasting (in my definition a table
filled with glasses where you taste several wines side by side without
food). Instead my intention was to prepare a full-scale dinner, just
like in a restaurant, where each dish is served together with a proper
wine. So here we go! Before the dinner I asked the participants
if they wanted to have the wines blind or simply served undisclosed and
they all elected to have them served blind.
I began the evening by serving slices of French baguette with a
horse-radish spread toppled with slices of egg and garnished with caviar
from a sea fish called "Stenbit" in Swedish (I guess it’s Lump-fish in
English). The white wine served was the 2002 Tablas Creek Vermentino.
This is a limited production (250 cases) and the Vermentino grape is
also known as Rolle in France. I picked it up when visiting Tablas Creek
in Paso Robles last autumn when I was driving around the western parts
of the US. My guests were somewhat puzzled
by this mystery wine. They seemed to focus on Alsace and Sverker even
guessed it might be a Chasselas. I admit I would myself have found it
difficult to pin to a certain region or grape. It showed a mix of green
fruit (apples, pear) and flowers on the nose. No apparent oak treatment.
The palate had some lively light fruit, more towards lime and a mixed
basket of yellow apples. I guess I would have placed in Chablis or maybe
in Alsace. Overall a very pleasant, fresh wine with a nice overall
balance between nose and palate. I’d give it 89-90 points and an extra star for the fun grape.
Then I disappeared into the kitchen again while my friends were
elaborating on all topics ever imagined on wine. With a wok as a weapon and a recipe from
the excellent "The Complete Asian Cookbook" by Charmaine Solomon, I prepared Sze Chuen Chow Har Kau
(Szechwan-style prawns with dried chillies). The prawns were poured on
a bed of rice (thank God for that good, old-fashioned Uncle Ben’s) and
garnished with a gourmet cocktail-tomato. Now, the trick here is not to
spice up the dish too much with the dried chillies, otherwise you will
mute the wine. This dish also requires a wine that can balance the hot
spices. A Riesling could do but I wanted something thicker I chose the 1997 Charles Schleret Gewürztraminer Vendange Tardive Cuvee du 3eme Millenaire Reserve
from Alsace. It was released in honour of the millennium. The nose
revealed a mixture of sweet, tropical, dried fruits. Someone said
banana, you could also find peach and honey. A very intriguing nose – I
could have sat there content with just sniffing the bouquet but I had
more food to prepare to my guests so a quick sip followed by tremendous
satisfaction with the palate, showing wonderful flavours of mixed
flowers, dried fruit, honey, even some orange peel (or is it even
pineapple?) all packed in a wonderful sweetness and backed by a fresh
acidity that keeps the wine fresh in your mouth and creates a perfect
balancing act with the prawns. Easily 94+ points according to my
sweet-tooth-palate. I need more this impressing wine but as with the
Vermentino from Tablas Creek it’s my one and only bottle.
I would have loved to stay with that wine for some time (with my nose
stuck into the glass) but as the responsible "chef extraordinary" this
evening it was back to the drawing table again (the kitchen) where I
prepared another dish with the help of my beloved titanium wok:
Bone-free Chicken Thai-style with sugar peas (to freshen-up the dish)
and mushrooms on a bed of rice noodles (quickly wok some onions, garlic,
spring onions, fresh ginger and mushrooms, put them aside and then wok
bone free cuttings of chicken together with some garlic, add Thai spices
and join together. Yummy!). This was accompanied with 1996 Saintsbury Chardonnay Carneros Reserve
which revealed a mixture of apples, pear and tropical fruits on the
nose. The wine felt rather subdued, perhaps already being past it’s
absolute prime. Not your typical example of oak-infused, fat American
Chardonnay, but more towards the Burgundian style. The acidity was there
but with a creamy texture that made it somewhat difficult to asses but I
like that almost banana-fluff flavour ion the finish in general and
Chardonnay in particular so I give it 90-91 points although I believe this should have been opened a year ago or two.
Problem: my guests seem to have enjoyed the food and wine so far, but I
really wanted to open some red wine and until now I have been serving
dishes more suited to white wines. And by now, with three dishes served,
no one would really be ready for a full-blown steak. Instead I decided
to follow a recipe given to me by my mother. This would probably be a
perfect "snack" to the red wines I had waiting in two decanters. What
the dish is called? No idea. And then there’s the translation of Swedish
terms into English. Basically it consists of bacon (although not really
bacon but a better quality "stekfläsk" (please fellow-Swedes, help me
with a translation here!) and small sausages. You put the extra fat
bacon in a frying pan, needing only a few minutes on each side and
adding cayenne pepper and cumin. The remaining gravy from the fat is
used to fry the small sausages having been warmed-up to the boil in a
saucepan. Add some forest mushrooms and serve with slices of French
baguette and there you have it – a sufficient snack to chew on that
doesn’t overwhelm the red wines that concluded the main course.
These two red beauties are both wonderful in their own right, slightly different but with a similar focus and elegance. The 1997 Fattoria Le Pupille Saffredi
greets you with Asian spices, cassis, some licorice and wonderful red
fruit. You can feel the class already on the nose. Although it’s the
palate that really impresses, not really because any particular
components (try chocolate, dried herbs, some smoke and those wonderful
dark cherries; every time you go for another sip new flavours seem to
come to your mind) but because the overall package seems to be in such
utter balance. This is mainly Cabernet Sauvignon (70%) blended with
Merlot and Alicante. The taste gives me notes of ripe plum but above all
a basket of dark fruits and the finish is rich, concentrated and
persistent. 95-96 points, depending on your state of mind. You
keep coming back for more all the time. I will never forget that day
standing in a tiny Enoteca in Montalcino when I passed on a magnum for
about 45-50 Euros. Too expensive was my intelligent thought at that
time... "Brilliant" decision, Miran!
The red co-driver this night was another Tuscan stunner. The 1997 Antinori Solaia.
Again I got that feeling that the nose opened with an attack of mixed
Asian spices and cassis revealing its Cabernet Sauvignon domination
(75%, but instead of Saffredi’s Merlot and Alicante this one is blended
with 20% Sangiovese and 5% Cabernet Franc). Deep, dark, fruit-flavoured
nose that let’s you know there are several layers in this hedonistic
creature. I’m sure the wine would continue to evolve if left in the
glass but today was a drinking night not waiting night. Compared to the
Saffredi this seemed much more unevolved, with chewy tannins and a
broad, firm grip on the palate. This is thick, concentrated juice, with
chunks of dark, bitter chocolate, sweet fruit and even some pepper on
the finish (or maybe it’s just more exotic spices). Wonderful to drink
now but a blind couldn’t miss the obvious future potential that lies
within this muscular package. 96+ points.
