Langlois (France) Crémant de Loire Brut NV – £7.99
Nutty, nettly nose with very crisp apple fruit. On the palate there is more of the same, but a pleasing autolysis rounds it out and the finish is quite savoury.
Oeil de Perdrix Champagne NV – £16.99
“Partridge’s eye” is the literal translation, said to be the colour of this pale pink wine. It has a lovely peachy softness about the nose, with aromas of apple-sauce and some herbal nuances. On the palate the flavours are bready and rich with a mouthfilling mousse and texture and a long, just off-dry finish. Lovely.
Pol Roger Vintage Champagne 1990 – £34.99
Big, butter, yeasty, biscuity nose. Loads of complex fruit aromas of dried fruits, peaches and apricots and all the time that broad base of brioche-like roundness filling it out. Rich mousse. Plenty of figgy fruit and a fine core of acidity. Elegant and long. Very good indeed and built to last.
Pasqua (Italy) Chardonnay Puglia NV – £2.99
Very lemony and fresh with hints of buttery richness. Palate is juicy and citrussy and there is reasonable length. Very good at the price.
Selciatella (Italy) Frascati Superiore 1998 – £4.99
Green tinged with fresh, zippy aromas of citrus and a hint of nutty, leesy quality. Decent fruit and balanced, not too tart. Good.
Paul Zinck (France, Alsace) Sylvaner 1998 – £4.99
Flowery and delicate nose, some grapy qualities, but fresh and light. Lime and butter on the palate and some spice, this is fairly neutral but pleasant enough.
Paul Zinck (France, Alsace) Gewürztraminer 1998 – £7.99
Very spicy nose, lots of cinammon and ginger then orange fruit. More orange on the palate, with tart grapefruit acidity showing up in the finish.
Domaine Carillon (France, Burgundy) Chablis 1998 – £4.99
Quite a buttery nose, a little fatty, with apple fruit. Quite tart, there is a lot of green apple acidity and it is nettly and fresh.
Domaine Vocoret Chablis 1er Cru Les Forêt 1998 – £9.99
Nice mineral-rich nose with some creamy apple fruit. The palate has good steely presence with tart fruit softened by some buttery flavours. Nicely focused. Good.
Domaine Moreau Naudet Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons 1998 – £9.99
Quite a sweet nose, with spice and minerals and pear fruit. Palate is very intense. Good citrus fruit, full and concentrated, quite spicy and good length. Very good.
La Chablisienne Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume 1996 – £5.99 per half bottle
Lovely nose. Buttery herbs and peaches, some sharper pear fruit. palate has excellent delineation of orchard fruits and a fine minerally quality with lemony acidity in the long finish. Very good indeed.
State Domain Trier (Germany) Deutschherrenkopfchen Riesling Kabinett 1992 – £4.99
Beautifully developed petrolly nose. Nice lemon fruit and a little leafy aroma. Palate is off-dry with decent fruit. This is maybe a little tired, but has plenty of character for the money.
Ruppertsberg (Germany) Riesling 1996 – £4.49
Vivid nose of marzipan/almonds and butter. Not quite so generous on the palate where lemon and lime fruit, pear-skin and a little mineral note are evident, but the whole thing is quite lean and sharp. Decent length. Good.
(Germany) Serriger Vogelsang Riesling Auslese 1989 – £5.99
Brilliant nose. High, waxy, petrolly aromas and super-ripe melon, pear and lemon. medium-sweet, quite unctuous, there’s a lovely core of sharp pear and apple fruit, yet a creaminess and beautifully integrated acidity. Excellent and superb value, probably my pick of the tasting.
Oyster Bay (NZ) Sauvignon Blanc 1999 – £6.49
Quite a pungent green bean quality, asparagus and herbaceous, grassy notes. There is tropical fruit too, with pineapple and lychee. Cool fruit on the palate, not quite so powerful as the nose, more gooseberry and grapefruit acidity into a good, long finish. Very nice indeed.
Nautilus (NZ) Sauvignon Blanc 1998 – £9.99
Crisp, aromatic nose. Lychee and grapefruit and a smoky quality too. Very attractive. Palate is ripe and packed with tropical fruit but there’s also a powerful acidity. A forceful style, showing the clean, ripe quality of the vintage.
Nautilus (NZ) Chardonnay 1998 – £9.99
Attractive, lightly-toasted nose of nutty peach fruit. Complex nuances of walnut and cinnamon. In the mouth it shows restraint with a fine citrus profile giving a steely core to fatter, buttery, peach and apricot fruit. Long spicy finish. Very good.
