Chateau Cap De Fouste ‘grande reserve’ 2002

87 points

Côtes Du Roussillion, France. 12.5%

Compared with the 2001 this is a fresher, lighter, less chunky wine. Modern and clean. Well balanced winemaking in a lighter vintage. Technically it might be considered a superior wine. But for me it is less interesting.

Good bistro/cafe wine. Good value.

PS the new vintage features a new label, something that wineries do to ensure that their brand does not grow!

Domaine François Lumpp ‘Petit Marole’ Givry 2005

89+ points

Givry, Burgundy, France. 13%

Givry is a minor Burgundy appelation in the Côte Chalonaise, largely producing red wines, and largely ignored by fine wine writers. But like other areas of Burgundy (e.g. next door Mercurey) improved viticulture and winemaking mean that some of these “bistro wine” areas are starting to produce wines of some class and are where the bargains of Burgundy can be found.

This Premier Cru is a strong flavoured wine with good structure, reflecting the excellent vintage. There is a lot of oak, perhaps too much, but then again it seems to have the acid and oak to handle it. Drink in 2008-10 when it may even warrant a higher score than I give it today.

Beyerskloof 2000

84 points

Stellenbosch 14%

A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (80%) and Merlot (20%).

Fantastic deep dark red colour in spite of being 7 years old.

A warm rich wine, a little touch of Pomerol about it. But there is a lack of acid, of complex flavours, of elegance. It’s good wine, but not really fine wine.

It’s quite enjoyable but not exciting – which means it competes with an awful lot of other wine in the world. When considered against this vast array of competitors it is wrong to say that South African wine is always good value.

Drink now, while it should last a while I doubt it will improve much.

Damien Laureau ‘Le Bel Ouvrage’ Savennieres 2004

87 points

Loire, France. 14%

A complex dry white, 100% Chenin Blanc. Tonnes of mineral flavour, with noticeable alcohol, and just a tiny tiny hint of honey sweetness (that seems a mixture of bortytis and/oxidation).

I love Chenin Blanc, and it says something about its versatility that it can make a wine in this (high alcohol, bone dry) style which is so far removed from the gentle sec and demi sec wines that are more typical of the Loire.

But I miss the flavour of Chenin fruit, and I dislike being able to distinctly taste the alcohol.

Bernard Burgaud Cote Rotie 2001

75 points

Côte-Rôtie, Rhone, France. 12.5%

I suspect that this might be an off bottle, but not in the sense of a corked, one off, bottle but rather a bad bottling run. Or worse, the entire vintage is like this.

Dark, rather oddly bright, colour. Does not look 7 years old. The second, less pleasant, surprise is the rather strong smell of cow shit. This is not just a touch of earthiness. The 3rd surprise is the whack of acid on the palate. It seems like malic acid, as if the wine did not go through a full malo-lactic fermentation.

This is a deep and strongly flavoured savoury wine, with study structure without high alcohol. But it’s also downright odd in an unpleasant way.

I suspect some handcrafted winemaking going astray with a particular bottling.

Domaine Henri Perrot-Minot Morey-St-Denis ‘En La Rue De Vergy’ 1999

90 points

Cotes de Nuits, Burgundy, France. 13%


I seldom get the chance to drink aged Burgundy. I’ve often thought that, aside from the richest cuvees, that old Burgundy might produce a savoury wine, with serious flavour but without any fat. I sometimes feel lke such a wine, claret doesn’t quite fit the bill, most New World wines are too sweet or heavy. Some old Hunter shiraz are the closest thing to it.

This wine hit the spot perfectly. Plenty of savoury flavour but with almost no fruit sweetness. Concentrated, and surprisingly dark in colour (browning at the edges), this wine is beautifully light on its feet, beautiful balance of acid and alcohol.

I could never find an 8 year old Australian Pinot Noir (or NZ) that did not still exhibit either sweet fruit or, by now, dull prune flavours. That said, I can imagine plenty of people would criticise the lack of fruit in this wine and I’m not holding it up as the finest that Burgundy has to offer, but there is a need for wines like this (especially for consuming with food) – they are rare.

Les Vins de Vienne Cornas ‘Les Barcillants’ 2003

87 points

Cornas, Northern Rhone, France. 13.5%

One of the reasons I bought this is that it is from the 2003 vintage. Not my favourite vintage in Bordeaux, Burgundy (or Australia for that matter) but the Rhone and Southern France seems to have handled this hot vintage well. In the Northern Rhone its a good vintage for concentrated but forward wines.

This wine is good, though not as concentrated as I might have hoped. It is forward and ripe, low acid but still classically Northern Rhone, refined and fairly savoury – quite removed from the syrupy style that is starting to grip South Australia at present.

Paul Jacqueson Rully “Les Chaponnieres” 2004

87+ points

Rully, Burgundy, France. 13%

Medium red colour, not deep.