One of the participants believed he had a wine that could be interesting to share this
evening (without knowing what would be served). His deeply dark wine had
the funniest of nose. First of all I was absolutely sure it was an
Aussie Shiraz. Not those super-massive fruit bombs but a more European
style Shiraz, with lot’s of fruit and some black pepper and other
spices. Then someone pointed out that it smelled like a Zinfandel, which
I had to agree to when thinking about it and suddenly it was an Aussie
Shiraz-Zinfandel blend, which of course had to be completely wrong. I
wouldn’t say that the wine was in balance, rather the fruit poked out to
much and gave it a strange sweet feeling that dominated the other
components and made it seem out of focus, but with air (or age) I
believe this will turn out to be a better wine. So what was it? Well, it
turned out we had the three S this evening: Saffredi, Solaia and Solengo! A friend brought the 2000 vintage which I give 90-92 points at this stage.
Ending the night I served pistachio and dark chocolate ice-cream toppled
with fresh raspberries together with a dessert on its own, the 1990 Huet Clos du Bourg.
Always a favourite, this Chenin Blanc nectar from a warm botrytis year
knocks your socks of with that wonderful bouquet of orange peel, dried
fruits, peach, honey and even saffron. Same components can be found on
the palate, with that lovely sweetness caressing your tongue while the
racy acidity keeps it a fresh experience rather than clogged and
over-the-top. This is brilliant stuff and I always have trouble
distinguishing for my self which of the three vineyards I prefer the
most from Huet (the others being Le Haut Lieu and Le Mont). I guess – as
usual – it’s a matter of my mode that particular day and today I like
it a lot, giving it 96-98 points.
As a general rule we always have a hard time finishing an evening like
that without opening some unexpected bottle from the fridge and before I
could let my guests leave I opened a final wine "for the road". The 2001 Gunderloch Nackenheim Rothenberg Riesling Auslese
is awesome. Honey, flowers and a zesty acidity enters your comfort zone
and makes it all more enjoyable. The tropical fruit, with even some
peach and slight apricot flavours in the far corner, together with the
honeysuckle and almost some marzipan on the persistent finish makes this
a very agreeable wine. How will I ever be able to keep my hands off
from the remaining few bottles? Solid 93 points.
Quite a nice evening, I must say. And based on the happy smiles from my guest they seemed to have enjoyed this evening too.
Already next evening, last Saturday, I gathered some people again at my mother’s place to attend a dinner in honour of my mother (Sorry
Parker, I know you are writing about all these American and French
chefs, but the best of them all is my mother, period), who recently
turned 60 years.
My friend Sverker prepared a dish of lovely cold cuts and we started of with a 1998 Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese.
How could a Riesling ever disappoint? This one didn’t either. The usual
fresh notes of pear, citrus and some tropical fruits (in an almost
spritzy package). A clean, fresh and mellow finish with some
intermingled spices to round it off makes this a wonderful start of any
dinner. 89 points. One of my mother’s favourite dishes is the
Szechwan-style prawns from yesterday, so today we had a reply and the
wine I chose to serve this time was the 2000 Cloudy Bay Te Koko. One of my perennial favourites (oak-aged Sauvignon Blanc, made only in the best vintages), it was unfortunately – badly – corked.
For the main course I had secretly prepared a fun and Wine #1
started with a somewhat subdued bouquet of dark cherries, pepper (more
black than white) and blackberries. Same characteristics on the palate,
with noticeable tannins and taste of slight licorice and some meat to
accompany the dark fruit components. I know the producer, who is one of
the most kind, generous and witty persons around, I’d love to give his
wine a higher score but at this stage it merits "only" 91-92 points to my personal palate.
Wine #2 was a different creature. It opened up with smoke, game, bacon, sausages, and dark, dark fruit. "WHAT was this??",
was probably the question in many of my guests’ mind this evening. It
continued with a wonderful combination of concentrated fruit from a
distinctive cool climate, dark cherries, licorice, chocolate, glycerine
and more of those sausages and bacon. And smoke. Sweet but cold-climate
fruit. What a wonderful combination! A backbone acidity kept it all very
fresh and agreeable and a firm tannic structure enclose the explosions
of fruit into a long, concentrated, mouth-filling finish that went on
and on. I could understand that my guests were having a hard time
guessing the origin of this strange creature. A brilliant wine! And
oh-do-I-wish-I-had-more-of-this. Have not. But I wants it, I needs it,
my Precious... 96+ points. Naaaah, this is nothing but
cowardliness. This was a very special wine. Ask me again tomorrow and
I’ll probably say 97 points. It’s one of the best and most interesting
wines I’ve had the pleasure to drink this year. Anyway, it was my WOTN
(it received two more votes, while wine #3 picked up one vote and wine
#4 received 2 votes. I know this must be confusing for our American
audience, but unlike in Bush Country we simply count the votes and use
them in a the-majority-rules system…).
To lighten up those true Patriots out there I can tell you that wine #3
started up with wonderful flavours of meat, pepper, licorice, spices and
dark, concentrated fruit, almost like blood. Again with a feeling that
this might originate from a cooler climate. The rich and concentrated
fruit seems somewhat sweeter than wine #2. I had a hard time figuring
out if it was a massive wine or rather an elegant sample of this
particular grape. I blame it on the tannins that at one stage seemed
fully integrated and gave it a very soft and elegant feel but with
another sip or two I felt the tannic backbone structure that made the
finish more subdued or restraint than my initial assessment. It probably
needs more time but already today the massive fruity and persistent
finish and the overall balance make this a very compelling wine to
drink. 92-93 points.
No one had trouble identifying the origin of wine #4 . Purple
colour indicates it’s a youngster and when the nose picks up intense
aromas of licorice, sweet cherries, spices, blackberries and that
distinctive minty note most of tonight’s guest have already headed Down
Under. Flavours of sweet licorice, coffee, chocolate and even some smoke
(or is it from my mother’s cooking in the kitchen?) are packaged in a
broad, concentrated wall of intense fruit that keeps pumping out the
flavours. Like Monty Python’s "Chockie Surprise" it pierces your cheeks
in a pleasant, mouth-filling, long finish. 94 points.
