Mumm Grand Cordon 1990 – £24.99 (was £49.99)
Medium deep gold colour. This has a very soft and inviting nose. Nettly. The palate is filled with elegant herb and nettle fruit. Not a sharp, crisp apéritif Champagne, more earthy and rich with baked apple fruitiness. Good, mature Champagne at the price.
Villa Maria (NZ) Reserve Riesling 1999 – £8.99
Very pale lemony green. Nicely crisp and elegant nose is perfectly ripe with delicate lime and floral aromas, just a little hint of toastiness. On the palate there is a toffeed ripeness that adds fine depth to beautifully honed lime fruit. Very mouthwatering, this is medium-bodied, long and elegant, totally belying its 14.5% alcohol. Excellent.
Domaine Cordier (Burgundy) Pouilly-Fuissé “Les Vignes Blanches” 1998 – £19.99
Pale to medium straw/gold. Classy French oak nose of hot buttered toast, coffee and nuts. There’s a honeyed richness too, but beneath quite a steely mineral core. Very taut and crisp on the palate with plenty of lemon fruit. Very succulent, very ripe, but stays steely and firm with a focused finish pushed through by citrus acidity. This should improve over 5 to 8 years.
Logan (California) Chardonnay 1998 – £14.99
This is bottled by the Talbott vineyards, the fruit comes from Monterey. Golden colour and that slightly buttered-cabbage aroma of really ripe Burgundy. Some herb-tinged ripe fruit, suggestions of tropical ripeness, but quite restrained with a background of sweet toasted oak. This is luscious on the palate and has lots of fine, sweet fruit; pear and apricot. It is full and chewy, though good acidity freshens the finish. A very nice style.
Pierre Morey (Burgundy) Bourgogne Pinot Noir 1996 – £8.49
Pale ruby, pink at rim. Vegetal nose. Notes of earth and dank vegetation, not much fruit. Palate has some raspberry fruit that is light and fresh, but rather thin in the mouth with drying tannins. Tannins rather overtake the finish. This has a light and savoury crispness about it, and though it lacks the mouthfeel of a really good Burgundy, it should provide a savoury foil to the right food. Still, only average quality for the price.
Chateau La Serre (St Emilion) Grand Cru 1997 – £16.99
Healthy dark crimson/black. Ripe and powerfully mineral nose. Some sweet, black – almost minty – fruit too. Coffeeish oak. The palate has loads of crunchy black fruit character; a seam of blackcurrant and deep plum. Good ripe tannins. Good acidity too. Forward and very enjoyable, there is a cedary fragrance and flavour that adds interest to the finish. Rather good claret now, and for 6 to 10 years.
John’s Blend (Australia) Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 – £19.99
I’ve always really enjoyed this wine in previous vintages. Very dark, dense colour. Fantastically minty nose: just like minty dark chocolate. This is underpinned by clove and nutmeg spice and the fruit is deep, soft, black and enveloping. The palate is more serious, with a raft of fine, dusty tannins constraining ripe fruit. Very sweet-edged and clean, despite the richness. The texture is soft and full, and a lovely coffee and cream richness pushes into the finish. Very good indeed.
Sandeman “Vau” Vintage Port 1997 – £24.99 (magnum) – was £49.99
This was launched as a new style vintage Port that doesn’t need decanting and is ready to drink when bottled. I’m not sure how this is achieved, but presumably there’s a different maturation and fining/filtering technique from traditional vintage Port. The name Vau, is because the wine comes from the Quinta do Vau, so technically this is a single Quinta port, though from a vintage that was universally declared. It has an extremely dense, dark colour. There’s a slightly salty, ozone note on the nose that blows off to reveal a fairly compact, muscular aroma of black fruit. A touch medicinal. On the palate the wine is much better, with plenty of ripe, sweet fruit that is rich and smooth. The whole profile of the wine in the mouth is pure and dense, slightly spicy. The tannins are quite grippy, but integrated and it has a nice finish that is not too spirity. Certainly a bargain price for a ’97 Port in magnum, and very delicious to drink even thought the nose was a bit odd at first. I would still decant this before serving.