Original and sale prices are given in pounds sterling (5GBP=7.50USD) and case prices are also included where applicable.
Sparkling and white
Gaston Chiquet, Champagne Brut Tradition NV (£13.95) £12.60 / (£167.40) £143.64
This is a nice, classic Champagne with a pale gold colour and appetising nose of apple and citrus, a little toastiness and cream. An aperitif style, the fruit is vibrant and clean on the palate, the mousse is fine and there is good structure and acidity with a little bit of mellow, biscuity breadth.
Domaine Prunier (Burgundy) Auxey-Duresses Blanc 1997 (£13.85) £12.50 / (£166.20) £142.50
Pascal Prunier (one of several Pruniers in Auxey) is a major figure who’s wines are much respected. This has a medium-gold colour and a lightly-honeyed nose of gently yeasty white fruits and some nuttiness. There’s a little hint of green bean. The wine has quite a rich mouthfeel and is full-bodied, though the fruit profile is very fresh, lemony and shows a firm mineral streak that endows the wine with a firmness. The acidity is crisp and quite powerful, though an oatmeally note adds some breadth. A very firm, mineral-forward, lightly-oaked style that might appear a bit unforgiving to fans of New World Chardonnay, but is very fine.
Ramsay (Napa) Reserve Syrah 1996 (£13.95) £11.95 / (£167.40) £136.23
I’d only tasted the better-known Pinot Noir from Ramsay before this wine. (Ramsay is a second label of winemaker Kent Rasmussen). This has an inky black colour that is thick and opaque. It has a slightly lighter style of nose than many New World Shiraz, with some herbal leafiness and blackcurrant fruit. There are little pepper nuances. On the palate it is medium-bodied and that slightly green, herbaceous quality persists, as well as a deal of good fruit and leathery notes. It is a well-balanced wine, with fine tannins, good acidity and structure. The finish is quite long.
Chateau le Crock (Bordeaux) Cru Bourgeois, St. Estèphe 1994 (£12.65) £10.95 / (£151.80) £124.83
This has a dense, opaque crimson/purple colour. There’s a dank, stalky, slightly dirty note on the nose: old-woody and dry. That masks some blackcurrant fruit and cedarwood. On the palate it is rather lean, though savoury with black fruit. It has some charm, but the tannins are winning out over only moderate fruit. Reasonable finish. Not a totally sound bottle.
Sweet and fortified
Chateau de Malle (Sauternes) 2ème Cru Classé 1996 (£11.45) £9.95 / (£274.80) £226.86 (halves)
Glowing golden colour. Delightful botrytis nose, quite thick and honeyed scents with lemon and candied-peel fruit. There are little nutty nuances. The palate is syrupy and richly-textured with great sweetness of fruit and glycerine thickness. The framework of crystalline citrus acidity keeps this balanced and beautifully poised. An excellent and delicious Sauternes.
BB&R Fine Dry Oloroso Sherry, Barbadillo (£6.75) 5.95
Fine sherry: nutty and lightly toffeed on nose and palate, silky texture, good length and a long, warming finish.