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Imminent Journeying; Recent Carousing

Livestock above Westbury white horse
Nagging at me for weeks now has been the requirement to squirt off down the Rhône Valley to taste the 2010 vintage, about which I - and perhaps you - have been hearing a great deal. In Burgundy, whilst the '09 vintage threw up succulent, ripe wines that'll overdose the senses with the most flattering Pinot fruit, 2010 has presented us with cooler, more structured wines of great intensity. It seems that a similar situation has developed in the Rhône.

As ever, I will be blogging regularly along the way, posting photographs and information about where I've been and at which domaines I have been tasting. Keep returning here for updates.

I attended a superb dinner the other evening just off Castelnau south of Hammersmith Bridge. Three wine merchants and a joint client, visiting from the US, assembled at the house of one of the merchants. We all brought bottles along and we ate extremely well. Here are the wines:

1997 Kaseler Nies'chen Riesling Spatlese, Karlsmuhle (7.5%abv)Maturing, dense, lime-and-slate nose. Pretty aromas with some floral notes, those flowers both dried and fresh: lillies, perhaps. Just off dry, with the most fabulous grapefruit acidity. Lovely freshness, well controlled. Very slaty, straight to a solid finish.

1990 Chateau Figeac, St Emilion Ravishing nose, fully mature. The nose hitns at graphite and dried herbs, strawberry and cedar. Very spicy, developing a distinct whiff of mint. In the mouth, the fruit is light, perhaps lightening with age into its dotage. It is, however, mineral. Touch of austerity here. Is this drying out? Quite straight and with low+ acidity. With airing, a hint of burnt sugar develops; liquorice. Upright, piquant tannins. Long. Lovely upright grip. Just on the downhill slope now.

1998 Masseto, Tenuta dell'OrnellaiaInky-dark with a very narrow band at the rim. Rich and dark and oaky nose hinting at mocha wood. Fruit is sweet and very black, pure plum. Palate is sweet and rich and secondary and there's real mineraility beneath the fruit, as well as some remnant wood tannins. Really very long wine. It develops an aroma of charcouterie and roasted coffee and burnt gingerbread crust. Nice grip here. A long wine and one gaining in intensity throughout the palate.

1993 Clos Vougeot Grand Cru, A&F GrosBig colour, bricky and mature-looking. Rich, roasted nose, really quite rooty. Spiced beetroot, smoke and red and black fruit. Hints at coffe and liquorice. Really earthy and masculine. Touch of iodine. Very cool wine that gains in fine grip. Very fresh and really very mineral. All the lift and intensity. Develops aroams of roasted meat. Excellent.

2010 Wolfer Goldgrube Riesling Auslese, Vollenweider (8%abv)Distinct whiff of white pepper with a Granny Smith fruit, along with some cinnamon spice. Apple crumble. This is bracingly crisp from the very front. Upright zip to the green apple acidity. A touch saline. Very long indeed, with sustained grip. Juicy, curnchy and peppery. An aroma of Kaffir lime leaves later on.

Ah, bliss. More evenings like this please, Lord Bacchus!
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