Tasting Notes

I’ve arranged the tasting notes in a way which is easier to navigate than before. Firstly I have organised them by White then Red, then French, other European and New World. Within each section the wines are organised by score – highest first. The order is:

French White
European White
New World White

French Red
European Red
New World Red

Rose

Sparkling

Sweet

FRENCH WHITE

Domaine Blain Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Caillerets 1990 (Nickolls & Perks £120.00)
Golden, honeyed colour… I couldn’t wait to smell and taste it. The smell is the essence of hot buttered toast. It’s nutty, its brioche, its amazing. ‘Where’s the fruit?’ I hear you ask: well, the peach and even a bit of baked apple hits your palate. But it’s the honey, nuts and toast that takes your breath away. And it just goes on and on and on. It’s amazingly fresh and the acid backbone is beautifully balanced. This wines makes you close your eyes and say thank you. 95 points

Chateau de Baucastel Vieilles Vignes 2010 (Hedonism £108.40)

100% Roussanne. Wow, wow, wow! Heavenly aromas of lemon balm, clementine and also a touch of the tropics. It smells rich and creamy and there’s nuts, flashes of wet stone and lemon thyme. On the palate the wine is graceful with a wonderfully full but soft texture and oh so complex. Peaches, oranges, cantaloupe melon and apple skin all combine with delightful nuts and just a wisp of dairy. It just seems to give a bit of everything but in perfect balance. Wonderful. 95 points

Maison Nicolas Potel, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, 2005 (Exel Wines £60) 

(Tasted at West London Wine School Burgundy tasting February 2013)
Oh my this smells amazing. Oakley, floral and delicate, with plenty of white peach and sweet vanilla. In the mouth there is a wonderful streak of acidity – really zesty green apples and wonderful ripe peaches. The oak is beautifully integrated and kisses your tongue, providing a lick of vanilla. This is elegance personified and amazing fruit, oak spice and toast that lingers and lingers and lingers… 94 points

Henri Bourgeois Cuvée D’Antan Sancerre 2007

Absolutely glorious balance of subtle citrus, mango and passion fruit, whispering acidity and slatey mineral. It’s delicate, charming and oh so complex. This is the kind of wine that puts Sauvignon Blanc in the same league as the best white Burgundies. 94 points

Henri Bourgeois Cuvee Etienne Henri 2010

100% Sauvignon Blanc from the oldest vines on flinty slopes and matured for 12 months in 100% new oak barrels. The fruit just creeps up on you slowly and the wood is beautifully integrated and accentuates the citrus and tropics. This is a wine to savour, think about and discuss all evening. Wow. 94 points

Morey Blanc Meursault 2001, Burgundy (The Wine Society £29.00)

Nuts and peaches jump out of the glass and just a hint of smokey oak and butterscotch. This smells its age and smells expensive. The nuttiness is foremost at first taste and the peaches and some grapefruit before a lingering finish of beautifully judged and balanced oak that just goes on and on. Its still so fresh. Magic. 93 points

Domaine Vincent Careme Le Peu Morier Demi-Sec Vouvray (The Wine Society £18.00)

(Tasted at West London Wine School Chenin event June 2013)
Our first real sweetness of the night. Oh there’s so much fruit character on the nose – mango, orange, almost marmalade. Beautiful balance of sweetness and acidity – it reminds me of a tin of pineapple chunks. I love this style if wine and I especially love the balance and complexity of this one. Pure summer in a glass. My and the overall best wine if the night. 93 points

Henri Bourgeois La Demoiselle de Bourgeois Pouilly Fume 2007

100% Sauvignon Blanc, from the Kimmeridgen soils of Saint-Laurent l’Abbaye, where the first vines of the AOC were planted. This wine isn’t “showy” at all; It’s gentle and it’s classy. The tropical fruit is subtle and allows the smoky and floral nature of the terroir to shine through. We didn’t try a young version but this certainly demonstrated how 5 years can allow plenty of complex development in Sauvignon Blanc. 93 points

Domaine Yves Cuilleron Les Chaillets Condrieu 2008 (winestore.co.uk £54.55)

100% Viognier. Delightful aromas of peaches, apricots, some tropical fruits, backed up with honey, nuts and fragrant white flowers. The wine screams richness and intensity. There’s a delightful freshness upfront and plenty of juicy peach, mandarin and even a touch of apple skin giving an intriguing rich and almost tannic structure. After the fruit there is a wonderful nuttiness and even an edge of honey sweetness. Delicious and wonderful balance with a very generous finish. One of the best whites from the Northern Rhone I’ve encountered. 93 points

Henri Bourgeois La Bourgeois Sancerre Blanc 2010

100% Sauvignon Blanc made from vines growing on the flinty slopes first worked by the monks of Saint Satur. A bigger wine with lots of body and plenty of complexity from 8 months oak ageing. Subtle ICUs fruit comes first then some soft mango but its the smoky and floral back notes that really differentiate this one. 92+ points

Henri Bourgeois Cuvée D’Antan Sancerre 2011

100% Sauvignon Blanc from a vineyard first planted in 1936, where the soil is pro innately flint. Needs more time but there lots of tropical fruit and a delicious spicy back note. Highly concentrated and fuller bodied – this is a serious wine. 92+ points

Domaine Champalou Cuvée des Fondraux Vouvray 2011 (Wine & The Vine £14.95)

Lovely honey, nuts and apples, then plenty if citrus zing as well a delicious note of very ripe melon. The acidity is searing and delicious, perfectly balanced with the residual sugar to give a truly refreshing edge. I would happily drink a bottle of this every night this summer and believe it counted as at least two of my five a day! 92 points

Chateau de Beauregard Grand Beauregard Pouilly Fuisse 2007, Burgundy (The Wine Society £36.00)

Huge aromas and smells rich and intense. Lovely mixture of stone fruits, hint of citrus and lots of smokey oak. Medium weight on the palate but more than made up for in depth and richness. Peachy fruit, nutty and smokey flavours with a beautifully oaky finish. Top notch. 92 points

Trimbach Vieilles Vignes Riesling 2009, Alsace, France (The Wine Society £17.00)

Not much colour in the glass but what a delicious nose. Lovely green apple and super citrus but there’s a wonderful floral note too and just a hint of petrol. Apple skiing and citrus on the palate with very precise acidity and a lovely long and dry finish. Very good indeed. 92 points

Henri Bourgeois Le MD de Bourgeois Sancerre Blanc 2008

This is what happens when Le MD grows up! Lashing of mango and passion fruit, with a grassy freshness and a subtle smokey finish with gently, subtle acidity. This is a powerful and complex wine. I like it a lot. 92 points

Domaine Langlois-Chateau Vieilles Vignes Saumur Blanc 2005 (€15.95)

100% Chenin Blanc, aged in oak for 12 months. Rich, toast and buttery on the nose but so fresh on the palate, which delivers apple skin and ripe nectarine. The oak is pleasant at the end and the wine us beautifully balanced. Reminds me of an oaked premier Cru Chablis. 92 points

Deux Montille Meursault 1er Cru Bouchères 2007 (Roberson £44.95)

Beautiful deep almost golden colour. It doesn’t give an awful lot away on the nose at first but there is some subtle citrus and a hint of that wonderful hot buttered toast. Quite delicate for a Meursault but there’s a touch of delicious fatness which is balanced by lazer guided acidity. Lots of citrus starting with lemon than grapefruit, all underpinned by the toastiness of the village and just enough oak. 92 points

Maison du Tastelune, Chassagne Montrachet 2008, Burgundy, France (M&S £30.00)

Beautiful nose White peaches, honeysuckle and a dart of vanilla oak. Smell this wine for hours! Clean and fresh with a little bit of weight, peachy and spicy and long. Love it. 92 points

Domaine Larue Saint-Aubin 1er Cru Les Cortons 2008, Burgundy (Bin Two £24.00)
Apple and savoury buttered crumble with custard spiked with nutmeg and vanilla. Delicious aromas. Buttery, toasty savouriness combines with a beautiful acid steak of apples as well as some tropical fruits. The oak is beautifully judged and integrated through the finish, which is delightful and lingering. This is a massively underrated Burgundy appellation. 92 points

Domaine Huet Haut Lieu Sec Vouvray 2005 (The Wine Society £14.95)

(Tasted at West London Wine School Chenin event June 2013)
Gorgeous nose of honey, nuts and baked apples, then comes the citrus burst and our first hint of minerality. Nit a big bodied wine, almost glacial in texture and massive acidity with apple skins and lime citrus. So pure and elegant but beautifully balanced and super length. My best value wine of the night. 92 points

Domaine Pascal Bouchard, Chablis Grand Cru Vaudesir, 2006 (Waitrose £29.99)
(Tasted at West London Wine School Burgundy tasting February 2013)
Lots of stones and mineral on the nose but also plenty of green apple fruit. There is also a delicious savoury element here, reminiscent of almonds, marzipan even. On the tongue its clean, fresh and wonderfully acidic. Tart green apples and lovely minerality. The finish is generous with a touch of bitter almond right at the end. Clean, elegant, fruity, mineral and savoury. Very good. 91 points

Henri Bourgeois Cuvée Jancis Sancerre 2011

100% Sauvignon Blanc, from 40 year old vines grown in Kimmeridgen soil. This is complex and concentrated with a touch of the tropics but lots of citrus and even a hint orange blossom. It’s delicious now but given time it will fill out and become hugely enjoyable. 91 points

Domaine Nadine Ferrand Pouilly Fuisse 2008, Burgundy, France (Wine & the Vine £19.95)

A delicate nose but very elegant and very sophisticated. Delicious mixture of stone fruits, hint of citrus and mild smokey oak. Medium weight on the palate but more than made up for in depth and richness. Peachy fruit, nutty with a balanced oaky finish. 91 points

Jadot Chassagne Montrachet Morgeot Clos de la Chapelle Duc de Magenta 2010, Burgundy, France (not currently for sale at Hedonism but @£30)

Very promising with plenty of peach fruit but so tight and steely and needs lots of time. 91 points

Henri Bourgeois Le MD de Bourgeois Sancerre Blanc 2011

100% Sauvignon Blanc, grown on the Kimmeridgen marl (fossilised oysters) of Monts Damnes. Tropical fruity aromas and a flinty backbone but still very closed with that fruit hiding – the freshness is there you just have to wait… 90+ points

Domaine Laroche, Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos, 2004 (Millesima £65)

(Tasted at West London Wine School Burgundy tasting February 2013)
Much richer aromas than the Vaudesir – intense, creamy and toasty with plenty of red apple and white peach fruit. On the palate its rich and buttery with a good blast of peach. Also a nice hint of spice and a delicious toasty finish. I’d like a bit more fruit and acidity, but still a good wine. 90 points

Chateau Fombrauge Blanc 2008, St Emilion

40% Semillon, 30% Sauv Blanc, 30% Sauv Gris

The fruit for this wine is grown on the Fombrauge estate but is vinified elsewhere due to the strict controls and regulation on the red classification. There is more evidence of the big oak here with a very smokey initial nose… But there’s a good amount of citrus behind it and a hefty dose of pink grapefruit. Lots of body and fruit on the front palate and a delicious toasty, warm finish. Very nice indeed. 90 points

Clos de Nouys Vouvray Demi-Sec 2011, Loire, France (Waitrose £10.99)

Really rich flavours of ripe peaches, hint of apricot and lively acidity combine beautifully with the sweetness to provide a refreshing and balanced mouthful that makes the sun seem that little bit warmer. 90 points

Tesco Finest Chablis Premier Cru (Tesco £14.49)
You would think this was from further south in Burgundy. Lots of peachy fruit but with a lovely citrus steak and bone-dry stones minerality. Possibly the best own label wine I’ve drunk. 90 points

Jean Noel Gagnard Les Chaumees 1er Cru Chassagne Montrachet 2005 (The Wine Society £36.50)
The nose is beautifully advanced with lots of hot buttered toast and hints of warm spices. The palate is a big peachy, nutty, spicy mouthful with lovely touches of anise, cinnamon and clove. Deliciously rounded, if a little bit short on the finish. 90 points

Taste the Difference Muscadet 2012, Loire, France (Sainsbury’s £6.99)

Muscadet is a much underappreciated wine, which in some ways is great because it keep s the price down. Quite grapey on the nose but the it explodes in the mouth with citrus and apple zestiness, which is nicely balanced with the slightly yeasty complexity that comes through from the lees-contact. Really classy and classic example and another bargain for sure, promo or not. 90 points

Domaine Vincent Careme Spring Sec, Vouvray 2010 (The Wine Society £9.95)

(Tasted at West London Wine School Chenin event June 2013)
Honeyed nose with baked, even dried fruit. Some fig, spice and just a hint if oxidisation. Stewed apples on the palate, almost savoury note. It reminds me a bit if scrumpy cider with a sprightly acidity… I like it. The almost over developed nose might put a few off but for under £10 the complexity is quite amazing. 90 points

Henri Bourgeois La Chapelle des Augustins Sancerre Blanc 2011

100% Sauvignon Blanc from vineyards of flint and soft chalk. This is all about the balance of the pure tropical fruit and the chalky gun flint minerality. It’s pure and drinkable now, but another one that will only improve with patience. 90 points

Domaine des Escaravailles La Galopine Cores du Rhone Blanc 2012 (Waitrose £18.99)

45% Roussanne, 45% Marsanne, 10% Viognier. Floral aromas come first then there’s pear, apricot and grapefruit, with a touch of almond, marzipan even. Full bodied with a delightful attack of pear and lively citrus. There’s a nuttiness, creaminess with an attractive bitter almond finish. I didn’t expect to like this but there’s plenty of interest and complexity and good, long finish. 90 points

Dopff au Moulin Pinot Gris Reserve 2009, Alsace, France (£14.99 Wine and the Vine)

Very pleasant and fruity nose of pears, limes and just a touch of mineral, wet stones. The taste is very appealing with a rich mouthful of pears and citrus hitting the palate first and then some warming ginger spice and and a very delicious and fresh off-dry finish. Very nice indeed and cut through the rillettes beautifully. 89 points

Dopff au Moulin, Gewürztraminer Reserve 2010, Alsace, France (Wine & the Vine £15.99)
Honey, nectarines and spice. Very aromatic. spicy, full bodied, nectarines and eastern mystery. Lovely, with a hint of sweetness. 20 minutes later the Turkish delight tastes great! 89 points

Domaine de Mac Mahon Auxey-Duresses 2004, Burgundy (bought at the domaine, N/A in the UK)
I picked this bottle up at a tasting at Le Cave D’Ange Gardien in Beaune last February (#1 thing to do on Tripadvisor) and had forgotten about it. It’s great. Oaky, smoky nose with a little bit of peach fruit. I expected it to be fuller but its fairly light bodied with lots of toasty, woody flavours, yet deliciously light and fresh. May have to look for some more from Auxey-Duresses. 89 points

Henri Bourgeois Les Baronnes Sancerre Blanc 2012

100% Sauvignon Blanc, grown on clay and limestone chalk. Almost clear in appearance, you are hit with a big blast of tropical fruit. The mango fruit and delicious citrus acidity is delightful – a lovely entry level wine. 89 points

Domaine Moret-Nomine Meursault 1er Cru Genevrieres 2001, Burgundy (The Wine Society £32)

Mostly gentle oak aromas with some raisin like fruit. It tastes like a fresh cream slice topped with hazelnuts. There’s a hint of pineapple fruit, its lovely medium bodied and the flavour goes on and on. Possibly passed its best – I’d like to try a 2005 though! Second glass didn’t live up to the first – wish I’d tried this a couple of years ago. 88 points

La Colombe Chablis 2011, Burgundy, France (Wine & the Vine £11.85)
Nothing flash, just a very precise village wine with great fruit/mineral balance from the 2011 vintage. So fresh, so spring. 88 points

Patrick Javillier, Bourgogne Blanc 2010, Burgundy (bought at the domaine, available at Berry Brothers £16.00)
Deep gold with a very clean nose of white peach and a hint of cobnuts. The flavour follows on from the nose as well as delivering a lovely hit of minerality and just a hint of buttered toast. 88 points

Domaine Botti, Saint Veran 2009, Burgundy, France (Wine & the Vine £12.85)
Honeydew melon and pink apples on nose and palate. A dash short on acidity but very tasty and lovely almond or cobnut finish. 88 points

Domaine Gérard Duplessis, Chablis 1er Cru “Vaillon” 2007 (The Bull Inn, Beaumaris £27.00)
(Drunk at Ye Olde Bull, Beaumaris)
Lots of apple with a fresh citrus streak on the nose. The wine has good body, quite “fat” for Chablis but very good nevertheless. The appley fruit is very pronounced but so is the cool, dry limestone flavour, which is beautifully integrated with the fruit. Very decent, especially at this price. 88 points

Henri De Lorgere Macon Villages 2011, Burgundy (Aldi £4.99)
Very pale straw colour, lots of citrus and nectarine, even some tropical fruit aromas. Big hit of acidity and lime; very fresh, very simple, very young. For the price this is great stuff and would happily have a bottle in the fridge just waiting to be drunk after a bad day at work. 87 points

Domaine Langlois-Chateau Saumur Blanc 2012 (€7.70)

100% Chenin Blanc. So pale in the glass but inviting aromas of apple, citrus and peach. Huge streak of acidity and flavour of apple, ripe pear and a hint if honey. A perfect afternoon quaffer. 87 points

The Wine Society White Burgundy 2011, Macon, Burgundy (The Wine Society £7.50)

Fresh and round. Apples and peaches. Needs a bigger zing of acidity, but very pleasant. 87 points

