Popular Posts

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Virgin Wines - the Reds

A range of reds from Virgin wines

If you want to try a range of reds that are both typical and demonstrate the breadth of what a red wine can be, you could do worse than try these from Virgin Wines.

From the freshness of the Loire Cab Franc to a fortified port-esque Malbec via the Rhône and a Sicilian passimento made from partially-dried grapes.

Domaine Lame-Delisle-Boucard Bourgeuil Cuvee des Chesnais 2015 (£9.99) fresh raspberry leaf and cherry fruit with pepper, spice and minerality.

Good and good value.

Fresh enough to sip slightly chilled on a hot day or match with lightly-smoked salmon fillets.

Chateau Cambis Cotes du Rhone Villages 2014 (£10.99) light and fresh Rhône, with elderberry fruit, liquorice, pencil shavings, dried green herbs and fine, firm tannins; lacks fruit-plumpness, a little basic.

Drink with red meats, such as burgers or roast beef.

Eghemon Passimiento 2015 (£15.99) prunes, figs and baked red berry fruit with spice; strong, concentrated, sweet and intense, cut through with freshness. Good underpinnings.

Good.

Drink as an after-dinner sipper or match with darker game and aged cheeses.

Familia Zuccardi Malamado Malbec 2014 (£15.99) port-style fortified Malbec from Argentina. Herbaceous, figgy-raisiny, sweet and powerful, with dried plums, black fruits and savoury roasted spices.

Good.

Like ruby port, it will match with mature cheeses, dark chocolate, Christmas puddings and mince pies; or darker game.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Crisp White and Big Red

Crisp white, big red from Virgin Wines

Crisp White and Big Red is a classic combo - you can't go wrong with it; the white as aperitif and with fish or mozzarella starters, followed by the red with a main of beef, lamb or venison.

The white here is a Sancerre-esque Loire Sauvignon - more mineral than aromatic, it is a classy Old World classic; the red is baked, Spanish and a touch blowsy.

Domaine Denis Jamain Les Fossiles Reuilly Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (£14.99) steely, mineral citrus fruit with precision and finesse. Substantial and persistent with excellent underpinnings. Good.

Pizo Garnacha 2015 (£9.99) big and alcoholic with plummy, somewhat baked dark and raspberry fruit and cocoa, liquorice and spice. The fresh, mineral core just about holds it together. Fine tannins.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Low Alcohol Wines from Tesco

Three low-alcohol wines from Tesco - Sauvignon, Garnacha rosé, Tempranillo

I'm not sure, if I'm honest, that I can quite see the point of low alcohol wines - they are something of a needless halfway house between a decent bottle of wine (of which you may drink half a glass if you need to consider your alcohol intake) and non-alcoholic substitutes such as iced tea, elderflower cordial or even - amazingly - water.

But if you must have low alcohol wine, then you want it at least to taste nice, even if it does not taste completely like wine.

These three from Tesco are de-alcoholised wines from Spain with some sweetness added back to maintain balance; there is a white Sauvignon, a Garnacha rosé and a red Tempranillo.

They taste pleasant enough - off-dry and fruit-forward; I've had worse full-strength wines. There's nothing actively wrong with any of them, which is probably no mean feat.

And they are apparently proving popular with consumers of low-alcohol wines.

A technical note - low-alcohol here is around 0.5%, which is almost nothing. No-alcohol is 0.05%, which really is nothing.

Priced at £3 per full-sized bottle, they are notably cheaper than even the most basic normal-strength wine.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Bastions of South Africa - Virgin Wines

Two South African Bastions V wines from Virgin Wines

South Africa has the world's oldest soils - winemaker Marinda Kruger-Van Eck says "the wine must express where it comes from, you must be able to taste the soil [then] the quality of the grapes and lastly hopefully something from me as the winemaker."

Both these wines have New World fruit ripeness with a European sense of restraint. Both are well made and enjoyable; the Shiraz is the more interesting of the two.

Bastions V Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2016 Tropical citrus and desert apple with some limey zip and minerality. Balanced and clean with good underpinnings. Rounded and pleasant, rather like the girl next door.

Drink as an aperitif; match with starters or white meats.

Bastions V Western Cape Shiraz 2016 inky pencil shavings and spice with dark damson and black cherry fruit. Fresh and mineral with fine tannins. Darker and more intriguing; rhone-esque. Good.

