British Airways - Business & Lounges

Sydney, London

Tasted November 10, 2014 - November 15, 2014 by graemeg with 617 views

Introduction

I always like to run through as many wines as I can of those on offer in the airport lounges, just to taste all sorts of wines i would never normally try (usually due to obscurity or value-for-money factors)

Flight 1 - Qantas/BA Business Lounge Sydney (4 notes)

BA shares the Qantas lounge in Sydney. Business class is distinctly mediocre as far as wines go: First is much better.

Red
2011 Penfolds Bin 8 Australia, South Australia
{screwcap, 14%} Youthful enough, but raw and herbal, with a mix of over and under ripe fruit flavours, oak-chip characters, a raw feel to the palate, coarse but low-level tannins and a short finish. I know this is 2011 but’s still pretty dire and does Penfolds name no good at all. Being a bit colder might have helped but not much.
Red
2011 St Huberts Pinot Noir Australia, Victoria, Port Phillip, Yarra Valley
{screwcap, 13.5%} A light-bodied, not terribly pinot-like mouthful of smoky, dusty red fruits laced with tobacco and finishing rather short. It’s not that bad really, but it’s neither terribly enjoyable for memorable. Another victim of the vintage I assume.
White
2012 Heemskerk Chardonnay Abel's Tempest Australia, Tasmania
{screwcap, 13%} Figs, nuts and lightly grilled oak. Smells pretty good, but the palate is a bit of a let-down with little depth to the otherwise pleasant flavours. The acidity is pretty low level and the finish is on the short side too. Balance is OK in a sense, apart from an overall thinness of texture. Commercial chardonnay – albeit at a boutique region price – fairly well executed.
Red
2012 Wolf Blass Shiraz Sapphire St John's Ebenezer Road Australia, South Australia, Barossa
(screwcap, 14.5%) Big vanilla and plum nose, with plenty of soft oak on the palate too; served far too warm in the Qantas lounge. It has soft dusty tannins, medium weight and a medium length finish which wants a bit of time to settle down. Finishes warm too, although that may be temperature rather than alcohol. No real surprises here, not great depth; drink over 3-5 years.
I see from the website this is one of four different regional Barossa shirazes from the 2012 vintage released under this label, as a CD and duty-free special, ostensibly selling for A$45. There's a parlour game; pick the differences between 4 different 2012 WB Barossa shirazes!

Flight 2 - Qantas/BA First Lounge Sydney (3 notes)

Moving over to the First Class lounge, I wish I’d been here from the start: most of the business class wines are here too, but there’s a much better selection available too; pity I didn’t have time to work through them all. Not on the list but best of all was the Rockford shiraz decanted on the bar. It didn’t occur to me to ask for one of the unopened bottles to take away, maybe that would have worked?…

Red
2008 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Australia, South Australia, Limestone Coast, Coonawarra
{screwcap} Decent depth of herb-tinged currant fruit, with fine dusty tannins and medium weight. Pretty standard Wynns cabernet, although I think they should have done better in this fine vintage. This has a dry savoury finish of medium length only. A decent offering but doesn’t promise a really great future; I’d drink this before its decade is out.
Red
2010 Petaluma Merlot Australia, South Australia, Limestone Coast, Coonawarra
Kinda dense and plummy with cedary oak. Medium body with medium tannin. Smoke and plums and some warmth too. Just a bit anonymous to be terribly interesting. Probably better in 5 years or so.
Red
2010 Rockford Shiraz Basket Press Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
{cork, 14.5%} Very young. Spicy tobacco aromas with soft oak. Inky black currant and red berry undertone. Really attractive; not burnt or raisin-smelling. The silky texture is helped by ultra-fine powdery tannins. This is medium-bodied only but has terrific concentration and persistence. Fruity, sure, but it has the depth of structure to back it up. Really too young and even one-dimensional to derive maximum enjoyment from just now, but there’s nothing here that time won’t cure. Outstanding.

Flight 3 - In the air (6 notes)

BA flights BA16 and BA15; Sydney > London via Singapore, and return.