Blason de Bourgogne Pouilly Fuisse Veilles Vignes 2010, Burgundy, rance (Tesco £12.99)

A very pleasant nose of soft stone fruit and a delicious waft of oak. A lovely combination of apple and peach fruit, wrapped in a warm blanket of custard. More Village than PF but delicious all the same. 87 points

Les Caves de la Colombe Meursault 2008, Burgundy, France (M&S £28.00)

This is the smell of white wine on the Cote de Beaune – it smells of the village of Meursault, and that smell is not buttered toast! Unfortunately its not backed up with any fruit and just leaves me feeling flat. Where us the peach and apple flavours I expect and the label promised. Very frustrating. 87 points

Chateau du Cleray Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie Reserve 2009 (Stein’s Fish & Chips, Padstow £8.50 250ml)
Drunk at Stein’s Fish & Chips, Padstow
Beautiful aromas of grapefruit, pear and sea salt. The fruit and salt comes through on the palate but the yeasty goodness on good Muscadet is missing. I’m a big fan of this very under-appreciated wine, but this just falls a tad short. 86 points

Macon-Villages Uchizy 2012, Burgundy, Franc (M&S £10.99)

Very little on the nose here and my first instinct on tasting here was juicy cool climate chardonnay with its citrus and melon fruit flavours, but there was a real lack of acidity, which edged me further south into the Rhone. The finish is simple and short and I plumped for a Marsanne/Rousanne blend. I was a bit disappointed when I discovered it was a Macon as I’m a big fan – but not of this one. 86 points

Jean-Luc Colombo Redonne, Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2011 (Waitrose £12.99)

Blend of 70% Viognier and 30% Rousanne. Aromas of grapefruit, honey, white blossom and a touch of hay. On the palate the taste is just a bit flat with pithy grapefruit – there’s a touch of fresh acidity but it disappears very quickly. As well as grapefruit there’s some pear with a tinge of green herb and bitter almond on the finish. This just doesn’t do it for me and is a bit like a whoopee-cushion – good nose but goes very flat very quickly once it hits the tongue. 86 points

Château de Montgueret Saumur Blanc 2011, Loire, France (M&S £8.99)

After spending a week in the Loire earlier this month I was so way off with this one! Very crisp and fresh with nice citrus fruit and maybe just a touch of grapefruit. I thought maybe something Italian but couldn’t put my finger on it at all. When I discovered it was Chenin Blanc I struggled to find the tell tale honey note and the acidity wasn’t anywhere near that I’ve come to expect from the region. 86 points

Domaine de Foudreche Eclats Cotes du Ventoux 2012 (Cadman £9.99)

Interesting blend of Clairette, Grenache Blanc and Roussanne. A delightful nose of pear, peach and even a hint of orangey clementine; very clean, a touch of slate and even a hint of honey. Fresh and juicy initially but just missing the degree of sharpness that I enjoy in a white wine, and just a bit pithy and flabby. I was seduced by the aromas and really wanted to like it but just a bit short on flavour. 86 points

The Exquisite Collection Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Loire (Aldi £4.99)

Had those very pungent Sauvignon aromas of freshly cut grass, gooseberry and also some asparagus. On the palate there is lots of crisp and dry acidity and the fruits is nicely restrained and very fresh. Also lots of flinty minerality. This is very nice and doesn’t have the astringency of lots of the New Zealand Sauvignons on the market. Touraine is only about 100km west of Sancerre and this wine is very much like a Petit Sancerre. 85 points

Domaine Le Couroulu Vaqueyras Blanc 2010 (direct from domaine)
Grapefruit, grape and hint of peachy aromas – have to snuff hard though! Lots of mineral and damp stones on the palate but I’m not getting much fruit, only a bit of elderflower, and no acidic backbone. I’m not living Rhone whites at the moment. 82 points

Chateau de Fontaine-Audon Sancerre Blanc 2011 (€14.00)

100% Sauvignon Blanc. This estate in Sancerre is owned by the same group but doesn’t live up to the wines from Langlois-Chateau. White blossom, citrus just a touch of green pepper on the nose but the flavours fall off before you even get a chance to distinguish them! An example of paying over the odds for the Sancerre name. 82 points

EUROPEAN WHITE

Sera da Estrela Albarino 2011, Rias Baixas, Spain (Wine & the Vine £14.25)

There really is nothing to dislike about this wine. Lots of fruity intensity on the nose with apple, peach and even a touch of the tropics. All of the fruit is there in your mouth too and its quite full bodied too; a lovely texture. The fruit stays with you for quite one time and the saltiness of quality Albariño is there at the end. Lovely stuff for any occasion. 92 points

Tommasi Lugana Fornaci 2009, Veneto, Italy (Wine & the Vine £12.99)
Lots of apricot and melon fruits, honey, floral, walnuts. Good body, lovely and full/round texture. Balanced acidity leading to a lovely clean and crisp finish. If you like great Chardonnay you will love this wine. Made from the Trebbiano grape, which is produces lots of the crap generic Italian wine on pizza menus – the Lugana region shows exactly what the grape is capable of. Love it. 92 points

JJ Prum Riesling Kabinett 2010 (Roberson £19.95)

Citrus central – limes and even a hint of pineapple, with undertones of slate and just a whiff of petrol. Sun-drenched fruit on the palate with ripe red apples, limes and just a touch of the tropics. Off-dry with magnificent acidity and just plain fruity, juicy and damn enjoyable. 92 points

Abadia de San Campio Albarino 2011, Rias Baixas, Spain (Wine & the Vine £13.99)

Lively citrus and rounded peaches with a touch if the tropics on the nose. On the palate there apple and apple skin texture as well as plump, ripe peaches and a delicious savoury, salty finish. Pitch perfect Albariño. 92 points

Weegmuller Riesling Trocken 2009, Pfalz, Germany (Wine & The Vine £11.95)
Delightful nose of lemon, limes and passion fruit with a wonderful slaty minerality. On the palate the fruit hits you and there is a delicious balance of acidity and sweet fruit. Then comes a nervy steeliness and lots of slate mineral, leading to wonderful dry and long finish. Great balance, beautiful wine. 91 points

Rabl Gruner Veltliner Kaferberg 2010, Kamptal, Austria (Wine & the Vine £19.95)
Oh my this has such wonderful aromas. Peach, apples, that lovely white pepper but with. Delightful floral aroma I can’t quite put my finger on. Lovely texture and delicate acidity from apple and peaches with that spice and a delicious creamy nuttiness. I must drink more Gruner! 91 points

Sharpham Dart Valley Reserve 2010 (£9.95)
(Tasted at Sharpham Estate, April 2013)
A blend of Madeleine Angevine Bacchus and Phoenix (never come across it before!) which spends a short period of time ageing in oak barrels. The Dart has oodles of fresh fruit from nectarines, limes and grapefruit and is held together with a hint if oak from the ageing process and just a hint of residual sugar. This is a really elegant wine, a bit reminiscent of a top notch Vouvray from the Loire Valley. This is good enough for Gidleigh Park’s award winning wine list and its certainly good enough for a place in my fridge. One of the best English whites around. 91 points

Knightor Madeleine Angevine 2011, Cornwall, UK (£12.50)
100% Madeline Angevine (tasted at Knightor)
This is a brilliantly bright and fresh wine with a citrusy, salty aroma, as well as the more familiar elderflower note. There is a bright streak of acid which perfectly balances the citrus, especially lime fruit and a wonderful savoury, dry finish, a result of some time on its lees. Oysters sprang to mind when I tasted this but also a sunny afternoon in the garden. This really is one of the best English wines I have tried. Brilliant. 91 points

Koester Wolf Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken 2010, Rheinhessen, Geremany (Wine & the Vine £12.85)

This is pure spring freshness – so much fruit, starting with red apple, gorgeous citrus and even a hint of pineapple. The palate is like a burst of tropical sherbet and beautifully and refreshingly off-dry. I may have found my new go to Spring wine. 91 points

Douorum Vihnhos, Tons de Duorom White 2012, Douro (Roberson £8.95)

Blend of two indigenous varieties: Viosinho and Rabigato. The Douro is best known for the production of Port wines but is becoming well regarded for the production of both unfortified red and whites. Great complexity for the price with baked apple and pear and just a hint of grapefruit, with notes of white flowers, blossom and a touch of nuts and yeast. There’s a delightful surge of acidity up-front and a long and steely lingering finish. Very, very good and amazing value. 90 points

Quinta dos Roques Encruzado 2011, Dao (Roberson £15.96)

Encruzado is considered one of Portugal’s top white grape varieties and the majority is grown in the central Dao region. Toasty, creamy and lees-y on the nose, with notes of peach, apricot and almond. The first palate sensation is fresh citrus, followed by awkward but charming apricot. There’s some texture to the wine, almost a hint of grip but best of all is the very generous and fresh finish. 90 points

Knightor Trevannion 2011, Cornwall, UK (£15.00)

Blend of Siergerrebe, Pinot Blanc & Pinot Gris (tasted at Knightor)
Siergerrebe is certainly a new one on me! A cross of Gewertztraminer and Madeleine Angevine. This is a very aromatic wine, with aromas of lychees and citrus, with a very Alsatian touch of spice. There is a delicious richness but also racy acidity on the palate, with lots of citrus and a delicious hint of mandarin. Another belter. 90 points

Felsner, Moosburgerin Gruner Veltliner 2011, Austria (Waitrose £11.49)
Pears, veering on pear drops with lots of white pepper nose. Lovely and warm on the palate, very spicy with a lovely bite, a wisp of acidity and beautiful long finish. 89 points

Quinta de Azevedo Vinho Verde 2012, Portugal (Waitrose £7.49)

Lots of lemon, lime and apple skin fruit and massively refreshing. It’s not complex but its deliciously refreshing and a real fun wine with that hint of spritz. 89 points

Taste the Difference Albarino 2012, Rias Baixas (Sainsbury’s  £7.99)

Very aromatic nose with apples, nectarines and even a hint of white flowers. There’s a rich mouth-feel that is very pleasant and there’s plenty of lively apple freshness, peachy depth and a mineral and salty finish. Not bad at all – a fantastic Wednesday wine! 89 points

De Falco Beneventano Falanghina 2010, Campania, Italy (Wine and the Vine £10.55)

Lots of fruit, pears and grapefruit and a touch if white flowers. Lots more fruit on the palate, pears and grapefruit again but with a lovely acidic freshness. Very nice this. 88 points

Taste the Difference Gruner Veltliner 2012, Austria (Sainsbury’s £7.49)

Refreshing citrus and peaches with a delightful spritz and white peppery finish. This is a wine that does what it says on the tin and should be applauded at this price. Lacks the complexity and body of the Moosbergerin from Waitrose, for example, but it is almost half the price. Very decent indeed 88 points

Friuli Grave Pinot Grigio 2012, Fruili, Italy (M&S £8.99)

Nice aromas and flavor of citrus and grapefruit, a bit bland to begin with my quite attractive as it opens out. Low acid but very fresh and very drinkable. It had all of the characteristics I expect of Italian Pinot Grigio so I got this one – and a good one too as I’m not general a fan. 88 points

De Falco Greco di Tufo 2010, Campania, Italy (Wine & The Vine £15.95)

Lots of pear and grapefruit . Good weight on the palate, lots of the pear and grapefruit coming through but a lack if acidic backbone. Almost a bit of grippy tannin, this is a wine that needs some food to bring out the best. 88 points

Camel Valley Atlantic Dry 2010 (£11.95)
60% Bacchus, 20% Rheichensteiner, 20% Chardonnay (tasted at Camel Valley)
Ripe, tropical and intense aromas – this isn’t shy. Grapefruit and a hint of honey sweetness and a bit of grip leading to a dry and pleasant finish. 88 points

Sharpham New Release 2012 (£9.95)
(Tasted at Sharpham Estate, April 2013)
OK, so its not going to win lots of prizes for complexity but it really is a super fun wine that is perfect for any party or BBQ (if we get a chance this year!). The Early Release is produced in a Nuveau style to show off the quality if the upcoming vintage of Madeleine Angevine. The fact that the harvest was down 60% in 2012, I am so glad they still decided to bottle this wine. The fruit is pure and bright and screams if nectarine, melon and elderflower. Its a tin of fruit salad in a glass! There’s a slight spritz and some residual sugar giving a delightful off-dry finish. Great fun and just so delightfully fresh. 88 points

Camel Valley Bacchus Dry 2011, Cornwall, UK (£12.95)
100% Bacchus (tasted at Camel Valley)
Ripe tropical fruit aromas with a slight hint of farmyard. Very citrusy and tropical – it kind of reminds me of 5 Alive from when I was a child (I liked 5 Alive!). Dry and taut finish. 87 points

Adega de Moncao 2012, Vinho Verde (Roberson £7.16)

Blend of Alvarinho (known as Albarino in Spain) and Trajadura, which is indigenous to Portugal. I really enjoy the wines of Vinho Verde, the northwest region of Portugal, and this example has very pure expression of apples and citrus. Fresh and bright, juicy and jolly, with a clean mineral backnote. A tad bitter at the end perhaps but really is a summer afternoon in a glass. 87 points

Sergio Zenato Lugana Riserva 2010, Veneto, Italy (Hedonsim £29.50)

An interesting Trebbiano! Zesty and bright; look out for Lugana on Italian restaurant wine lists. 87 points

Rick Stein’s Spanish White 2011, Spain (St Petroc Bistro, Padstow £5.75/glass)

Drunk at St Petroc’s Bistro, Padstow
Peaches and nectarines, with a bit of pink grapefruit bitterness and honeyed sweetness. Really bright and fresh. Made with Verdejo grapes from Galicia, this is a great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc. Simple but delicious. 87 points

JP Azeitao Branco Balcalhoa 2012, Setubal (Roberson £8.95)

A blend of Muscat and Fernão Pires, another indigenous variety. One of the southernmost wine producing regions, and you can taste the sun in the concentrated, slightly baked aromas of apples and pears; there’s also a hint of white flowers and baked nuts. On the palate the fruit comes through with even a hint of orange but not quite enough acidity to pull it all together. There are plenty of floral nuts but the lack of acidity has it verging on flabby. 85 points

Sharpham Estate Reserve 2011(£11.95)

(Tasted at Sharpham Estate, April 2013)
This is more serious than the Early Release, also made from 100% Madleine Angevine. I’ve been a fan if this wine in the past but the 2011 didn’t really do it for me. The overwhelming aroma and taste is of very powerful elderflower and unfortunately little else. There is good weight to the wine but its all just a bit blowsy for me. Sorry. 84 points

Tesco Simply Riesling 2011, Germany (Tesco £4.79)
“An authentically German Riesling, with well balanced flavours of green apples and citrus fruit with a juicy finish”.
In the glass the Riesling looks a bit like very weak lemon squash but is lovely an clear. I found it very difficult to get much aroma either straight from the fridge or after an hour in the glass; however there are some very muted hints of green apple and lime there somewhere. On the palate we have a blast of sweetness, almost medium sweet. It’s like a really sweet but juicy (homemade?) cordial of apples and limes, and its only 10.5% alcohol. This is definitely not my style of Riesling as I love the bone dry new world style, particularly from South Australia, but I can definitely see The Fish drinking this through a straw in the garden during the summer holidays! 80 points

NEW WORLD WHITE

Grosset Polish Hill Riesling 2012, Clare Valley, South Australia (The Wine Society £25.00)

I think this could be the best new world Riesling available. It’s certainly the best I’ve tried. I was worried that it may be too early to drink but that was a load of tripe! There is so much fruit on the nose and palate its almost endless. So much lemon and lime and then comes the passion fruit and slight hint of mango. Add in the delightfully flint-like minerality, beautiful acidity and an almost endless finish and you’ve got the perfect New World Riesling (that will improve as those wonderful petrol flavours develop). Wow, just wow. I need a case to try a bottle every year… But I think I might struggle to keep the appointments! 95 points

Felton Road Chardonnay Block 2010, Central Otago (£49.95)

This was my favourite wine of the tasting. The aromas and flavours of warm oak hits you straight between the eyes at first but then ones the waves of sublime tropical fruit. Pineapple, honeydew melon and peach. It’s soft and warm and has such a wonderful balance of fruit, acid and oak, with impressive weight and texture. Fabulous. 95 points

Sandhi Wines Bentrock Chardonnay 2010 (Roberson £69.95)

(Tasted at Roberson Sandhi & Kutch tasting February 2013)
Wine of the night by some distance. Tropical aromas, especially mango along with a lovely touch of brioche. Quite a nervy palate of lemon and lemon balm, with a surprisingly grippy, almost tannic structure. Salty again but with a delicious tension between the salinity and the fruit. Delicious savoury and long finish. 94 points

Pyramid Valley Lions Tooth Chardonnay 2010, Canterbury (£49.95)

Crystal clear fruit of passion fruit and pineapple. The oak is more subtle than that of Felton Road and manifests itself as sweet brioche. Much lighter weight on the palate and mouth watering acidity. A very pure, even glacial wine with a delightful and long finish. 93 points

Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Chardonnay 2011, Marlborough, NZ (Wine & the Vine £16.35)

Peach, apple and honey aromas with a lovely toastiness. Good body and weight with yeasty, bready and honey notes and peachy later on. It tastes like a spicy, oven-baked peach, covered in luscious double cream, topped with nuts! Very much in the Fuisse mould of a big mouthfilling and delicious Chardonnay. 93 points

Pegasus Bay Riesling 2009, Waipara, NZ (Roberson £17.95)