Match with red meats, such as steak or venison casserole. Or drink with cheese.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Wines For Summer: From Vineyards Direct

Three picnic wines via From Vineyards Direct


Just like bank holiday weekends and planning a barbecue, some things seem destined to bring on bad weather; these summer wines arrived just as the long hot summer broke and gardeners rejoiced in the deluge of rain.

When the good weather does return and you need some summery wines, here are three via From Vineyards Direct.

They are all easy-drinking and thoroughly enjoyable - with plenty of freshness, they will both match with picnic foods or drink on their own on a hot day.

Finca Tempranal Selección Airen 2015, Spain (£7.95) fresh, citrussy baked and tropical fruits, pineapple and mango with pithy lime zest and sweet spice.

Moulin de Gassac, Guilhem Rosé 2016, Languedoc (£8.95) red berry fruit, minerality and good underpinings. Good.

Domaine de Marcé Cabernet 2014 Touraine, Loire Valley (£9.95) leafy raspberry fruit and green peppers with pencil shavings and spice. Fresh and poised.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Entries now open for The Daniel Pontifex Scholarship 2017

Wine Australia and The Daniel Pontifex Memorial Trust are offering a rising star of the UK hospitality industry a trip to Australia to learn more about the trade and explore the country’s renowned food and wine culture.

The scholarship, which has been running since 1998, recognises and celebrates the efforts and enthusiasm of tomorrow’s leading hospitality professionals. The award commemorates Daniel Pontifex who died in a car accident during his employment at Kensington Place Restaurant in London.

Daniel had previously worked in Adelaide in Australia with Shaw + Smith’s Michael Hill Smith MW who, along with Daniel’s family, went on to initiate the scholarship in his name.

Each alternate year, a scholarship winner from the UK and Australia respectively is invited to experience the hospitality sector in the contrasting country. The trip provides them with direct access to influential industry leaders and offers first-hand insights into the international world of food and wine.

The Daniel Pontifex Scholarship was last awarded in the UK in 2015 to Quinby Frey who works at Cambridge Wine Merchants.

Quinby Frey, now Sales and Accounts Business Development Manager at Cambridge Wine Merchants, said:

“The day after I returned from Australia I hosted a wine tasting into which I ‘sneaked’ a couple of the wines that I’d had during my trip. It was a delight to share with customers the stories and places that I’d visited, and the enthusiastic customer response was heartening.

I have completely loved how much I now have to discuss about Australian wine with customers since my trip and it’s been incredibly rewarding to see customers step out of their wine comfort zones and embrace Aussie wine.

I learnt far more spending four weeks on the ground than I have in my last four years as a merchant and I am thankful for the amazing opportunity given to me to develop my knowledge further.”

Alessandro Marchesan, past scholarship winner and 2017 panellist, said:

“It was one of the best experiences of my life. The opportunity to travel around Australia’s best wine regions, to meet and work with the best winemakers and to have some working experiences in some of the best restaurants boosted not only my knowledge but also gave me great confidence to carry on with my career.”

Laura Jewell MW, Wine Australia Head of Market EMEA, said:

“We look forward to sharing Australia’s vibrant food and wine culture with the winner and helping to develop their career with this unique experience.”


To enter, applicants are invited to submit a short essay (500-750 words) explaining why they believe they are a suitable candidate, together with a short resume.

Applicants are expected to have a strong interest in wine and may work in any area of hospitality.

Submissions should be made by email to laura.jewell@wineaustralia.com by Friday 29 September 2017.

Interviews will be held in October in London and the winner’s trip will take place in 2018.

The winner of the 2017 scholarship will be selected by a panel of leading wine and hospitality professionals including Laura Jewell MW, Wine Australia; Michael Hill Smith MW, Shaw + Smith; David Gleave MW, Liberty Wines; Alessandro Marchesan, Zonin UK; and writer and Chef-Consultant Rowley Leigh.

The winner will receive funding towards travel, insurance, accommodation and expenses.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

English Wines for Christmas At Waitrose

English Wines for Christmas At Waitrose

I've been through a number of English wine phases - I have always (mostly) enjoyed them, but it has never resulted in an unqualified devotion to patriotic oenology.

English wines' main challenges are climate, price and range; and that's before you factor in awareness and branding issues.

My advice to people wanting to try English wines is generally to go for the fizz - at the top end it can be much better than equivalent-priced Champagne.

Lower down, still whites can be thoroughly enjoyable, yes there are occasionally interesting (pale) reds and if you seek it out, you can even find a dessert wine.

