Preamble Tasting December 2000 
The Second Millennium Tasting We Can't Afford
Mark Downes

Eighteen wines, if you count the Aperitif and the Finis!  A good start to Christmas revelries.  the star ratings are a bit difficult, especially because some of the wines and vintages are not available.

Aperitif. A.R. Valdespino Don Gonzalo Viejo Olorosa Sherry, Jerez, Spain
Pink brown with a huge nose.  Nutty, warm, alcohol burn.  Great with olives and gherkins - I never thought I'd find anything that goes well with gherkins.
Searsons £13.75

1. Babich Irongate Chardonnay, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, 1996
Very pale honey.  Wonderful, classical nose, but not aggressive.  On the mouth soft but not flabby, good acidity, long, long aftertaste.  Beautiful.
Gleesons £11-12

2. Beringer Special Reserve Chardonnay, California, 1998 
Light, slightly brown tint. Pungent burnt toffee/caramel nose (some said cinnammon, gripe water, medicine). Pear, citrus, honey and nut.  .Huge, yummy aftertaste.  Quite astringent if you look for it.  Aged in French oak, stirs in the lees.
Allied >>£30

3. Beringer North Coast Zinfandel, California, 1997
Gorgeous. velvety red.  Nose not huge but severe, with a medical hint.  Very berry, spicy, fruity, almost jammy.  SLightly unpleasant to me at the end (bear in mind that I'm not a Zin fan) with an astringent, rubbery finish.
c. 23

4. Rubesco Vigna Monticchio, Torgiano Rosso, Riserva Lungarotti, Umbria, Italy, 1990
Even more velvety, deep.  Spicy, berry nose on agitation and warming.  Almond, astringent, burn and acidity.  "Reassuringly Italian!" according to my friend Des.  Count Lungarotti is the maker and Monticchio is the vineyard.  Sangiovese with 10% Canaiola. 12.5%  Yummy
Findlater 21

5. Hermitage "La Chapelle", Paul Jaboulet Aine, N.Rhone, France, 1988 
Dark, black, crystal clear. Strong nose "Cool, concentrated, cedary" according to Clive Coates.Pastilles but not sweet.  Complex and wonderful  When we tasted this with Gerard Jaboulet in about 1992 he reckoned it would be ready for drinking in 2010.  It still has a few years to go and is likely to improve - if you had any :( 
£Large sums, if you could get it

6. Meerlust Merlot, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Another deep and dark one.  Quite an amaro taste behinf the fruit pastilles - could mistake it for Italian.  Unusual "gritty" tannin feel.  Lovely complex wine, not as opulent as the usual Merlot.  Will last at least 2-3 years.
Febvre £16

7. Chateau Fourcas Hosten, Listrac, Medoc, France, 1988
Quite restrained pastilles and cream, some mint.  Huge mouth feel; wood, toasted oak, fruit, acid.  A slight puckering - needs more time. Huge aftertaste.  Repays cellaring.  Was bought for about 10. (Courtesy Conor Richardson)
£20-25?

8. Fishers Vineyard 'Coach Insignia', California, 1997
Very dark.  Nose stern, clean, berries up front, cedarwood,, tobacco at end.  Initial scented fruit caught up by quite stern taste as the Cabernet Sauvignon overpowers the Merlot.  Cab Sauv 77%, Cab Franc 8%, Merlot 15%.  Very fine grained tannins, very good, complex; wait a few years. Others rated it more highly than I.  This Fisher is Fisher Autobodies, by the way.
Terroirs > £30?

9. Leeuwin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 'Art Series', Margaret River, W. Australia, 1993 
Really dark velvet.  Berries, tobacco and cedar.  Very cool in mouth with a pucker at the end.  Not together yet; long way to go.  Very long aftertaste, quite rubbery.  Has lots to say.  Deep and clean.  More traditional Bordeaux style.  Only '96 available now.
£26

10. Vina Tarapaca 'Milenium', Maipo Valley, Chile, 1996
Hint of paraffin!  Smooth.  Cool.  Plums and cigar boxes. I am a big fan of Tarapaca Cab Sauvignon, but this blend of Cab Sauv, Merlot and Shiraz doesn't really grab me and certainly not at ...
36

11. Coldstgream Hills, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia, 1998
Brown rim.  Light red.  Very young yet.  Nose of strawberries without cream.  Burnt rubber comes through as it warms up.  Lovely, complex, great at ...
Findlater 16

12. Vina Ardanza Rioja Reserva, La Rioja Alta, Spain, 1993
Marks favourite Rioja.  Very complex nose of plug tobacco.  Strangely fruity after the nose.  Very light style.  Nice but not for me at this price.
Mitchells 17.50

13. Zlatan Plenkovic Plavac Casta-Berba, Hvar Island, Dalmatia, Croatia, 1996
Lovely velvety red.  Huge nose of plug tobacco.  Huge.  Excellent.  Good tannins, well balanced.  Keep ten years or so.Grapes are Plavac Malai (small Plavacs) from 40 year old vines. 30 months in French oak.  
Terroirs ?

14. Maglieri Wines, Shiraz 'Steve Maglieri', McLaren Vale, S. Australia, 1997
Black, heavy.  Surprisingly light, fruity nose.  Loads of berries.  creamy smooth fruit.  Hint of shoe polish. Dense.  Fruit pastilles.  Seems to lack backbone but on the other hand there is quite a stern backlash on  the last sip.  Lovely.
Not available; entire allocation of  five cases bought up!

15. Rosso del Bepi, Giusseppi Quintarelli, veneto, Italy, 1994
Lovely rich red.  Very lactic nose. Beautifully rich, some sweetness and a slight amaro taste.  Valpolicella dried on racks.  Very, very pleasant.  Top wine.
Terroirs ?

16. Chateau Gravas Sauternes, Domaines Berard, Barsac, France, 1996
Looks very light.  Nose burnt rubber and sweet honey.  Quite a lot of refreshing acid.  Some tea.  Delicious and different.
Findlater 16

Finis.  Porto Ramos-Pinto, Quinto do Bom Retiro, 20 years old Tawny Port, Portugal
Amazing almost Sherry colour.  Nutty nose.  Superb ending to a superb night.
Searson  34

   
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