So what was the theme? Syrah/Shiraz from four different countries!
Wine # 1 was 2001 Tenimenti Luigi d’Alessandro Il Bosco Syrah (Italy)
Wine # 2 was 2000 Hartenberg Gravel Hill Shiraz CWG Action (South Africa)
Wine # 3 was 2000 Ojai Bien Nacido Vineyard Syrah (USA)
Wine # 4 was 2001 Kaesler Old Bastard Shiraz (Australia)
The Il Bosco is from Cortona in Tuscany and what more can be said about
Massimo d’Alessandro that hasn’t been aid yet? Charming, witty,
passionate and extremely kind and generous. A visit to the winery is a
true pleasure and the fact that he is producing arguably the best Syrah
in Italy doesn’t make things worse. The 1997 Podere il Bosco is still,
for me, the best Italian Syrah so far.
A big surprise was the Hartenberg Gravel Hill Shiraz. It was released at
the 2002 Cape Winemakers Guild Action at Stellenbosch. Apparently from a
Shiraz block in a vineyard situated on a gravely slope with 27-year-old
vines. Mental note to myself: next time I visit South Africa: buy a
case! No matter what agitated arguments at the airline’s check-in desk
on the return trip. If South Africa will start to turn out wine like
this superstar the world will have to watch out. The cost was R335 last
year, which would then have been somewhere around the US$ 40 mark.
Ojai was as pleasant as previous encounters with this passionate
producer. The Thomson Vineyard bottling I had at New year’s Eve was an
eye-opener and I attended the same tasting as my friend Joakim, where Adam Tolmach
attended and presented his wines in person (brief tasting notes below).
Speaking about those notes, I agree on most of Joakim’s tasting notes
but with slighter lower scores for the 1997s (I find them a bit austere
and dried out) and the same high scores for the 1996 which obviously
must have been a stellar vintage in the region. Being a novice on Pinot
Noir and having tasted only a few in my life I must still claim that few
of the PNs in this line-up tasted like I would have expected. I would
never have guessed for example the 2001 Ojai Pisoni or Clos Pepe being
PN, rather some fruity, massive, delicious Syrah blend. By the way, Adam
told me he was planning to decrease the production of Ojai wines
arguing that he would like to concentrate on fewer varieties and focus
more on the wines he chooses to keep. That’s a first time! Usually I
always hear the opposite from wine producers, that they plane to
increase and increase their production. Adam’s repeated statements that
the quality lies in lowering yields and keeping production down surely
signals that this is an estate to look out for. I believe it will be one
of the best in California. If already it isn’t.
The Old Bastard (I love that name!) is a classic Barossa Valley old-vin
Shiraz produced from 110-year old vines. First time I had this and as
always I wish I could have more of such a wonderful wine. WHY must
travel production offer such a meagre "income". Please notice the
citation marks I use for "income".
Sverker, that old drunk, thought we didn’t have enough of red wine so before dessert he opened the 2001 Domaine Cros Les Aspres.
I found it very pleasant with ripe, luscious fruit and spices on the
nose and – to keep with the theme of the food – again that feel of
smoked sausages, cold cuts and smoke. No, it wasn’t the Hartenberg
Gravel Hill again, more like a “lite” version of the South African. The
palate was broad, mouth-coating and chewy with sweet fruit and a
generous finish. Difficult not to like. Solid 92 points.
The evening was coming to a finish and no dinner is complete without a
dessert from Gunnarsson’s Confectioner’s from where their standard
fruit-topped cake must have been served for the 100th time at my
mother’s apartment. The wine chosen for the occasion was the 1995 Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume.
This Loire white sticky is unbelievable wonderful! Extremely complex
aromas of apricot, orange peel, pineapple, honey lies in layers upon
layers and almost knocks you unconscious with initial pleasure. If your
still awake your second line of defence is overwhelmed by the same
flavours on the palate and not only fruit, but some kind of crystalline
sugar and minerals. It’s almost that I can understand what Parker means
by "melted minerals" he often describes to those white
Chapoutier Ermitage l'Ermite and Ermitage Cuvee de l'Oree. The most
remarkable about this effort is that although very sweet it feels almost
crispy fresh all thanks to the acidity that holds up the sweetness.
Words almost fail me towards the end in describing the uttermost
pleasure such a wine gives me. 99+ points. Obviously this is a
perfect wine that will probably improve even further. And how do I feel
that this wine once was widely available in Sweden for about US$ 30 and
that I would have bought the entire Swedish allocation had I known in
advance how this brilliant wine tastes? I managed to grab 3-4 bottles
before they were sold out but that was months after release. Oh, shoot
me someone, please!
I usually rate this particular vintage of Baumard higher than the
wonderful 1990s from Huet, mainly because the perfect (even more perfect
than the Huets, if such thing is even possible) balance between the
luscious fruit, sweetness and razor acidity.
Two such evenings after one another really makes your world shine. And
requires some rest. So I waited until Tuesday before attending another
My friend Oscar arranged a very interesting Spanish tasting with six red
wines (modern Rioja) of which I will mention the three I liked the
1996 Finca Allende Aurus. Apparently this is a blend of 85%
Tempranillo and 15% Graciano according to Oscar (had I tasted this blind
I would have been completely at lost here – now I knew it least it was a
modern Rioja – but I still couldn’t place the grape so there’s no
excuse here. Humility is one of the well-learned take-home messages from
such an experience). The nose revealed dark fruit, oak and a clear
smell from gunpowder. Almost like sulphur at some stage. It diminished
with time in the glass but the gunpowder was still present at the end of
the tasting. The palate was very concentrated, almost like syrup or
pudding of cassis or any other dark berries that comes to your mind.
Oaky, with concentrated, full-bodied fruit and tannic finish I would
give it 90 points. If the oak and tannins becomes more integrated with age I expect this to become a better overall experience.
1999 Artadi Viña El Pison. Come to Papa! Almost black in
appearance it offers an extremely appealing nose of subdued, dark fruit,
spices, chocolate and some unmistaken bouquet of black raspberry candy.
Everything is repeated on the intense palate (even the candy).
Extremely dense and concentrated but still somehow light and elegant
(don’t ask me how they do it) with a long, long, wonderful finish, this
is an impressive wine! Bravo! 96+ points. Apparently it’s a 100%
Tempranillo from a single vineyard planted in 1945. I wish I had a
bottle myself but the price tag has so far kept me away. However, that
was before I knew what a wonderful wine this is and now I will surely
pick up a bottle if I can find the 2001 vintage somewhere.