Ok so this isn’t cheap but its bloody brilliant! I first came across this wine at The Providores restaurant in Marylebone and now I can buy it at Roberson, just around the corner from work! Intense lime and pineapple freshness – like crushed pineapple chunks. Lovely off-dry finish and very, very long. One if my very favourites. 93 points

De Morgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc 2011, Stellenbosch, South Africa (Wine & the Vine £16.75)

Really interesting nose of melon, peaches, nuts, maybe even marzipan. Lovely zing in the mouth, lots of ripe melon fruit and a wonderful nutty, long finish. This is very sophisticated, complex and nicely restrained. Xmas decision made! 93 points

Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Marlborough, NZ (The Wine Society £12.50)
I can’t believe I’m saying this but I think this was my favourite wine of the entire week. This is so subtle compared to so many other NZ Sauv Blancs. Lots of green pepper, balanced with grapefruit, lime and black currant. There is real tension here – thus a really electrifying wine with masses of acid but the balance is simply superb. Couple with that a length of flavour I have never before witnessed in Sauvignon; I really love it. And at £12.50 I think I’ll have a case please! 93 points

Spy Valley Riesling 2011, Marlborough, NZ (The Walnut Tree £34.00)

If I didn’t know I would’ve thought this wine came from Western Australia – it shares that wonderful pithy lime character which just gets the mouth watering. There’s just a hint of the tropics in the background and a bone dry, almost chalky finish. An excellent wine for the starter courses or maybe just as an aperitif. 92 points

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Marlborough, NZ (The Wine Society £16.00)

From Kevin Judd, king of NZ Sauvignon Blanc – this has everything you all love about NZ Sauvignon but with real grace and restraint. Green pepper, elderflower and passion fruit, but just so subtle and gentle. A real touch of class and elegance. Lovely. 93 points

Knappstein Watervale Riesling 2008, Clare Valley, South Australia (The Wine Society £19.00)

Beautiful hint of orange and marzipan aromas with just an once of petroleum, developed in the bottle. On the palate the freshness is wonderful and massive concentrated citrus fruit, especially limes. A bone dry but long and elegant finish. New world Riesling at its best and most elegant. 92 points

Plantagenet Riesling 2011, Mount Barker, Wastern Australia (Whole Foods £14.99)

(Drunk at Bring a course Part 2 June 2013)
The label says lemon but this is pure lime juice. It’s so fresh and pure, almost glacial in texture and bone dry, mouth puckeringly so! But then the acidity kicks in and the labour goes on and on and on. I could drink this with a straw, quite magnificent and incredible value for money. 92 points

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Marlborough (£21.95)

This is actually a very nice wine, just priced about a tenner too high! Bright and fresh aromas of gooseberry and green pepper and a vibrant palate with subtle flavours backing up the smell as well as some delicious passion fruit at the end. Searing acidity and bone dry. Very good indeed. 91 points

Jordan The Real McCoy Riesling 2011, Stellenbosch, South Africa (Wine and the Vine £11.45)

I love Riesling, whether from Alsace, Germany or South Australia. This delivers something from everywhere! Lots of limes and green apple plus a dash of tinned pineapple on the nose. Crisp and fruity and just a bit smokey on the smokey, lots of freshness and just a hint of sweetness. Seriously good and just over a tenner. Brilliant with my Friday night curry! 91 points

Pauletts Riesling 2008, Clare Valley, South Australia (House of Townend £8.99)
Lovely petrol age on the nose, supported with lots of citrus, especially limes. The palate is put crunchy lime zest and dry as a bone. This is exactly what I want from Aussie Riesling and the petrol-aged tinge is wonderful. Crunchy, heady, delightful. 91 points

Sandhi Wines Santa Barbara Chardonnay 2011 (Roberson £26.95)
(Tasted at Roberson Sandhi & Kutch tasting February 2013)
Peachy, nutty and toasty with plenty of citrus fruit and a hint of grapefruit. This wine is surprisingly light bodied, as the nose suggested an all together bigger wine. The acid is fantastically refreshing and delivers loads of citrus fruit and buttered toast on the finish. This is a lively, energetic and a “happy” wine. I was just left thinking how much more Chablis or Macon I could get for my money. 91 points

Paul Cluver Riesling, Elgin Valley (£13.50)

(Tasted at Vivat Bacchus SA Wine Festival)
Aromas of lemons and limes that come through on the palate with real style. Superb balance of fruit, acidity and sweetness (just off-dry). Ripe, fruity and delicious – a great match for the chicken livers and the best value wine of the night. 91 points

Powers Chardonnay 2009, Washington State, USA (House of Townend £11.99)
Top class Chardonnay this with ripe, also most tropical fruits appearing from underneath a delicious preachiness. There is a delightful use of oak which is beautifully balanced with a fresh and zesty acidity. Delicious and cab stuff. 91 points

Beaumont Hope Marguerite Chenin Blanc, Bot River (The Wine Society £16.00)

(Tasted at West London Wine School Chenin Blanc event June 2013)
This has delightful aromas of baked apples and flakey, sweet pastry, with lovely tropical fruit too. Lovely texture that coats your mouth and a delicious balance of mango, passion fruit and lime. A very nice wine with good concentration and nice level of complexity. 91 points

The Winery Radford Dale Renaissance Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch 2010 (The Wine Society £16.00)

(Tasted at West London Wine School Chenin Blanc event June 2013)
This has huge aromas jumping out of the glass – toasty, with overripe melon and even some caramel. Big concentration and complexity and massive body and texture. Creamy and appley, less acidity than the preceding wines but very good indeed. So different to the Beaumont, yet just as enjoyable. 91 points

Berton Vineyards Metal Label Vermentino 2012, SE Australia (Wine & the Vine £10.25)

This really is the taste and smell of summer. Like a bowl of citrus with some tropical cousins and a touch if apple peel. Lovely zing if acidity and just the lightest hint of sweetness. Was a perfect partner to the paella. 90 points

Greywacke Riesling 2011, Marlborough, NZ (The Wine Society £16.00)

From Kevin Judd, king of NZ Sauvignon Blanc – this has everything I love about NZ Riesling. Lots of bright citrus fruit but what hits you around the head is the crunchy and sweet tin of pineapple chunks jumping out of the glass. A very pleasant and very refreshing glass of wine and a great match for the spicy food. 90 points

Rosily Vineyard Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Margaret River, Western Australia (House of Townend £11.50)

Interesting, almost savoury nose. There’s a big hit of oak I media telly and followed with some citrus, apple and quince. Savoury again on the palate with an attack of oak and a bit if apple and grapefruit. Quite a hefty body and decent length finish. Big and fresh and quite complex. 90 points

Jordan Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay 2010, Stellenbosch, South Africa (Wine & the Vine £12.95)

Lots of stone fruit and citrus smothered in a blanket of smoky oak – very intense and concentrated aromas, quite delicious. On the palate there’s wonderful acidity balancing the oak and the delicious peach and nectarine fruit. This is one big in your face wine and I like it. 90 points

First Press, Chardonnay 2010, Napa Valley, California, USA (Waitrose £16.99)
Overripe melon in a lovely way. Supercharged fruit and a lovely brioche waft and some nuttiness. Not as wild on the palate but a lovely appley streak of acidity. Nuttiness come through after a while in the glass. Delicious. 90 points

Paul Cluver Chardonnay 2011, Elgin Valley (£17.50)

(Tasted at Vivat Bacchus SA Wine Festival)
Beautiful peach and melon fruit with just a hint of the tropics, all snugly held together with beautifully judged oak. Very fresh with razor sharp acidity. 90 points

Sandhi Wines Sanford & Benedict Chardonnay 2010 (Roberson £44.95)
(Tasted at Roberson Sandhi & Kutch tasting February 2013)
Very toasty and smoky nose with plenty of citrus on the nose. Fuller in body, actually very rich and round, but still with that lively, citrus-driven mouthwatering acidity. You could really taste the salt from the ocean in this wine, but I found the finish a little short and underwhelming on the finish. 90 points

Henri Bourgeois Clos Henri Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Marlborough NZ

I was waiting for this one and it was instantly recognisable. Henri Bourgeois has been making wines in New Zealand since 2003 and this is a decent example but lacks the subtlety of the Loire wines. Plenty of tropical fruit but the green pepper and asparagus, that plenty of people seem to like, are sticking out. It’s more of a bludgeon than the other wines we tried. 89 points

Bergstrom Old Stones Chardonnay 2010, Oregon, USA (Roberson £25.95)

Deep gold colour, nose of white flowers, with a good citrus blast and a hint the tropics. Good body but the fruit is still hiding, trying to get out. Mineral, wet stones with a hint of apple skin on the mid palette. This will only get better. 88 points

De Morgenzon Maestro 2011, Stellenbosch (Vivat Bacchus £17.50)

(Tasted at SA Wine Festival)
First time for me to eat crocodile… And yes it is a bit like chicken! The wine us a blend of Rousanne, Chenin, Chardonnay and Viognier. Peach and apricot fruit with a hint if oaky vanilla on the nose. Nice reach and creamy palate, with almost enough acidity to balance. Finish a bit short but a good wine. 88 points

Botanica Chenin Blanc, Citrusdal 2010 (The Wine Society £14.95)

(Tasted at West London Wine School Chenin Blanc event June 2013)
Very honeyed nose, combined with tropical fruit – I’m expecting a bit of sweetness on the palate… But it’s bone dry. Very fresh, searing acid and lots of mango and guava fruit with a charming herbaceous edge. There’s a nice balance of fruit and acidity, but maybe a bit shy on the finish. 88 points

Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Marlborough (£28.95)

I’m a big fan of oaked Chardonnay and I also liked to toasty aromas of the Te Koko… But not the flavour. The oak masks any if the bright Sauvignon flavours and just feels heavy handed with an almost honeyed finish with very little balance. 88 points

Kleine Zalze Old Bush Vine Chenin Blanc, Western Cape 2012 (Waitrose £7.99)

(Tasted at West London Wine School Chenin Blanc event June 2013)
Melon and a touch of green apple on the nose – after a bit of time it opened up to reveal some citrus notes also. Honeydew melon and limes on the palate with a touch of honey. Light bodied and very easy drinking – almost like a NZ Sauvignon without the cat pee! Was voted best value wine if the night (not mine!). 87 points

The Exquisite Selection Limestone Coast Chardonnay 2012, South Australia (Aldi £5.99)
Very tropical aromas of melon, mango and even passion fruit. Not what I was expecting at all. You may even think thus is a Sauvignon it’s that tropical on the palate too. Not much body but very refreshing. Thus would be an excellent BBQ wine with some chicken. 86 points

Burra Brook Sauvignon Blanc 2011, SE Australia (M&S £6.99)

Over-ripe peach and hint of tropical fruit on the nose and a slightly awkward, maybe apricot flavor on the palate. This is a very awkward wine with edges all over the place, not one I enjoyed at all. I said Sauvignon to begin with but couldn’t detect the telltale sign of green pepper so opted for a South American Viognier. 82 points

Andeluna 1300 Torrontes 2011, Mendoza, Argentina (Wine & the Vine £10.75)

Grapefruit and a hint of citrus, some floral notes. Pithy grapefruit, lacking freshness. no length. Disappointing. 80 points

FRENCH RED

Domaine de la Romanee Conti Echezeaux Grand Cru 2000 (£755.00)

(Tasted at Roberson Vosne Romanee event May 2013)
I have never smelt anything quite like this… I have no benchmark! It’s so sweet, so spicy and so complex. There is so much going on but everything just fits together like a perfect jigsaw. It starts with raspberries and wild strawberries, then there’s black cherries. It just comes at you in wave after wave of beauty. The spices are many; cloves, vanilla and nutmeg. Theres a delicious herbaceous nature of thyme, the acid is perfectly pitched, the tannins are so silky they seem to clean your tongue. The real magic is the balance of masterful concentration and silky elegance. I think the magic ingredient is, well magic! Utterly sublime. The best wine I’ve ever tasted. Wow. I need a lie down. 98 points

Domaine Armand Rousseau, Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru, 2000 (Jeraboams £195)
(Tasted at West London Wine School Burgundy tasting February 2013)
How many times can I say wow?? Wow! There is so much fruity aroma here, with red, even dried cherries and wild strawberries, backed up by a light, savoury meatiness, forest and truffle. There is so much red fruit on the palate, with sour cherry and wild strawberry at the fore, providing amazing acidic freshness, making your mouth water for a very long time. So much fruit, so bright and so, so elegant. More Chambolle than Gevrey but that just suits me fine… Incredible! 97 points

Chateau Cheval Blanc 1995, St Emilion (Roberson £380)
(Tasted at Roberson 1995 Bordeaux horizontal tasting, March 2013)
And I thought it couldn’t get better. Smells of sour cherries, raspberries, leather, sweet spice, pencil shaving and cedar. The aromas fill your nostrils with goodness. And the the palate… It’s lake waves of silky flavour on your receptors – fruit, spice, leather, sweetness, freshness…. And it just keeps coming and stays there for an awfully long time. It’s delicate yet concentrated, rustic yet integrated. This is absolute class. One of the best wines I have ever drunk and for me(and eight others!) the standout wine of the night. 97 points

Chateau Leoville Barton 1990, St Julien, Bordeaux (@£120)
(Tasted at West London Wine School Leoville Barton vertical tasting November 2012)
Looks very young and very dark with just a hint of age starting to show at the edge. Really deep and powerful nose. Intense aromas of black currants, plums, earthiness and minerality. I smelt this for some time! In the mouth it is so fresh and has lovely grippy tannins. The fruit comes first and then the menthol freshness of mint and then the smoky, cedar kicks in. This is harmonious and the balance of acidity and tannin is amazing, with a wonderful fresh and very long finish. Can I really pay £120? Maybe for one! 97 points

Comte Armand 1er Cru Clos des Epeneaux Pommard 2001, Burgundy (The Wine Society £48.00)
Sometimes you open a wine with such anticipation and are very disappointed. Sometimes it exceeds your expectation. This is incredible. The aromas of wild strawberries, raspberries, leather and truffle are truly intoxicating. And then the taste. Those wild strawberries, some black cherry, a lovely black-tar intensity and an amazing damp forest and mushroom complexity. But it isn’t stop there because there is spice. Five spice, because there is a touch of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and some others I can’t quite, fathom. And beautiful silky tannins. I’m in heaven. 96 points

AF Gros Richebourg Grand Cru 1995 (Roberson £190.00)
Elegant, beautiful, balanced and just plain gorgeous. Red fruit – raspberry, strawberry, cherry with earthy and mushrooms/truffle, then leather… and this is just the aromas. Amazingly fresh and lively acid, this is racy, sexy and seductive – everything I want from Pinot. The layers of flavours here are remarkable and seem to change with every mouthful. And each mouthful lasts for ever. Simply stunning. 96 points

Domaine des Lambrays, Clos de Lambrays Grand Cru, 2005 (Goedhuis £138)
(Tasted at West London Wine School Burgundy tasting February 2013)
This was the wine I was most looking forward to and it didn’t disappoint. Sweet cherry nose, with a touch of roasted meat and a heady mix of sweet and black spice. Still lots of tannin and plenty of power here, but the acid is there in abundance providing a beautiful balance. Sweet red fruit is there in the background and I would love to try this wine again in another 10 years. Fruit, tannin, power, everything… You just have to pay… And wait! 96 points

Chateau Trotanoy 1995, Pomerol (Roberson £165)
(Tasted at Roberson 1995 Bordeaux horizontal tasting, March 2013)
Now we are talking! Cherries and strawberries, the smell of summer. Violets and anise back up the fruit on the nose and make you close your eyes and smile. The wine is silky, sensuous and just feels complete. So complex, its like the most supple, best quality leather with spikes of red fruit and beautifully integrated spices. It has a sensational lift of freshness and is just quite magnificent. 96 points

Domaine de Montille, Volnay 1er Cru Tallepieds 2001, Burgundy, France (The Wine Society £46.00)
Oh yes, this is very exciting! Very pale, almost rose look in the glass but the aromas are incredible. Strawberries, raspberries, sweet cherries, mushroom, truffle and undergrowth. Very sweet fruit on the palate with lively acidity and such freshness. Nicely integrated oak, and dashes of leather and sweet (vanilla?) spice. Warm, long, concentrated and sumptuous. Tannins are prominent but silky. This is my kind of wine and wish I could afford to drink it every night! 96 points

Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron 1996 (Fine & Rare £110.40)
(Tasted at West London Wine School Pichon vertical March 2013)
Oh this just smells complete! A perfect balance of delicious blackcurrants, worn leather and roasted meat, supported with exotic and smokey spice. On the palate there’s layers of black and red fruit in beautiful harmony with the smokey spice, roasted game and acid lift. The tannins are beautifully integrated and provide a wonderful and generous finish. For me it had to come from the 90s given its evolution and I plumped for 1995, knowing this to be a fine vintage… So just a year out! This really was the wine of the night in every way and one I need to add to the cellar. It has everything in perfect balance and harmony. 96 points

Chateau Lynch Bages 2003, Pauillac Bordeaux (Lea & Sandeman £135)
Decanted 3 hours before drinking. Very young looking, only a little bit of brick. Huge aromas of black currant and black cherries, old leather and sweet vanilla spice plus a lovely hint of graphite. Huge powerful and concentration of flavour on the palate, very warm alcohol but not overbearing. Big tannins with deep cassis liqueur-like fruit, leather, vanilla and another sweet spice I can’t quite get. Super warm and comforting but silky – very classy, very sophisticated. Seems to linger forever. 95 points

Sylvain Cathiard Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru “Aux Reignots” 2007 (£150.00)

