This was a private tasting acting in my capacity as consultant to some Scottish restaurants, in the company of the restaurateurs. It was held in the wonderful cellars of Corney and Barrow’s shop in the Scottish seaside town of Ayr, where the old atmospheric cellars run deep beneath the surrounding streets.
The tasting was not blind. The relative gloom made colour assessment a bit difficult.
Delamotte Champagne NV – £17.63
Plenty of small, steady bubbles. Lovely fruit on the nose here. Terrifically rich and full with plenty of fresh apple and pear. Clean but rich. Creamy and dense mousse and nicely concentrated fruit. Strikes a nice balance between savouriness and lemony crispness and has a long finish. Really very good indeed. Quite complex.
La Combe de Grinou (France) Bergerac Blanc 1999 – £5.51
A 50/50 blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon this has a crisp, clean attractive nose of lemons and apple. Very fresh on the palate, Sauvignon character dominating with little herbal nuances over crunchy fruit and balanced acidity.
Lurton (Spain) Ruedo Blanco 1998 – £5.51
Fresh greengage and lime fruit with plenty of zesty, slightly tropical aromatics and some floral notes. Nice balance on the palate, medium-bodied and plenty of fruit and freshness. The Lurtons are the ubiquitous flying winemakers and this is a typical product, and I have to say, very competently presented. Delicous quaffing stuff.
Château de Gigognan (Rhône) Côtes du Rhône Blanc 1996 – £9.04
Distinctive, huge nose with peach, butter and wax and powerful damp-wool and herbal nuances. Pleasantly oxidised. Palate has surprisingly fresh citrus acidity that is maybe just slightly overpowering the fruit, but this is savoury and most enjoyable now.
Cecilia Beretta (Italy) Soave Brognoligo 1998 – £7.27
What a shame the name Soave is so misunderstood. This single-estate example has a gorgeous nose that is cleanly aromatic with sparky lemon fruit and a lovely undercurrent of almond and herbs. The palate is quite chewy and savoury with a lovely sourness to offset the ripe fruit and crisp acidity. Medium bodied and finishing very long and pure.
Réserve de la Ville de Lausanne (Switzerland) Abbaye du Mont Grand Cru Blanc 1996 – £10.00
An interesting wine that had a sweet, almost toffeed note about the nose with a buttery quality too. On the palate quite weighty, nutty dry fruit and an intriguing minerality. Not terribly long, but both interesting and quite stylish.
Theo Cattin (Alsace) Pinot Blanc 1996 – £7.04
A hint of sweetness on the nose with quite nice peachy and citrus fruit; hints of orange and lime. On the palate it is medium-bodied and quite fruity. Perhaps it struggles after the unusual profile and relative complexity of the Swiss wine, but this seems a trifle dull.
Cairnbrae (New Zealand) Marlborough Riesling 1998 – £7.33
Big, impressive nose with developing petrolly nuances over rich, buttery lime fruit but hints of flint and wax. The palate has just a suggestion of honeyed sweetness to more crunchy apple and lime fruit, but then a taut acidity lengthens the finish, with a slightly smoky element emerging. Very good.
Cairnbrae (New Zealand) Marlborough Pinot Gris 1999 – £8.04
Very unctuous and sweet on the nose with masses of ripe tropical fruit and a cool, melony core. On the palate medium to full-bodied and again a certain kiwi-fruit or melony coolness to temper more vivid, ripe flavours. Good balance and length. A extremely impressive showing from this estate, which is new to me.
Old Vines (South Africa) Chenin Blanc 1998 – £6.51
Quite a powerful wet-wool nose with a distinct toffeed edge to sweet tropical fruit. I thought this was lightly oaked, but apparently not. On the palate it is dry and nutty but not lacking fruit or balancing green apple acidity. Rather a nice Chenin.
Millfield Estate (Australia) Hunter Valley Semillon 1998 – £11.97
Really bold on the nose with lanolin, citrus and grapefruit, a touch of woodsmoke. On the palate nicely focused with nutty, buttery fruit that is dense and chewy. This should age nicely, but is already very approachable with integrated lemon acidity and a long, clean finish. Lovely.
Château la Liquière (France) Faugères “Cuvée des Amandiers” 1998 – £6.39
Lots of gravelly, schisty, smoky-bacon aromas. Quite lovely quality of plum fruit too. On the palate this is grippy and tannic, but over a very serious layer of sweet black fruits with a lovely mineral quality and some structure. Good balance and decent length too. This is really excellent at the price.
La Croix Barton (France) AC Bordeaux NV – £6.64
A nose of creamy berry fruit with some vanillin oak. This has decent, soft blackcurranty fruit and good balance. Good, simple, well-made cheap claret.
Domaine Clos du Roi (France, Burgundy) Coulanges la Vineuse 1998 – £7.74
I thought this was a bit of a knock-out for cheap, generic Burgundy. Lots of character with earth, pepper and solid raspberry fruit, some nice chocolaty depth on the palate with good tannins and fruit and a really nice mouthfeel. The Finish is pure and fruity with moderate acidity. Good cheap Burgundy!
Theo Cattin (Alsace) Pinot Noir “H” Vieilles Vignes NV – £9.44
Fruity, light and slightly confected nose but with good strawberry fruit. On the palate quite silky-textured, with again a nice creaminess of red fruits before a bite of tannins and acidity in the finish. Quite good.
Staton Hills (USA, Washington) Pint Noir 1994 – not for sale
This estate has recently grubbed up all its Pinot in favour of Cabernet Sauvignon. Whilst on my tasting of their 1990 three or four years ago I wouldn’t have lost any sleep over this, I have to say the ’94 was a nice surprise: what a shame! Loads of sweet cherry and autumn berry fruit on the nose with a nice little vegetal note beneath. Really lovely silkiness on the palate with earthy fruit and a fine, subdued set of tannins and acids leaving the finish soft and chewy. Very good.