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Waitrose Christmas press tasting
Part 1 Fine wines (Canary Wharf and Kingston selection)

October 2002

Of the UK supermarkets, Waitrose has probably the best wine selection. I attended their autumn press tasting and I'll be writing up the 100 or so wines I tried in four parts, beginning with the fine wines. This is a small selection of the wines available from the temperature-controlled ‘Inner Cellar’ rooms at Waitrose’s flagship branches in Kingston and Canary Wharf. Some of these wines are also available from Waitrose Direct. Overall, a super selection with some real treats.  

See also: Part 2, fortified wines; Part 3, white wines; Part 4 Spanish, Portuguese and Italian reds

Domaine Louis Carillon Puligny Montrachet 2000, Burgundy
The restrained, fresh lemony nose shows some nutty character. The palate is savoury and restrained with crisp nutty fruit. Classy, but a bit light, and £35 is expensive for a village-level wine. Very good+ (£35)

Bouchard Père et Fils Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2000, Burgundy
Some nutty complexity on the tight-yet-classy nose, which has a smoky, minerally edge. The palate is rich, very nutty and slightly vanilla-edged. Tasty and rich, this isn’t a huge wine but it does have some class. Expensive. Very good/excellent (£50)

Petaluma Tiers Chardonnay 1999, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Tight, crisp, nutty/herby nose is quite refined. Elegant palate is rich and savoury. Brilliantly balanced with well integrated oak, this is a classic among Australian Chardonnays and all the better for not relying on power for its effect. Excellent (£40)

Henschke Lenswood Green’s Hill Riesling 2001, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Lenswood is a happening sub-region in the Adelaide Hills, and Henschke have produced an attractive, open Riesling from their vineyard here. Very impressive, striking limey aromatic nose. The palate shows good balance with vivid, limey, sherbetty fruit. Very good+ (£14)

Peter Jakob Kühn Oestricher Lenchen Riesling Kabinett 2000, Rheingau, Germany
Honeyed, lemony nose is ripe, expressive and full. The rich-textured palate is quite sweet and full with tropical fruit and melon notes. Very good/excellent (£9.99)

Robert Weil Gräfenberg Riesling Spätlese 2001, Rheingau, Germany
Lifted apple and lemon fruit on the nose. The palate is rich and full with a lemony twist to the sweet, fat textured apple and pear palate. Very expressive. Very good/excellent (£24)

Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 1997, Constantia, South Africa
This is sensationally good. A deep yellow/orange colour the nose shows lovely, complex crystallized fruit and marmalade character: it is sweet and rich with a little lifted acidity to keep it lively. The palate is intense, complex and well balanced despite the sweetness. Quite brilliant. Excellent (£21.50/50 cl)

Château d’Yquem 1990 Sauternes 1er Grand Cru Classé, Bordeaux
Deep yellow/orange. Complex and slightly restrained nose of herbs, honey and straw, with hints of vanilla and butterscotch. The palate is intense and waxy with lots of herbal complexity, and notes of caramel and toast. Seamless, well balanced and not overtly sweet this is a legendary wine to sip with reverence. Excellent (£200)

Louis Roederer Brut 1990, Champagne
Nicely poised with a taut, herbal, slightly toasty nose. Lean, intense palate shows herbal complexity with a yeasty, bready character. Satisfying in a savoury style. Very good/excellent (£45)

Mount Edward Pinot Noir 2001, Central Otago, New Zealand
A stunning New Zealand interpretation of Pinot Noir. Deep coloured. Lovely herbal nose is slightly medicinal with some almost animal-like complexity. The palate shows chunky, chewy fruit and good herbal complexity. Great balance. Very good/excellent (£21)

Domaine Michel Gros Vosne Romanée 1er Cru Clos de Réas 1999, Burgundy
Lovely intense, slightly spicy, smoky/herbal fruit on the nose. The expressive palate is dense and brilliantly balanced with ripe, chewy herbal fruit, some animal-like complexity and good acidity. This is textbook red Burgundy in a rich style and from a great vintage. Excellent (£36)

Louis Jadot Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 1999, Burgundy
Tight nose shows ripe, firm cherry and raspberry fruit. Palate is firm with good acid and chewy fruity. Still quite tight knit and closed, this needs time. Very good+ (£45)

Château Palmer 1983 Margaux 3ème Cru Classé, Bordeaux
Deep red/brown colour with a fading rim. Spicy, mineralic nose with some savoury herbal complexity. The palate is nicely evolved with firm, mineralic, earthy character. Drinking well now. Very good/excellent (£170)

Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 1989 Pauillac 2ème Cru Classé
Red/brown colour with a fading rim. Lovely mature claret nose with complex herby and minerally notes. Quite focused. Chewy, savoury palate with good structure and earthy, leathery, mineralic complexity. Very good/excellent (£110)

Alain Graillot St Joseph 1999, Northern Rhône
Deep coloured. Wonderful vivid raspberry fruit on the nose with a meaty, slightly earthy edge. The palate is dense and firm with more intense raspberry fruit and lovely medicinal green olive notes. Tannic and firm, this is a lovely wine in a brilliantly savoury, bold style. Very good/excellent (£15)

Duckhorn Decay Migration 1998, Napa Valley, California
Sweet ripe herb-tinged fruit on the nose. Rich, chewy berry fruit on the palate with an attractive rounded texture and a herby edge. Very good+ (£18.75)

Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz 1996, Barossa, South Australia
Striking intense nose is lush with rich liquoricey, menthol-edged fruit. This is huge. Bold, vividly fruited palate has a rich, tarry, oaky character, but it works pretty well. A monster style showing lots of concentration and oak, and why not? Very good/excellent (£30)

Eileen Hardy Shiraz 1997, McLaren Vale/Padthaway, South Australia
Complex, expressive nose showing vivid tarry fruit. Very rich and open. The palate is concentrated and rich with a mint and menthol edge to the ripe forward fruit character. A big wine that represents a great example of this style. Very good/excellent (£40)

D’Oliveiras Reserva 1968 Boal, Madeira
Brown/orange colour. Striking, articulate nose of lifted acid, caramel, toffee, tar and smoke. The palate is rich with raisiny sweetness brilliantly balanced by the slightly bitter high acid finish. A remarkable complex old wine full of character. Excellent (£49)

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