WanderCurtis Wine

Wine tastings, corporate events, reviews and recommendations


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Adam wins this year’s Wine Australia’s Tasting Blind Club 2015-16

For as long as I can remember whenever Adam & I get together outside work we’ve always served wine blind to each other.   Tasting blind forces you to really focus on the wine and sharpens your appreciation of it.  But most of all blind tasting is a great leveller: the wine’s pedigree, whether humble or aristocratic, is left by the door, the whisper of critics is silent, and one is blissfully ignorant the size of the hole, large or small, it would make in your bank account.  It’s also fun to try and work out what the wine is!

So I’m particularly delighted to announce that Adam’s great tasting skills have been recognised as Winner of this year’s Wine Australia’s Tasting Blind Club.

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The monthly Tasting Blind Club presents 20 wines (19 Australian with one imposter) arranged in flights by theme and served blind.  Participants from the wine trade include sommeliers, educators & wine students. The challenge is to answer a list of questions identifying the wines’ features & the year’s best taster wins a place on a trade visit to Australia’s wine regions.

Look out for Adam’s blog on the trip this autumn.


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Do you have a Wine Mind Palace?

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There seem to be two main components to identifying a wine when tasting blind.

Firstly analytical where by identifying the wine’s key characteristics: visual appearance, body, acidity, tannin, alcohol level, primary & secondary flavour profile etc. one can by process of elimination narrow down the possible grape variety and wine making techniques to a short list of potential regions & wine makers.

Secondly by comparing these characteristics to a database of taste memories, what Sherlock might call a ‘Wine Mind Palace’.

This is the part I have to admit I find most tricky.  I can remember the smell of a blackcurrant or elder flower with the best of them but I struggle to say that I can recall the ‘taste’: aromas, structure & mouth-feel of individual wines as a combined memory as some tasters claim to.

Part of the problem is that a good bottle of wine unfolds and develops in the glass over the course of an evening constantly morphing and transforming like the flames of a log fire. If it’s a great wine there’s simply too much going on to remember!

The other thing causes my Wine Mind Palace classification system to fall somewhat short of Dewy Decimal standards of efficiency is quite frankly the alcohol! Whilst ethanol may not actually kill off brain cells it’s widely accepted that it does inhibit memory formation!


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Bordeaux Noughtie Tasting

Date – February 13th 7.30 Pm , Highgate

The first BYO format tasting and certainly not the last.

As usual all wines (12 in all) were served blind but with the twist of putting the person who brought the wine in the driving seat. They were invited to present the wine, share critic reviews, their own experience of the wine and to lay a trial of tantalising clues for the assembled tasters.  Lots of entertaining discussion and great fun for all.

A lovely selection with a predominant Left Bank theme but some delightful elegant Pomerol’s including Lafleur and Vieux Chateau Certain.

Educational as ever this format really focuses on issues such as quality, drinking pleasure, value, winery reputation and vintage.  For me, surprise of the night – how well many of the 2002s were drinking in spite of the vintage’s poor reputation, confirmation of the night – just how much pleasure a ‘comparatively good value’ wine like Grand Puy-Lacoste reaching maturity from a good year like 2000 can give!

Thanks to all who attended for generously bringing such a great selection of wines and of course to the Kellys for hosting once again in their wonderful dining room.

Started with Bollinger , Louis Roederer . Delighted to have in attendance , UK Champagne Ambassador, Tim Hall of Scala Wines

Tasting Notes  courtesy of Tim Hall  Scala Wines

1) Chateau Leoville Barton , St Julien 2002

St Julien, 2nd growth 1855, 72CS, 20M, 8CF

Garnet-deep; maturing edge. Intense ripe aroma, lots of new oak; svelte and classy.  Some chewy dry tannin on the end. Dense but lean bodied spare-fleshed.  Impressive elegant wine. Thought Left Bank (LB) 04.  Not fleshy enough for a great year.

2) Chateau Phelan Segur 2005

St Estephe, Cru Bougeois (when this made) but now with break-away group and boycotting the classification.  55CS, 45M

Deep core; touch of brick. Cream and slight vanilla and varnish nose; high char oak, perhaps a bit dolled up. Astringent dry tannin on the end.  Good wine, trying very hard, perhaps a bit much. Thought LB 04.