(Tasted at Roberson Vosne Romanee event May 2013)
Elegant and classy aromas of deep red fruit, almost red currant with delightfully exotic spices. On the palate the wine is silky smooth and has a delicious acidity. This is a wine of real class with magnificent balance and great length. 95 points

Chateau Leoville Barton 1986, St Julien, Bordeaux @(£95)
(Tasted at West London Wine School Leoville Barton vertical tasting November 2012)
Lovely and clear with a seductive orange rim and deep garnet core. Lots of black currant, lots on minerally earthiness and hints of pepper, smoke, clove and oak. Lovely! Amazing freshness and acidity, the pencil shavings are there on the palate (see previous post!). This wine is soft, warm and long. Fresh, fruity and beautiful balance. 95 points

Chateau Lynch Bages 2003, Pauillac Bordeaux (Lea & Sandeman £135)
Decanted 3 hours before… When the goose went in! Very young looking, only a little bit of brick. Huge aromas of black currant and black cherries, old leather and sweet vanilla spice plus a lovely hint of graphite. Huge powerful and concentration of flavour on the palate, very warm alcohol but not overbearing. Big tannins with deep cassis liqueur-like fruit, leather, vanilla and another sweet spice I can’t quite get. Super warm and comforting but silky – very classy, very sophisticated. Seems to linger forever. 95 points

Chateau Figeac 2007, St Emilion

40% Merlot, 35% Cab Franc, 25% Cab Sav

First of all, hands up here – I think this wine is great, but looking through some other reviews I seem to be in the minority! 2007 is developing into a very attractive vintage with some good value available – the Figeac has lots of fruit concentration with plums, blackcurrants and raspberry acidity. There is also some very attractive leathery evolution. The fruit is sweet and delicious and the structure is beautiful with delightfully silky tannins. The finish is long and intense and I would quite happily drink this now. My favourite wine of the tour so far. 95 points

Chateau Leoville-Barton 1995, St Julien (Roberson £105)

(Tasted at Roberson 1995 Bordeaux horizontal tasting, March 2013)
Real class here. Blackcurrant, mineral and graphite aromas – very concentrated and very inviting. The concentration of fruit is very evident on the palate and a distinctive and attractive freshness. The fruit is supported with a lovely subtle eucalyptus freshness and very fine and chalky tannins. Real finesse, good weight and lovely balance. By far and away this wine took the trophy for best value wine on the night. 94 points

Chateau Cos d’Estournel 1995, St Estephe (Roberson £165)
(Tasted at Roberson 1995 Bordeaux horizontal tasting, March 2013)
This is the real thing. Really developed black fruit, menthol freshness and meaty. This wine has real power, concentration and stuffing. The tannins give a super structure and the flavour stays with you for a very long time. This still feels very young and has a wonderful future ahead of it. I wish I had 3 to keep and 3 to drink right now. Brilliant. 94 points

Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron 2005 (Fine & Rare £108.88)
(Tasted at West London Wine School Pichon vertical March 2013)
Much more inky appearance with hugely concentrated blackcurrant, cassis even, on the nose. The fruit aromas are backed up with butch cedar and savoury spice and shouts of real power but also finesse. Lots of grip on first taste but balanced with delightful sweet black fruit, cedar and smoky cigar-spice. Lots of lively acidity, balanced with nicely defined tannin and some steely minerality. This is a wine with many years ahead of it, but already in great balance and harmony. It’s polished and sophisticated. Great stuff. 94 points (my best value wine of the night – one to lay down and enjoy in 2020!)

Domaine de Montille Volnay 1er Cru Taillepieds 2004 (The Wine Society £49.00)

Red currant, wild strawberry and ripe cherries scream up the nostrils, with earthy and leathery backnotes – quite butch for a Volnay, but what I expect from my favourite vineyard in the appellation. Big tannins upfront but they dissolve as the exhilarating acidity comes through. Lots of rich, wild red fruit and loads of earthy depth and what a finish; long, balanced and plenty of years ahead. Right, where’s the Wine Society’s number?? 95 points

Domaine de Mointille Volnay Les Champans 1er Cru 2002, Burgundy, rance (The Wine Society £42.00)

From my favourite producer in Burgundy. This is the smell of the Côte d’Or… It just reminds me of being in Beaune. So sweet and so elegant with ripples of cherries and wild strawberries. Then comes the earthiness, like trampling on twigs in the autumn and that wonderful leather aroma. On the palate the flavour is ethereal with a beautiful balance of sweet fruit, delicious acidity and earth. But there are still wonderful ripe Annie’s giving the wine a superb structure that will last for years and years. Majestic. 94 points

JJ Confuron Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru “Beaux-Monts” 2002 (Roberson £96.00)

(Tasted at Roberson Vosne Romanee event May 2013)
Some darker fruit aromas here and some delicious exotic, middle-eastern spice. There’s also earthy evolution providing real complexity. On the palate the fruit is sweeter and reminiscent of dried raspberries and the spice is beautifully elegant and balanced. Lovely weight on the palate and this is a wine that is sweet, balanced and in beautiful harmony. Delightful. 94 points

Confuron-Cotetidot Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru “Les Suchots” 1990 (Roberson £129.95)

(Tasted at Roberson Vosne Romanee event May 2013)
I just love the smell of aged Burgundy! 1990 was a fine vintage and this is certainly a fine wine. There is still an aroma of red fruit but there’s a classic and sophisticated smell of old leather and smoke. On the palate there is a backbone of sweet fruit and gentle spice, but its the forest floor and leather notes which come to the fore. Real quality and still plenty of bright acidity. Classy. 94 points

Chateau Leoville Barton 2011, Saint Julien, Bordeaux

Cab Sav 80%, Merlot 15%, Cab Franc 5%

Huge concentration of blackcurrant and cassis, earthy minerality and just the faintest whiff of mint freshness. There are also some exotic spice notes of vanilla and musk. All in all very enticing aromas. Huge attack of concentrated blackcurrant and liqueur cassis but with a delightful freshness and harmonious, almost smooth tannin. This will be fab in 10 years time! 94 points

Chateau Lynch Bages 2006, Pauillac, Bordeaux (Berry Bros £65.00)

79% Cab Sav, 10% Merlot, 10% Cab Franc, 1% Petit Verdot

Each time I try Lynch I always think it just smells expensive! On the nose there is lots of concentrated cassis fruit but then followed by smoke, cedar and spice. The wine is still very young and listed but there is real purity to the wine, with lots on blackcurrant and blackberry goodness. Real backbone with lots if young tannin but there’s plenty of freshness and some deliciously exotic spice in the background. Don’t think about touching for another 5 years. 94 points

Maison Chapoutier Monier de la Sizeranne Hermitage 2007 (Berry Bros £45.00)

100% Syrah. I’ve got half a case of this wine sat upstairs that I bought when I visited Chapoutier last year – turned out to be a great purchase! As well as sweet black cherries on the nose there is also a decent splash of red berries as well as subtle smoky spice, and a violet edge. Elegant and fresh, it is still quite closed but the red and black fruit, earth and minerality are still all in evidence. The tannins are so smooth and the finish is long, complex and balanced. The Sizeranne just shows how elegant Syrah can be – I’m going hang on a couple more years before breaking open my stash. 94 points

Chateau Pichon Longueville-Baron 2008, Pauillac, Bordeaux (Fine & Rare £61.00)

71% Cab Sav, 29% Merlot

After enjoying the wines at the tasting earlier this year I was particularly looking forward to this one. Lots of big, bold blackcurrant with a whiff of cassis concentration, with delicious smokey cedar and lovely mineral notes. The texture of the 08 is like a cloak of velvet overnight your mouth, before the tannins kick in and close it up a little. The fruit is deep and concentrated, with a hint if minty freshness, balanced beautifully by a streak if lively acidity and supported with an earthy, mineral finish. Years to go until it reaches its peak but well worth the wait. 94 points

Chateau de Beaucastel Chateuneuf du Pape Rouge 1999 (Farr Vintners £40.00)

Beaucastel use all of the permitted grape varieties in their assemblage. The wonderful smell of aged wine but still with plenty of fruit. Red cherry, strawberry and dried cranberry, supported with notes of roasted meat, leather and even a hint of truffle. So fresh with raspberry-spiked fruit before the dried figgy notes come through. The tannins are soft and smooth and the texture is so elegant with a fresh, sweet and long finish. Superb balance and freshness and real finesse. 94 points

Confuron-Cotetidot Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru “Les Suchots” 2007 (Roberson £70.00)

(Tasted at Roberson Vosne Romanee event May 2013)
So how does a younger vintage of the last wine match up? Well I actually struggled to find too much in common! This is all about the smell of Xmas with aromas of satsuma, ginger and spice. On the palate its quite butch upfront but then seems to dissolve into an elegant tangerine and cranberry finish. Atypical of Vosne but still interesting and attractive. Needs time but could be something quite special. 93+

Chateau Cantenac Brown 2007, Margaux, Bordeaux

We seem to have tasted plenty of 2007s on this trip and they really are turning out to be rather delicious, fun wines. This has lashings of black fruit with plenty of oaky tannin. Still the tannins are overwhelming but there is plenty of freshness to suggest this has a good life ahead of it. 93+ points

Chateau Leoville Barton 1982, St Julien, Bordeaux (@£160)

(Tasted at West London Wine School Leoville Barton vertical tasting November 2012)
Dark ruby colour with lovely bricking around the edges. The appearance was a little murky with a fair amount of sediment. The nose was deeply concentrated with dark, black berries, hints of earth and leather but very, very fresh. In the mouth the freshness was still apparent at the beginning but was a bit drying. Taste was of fairly dried fruit and with a lovely smokey and spicy finish, but a bit tough. If you have any 1982’s in your collection I would drink them up pretty quickly as they may have just tipped past their best. I did go back to the wine a couple of hours later and it had mellowed out so if you are drinking, please allow plenty of time in a decanter. 93 points

Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge 1995 (Berry Brothers £61.40)

Actually smells younger and fresher than the 1999. Lots of strawberry and cranberry aromas before we get the sweet, dried fruit and sweet spice – wonderfully elegant. Lots of red fruit and freshness with gentle and elegant spice. There’s plenty of fruit but the evolution is more pronounced on the palate with a pleasant dose of spices and dried herbs. Not as complex as the 1999 but certainly makes up for it in elegance. 93 points

Domaine Marechal Pommard 2009, Burgundy (The Walnut Tree £64.00)

Delightfully delicate and silky for a Pommard. Having said that there is plenty of leather and animal hiding beneath the delicious red currant and wild strawberry fruit. I love these Pinots from the Côte de Beaune and this is another cracker – I will certainly be on the lookout for more Marechal offerings. 93 points

Chateau Langoa Barton 1999, St Julien, Bordeaux, France (Wine & the Vine £61.85)

Black currant and cassis, I now understand pencil savings. A bit of greenness, peppers and eucalyptus – lovely nose. Lovely freshness and cassis, with graphite and a slightly herby touch. Fresh, lively, lovely integrated tannins. Lacking a bit of concentration – not quite delivering on the promise but good length and delicious. 93 points

Domaine Ponsot, Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, 1998 (Fine & Rare £174)
(Tasted at West London Wine School Burgundy tasting February 2013)
Intense, almost stewed red fruit and lots of meat and leather on the nose. Very earthy, lots of mushroom and bit of a black pepper hit. The earthiness continues onto the palate and is backed up with lots of tannic structure… Then the freshness of the acidy kicks in and the balance in there. Dark cherries and black spice but very smooth at the end… Eventually! Still some time to reach its best I think but still quite superb. 93 points

Ogier Clos de L’Oratoire des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape 2003 (bought at domaine @€20)
Black cherry and damson jam on the nose, backed up with some smoked and dried herbs. The fruit just bursts in your mouth but its the smoky and liquorice depth that’s really winning me over. It’s velvet smooth and truly sublime. Really classy. 93 points

Chateau Cantenac Brown 2004, Margaux, Bordeaux (Wine & the Vine £44.00)

When I decanted I was greeted with a wonderful waft of blackcurrant cassis, 7 hours later the cassis is still there but far more sedate and complemented with violets and sweet vanilla spice. Plenty of fruit on the palate and very precise acidity, perfectly balanced by smooth tannins. It’s velvety and in great balance right now. Delicious. 93 points

Domaine Dujac Morey Saint Denis 2002, Burgundy, France (The ine Society £59.00)

This is why I love Burgundy. Such delicate aromas of sweet red cherries and raspberries, underpinned with a wonderful earthiness and waft of violets. On the palate the wine is light and oh so delicate but with deliciously sweet concentrated fruit. There is plenty of dam earth, minerality and those flowers all ensconced in a wonderfully silky texture and underpinned by delicious acidity. Very good indeed. 93 points

Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1995, Pauillac (Roberson £495)
(Tasted at Roberson 1995 Bordeaux horizontal tasting, March 2013)
This was supposed to be the highlight of the night – and it was for many… But not for me. The nose is pure class. It’s elegant and polished. Sweet, ripe black fruit with cedar and a hint of eucalyptus and graphite. But then it didn’t live up to its billing on the palate. The fruits there, there’s decent power but not the concentration I was expecting. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fine wine and my guess is its still opening up… I suppose I shouldn’t mind being underwhelmed and still awarding 93 points.

David Reynaud Crozes Hermitage Les Croix Vieilles Vignes 2010 (winedirect.co.uk £23.65)

100% Syrah. There’s so much more going on from with these old vines; a touch of elegant smoke, heady black and dried fruit, rosemary, violets and delightful black pepper. On the palate it’s elegant and deliciously mouth-watering. Much more subtle than the first Crozes, there’s highly concentrated black fruit then come the herbs, and smoky, dark spice. The wine starts very gently, builds up in layers and just keeps going. One worth keeping for a few more years. My best value wine of the night. 93 points

Chateau du Petit Thouars Cuvee Admiral Rouge 2009, Touraine (€15.00)

The owners of Chateau du Petit Thouars come from a naval history, hence the name of the flagship (sorry) wine. This wine us made to last – 24 months in oak barrels. Bags of bright fruit again, like a summer compote of raspberries, cherries, strawberries and crunchy pomegranate. At the moment the tannins are fierce but there is so much acidity here that I have little hesitation in suggesting it will round out nicely. I’ve bought a few if these as I really want to see how it develops over the next few years. 92+ points

Domaine Maume, Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru, 1999 (not available in UK, Approx £140)

(Tasted at West London Wine School Burgundy tasting February 2013)
Lots of roasted meat and wild mushroom aromas – this ally is a brooding beast. Lots of pepper, clove and very dark fruit. This is a full bodied Pinot with lovely whispy tannins. The fruit is redder than the nose suggested but then you get the dark spice and roasted meatiness. Very powerful, very intense, almost brutal. 92 points

BriO de Cantenac Brown 2004, Margaux, Bordeaux

Never had this second wine before but I will certainly be having it again! A real fruit bomb on the nose with a mixture of concentrated blackcurrant and and underlying hint of raspberry freshness. Very soft tannins and very elegant texture. Really good wine. 92 points

Sylvain Chathiard Vosne-Romanee 2009 (£74.95)

(Tasted at Roberson Vosne Romanee tasting June 2013)
The best of the Village wines by some distance. Lots of sweet red fruit with a hint of earthiness, some sweet spice and leather on the nose. Very young but with a lovely silky texture, good complexity and very pretty indeed. Personally I would like a bit more acid but this one has a good few years ahead of it. 92 points

Chateau Haut-Bailly 1995, Pessac-Leognan (Roberson £86.95)
(Tasted at Roberson 1995 Bordeaux horizontal tasting, March 2013)
Very mineral and earthy nose with restrained black fruits. What was great about this wine was the massive freshness and beautiful acidity. There is plenty of red cherry fruit as well as some nice blackcurrant warmth, backed up by the mineral from the nose. The tannins are very fine and provide a lovely structure. This is a very well balanced wine with good fruit and savouriness. Excellent start to the tasting. 92 points

Jean-Luc Colombo Les Ruchets Cornas 2007 (Roberson £64.95)

100% Syrah – Cornas is the only appellation where the addition of white grapes is not allowed; in the rest of this area winemakers can use up to 15%, even though they rarely do. The 2007 had a powerful nose of dark fruit with lots of smoke, earth and even a hint of feral animal! Also plenty of black spice but it’s actually surprisingly elegant. Full bodied and big tannin, not so much acidity but still a decent degree of freshness. There’s plenty of the black fruit and spice as well – more rustic than the Hermitage-clan but still very enjoyable. 92 points

Domaine de Montille, Pommard 1er Cru Les Pezorelles 2001, Burgundy, France (The Wine Society £49.00)

Very light crimson colour for Pommard but the nose is very interesting indeed. Autumnal with lots of musty leather, sweet spice and sweet red fruit. Raspberries and red currants on the palate with a deep smoky, cigar-like finish. Not super-concentrated but very sweet and refined – I was surprised to find this vineyard is on the Beaune side of Pommard as it is actually very reminiscent of Volnay. Was an excellent accompaniment to the partridge but I do wish I had decanted and given the wine a couple of hours to really open up. Top notch stuff indeed. 92 points

Chateau Leoville Barton 19972, St Julien, Bordeaux (@£60)
(Tasted at West London Wine School Leoville Barton vertical tasting November 2012)
Deep, deep colour, almost purple. This is a base-y wine (The Fish likes to talk about wines in a musical manner!) with lots of oak and spice but slightly recessive fruit. In the mouth however the acid is pure, with delicate, matching tannins and a lovely light body, almost reminiscent of Burgundy! A lot more fruit than the aroma promised, which is always a nice surprise and overall a very pretty wine and ready to drink now. 92 points

