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Bibendum collection tasting
14 November 2001

28 wines from UK merchant Bibendum, some of which were pretty impressive. It was also nice to get to try four cask samples from the much talked about 2000 vintage in Bordeaux.

Old world

Soave Classico Suavia 2000, Italy
Shy, nutty, slightly honeyed nose with herby, waxy ripe fruit on the palate. Good acidity. Modern style. Good/very good (£6.56)

Claude Michot Pouilly Fumé Les Berthiers 2000, Loire
A top quality Loire Sauvignon. Attractive modern herby/grassy nose. Very fresh, attractive palate showing a good concentration of grassy fruit. (£8.71)

Bric Cencurio Arneis 2000, Piedmont, Italy
(Arneis is the grape variety) Restrained nutty, slightly spicy nose leads to a full flavoured palate with nice balance, an attractive texture and lovely herbal complexity. Very good+ (£8.13)

Rolly Gassmann Gewürztraminer 1995, Alsace
A lovely, fat-textured example of Alsace Gewürztraminer that's drinking nicely now. Striking ripe nose of lychees, grapes and bacon fat. Lovely rich, full flavoured palate with just enough residual sugar to give a rounded character. Perfectly balanced. Very good/excellent (£12.44)

Vina Bajoz Cano 2000, Toro, Spain
This juicy red wine, a blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Tempranillo, is a lovely modern-styled glugger. Ripe, slightly confected berry fruit on the nose, and a nice savoury balance on the palate. A vivid wine. Very good (£4.31)

Basciano Chianti Classico 1999, Tuscany, Italy
A bright red purple colour with a slightly muted nose. The rich modern palate displays berry fruit with a nice spicy, savoury edge and good acidity. New wave Chianti and quite attractive. Very good (£6.76)

Luciano Sandrone Pemol Langhe Rosso 1999, Piedmont, Italy
A blend of 40% Nebbiolo and 60% Barbera. A deep red/purple colour this is a striking modern-style wine. It shows lush ripe fruit with a coffee-tinged, spicy edge. There's good intensity and some complexity, but it’s a lot of money for what Bibendum themselves describe as an ‘undemanding quaffing’ wine. Very good (£14.99)

Claude Denogent Pouilly Fuissé Cuvée 1999, Burgundy
Quite pale colour. Slightly toasty, herby/nutty nose. Lovely fresh palate with plenty of concentrated citrussy fruit and rich undertones. Classy stuff, currently a little tight. Very good+ (£15.67)

Jean-Paul Droin Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons 1999, Burgundy
There's some flinty minerality here, but also some nutty, slightly toasty richness. Lovely rich, broad palate with plenty of fruit, perhaps some oak and nice tight acidity. Well put together. Very good+ (£11.16)

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Blanc 1999 Côtes du Rhône
This has quite an unusual nutty, waxy nose. It's savoury and rich on the palate with good acidity. Very nutty, and not really my thing, but interesting nonetheless. Very good (£9.01)

Pierre Dumazet Condrieu 1999, Northern Rhône
Impressive Viognier, but expensive. Classic, rich peachy nose leads to a well balanced palate with good acidity; not a super-rich style, but plenty of herby, peachy fruit. Very good+ (£19.00)

Domaine du Colombier Crozes Hermitages Cuvée Gaby 1999, Northern Rhône
Deep red/purple colour with an attractive nose of meaty raspberry fruit: savoury and delicious. The palate is still quite tannic, with bright berry fruit and a nice meaty edge. Tasty. Very good/excellent (£9.20)

Clos des Papes Châteauneuf du Pape 1999, Southern Rhône
The nose is quite closed, and the palate is also a little muted, but with a good density of spicy, meaty edged fruit. Judgement reserved: could just be going through an awkward phase, or might even be a dodgy bottle. (£15.67)

Pierre Morey Pommard Les Epenots 1999, Burgundy
Bright coloured, this has an attractive cherry fruit nose with a caramel richness. The palate shows primary, ripe cherry and raspberry fruit. Very youthful, but with potential. Very good (£22.52)

Domaine Pousse d'Or Volnay Clos de la Bousse d'Or 1992, Burgundy
Pale coloured, displaying an evolved nose of sweet strawberry-laced fruit and a bit of mushroom/undergrowth character. Nicely balanced palate is mature with lots of herby complexity. Drinking well now. Very good/excellent (£32.70)

Château Poujeaux 2000, Moulis, Bordeaux
(Cask sample) Deep red purple colour, with an exotic, ripe nose showing menthol oak notes, an attractive spiciness and ripe fruit. Great concentration on the palate, with prominent and as yet unintegrated oak, firm tannins and a dry, spicy finish. A bit angular and lacks finesse, but superb concentration. Very good (£138 per case in bond = £14.88 per bottle after duty and VAT; these wines won’t be delivered until 2003)