Penfolds (Australia) Rawsons Retreat 1998 – £4.49
Nice ginger spice notes on the nose, some sweet floral elements. Palate shows plenty of ripe fruit. This is balanced and makes for very nice drinking.
Amberley Estate (Australia) Semillon 1998 – £8.99
Wax, butterscotch and masses of toasty oak on the nose with masses of ripe fruit: peaches, limes and creamy flavours. Very concentrated and plenty of acidity. Long. Delicious and has the fruit and structure to age. Amberley Estate (Australia) Sauvignon Blanc 1999 – £8.99
Very sweet and ripe exotic fruit on the nose – all mangoes, lychees and pineapple. Quite a dry palate after all that flash, plenty of lemony acidity keeps it tangy, yet good length. Good.
Capel Vale (Western Australia) Riesling 1998 – £7.49
Second tasting of this in a week. Lovely wax and lime nose, with nuances of butter and herbs, a little petrolly development. Palate is rich and full, but clean as a whistle with limes again, melon and a long, pure finish. Very good.
Capel Vale (Western Australia) Verdelho 1998 – £7.99
And second tasting of this. Muted nose, then a creaminess, some floral notes and subdued but toasty oak. Plenty of grapefruity acidity and full-bodied. Very nice, though in an understated style. Better with food I think.
Bethany (Australia) Riesling 1998 – £5.49
Not so aromatically complex as the Capel Vale, but limes and spice are there. Cool, classy palate. Medium bodied, balanced acidity.
Melbourne Wine Company (Australia) Riesling 1998 – £5.99
Quite herbaceous. Leafy, nettly aromas then buttery lime fruit. This grows on you, seeming quite odd at first, but it is rich and savoury and has good length. Bravely, these wines come in a crown (beer bottle) cap. Melbourne Wine Company (Australia) Chardonnay 1998 – £6.99
Fresh apples, herbs and nettles on the nose. Palate is crisp and clean with orchard fruits and some oak showing through. Spicy finish and good length, chewy and food-friendly.
Kangarilla Road (Australia) Chardonnay 1999 – £7.99
Pale colour and a yeasty, buttery nose of soft peachy fruit, ginger and charry oak. The palate is quite rich with just a hint of residual sugar, but plenty of fruit and sweet oak to please the palate. Nice quaffing wine.
Guigal (France, Rhône) Rosé Côte-du-Rhône 1997 – £6.49
Quite a stalky note to the nose of this, a bit of sulphur too, then earth and smokiness. Reasonable red fruit on the palate, but a bit dull.
Couly-Dutheil (France, Loire) Chinon Rouge “Les Garous” 1997 – £5.99
Beautifully creamy nose of ripe red berries, earth and spice. Palate is very dry and has lean, sinewy tannins. There is firm-edged blackcurrant fruit. Better on nose than palate, but might benefit if drunk with food.
Château de Meursault (France, Burgundy) Marsannay Rouge 1996 – £9.99
Vegetal, damp, undergrowth aromas then some minty, ripe red fruit. Palate is silky textured and light with a good quality of raspberry and strawberry fruit. Tannins and acidity are noticeable but in balance. Good.
Melbourne Wine Company (Australia) Pinot Noir 1998 – £7.99
Very light, jammy fruit (carbonic maceration?). Lots of strawberry and sweet rasberry. Palate is soft and fruity, though there are good background tannins to support. Good.
Merlot VdP de la Haute Vallee de l’Aude (France) 1998 – £3.49
Ripe, forward nose of black fruits and an earthy note. Quite a juicy, serious palate with an earthy, charcoally edge to blackcurrant fruit. Good balance with a decent finish. Very good value for money, and good with casseroles or grilled meats.
Château Guiot (France) Costières de Nîmes 1998 – £4.99
Lovely smoky, gravelly, earth and spice-box nose. Fruit on the palate is cool and creamy, if a little thin. Quite good.
Château Guiot (France) Mas de Guiot 1998 – £5.99
High, creamy, blackcurrant and mint nose. A smoky, mineral note adds a lot of interest. Good quality of ripe plum and blackberry fruit. Very good.
Alain Brumont (France) Madiran “Meinjarre” 1997 – £5.99
Vegetal nose with plummy fruit, some sweeter blackberry notes and again a smoky quality. Palate has dusty black fruit restrained by drying tannins. Quite long, this is growing on me. Good balance and quite a serious style. Very good.