Waitrose stock a total of 110 wines from England and Wales, many of them available only locally (within 10 miles of the vineyard).

At this Christmas tasting, there were English Wines of all styles and all were thoroughly enjoyable. A couple were even rather Good.

Here are the ones I enjoyed most.

Furleigh Estate Dorset Coast Special Reserve, NV elegant, Champagne method sparkler, mineral and autolytic. Good.

Leckford Estate Brut, 2013 finer and more elegant, still youthful; will gain complexity with age. Good.

Winbirri Bacchus Reserve, 2015 typical aromatic Bacchus hedgerow aromas and freshness; atypically substantial.

Stopham Estate Pinot Gris, 2015 floral and fresh with gooseberry and ripe pear fruit. Think restrained Sauvignon.

Also consider:

Litmus Element 20, 2012 deft and mineral with an intriguing cidery tang.

Bolney Estate Pinot Noir, 2015 very light, fresh Pinot with gentle cherry fruit; think Alsace rather than Burgundy. Deftly made with an appropriately gentle hand.

Denbies Noble Harvest Ortega 2014/15 sweet, botrytised English sticky with beeswax and honeycomb. Fades quickly, though.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Going Austro-Hungarian with Virgin Wines

A Wachau Gruener and a dry Tokaji from Virgin Wines

Students of central European history will be especially pleased by this geopolitical combination from Virgin Wines; oenologists will find they highlight stylistic differences between these now neighbouring, once-joined, countries. 

Both are very well-made; the Austrian wine is linear and precise, whereas the Hungarian is fruitier and, although dry, shares the hedonistic flavour profile of sweet Tokaji.

Gruener Veltliner Wachau Selection (£13.99) made by the Wachau's excellent co-op, Domaene Wachau. Poised, elegant citrus and white stone fruits with hints of Gruener's signature celery and lentils; pure and fresh with a saline pebbly minerality, white flowers and a whiff of pepper. Improves with extensive aeration.

Good.

Drink as an aperitif or with light starters.

2015 Chateau Dereszla Tokaji Furmint Dry 2015 (£10.99) dried apricots, marmelade and beeswax-honeysuckle with freshness and a saline minerality, white pepper and sweet spices. Floral, eaxy and rich.

Good.

Drink with rich foods such as pâté.


Monday, 19 June 2017

Villa Maria and 25 Years of Gimblett Gravels

New Zealand's Villa Maria - some museum pieces

So, the New World does fruit and the Old World does aging, right? These Villa Maria wines, going back to almost the last century, were in better shape than some equivalent Bordeaux.

Villa Maria Library Release Merlot / Cabernet 2010 sweet spices, dark fruits and cocoa beans; fine, well-integrated tannins. Dense with a muscular core. Very Good.

Villa Maria Library Release Cabernet 2009 black olives, sweet spices and dark berries; fine, integrated tannins and seamless texture. Still young. Good.

Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet / Merlot 2008 berry and cassis fruit, dried herbs and spices; soft yet concentrated. Good.

Vidal Reserve Chardonnay 2007 citrus, floral and nutty with stone fruits and some aged character.
Esk Valley Winemaker Reserve Merlot / Cabernet / Malbec 2007 dark fruits, herbs, cocoa and spice; restrained and substantial, still tightly wound and closed up even at a decade. Firm and assertive. Very impressive. Very Good.

Villa Maria Reserve Syrah 2006 red and black berry fruit with pepper and liquorice. Fresh, vibrant, floral and spicy but above all substantial. Very Good.

Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet / Merlot 2002 blackberry, plum and violets. Concentrated and harmonious. Fresh, vibrant and lively. Substantial. Very Good.

Vidal Reserve Cabernet 2002 ripe black plum, coffee and earthiness with cigarbox. Substantial. Good.

Esk Valley Reserve Merlot / Cabernet / Malbec 2000 black fruits, chocolate and spice with aged gamey-woodsy-earthiness; vibrant, fresh and mineral. Still very lively but also substantial and harmonious. Very Good Indeed.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Camino de Seda 2014 - Laithwaites

A typically overbearing Laithwaites wine from Jumilla, Spain

Laithwaites specialise in sourcing unsophisticated wines from cheap areas, billing them as "BIG reds" and selling them at a high mark-up to the sort of people who write "Supple mouthfeel, smooth as silk...."

Camino de Seda 2014 (£8.99 plus delivery)  Jammy, extracted and alcoholic with no length; blowsy and all-front, the acidity just about holds it together - oversold, overpriced and overblown; it has as much finesse as a milky tea with two sugars.