Rosé - Sparkling
N.V. De Castelnau Champagne Brut France, Champagne
Brown onion skin colour. A lick of strawberry on the nose. Fierce bubbles (in the air now) with a grape-skin tannic quality on the palate. Sits a bit on the front palate and tastes of brown leaves and dried apricots. Medium/full body. OK but not great.
White
2012 Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis 1er Cru Vau de Vey France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru
{screwcap} Very deep yellow for this age. Nutty and buttery nose; lots of oak here it seems. Mild white fruit flavours; served very cold. Refreshing medium acid, medium weight. Not crisp, but that’s a style thing. A touch generic, but otherwise OK. Had more coming home a week later and it was nicely consistent.
Red
2010 Patriarche Père et Fils Gevrey-Chambertin France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin
{cork} Darkly assertive old school burgundy. Hefty liqueured cherries, fairly mild dusty tannins with smoky flavours. Medium weight, savoury and dry, with a short/medium length finish which isn’t all that endearing. A bit of a bruiser.
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White - Sparkling
N.V. Taittinger Champagne Brut Réserve / La Française France, Champagne
Grapefruit and chardonnay fruit. Some quite leesy character evident. Medium bodied. Dry and savoury. Fairly aggressive but small bubbles, but we were at altitude. Certainly a decent mouthful of fizz. On the ground more subdued; the grapefruit character is enhanced but the bubbles are still furious and quite larger than in the air. This is OK.
Red
2010 Château Robin Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux
Very light-bodied claret. Good deep colour, but it flatters to deceive. The flavours are thin stalky cherries, with soft but gritty tannins. There’s a green touch too. Reckon this was cropped pretty highly. In BA’s Singapore lounge, and served a bit warm too, which hasn’t helped the cause.
Red
2012 Hedonist Wines Shiraz The Hedonist Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
{screwcap} Dark ruby. Youthful nose with blackberry, spice and vanilla; big warm palate, not terribly distinctive but big and bold on fruit flavour. Very dusty tannins of medium level, bit it sits a bit forward in the mouth and the finish is a bit short and ‘commercial’ if you know what I mean.

Flight 4 - BA Business Lounge Heathrow 5 (15 notes)

In BA’s business lounge at Heathrow 5. A much wider – and better – selection of wine here than in the equivalent Qantas lounge in Sydney, although I can’t ever imagine Qantas offering baked beans as a buffet selection…Whites nicely chilled (not too much), but all the reds were at a too-warm room temperature.
Wish I could have tried the First lounge...