Château de Haute Serre (France) Cahors 1998 – £8.99
Deep mulberry fruit on the nose. A little bit dank and weedy perhaps, but then there’s a minty, sasparilla top-note too. Palate is very grippy and lean but there’s a core of blackcurrant fruit that persists. Finish is clean and long. Good.
Château de Nardon (France) Bordeaux Supérieur 1997 – £5.49
Smoke, charcoal and a little dill-like note. Palate is quite juicy, with decent fruit and balance.
Château Tour Saint Paul (France) Bordeaux Supérieur 1997 – £5.99
A little lean and green with modest fruit. Palate is tannic, there’s some creamy red fruit, but unexciting.
Château l’Abbaye de St-Ferme (France) Bordeaux Supérieur 1998 – £5.99
Creamy and cool on the nose with sweet, ripe black fruit. Quite restrained and classy on the palate, nicely balanced with a good quality of fruit. Nice.
Château Lamartine (France, Bordeaux) Côtes de Castillon 1997 – £6.49
Old wood and stalky black fruit, a little vegetal. Palate is better, showing reasonable fruit and moderate tannins/acidity. Not a great package all-round.
Vieux Château Champs de Mars (France, Bordeaux) Côtes de Castillon 1997 – £8.99
Lean, slightly green, but good cherry and plum fruit on the nose. Medium-bodied with a savoury palate showing a seam of blackcurranty fruit, fresh tannins and good balancing acidity. A nice food wine.
Château Morin (France, Bordeaux) St-Estèphe 1997 – £9.99
Light red berry fruit of raspberry and cherries. A nice gravelly edge. Palate is quite serious and chewy with fine blackcurrant fruit and a sense of density. Flavoursome and balanced, quite long too. Good.
Heritage de Château Le Boscq (France, Bordeaux) St-Estèphe 1996 – £11.49
Juicy, ripe blackcurrant fruit – quite sweet and aromatic. Very pure. Palate is a little disappointing, with highish acidity and firm tannins outweighing fruit. Might come round with a couple of years cellaring.
Château Rose La Biche (France, Bordeaux) Haut-Médoc 1996 – £12.99
Weedy nose, jammy fruit and tomato aromas. Weak and rather non-descript.
Château Haut Lavallade (France, Bordeaux) St-Emilion Grand Cru 1996 – £13.99
Bright, focused berry fruit. Blackberries and damsons, but light and creamy. Palate is dry and savoury and although there’s good balance, the fruit is a little disappointing. Another that might be a little dumb and could come round.
Connétable de Château Talbot (France, Bordeaux) St-Julien 1996 – £14.99
Smoky and savoury with a vegetal quality, earthy and animal aromas over spicy cherry fruit. Palate is balanced if a little lightweight, but quite elegant fruit and fine, silky tannins as well as some sweet oak in the finish. Good.
Château Le Crock (France, Bordeaux) St-Estèphe 1995 – £16.49
Sweet, ripe and aromatic blue/black fruits. Juicy cherries and plenty of acidity, with tart cherry-skin flavours and a nice chewy personality. Rather good.
Château Jordi (France, Bordeaux) Haut-Médoc 1989 – £17.99
Vanilla-infused red berry nose with sweet oak and hints of tobacco and earth. Palate has plenty of sweet fruit too, but also a leathery appeal and mature, fine tannins. A nice, juicy mouthful of claret that is drinking well. Ideal for Christmas dinner?
Château de Sales (France, Bordeaux) Pomerol 1996 – £21.99
Very creamy and rich with firm black fruits, currants and plums. Very firm and classy palate has spice, oak and blackberry fruit, good tannins and a long, firm finish. Very good and will cellar.
Guigal (France, Rhône) Gigondas 1996 – £9.99
A neighbour of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and made from a very similar blend of grapes. This has a lovely creamy, ripe sweet black fruit of blueberries and blackcurrants. Plenty of sweet oak on the palate, nicely balanced fruit and acidity and fine tannins. Good.
Domaine Cailloux (France, Rhône) Châteauneuf-du-Pape 1997 – £13.49
Ripe black fruits and bags of cracked black pepper on the nose, spice and caramel. Highly extracted with plenty of dusty black fruit, rich, earthy tannins and good balance. Very good.
Sigilo Primo (Italy) Primitivo de Salento 1998 – £4.99
Big, meaty, vegetal nose. Loads of dark fruit, but leathery and dense with a spice and pepper edge. Packed with similar fruit in the mouth, rustic and chewy with crunchy berries and a solid, tannic finish. Good length. Very good indeed.