Not actively unpleasant, it is thoroughly underwhelming unthinking drinking; just the sort of thing Laithwaites customers seem to like.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Spain's Herència Altés

Two Herència Altés wines from Bancroft

Described as a "very exciting producer making some serious modern expressions of red and white Grenache from the oft overlooked part of northern Spain, Terra Alta", Herència Altés is owned by husband and wife team Rafael de Haan and Nuria Altés whose backgrounds have been in wine for many years.

They started making wine together under the Herència Altés name in 2010, before purchasing their own old-vine Garnatxa vineyards in Gandesa, Tarragona.

Herència Altés specialises in the Garnatxa grape producing red wines and fresh white wines, full of elegance and built for ageing.

Herència Altés owns 3 vineyards totalling 55 hectares. Approximately half the vines are over 50 years old. They are predominantly planted with Garnatxa Blanca with small pockets of Garnatxa Negra and Carignan.

All Herència Altés’ vineyards are in conversion to organic viticulture; conservation is at the heart of the Herència Altés philosophy - the new winery runs off-grid, completely on solar power and represents a long-term investment for the future.

Both of these wines feel well-made and youthful; they improve with aeration and feel like they will gain added complexity with aging.

Garnatxa Blanc, Herencia Altes, 2015 fresh and zesty-citrussy with orchard fruits, celery and a whiff of white pepper. Saline and mineral. Clean elegant and pure. Technically, very well made. Good.

Garnatxa Negre, Herencia Altes, 2015 juicy and fresh with some bubblegum and fruit pastilles; dark berry and black cherry fruit, spice. Deft and supple, improves with aeration.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Villa Maria Gimblett Gravels Lunch

Lunch at New Zealand House with Villa Maria's Karen Fistonich and The Modern Pantry

Villa Maria is a byword for well-made, classical-style wines with a typical New Zealand purity and crystalline freshness.

At this lunch, Karen Fistonich, Chair of Villa Maria, showed us the company's more ambitious side, including the new flagship wine, Ngakirikiri, as well as a few museum pieces.

With starters
Esk Valley Verdelho 2015 elegant, clean and pure with fresh acidity and exotic peach and passionfruit. Good.

Single Vineyard Keltern Chardonnay 2015 complex oaky, slightly sulphide nose; pure white nectarine fruit with toast. Sleek and tightly woven. Very elegant and adept. Will improve with age. Good.

With mains
Legacy Syrah 2011 dark cherry, plum, herbs and spice with savoury oaky complexity and fine tannins. Drinking nicely now and at a peak. Good.

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve 2013 black fruits with spice and smoke; some fruitcake, cherry and chocolate. Complex and still very youthful with an excellent structure. Needs aging. Very Good.

Ngakirikiri, The Gravels, Hawkes Bay 2013 the first vintage of this super-prestige wine; Cab-based from a spectacular vintage. Intense and aromatic, with dark fruit, plum and herbs, coffee and cedarwood. Complex with fine tannins. Still very youthful and needs age. Very Good.


Thursday, 8 June 2017

Copper Rivet Distillery



Copper Rivet Distillery tasting

Three spirits walk into a bar - they are extremely well made.

Copper Rivet Distillery is a family-owned distillery making spirits with a pronounced attention to detail; they oversee the entire process from grain to glass.

The spirits are rich, elegant and complex; there is a vodka that is delicate and creamy; the gin is sweet, spicy and nuanced.

Finally there is Son of a Gun - a unique spirit that is essentially a non-aged whisky. Deep and complex, it is floral with an oatmealy finish.
This well made, it seems almost a shame to put them into cocktails and mixers.

The spirits are available via the company's website for around £30 for 50cl.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Roussillon's Biodynamic Le Soula

A tasting of Roussillon's biodynamic Le Soula wines

When you think of Languedoc and next-door Roussillon, it is classy ripe, plump wines that spring to mind.

Le Soula is different.

Their wines are biodynamic, low-alcohol and grown at altitude.

They have the vibrancy of biodynamic wines - a funky, energetic freshness - with an ability to age that surpasses many a so-called classic wine.

If the winery is relatively young (it started in 2003), the vines are not - 100 year-old Carignan vines are not unusual here.

The vineyards have been organic from the outset with a subsequent transition to biodynamics.

At around five years of age, the current vintages are fresh and vibrant; the older wines, with more than a decade's age, are more complex but still very youthful.
As well as red and white, there is also an orange wine, the Maceration, which is elegant and approachable.