White
2013 La Cacciatora Gavi Italy, Piedmont, Gavi
{cork, 12.5%} Youthful, closed nose; slight sea-salt smell, that’s all. The palate is pretty unexciting; low/medium acidity, light/medium body; a hint of minerals and rocks as far as flavour goes, a briny tang to the texture and that’s about it. Shortish finish. Gavi comes much more interesting than this.
White
2013 Gadais Pere & Fils Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine La Grande Réserve du Moulin France, Loire Valley, Pays Nantais, Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine
{screwcap, 12%} Youthful, watery, grassy nose. Grassy salty palate, light-bodied, with refreshing medium/high acidity; still rather ethereal in presence; more about a drying semi-spritz quality to the texture than much real flavour. In the end, disappointingly dull, with a short/medium length finish. Am I missing something here in this wine’s youth? Maybe…?
White
2012 Fouassier Sancerre Les Chasseignes France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Sancerre
{cork, 13%} Sweaty and grapefruit-like. Medium-high acid, and medium body; has a kind of greasy grey/green quality to the flavours with a rather thick texture being manfully supported by the acid. Will fatigue set in? Good mid-palate weight, far more so then many Marlborough offerings. Medium length finish. Maybe there’s some oak here bolstering the structure; I didn’t note it at the time but it seems possible.
White
2010 Thorntree Chenin Blanc South Africa, Western Cape
{screwcap, 13%} Grassy, melon nose, but the palate following becomes broad and flat, and is low in acid. Pale white fruit flavours, light/medium body, short, thankfully dry finish. This is pretty undistinguished; they could have spent more time in the vineyards and less on the pretty label.
White
2013 Château Guiraud 'G' Sec France, Bordeaux
{cork, 13%} Sweet passionfruit aromas. Youthful, too. The palate is a lovely mix of straw and passionfruit. Solid presence, medium/full-bodied, with medium acid, and a medium length finish that offers a sweet tang to it (although the wine is actually dry of course). Very satisfactory.
White
2012 Baileyana Chardonnay Firepeak USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
{screwcap, 13.5%} Closed nose of grapefruit and nuts. The dry palate tastes much oakier than the nose indicated; it’s warm and buttery, but the peachy-soft flavours fade pretty quickly, not helped by low acidity. Shortish finish; a fair wine, not exciting to draw me back for a second glass.
White
2013 Château Chanteloup France, Bordeaux
{cork, 12%} Light, grassy hay aromas. Youthful. Gosh the palate is dull, though; just a smidge of grass/straw flavours with little acid of length of finish to accompany it. So the balance is fine, it just doesn’t add up to any more than very basic drinking.
Red
2010 Alderbrook Pinot Noir Russian River Valley USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
{cork, 14.2%} Developing dusty cherry aromas, with a distinctly liqueured note to them. The palate is big, hefty and alcoholic. There is some general ‘pinot’ character, but it’s turbo-charged by alcohol (served rather too warm, however). Other than heat, it’s light/medium-bodied, with low acidity, and a medium length finish; but it becomes ever more jammy and confected, to the point where I wondered if there was some residual sugar here. By the end of the glass, the prospect of another one makes me shudder in horror. Too sweet. Drink with McDonalds…
Red
2007 Château Faugères France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
{cork, 13.5%} Developing; lovely currant nose, with rich merlot plums. Intense. Only light/medium body, but the medium acidity and low-medium dusty tannins balance it out nicely, even if the palate is a bit watery as far as grand cru should go. It does engage the whole palate, even if only for a short time and in a rather superficial manner; still it’s pleasant enough except for an astringent note at the end of the medium length finish. Probably the pick of the reds on offer here tonight.
Red
2008 Bodegas Santalba Rioja Ermita de San Felices Reserva Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
{cork, 14%} Aged nose; sweet old oak, but also jammy fruits and real bacterial quality. The palate is medium-bodied, with low/medium chalky tannins, and it’s mostly dominated by a sharp volatile character. This makes it very one-dimensional and results in an acetic short finish. Well past its best for me.
Red
2012 Meiomi Pinot Noir USA, California
{cork, 13.8%} From all over the place; Monterey, Santa Barbara, Sonoma. Youthful, sweet strawberry jam. Oh wow, this really does smell like a ‘fruit-drink’. There is soft oak on the palate, but no real tannins, little acidity, and so much sugary sweet fruit that I’m tempted to argue a case for ‘off-dry’. The palate is accordingly flabby, short-finishing, and confirms every prejudice anyone ever had about sugar-addicted US palates. Blech!
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Red
2010 Château Tauzinat L'Hermitage France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
{cork, 14.5%} Youthful, lusciously ripe plums and blackberries. A medium powdery tannin backbone helps the cause, the acid is a bit soft; there are lovely cedary oak flavours too. Only just medium-bodied; it’s just a little bit too simple overall to really entice; a few years will do this good, but it’s never really going to sing. Decent effort though.
Red
2011 Reata Pinot Noir USA, California, Napa / Sonoma, Carneros
{cork, 14.3%} Finally an American pinot which isn’t jam in a bottle. There’s a mix of strawberry, pastrami, smoke, oak, delicatessen aromas. The palate is similar, with soft chalky tannins, moderate oak, plenty of ripe flavour but not too hot. Light/medium body, dry medium length finish: would have been much better at a cooler temperature but this is OK in the shorter term.
Red
2012 Teusner Cabernet Sauvignon The Gentleman Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Eden Valley
{screwcap, 14.5%} Youthful. Bright, glowing blackberry fruit. Less cabernet on the nose than hte pate, which does manage an unexpected tobacco/herbal flavour. It’s fairly assertive in its medium-weight, but in a simple way; the medium length finish isn’t terribly satisfying somehow. Low dusty tannins, dry finish; it’s a fair effort but not for the cellar.
Red
2012 Brand's Laira Cabernet Sauvignon Blockers Australia, South Australia, Limestone Coast, Coonawarra
{screwcap, 14.6%} Rather crude and over-cooked. Lots of medium-bodied palate warmth, generic new world black fruits, coarse medium tannins, and a baked short-length finish. Shot through with dead-grape qualities and lacking all freshness and vitality. The Brands tradition continues as far as I’m concerned; what on earth are they doing in Coonawarra in 2012 to get fruit like this? (In BA’s Singapore lounge.)
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