1998 Artadi Grandes Añadas. Again a 100% Tempranillo. I’ve been
reading with much interest Wilfried Knäpp’s broken-down scores on this
BB where he includes optics to rate the wine. Following this method I’d
like to add 10 bonus points for the heaviness of the bottle. It’s a
monster! What on earth is it made of to cause such weight? Or was it a
warped spice-time fracture creating a micro-gravity at that particular
site on Tuesday? Anyway, I LIKE this type of bottles. It’s a heavy wine,
which Basil Fawlty would easily have verified had he lifted the bottle.
A highly concentrated bowl of Darth Vadar-dark fruit with ripe plum and
fresh cherries reach your nostrils and keep your nose vibrating (Note!
Only those of you with a big, impuissant nose like mine can experience
this structural anomaly. Children: don’t try this on your own!). The
palate is structured, heavy, massive, with noticeable tannins that are
quite integrated into the fruit but will probably become more balanced
as the wine ages. I love the massive expansion in the mouth and the long
finish. 94+ points. Obviously there’s lot of potential for
improvement with age here. As with the El Pison the vines used for this
cuvee are no youngsters, with ages between 70 and 100 years old.
Ah! I mentioned the Ojai tasting presented by Adam Tolmach himself. Here are some very brief
notes (I spent most of the evening talking to Adam and drinking his
wine, rather than scribble tasting notes...).
2000 Ojai Pisoni Pinot Noir. Very fruit, tasting young, with licorice and dark fruits. Couldn’t believe THIS was a Pinot Noir! 89 points.
2001 Ojai Clos Pepe Pinot Noir. Again very fruit-driven and
forward. And again that sweet licorice and gobs of fruit. Pleasant.
Somewhat dark and earthy on the finish. Hm, I must taste more PNs in my
life. 90-91 points.
2001 Ojai Bien Nacido Pinot Noir. Obviously young and unevolved. Lots of spices, NOW I sense the raspberries for the first time. Sweet and balanced finish. 90 points.
1998 Ojai Bien Nacido Pinot Noir. Not as good as the previous
three. Raspberry again, but with some cellar earth and even some
blackberries. More acidity in this one. 87 points.
2001 Ojai White Hawk Syrah. Now we’re talking. Again sweet nose,
with chocolate and some game. Fruity, rich but could have wished for a
longer finish. But I like it. 92 points.
1998 Ojai Roll Ranch Syrah. Is this a 98? Apparently they were
successful. Lots of game, meat, spices and very concentrated fruit,
ripe, sweet fruit. Yummy! 93+ points.
1997 Ojai Roll Ranch Syrah. Nope. Something’s wrong here. Muted
on the nose, not the same fruit punch and somewhat rustic on the palate.
Drying tannins, almost a little greenish towards the end. 87 points.
1996 Ojai Roll Ranch Syrah. Yes! Here we go again (tedious
similar notes, but what the heck, it’s all Syrah!). Spices, spices,
fruit, fruit, concentration, concentration. Lovely aromas all together
mixed with game. The palate has it all, with licorice (a very important
ingredient...), pralines, chocolate and caressing tannins. A complex
wine that changes every time you go back for a sip. Mesmerised by this
wonderful wine I almost forgot talking to Adam Tolmach, who sat by my
side politely answering every curious question from the audience. This
is as good or perhaps a notch better than the Thomson Special bottling I
had for New Year’s Eve. 95+ points.
2001 Ojai Bien Nacido Syrah. Young, fresh fruit, almost squeezed
yesterday, spices and pepper and smell of freshly washed horse. I’m
getting used to all of them having a long, complex finish. 92-93+ points.
1998 Ojai Bien Nacido Syrah. Little earthy and not as fruity as I
remember the other samples. More grip on the tannins and not as
complex. But hey, this is still a good Syrah which competes with quite a
competitive peer group! 91 points.
1997 Ojai Bien Nacido Syrah . Nope. Another 97 that just doesn’t
do it for me. I could almost repeat my previous impressions. The nose
has fruit and spices as usual but also some buttery feeling. Plum?
Mature flavours on the palate, but noticeable tannins not sufficiently
upheld by the fruit component. 87 points.
1996 Ojai Bien Nacido Syrah. Apparently 1996 is the vintage to
look for. Good luck. I guess I will find exactly zero bottles. Pity!
This has that familiar nose of licorice, candy, fruit-bowl, mature,
sweet fruit. Repeat it all on the palate and add some leafs, more spices
and multi-layered, complex finish. My kind of wine! 93-94 points.
Oh, while I’m writing this up for this board I’ve been to a dinner yesterday and I opened a 1999 Boekenhoutskloof Cabernet Sauvignon
from South Africa. Marc Kent really knows what he’s doing. Their Syrah
is brilliant and this one didn’t disappoint either. Opened up with gobs
of fruit, graphite and coffee on the nose and impressive power on the
palate. Nice integration of tannins and a finish that overall merits 92-93 points.
A wonderful evening and thanks both to DIVINE and to Adam Tolmach, whom I
respect and admire even more after this marvellous tasting.
Oh! And while I remember it, some two weeks ago another friend, Håkan, invited me and Sverker to a causal after-work gathering in
the middle of the week, where we munched on some cold cuts and shared a
couple of reds. Before giving you brief reviews of the wines opened this
night I’d like to take this moment to pick up that old thread about
Alejandro Fernandez wines from Pesquera. Håkan courageously tried to
open a bottle. Don’t remember which one it was, the Reserva or Gran
Reserva from 95-96 or something. Completely unpalatable. We couldn’t
touch the wine. Destroyed by some bacteria or whatever their problems
are in the cellar. Håkan was of course disappointed and fetched another
bottle. I saw the expression on Sverker’s face. Obviously he found the
wine not just bad, bad very bad indeed, to use the vocabulary of
Decanter magazine. Again it was a Pesquera. And I should mention we had
these wines blind, so none of us knew it was this producer but obviously
every single batch from Alejandro Fernandez to Sweden has been complete
ruined. Watch out importers! And consumers...
Well, the other wines tasted were:
2001 Alain Brumont Montus Cuvee Prestige. Deep, dark fruit
flavours on the nose, ditto on the palate but add to it brutal tannic
force that almost knocks you over. Interestingly enough there is enough
fruit to at least counter some of the tannins, making this an excellent
but not outstanding wine. 92 points. Time will tell if the
tannins will mellow and the fruit remain and meet in a wonderful
combination 10 years from now. The danger here lies in that the fruit
might be to enough once the tannins have calmed down.