The wines are available at leading restaurants and independent merchants priced at around £25. 

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Château de l’Abbaye de Saint-Ferme - Via From Vineyards Direct

A Bordeaux Supérieur from a great vintage that punches above its weight - via FVD

Bordeaux does vintage perhaps better than almost anywhere else - and 2010 was one of the great years.

This Bordeaux Supérieur (slighty riper fruit than AOC Bordeaux) is already seven years old and, drinking nicely now, will continue for another 5+ years.

It is also good value for its quality and maturity.

Château de l’Abbaye de Saint-Ferme 2010 Bordeaux Supérieur (£10.95, FVD) fresh, ripe bramble and forest fruits, spices and dried green herbs with some truffley earthiness; supple with well integrated tannins. Very harmonious and drinking well now.


Good.

Match with roast red meat, especially darker game.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Brown Brothers' Patricia Range - Sisters Doin' It For Themselves.

The Patricia Range with Brown Brothers' Katherine Brown

Sisters are doin' it for themselves
- Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin (1985)

If you've had a Brown Brothers' wine, chances are it was their sticky Rutherglen Muscat; this was certainly the only wine of this Victoria-based family-owned company that I had previously tried.

The observant may detect a Scottish ancestry to Brown Brothers - the family has been making wine in Australia since 1889.

Hot off the press is that they have bought up the majority of winemaking in Tasmania.

Family businesses take a different view of things - they work to longer timescales and accept smaller returns in the short term in order to maintain long term sustainability.

To avoid company groupthink, owner-manager Katherine Brown spent four years working outside the family company and is part of a leadership network of utterly unrelated businesses where she finds common challenges around recruitment and leadership.

The Patricia Range is not a group of hills; it is the flagship range of Brown Brothers' wines, named after Katherine's Grandmother under a promise that they would be "bloody good".
And they are.

Over dinner at The Cut, we started with a traditional-method fizz.


Fizz on arrival

Patricia Pinot Noir Chardonnay Brut 2010
From a cool vintage and grown at altitude with 80% Pinot. Yeasty and autolytic, clean and pure with orchard fruits and linear freshness. Rich and full.

Very Good.
White with starters - a flight of Chardonnays

Patricia Chardonnay 2008 from a warm year, higher-altitude fruit was used. Incredibly youthful for its age - perhaps due to screwcapping. Musky-oaky with ripe tropical citrus, minerality and zip. Long and complex.

Very Good.

Patricia Chardonnay 2011 from a cool, wet year, this feels lighter and fresher.

Good.
Red with mains - a flight of Shirazes

Patricia Shiraz 2012 more cool-climate maritime fruit in the blend. White pepper and florality with cool mint and pencil shavings; sweet ripe fruit and oaky spice, vibrant, plump and long. Elegant, fresh and compelling with good underpinnings.

Very Good.

Patricia Shiraz 2008 earthy aged character, dark fruits and freshness; supple, elegant and adept but not quite as substantial or complex as the 2012 or 2002.

Good.

Patricia Shiraz 2002 sweet vanilla and leathery-mushroomy aged character; vibrant with ripe dark fruits and cool mint; minerality, freshness and a muscular core. Long and complex. My wine of the night.

Very Good.
Sticky with dessert

Patricia Noble Riesling 2002 black and treacly with flowers, sweet spices and salted caramel popcorn. Savoury and mineral with fabulous underpinnings.

Very Good.

Patricia Noble Riesling 2013 fresh roasted peaches and sweet spices, savoury roasted chestnuts, butterscotch, caramel and oakiness. Substantial, mineral and full.

Good.

Vivat Bacchus And Kaapzicht Estate Charity Lunch

Pebbles charity lunch at Vivat Bacchus with Kaapzicht Estate

I'd heard of Vivat Bacchus and, with its sophisticated European name, I'd guessed it was an upmarket wine bar and restaurant.

Somehow, I had never worked out that it is South African.
Established in 2003 it serves wines mostly from South Africa and now Cape-style food as it is no longer possible to import meat from Africa.
Owner Gerrie organiser a lunch with Kaapzicht winemaker Danie Steytler Jr to talk about their charity project Pebbles; from 1st June 2017, 50p from the sale of​ every bottle of Kaapzicht Estate wine and all Vivat Bacchus own-label wine​ will go towards Kaapzicht Estate’s charity work with the Pebbles Project.