Nicolas Rossignol, Aloxe Corton 2010, Burgundy, France (Wine & the Vine £27.25)
This is a beast! Deep and brooding, concentrated nose. Leather, a bit sweaty in a good way, almost pruney and olive-like; smells very evolved for 2010. In the mouth it’s lost northern Rhone in intensity. Plums, Very dark fruit and massive concentration. Unexpected, big, big wine. This is going to be amazing in a couple of years. 92 points

Delas Francois de Tournon St Joseph 2009, Rhone Valley (Fine & Rare £23.00)

Black fruit aromas but there’s a bit of funky meat, some spec and maybe even something metallic, but not unpleasant at all. In the mouth there’s so much texture – lots of chewy tannin but its beautifully together. Tyre lots if black fruit and even a touch if raspberry, and st backed up with smoke and pepper spice. Delicious and will keep getting better. 92 points

Chateau Leoville Barton 2008, St Julien, Bordeaux (@£85)
(Tasted at West London Wine School Leoville Barton vertical tasting November 2012)
This is so purple it could be Ribena! Fragrant and polish on the nose, lovely sweet and fresh smelling fruit. Another fresh wine on the palate with lots of structure and big, strong tannins. Another refreshing wine with black currant fruit and lovely herbs lasting quite some time. One to keep for a few years and will get better and better. 92 points

Chateau Moulinet Pomerol 2005, Bordeaux (The Wine Society £25.00)
Enticing and complex nose of raspberry, red currant, cedar, mint and leather – deep and intense. The flavours all come through on the palate with some serious grip, suggesting this has some time to go to reach its best, and a long finish with a delightful liquorice note. Good now, will be better given 5 more years. 92 points

Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron 1998 (Fine & Rare £92.68)
(Tasted at West London Wine School Pichon vertical March 2013)
This has a very rich nose of blackcurrant and now we also get those classic Pauillac scents of cedar and cigar. This wine certainly has some polish and there is a delightful sweet hint of oak in the background. Lots of body, power and concentration, with lashings of dark fruit and smokey spice. A delightful balance of tannin and acid and altogether very pleasing. A completely different beast to the 80′s with real power and balance. 92 points (voted best value wine of the night)

Domaine Thomas Moillard Corton Clos du Roi Grand Cru 1993 (Nickolls & Perks £52.00)
Gentle soft fruits, wild strawberries and sweet red cherry, earth and mineral, with a touch of meaty anise. Still lots of grip and lots of structure from the fine tannins. The fruit took a while come through then after 20 mins or so really opened up. Great length with lots of fruit, followed by pebbly stones and a bit of meaty/anise goodness. A very pretty wine. 92 points

Henri Bourgeois La Bourgeois Sancerre Rouge 2003 (magnum)

Our host opened this for us to show how the wine will develop and it was enough for Mum to purchase one for Xmas dinner! Beautifully evolved aromas of flinty smokiness and truffle and still ripe cherries. The freshness is delightful and there is a long, sweet finish. Like a Premier Cru from Beaune. 92 points

Chateau Langoa Barton 2011, Saint Julien, Bordeaux

Cab Sav 63%, Merlot 34%, Cab Franc 3%

Lots of blackcurrant jam and mineral notes on the nose with just a slight hint of vanilla. Medium bodied, very fruity even now, with plenty of pure blackcurrant. Lots of young tannin but delightfully elegant. Not over complex but very charming. 92 points

Chateau Fonplegade 2004, St Emilion Grand Cru Classe

91% Merlot, 7% Cab Franc, 2% Cab Sav

Bright cherry and raspberry aromas with a hint of blackcurrant. Then come the animal and leather notes and a delightful waft of truffle. On the palate its smooth and silky, beautifully fresh and enormously concentrated. An excellent wine, the real deal. 92 points

Domaine les Goubert Gigondas 2010 (Roberson have magnums of 2007 at £32.46)

This wasn’t advertised on the tasting list but Jimmy kindly decided to open a more traditional example of Gigondas after the Tourelles lip-smacker. Softer more elegant nose with red and black fruit and the irresistible smell of herbs de Provence. Smooth and silky with lots of red cherry as well as ripe blackberry, supported with smoke, spice and pepper. A totally different wine to the first example and more to my liking. 92 points

Chateau du Petit Thouars Reserve Rouge 2009, Touraine (€8.00)

More rounded and elegant than the 2010 but still with a crunch if tannin. The crunch is in the firm of raspberry and pomegranate and it has such a burst if refreshing acidity. I love this wine. 92 points

Taste the Difference Crozes Hermitage 2010, Rhone, France (Sainsbury’s £9.79)

I would happily pay the full price for this wine – plenty of dark cherry fruit, spicy pepper and smoky notes and a delightful whack of acidity and soft, juicy tannins. A real charmer and at the promo price it’s a giveaway. 92 points

Chateau L’Enclos 2009, Pomerol

79% Merlot, 19% Cab Franc, 2% Malbec

Made by the same winemaker from fruit in an estate owned in Pomerol. Intense nose of red cherry fruit with an earthy, mushroom undertone. In the mouth its full bodied but soft and has a beautiful balance. Tannins are still prominent but the freshness is there to bring this together beautifully over the next few years. The finish is big and a bit warm at present (kirsch) but give it time. 91++

Chateau Les Ormes de Pez Cru 2006, St Estephe, Bordeaux (Lea & Sandeman £22.50)

58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc

I tried the 2001 towards the end if last year and was left frustrated by the lack of balance after a very promising attack – the 2006 is much more together. This wine is powerful and earthy, lots of concentrated cassis fruit but also just a hint of jammy raspberry. There is excellent structure and the tannins are still a bit firm but there is plenty of fruit and acidity to bring it all together over the next couple of years. 91+ points

Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron 1999 (Fine & Rare £116.28)

(Tasted at West London Wine School Pichon vertical March 2013)
Less fruit and more grunt here! Lots of gamey animal notes, with earthy truffle and leather hints too. Very well developed, with just hints of black fruit and sweet spice in the background. On the palate its butch and beefy upfront but then after a few seconds the wine really comes together. There’s lively fruity acidity and a very attractive spicy finish. You don’t think this is going to work at first taste and then it really falls nicely into place. 91 points

Clos des Cordeliers Saumur-Chamigny Prestige 2009, Loire (The Wine Society £14.95)

Very purple colour and an aroma reminiscent of a bowl if ripe cherries with maybe a hint of leather and liquorice. Served chilled it has a crunchy, fruity texture and the aromas come through in the flavour along with some precise raspberry; Like chomping through a bowl of sweet cherries with a few stray raspberries thrown in, a lovely grip on tannin and a herby thyme and bay finish. Great stuff – a super summer red. 91 points

Jean-Luc Colombo Les Ruchets Cornas 1999 (RS Wines £54.00)

100% Syrah. I love to taste older wine, as I love the secondary aromas and flavours that come with age. This 1999 has raisins, prunes and dark fruit along with some sweet spice, leather and roasted, smoky meat. It has lost most of its acidic freshness and the taste is primarily dried fruit, lots of earth and just a hint of smoky bacon. Probably just past its best but very soft and very smooth. 91 points

La Famille Perrin Domaine des Tourelles Gigondas 2010 (Berry Bros £39.95)

Blend of Grenache and Syrah. Still very young so the wine was decanted 4 hours prior to tasting. Turbo-charged smoke and spice with hugely powerful dark and brooding fruit and just a hint of dried cranberry and touches of sweet vanilla and oak. On the palate the wine is massive; super spicy, lashings of black pepper then hints of sweet oak. Still very tannic and needs plenty of time. This is a big, bold and powerful modern wine, a real sledgehammer. 91 points

Domaine de la Vougeraie, Vougeot 1er Cru Les Cras 2001, Burgundy, France (The Wine Society £42.00)

Slightly cloudy in the glass but very old fashioned on the nose. Cherry and raspberry fruit at first, followed by leather, damp leaves and a lovely hint of warming spice. Palate matches up nicely and the finish is very generous. 91 points

Chateau Leoville-Poyferre, St Julien (Roberson £94.95)
(Tasted at Roberson 1995 Bordeaux horizontal tasting, March 2013)
Another fine wine from St Julien… A shame it came straight after the Barton! If anything, the nose here is even better than its predecessor with gorgeous cassis along with the gravel and earthiness. The tannins are firm and it is more closed than the Barton and not as balanced. The oak is sticking out a little bit but there is plenty of fruit. I’d keep this one for a couple more years. 91 points

Domaine le Couroulu, Vielles Vignes Vacqueyras 2006, Sothern Rhone, France (bought at the domaine, N/A in the UK)
Brambles, spice and lavender, blackberry nose – delicious nose. Massive fruit concentration. Full and Christmas spices. Black, almost raisiny fruits, tastes of heat. Great for winter. Beautiful tannins and good acidity, not over dry finish. Give me more please! Tasted initially at 35 degrees, tastes better at zero. 91 points

Domaine Forrier 1er Cru Combe Aux Moines 2001 Gevery Chambertin, Burgundy (The Wine Society £39.00)
Fantastic perfumed aromas of ripe plums and sweet spice. The taste is plums and strawberries with a lovely earthiness and just a hint if vanilla. It’s very light bodied but has very marked tannins, making for a long and chewy finish. Great antidote to he snow outside. 91 points

Chateau Leoville Barton 2003, St Julien, Bordeaux (@£94)
(Tasted at West London Wine School Leoville Barton vertical tasting November 2012)
Another very dark appearance – definitely young but the core is really dark. Sweet smelling fruit and a hint of oak on the nose, very concentrated and deep overall. This is one of the sweetest wines for pure fruit and you can taste the sun of a very hot vintage. There is also lovely balance here and the flavour is very concentrated and powerful with a lovely minty freshness. Really fruit forward and very nice thank you very much. 91 points

Domaine de Montille 1er Cru Les Sizies 2005, Beaune, Burgundy (Bin Two £45.00)
First stop an obvious choice… But a good one. Cherries and raspberries jump out of the glass, with that gorgeous leathery Burgundian aroma, along with a dash of violet. Good texture with a bit of chew even though the body is very light. Red cherries, Kirsch even, on the pâté with an interesting animal note, and fine, gentle tannins. Good length and got better after 30 minutes. Still a few years left here. 91 points

Domaine Bruno Clair Chambolle Musigny Les Veroilles 2006, Burgundy (The Wine Society £33.00)
Really well developed nose with slightly stewed cherries and raspberries but with wonderfully evolved aromas of leather, lightly roasted meat and smoky cigar. Beautifully gentle tannins and much of the flavours match the nose… But maybe without the concentration I was expecting or hoping for. More Morey than Chambolle perhaps but very good whatever. 91 points

Domaine des Cigalounes Lirac 2009, Rhone, France (Wine & the Vine £11.45)
Black cherry and dark plums from the hedgerow with a beautiful waft of herbs de Provence on the nose. The spice and fennel comes first and is beautifully balanced with black cherries and really fine and silky tannins. This is elegant and delicious… And amazing value. 91 points

Tourelles De Longueville 2008, Pauillac, Bordeaux 2008 (Farr Vintners £17.92)

65% Merlot, 20% Cab Sav, 15% Cab Franc

The second wine of Pichon Baron… But made to be itself, hence the high proportion of Merlot in the blend. It’s obviously not noticeably Pauillac but that’s not to say it doesn’t have its own charm. Brightly coloured and with concentrated, ripe red fruits. The wine is big in body and very fresh upfront and there are notes on mineral and some animal too. I actually quite like this – quite Pomerol in style actually. 91 points

Chateau Bouscasse Madiran 1999, France (Wine & the Vine £15.45)

Lots of brambly smells and flavours here. Also a real earthiness and minerality, a bit of left bank Bordeaux for sure. Lots of grip with chalky tannins giving loads of structure and plenty of length. 90 points

Meo-Camuzet Vosne-Romanee 2007 (Roberson £84.95)

(tasted at Roberson Vosne Romanee event May 2013)

More developed on the nose with some developing animal aromas supporting the red fruit. The fruit is a bit stewed and on the taste but there’s good acidity and a lovely spicy finish. Decent, but should be far better at this price. 90 points

Domaine Drouhin-Laroze, Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru, 2004 (Fine & Rare £57.68)
(Tasted at West London Wine School Burgundy tasting February 2013)
The first bottle was lean and green but not to worry, Jimmy had another in reserve! Smoke, oak and chocolaty aromas, with hints of roasted meat and plenty of black fruit. The fruit on the palate was more redolent of red cherries but masked a bit by lots of oak and lots of tannin. Powerful, structured, but not elegant. Needs more time I think (most of the wines had been open for over 3 hours so maybe a bit unfair as it was drunk as soon as the second bottle was opened). 90 points

Henri Bourgeois La Bourgeois Sancerre Rouge 2010

100% Pinot Noir, flint terroir, aged for 12 months in barrel then left to age in bottle before release. More body and concentration than Le Baronnes. Plenty of ripe red fruit and lots of flinty minerality, with good tannic structure and just a hint of vanilla. Still young but will be lovely in 5 years time. 90 points

E Guigal Hermitage 1985 (Nickolls & Perks £52.60)

These grapes may well have been picked on my 10th birthday! This was my first real experience of an old Rhone red and it was very interesting indeed. We decanted the bottle about 3 hours before drinking and kept going back to check the nose. What a brazen hussy! So much sweet red fruit and just a hint if white pepper and leather. What struck me most about this wine was how mellow it had become. If I’d drunk this blind I would definitely have placed it in the Cotes de Nuits. Still lots of red fruit and freshness but also hints of pepper, violets and thyme. Maybe past its absolute peak but she’s kept on to her looks! 90 points

Domaine Dujac, Morey Saint Denis, 2001 (The Bull Inn, Beaumaris £52.00)
(Drunk at Ye Olde Bull, Beaumaris)
I’ve had plenty of good bottles from the Burgundy 2001 vintage this year and this is no different. Lovely cherry and raspberry fruit aromas and flavours. In fact, for a wine of its age the fruit is very prominent. Hints of undergrowth and mushroom but pretty linear and very delicious. 90 points

Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron 2006 (Fine & Rare £74.88)
(Tasted at West London Wine School Pichon vertical March 2013)
More excellent depth on the nose. Here we get the blackcurrant but also swathes of red fruit – raspberry and cranberry, and its all supported with sweet spice – feels like a bit of oaky makeup has been applied here. More medium in body than the 05 and a much more delicate affair. Tannins are very forward here and there’s a touch of acid but the harmony isn’t quite there and I’m not sure whether time will sort it out. A very different style of wine, more delicate and definitely atypical. 90 points

Chateau Carteau Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2005, Bordeaux (The Wine Society £19.00)
Lovely perfumed nose of blackcurrant, leather, vanilla and mocha. Clean dark fruit and nicely integrated oak with seriously grippy tannins. A warmth of alcohol and a mocha lingering for a good length finish. Like it. 90 points

E Guigal Cotes du Rhone 2009, Southern Rhone (Majestic £7.99)
Black cherry and dark plums with a beautiful waft of herbs de Provence on the nose – quite a bit if anise. This follows though onto the palate, where the spice and fennel comes first, followed by very black cherries and really grippy tannins. This is robust and delicious. 90 points

Domaine le Couroulu, Cotes du Rhone 2007, Southern Rhone (bought at the domaine, N/A in the UK)
One of the first wines we tried on our summer French wine adventure. A great place to taste wine and so passionate about their trade. Deep damson nose and flavour. Dried herbs, lavender, hint of leather (damp). Lots of depth, good body. Very good indeed. 90 points

Chateau Palmer 1995, Margaux (Roberson £165)
(Tasted at Roberson 1995 Bordeaux horizontal tasting, March 2013)
Oh how I wanted to love you! Very floral and red fruit aromas – this is a very pretty wine with lots of elegance and class on the nose. Sweet red fruit, backed up with some blackberry shadows. There’s lots of minerality and even a touch of dried herb but somehow it doesn’t all come together like it should… Frustrating wine! 90 points

Chateau La Fleur Pourret 2003, St Emilion Grand Cru

55% Merlot, 35% Cab Franc, 10% Cab Sav

From the super-hot vintage of 2003 where temperatures reached a startling 46.5C during the harvest, La Fleur Pourret is a more conventional blend for a St Emilion wine. The wine has lots of elegance but a deep, almost dark and jammy fruit concentration – you can definitely taste the heat of the vintage. It still tastes surprisingly young but has nice smooth tannins and a good length finish. Good for another few years yet. 90 points

Chateau Leoville Barton 1996, St Julien, Bordeaux (@£85)

(Tasted at West London Wine School Leoville Barton vertical tasting November 2012)
Again very youthful looking. After the 1990 this is pretty recessive on the nose with only a hint of cassis fruit and some spice, herb and eucalyptus. Massive hit of acidity when you drink it and its there all the way through, although the tannins are almost too gentle so there is a slight lack of structure. This is an acidic, almost flirty wine but just slightly out of balance. 89 points

Joseph Drouhin, Volnay 2008, Burgundy, France (bought at the domaine, N/A in the UK)
Bright fruity nose of cherries and strawberries with lovely hint of truffle and supple leather. Great acidity and freshness, a little tight still but really enjoyable and cut through the lamb beautifully. 89 points

Chateau Leoville Barton 2004, St Julien, Bordeaux (@£55)
(Tasted at West London Wine School Leoville Barton vertical tasting November 2012)
I was really hoping for a wine from the 90’s as the blind option but hey-ho! Deep ruby colour and lovely sweet and deeply concentrated black fruit, almost dried on the tongue. Concentrated and tannic, but again with really fresh acidity and lots of sweet fruit. Another one that needs a bit of time and probably better value than the similar but more expensive 2003. 89 points

