Yalumba The Signature cabernet shiraz 1996

87 points

Barossa Valley, South Australia. 14%

Not as exciting as the 2006 by a long shot. Warm bordering on over-ripe fruit balanced by hefty added acid.



Sandalford estate reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

88 points

Margaret River, Western Australia. 14.5%

This is a very good wine but I’m marking it down a few points because it’s just a bit to showy. The oak is obtrusive, dry and a bit raspy. And the alcohol is too high. I know it is young but I have major doubts that this will properly knit together, at least into something fine.

So breathe the wine now and enjoy it young as a showy wine. Nice flavours even if it lacks mid palate density.


Chateau Palmer 2004

90++ points

Margaux. 13%

Weird wine. At first it seemed disappointly lacking concentration with tannin, acid and oak dominating fruit. Then with food it transformed with aged oaky flavours coming forward. Soon as the food was gone it went back to being ordinary.

The next night the difference with food was less extreme.

I suspect this will be best in 10 more years. But it’s a risky bet.


Chateau Rauzan-Despagne Reserve 2010

88+ points

Bordeaux. 13.5%

Probably deserves even higher points given its low price. It’s normally impossible to find decent claret even in Bordeaux for under 10 euro. This was only 8 euro.

Note this is not the Grand Vin but their cheaper ‘Reserve’.

Modern, very clean, fresh, not souped up. Got better over a few nights. Cherry fruit, of the vintage or just its youth?


Chateau Pédesclaux 2009

94+ points

Pauillac. 13% (on the label but very likely higher)

I thought I had reviewed this but in checking I see I haven’t. I have tried this many times, it never fails to impress. When I first tried it in 2012 I was amazed that such a concentrated young wine could be so approachable. I called it “Pomerol comes to Pauillac” which is sort of true.

It’s an oddity, but not that odd. What it clearly is is very good. A wine to challenge first growths for a fraction of the price.

This is the sort of wine I always imagined that California at its best could produce. Sadly I’ve not seen this, maybe they can?

So this has the flavour. Does it have the balance to turn into something ethereal and fine? Time will tell. I think it will turn out very well, but (strangely for Bordeaux) I’m not super interested it’s that good already!


Chateau Pédesclaux 2010

89+ points

Pauillac. 13% (most likely higher)

Tasted alongside the 2009 over several evenings there is some similarity, the house style but they are very different vintages. 2010 is supposed to be more classic, but very tannic and concentrated. That’s not how this seemed. It’s certainly less forward, less flamboyant, but also lighter.

The 2009 you’d think wouldn’t be my style but the sheer quality bowls me over. It’s top classed growth quality. 2010 Pedesclaux doesn’t seem in the same league. It reminds me a bit of 2009 Ch.Chantermerle, which is very very good for its price but no giant slayer.


Chateau Baron de Pichon- Longueville 2002

91+ points

Pauillac. 13.5%

Very interesting wine. Classy. Showing both house style and the distictiveness of the vintage. It’s quite bold, ripe, with a fair degree of oak. It’s not herbaceous yet there is a seam of vegetal tone. 2002 was a good cabernet year but nothing like the ripe vintages of 2005 or 2009. And it’s not so pretty and fresh as 2004. It’s quite serious but not austere. Long life still ahead.


Chateau Siran 2009

90 points

Margaux. 14%

The family who own this chateau are celebrating 150 years of ownership and maybe the estate is older than that. Yet this is far from famous wine. I expect there has been some investment recently because this is good. The epitome of modern Bordeaux with that forward dense juicy character of 2009 making it rather approachable. Even the overt oak merely frames the wine in spite of the little time in bottle.


Chateau Brown 2009

90 points

Pessac-Leognan. 14.5%

Rich, attractive, though this is pushing ripeness to the limit for Pessac. Greater concentration than earlier vintages, but I think I miss the open-knit Chateau Browns of less opulent vintages.

I suspect this change is as much to do with the Chateau as the vintage. I hope they don’t continue further on this path. They have done well but know risk losing regional typicité.


Chateau Branon 2008

87 points

Pessac-Leognan. 13.5%

After enjoying Ch. Haut-Bergy 2009 and Ch. Barde-Haut 2001 so much I had high hopes for this more expensive wine from the same stable.

Raw, brawny, quite tannic. Lacks the charm that some (Ch.D’Issan) have in 2008.

Will improve with time. On the 3rd day after opening (kept carefully in half bottle in fridge) it had improved a great deal, silky, though with jarring oak tannin on finish.


Chateau Rauzan-Segla 1995

88+ points

Margaux. 13%

Disappointingly lacks the usual elegance of Rauzan-Segla. Quite brawny with heavy expensive oak. Almost Californian.

Best from 2018.

One year later – similar but this time I noticed the brawny tannins more than the oak.  A touch of 2003 about this wine.  Lacks the usual Rauzan-Segla elegance.  It may come right, but I expect it will be for a brief period.  Risky.  Drink over next 5 years.


Chateau La Lagune 2004

91+ points

Haut-Medoc. 13%

This is serious deep claret, with the classic freshness of 2004. Should provide a good deal of pleasurable drinking over the next decade or so.  Best kept for another 5 years in a cool cellar if you can resist temptation.

2nd bottle – much more open knit, reminds me of a Graves style.  Rather fine drinking now, complexity of age showing.