1995 Allegrini La Poja. This is made from 100% Corvina. Better
than I can remember from previous experience. It has gained volume and
now delivers a substantial wall of ripe cherries, balanced by nice
tannins and an underlying acidity that keeps this sample fresh and
mouth-coating. Good grip on the finish. 91 points.
The 1998 Tardieu-Laurent Corbieres Roquefort Grande Réserve. I
believe this is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Carignan.
Surprisingly fruity, fresh, some game and smoke, pepper, and a good,
broad, pleasant finish that fills your mouth. 90-91 points.
2001 Clos des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape. Lighter in colour than
those above. Very mixed nose with flowers, plum and forest floor. The
palate offers some game, red fruit and nicely integrated tannins. None
of that pine resin I so much dislike about many CdP wines. Not much
acidity here, rather sweetish. This is a very nice wine seemingly with
components in harmony now and with good future potential. 92 points
and probably some of the highest score I have ever given a Chateauneuf
du Pape (while waiting for Sverker to open his 1998 Beaucastel Hommage A
On to some brief notes on miscellaneous stuff tasted this and last year.
1990 Trimbach Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre Gewürztraminer. Fresh
and acidic with pure fruit, spices and flower beds, never clogging like
some Gewürztraminers can sometimes be. better than I remember it from
previous tastings. 89 points.
1998 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc . Surprisingly fresh for being
such an old Sauvignon Blanc. Still good acidity intermingled with green
apples and lime and grass. Not as good as the young gun it once was, but
still enjoyable. 88 points
1997 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape White. A fun
wine! This is of 80% Roussanne, 15% Grenache Blanc, and 5% diverse white
varietals. Lot’s of things going on here, with, flowers, tropical fruit
(not massive in-your-face, but balanced, subtle notes of various
fruits) and minerals. It became better with airing and some warmth (I
served it straight out of the fridge). Very nice, classy finish. 91 points.
1997 Domaine des Baumard Savennieres Trie Speciale. Tasted this
once and didn’t like it at all, scoring it in the low to mid-eighties.
Don’t know what happened, but with some added age suddenly it feels all
too different, with a wonderful nose of, well, flowers again (I use this
term repeatedly without pinpointing the exact name of a particular
flower), like sitting in a field of flowering delight, beewax, fruits
like pear, dried mango with a touch of lime. Good concentration that
fills your mouth with pleasant flavours. 90 points.
1995 E. & J. Gallo Chardonnay Northern Sonoma Estate. Just
like I expect a classic Californian Chardonnay to be. Rich, fat, lots of
oaky vanilla (yummy!) and a nice mix of tropical fruits, especially
melon comes to my mind. Nice, heavy finish. Still going strong despite
its age (tasted last year). 92 points.
1999 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese. To me,
Prüm is one of the most brilliant producers in Mosel, if not the best.
This one possess everything you expect. Almost spritzy acidity, lime,
honey, pear and a long, silky finish. I need more of this! 93 points.
1997 Nino Negri Sfursat. Red brick colour, a nose of dog-rose,
blackberry bush, cherries and mushrooms. Acidic structure, but never
annoying. Cherries and especially cherry stone. Medium-bodied, nice
finish. Nothing spectacular. 88 points.
1997 Feudi di San Gregorio Syriacus, made from 100% Sirica,
probably a type of Syrah. This wine never disappoints. Smoke, sausages,
game, pepper, dark fruit on the nose and then full throttle, ripe
blackberries, lots of spice, even blood and meat with a wonderful
mixture of fruit and balancing tannins. Bravo! 93-94 points.
2000 Tenimenti Luigi d’Alessandro Il Bosco Syrah. Spices and pepper on the nose. Cherries, some dark berries and not to much tannins, make this Syrah a pleasant experience. 89 points.
1997 Poggio al Sole Chianti Classico Casasilia. This is the real
thing. Dripping of fruit from freshly squeezed cherries and almost some
raspberries. Deep, concentrated fruit with dusty tannins just like it
supposed to be, like driving on a dusty Tuscan gravel road in summer.
Broad, concentrated, long finish keeps you coming back for more. 93-94 points.
1996 Taylor’s Quinta do Vargellas Vintage Port. Considering the
reviews I expected less from this wine, but I should have known – it’s a
Taylor and apparently they cannot go wrong. Forward, newly crushed
fruit on the nose, the usual suspects on the palate with violets and
dark chocolate. 92 points.
1994 Quinta do Noval Vintage Port. You sense the difference from
the above by it’s heaviness (and I’m not speaking about the weight of
the bottle here, Basil). Dark, concentrated, Rich, potent, but also
somewhat subdued fruit on the nose. Unevolved. Lots of fruit packaged in
an iron's fist. nevertheless, Port is always rewarding. This one is for
keeping. 94 points.
1991 Taylor’s Vintage Port Quinta de Terra Feita. Keeps getting
better every time. This seems to be a stellar vintage. Lots of
jam-packed fruit, lovely aromas of ripe cherry fruit, cassis, chocolate
and in a wonderful balance right now. And did I mention the fruity jam?
Yes, I did. That’s the first thing that comes to your mind. I’m glad I
bought a case! 92 points.
While I remember it, last week I was invited to Sverker’s
place where we were offered some wines,
of which the most memorable was the 1990 Huet Le Mont. Nothing
really changes with this wine. The same type of apricot, orange peel,
viscous, sweetness, honey, hay, flowers – both on nose and palate. A
never-ending finish. How could Sauternes ever compete with these
impressive Loire wines? It can’t. 97 points.
It should come as no surprise that one of my favourite grapes are
Syrah/Shiraz, so I simply organised a tasting last autumn called "Que Syrah, Syrah..."
We all started with champagne courtesy of one of my guests, sommelier and wine critic Jonas Röjerman. The 1992 Bollinger Grand Année
was surprisingly fresh and silky, with vivid bubbles (I usually
remember this wine as having somewhat oxidised notes and not that
fresh). A fresh start of the evening. 91 points. I continued with the 1999 Pieropan Soave Classico La Rocca. A beautifully balanced Soave, with mixed tropical fruits, lovely minerality and balancing acidity. 90 points. This is 100% late-harvested Garganega. What a fun start!
Then the Battle of Syrah/Shiraz commenced.
