The class of enthusiastic wine lovers who graduated from my most recent Wine Appreciation course decided we should have a graduation meal, and who was I to refuse? I was handed a couple of hundred pounds and charged with buying the wines. We ate in Glasgow’s Strata, a bar/café/restaurant in the city centre that, despite its pre-clubbing clientèle and youthful atmosphere, is doing some rather good and serious food.
Cloudy Bay (New Zealand) Pelorus 1994 – £15.50
This light golden wine has rolling, miniscule bubbles and a very powerful nose, redolent of nettles and herbs with creamy, apple fruit. On the palate the mousse is dense and the flavours of apple, nuts and citrus give a very chewy, savoury character. This is very fine with excellent length and good acidity. Very good indeed and would undoubtedly age. Available from larger branches of Tesco, UK
Güntschl (Austria) Roter Veltliner Auslese Trocken “Selektion” 1998
Brought along by one of the students, this wine had quite a deep yellow/gold colour and an alluring nose of honeyed peach, fig and wax. On the palate the initial impression is of luscious sweetness, but that quickly gives way to a pure fruitiness and grapefruit acidity that clamps down on the finish, leaving it dry and quite savoury. Lovely. The Roter Veltliner is a darker skinned cousin of the more familiar Grüner Veltliner.
Pewsey Vale (Australia) Eden Valley Riesling 1998 – £5.99
The current 1999 vintage was my wine of the week last week, but I snapped up four of these for the dinner as the 1998 probably has the edge in concentration. Lovely fruit on this wine, waxy pear and apple, with riper, tropical notes. Good weight on the palate, shimmering with fresh fruit and acidity. Cracking. Available from Oddbins and Tesco, UK.
Fontanafredda (Italy) Barolo 1987
Brought along by another student, this was a nice mature wine with good ruby colour fading to tawny and a nose of cherry, smoke and earth. The palate is medium-bodied and there are still quite fresh fruity flavours mixed with tobacco, leather and a slightly vegetal quality. Still balanced and drinking well.
Cuilleron (Rhône) St-Joseph Cuvée Prestige 1997 – £21.99
Abolutely gorgeous but most unlike Rhône on the nose with sweet, spicy oak that I would have sworn was American. There is also grilled meats and dense blackcurrant fruit enlivened by tiny floral hints. Very alluring with great depth. On the palate thick and sweet ripe fruit in medium-bodied format with plenty of leathery and spicy nuances and a grippy tannic core. Long and chewy, Very nice stuff in a very modern style. Available from Oddbins Fine Wine, UK.
Peter Lehmann (Australia) Stonewell Shiraz 1994 – £19.99
This, by comparison, makes the St-Joseph seem timid! Very dark, opaque purple black colour. Intesely ripe, full-throttle black fruit, mint, eucalyptus and mulberry nose. Very sweet and coconutty oak overlaid on top. The palate is full-bodied and has a huge, rich seam of concentrated black fruit. The fruit has that really, dusty blue-black quality and ripe tannins don’t hold it back. Long, pure, focused finish. Mightily impressive in this blockbuster style and well priced against many other premium Australian Shiraz. Available from Oddbins Fine Wine, UK.
De Bortoli (Australia) Noble One 1994 – £12.99 per half
Surprisingly deep gold/amber colour. Complex but sumptuous nose of botrytis honey and fig, vanilla, apricot and marmalade orange. The palate is thick and unctuous with a mass of deep, sweet fruit and creamy oak braced by fine, but not dominant acidity. Good balance to this wine and the finish is very long. Excellent. Available from Larger Tesco branches and Oddbins Fine Wine, UK.