Held at the rather grand Vintners Hall on Upper Thames St, this was a great tasting with over 80 wines on show being served by some great winemakers, including Antony Barton of Leoville Barton and Jean-Charles Cazes of Lynch Bages.
Best wine of the evening was either Krug 1998 (not usually a big champagne fan, but this is extraordinarily complex and delicious), or Lynch Bages 2000, which had a heady nose of wood, bakery and sweet fruit, and followed through with a concentrated, complexity and real lasting depth (sadly £1250 IB).
Disappointments for me were Palmer twofold, as the Alter Ego 2007 and 2002 were light and thin, and not nearly as good as the 2008s I tried at the April UCG tasting, where they so impressed me. And by the time I got to the table someone had nicked the last bottle of 1996, which others said was great!
Also the Pichon Lalande 2005, 2004 and 2001 were all a bit insubstantial (thin according to the lady I was standing next to). The 2001 was best, so perhaps they need time to develop?
All the Leoville Barton and Langoa Barton impressed me, including both 2007s at £340 and £280 in bond (IB) respectively, confirming the oft repeated statement that Mr. Barton manages fantastically high consistent quality. I would go for the 2001 Langoa at £275 IB, which was earthy and mushroomy with plenty of fruit and tannin, or the 2004 Leoville at £395 IB, which was tight, lots of cassis and should develop over many years.
Not only was the Lynch Bages great, but so was the Les Ormes de Pez 2003 and 2005 at £220 and £240. I overheard a group of gents busy telling Jean Charles what great value his wines were and had to step in and put a stop to it.
The CNDP Dom de Senechaux 2007 they own was also lovely, full of sweet sticky figs and long, delicious. But a slight fear it might be a bit one-dimensional, or perhaps just young from a great vintage.
I was impressed by the Verget white burgundies, having recently had a great trip there sampling lots of good wine. I have been feeling a bit stung by the general level of prices and the generally poor 2007 reds.
The various Chablis 1er Crus from £135-£195 were all of great quality, tight minerally and with depth. For me ‘Vaillons’ and Fourchaume VV de Vaulorens’ were the most tasty. But I would and may go for the Meursault ‘Tillets’ at £210 IB, which was tight, fresh, stone fruits with a light woody touch and core of minerals. I’d be interested to find out how it might age.
Top value for early drinking (this time confirming Adam’s general view) were the new world wines:
Kumeu River Estate and Hunting Hill Chardonnays at £130 and £150. Made to develop over 2-6 years. Exciting, oaky but totally balanced, and simply delicious.
Craggy Range, the Merlot Cab Te Kahu at £120 IB was gorgeous and will apparently age well (no chance of that at my house as it will be polished off pronto). The Merlot Cab Franc Sophia at £190 was also ***+ wine, and the Syrah Le Sol at £295 IB (so a £30 a bottle wine) was so refined and balanced that it concealed its 14% alcohol completely. It’s the heaviness of a lot of NW wines that I find hard to enjoy.
The mystery wine a Phelan Segur 2005 at £300 as case was also very good indeed.