Wynns (Australia) Coonawarra Shiraz 1997 – £6.99
Dense chocolate, pepper and spice on the nose as well as plenty of juicy black fruit. Rich palate, lots of intense, minty berry fruit that is full, long and persistant. Very good – great at the discounted price.
Mount Langi Ghiran (Australia) Shiraz Grenache 1997 – £8.99
Sweet, high, mint and vanilla nose with blueberry fruit. Aromatic, with a kirsch quality. Terrific cedary character on the palate with charcoal and black fruits. This is savoury, long and spicy. Very good.
Kangarilla Road (Australia) Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc/Malbec 1997 – £8.99
Quite herbaceous and leafy with a tomato edge to red berry flavours, but not unpleasant. Dense, creamy berries on the palate held up by fine tannins, but soft and deliciously quaffable.
Kangarilla Road (Australia) Shiraz 1997 – £8.99
High, charcoally quality with a toffeed edge to sweet blackberry fruit. Some white pepper. Palate is a little underpowered perhaps, but is quite refined and cool with a lemony acidity keeping it fresh. Might be more food-friendly than some Ozzy Shiraz.
Bethany (Australia) Barossa Valley Grenache 1998 – £6.49
Big, typically grenache nose, sweet and fruity with an almost burnt quality, plenty of savoury nuances. Broad acid base to spicy fruit and a little caramel note. Good balance. Good.
Bethany (Australia) Barossa Valley Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 – £7.99
A touch stalky, but mint, charcoal, then deep chocolate and spice notes. Nice palate is concentrated and fruity, plenty of vanillin oak and plenty of spiciness into the long finish. Very good.
Bethany (Australia) Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 1997 – £9.99
Slightly vegetal, leafy, modest fruit on the nose. Blackcurrant and subtle, creamy oak. Palate again is quite restrained with plum and blackberry fruit and a firm edge from acidity and grippy tannins. Chewy, savoury and well balanced.
Taylors (Portugal) “First Estate” – £7.99
Black cherries, charcoal and bitter-sweet chocolate on the nose. Palate is quite rich and dense, plenty of sweet chocolaty fruit then good tannins keeping it fresh. Good.
Taylors LBV Port 1992 – £10.99
Old wood, blackcurrant and wood-smoke nose. Palate is medium-sweet, with firm tannins, vanilla and ripe black fruits. Quite high-toned, with tongue-tingling acidity. Rather good.
Taylors 10 Year Old Tawny Port – £16.49
Nutty element to sweet black fruit on the nose, nuances of caramel and dark chocolate. There are nice aromatic notes of violets and exotic spice. Good fruit on palate too, firm tannins and highish acidity, though not unbalanced. Good plus.
Taylors Quinta de Terra Feita Port 1986 – £17.99
Better than the ’82 of this tasted recently. Restrained black fruit nose with charcoally edge to blackberry and spice. Palate is just a little raw, but there is plenty of good red berry fruit and a creamy roundness that keeps it sweet into the long finish. Good.
Croft Quinta da Roeda Port 1983 – £12.99
Sweet violet and aromatic rose-hip fruit. Nice muscavado sugar richness too. Slinky, sweet black fruit on the palate with a mollasses richness and firm black cherry and blackcurrant edge. There’s an orange note in there too. Nice balance and an excellent Port at the price. Drinking well.
Dow’s Quinta do Bonfim 1986 – £19.99
Raisins, black fruit and cherry-cola nose. Modest fruit on the palate, plenty of fresh acidity, but lacks any sexiness.
Bodegas Hidalgo (Spain) Pedro Ximénez Viejo Napoleon Sherry – £7.99
Nose of caramel, marmalade oranges, sweet vanilla and raisins. Rich and opulent palate with super-sweet flavours of raisins and sultanas soaked in kirsch. Delicious and not too cloying. A bargain.
Coteaux du Layon (France, Loire) Moulin Touchais 1986 – £9.49
Good to have a chance to taste this is a previous bottle had been corked. A slightly sulphury nose disapates to reveal green apples, grass, slate and minerals. The palate is now medium-sweet with an attractive peach and nectarine fruitiness and moderate acidity. Balanced and a nargain for a mature dessert wine.
Royal Tokaji Company (Hungary) Tokaji 5 Puttonyos 1993 – £13.99 (50cl)
Oxidised nose of over-ripe pear skins, honey, figs and herbal notes. Palate is luscious and buttery with creamy pear and melon fruit, quince and notes of pineapple and caramel. Sweet and nicely balanced by fresh acidity. Very good.