Winemaker Danie is the 4th-generation of a family owned company based in Stellenbosch.
For non-Afrikaans speakers, Kaapzicht translates as Cape View and Kliprug as rocky back, a reference to the stony soils.

On arrival
Vivat Bacchus Chenin Blanc 2016 pure, fresh and elegant with aromatic herbs and crews. Clean and focused. Good.
With starter
Kliprug Chenin Blanc 2015 like a dry Sauternes; hints of botrytis with ripe peaches, beeswax and floral honeysuckle. Fresh, elegant and complex. Very Good.
With mains
Kaapzicht Pinotage 2015 dark fruits, spices and gaminess. Fresh, supple and elegant. Good.
With cheese
Vivat Bacchus Estate Red 2013 Bordelais-style bramble, spice, earthy-woodsiness, pencil shavings and cool mint. Substantial, long and complex. Very Good.





Saturday, 20 May 2017

Summer's Here - Two Pinks via From Vineyards Direct

Two elegant summery pinks via From Vineyards Direct

Summer's here and the time is right for:

a) fighting in the street, boy?
b) dancing in the street?
c) drinking rosé?

If you answered a) or b), you think you are Mick Jagger. If you answered c) you need to find yourself a decent bottle of pink.

Here are two via From Vineyards Direct that are perfect picnic wines or sippers.

Menetou Salon Rosé Domaine de l’Ermitage 2016 (£14.95) 100% Pinot Noir, steely-yet-supple cool-climate Loire rosé with soft red berries, pear fruit and zippy lime zest; poised and fresh. Pure, mineral and substantial.

Good. 

Mas de Cadenet Sainte Victoire Rosé 2016, (£11.95 / 75cl; £22.95 / magnum) 40% Grenache, 40% Cinsault and 20% Syrah; elegant, southern, Provençal rosé: sweet, ripe red berry fruits and florality. Fresh, mineral and substantial with southern warmth.

Friday, 19 May 2017

A Bordeaux 2014 Masterclass

Bordeaux 2014 tasting with Richard Bampfield MW and Jean-Christophe Mau of Chateau Brown

For this tasting, Master of Wine Richard Bampfield and winemaker Jean-Christophe Mau took us through a range of left-bank and right-bank wines from the good-but-not spectacular 2014 vintage.

A large number of the attendees were trainee MWs, looking to learn the nuances of Bordeaux terroir.

After trying all the wines sighted, we re-sampled them blind and were invited to guess which was which. I still don't know how many I got right - if any - but it was a fascinating exercise.

Vintage characteristics

Freshness, aromatics, red more than dark fruits, balance; not as bold a year, but good definition within a smaller frame

Flight 1
All of these wines showed lifted fruits and perfume; shown in increasing order of quality, the last two wines were the most substantial, but for me the Sociando-Mallet and Brown showed best on the day.

Ch Poujeaux, Moulis-En-Medoc soft, supple, ripe fruit with former rustic / raw tannins, less generous on the finish

Ch Brown, Pessac-Leognan mintier, mineral and substantial; more ripeness and finesse with cedarwood

Ch Sociando-Mallet, Haut-Medoc more sour-cherry and coffee flavours; fuller and more generous

Ch Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estephe cool mint, more closed up, fresher and leaner, firmer tannins and grippier. Opens up more over time.

Ch Marquis de Terme, Margaux spicier, cool mint, plump and supple; harmonious and substantial with smooth, round tannins.

Flight 2
For these wines Richard explained that the Left Bank Cab-based wines tend to be more back-palate vs the more front-palate Right Bank Merlots of Pomerol and Saint-Emilion. I found myself continuing to prefer the more contemplative Left Bankers; on a technical assessment, the last two Saint-Emilions were the more substantial and complex suggesting greater aging potential.

Ch Lagrange, Saint-Julien cedar-wood, plump and ripe, harmonious, fruit-forward

Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac grilled and earthy with cool mint; focused and pure, intensity and concentration, firmer structure, ripe tannins

Ch Taillefer, Pomerol cedary, roasted with spice, sweet fruits and freshness; pure cherry fruit. Precise and refined with very fine tannins.

Ch Dassault, Saint-Emilion supple with cool mint and sweet, ripe dark-cherry fruit. Very fresh, pure and concentrated. Plenty of well-integrated oak.

Ch Bellevue, Saint-Emilion mocha and cherries, firm-yet-fine tannins, very fresh and pure. Sweet fruit, freshness, prominent oak and rounded tannins