Wine Tasting: Wine with Game (WINE Magazine) (25th Aug 1998)

Presented by WINE Magazine and The Ubiquitous Chip Restaurant in Glasgow.
During the first part of the tasting, fifteen wines and a malt whisky were presented blind. We were asked to write notes for each wine, and mark them according to the following system:

  • Sweetness of whites/roses (dry 1 to 9 sweet);
  • Drinkability ( A - drink now, B drink or hold, C hold, X past its best).
We also had to give the wines a mark out of 100 ( 50 being undrinkable, 100 sublime!)
I don't normally score wines so I struggled a bit, with a tight group developing in the high 80's and low 90's.

The second part of the tasting involved matching the wines with four game dishes prepared by the Ubiquitous Chip:
roasted Grouse; Venison haunch; roasted Wood Pigeon and Wild Rabbit in Cinnamon.

We split into two groups, tasting half of the wines each and marking their performance with food. This part of the tasting was a real eye-opener. Wines that had suffered badly in the first section occasionally came into their own with the game. Some of the wines that I would have suggested as ideal matches suffered terribly.

One point to consider when reading the notes is that towards the end of the tasting the wines had been given plenty of time to open out. The dishes had cooled and intensified in flavour. I'm sure that the order of tasting had a marked effect on the wines tasted.

A very enjoyable and informative tasting - my thanks to WINE Magazine for inviting me, and to The Ubiquitous Chip Restaurant in Glasgow for hosting us and providing such delicious fare.
(WINE published their conclusions in the November 1998 issue)

1. 1995 Cursan Ch Cursan Crozes Hermitage

25th Aug 1998 GBP10 Rhone Table White

[Tasted blind]
Pale straw.
Fresh, clean nose.
Medium bodied, fresh with ripe, sweet gooseberry fruit. Good acidity. Long finish. Enjoyable but quite simple.
[Scores. Sweetness 3/9, Drinkability A - drink now, 85/100]

2. 1995 Ropiteau Beaune 1er Cru Les Greves

25th Aug 1998 GBP13 Burgundy Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Pale, even, ruby.
Mute nose with notes of coffee and vegetation.
Light with lively, juicy, red berry fruit. Quite firm with crisp acids, dry tannins and a decent finish with some oak coming through.
[Scores: Fullness 1/5, Drinkability A - drink now, 80/100]
With Game:
This wine went reasonably well with all four dishes although the berry fruit was too dominant. The wine went very well with the rich chocolate sauce of the Wood Pigeon but was maybe a bit simple.
[ Grouse 2, Venison 2, Wood Pigeon 2, Rabbit 2]

3. 1992 Rossignol-Trapet Beaune 1er Cru Teurons

25th Aug 1998 GBP17 Burgundy Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Pale, even, ruby/red.
Dumb with some overripe berry fruit and dank, vegetal notes.
Medium bodied with juicy red berry fruit and pepper. Crisp acids and a fair finish although it dries out quite dramatically.
A bit austere without food.
[Fullness 2/5, Drinkability B - drink now or keep, 85/100]

4. 1995 Trignon, Ch du Ch du Trignon Sablet

25th Aug 1998 GBP7 Rhone Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Red/purple, pinking at rim.
Nose shows traces of cassis but is quite backward.
Medium to full bodied with ripe black fruit and earthy flavours. Ripe tannins, fresh acids and good balance over a long finish.
Needs food but quite enjoyable on its own.
[Fullness 3/5, Drinkability B - drink now or keep, 88/100]
With Game:
Too powerful for the subtle flavours of the Grouse and the Venison (although it matched the rowan and mint jelly perfectly).
Unpleasant and metallic with the chocolate sauce of the Wood Pigeon.
Excellent with the Wild Rabbit - the fruit and the acidity of the wine blending in perfectly in a long, long, combined finish.
[Grouse 3, Venison 3, Wood Pigeon 4, Rabbit 1]

5. 1995 Marques del Puerto Rioja Crianza

25th Aug 1998 GBP6 Rioja Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Pale red fading at rim.
Tart red berry fruit on the nose - undeveloped and closed.
Medium bodied with sweet strawberry fruit and creamy oak. Ripe tannins, some acidity - nice balance through to the finish.
Enjoyable now but not a lot of depth.
[Fullness 2/5, Drinkability A - drink now, 88/100]

6. 1997 Santa Ana Mendoza Malbec

25th Aug 1998 GBP4 Argentina Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Deep, even, purple/red.
Stewed berry fruits with some oak coming through on the nose.
Full bodied with chewy black fruit and spicy oak. Good balance and a decent finish. Slightly corrupt notes.
[Fullness 4/5, Drinkability B - drink now or keep, 88/100]
With Game:
Overwhelmed the Grouse and the Venison (although the jelly stood up again).
Too rich for the Pigeon - the acidity of the wine jarred with the rich sauce.
Good with the Rabbit but seemed slightly astringent - certainly not perfect.
[Grouse 3, Venison 3, Wood Pigeon 4, Rabbit 2]

7. 1996 Cornacchia Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Le Coste

25th Aug 1998 GBP9 Tuscany Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Deep, even, red - pinking at rim.
Forward stewed black fruit and candy sugar nose - strange but appealing!
Full bodied with rich, soured plum fruit and notes of aniseed. Lively acidity with almost a sherbety finish.
A bizarre set of flavours but very enjoyable.
[Fullness 3/5, Drinkability A - drink now, 90/100]

