Wine Tasting: Assorted Fine Wines (6th Apr 1998)

A fine wine tasting, Glasgow. I presented the wines blind, in pairs. Obligatory claret benchmark included.

1. 1995 Landmark Damaris Chardonnay

6th Apr 1998 GBP19 USA Table White

Bright, pale gold.
Lots of spicy tropical fruit, new oak and alcohol on the nose.
Rounded and soft on the palate with ripe mango, spice, vanilla/oak flavours. Lots of sweet alcohol but still fresh.
A superb, opulent wine for drinking now.

2. 1996 La Jota Barrel Viognier

6th Apr 1998 GBP20 USA Table White

Very pale straw.
Perfumed nose with tropical and citrus fruit notes, fresh and lively in spite of powerful oak and alcohol.
Ripe and fresh on the palate with masses of sweet alcohol, oak, grapefruit and orange peel flavours.
Good acidity and a long spicy finish.

3. 1995 Edmund Saint John Mourvedre

6th Apr 1998 GBP8 USA Table Red

Garnet/Red, pinking slightly at rim.
Inviting nose of vegetal rhubarb, black fruits, spicy oak.
Medium bodied and forward with plenty of alcohol, tangy fruit and spice flavours, good acidity and a good finish.
A very unusual wine - probably best now with grilled pork or chicken.

4. 1994 Tria Labrynth

6th Apr 1998 GBP13 USA Table Red

Deep red fading to a pinkish brown at the rim.
Dense, rounded plum and old-oak nose with plenty of attack.
Full bodied with heavy, roasted raisin fruit flavours and lots of spicy oak. Plenty of acidity and good tannins.
This isn't quite there yet but should be fantastic in a year or two.

5. 1995 Ravenswood Old Vines Sonoma Zinfandel

6th Apr 1998 GBP12 USA Table Red

Deep garnet/red colour fading to pink at the rim.
Still a bit closed on the nose but very promising with integrated aromas of brambles, plums and bitter cherries, alcoholic and brooding.
Dense, full bodied wine with masses of dark fruit - brambles, raspberries and black cherries. Well balanced with good acidity, ripe tannins and a long finish.
A young, lively wine that is showing very nicely now but will develop for a few years yet.

6. 1994 Flora Springs Trilogy

6th Apr 1998 GBP20 USA Table Red

Very deep red paling slightly at rim.
A concentrated, unevolved nose of cassis, plums, cedar and coffee - this needs time but is very promising.
Full bodied with quite sweet, plummy, raisiny fruit, lots of smoky oak and ripe tannins.
This wine needs another 5 - 10 years but will be outstanding.

7. 1995 La Jota Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain

6th Apr 1998 GBP23 USA Table Red

Deep blue/red fading to red.
Immature, brooding nose with stewed black fruits, wood smoke, tar and spicy oak aromas.
Full bodied, well rounded wine with superb mouth-filling velvety texture.
Warm alcoholic berry fruit and oak are balanced by good acidity and soft tannins.
Although a lovely experience now, this wine won't be anywhere near its potential for 5 or more years.

8. 1995 Pahlmeyer Merlot

6th Apr 1998 GBP30 USA Table Red

Deep purple/red fading to red/pink.
Deep, fleshy, rounded nose of fruitcake, cinnamon and cloves - very promising.
Very full, fleshy and mouth-filling with masses of alcoholic cinnamon and plum flavours. A long finish with plenty of furry tannin.
A huge wine that is very enjoyable now - much better to keep it a few years and let it develop though.

9. 1995 Conseillante Bordeaux

6th Apr 1998 GBP45 Bordeaux Table Red

A young Pomerol, just to keep the tasters on their toes!
Deep garnet fading to an amber/red at the rim.
Brooding, dense, alcoholic nose with notes of stewed cassis, fruitcake, oak and green leaves.
Big, chewy, up front flavours of plums, fruitcake and spicy, smoky oak. Well rounded with good acidity and firm, underlying tannins. Outstanding.
Approachable now but 5 or more years will really bring out the class in this wine.

10. 1995 Sean Thackrey Orion

6th Apr 1998 GBP35 USA Table Red

Opaque purple with purple/red rim.
Weird but exciting nose of jelly babies (no really!), mint and pepper - quite volatile and plenty of alcohol.
Full bodied with spicy, warm raisin fruit, smoked oak, tar and alcohol. Dry with firm tannins and a long, long finish.
This isn't as forward as some of the previous vintages but is very rewarding. Neither Rhone Syrah nor Oz Shiraz in style, but a fantastic, quirky wine that is rapidly building a cult status.
Keep it for two or three years anyway.