Preamble Tasting June 1997
A Midsummer's Dream
Frank Searson

1. Terassen Thal Wachau Gruner Vertliner Smaragd, 1995, Freie Weingartner Wachau
Thal is a valley, Wachau is part of the Danube, Gruner Vertliner is the grape (1/3 of Austria grapes), Smaragd is emerald - an emerald lizard of the region - and connotes spatlese. Freie Weingartner is a white wine cooperative. It has a lovely nose with a hint of burnt rubber. A greeny straw colour. It is fermented dry but with the spatlese grapes has a lovely firm fullness and a hint of apple sweetness. 13.5%. Very nice but a bit expensive.

2. Chateau Saint Auriol, Corbieres Blanc, 1995
Very pale, honeyed nose. A hint of grapefruit on the palate, some pear drops/vanilla from the oak. Softer than the first. From La Grasse, one of the better regions of Corbieres. Grapes are Marsanne, Rousanne, Bourboulenc and Grenache Blanc (normally associated with white Chateauneuf such as Vieux Telegraphe).

3. Macon-Clesse, Domaine Rene Michel, 1994
Greeny yellow. Lovely scented, "non-Chardonnay" nose, rich and honeyed. Late harvested, but no noble rot. On the palate bursts with honey and zing, well structured with a firm backbone. 14% alcohol.

4. Chinon, Les Granges, Bernard Baudry, 1995
Chinon is a tributary of the Loire, and Les Granges is what Baudry cal his wines from young vines. Made with 100% Cabernet Franc this is a clear dark red with a hint of blue. A rich nose (even served chilled). A bit thin and tannic, and a bit soft for Cab Franc which is supposed to have a "green acidity", I'm told.

5. Leeuwin Prelude Cabernet Sauvignon, 1992, Margaret River, W. Australia
By Pat and Denis Horgan. Up to 20% Merlot and Cab Franc. Deep red with a hint of brown. You can smell the alcohol at five paces (14%). Nose not as big as expected, but shows mint and berries. Fruit and tannin on the palate; big flavours, a hint of tobacco and pastilles, nicely oaked. Keep for 2-3 years if you can; good up to 10.
6.99, Searsons, 13 for price of 12.

6. Edmunds St. John "L'Enfant Terrible" Mourvedre, 1994, California
Apparently he buys parcels of grapes. Dark red, warm and mushroomy on the nose. A number of strangely separate tastes: Redcurrants, blackcurrants, raspberries. Zingy, spicy and warm. Not fully integrated yet? Wait 18 months - 2 years. 14% again.

7. Gigondas, Domaine Saint Gayan, 1993
Grenache and Syrah. The winery is on the plain but the vineyards are on the best hills. Velvety red, warm and spicy. Fruit and pepper, soft tannins. Very well structured. Hold on to it: A wine to welcome the new millenium. A respected colleague thought it better than Crozes Hermitage Thalabert, my Rhone yardstick, so I checked the oracle: Parker rates them similarly in 90 and 91, the Thalabert winning by a nose. No Thalabert was made in '93 because Jaboulet considered the vintage disastrous.

8. Duas Quintas Reserva, Duoro, Adriano Ramos-Pinto, 1992
Acquired by Louis Roederer; two quintas, one very high. Grapes are Tinto Rorigo and Nacional. Nice red with a light rim. Spicy nose, quite closed. Beautifully spicy, fruit pastilles, ready to drink. Very different, very rich, but would I spend 15 on it?

9. Domaine d'Aupilhac, Coteaux du Languedoc, Montpeyroux, 1995
Dark red, austere, quite closed. Austere and even slightly rough on the palate. Made with Carignan (25%), Grenache (18%), Mourvedre (25%), Syrah (25%) and Cinsault (7%). 13% alcohol. Buy now, keep it a few years, maybe until about 2005.

10. Grangehurst Pinotage Stellenbosch, 1995, S. Africa
By Jeremy Walker. Deep mulberry colour. Strong warm but somewhat closed nose of cherry and currants, quite powerful. Very "green" (early picking). Ten months in oak. Best Pinotage I've ever had but the price...

Excellent tasting, as always from Frank.
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