1990 Jaboulet Thalabert
1995 Tenimenti Luigi d’Alessandro Il Bosco Syrah
2000 Luca Syrah
1997 Babcock Black Label Syrah
1998 Boekenhoutskloof Syrah
2000 Tenimenti Luigi d’Alessandro Il Bosco Syrah
1998 Isole e Olena Collezione di Marchi Syrah
1998 Fontodi Case Via Syrah
1997 Feudi di San Gregorio Syriacus
1997 Jasper Hill Georgia’s Paddock Shiraz
Flight 3 (served with dinner)
1996 Barossa Valley Estate E & E Black Pepper Shiraz
1998 Brokenwood Graveyard Shiraz
1998 Alban Reva Syrah
2001 Tenimenti Luigi d’Alessandro Il Bosco Syrah (barrel sample)
1995 Guigal La Turque
1993 Penfolds Grange
1999 Greenock Creek Creek Block Shiraz
And for dessert
1987 Taylor’s Vintage Port Quinta do Vargellas
And here are the results from the Swedish jury after some careful
analyses of obtainable data (I knocked over some Grange on my tasting
1990 Jaboulet Crozes-Hermitage Thalabert. Mature colour. Strange
smell of leather and composing manure. Earthy notes, lots of spice and
herbs, some acidity not too long of a finish. 87 points.
1995 Tenimenti Luigi d’Alessandro Podere il Bosco. A different creature. Bacon, pepper, spices, typically Syrah. Balanced. Tasty, long finish. Elegant comes to my mind. 92 points.
2001 Luca Alto de Mendoza Syrah. I love fun wines, and this is
fun! From Argentina, this is a blend a blend of 85% Syrah, 10% Malbec,
and 5% Bonarda. Lovely nose. Very forward fruit, more fresh and opulent
than overly concentrated. Lots of flower perfumes, chocolate, sweet
fruit and not too much tannins (or the might be hidden in the fruit). 91 points.
1997 Babcock Black Label Syrah. An interesting nose of cake,
spices, licorice and game. The palate offered cassis and more game, with
slight acidity and integrated tannins. Not everyone’s favourite, but I
liked this one. 91 points.
1998 Boekenhoutskloof Syrah. Impossible not to like. Lots of
pepper, spices, game, bacon and smoke. Although a bit "green" on the
finish (from the tannins?), the overall package with its concentrated
fruit and elegant finish cries out class in a glass. 92+ points.
2000 Tenimenti Luigi d’Alessandro Il Bosco Syrah. Spices, blackberries, some cherries, a nice powering feel on the palate, the wine keeps expanding. Needs time. 90+ points.
1998 Isole e Olena Collezione de Marchi Syrah. Seemed closed,
with subdued fruit and coffee aromas. Acidity and tannins on the palate
is not upheld by sufficient fruit. Spices. The finish is not as
full-bodied and persistent as I would have liked. 87 points. Comes from a 3 ha parcel of 15-year-old vines.
1998 Fontodi Case Via Syrah. Now THIS is what I call a fun wine!
And a fun surprise. Much better than expected. Black colour. Already on
the nose the aromas grab your attention. Loads of black pepper, game,
lots of bacon, meat, smoke, even sausage. And surrounding all this a
wave of concentrated fruit. This is how wine should be. The palate
delivers intense, ripe fruit, firm tannins and a long, intense finish.
100% Italian Syrah, wow! 95 points. Wine like this makes me
happy. Now, in retrospective, it has a similar affect on my mind as did
the Hartenberg Gravel Hill Shiraz (see above).
1997 Feudi di San Gregorio Syriacus. Apparently you never go
wrong with this wine. Pity the fact that every time I drink it while
seeing the label I always feel that there just cannot be any other wine
tasting like this, but when having the wine blind… Well, you know the
story. Anyway, this is 100% Sirica, believed to be a type of Syrah
(please refer to Nicolas Belfrage’s "Brunello to Zibibbo – The Wines of Tuscany, Central and Southern "
). Wonderful perfumed nose, with meat, dense fruit, bacon and game. Not
the ultra-stallion game of a typical Southern Rhone, but more elegant.
This sample is almost rustic, with lots of tannins but also fruit,
flowers and that feeling of blood again (I often get that with this
particular wine). Perhaps a little too coarse too merit the highest
score in the 93-95 interval I usually give this beauty, so 93 points
today. It never seems to let you down. I’m puzzled as to how Parker
could have missed this while reviewing the Aglianico-dominated Serpico.
1997 Jasper Hill Georgia's Paddock Shiraz. Well, and then some
Aussie Shiraz. I decided I should treat my guests with Shiraz both from
New South Wales, South Australia and, as here, Victoria. Lovely balanced
minty note among the gobs of fruit in this elegant wine. A hint of
raspberries (like candy) but dominated by cassis. Delicious taste, with
yet again that feel of perfect balance, spices, chocolate, sweet fruit
and well-integrated tannins. The finish is long and has a very softy,
velvety feel to it. Like silk. Hard not to be hopelessly seduced by such
a beautiful feminine appearance. 95 points.
1996 Barossa Valley E & E Black Pepper Shiraz. Apparently I
also have a weakness for brute force. And this is more traditional
Aussie Shiraz, but although and underlying feeling of power, you could
feel that it was restraint on both nose and palate, like being in a
dormant state. High alcohol, lots of spices but not really "singing". 91 points.
1998 Brokenwood Graveyard Shiraz. And here is the representative from New South Wales. Good intentions and perfect planning does not help when the wine is CORKED ! Pity!
1998 Alban Estate Reva Vineyard Syrah. A leap in quality here.
More Rhone than Barossa and it turns out to be California instead.
Wonderful nose of spices, dark fruit like black cherries those lovely
patches of bacon and smoke that I like so much. And no perfect wine
could be without the most important component: licorice! Concentrated
fruit on the palate, even with my oak-blindness I could agree that this
has a lot of vanilla-scented oak (but I like it!). Well-integrated
tannins seemingly in balance with all other components, sweet fruit and a
long, long, full throttle finish that keeps you smiling. My first
experience with Alban and hopefully not the last. This one has a
brilliant future. Immensely impressive. 95+ points.
Something happened to this wine, and I’ll tell you about it but first thing is first.
2001 Tenimenti Luigi d’Alessandro Il Bosco Syrah. This was a
cask sample, brought straight from the winery in Cortona, Tuscany. Black
colour, feels like ink, obviously young but oh, so promising. Cherries,
chocolate, nice acidity. Components still not in harmony, but the long
and fruit-driven finish with it’s concentrated grip reveals a promising
future. Bravo! 92-94 points.