Domaine de Noblaie Chinon 2011, Loire, France (The Wine Society £8.95)

Chinon reds are 100% Cabernet Franc and are delicious chilled when young. Bright red currant and sweet cherry nose with a deliciously fragrant whiff of green, fresh herbs. Bright and crunchy red berries, good acidity and a delightfully tangy finish. Totally ace for the price! 89 points

Domaine Pierre Naigeon, Hautes Cote de Nuits 2007, Burgundy (Wine & the Vine £18.65)

Very good structure and flavour for the price. A hint of brick on the rim and a nose which offers sweet morello cherries and a whiff of smokiness. Light bodied and the fruit from the nose is there in the mouth, along with that lovely damp forest floor vibe. Not a wine of length but certainly one of charm. 89 points

Domaine Langlois-Chateau Saumur-Champigny 2011 (€8.80)

100% Cab Franc. Deeper and more concentrated than the Saumur rouge and also has a delicious hint of black pepper. Very ripe red fruits fill the mouth and the pepper is there at the end if a generous finish. Nice stuff, especially at this price. 89 points

Fleur de Fonplegade 2007, St Emilion Grand Cru

85% Merlot, 10% Cab Sav, 5% Cab Franc

Second wine of Chateau Fonplegade. Huge aromas of stewed strawberry and fresh, ripe raspberry with a lovely backup of young leather and hint of vanilla. Really soft texture and really easy drinking. It’s not complex but its very tasty. 89 points

David Reynaud Crozes Hermitage 2010 (winedirect.co.uk £17.50)

100% Syrah. Huge powerful nose of black, ripe plums and blueberries with a touch of fennel, rosemary and a hint of cracked black pepper. The big dark fruit is present on the palate with good freshness, a bit of tannic grip and plenty of deep black spice. A very decent wine but just falls off a bit quickly at this price. 89 points

Chateau du Petit Thouars Reserve Rouge 2010, Touraine (€8.00)

The Reserve is toasty and bursting with bright red fruit. There is lots if structured tannin here and needs a couple more years – its not often you say that about a wine that costs €8. 88+ points

La Mission Haut-Brion 1995, Pessac-Leognan (Roberson £215)

(Tasted at Roberson 1995 Bordeaux horizontal tasting, March 2013)
This wasn’t on the original list and was added to the tasting at the last minute. Was very excited about this, especially when I smelt the big concentration of red and black fruits on the nose and a lovely hint of earthiness. How disappointed I was to find a lean, thin wine in the mouth without the promised power. The tannins are still at the forefront and the wine may come together over the next few years – it left me a bit flat. 88 points

Chateau du Petit Thouars Reserve Rouge 2008, Touraine (€8.00)

A bit less bite than the 2009 – smoother but slightly less structure, but still loads of red fruit and that mineral finish. 88 points

Chateau les Ormes de Pez 2001, St Estephe, Bordeaux (The Wine Society £29.00)

Heady aromas of blackberries and black currants, and cigar box spice. Nice fruit concentration, earthy and graphite. Still prominent tannins and alcohol showing. Decent but not quite in perfect balance. 88 points

Chateau Bauduc 2009 Bordeaux Supérieur, Bordeaux (St Petroc Bistro, Padstow £27.00)
Drunk at St Petroc’s Bistro, Padstow
Lashings of strawberry from the predominant Merlot and a lick of cassis from the Cabernet Sauvignon. All of this was supported by a wonderful kick of pepper and some nicely tuned tannins. A really enjoyable claret. 88 points

Nicolas Rossignol Bourgogne Villes Vignes 2008, Burgundy, France (bought at the domaine £12ish)
Nice cherry fruits and a fair but of green on the nose, a bit minty but also some mushroom and leather. The aromas carry through nicely onto the palate and actually has a decent amount of length. For the price this is a pretty serious Pinot. 88 points

Chateau de Montmirail, Cuvee des Deux Freres, Vacqueyras 2000, Southern Rhone (bought at the domaine, N/A in the UK)
Another one bought at the domain. Not as friendly as Couroulu! Dried herbs, liquorice and leather, deep dark fruit nose. Recessive fruit at first, building nicely with fine tannins (a bit dusty?). Mid length, finish a shade dry. Enjoyable. 88 points

Albert Bichot Domaine du Clos Frantin, Gevrey Chambertin 1982, Burgundy
The wine is certainly past its best but I was absolutely blown away by the freshness. There was lots of sweet red fruit and a touch of soy and anise and some very, very fine tannins. I was really quite taken aback by the wine’s prettiness, finesse and elegance. 88 points

Henri Bourgeois Le Baronnes Sancerre Rouge 2010

100% Pinot Noir from chalky-clay soil, matured for 6 months in oak barrels, 30% new. Sweet red fruit, morello cherries. Very nice freshness and quite big but round tannins. Silky texture, just needs a couple more years. 88 points

Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron 1986 (Fine & Rare 158.08)

(Tasted at West London Wine School Pichon vertical March 2013)
Much deeper colour that the 85. Not as opulent on the nose as its predecessor but lots of black fruit depth, mushroom and savoury spice. Quite rich on the palate with layers of dark fruit and still lots of bright acidity. There’s still some good tannic structure balancing the acidity but there’s not much length on the finish. Lovely balance but lacks depth and length. 88 points

Chateau du Petit Thouars Selection Rouge 2009, Touraine (€5.00)

100% Cabernet Franc. The 2009 actually tastes younger and fresher than the 2010 – its certainly more rounded. Tart red fruit, that same smoke and mineral and a decent finish. This could (and will) make a great summer house wine. 88 points

Chateau Clerc-Milon 1995, Pauillac (Roberson £69.95)

(Tasted at Roberson 1995 Bordeaux horizontal tasting, March 2013)
A big step backwards from the Cos. Very withdrawn nose – I had to really stick my nose right in there to get a whiff of dark fruit. Thin and lean on the palate, good freshness but just a bit bland. Meh. The French in the audience seemed to like it though! 87 points

Chateau Leoville Barton 2002, St Julien, Bordeaux (@£50)
(Tasted at West London Wine School Leoville Barton vertical tasting November 2012)
Really dark ruby and big deep and dark fruit on the nose, almost liqueur like. Very powerful, maybe a bit stewed and also hints of menthol. The tannins here are pretty drying and hides the fruit. There is surprisingly good acid and the black fruit and eucalyptus does come through but is a bit harsh and closed, not one for me, even in a few years. 87 points

Chateau Cantermele 1995, Haut Medoc (Roberson £45)
(Tasted at Roberson 1995 Bordeaux horizontal tasting, March 2013)
I reckon this is a love it or hate it wine I didn’t love it. A feral nose with stewed plums and roast meat, almost high. A bit thin and green on the palate and just seemed past its best. Hints of fruit but instantly forgettable. 87 points

Joseph Drouhin, Chorey les Beaune 2008, Burgundy (bought at the domaine, available at Waitrose £15.99 – check vintage)
Raspberries and cherries, lots of young fruit and a lovely fresh palate . Maybe a bit young but delightful. 87 points

Chateau du Petit Thouars Selection Rouge 2010, Touraine (€5.00)

100% Cabernet Franc. Very ripe and concentrated fruit. There’s cherry and a fruit I was struggling to name and ended up with pomegranate. There’s lots of minerality, a touch if smoke and a warm hint of leather. Ridiculously good value 87 points

Domaine Langlois-Chateau Saumur Rouge 2010 (€7.45)

100% Cab Franc. Raspberry and red currants jump out if the glass and the aromas scream if summer pudding. Bags if fruit and not much else… But that’s the point! Fun quaffer – drink chilled in the garden. 87 points

Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron 1985 (Fine & Rare £126.48)

(Tasted at West London Wine School Pichon vertical March 2013)
Very pale garnet in appearance but a very intriguing nose of blackcurrant and savoury/anise spice. There’s lots of character here and lots of different parts working together nicely. Unfortunately the palate just plain disappointed. Lean and green and real lack of any structure or depth. Not a great deal of fruit and just hints of earth and game. Well past its best. A wine that promised so much on the nose but certainly didn’t deliver on that promise. 86 points

Chateau Pibran Cru Bourgeois 2008, Pauillac, Birdeaux (N/A UK)

51% Cab Sav, 49% Merlot

Owned by the Cazes family but vinified at Pichon-Baron, this is a very fruity wine with good acidity and a lovely freshness. There’s some good tannic structure but its really quite simple with a short finish. Very un-Pauillac. Hmm… Maybe not so bad its not available in the UK! 86 points

Chateau Fombrauge 2006, Grand Cru Classe St Emilion

77% Merlot, 14% Cab Franc, 9% Cab Sav

Very toasty oak on the nose with very brooding heavy, overripe red fruit. There’s the flavour of stewed plums, cherries and some red berries but its overdone. The texture s soft but this is a big fruit bomb of a wine – definitely needs food and maybe a warm fire. 86 points (the first time The Fish left anything in a tasting glass!)

Domaine Bertagna Hautes Cotes de Nuits 2007, Burgundy (bought at the domaine, N/A in the UK)

Red fruit and quite savoury aromas and just a hint of oak. Bright and fresh palate, like a plate of summer fruits. Simple. 86 points

Chateau Segonzac Cru Bourgeois 2009, Bordeaux (Waitrose £9.99)

Lots of ripe red fruit from an opulent vintage but really that was about it. The oak is overdone and there isn’t much balance. May soften a touch in a year or two but I’m not prepared to find out! 85 points

Domaine Courbis, Saint Joseph 2009, Saint Joseph, Northern Rhone, France Wine & the Vine £21.50)

Spicy, dark fruits and vanilla nose – damsons, spice, smoke, a bit drying on the palate. Gravelly stones but not bad. 85 points

Hudolet-Noellat Vosne-Romanee 2096 (Roberson £39.95)

(tasted at Roberson Vosne Romanee event May 2013)
There’s plenty to smell here with lots of red fruit and a very fragrant waft of violets – reminiscent of childhood sweets. Still very closed and the tannin is hiding the fruit. There’s some exotic spice but the wine is very disjointed and unbalanced. I’m not sure any amount if time is going to right this one. 85 points

Chateau Croque Michotte St Emilion Grand Cru 2005, Bordeaux (The Wine Society £16.00)
A nose that promises so much with lots of enticing red fruit, cedar and graphite… So what a disappointment when all you can taste is sappy wood that seems to cling to your teeth. No balance at all. 82 points

Joseph Drouhin Chambolle Musigny 2008 (direct from domaine)
Very pale appearance in the glass but really nice sweet cherry fruit with smoke and maybe a hint of liquorice/star anise on the nose. Very unbalanced taste, however. Quite astringent and not at all pleasing. This is not the same wine I tried in the cellar in August. I wanted to cry! (must have been a faulty bottle although the aromas were very pretty) 79 points

Regis Forey Vosne-Romanee 2005 (£44.95)

(tasted at Roberson Vosne Romanee event May 2013)
A great vintage but a poor wine. Very dumb on the nose but there’s not much hiding. Not worth any more words. 78 points

Chateau de Fontaine-Audon Sancerre Rouge 2011 (€14.00)

100% Pinot Noir. I’ve heard that Sancerre reds are picking up in quality but this certainly isn’t one of them. Looks like a rosé that has had a couple of days of skin contact. Smells of damp earth with the merest hint of red fruit. Mouth puckeringly dry and flavours of underripe red fruit. One I forget. 77 points

Jean Grivot Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru “Aux Brulees” 2006 (£95.95)

(tasted at Roberson Vosne Romanee event May 2013)
Very strange aromas… And not in a good way! It’s exotic and but the spices are out if tune and the palate is sappy and green – it tastes of pine. I’m not a fan at all and personally think its a disgrace to this great village! 75 points

Domaine Jean Grivot Clos du Vougeot Grand Cru 2004, Burgundy (The Wine Society £45.00)
This promised so much in the nose. Cherries, raspberries, wild strawberries, lots of leathery texture and hints of truffle and violets… But the palate was lean and stalky, very drying and just so out if balance. There must have been a fault here as no amount if time in bottle was going to right these wrongs. No score

EUROPEAN RED

Quintarelli Amarone Classico 1998, Veneto, Italy (Hedonism £347.80)

16.5% alcohol… But you’d never know it! Rich but fresh, smooth and so luxurious. Aromas and flavours of cherry, fig, tar, chocolate, truffle, tar and flowers. It goes on for ever. Absolutely sublime; it’s not often you get a chance to try a wine like this. 96 points

Elaborador +7 2007, Priorat, Spain (Wine & the Vine £29.95)

Wow. What aromas of dark brambly fruit. There cherries and blackberries and even hints of black currant. Loads of spicy goodness of black pepper and Xmas spice. Super concentrated fruit, upfront tannins providing amazing structure and huge length. This is the real thing. 95 points

Cerequio Voerzio Barolo 2000, Piedmont, Italy (Hedonism £278.90)

A very evolved nose of dried fruit, leather, animal, herbs and flowers. Still showing huge, chewy tannin. Cherry, tar, leather, violets; marvellous but still needs time! 94 points

Michele Chiarlo Barolo Tortoniano 2006, Piedmont, Italy (Wine & The Vine £36.75)

Barolo can be so very disappointing unless you spend a bit of money and is often sold far too young… But this was great. Aromas of sweet cherries with a hint of red fruit, maybe a whiff of raspberry, but it the leathery, spicy and slight barnyard smells that really give this the edge. On the palate the red fruits are to the fore and the tannins provide huge structure, which dissolve beautifully into spice and earth. Like a premier Cru Burgundy on steroids. 93 points

Cosecha La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 2001, Rioja, Spain (not currently for sale but @£40)

Beautifully traditional Rioja; gorgeous balance of fruit and oak; strawberries and vanilla cream. 93 points

Badaceli Priorat 2006, Priorat, Spain (Wine & the Vine £13.35)

Now we are really talking! Brambles, spice and smoke. Lots of black currant and blackberry fruit, warm spices that really dance on the tongue and a lovely hint of bacon-like smoke. There is a good proportion of Cabernet here giving that blackcurrant and eucalyptus lift but what I love are the rustic, edgy tannins. So much charm and plenty of edge. I love it; especially at this price. 92 points

Carpineto Chianti Classico Riserva 2008, Tuscany (The Wine Shop, Sidmouth £12.99)

Lots of bright red fruit on the nose with some enticing leathery and slightly earthy notes. On the palate the bright sour cherry and raspberry hits you right between the eyes and us backed to by those earthy, leathery notes. The wine has lovely well structured tannins which are soft enough but suggest you could leave for another couple of years. Would be even better with a pizza! 91 points

Quinta do Noval, Cedro do Noval 2009, Douro (Roberson £14.95)

Blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Syrah. Earthy and ripe red fruit with a lovely smoky back note (from the Syrah maybe?). Smooth, velvety tannins and ripe red fruit with a good hit of smoke and long, fresh finish. 91 points

Taste the Difference Priorat 2009, Priorat, Spain (Sainsbury’s £10.99)

It’s hard to find Priorat under a tenner… Never mind £8.24! But this is fab. Blackberries, black currants and a touch of damson jam, but there’s also a fabulous savoury edge and an earthy minerality.  Refreshing acidity, nicely judged oak and balanced powdery tannin. This is still a young wine and unfortunately none of it will see its prime; but so what, it tastes really good right now. 91 points

Sharpham Pinot Noir & Precoce 2011 (£22.95)

(Tasted at Sharpham Estate, April 2013)
I recently enjoyed a bottle from the 2009 vintage, which surprised and delighted in equal measures – as good as some village wines from the Côte de Beaune. This 2011 has lots if the same black cherry and damson fruit, underpinned with hints if worn leather and just a dash of roasted game. The tannins from 8 months in French oak are still pre meant but I’ve bough a couple to enjoy in a couple of years – I believe they will be worth the wait. 90+ points

Miguel Merino Rioja Reserva 2005, Rioja, Spain (Wine & The Vine £14.35)
Starts off with the anticipated strawberry, sweet red cherry and vanilla oak on the nose but there’s also rose pedals and an intense figgyness. On the palate, as well as the red fruit there’s leather and liquorice, maybe a hint of chocolate. A bit disjointed on day one but very rounded the following day – a couple more years needed maybe. 90+ points

Mas d’an Gil, Coma Vella Priorat 2007, Priorat, Spain (Waitrose £23.49)
Brambles, spice and smoke. Lots of bark black currant and blackberry fruit, warm spices that really taste of Xmas and a lovely hint of bacon-like smoke. Velvety smooth and delicious. 90 points

Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti 2010, Piedmont, Italy (Wine & the Vine £12.85)
Almost purple in the glass but just get your nose in there. Lots of cherry and raspberry goodness with a touch if sweet spice and a luck if leathery savouriness. On the palate the super ripe fruit hits your tastebuds in just the right way – lovely vanilla finish and illy tannins. You won’t find a better pizza wine. 90 points

Michele Chiarlo Dolcetto d’Asti 2010, Piedmont, Italy (Wine & the Vine £11.85)
Youthful aromas and palate of young red cherries and Victoria plums. Wonderful acidity and just enough tannin to provide a super balance. Fantastic summer wine – I think you could even serve this chilled. 90 points

Villalta, Amarone Classico I Communali 2008, Veneto, Italy (M&S £25.00)
Lovely sweet, intense cherries and even raspberries on the nose. The cherries carry on through and there’s also an elegant bitterness of almond and pure but fine tannic structure. The finish is decent in length and I do like this wine a lot. 90 points