Intriguing, inviting, appetising aromas of smoke, brambly berries. Nice wine but with a fair amount of prominent acidity at present. Too young. Leave it for just a couple of year and then see. Currently had to assess, it needs some time, but does it have the structure to last long, I suspect not.

Domaine Bernard Gripa Saint-Joseph ‘Le Berceau’ 2004

88 points

Rhône, France.

Fresh as a daisy, youthful shiraz with lots of primary fruit flavour up-front but with some deep briar notes. This is a densely fruited wine, with the sort of young structure that gives me a headache just thinking about it. Surprisingly for 2004 this has a touch of raisin about it, which may well become more pronounced with age – for this reason I’m being conservative with my rating.

If wines with lots of amines do give you headaches then you probably want to avoid drinking this so young. Indeed anyone sensible will give this another 4 years before first inspecting it. But I bravely persevered to give you a review while you can still buy the wine 🙂

The global warming effect on wine regions – so far

Temperatures in fine wine regions around the world have risen with statistically significant trends in 17 out of 27 regions with an average of 1.3 degrees C.

So far this has improved wine quality. The average being a 13 point increase being associated with a 1 degree warmer growing season. Though this varied from region to region, and the general “hotter is better” rule is not completely true in all regions, even cooler ones. Indeed the data showed that many regions appear to be at or near their ideal temperature.

This is according to an article in the scientific journal Climate Change – Jones, White et al (2005) “Climate Change and Global Wine Quality”.

The implication is that if warming continues, which it is predicted to do, this will adversely affect wine quality in many regions, and not just hot ones. Of course, wine growers will also react to this trend, and cooler vineyard areas probably have more options (like producing more red wines). But that said, Burgundy will still want to produce Pinot Noir, Bordeaux Merlot and Cabernet, and Champagne is unlikely to have much commercial success in selling still wines. So these climate predictions are very concerning for fine wine producers. I predict that a good deal of research and experimentation will go into techniques for handling heat (it had better do !). Australia is probably ahead of the world, as even cool sites in Australia experience heat waves.

Oak Valley The Blend

85 points

Elgin, South Africa 14.5%

Very dark colour. Very lifted aromas that include some stewed grassy tones. It’s a rich alcoholic bordeaux blend with some hard greenness. The tannins are nice and firm, and the mid palate is warm, rich and sweet – but not cloying.

It’s a pretty good wine, though a bit dense, it lacks finesse and flair. I’m perplexed how this won the Decanter 2007 wine challenge “best Bordeaux blend over £10”.

Luddite Shiraz 2003

88 points

Western Cape. South Africa. 14%

Nice smokey aromas. Sweet but not syrupy fruit core, not over extracted, quite light on its feet – a really good effort. Drinks well now, though I expect it will age gracefully. Nice style.

One of the top South African shiraz. Plenty of potential for this variety here.

Jean-Louis Chave Saint-Joseph 2004

92 points

St-Joseph, Rhône, France. 13.5%

Another fabulous Chave syrah. Glorious smokey, rather complex for a young wine, aromas. Compared with the 2003 it is fresher, lighter on its feet, without the dense stuffing of the 2003. It seems more simple. It’s fine, and may last longer. While it’s certainly approachable it will gain in complexity with 2-5 years more cellaring.

The 2003 is quite a different wine, reflecting the hot vintage. While I clearly prefer the 2004 to the 2003 in Bordeaux, here it is a much harder call even though the vintage differences are just as pronounced. 2003 in the Rhône was hot but didn’t produce baked wines, Shiraz doesn’t mind heat !

1998 Alan Graillot Crozes Hermitage

89 points

Cozes Hermitage, Rhône, France. 12.5%

Lovely Graillot style aromas of smoked meats, Dark lively wine, with plenty of fresh acidity (too much almost), and a slightly annoying flower type flavour that also exists in the 2004 – odd. Not thick, glycerolly or sweet in any way – a tad more would improve the wine I think. It is as it stands very much a food oriented wine.

J.L. Chave Saint-Joseph 2003

92 points

Saint-Joseph, Rhône, France. 12.5%

Dark, dense colour. Aromas of old oak influence and deep fruit, slight smoke and leather.

Superbly rich, concentrated and flavoursome. Lovely liquorice notes. Very enjoyable now but will also age slowly for 5-10 years. Great wine. The Rhône really took the hot 2003 vintage in its stride.

Australia is starting to produce wines towards this style, but needs to get the alcohol and sweetness under control while still using ripe grapes.

PS I find it hard to believe the alcohol level on the label.
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Gorri D’Ansi 2004

79 points

Irouleguy, France. 12.5%

A modern wine from an interesting South West region. Aromas like a minor Bordeaux, but with a slightly spicy fruity tannin finish that reminds me of the South.

The cépage is mainly Tannat, with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink now or in 2008.