An evening’s drinking rarely leaves me this impressed

Once again it was our pleasure to host Peter Sidebotham (of Hand-Picked Burgundy) and Peter Palmer (the Black Sea wanderer) at Elitistreview Towers. We drank quite mind-bogglingly well, but I was a tad dejected that three weeks off the sauce whilst in hospital has done my historically epic tolerance no favours at all. I was distinctly moderate in the measures I poured for myself otherwise I’d still be positively quaquaversal.

[image image_id=”5570″ size=”medium” align=”left”]Even though moderation was called for, it is evenings like this that remind one why one drinks wine – not only were all of them hilariously fine but also sharing such delights with enlightened company is highly gratifying. I have to say I was pleased that Peter S was a tad delayed, as this gave me the opportunity to try some Sherry I’d scored before my hospital appointment yet was unable to pop before my pancreas did. It was an exhilarating precursor to a hoopy roller-coaster ride of brilliant wines.

[image image_id=”5572″ size=”medium” align=”right”]

Fino Perdido, Sanchez Romate Hnos.

Before I get to the note, this Sherry deserves a bit of exposition. The wine is bottled in April, when the growth of flor yeast on the surface of the wine in barrel is at its thickest and so imparts most flavour. It is also quite old for a Fino, with an average age of its constituent wines being eight years old. Finally, the wine is bottled without fining, filtration or any other form of jiggery-pokery; consequently it retains maximum character. The label warns us that the wine may be a tad cloudy, or throw some deposit, but who really cares about such things? Historically this Sherry style was called a ‘Fino-Amontillado’, but the use of this moniker has been banned – hence the name Fino Perdido meaning ‘lost Fino’.

On to the note. It is the darkest Fino I have ever seen, real golden/amber tones present. Even though it is only 15% it smells incredibly potent and profound; the depth of character it displays is quite arresting. There are all the Fino nutty aromas one would hope for, but they are quite striking in terms of their power and complexity. Brilliant stuff to sniff. The palate also has a prodigious density and layers of complex flavours charged with energy. It is pretty god-damned concentrated too. The finish just lasts and lasts. I think this is the best Fino I have ever tried and it cost me a mere £7.95 a bottle – an obscene bargain for such a captivating wine.

[image image_id=”5574″ size=”medium” align=”left”]

Meursault Tessons Clos de Mon Plaisir 1993, Domaine Roulot

This has all one could ask of a mature Roulot. It definitely has mature toasty, vanilla aroma whilst also not being short on lively fruit, creamy minerality and definite complexity. The energy it has is impressive, not tiring in the slightest but rather fizzing with life. The palate also has an incredible interplay between mature and fresh characteristics which make it highly engaging. The acidity levels are great and it has a really satisfying savoury character. There is some age-derived roundness here but I feel this is more a wine about lithe sophistication. The finish is great. All those people who have been sniffy about 1993 White Burgundies would do well to try this, it is a brilliant wine. Will keep a bit longer too.

[image image_id=”5579″ size=”medium” align=”right”]

Crozes-Hermitage Cuvee Gaby 2007, Domaine du Colombier

I popped a bottle of the [link2post id=”5453″]2008 Cuvee Gaby[/link2post] not so long ago. I liked that then and I like this now. The alcohol level of the nose is a tad higher than the 2008, but it is still far from being hot or unbalanced. There is lovely, refined fruit as well and it is not short on earthy aromas. The nose makes me think it is suffering somewhat from being in a middle-aged hole, but there is still plenty to relish here. The palate is a model of Crozes delight; ravishing fruit, tannins on the right side of rigorous, as is the acidity and it speaks of its appellation in terms of its mineral components. I should have popped this a year ago or waited about five more, but it is a winning Crozes.

[image image_id=”5583″ size=”medium” align=”left”]

Hermitage 2007, Domaine du Colombier

Considering the time Hermitage needs to express itself at its best I can understand if you think I am fairly bonkers for popping this and the next wine when they are so young. Moreover, I think Domaine du Colombier make Hermitage that needs longer in the cellar – what can I say apart from “Yes I am bonkers”. I popped them because I wanted to see if I should be acquiring any more of these vintages before they disappear from the shelves, I rather think I might.

A powerful, dense nose suffused with monumental fruit and splendidly complex minerality. We are told that Hermitage is the manliest wine of France and I can see plenty of strapping, virile characters here. You couldn’t really describe this nose as charged with minimalist finesse , but I think if you expect that in a ripe vintage, young Hermitage you need to re-adjust your stylistic expectations. I am really taken with this nose. The palate has a great Hermitage tannic structure; rigorous, but in exemplary harmony with the rich fruit. The acidity seems spot on to me too. This is incredibly long, leaving you will much to think about as the flavours slowly subside on your palate. A serious Hermitage that I will open my next bottle of in at least ten years time.

Hermitage 2008, Domaine du Colombier

Glorious blueberry, plummy fruit bursts from this nose. The alcohol is a tad higher than the previous wine but I see nothing lacking in terms of ultimate harmony. It is a swashbuckling, vigorous nose (just as I’d expect at this age) but everything is in the right place and shows flashes of great things to come in the future. At the moment the palate is perhaps most suitable for the brawny lover of red-blooded hedonism, but this is not an over-blown, over-whelming fighting wine – it is a damned good young Hermitage from what is clearly a top bunny vintage for this producer. It is true I usually prefer minimalist, sculpted little beauties, but when a wine can manage such levels of stirring vehemence and still do that whole harmony thing I’ll drink the bleeder with a big grin slapped across my face. Good stuff, needs time.

[image image_id=”5587″ size=”medium” align=”right”]

Nuits Saint Georges Premier Cru Chaignots 2005, Domaine Robert Chevillon

Ho ho ho! This is what quality Nuits should smell like: infused with dark, brooding fruit and clear earth characters – beezer! It is clearly very ripe and a tad on the young side but I know I am going to love this when I can drag myself away from sniffing it. Those tannins are a perfect expression of ripe vintage Nuits, bold but not punishing. There is a great acidity to it and its minerality is just right in the zone as well. Freaking gorgeous, no buggering about with new oak or excessive alcohol levels, it is just a brilliant Nuits Premier Cru which you should not really be opening for at least five more years. When mature, this’ll blow your socks off.

[image image_id=”5589″ size=”medium” align=”left”]

Riesling Beenerauslese Graacher Domprobst 2005, Willi Schaefer


Oh, you want more? This is one of the very greatest very sweet wines I have ever been lucky enough to try: it hurts me, it moves me, it ignites my faculties of both intellectual and visceral flavours. A great wine is something other – this is boggling my mind. Sure, it is intensely sweet, but the acid levels are more than you could ask for in such a wine – they hurt. The expression of minerality has not been diminished by vintage warmth or high botrytis levels. The length staggers me. Ah I was right first time: sublime.