Tesco Finest Barolo 2007 (Tesco £14.99)
Had this with cheese in Xmas day and it was delicious. Lovely structure with tight, fine tannins but also lots of black cherry fruit and leathery spice. Very nice wine at a very welcome price. I’ll be adding a couple to the collection. 89 points

Palataia Pinot Noir 2011, Pfalz, Germany (M&S £8.99)
Meaty, feral and black cherry nose. Difficult to believe its only 2011 vintage as smells very mature. Aromas carry through to the taste buds with a lovely streak of fresh acidity. Not elegant, but charmingly rustic. seriously tasty and super value Pinot. 89 points

E-Falorca, Quinta de Folarca 2007, Dao (Roberson £11.16)

75% Touriga Nacional, 25% Roriz. Elegant aromas of sweet cherry and orange peel. On the palate the wine is bright and breezy with plenty of red fruit and beautifully integrated, smooth tannins. Short but clean finish – I’d really like to try one of the more prestige cuvees. 89 points

Puccini Chianti Riserva 2009, Tuscany, Italy (Costco £7.49)

Lovely cherry fruit and hint of earthy spice and leather. This is a deliciously smooth Chianti with real elegance. It’s getting late in the afternoon by now but I think this could be the bargain of the selection! 89 points

Casal Figuero Tinto Reserva 2006, Lisboa (Roberson £14.36)

100% Touriga Nacional. Dark and slightly dried fruity notes and just a hint of farmyard and leather development. Charles didn’t like this at all and thought there were high levels of Brettanomyces, but I thought there was some very nice complexity developing! Good fruit and decent acid on the attack with good, if slightly tough tannins. 88 points

Tadeschi Valpolicella Lucchine 2011, Veneto, Italy (£8.95 Wine & the Vine)

Sweet red fruits and lots of earthy character. Really high acid for an Italian red which means it doesn’t need food to show off its best. Tannins are velvety and smooth, this is a delightfully simple but delicious wine. 88 points

Ondarre Rioja Reserva 2006, Rioja (The Wine Shop, Sidmouth £9.99)
I thought this was obviously the Rioja with the strawberry, vanilla and slightly oaky nose – very pleasant. In the glass it was very dark but the palate was very bright with the red fruit fruit bursting through with a hint if dried herbs and sweet spice. For the price it’s really very good but maybe just lacking a bit if finesse and length. 88 points

Montaria Reserva 2010, Alentejo Portugal (Naked Wines £9.99)
Very fruity nose with definite hints of wax, almost soapy but definitely agreeable. Lots of upfront fruit, especially damson and blueberry. This is very intense and very interesting. Definitely one to add to the collection when you want something deep and warm. 88 point

Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva 2009, Sardinia (Sardinian supermarket! €9.00)

(Drunk at Bring a Course Part 2 June 2013)
We had the Wine Grapes book out to confirm that Cannonau is indeed Grenache. The wine is brambly and fruity and has good acidity. There is a ouch if tannin its not really giving a great deal of structure. Easy drinking and may well benefit from bring served chilled. 87 points

Castillo San Lorenzo Rioja 2007, Spain (Tesco £12.49)

Nice red fruit and warm spice on the nose. Deeper, riper fruit on the palate with subtle vanilla oak. A little drying on the finish and no great length but does have the Rioja strawberries and cream. Decent. 87 points

Linaje Garcia Joven 2010, Ribera del Duero, Spain (Wine & the Vine £11.25)

100% unoaked Tempranillo and very fresh. There lots of red fruit and just a touch of bramble – its a delicate and gently wine but has a very dry finish. This most certainly needed a forkful of steak. 87 points

Joao Portugal Ramos Marques de Borba 2011, Alentejo (Roberson £6.95)

Blend of Aragonez (yet another name for Tempranillo!), Touriga Nacional, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. I’ve enjoyed many a bottle of Marques de Borba on holiday in Portugal and now I know that Borba is a town in the Alentejo region! This wine has dark red fruit, verging on black but it is highly perfumed, with a touch of garrigue and spice. Fabulous acid on the attack with raspberry and red currant freshness. Slightly grainy tannins but highly gluggable. 87 points

Alianca Vinhos de Portugal Bairrada Reserva 2011, Bairrada (Roberson £6.95)

Blend of Baga, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and Merlot. Highly concentrated dark, even jammy red fruit and a touch of violet. Bright red fruit on the palate with rustic tannins. Simple, rustic and very drinkable. 86 points

Tesco Simply Garnacha 2011, Spain (Tesco £4.79)

The label on the Garnacha reads: “Made from sun ripened Garnacha grapes, this fruity red is medium-bodied, full of spicy bramble fruit flavours and juice red currant notes.”
Very young and purple in colour with a very attractive nose. It’s like a cocktail of stewed black fruits and just a hint of spice. On the palate there’s some black currants and maybe even a bit of dried morello cherry. Unfortunately that’s where the good bit ends and the alcohol starts to burn and overpower everything. You would think the ABV was upwards of 14%, whereas its actually 13.5%. This is by no means a bad wine and you’ll find it hard to get a Cotes Du Rhone as good at this price. Me and The Fish enjoyed a couple of glasses on Sunday afternoon and I threw the rest into my oxtail braise! 85 points

Baron Amarillo Rioja Reserva 2006, Spain (Aldi £4.99)
Bright ruby red in the glass and aromas of strawberries and red cherries and a hint of vanilla. Red fruit one palate and some eucalyptus – a bit Bordeaux maybe? Finish is a bit short and lacks depth and concentration. Can’t complain at this price though. 85 points

Linaje Garcia Reserva 2007, Ribera del Duero, Spain (Wine & the Vine £15.99)
Cherry and vanilla oak aromas, touch if liquorice and chocolate – smells good but doesn’t quite transfer to the palate. Not the body I expected. Lots of oaky tannins but not the fruit. A bit astringent on the finish. Disappointing. 85 points

Castillo San Lorenzo, Rioja Gran Reserva 2005, Rioja, Spain (Tesco £5.49)
Nice red fruit and warm spice on the nose. Deeper, riper fruit on the palate with subtle vanilla oak. A little drying on the finish and no great length. Decent. 85 points

NEW WORLD RED

D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2002

And if the 2003 was disappointing then this put everything right again! Wow! Hugely powerful but enticing aromas of blackberry, cassis, dried herbs de Provence and expensive old leather. Super bright acidity and perfectly integrated and smooth tannin. All of the powerful dark blackberry and damson fruit is too the fore, but there’s a note of raspberry in there too, along with smoke, vanilla and those dried herbs. A Shiraz to warm the heart of any Burgundy lover – if you didn’t think Shiraz could do elegance and finesse then think again. 95 points

Dry River Pinot Noir 2008, Martinborough (£69.95)

This is much more like it! A huge nose of morello cherries, floral/violets and oh so meaty and savoury. Full bodied and huge concentration on the palate, so smooth and silky, such elegant red fruit, a touch of spice. and beautiful balance. A superb modern Pinot Noir. 94 points

D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2004

Generous deep black fruit, with hints of chocolate, black pepper, worn leather and a delightful herbaciousness – so much character and evolution. So vibrant and fruity on the palate with plums and black cherries, and once again that fresh and pure acidity bite and such smooth tannin. This is a very complete wine, with so much fruit, acid and a deliciously silky texture and very long and sweet finish. Lovely stuff. 94 points

Te Mata Coleraine 2009, Hawkes Bay (£49.95)

Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend. Delicious nose of blackcurrant, cassis, minerality and a touch in menthol/eucalyptus. There’s lots of tannin from deliciously expensive oak, blackcurrant and sour cherry fruit and lots of earthy minerality. This is an extremely polished and well made wine that would it comfortably with a top quality wine from St Julien. 94 points

Surveyor Thomson Pinot Noir 2009, Central Otago (Swig £23.75)

Beautiful fresh red currant aromas supported with spicy, thyme and herbal notes. Very fresh and beautifully elegant red currants, cherries and raspberries and a beautiful, long and savoury finish. 93 points

Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 2009, South Australia (Hedonsism £87.30)

Sweet fruit and ever so elegant. Touch of smoke, lots of mineral; very fine indeed. 93 points

D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2001

Smoke and tobacco is the overriding first hit on the nose, with a bite of eucalyptus that one of the tasters rightly noted smelt of menthol cigarettes (thanks Sarah!) There’s also some dark fruit and black olive – all in all not that appetizing to be fair… But the flavor is wonderful. So fresh and acidic 12 years on with a delightful balance of black and red fruit again and a super long finish. Don’t be put off by the smell! 93 points

Perez Cruz Carmenere Limited Edition 2009, Maipo, Chile (Wine & the Vine £14.95)

This is a real jump in class to anything we’ve had yet – really classy stuff. Heaps of dark plumy fruit with hints of chocolate, liquorice and a slight herbaciousness. There are waves and waves of aromas and flavours and it seems to last forever. Really top notch stuff – best wine of the tasting. 93 points

 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel 2004 (2006 available at Fine & Rare £26.40)

A wine with sweetness written all over it. The nose is mainly red fruits with just a hint of blackcurrant along with the autumnal hedgerow herbs I expect from the southern Rhone and some wonderfully developed smoke. The texture is rich, velvety and smooth. On the palate the fruit is darker with a hint of juicy red currants. The dried herbs and gentle black pepper combine beautifully with fresh acidity and very soft tannins. I would be convinced this came from the Rhone and not California if had been served blind. Excellent drop. 93 points

D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2007

A denser nose than the 2008, there’s lots of power and intensity with damson and cassis, supported by violets, smoke and just a hint of roasted meat. On the palate there’s a gentle start and then it just builds and builds. The fruit is soft, black and ripe with a delicious smoky note and just enough vanilla. This is nicely developed already, in great balance and I would happily guzzle a bottle right now. 93 points

Stonyridge Larose 2009, Waiheke Island (£97.95)

Voted best wine of the night by the majority… But not me! Bordeaux blend of CabernetSauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Petit Verdot. Lots of black then red fruit in the nose with hints if vanilla and coconut from American oak – almost Rioja-like. Plenty if grip on the palate and beautifully smooth. Needs a bit of time I think, with the oak still overwhelming the delicious fruit. 92+ points

Walter Clappis, The Hedonist Shiraz 2010, South Australia (Waitrose £12.99)

Inky black and chocolate, black pepper and autumn hedgerow, blackberries and black cherry nose. Concentrated and intense, blackberries, black cherry, cocoa, spice from nicely integrated oak and a dash of liquorice at the end. Bold, powerful, delicious. Palate delivers what the nose promised. And long. De-bloody-licious! 92 points

Main Ridge Estate Half Acre Pinot Noir 2004, Morninton Peninsula (House of Townend £29.99)

(Drunk at Bring a Course Part 2 June 2013)
What a glorious aroma if sweet cherries, raspberries and wild strawberries, supported with a delightful earthiness, minerality and damp leaves. Juicy cherry juice on the palate with lovely earthy back notes. The alcohol is a little bit warm and maybe just putting the wine slightly out of balance but its very, very good. 92 points (docked a couple for that warmth)

Man o’ War Dreadnaught 2009, Waiheke Island (£36.95)

100% Syrah. Smoky cherries, meaty and very savoury nose… Very Northern Rhone! There’s a blast of black fruit, smokiness and just a touch if eucalyptus on the palate. This wine has wonderful roughy edges and is a wine full of personality. Deliciously rustic. 92 points

Mont du Toit Kelder Le Sommet 2003, Western Cape (Vivat Bacchus £62.50)

(Tasted at Vivat Bacchus SA Wine Festival)
The blend isn’t divulged but I suspect there is a high proportion of Cabernet and Syrah. Lots of dark cherry, plum and black currant and warm spices. There is a wonderful balance of smooth tannins and lively acidity. A damn good wine. 92 points

Spice Route Chakalaka 2009, Swartland (£16.00)

(Tasted at Vivat Bacchus SA Wine Festival)
Blend is 37% Syrah, 21% Mourvedre, 18% Carignan, 10% Petite Sirah, 10% Grenache and 4% Tannat. This matches up to many Chateauneuf du Papes at twice the price! Lots of brambly fruit and spice, so smooth and delightful balance with superb acidity. An excellent wine and magnificent value. 92 points

D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2008

Dense, earthy and smoky nose with lots of dark fruit, black pepper and just a hint of sweet liquorice. In the mouth it’s bright, almost sharp, with razor sharp acidity, which is nicely complemented with a smooth tannic structure. Lots of blackberry fruit and black pepper spice, quite an elegant and long, if slightly hot finish. Not in 100% balance but a couple more years and I think it cold be very fine. 91+ points

Berton Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Coonawarra, South Australia (Wine and the Vine £11.55)

Loads of blackcurrant and cassis fruit aromas and lots of fresh eucalyptus and a hint of chocolate. On the palate there is lots on tannin providing loads of grip. The black fruit is massive and there’s loads of minty freshness and beautiful mineraliness. The finish is very rich and very long. I like a lot. 91 points

Hunter Valley Shiraz 2011, NSW, Australia (M&S £9.99)

Huge ripe fruit, a hint of smokes and a touch of bacon fat meant this just had  to be a new world Shiraz – the characteristics screamed Australia. A big wine with juicy ripe black, almost blue fruits and a delicious smoky flavor. Really enjoyed this one. 91 points

Sandhi Wines Evening Land Tempest Pinot Noir 2010 (Roberson £69.95)

(Tasted at Roberson Sandhi & Kutch tasting February 2013)
Deeper and darker cherry aromas here, with even a touch of blackcurrant and a hint if menthol and spice. Deeper and richer body than the Sanford and lots of energy – the fruit really does dance all over your tongue. With menthol and some anise on the finish – this will just get better with a few years in bottle. 91 points

The Exquisite Collection Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, South Australia (£6.99)
Umm, I’m not sure where to go with this. It’s fantastic! Massively concentrated black currant and menthol on the nose and a huge whack of deep dark fruit, like cassis liqueur, eucalyptus and tobacco on the palate. Wow. Could this be the best value red wine anywhere? 91 points

High Constantia Sebastiaan 2003 (unavailable in UK)

(Tasted at Vivat Bacchus SA wine festival)
A Bordeaux blend with lots of red fruit, smoke and earthy minerality. I was surprised that the wasn’t more than 30% Cab Franc in the blend as it was very aromatic. Quite tannic upfront but melted away to reveal red currants and spice. Good length. 91 points

St Hallett Waitrose Barossa Shiraz 2010, Barossa Valley, South Aus (Waitrose £10.99)

This is a very classy wine at a very decent price. Lots of blackcurrant fruit, lovely brambly edge and smooth smokey, chocolate finish. I’ve drunk plenty of more expensive Aussie Shiraz that doesn’t come close to this. I bought this when it was 25% at £8.24 – I’l buy a case at that price next time. 91 points

Kutch Wines Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2010 (Roberson £38.95)

(Tasted at Roberson Sandhi & Kutch tasting February 2013)
This is much more interesting with sweet red cherry, some mushroom and some roasted meat, even gamey notes. More weight and power here and the fruit is far more concentrated. Lots of grippy tannin but this is one I would like to try again in a year or two. 90+ points

Escarpment The Edge Pinot Noir 2012, Martinborough, NZ (Waitrose £13.99)

Very delicate and pretty nose of sweet, ripe cherries, violets and just a hint of black spice. Very fresh with lovely acidity. The first taste is violets and spice and a cooling freshness, the there’s some red fruit and a pleasant, lingering finish. Kind of backwards but very tasty. Nice smooth tannins give nice structure too. 90 points

Penfolds Bin 389 2010, South Australia (Hedonsm £49.80)

Lively acidity, smooth tannins and delicious autumn fruits. No overbearing oak – a simple but enjoyable Cab Sav/Shiraz blend. 90 points

Ravenswood Lodi Zinfandel 2009, Sonoma, California (Costco £8.49)

A good one to round things off. Bursting with concentrated sweet blueberries, plums and spic; it’s very bright and fruity with a soft and smooth texture. Nice acidity and smoky spices that linger. 90 points

D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2005

Big nose on this one! Black cherries, black pepper, touch of eucalyptus and plenty of earthy minerality. Big acid with bigger tannins but still nicely balanced. There’s plenty of dark black fruit here bit also a hint of dried cranberry but the alcohol is still a tad overwhelming. Very juicy and acidic and I like it for that (many of the other tasters did not!) 90 points

Kutch Wines Falstaff Pinot Noir 2009 (Roberson £41.95)

(Tasted at Roberson Sandhi & Kutch tasting February 2013)
Ripe red fruit on the nose he along with a bit of spice, anise and menthol. Very austere and tight on the palate but the fruit is in the hiding somewhere. Certainly more oak in use here which certainly adds to the enjoyment. Another one that needs another year or two. 90 points

Penny’s Hill Cracking Black Shiraz 2009, McLaren Vale, South Australia (Wine and the Vine £18.85)
Deep purple colour with lots of the deepest, darkest black fruits and a good hit of black pepper spice. Very rich on the palate but e black fruits are sweet and supported by the spice and even a hint of roasted meat! Still young and tannins are very forward but not getting in the way of the fruit. Good if not great. 89 points

Craggy Range Le Sol 2010, Hawkes Bay (£63.95)

Another 100% Syrah. Probably my most disappointing wine of the night. There’s smokiness and plenty if dark fruit but its too stewed for my liking, a bit sickly-sweet. There’s dark fruit and spice and a lovely silky texture but its not to my liking. 89 points

Spice Route Mouvedre 2009, Swartland (£11.25)