3) Chateau Charmail 2000

Haut-Medoc, Cru Bougeois, 48M, 30CS, 20CF, 2PV

Deep core. Some age on the rim, quite tiled. Touch green on nose,  not wholly ripe fruit.  Meaty, savoury, quite evolved. Needs drinking. Rather austere.

4) Chateau Pontet-Canet 2001

Pauillac, 5th growth 1855.  62CS, 32M, 5CF, 1PV

Deep core; some orange bricking. Very seductive big hit of exotic dried peel and new oak, gloriously met with pressing red berry fruit. Very classy indeed.  Succulent, medium weight but not fat, great finesse.  Thought Paulliac 05 and thrilled this property made such q good wine in this mediocre year.  Top wine of the night for me.

5) Chateau Talbot 2003

St Julien, 4th growth 1855.  66CS, 26M, 8PV

Mid-deep. Quite a rim. Sweet nose, gorgeous and opulent; Christmas cake. Round, big, soft tannin. Lots of new oak.  A big hug of a wine. Tasty and seductive. Considered right bank (RB). Forgot 2003 made such plump soft wine on the LB in this warm year. I would get on with this.

6) Chateau Lafleur 2004

Pomerol, with a great reputation.  50M, 50CF

Deep core; brick rim. Very drying tannin on end. But candied peel and fig full fruit, yet a mild green component too. Complex and tantalising jostle of elements. Not completely harmonious but opened beautifully in the glass. Does this need more time?  Impressive.

Boeuf Bourguignon , baked camembert

7) Vieux Chateau Certan 2002

Pomerol, a very high ranker. 60M, 30CF, 10CS

Deep core, wideish rim.  Very spicy nose, cumin and pencil shavings; classy integrated oak.  Medium intensity yet reticent and a bit passive on the mid-palate.  Softish but ultra charming.  A good long carry  to the end, leaving moss and cinnamon and red cherry notes.  Drinking well, no need to keep longer but good for a few years.

8) Chateau Senejac 2002

 Haut Medoc, Cru Bourgeois when this made, but not now.  48CS, 37M, 11CF, 4PV

Mid-pale, broad rim.  Very sweetish fruit nose and extraction but pretty evolved and a green streak going through, in fact herbaceous but forgiven by a residue of fruit brightness.  Pleasant enough, perhaps better a few years ago. Upright, four-square and needs drinking up.

9)Léoville-Lascases 2002

St Julien, 2nd growth 1855.  65CS, 24M, 10CF 1PV

dense.  Evidently a light version of a tip top property, with cedar, coffee and a whole gamut black fruit and spicy but reticent oak. Stately stuff.

10) Grand Puy -Lacoste 2000

Pauillac, 5th growth 1855.  75CS, 20M, 5CF

Deepish purple, quite open with charming easy and open fruit and spice.  Mellifluous, succulent and serious.  Medium range stuff, in middle age, but good poise and all still holding together.  Delicious.

11)Yon-Figeac 2002

St Emilion, Grand Cru Classé  80M, 20CF

Mid-colour, wide core, pretty evolved and slightly unfocused.  But oh so supple and drinkable in its roundness and green plum and currant cake character.  A savoury note that made it attractive and not too loose-limbed.   Nice RB contrast to prior LB wine.

12)Vieux Chateau Gaubert 2006

Graves AOC.  50M, 50CS

Medium colour and orange rim. Fruit left but losing it to the structure so finishing a little austere and dry. But much good fruity weight. Fairly short range wine, pleasant, not enough chewy intensity for old bones.  Drink now.

Raymond Blanc’s Tarte Aux Pommes

Doisy-Daene 2005    

Sauternes, 2nd growth 1855 (although divided since then) 86S, 14SB

A lovely muscovado sweetness but then complexity of hay and tobacco on the nose.  Quite a hit and then light, gorgeous botrytic note. Very fresh and lightly-poised and not cloying.  Excellent and stylish.

And all finished off with Tim’s excellent Champagne Lacourte-Godbillon Brut NV , full details of where to get this will be mailed out .