Caymus Vineyards (Napa) Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc 1996 – £7.99
Quite a deep, golden yellow. Real Jack Daniels whiskey-barrel nose, suffused with buttery oak. Very pure core of quite unctuous fruit – tropical but also ripe apples. The whole taste is wrapped in oak and alcohol. I found the 1995 vintage of this wine a bit over-powering, and this is still a love-it or hate-it style, but this vintage carries it off more successfuly. The finish is quite long and oaky.
Redwood Valley (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc 1997 – £9.49
Much paler, straw colour with a hint of green. Very nice, classic, sherbert, gooseberry and boiled-sweet nose with a lemony twist. Quite a bit softer on the palate than I’d expected, mouth-filling with an overall impression of restraint. Nice lime acidity in a broad, generous finish, but no astringency. Concise and compact.
Cloudy Bay (New Zealand) Chardonnay 1996 – £11.99
Pale, golden yellow. Very stylish, with a soft, delicately fruity nose. Restrained style, really quite lean, with medium weight, sweet, fresh, lemon fruit and a prickle of spice in the finish. Becomes quite savoury and chewy with good length and purity of fruit.
Château de Puligny-Montrachet Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrieres 1996 – £17.99
Deeper, medium golden colour. Lovely nose: golden, warm scents of slightly honeyed, tropical fruit, but quite reserved with just a sheen of toasty new-oak. Some flowery and mineral notes peeping through – really quite complex. Palate is coated in creamy, fruit flavours and a nice balance with vanillin-oak and lemony acidity. This is extremely good and will have staying power.
Dubois Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les Forêts 1995 – £14.99
Fairly deep, warm red. Rich nose, packed with sweet, juicy red fruit and deeper, cherry notes. A little bit alcoholic. Loaded with tannin at the moment and highly extracted. Firmly oaky and tannic, with keen acidity and enough fruit to suggest decent longevity. Quite serious stuff that needs some time and seems like good value for money.
Laurent Morey-St-Denis 1er Cru 1995 – £19.99
Medium-deep ruby red colour. Big, youthful, bright, strawberry fruit nose. Very much fruit driven at this stage with no tertiary flavours. Nice weight on the palate and silky smooth with good fruit and a spicy element. Doesn’t display its 13% alcohol, but is chewy and dense. A tiny bit metallic in the medium-long finish. Needs time in bottle. Good.
Laurent Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Beaumonts 1995 – £41.99
Extremely deep, even, ruby/purple colour with more brick towards the rim. Beautiful, deep nose with aromas of dark fruit, creamy oak and chocolate notes. Quite forward. Good weight on the palate, quite a lot of obvious alcohol, a dusty, brambly aspect to the fruit and some coffee richness. There are fine, drying tannins in the finish. I have some doubts on the staying power of this wine, but it’s delicious and complex.
Château de Beaucastel 1994 – £17.99
Very dark, dense, black/brown colour. Big, dirty, manure/barnyard nose then slowly reveals crunchy, dark, red-fruits. Very deep and brooding. Palate is dry and full, with gorgeous earthy flavours. Meaty and sour with an uncompromisng, swaggering character. Fine tannic backbone coats the palate in the long finish. Very good indeed. (05/98)
Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz 1992 – £16.99
Dense, dark, ruby/purple colour. Even and deep to rim. Big, big, crunchy blackberry fruit with a dark chocolate richness. Quite warming on the palate. This is another of those huge, fruit-driven Australian shirazes that are a delight to drink now but could keep for several years. Lovely, forward spice and peppery fruit and a long, sweet finish. There’s a little astringency there too. Not quite of the Penfolds Grange or Jim Barry “Armagh” quality, but very good.
Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas Port 1995 – £25.99
Opaque black/purple colour. Big, soaring, hot, blackberry nose. Beautifully sweet and pure fruit on the palate, no sign of “stewed” quality. The wine is all cream and dense, sweet, sweet chocolaty fruit quickly swallowed by smooth but gripping tannins. This is lovely and shows great potential.
Quinta do Vesuvio Port 1995 – £26.99
Slightly more vibrant, but similarly dense and deep colour. Slightly deeper, mocha-coffee scented nose. Again loaded with super-sweet, super-ripe fruit and maybe just a little more depth and complexity than the Taylor’s, but it’s a hard one to call. Gorgeous. Again, great and obvious potential.