1995 Guigal Côte-Rotie La Turque. Massive aromas of spices,
pepper, and concentrated fruit jam. Remarkable balance through all
components. Bitter chocolate, black cherries, jam on the palate. Velvety
tannins. Nothing sticks out of this elegant beauty. Harmony prevails.
Wonderful. 96+ points.
1993 Penfolds Grange. Suppose to be from a minor vintage. I
can’t understand how, cassis, sweet note almost like some mushrooms from
a mature Barolo, candy-like raspberries, liqueur, almost like port.
Full-bodied, oaky, very complex flavours on the palate, mint candy, with
intense red and black fruit, rich, massive, long powerful finish. Love
it! And my WOTN. 96+ points.
1999 Greenock Creek – Creek Block Shiraz. This one is made from
63-year old vines. I had high hopes for the Creek Block after having
utterly enjoyed the Apricot Block and Seven Acre from the same vintage
and producer. This, however, was impossible to judge. Sure, it had that
recognisable asphalt component on the palate (typical Shiraz notes on
the nose) but the salinity on the palate was impossible to overcome.
Like salty kelp lying on a Californian sandy beach. How do you rate a
wine like this?
An interesting story I cannot help but to share with you. Some tiny
fractions of each wine remained in huge 3 litre decanters after the
tasting. TWO days later I returned to collect the empty bottles (the
wine tasting was held at my mother’s place). There remained enough wine
in three of the decanters to fill about 40% of an ordinary Riedel glass.
The wines were the 1999 Greenock Creek – Creek Block Shiraz, the 1995
Guigal Côte-Rotie La Turque and the 1998 Alban Estate Reva Vineyard
Syrah. None of the wines exhibited any oxidation whatsoever. The
salinity in the Creek Block had vanished and this was now a typical fat
Aussie Shiraz. The La Turque was as good as before. But something had
happened to the Alban Reva Syrah. It had developed immensely. With air
this one had propelled into a different league (and mind you, it
received quite positive marks already from the beginning). The nose, the
balance, the finish, everything was perfect. I kept mumbling in
disbelief, but I couldn’t prevent myself from repeatedly saying things
Wow! Perfect! Astonishing! Ladies and Gentlemen, there’s always a first time. 100 points. There you have it.
48 hours of air completely changed this wine. What then, could happen to
the 2000 Alban Reva, or the 2001 or God forbid – the 2002 vintage, if
decanted for 2-3 days. Well, I tried the 2000 Alban Reva without
decanting and it was magnificent, so I can’t even imagine what would
happen if I would put that bottle to the test and let it breath for 2-3
days the next time… It’s surely tempting! I am deeply, deeply impressed.
Kudos to Alban!
Oh, I offered them dessert as well. And to rinse it all down:
1987 Taylor’s Vintage Port Quinta do Vargellas. Always as good.
By now quite pleasant and feeling more mature. Intense chocolate,
violates, rich, opulent fruit of crushed cherries. As usual a long
finish. 92 points.
Did someone ask me if I like Syrah? I do. So I arranged a fun little
Alain Graillot tasting at the end of February this year. By now, I have
found out that the Graillot style is not really, well, my style.
Sometimes it’s nice with he rustic, earthy peppery feeling but dear
Alain must have been poring acid into his wines. I look for balance
between the components when I evaluate a wine. If one of the parts
catapults out of balance like the acidity in many of these wines, my
taste buds shut down and I simply cannot enjoy the wine.
Just to puzzle my guests I entered some additional wines to the tasting.
1995 Nederburg Shiraz Auction Reserve . Mature, mellow fruits, some candy raspberry, almost strawberry. Medium finish. 86 points.
2001 Vergelegen Shiraz. Sweet fruit, licorice, violets, silky tannins and a medium-bodied finish. 91 points.
2001 Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage La Guiraude. Young, concentrated, lots of pepper and game, the fruit somewhat pointing in every direction. Rustic finish. 87+ points.
2001 Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage. Basically almost the same, with slighter less spices and a little meatier. Acidic. 87 points.
2000 Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage. Wow, the acidity! Way too much for my palate. The usual spices. Feels hollow. 82 points.
Interestingly enough I poured the wine from a magnum, filling two
identical looking decanters, from which my guests found one to be the
winner of that flight while the other glass was one of the least
enjoyable in that same flight. Humility is what one learns. And of
1999 Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage. This one I liked! Still
that acidity but much better balanced by the fruit and smoky bacon. Also
a better and more focused – and balanced finish. Should be interesting
to try again in a few years. 90+ points.
1998 Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage. Don’t know what happened to this one. I actually liked it 2 years ago. Now it’s hollow, acid, drying out. tannic and acidic. 82 points.
1997 Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage. Can you imagine I really
liked this at one time when served blind to me? The Master of Acidity
and Dusty Tannins. Although you try being positive by recognising the
spices and some fruit, the overall impression is to spit it all out. <80 points.
1996 Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage. Less acidity and tannic
structure than the sample above, with more elegant fruit to at least try
holding back to other components, this one was once very good but
utterly fails to deliver this evening. Higher score with a better finish
but today 84 points.
1996 Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage La Guiraude. Much better
than the above. Clean fruit, still acidic, but with more balance. Some
herbal notes and cherry and cassis flavours. 88 points.
1995 Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage. This is exactly how I
remembered Graillot could be when everything falls into place. Again you
notice the acidity, but this time it just helps cleaning the fruit
flavours and you still retain that feeling from herbs, coffee, perfumes,
game and dried fruit. Pleasant tannic finish. 91 points.
Dinner was served and I decided to pop some additional bottles.
1997 Jamet Côte-Rôtie. A step up from Graillot. Lovely herbs,
game, spices, leather. Like burning a steak. or WAS it the steak on my
plate that gave me these impressions? Lovely concentration and finish. 92+ points.
2002 Pax Syrah Obsidian. Not your most shy wine. Fruit-driven,
lovely aromas of licorice and vanilla oak. Black cherries. Repeated on
the palate with rich, delicious dark fruit and a silky tannic finish. 93+ points.
2002 Two Hands Lily's Garden Shiraz. Little muted on the nose
but still nice aromas of cassis, coffee and plum. Much more pronounced
flavours on the palate, with licorice and sweet fruit. Long, caressing
finish. 93-94 points.
