We Oxford types always drank well…

Last weekend Peter (who was Captain of the Oxford Blind Tasting Team before me) and Edward (Captain after me) came to lovely, lovely Winchester to drink quality kit. It’s great to see friends; we all opened the best wines we had and had a spiffing time. Great to see you both!

Now, for reasons of idleness and alcohol consumption I am only going to write about three of the wines we tried. We finished off with a utterly wizard single vintage Oloroso from Hidalgo but by that time I was utterly finished so cannot give you details. There were others as well, but I’m high-grading. Food was beezer: The Editor’s Scotch eggs and a roast chicken from Beechcroft Direct.

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Comte de Champagne Rose 2002, Tattinger

I don’t drink rose fizz that often but I’m not at all sniffy about it; there is nothing in this wine that merits sniffiness. I love the savoury, scented nose that had pretty fruit but also real density and panache. It is attractive but not simple or lacking dimension – hell’s bells it positively throbs with dimension! Ignoring the gas, you could see this as some pretty complex Pinot just by sniffing it. Now it tastes fab! The mousse is really sophisticated and smooth with nary a hint of spikiness, and the impression it gives is of a powerfully vinous and impressively dense Champagne. This is not an undemanding quaffer, it asks questions of you and damned-well expects you to live up to its high standards. If you don’t you’ll fail to get the full range of complex, involving interest out of this amazing wine. Fab acidity, fab, fruit, mega-fab length – it’s just a stunner. Will probably age and improve remarkably well – well, not this bottle obviously; this bottle was necked with great pleasure by people who deserved quality fizz.


Volnay Premier Cru Clos des Chenes 1999, Michel Lafarge

A nose of total beauty and poised harmony. To call this highly attractive seems damning with faint praise such is the level of intellectual and visceral ravishment it promises. It has refined, minimalist fruit that is perfectly ripe and incredibly intricate in terms of the details it expresses. There is also a fabulously pure stone character that is also very detailed with complex facets. Cat’s freaking arse, man! Alcohol and wood are not features on this nose, its just sculpted beauty. I could really get the hots for this nose in not an entirely moderate manner. And it tastes just as good as that nose promises. Very poised with a good energetic tension between fruit, acidity, minerality and gentle tannins. The structure is one of totally refinement. It’s just bloody gorgeous, I tell you. There is nothing I could imagine changing about this drinking experience except making the bottle considerably larger. Yeah, it’ll age incredibly well, but I’ve no regrets about sharing one of my most stunning bottles of Burgundy with my chums today.

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Corton-Bressandes Grand Cru 2001, Chandon de Briailles en magnum

Peter was considerably down on the possibility of this being good, both because he doesn’t think 2001s are so hot (he’s wrong) and because most Corton is perilously lacking fun value (he’s right). We were all pleased as chips that Peter was wrong to doubt I’d purchased quality kit! The nose is small-scale, but charged with a really powerful set of stone/earth aromas. For such a minimalist nose it is incredibly dense with mineral tones. Lovely. The fruit is pure and focussed, really pretty and classy. More than pretty, actually, quite sexy in a sophisticated style. This just smells ace! The palate also throbs with mineral flavours and lovely, pretty fruit. It’s got a silky texture of tannin and acidity, not the hard toughness I’d normally expect from Corton, and all those flavours persist in a pleasure-giving style for a very long time. Quite the best bottle of red Corton I’ve had in an age, if not ever. Bravo, Chandon de Briailles! I cannot wait to pop my few other Corton’s from them, I bet the 2005s are spiffy!