(Tasted at Vivat Bacchus SA Wine Festival)
Autumn Hedgerow fruit with lots of warm spicy goodness, with hints of gamey, roasted meat. If you like the Rhone you’ll like this – to me it could have been 50/50 Syrah/Grenache. Simple but delicious. 89 points

High Constantia Cabernet Franc 2006 (£21.25)

(Tasted at Vivat Bacchus SA Wine Festival)
Lots of red fruits and green herb aromas with just a hint of smoke. Red currant and cranberry fruit on the palate, maybe a bit green on the finish but quite charming. 89 points

Wirra Wirra Church Block Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot 2010 (£12.89 Waitrose)
Lots of concentrated black currant fruit and menthol on the nose, with just a kick of black spice. The concentrated brambly black fruit hits the palate with real energy, with a fresh eucalyptus streak and velvety chocolatey, spicy and generous finish. The alcohol us a bit raw and you can taste the 14.5% but really very good. 89 points

Vina Echeverria Merlot Classic Collection 2011, Curico Valley, Chile (Wine & the Vine £8.85)

Really enticing nose of dark ripe fruit, plum, almost damson but entwined with some strawberry and then a dash if spice and chocolate. Silky mouthful with lots of intense fruit and a delicious chocolatey finish. Not long but very tasty. 89 points

Kutch Wines McDougall Ranch Pinot Noir 2019 (Roberson £44.95)
(Tasted at Roberson Sandhi & Kutch tasting February 2013)
Very light in the glass and again just a hint of ripe red fruit. There are fine tannins providing some nice structure behind the cherry fruit, black spice and a certain amount of animal, and an elegant sweetness at the end. 89 points

Sandhi Wines Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir 2010 (Roberson £44.95)
(Tasted at Roberson Sandhi & Kutch tasting February 2013)
Very ripe red cherry and menthol on the nose and very juice straight-line cherry and raspberry on the palate. Young and tannic, slightly hiding some of that delicious fruit at the moment, delivering lots of grip and again that salty finish. Good freshness and acid but just a bit short at the end. 89 points

Andeluna 1300 Malbec 2011, Mendoza, Argentina (Wine & the Vine £10.75)
Spicy, peppery and velvet smooth. Tannins are forefront but not obtrusive, good acidity and deep black concentrated fruit. Excellent. 89 points

Glenelly Lady May Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Stellenbosch, South Africa (Lea & Sandeman £20.42)
Blackcurrant, blackberry fruit, lots of smoky oak aromas and just a touch of minty freshness – very enticing. Good. 89 points

Altos del Condor Pinot Noir 2011, Argentina (M&S £8.99)

Light, fruity, cherries and red currants – it just has to be new world pinot noir. Not sure there’s enough depth or complexity to be from NZ so I went for Chile – not too far out! Really is a very nice, easy drinking bottle of Pinot Noir and the best value wine of the flight. 89 points

D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2006

Still very youthful looking, the nose has sweet fruit, some sweet spice and a touch of eucalyptus. Compared to the 07 and 08 it’s safe and simple. The texture feels lighter and there’s plenty of acid, again balanced nicely with smooth but firm tannins, but the alcohol is way too overpowering and the fruit is a bit port-like. I love the texture but the flavour is just too medicinal. 88 points

Firemark Syrah/Malbec 2012, Argentina (Tesco £5.99)

Another very decent value wine. There’s lots of dark, black fruit with plenty of plums and black cherry, but it’s smooth and spicy too. Not bad for £6 and very good with what was left of the steak! 88 points

Mount Difficulty Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2011, Central Otago (£50.00)

Red currant and wild strawberry armies and just a hint of slate/minerality. Delightful and elegant red fruit upfront and lively acidity but there’s a hole in the middle and the end is just flat. A real shame as it promised so much. 88 points

Brazin, Lodi Old Vine Zin 2009, Manteca, California, USA (Waitrose £12.99)

Lovely dark purple colour but surprisingly light texture in the glass. Blueberries and chocolate on the nose, like a Starbucks muffin, with some tobacco smoke. Blackberries and blueberries on the palate, grippy tannins and a hint of oak and spice but not overdone – like treacle toffee. Nice and subtle for a Zin. 88 points

Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains Estate 2007, California, USA (The Wine Society £32.00)

Amazing aromas of blackcurrant and black plums backed up with some cigar smoke and a minty freshness. The sweet black fruit is supported with a hint of red currant and nicely judged oak… But there’s something lacking, its not quite together. The finish is very dry and I’m just disappointed. 88 points

Bergstrom ,Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010, Oregon, USA (Roberson £37.95)
Lovely crimson colour and very fruit forward nose. Cherries and red currants with a blast of musty leather. The palette is still very closed with only a hint of the fruit and some violets coming through, not quite in harmony… Yet! 88 points

The Exquisite Selection Malbec 2011, Uco Valley, Argentina (Aldi £4.99)
Really enjoyable aromas of black cherry, blueberries, violets and that expected rubber note, like a hit squash ball. Fruit carries onto the palate with a bit if spice and maybe a touch too much rubber, but excellent value nevertheless. 88 points

Otra Vida Winemakers Selection Malbec 2012, Argentina (Asda £5.48)

I’m not a big Malbec fan and was pleasantly surprised by this wine. There’s some real texture and only a hint of the rubberiness I dislike so much. Lots of juicy dark fruit and good length too… Shame about the really cheap looking label! 87 points

Kutch Wines Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2009 (Roberson £38.95)

(Tasted at Roberson Sandhi & Kutch tasting February 2013)
As with most of Jamie’s wines I found myself having to work very hard to get a lot of fruit on the nose. There are ripe red fruits here but they’re just not very forthcoming. Along with the hidden fruit there is menthol and spice but there is also a resounding warmth of alcohol. There is tension here but not quite the balance. 86 points

D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2003

Black, almost figgy fruit on the nose with lots of earthiness and plenty of meaty development and even a hint of balsamic. But the tannin bashes you round the head, nowhere near the acid I had come to expect and overall just a bit flat, a bit bitter and very short. Parker gave this vintage a 95 but either he got his labels mixed up or this was just a bad bottle? 86 points

Kutch Wines Savoy Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 (Roberson £42.95)

(Tasted at Roberson Sandhi & Kutch tasting February 2013)
Again I struggled to get a great deal on the nose here. There is some very pretty red fruit on the palate and a hint of leather and savoury notes. Again there is just too much alcohol showing through at the end. 85 points

Brancott Estate Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Hawke’s Bay, NZ (Tesco £6.99)

Back to a Bordeaux blend but just tastes a bit stewed and industrial to me. Brancott make some very god wines but unfortunately this isn’t one of them. Overripe red fruit but very smooth – not offensive; I’d just rather pay an extra £4 for the St Hallett! 85 points

Errazuriz Merlot 2011, Chile (Majestic £9.99)

This wasn’t my cup of tea – it is big and bold but it’s overdone with sickly fruit and sickly oak. There is 15% Carmenere in the blend). A couple of the guys really liked it’s smooth texture and upfront fruit (but you know what they’d had to drink before!). 83 points

Finca Fluchman Reserve Malbec 2012, Mendoza, Argentina (£8.99 Waitrose)

Blueberries, plums and crushed strawberries provide a very appealing smell but unfortunately it is all overtaken by warm, even hot alcohol on the palate. It’s a bit like burnt rubber and white pepper and its just all out of balance. Shame as the nose promised so much. 82 points

Taste the Difference Fair Trade Carmenere 2012, Chile (Sainsbury’s £6.99)

I’m a big fan on Carmenere – whereas most people seem to have a thing for Malbec, this Chilean charmer is my South American go-to… But not this one. The aromas are delightful – blue and black concentrated fruit, jammy but not overdone. But the only way to describe the palate is green and lean. There is a green pepper bitterness that overtakes all of the fruit and the texture is thin. I so wanted to like this. 81 points

ROSE

Sharpham Whole Berry Rose 2011 (£13.95)
(Tasted at Sharpham Estate, April 2013)
I may have to reconsider my views on Rose. I got quite involved with the dry Rose style if the Southern Rhone last summer, but now I may have been convinced by this off-dry number. The wine us made by lightly pressing whole bunches of Dornfelder grapes and the outcome is particularly fine. Loads of strawberry fruit but it reminded me of a fine dessert containing rhubarb poached in a sugar syrup with some lightly poached meringues. It really is wonderful stuff, again perfect for a party, but maybe also as a match to a light strawberry or rhubarb based pud. Lovely. 89 points

Sacchetto Pinot Grigio Blush delle Venezie 2012, Veneto, Italy (Wine & the Vine £8.45)

It’s made from Pinot Grigio. It’s a Rosé. And I think its great! Imagine a basket if delicate summer fruits; strawberries, raspberries and sweet cherries. It’s all here with just enough acid and a lovely dry finish. Sunday on the patio sorted! 89 points

De Morgenzon Garden Vineyards Rose 2012, Stellenbosch (£11.25)

(Tasted at Vivat Bacchuss SA wine festival event)
The smell of summer. Lots of red fruit with wild strawberries and red currants. Mouth-puckeringly dry, simple but tasty. 88 points

Fleur de Fonplegade Rosé 2012, St Emilion

100% Cab Sav

There’s not much rose in St Emilion but maybe there should be more! It probably helped that it was 36 degrees but this was so fresh, bright and refreshing. Bright notes of strawberry and hint if citrus. The acidity and freshness are delightful – I’m becoming a big rosé fan! 88 points

Henri Bourgeois Les Baronnes Sancerre Rose 2010

100% Pinot Noir from chalky-clay soils, aged for 8 months in steel tanks and 4 months on its fine lees. The rosé has a fuller body than I’m used to and is mood a light red even though its only had 48 hours of maceration. Bright red fruit, slightly lacking in acid but a graceful, long finish. 87 points

Domaine Langlois-Chateau Cabernet du Saumur Rosé 2012 (€7.55)

100% Cabernet Franc. Very pale and heaps of strawberry sherbet on the nose – smells fun. Nice early hit if soft red fruit but drops off pretty quickly. 85 points

SPARKLING

Camel Valley Chardonnay Brut 2009, Cornwall, UK (£24.95)
100% Chardonnay (tasted at Camel Valley)
Vanilla and floral nose. Rich and creamy palate with a peachy fruitiness and a pleasant biscuit-lick at the finish. Gentle and elegant, like a kiss. So good but so modest. This is an ethereal wine that gets even better with every sip. A tasting glass simply isn’t enough. 94 points

Camel Valley White Pinot Noir 2010, Cornwall, UK (£29.95)
100% Pinot Noir (tasted at Camel Valley)
This smells like it should be pink! Wild strawberries jump up your nostrils. It’s like a fine strawberry tart with a buttery pastry casing and a touch of vanilla lifting it further. Pure class. 93 points

Chateau du Petit Thouars Cremant de Loire Blanc NV (€8.00)

A Blanc de Noirs made from 100% Cabernet Franc and without a doubt the best value wine of the whole trip, if not the best value wine of all time. There’s soft red fruit but a refreshing bite of Granny Smith apple. A delightful fuzz if tiny bubbles and a honeyed, slightly toasty finish. If your planning a summer party then order a dozen! 92 points

Note: I opened a bottle as soon as I got home to check it was really that good… It was!

Camel Valley Annie’s Anniversary 2009, Cornwall, UK (£24.95)

100% Seyval (tasted at Camel Valley)
A smell of baked apples wrapped in pastry. Creamy, textured and rich. Great hit of citrus then the baked apple fruit cones along, swathed in patisserie. This is a very forward and confident wine with a lot of attitude! 91 point

Camel Valley Brut 2010, Cornwall, UK (£24.95)
60% Seyval, 20% Reichensteiner, 20% Chardonnay (tasted at Camel Valley)
Elderflower and honey nose – very pretty and enticing. Really elegant with great appley acid and a hint of brioche on the generous and very dry finish. 90 points

Camel Valley Rose Brut 2010, Cornwall, UK (£26.95)
100% Pinot Noir (tasted at Camel Valley)
Beautiful salmon-pink colour. Fruity strawberry nose – smells like the middle of summer. Berry fruit and beautifully dry; the fruit tingles on your palate for an age – this is what Dom Perignon must have meant when he tasted the stars. 90 points

Cloudy Bay Pelourus NV, Marlborough (£24.95)

Predominately Chardonnay blend and made using the method traditionale, this fizz is very fragrant with lots of delicate, crisp apple aromas which are backed up by a nutty, yeasty complexity from its time on lees. Lovely creamy texture with lively acidity and a good length finish. 90 points

Rick Stein Champagne Blanc de Blancs NV, France (St Petroc Bistro, Padstow £8.50/glass)

Drunk at St Petroc’s Bistro, Padstow
Biscuity and yeasty with a delightfully creamy texture. A bit of peach and touch of gooseberry but this was all about the patisserie character and was a real knockout. 90 points

Chateau du Petit Thouars Cremant de Loire Rosé NV (€8.00)

Sweeter than the Blanc but still a lovely balance with lots of soft red fruit and the same attractive mousse. Another belter, if not quite at same level as the Blanc. 89 points

Domaine Langlois-Chateau Brut Medaille d’Or Cremant de Loire NV (€10.45)

60% Chenin Blanc, 20% Chardonnay, 20% Cabernet Franc, spends 24 months on lees. Honey, apples and pastry aromas which are very pleasant indeed. Very dry but there’s a delightful hint of honey right at the end, after the apples and peaches have dissolved. Lovely light mousse of bubbles. This would make a superb wedding sparkler instead if a cheap, naff Champagne! 89 points

Nyetimber Classic Cuvée 2008, West Sussex, UK (Waitrose £29.99, reduced to £23.99)

This was Dad’s favourite. Lovely aromas of peaches and apricots with a dry but very fruity palate. The fruity flavours are delivered in a stream of deliciously light bubbles, with a delicious yeasty and long finish. 88 points

Camel Valley Sparkling Red 2010, Cornwall, UK (£17.95)
100% Rondo (tasted at Camel Valley)
With a colour like that it should come with a health warning! This had part-ey written all over it! It’s grown up sparkling Ribena and its great fun. Bundles of red and black fruit and makes you smile! 88 points

Chateau du Petit Thouars Rosé NV, Touraine (€5.00)

100% Cabernet Franc. Made from a blend of 2009 and 2010 fruit, this pleasant rosé showed nice red fruit and had a very soft, gentle texture with a pleasant dry finish. And it costs €5. 85 points

SWEET

Henri Bourgeois Vendange De La St-Luc 2007

100% Sauvignin Blanc, grown on Kemmeridgen clay solid and picked several weeks after the main harvest to concentrate the grapes and produce this delicious sweet wine. The wine demonstrates the diversity of the Sauvignon Blanc grape and is absolutely delicious. It’s certainly not over sweet and its oh so fresh with a wonderful spine of acid. Golden in colour and highly concentrated tropical fruits – either enjoy as an aperitif, serve with foie gras or match with a fruity dessert. Mmmm! 93 points

Quinta do Crastro LBV 2008, Porto (Roberson £14.95)

100% Touriga Nacional. Sweet dried fruit, dried cranberry and a touch of fig – it smells so fresh. Sweet fruit and oh so smooth, with a slightly menthol finish. 92 points

Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos 2008, Hungary (£19.99 Majestic)

Beautiful nose if honey, apricot and marmalade. Notes of cantaloupe melon join the show in the mouth and the flavour is rich, concentrated and marvellously intense. The sweetness just seems to linger and linger and the finish is smooth and so elegant. Great stuff. 92 points

5 Puttonyas Tokaji Aszu 2001 (M&S £19.99)

(Drunk at Bring a Course Part 2 June 2013)
Slightly pinkish colour and a delightfully honeyed nose with fragrant sweet and dried fruit providing some real elegance. Beautiful apricot and citrus on the palate but its the mouthfilling richness, spiky acidity and delicate balance of the honey sweetness that really marks this out fir quality. So good. 92 points

Rustenberg Straw Wine 2011 (Vivat Bacchus £12.50 375ml)

(Tasted at Vivat Bacchus SA Wine Festival)
Koeksister are basically deep fruit doughnuts which are then rolled in cold sugar-syrup and John describes as “better than sex”! They are very good indeed! The sweet wine is a blend of Viognier, Chenin Blanc and Crouchen Blanc – a new one to me. The grapes are laid out on straw mats and allowed to dry for 4 weeks after harvest to concentrate the sugars. I couldn’t believe there was no Riesling in there! Apricots and nectarines, lovely freshness and deliciously viscous body. A superb way to end a superb meal. 92 points

Domaine Escaravailles Rasteau Rouge Vins Doux Naturels (Field & Fawcett £19.90)

100% Grenache. This is more like it! Raspberry liqueur brightness with a touch of liquorice and black spice. Plenty of red fruit upfront and extremely fresh juicy and ever so moreish. Jimmy also provided some wonderful Valrhona chocolate, which was a delightful pairing. Like the best strawberry cream ever! 89 points

Brown Brothers Orange Muscat & Flora Special Late Harvest 2010, Australia (The Bull Inn, Beaumaris £12.50)

(Drunk at Ye Olde Bull, Beaumaris)
A great all-rounder to go with our selection of desserts. Lovely orange blossom, tropical fruit and honey sweetness. Simple, fun and nothing here to dislike! 86 points

Domaine Escaravailles Rasteau Blanc Vins Doux Naturels (Wiliam Baber Wines £17.50)

100% Muscat. Aromas of grape and pear with hints some floral and honey notes. I have to be honest, all I can taste is alcohol (16.5%). There is a hint of honey sweetness but that’s about all. 82 points

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