For dessert I decided to present the guests with a nice little mini-vertical of Port, so I opened the following wines:
1986 Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port. Intense, alcoholic, with a good grip and medium finish. 88 points.
1987 Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port. More classy, less evolved, more structure, intense concentrated fruit, violets and seemingly always yummy. 92 points.
1991 Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port. Lovely. Very
concentrated, clearly dormant. Loads of massive fruit components on the
nose and palate. Gobs of chocolate. Long chewy and tannic finish. Needs
time. 92-95 points.
1996 Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port. Is this supposed
to be from a lesser vintage? Freshly crushed cherries, some blueberry,
lots of spices, violets, cassis and chocolate. Yummy finish. 93 points.
2000 Noval Quinta do Silval. Good question! I cannot find any
notes from this wine but I have a hazy memory of some plum, lots of
fresh fruit and not as concentrated or tannic as the other contestants.
A fun evening!
I should mention some words about anotgher friend's tasting of Marquis Phillips
and other Aussie Shiraz. My God, for the first time ever I just sat
there in the middle of the tasting, unable to scribble down more notes,
completely overwhelmed by one massive fruit bomb after another. Here are only some brief impressions.
2001 Clonakilla Shiraz. I could have bet my house (I’m glad I
didn’t) that this was a joke played on us and that Stefan had opened a
Jamet from the 2000 vintage. A bucket of peppers, spices and more Jamet
than Jamet itself. But of course it wasn’t. One could have a big laugh
putting this one into a Jamet vertical. 91 points.
2001 Hazyblur Baroota Shiraz. Anonymous. Lots of fruit but I just couldn’t specify which ones. Strawberry? Like a Pinot Noir? I distrust my own notes... 89 points.
2001 Mitolo G.A.M. Shiraz. Dark fruit, subdued, some candy (like black raspberry candy boats), sweet fruit with acidity. 92 points.
2001 Burge Family Draycott Barossa Valley. Apparently something
put me off with this wine. Dried fruit, a little more acidity than I’m
used to in Aussie Shiraz and not in balance. Minty. 88 points.
2001 Two Hands Lily’s Garden. Lovely. Beautiful aromas of
licorice, smoke, chocolate and various layers of all sorts of flavours
on the palate. Clearly concentrated, with almost a component of asphalt
similar to what I perceive in a Greenock Creek. 96 points.
2002 Marquis Philips Shiraz. I almost gave up writing notes
after this one. Massively concentrated, like cutting slices of rubber
tyres, high alcohol, dark fruit, licorice, you name it. Extremely dense
and mouth-clogging but not as balanced as the previous 4 bottles I have
tasted from this wine. 90 points.
2001 Henry’s Drive Shiraz Reserve. Wow! This one I liked. Layers
of lovely aromas of dark fruit. Minty cassis and pepper, even some
bacon. Same type of layers on the palate. You kept coming back over and
over again to look for new flavours every time. Impressive finish.
Muscular, yet seemingly in balance. 95 points.
2001 Henry’s Drive Shiraz. Oops! Something happened here.
Probably it was my palate who gave up. Strange feeling from this one,
almost over-ripe, with dried fruits. Nope, didn’t care much for it. 87 points.
2001 Marquis Philips Shiraz 9. By this time my notes need a
cryptographer’s analyses. Seem to be giving up any description. I
remember a jammy, massive fruit-punch, with lots of tannins, mint and an
overall good balance. 92-94 points.
2001 Shrivington Shiraz. This one I remembered! I had to. It was
my vote for the WOTN. I had hoped it was a bottle I have in my own
cellar. Damn! It was the Shrivington, of which I own exactly nil
bottles. Best concentration of them all, not just wroom in your face,
but also layered, with new nuances every time you poked your nose back
into the glass. Lovely concentration with rich, opulent fruit balanced
by perfect tannins. This is how Aussie Shiraz should always be. 97 points.
Oh, it’s not ALL about Shiraz/Syrah, I promise you. Had the fortune to
visit a winery in the Porrera in Priorat, that I believe will be one of
Spain’s super stars in a near future. I would claim that their top cuvee
is there at the very pinnacle already today and I would challenge
anyone who would claim that there is one single Spanish wine superior to
this wonderful wine from Priorat. I will give you a more detailed
account of my visit in another thread. For now, let’s share the tasting
notes from the wines that were given to me from the winery to take back
to Sweden and share among my wine geek friends. Two of them are readily
available on the market. One of them, called Idus, had not even been
released when I was given a bottle. The generosity and true kindness is
mind-boggling. My only promise was to share the wines with friends and
report back to the winery what we honestly thought about the wines,
extra points for their generosity being left out for the purpose of
2001 Vall Llach Embruix. I found this bottling to be very
unsatisfying. and for one reason only. I noticed some over-ripeness and
oxidation and I couldn’t for all the generosity on earth give it a
better score than in the low eighties. Strangely enough, others in the
peer group didn’t find the same strange component, so instead I’ll post
my good friend Sverker’s impressions from this wine: Big nose, dark
berries (blueberries), sur-maturite, sweet & fluffy oak.
Medium-bodied, high alcohol, good length but towards the end somewhat
dry and with quite pronounced acidity, dominating a little too much. 88-89 points.
2001 Vall Llach Idus. This was another creature. Concentrated,
deep aromas of ripe fruit and above all something I’m extremely weak to,
the fluffy powder feeling. Those of you having tried 1994 Chalk Hill
Botrytirized Semillon will know what I’m talking about. Lovely. Sweetish
fruit, with some cassis, blackberries and milk chocolate. Powerful
finish. 92 points.
2001 Vall Llach. The flagship wine. Oh boy, do they have a
treasure here! I spent some time trying the separate barrels in the
cellar, where the different grape varietals have not yet been blended. I
told them they would have a world class Syrah and a world class Merlot
by simply bottling them as individual single varieties. I just received a
big smile :smile: and the answer "we know...". But the
blend doesn’t need to apologise either. Powerful nose, with ripe dark
fruit, very concentrated and focused. The palate is just one big
showcase of simultaneous grace and power which of course indicates
perfect balance between all components. Spices, coffee, black currant,
jam, everything elegantly balanced by perfect acidity and integrated
tannins. Impressive now and a promising future to say the least. A
stellar effort. Wonderful. 96 points.
Next thing to look forward to, is a gathering at Sverker’s place, where we’ll try the 1999 Guigal La Turque, La Mouline and La Landonne. That should be fun!