Château La Clotte 2000, St Emilion, Bordeaux
(Cask sample) This is an impressive effort: classy, ripe and full. Deep purple colour. Palate shows very concentrated ripe fruit and a lovely herby character. Rich, complex, tannic palate shows very good intensity of spicy, herby fruit and unobtrusive oak. Very good/excellent (£18.02 per bottle incl. duty and VAT)

Château Beauregard 2000, Pomerol, Bordeaux
(Cask sample) Very deep red purple colour and showing great concentration. Exotic, striking nose of roast coffee, herbs and ripe fruit. Concentrated, rich palate with a herbal edge and assertive but fine grained tannins. Delicious stuff; full on and with a good future ahead of it. Very good/excellent (£27.05 per bottle incl. duty and VAT)

Château Clos Fourtet 2000, St Emilion, Bordeaux
(Cask sample) Red/purple colour with an inky intensity. Lush, herby nose with some ripe fruit. Firm, intense, concentrated palate is a little closed at the moment, but there’s lots of spicy, oaky, dense red berry fruit. Needs time. Very good+ (£31.53 per bottle incl. duty and VAT)

New world

Huia Sauvignon Blanc 2001, Marlborough, New Zealand
With an over-the-top aromatic nose of grassy, ripe fruit, this is a wine that shouts its varietal origins. The palate is intense with cutting acidity. Quite refreshing and a very modern, archetypally Marlborough style of Sauvignon. Very good (£9.01)

Chain of Ponds Riesling 2000, Adelaide Hills, Australia
A producer with a good reputation for their whites, but I don't quite get this. It has a bright, slightly confected nose, together with some subtle spicy notes. The rich, youthful, lemony palate has a rounded character. Too confected for me. Good/very good (£7.93)

Catena Chardonnay Agrelo Vineyard 2000, Mendoza, Argentina
The nose is a bit shy initially, but when coaxed shows a rich, lifted, nutty character. The palate is quite nutty, alcoholic and a bit disappointing, with the oak sticking out. Good concentration, though. Very good (£8.50)

Talley Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 1998 Arroyo Grande, Central Coast, California
With a super-rich nose of ripe, buttery, figgy fruit this is tasty stuff. There's a lovely rich nutty character on the palate, which is impressive and full-on. Quite rich, alcoholic finish. Very good+ (£13.71)

Te Kairanga Pinot Noir 2000, Martinborough, New Zealand
Martinborough has established a reputation as one of New Zealand's best regions for Pinot Noir. Quite pale coloured, this has a nice herby nose with some toasty notes (from the oak?) and dark berry fruit. Primary berry fruit dominates the bright palate, which is underpinned with more oak. Quite 'square' now, but with the potential to develop. Very good (£10.77)

Ric Forman Merlot 1998, California
This is an impressive yet nicely restrained wine. Quite an expressive nose with bright blackcurrant fruit, classy oaking and an attractive herbaceous edge. The palate is quite claret-like, showing nice, deep, bright fruit with good acid and well-integrated oak. Classy stuff, somewhere between the normal California style and right bank Bordeaux. Very good/excellent (£19.58)

Glenguin Shiraz 1999, Australia
Confusingly, boutique Hunter winery Glenguin make three different Shiraz wines. There's the Individual Vineyard Shiraz (which in 1999 became the Pokolbin Vineyard Shiraz) and the top cuvée Aristea (both of which are of Hunter Valley origin), and this less expensive label (I'm not sure where the grapes come from for this). It's a deep coloured wine, with a slightly muted nose of pure berry fruit. Palate shows a good concentration of pure blackcurrant and raspberry fruit, with some spicy oak. Needs time to open out. Very good+ (£7.45)

Andrew Murray Syrah Les Coteaux 1999, Santa Ynez Valley, California
Striking nose showing pure raspberry fruit and rich, caramel-tinged oaky notes. Tightly focused bright fruit on the palate with a touch of meaty complexity beginning to emerge. Needs time. Very good+ (£15.67)

D'Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 1998, McLaren Vale, Australia
Surprisingly, still available on the UK market at opening price, despite being awarded 96 Parker points some while back. Rich, exotic nose is quite striking, showing complex notes of tarry, liquoricey fruit and menthol-edged new oak. The palate is rich and dense with lush fruit, hiding a whack of tannin. It's a substantial wine, potentially very good indeed in time. I'd buy a few bottles of this and tuck it away for a few years. Remember, in the USA this sells for at least twice the UK price. Very good/excellent (£17.33)

Katnook Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon 1997, Coonawarra
This is completely over the top, but it's delicious. Opulent, exotic nose is quite startling, showing lush ripe blackcurrant fruit with menthol, herb and caramel notes. Rich, ripe concentrated palate is quite sexy and lush. I'd be tempted to call it hedonistic. Very good/excellent (£24.99)

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