Chateau Faizeau selection veilles vignes 2002

83 points

Montagne Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux, France. 13.5%

Dark, subdued nose, this seems like a heavily extracted wine, which in a lean to classic vintage like 2002 makes for rather hard drinking. I’m not sure why they needed to make a wine with this alcohol and extract and hard green tannins. Perhaps it will develop some charm with time. Leave until 2009.


Verget Macon Bussieres Vieilles Vignes de Montbrison 2005 (review)

90 points

Burgundy, France. 13%

Now this is an odd bottle. The screwcap started to fail, I had stored the wine lying down and I noticed a very slight crust that suggested some leakage but didn’t now if it was continuing or not. Then today I noticed a small group of fruit flies clustering around the screwcap ! Sure enough there was ullage. So I popped it into the fridge and opened it tonight.

What a joy. While it might have been exposed to a bit of slow oxidation it was still very pale and fresh, as is to be expected on such a young white burgundy. Austere yet still rich, no overt fruit, oak or alcohol, just lovely wine. Great value.

I suspect that 2005 has produced many white burgundies with approachable richness yet the capacity to age. I hope so.

Laurus Muscat Beaumes de Venise 2000

This wine is produced by one of the largest producer-negociants in the lower Rhone valley, Gabriel Meffre. The Laurus brand is an attempt to create a line of wines made from the range of styles available in the Rhone under one name. They have everything from Chateauneuf du Pape to Condrieu and wverything in between, including this slighty fortified Muscat.

I worried that 6 years might be a bit long for this fresh-bottled light Muscat, but just smelling the open bottle, fields of lavender-honey blossoms opened up. The texture was thick but not cloying with more lavender, honey and a bit of nutmeggy spice. The finish is clean with spicy acid aftertastes. Yum Yum, both as a glass for an appertif and after the meal with dessert.

La Voulte Gasparets Corbiere 2000

This is a wine from the southwest of France at the border of Languedoc and Rousillon. The Corbiere is a rocky hilly dry region of wild rosemary and thyme and ruined Cathar castles with lots of small plots of grapes, mainly Grenache (Gris, Rouge, and Blanc), Carignane, and Shiraz. I visited this place with a French friend in 2004 and bought this wine, which had just been released. The small family winery has been there for almost 100 years and on the wall of the stone-walled cellar are awards going back to the early 1900s and up to until recent times.

When I opened it, there were intense aromatics of licorice and thyme with a hard edge. When we tasted it, there was a harsh rush of tannin and then a long dried fruit palate of excellent length. Now, after being opened (and decanted) for about 2 hours, the nose is milder, more herby than spicy. The palate has more cinnamon like tannins but very drying with a long and spiced berry flavours. I think I will wait several more years before opening the next bottle.

Balnaves Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (review)

86 points

Coonawarra, South Australia. 14%

Floral, exotic, quite opulent nose. Sleek berry fruits cabernet, glycerol and svelt oak. A little cosmetic but it finishes with savoury tannins. Not hugely concentrated, but should age gracefull over the next 5 years. Placed against Ch.Puyguraud 2002 I was surprised how the cool vintage claret was of similar weight.

Stonewell Vineyards Daughters of the Valley Shiraz 2004 (review)

90 points

Stonewell, Barossa Valley, South Australia. 13.5%

Rich, slightly stewed (rubarb ?) fruits on the nose. But the palate is fresh, ripe, with nice liqorice tones, and charred (almost Spanish style) American oak. Modern balanced style, no obvious added acidity. Mercifully moderate alcohol (for a wine of this style), bravo !

Interesting wine, with a style of its own. Drink now or over the next 3 years (ie 2007-9), while it seems quite concentrated now I don’t think it is built for long aging.

O’Leary Walker Shiraz 2004 (review)

87 points

Clare Valley and McLaren Vale, South Australia. 14.5%

The back label says that Clare produces shiraz that tastes of black olives and finishes with black tannin, so they blended in some soft and supple McLaren Vale fruit to give plummy flesh. I’m not disputing any of this, though in this case I think the Clare fruit was more black olive than usual. So they did the right thing.

This is a fruit rather than oak wine. Marred by some high octane (alcohol) flavours. Modern and pristine but with some hard added acid flavours.