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Tasting notes and how to read them


  • Dry white wines
  • Aromatic and sweet white wines
  • Light red wines
  • Medium-bodied red wines

Dry white wines
Meursault 1998 Louis Latour
Clean, limpid medium yellow with a hint of green, quite rich, a really lovely colour. Touch of new wood on the nose, ripe melony fruit, slightly exotic, stylish and very expressive. Fine, floral, honeysuckle fruit on the palate, with hazelnut overtones, rich and quite buttery, yet good lemony acidity, very elegant but still young. Very good balance, oak and fruit well blended in, an excellent example of grape variety dominated by terroir, great persistence, very good future

limpid - Literally transparent, like clear water, while retaining its colour
rich - Showing ripeness and viscosity, usually from the legs or "tears" that form on the sides of the glass than from depth of colour
new wood  - The vanilla-vanillin aroma of new oak, whether French or American
melony - Signifies ripe, slightly exotic fruit, usually referring to Chardonnay. More exotic fruits could be pineapple, guava
expressive - Expressive of either its grape variety, terroir or both. Stylish + expressive would be a finely turned out wine with character
floral - Usual on the nose, but on the palate means the blend of florality and flavour
honeysuckle/hazelnut - Typical expressions of a the Chardonnay grown in Meursault, rounded and attractive
buttery - The impression of ripeness with a certain fleshiness, often the result of barrel fermentation or barrel ageing



Aromatic and sweet white wines
Ch. Lafaurie-Peyraguey 1985 1er Cru Classe Sauternes
Pure gold in colour, with hints of yellow still and no amber. Floral, honeyed bouquet, with hints of peach and apricot, an impression of great sweetness but not over-heady . Honey and lanolin flavours on the palate, rich barley sugar sweetness, great fruit extract, good botrytis, luscious, classy finish. A fully sweet Sauternes from a fine year, tasting superbly at 15 years, with as long again in front of it.

gold - a golden colour indicates both original ripeness and sweetness as well as maturity. In 10 years time the golden colour will have taken on an amber glow, and the colour will progress from gold to amber as it matures further
floral - on the nose the smell of flowers or blossom as opposed to the smell of fruits
honeyed - many sweet wines do literally smell of honey, but hear it refers to ripe concentration and richness that is epitomised by the smell of honey
peach / apricot - the aroma of these stone fruits is also found in aromatice wines from the Viognier grape, and denotes warm, summery ripeness
heady - concentration of richness that literally goes to one's head. An over-heady wine would be over-powering and unbalanced
lanolin - a smooth, creamy impression often associated with the Semillon grape at advanced ripeness, the opposite of tart
barley sugar - concentrated sweetness, but not sugary
botrytis - the effect of reducing the water in the grapes, thus increasing the sugars, when they are attacked by pourriture noble, or noble rot



Light red wines
Valpolicella Classico Superiore 1998 Allegrini
Brick red colour, very fresh and young looking. Fine, rose-like like bouquet, some sweetness in attack, drier on the second nose Clean,cherry-like fruit flavours on the palate, a hint of wood and a touch of bitter almonds , good balance, long, dry finish. Fine long flavour despite the liveliness, natural acidity present, a wine for food

Brick red - denotes the absence of violet or purple colours of some very young wines, more a lack of intensity than a sense of maturity
rose-like - a delicate aroma, yet with a certain ripeness, always floral
attack - the strong first impression, one that jumps out of the glass
second nose - the more studied reflection gained by swirling the wine in the glass to release more than it does on the first impression
cherry-like - unless cited as 'black cherries' which carry a definite impression of ripeness, cherry-like indicates firm, vibrant fruit with a touch of acidity and none of the sweetness of, say, blackcurrants
wood - a sense of firmness and tannin, as opposed to 'oaky', which refers to the new casks in which the wine will have been aged
bitter almonds - often associated with cherries, a certain fruity bitterness, more refreshing than unpleasant
food - wines with exuberant, unrestrained fruit do not go well with food, for their fruitiness dominates. A 'food wine' is one that complements a meal



Medium-bodied red wines

Ch. Leoville-Barton 1990 2eme Cru Classe Saint-Julien
Deep colour,velvety red, no real sign of ageing, still very youthful and firm looking. Concentrated red berry fruits on the nose, heavily Cabernet in style, blackcurrant leaf, with a cedar wood / cigar box spice coming through, concentrated fragrance followed by rich fruit. Same concentrated, tightly knit fruit on the palate, wonderful ripeness, still showing youthful black currants and blackberries, firm backbone but ripe tannins, superb structure. Overall, a classic Medoc from a top chateau in a great vintage. Ripe enough to enjoy now, but still a long way off its best, which should be during its 3rd decade. 

velvety - a deep, rich smooth looking colour that always denotes very good ripeness at vintage time
firm - reserved and with potential to develop, a positive description, not to be confused with "hard", which is generally negative
berry fruits - small red fruits, covering the berry, cherry and the currant families. Individual red varietals tend when young to be dominated by one or two of these red fruits
cedar wood / cigar box - cedar wood is a characteristic of semi-mature and mature Cabernet-dominant wines especially from the Medoc, owing more to the style of wine than to oak ageing. Cigar box is similar - found in many Cabernet & Merlot wines
tightly knit - flavours that are firmly woven together, not loose or diffuse, shows good potential for development
backbone - an essential element for a well-structured wine
tannins - substance existing in the skin and pips of a grape that is necessary for the long development of a red wine. Tannin can also be obtained from the oak barrels in which such wines are matured
structure - a sense of solidity that has more to do with each element holding together than with weight





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