Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Blanc de blanc 1er cru

88+ points

Champagne, France. 12%

Pale very young. Rather classic acidic dry blanc de blanc. Good wine that demands some cellar time. I’ll report later on bottles of this case bought in late 2009.


Domaine De Chevalier 2001

92 points

Graves, Pessac Leognan. 13%

This is distinctly dilute reflecting some difficulties with the 2001 vintage but it’s awfully hard to complain as in this case all it has meant is the wine is drinking early. And so well.

Gorgeous left bank claret with fresh appetizing fruit, light flavoursome succulent even. Framed perfectly in unobtrusive oak. This really is very fine. Delicious now.

Wynns Coonawarra Messenger Cabernet 2005

87 points

Coonawarra, south Australia. 13.5%

Slightly confected oak and fruit sweetness but otherwise a quality wine. Coonawarra Cabernet is improving I think, less obvious eucalypt and other strange characters. Restrained alcohol, nice balance.

My key criticism is that this has the polish of a commercial white wine, a little too scrubbed. Perhaps with age complexity will emerge?

Chateau Senejac 2005

87 points

Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux, France. 13%

A minerally, iron-like, savoury claret – similar in style to previous vintages though with greater density and a little more weight.  Less expressive than I expected, especially on the nose – which made me wonder about slight cork influence or bottle shock from travel.

Certainly bears little resemblance to the following (cask sample) reviews from 2006:

Robert Parker [WA]: 89-91 points, excellent to outstanding “Starting in 2005, the luxury cuvee, Karolus, will no longer be made as the proprietors believe they have raised the level of Senejac to that of a luxury wine. The 10,000-case 2005, made by well-known oenologist, Jacques Boissenot (a disciple of the late Emile Peynaud), is the finest I have yet tasted. Its saturated ruby/purple color is accompanied by rich aromas of licorice, forest floor, blackberries, and chocolate-infused black currants. This medium-bodied, moderately tannic, rich wine is clearly of classified-growth quality. It will benefit from 2-3 years of cellaring, and last for 12-14 years.” Stephen Spurrier [Decanter]: 17 points, highly recommended “Deep colour, lively fragrant style with pure vineyard fruit and definite elegance. Drink 2009-18.”

Chateau D’Armailhac 2005

90+ points

Pauillac, Bordeaux, France.  13%

Dark, intense, polished young claret, yet for all that surprisingly approachable – I suppose that’s what people have been writing about 2005 but I haven’t quite believed it, as young classed growth Bordeaux can be pretty much an intellectual rather than sensual pleasure.  This could last 15+ years and really needs to be kept for a good while.

I’ve read reports that in 2005 this wine’s stablemate Chateau Clerc Milon is superiour – but these were reports from early tastings.  It would certainly be fun to try these side by side, I doubt either would be in any way disappointing.

Heitz Cellar Napa Valley Cabernet Bella Oaks Vineyard 1998

86 points

Napa Valley, California, USA. 14.2%

A famous producer, its Margaret vineyard cabernet featured in the 1970s “Judgement of Paris” tasting.

An 11 year wine, and on sale for half price in Philadelphia, quite a find.

It’s a mellow, almost cuddly sort of cabernet.  Without complexity or power.  Sweetish, but not bad by US standards.  A little noticeably over alcoholic.  Drink now.