Being fairly new to the Winchester area it is good to make new friends. Consequently, on Monday night we enjoyed going the The Old Forge in Otterbourne to go drinking with Stone, Vine and Sun’s Simon Taylor and Gordon Coates. They are the local serious wine merchant and based upon what we enjoyed together I foresee a lot of wine-themed larks in the future.
The Old Forge has good food at reasonable prices, provides a pleasant dining environment and allows you to bring your own wine for a fiver corkage on Monday nights. The four of us brought seven bottles along, ate rather well and thought the bill was perfectly reasonable at the end of the night. I look forward to a repeat match!
Riesling Auslese Traiser Rotenfels 1989, Weingut Crusius
Gordon related that with this wine the producer was trying for something a bit grander than an Auslese, but due to the acidity levels they decided to finally bottle it as one. He always remembers it being distinctly on the painful side of acidic.
Quite mature on the nose, indeed heading slightly a bit toward the old wines’ home with hints of baked apple and mushroom. Not entirely past it but it’s seen better days. Some good minerality which I do like, though. By bums, I see what Gordon meant about acidity! This is frighteningly acidic and definitely hurts. It’s beyond direct and linear, the steel rod up the arse of this wine has a steel rod up its arse. It’s difficult getting beyond the terror factor with this, but there is a bit of fruit left, some sweetness and some minerality, but it is all acidity and tiredness, really. It would have been far better, although much more scary, about five years ago. Fascinating wine, but I prefer youth rather than crapulence for my drinking delights.
Riesling Grand Cru Sommerberg L31E 2007, Domaine Boxler
Dani and I were a bit worried about this bottle as we’ve had quite a few highly-developed Boxler wines recently and we hoped this would not be another. One sniff… No, in top nick although time to drink, I’d suggest. Lots of very ripe but direct and focussed lemon and lime fruit. There is focus, but it’s not shy of flashing it’s assets for everyone to have a good look at. There is a real stoniness to the nose as well, which is very nice. The palate is a mixture of the fat and the searingly direct. The acidity and minerality are edgy and scary in intensity, yet the fruit is quite round and plump. It makes for attractive drinking, but you need to drink yours soon as I fear this is not going anywhere good. Boxler wines are pretty god-damned pricey in the UK and one would hope for a lot more ageing potential than this from them; I’m glad we got this direct and paid cellar-door prices.
Chateauneuf du Papes Blanc 1999, Clos des Papes 1999
OK, this is strange. Nothing wrong with being strange, of course, but modern palates might have the willies scared out of them by the odd aromas and flavours this displays. I rather liked it. A nose of glue, mushrooms and some berry fruit. Somewhere between Airfix and mature Rosé Champagne. I think it’d be fair to say it’s quite broad on the nose. I love how this smells, although it might be getting a little over the hill. A differently attractive palate that makes the nose look conventional. I really love it! Fat and broad with an idea of acidity, oddly rotten fruit and an incredibly powerful stoniness. Very long. Incredibly broad. Yes, this is brilliant. No one seemed to like it as much as me, but I’m bloody reporting on it so I can say it was great and you’ve only got me to believe. I really did like it. It fell apart after about 40 minutes, alas.
Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2001, Domaine Arlaud
A gloriously expressive nose bursting with youthful fruit but showing hints of soft maturity. This is well up for plucking and ravishing with great delight. The fruit is really Charmes, very complex and highly attractive. There is a strong earthiness which is intricate in character. It just smells amazing, all one could ask from a 2001 Grand Cru Burgundy and a lot more. The palate is gloriously refined and elegant with plenty of sprightly fruit, good earthiness and a sophisticated tannic structure that keeps the whole thing lively and full of energy. The acidity is spot on too. The finish lasts and lasts. What a wine, totally pleasing and definitely for drinking now with almost indescribable pleasure. You know, you can still buy this from the Wine Society for £55 a bottle and if you are a member you should be buying some at the end of this sentence.
Bandol La Migoua 2002, Domaine Tempier
Perhaps it is because this is from a lesser vintage but this smells the most wonderfully restrained and totally winsome bottles of Tempier I’ve tried in a while. There is no hint of excess alcohol, just lovely, lovely scented fruit, flowers and leathery meatiness. It is simply so good. Just from sniffing this I can tell it’ll be a joy on the palate but will be able to age and improve far longer than I will. It smells like a fabulously great Bandol. And the palate tastes like one. Some rigour, but real soft, silkiness to the palate with, would you believe it, decent acidity as well. The fruit is delicious and it’s earthy richness just right up my passage. Maturity is there but so much life and energy as well. It really will last forever. I enjoyed this bottle now and I would like to drink more soon, it was absolutely fine. Not that this really matters, but it was an incredible food wine matching so well with my slow-cooked lamb. Although I was more interested in necking lots of this than eating the lamb…
Cornas 2001, Domaine Balthazar
What you want from Northern Rhone wines is a bit of elegance and this really delivered. Really seriously delivered. A delightful nose with lots of red fruit and good earthiness, but not alcohol driven or over-blown at all. It was a model of restraint. The palate had tannins that were correct for Cornas of this age, rigorous but nicely softened, good, lively acidity and plenty of fruit. Again, it did not seem heavy or soupy, just nicely balanced and very attractive. I am a big fan of 2001 Northern Rhones and this was one of the very best I’ve had in a while, quite the charmer.
Chateau la Tour Blanche 2003
Unlike most of the other wines of the night, a big, big nose. Lots of botrytis peaches and cream character, lots of new wood and quite a lot of booze. It has scale, that much is sure. I think there is some complexity, but I am just a tad over-come by its inhalation anaesthetic characters to be absolutely sure. The palate is extremely rich, ripe and sweet. Very big and powerful. I was happy just to have a glass of this as my dessert as nothing else sugary could have stood up to it. A sweet beast!
And that was dinner. I think we all had quite a lot of fun and I hope we can repeat the event at some point soon. Assuming Gordon ever gets over his hangover… Many thanks for the wines, chaps, it was a hoot!