8. 1997 Le Pupille Morellino di Scansano DOC

25th Aug 1998 GBP8 Tuscany Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Very deep purple/red - purple/pink at rim.
Some development on the nose with aromas of redcurrants and oak - lots of alcohol, needs time.
Full bodied with a rounded, velvety texture. Ripe, sweet bramble fruit with creamy oak and peppery notes on the long finish. Big and luscious.
Young but enjoyable now.
[Fullness 4/5, Drinkability B - drink now or keep, 93/100]
With Game:
A good combination with all of the dishes but a bit too weighty.
The wine didn't really gel with the rich sauce of the Wood Pigeon but came through with the Rabbit - although a bit too opulent, the cinnamon really complimented the finish.
[Grouse 2, Venison 2, Wood Pigeon 3, Rabbit 2]

9. 1994 Lamarque Haut-Medoc

25th Aug 1998 GBP12 Bordeaux Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Deep red fading gradually to rim.
Enticing, perfumed nose of cassis and cedar.
Medium to full bodied with developed, well balanced cassis and cedar flavours. Slightly stalky, almost faulty. Long finish.
Slightly underripe and austere overall.
[Fullness 3/5, Drinkability C - needs time, 85/100]

10. 1996 Produttori del Barbaresco Nebbiolo delle Langhe

25th Aug 1998 GBP8 Piedmont Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Pale, even, tawny/red - mature.
Lots of alcohol on the nose with notes of leather.
Light to medium bodied. Dried out and astringent with dry tannins. Some burnt berry fruit.
[Fullness 2/5, Drinkability X - Don't!, 75/100]
With Game:
Too much for the Grouse but what a turnaround with the Venison: the wine seemed quite acidic but showed lovely earth and tobacco flavours which really melded with the ripeness of the game.
Stalky and metallic with the rich Wood Pigeon sauce and again quite tart and metallic with the Rabbit.
[Grouse 2, Venison 1, Wood Pigeon 3, Rabbit 3]

11. 1989 Canon Moueix Pomerol

25th Aug 1998 GBP14 Bordeaux Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Mahogany/red to mahogany - even and mature.
Rich, perfumed nose with prunes, raisined red fruit and well-integrated oak - very attractive.
Medium to full bodied with a silky, mouthcoating texture and developed flavours of tar, liquorice and cassis.
Superb balance and a long, concentrated finish.
[Fullness 3/5, Drinkability A - drink now, 96/100]

12. Cousino Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon

25th Aug 1998 GBP7 Chile Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Pale, even, garnet/red.
Intense currant fruit on the nose with perfumed, floral notes.
Medium bodied with intense, clean berry fruit and earthy/iron flavours coming through in the middle.
Mature and enjoyable with a long peppery finish.
[Fullness 3/5, Drinkability A - Drink now, 95/100]
With Game:
The spicy, peppery flavours worked quite well with the Grouse but the wine was a touch too weighty.
Too weighty again for the Venison, and quite dry and austere with the jelly.
Stalky and metallic with the strongly flavoured Wood Pigeon, undrinkable with the Rabbit - pungent, astringent and metallic.
[Grouse 2, Venison 3, Wood Pigeon 4, Rabbit X]

13. 1996 Cline Cotes d'Oakley Rouge

25th Aug 1998 GBP7 USA Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Pale, even, pink/red.
Bizarre nose of stewed red fruit and stale urine.
Medium to full bodied with sweet, developed red berry, leather and toasted oak flavours.
[Fullness 3/5, Drinkability A - drink now, 93/100]

14. 1996 Wyndham 555 Shiraz

25th Aug 1998 GBP7 Australia Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Deep, even, purple/red.
Powerful cassis, eucalyptus and mint nose - alcoholic, open and attractive.
Fat and ripe with rich, alcholic cassis fruit. Warm, bracing acidity, lurking oak and a long spicy finish.
[Fullness 5/5, Drinkability B - drink now or keep, 93/100]
With Game:
Impressive with the Grouse - the food was initially swamped but came through in a harmonious finish.
Stunning with the Venison - the best combination of the night: the berry fruit matched the jelly perfectly and the meat teased incredible rich coffee/chocolate flavours from the wine.
The venison dominated a long finish.
With the Pigeon the wine seemed acidic and didn't really gel.
The Rabbit bought out bitter notes in the wine.
[Grouse 1-2, Venison 1+, Wood Pigeon 3, Rabbit 3]

15. 1994 Jim Barry McCrae Wood Shiraz

25th Aug 1998 GBP15 Australia Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Deep red/purple.
Quite mute with a lurking nose of cassis and spices.
Full bodied. Sweet and peppery with mulberries and black fruits. Mouthfilling with warm alcohol and soft acidity.
Young but very good.
[Fullness 5/5, Drinkability B - drink now or keep, 95/100]

16. Glenkinchie 10 year old Lowland Malt

25th Aug 1998 GBP24 Lowland Spirit Other

[Tasted Blind]
Bright gold.
Some peat and lots of sweet sherry wood on the nose - wood not yet overwhelming so I would guess quite young.
Sweet and rounded with flavours of oak, nuts and vanilla. Smooth but has retained a bit of fire.
[Guess: Sherried Speyside]
With Game:
I was amazed how well the whisky did.
Too spirity for the Grouse but it made for a rich, smoky combination - certainly a better match than some of the wines.
Excellent with the venison - again a lot of spirit but the flavours combined very nicely and gave a rich finish that lasted for several minutes.
Overwhelmingly spirity and unpleasant with the Wood Pigeon and the Rabbit.
[Grouse 2, Venison 1, Wood Pigeon X, Rabbit X]