Wine Tasting: Spicy Reds (17th May 1999)

A tasting I presented at Glasgow University. A wild assortment of styles and origins presented blind.

1. 1996 Glen Carlou Les Trois

17th May 1999 GBP7 South Africa Table Red

Deep tawny purple, fading to brick red.
Lush, complex, mature nose of bacon, mushrooms and undergrowth - appetising.
Medium bodied with sweet, minty cassis fruit, juicy acidity and a long, firm finish.
Outstanding value - drinking now and over the next 2 to 3 years.

2. 1995 Val Ribeno Ribera del Duero Crianza

17th May 1999 GBP11 Spain Table Red

Opaque purple/red, pinking slighty at rim.
Fairly mute on the nose but some depth with berry and oak aromas.
Medium bodied with sweet, juicy, fresh raspberry flavours, good integration, and a long savoury, tobacco and oak finish.
Showing well now, probably best with food. Very good.

3. 1996 Laurel Glen Counterpoint

17th May 1999 GBP14 USA Table Red

Opaque purple with a pink rim.
Dense, dumb nose of cassis, tar and oak.
Big, full-bodied wine with sweet cassis and mint flavours, hard tannins and a good, oaky finish.
Needs 3 to 6 years, but impressive.

4. 1996 D'Arenburg Cabernet Sauvignon Coppermine Road

17th May 1999 GBP15 Australia Table Red

Opaque purple/red, paling slightly at rim.
Lurking, immature mint and cassis nose with hints of pencil shavings.
Full bodied with juicy cassis and mint flavours, firm tannins and good length.
Very concentrated, thick and chewy but the acidity is still a bit raw.
Very good, but needs 4 to 10 years.

5. 1996 Tatachilla Shiraz

17th May 1999 GBP9 Australia Table Red

Very deep black/red fading evenly to red/pink.
Stewed nose of forest fruits and raspberries with some oak and vanilla.
Full bodied and chewy with rich, savoury, salty, meaty flavours, cassis fruit, integrated tannins and acids, and a good, pure finish.
Salty, savoury and gorgeous now, it could do with a rare steak.
Very good value.

6. 1996 Fetzer Petit Syrah

17th May 1999 GBP14 USA Table Red

Opaque red/purple with some fading to pink/purple.
Lurking, dense nose of cassis and cream, with leafy, oaky undertones - tangy and not yet fully developed.
Medium to full bodied with jammy cassis, leather, candied fruits and a slightly medicinal tang.
Rich acidity and powdery, but firm, tannins lead into a long, dry, oaky finish.
Gorgeous at the moment, but will improve.

7. 1994 John Glaetzer Johns Blend

17th May 1999 GBP17 Australia Table Red

Opaque red/purple with some fading at rim.
Rich, tangy, complex nose of ripe cassis, mint, cream and oak - not really there yet.
Full bodied with superbly integrated tannins and acids, and sweet and sour cassis and oak flavours.
Long, creamy, savoury finish with oaky notes.
Still a bit young, but what a wine! Demands a steak.

8. 1995 John Glaetzer Johns Blend

17th May 1999 GBP17 Australia Table Red

Opaque red/purple with slight redding at rim.
Young but complex nose with lush cassis, cream, mushroom and eucalyptus aromas.
Full bodied and intense with sweet and sour flavours of cassis, beef and leather.
Superbly integrated with slightly dusty tannins, tangy acidity and a long, complex, savoury finish.
Needs a steak and/or 5 years.
Fantastic but the 1994 has the edge.

9. 1993 Wirra Wirra Kuitpo Shiraz

17th May 1999 GBP25 Australia Table Red

Opaque purple/red with very slight paling at rim.
Still a bit closed on the nose but wow! - Rich, alcoholic aromas of cassis, mint, cocoa and leather.
Full bodied with a thick texture, ripe tannins , well integrated acidity, charred oak and rich concentrated cassis/raspberry and dark chocolate flavours.
Long, tangy finish with spicy oak.
Outstanding. Needs another 5 to 10 years to show its best, but I wouldn't spit it out now.

10. 1995 Quinta Vale da Mina Vintage Port

17th May 1999 GBP16 Port Fortified Red

Opaque red/purple with some redding at the rim.
Baked plums, forest fruits and allspice on a nose with strong alcoholic/phenolic notes.
Full bodied, thick and sweet, with a rich cough mixture and black bun flavour.
Little if any tannins show over the fruit, making this a star for early drinking.
[This went down very well with all of the tasters, but it was identified as fortified shiraz or Recioto di Valpolicella by most tasters.]