A Matter of Taste: London Edition

Saatchi Gallery, Chelsea

Tasted February 28, 2015 by JonnyG with 934 views

Introduction

I had the pleasure of attending the London edition of A Matter of Taste, which provided an overwhelming abundance of riches in terms of the diversity of remarkable wines poured, as well as the wine moments created. My notes are presented in sequence, and I am afraid that no matter how disciplined I was in terms of usage of the spit bucket, the quality of my observations deteriorated as the day went on. I’ve also included my rather sparse notes from a separate Leoville Barton vertical I joined later that night at Hedonism Wines.

Flight 1 - The Primum Familiae Vini “Family Alliance” Master Class (10 notes)

I was not familiar with the way these leading houses cooperate with one another, and their mutual respect and admiration enhanced the tasting experience. One of the most memorable occurrences of the day was seeing Paul Symington blush with pride and warm feeling when Philippe de Rothschild proclaimed that his late mother the Baroness always had a crush on him – so genuine and sweet, consistent with the ways these families feel bonded in a parallel efforts to steward their legacies.

White - Sparkling
2002 Pol Roger Champagne Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill France, Champagne
94 points
Such an impressive wine, with clean saline notes, muted citrus and a touch of toasty custard. Great persistency.
White
2010 Joseph Drouhin Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches Blanc France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Beaune 1er Cru
92 points
A dense powerhouse, too young really, a touch viscous, featuring a ginger aspect and some smoky caramel; very high in acid, almost distracting at this stage.
Red
2007 Miguel Torres Cabernet Sauvignon (Black Label) Mas La Plana Spain, Catalunya, Penedès
90 points
Amid tough company, this came off as a bit austere, with plum flavors and a touch of smoky oak; a bit confected, needs time to round out.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2006 Tenuta San Guido Bolgheri Sassicaia Sassicaia Italy, Tuscany, Bolgheri, Bolgheri Sassicaia
95 points
Explosive layers of cranberry, sweet spice and red velvet on the nose; backwards, monstrous & primary, only hinting at the level to which this should soar; concentrated but not extracted; chewy tannins; tremendous balance; no oak; continued to develop with air.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2003 Château Mouton Rothschild France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
90 points
I couldn’t get behind this, too be honest. There was a touch of bricking on the edges; a green/tobacco nose with blue fruit, pepper and crushed stones; too dry and restrained on the palate in my view; perfumed, stewed fruit and a bit of tobacco leaf. Not that much depth; some eucalyptus emerges on the finish.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
1994 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único Spain, Castilla y León, Ribera del Duero
95 points
Beautiful wafts of leather and forest floor on the nose, plus black cherry emerging later; tight, primary, notes of raspberry and dark fruit mingle with a complex spice palate; fruit and acidity in full balance; a clipped finish but with air I suspect it would have been even more impressive.
Red
2007 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Hommage à Jacques Perrin France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
99 points
The real deal! Hauntingly pure in appearance, both deep and transparent at the same time; an acrid barnyard nose with wool, tin and pepper emerging; balanced, powerful palate, so complex, with deep, rich dark fruit that virtually exploded in the mouth alongside notes of candied flowers, smoked meat and licorice; an endless finish; my red WOTF, and perhaps of the day.
4 people found this helpful Comment
White - Off-dry
1993 Egon Müller/Le Gallais Wiltinger Braune Kupp Riesling Auslese Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
95 points
A truly ‘wow’ wine, transparent chiffon in appearance, with an absolutely unadulterated and evocative nose of sweet saline, pear and crushed rock; an effortlessly assertive wine on the palate, with a clean mouthfeel featuring gooseberry, light citrus, pear and loads of minerality; very clean and vibrant; modest viscosity and a 45-second finish.
White - Sweet/Dessert
2007 Hugel Pinot Gris Sélection de Grains Nobles France, Alsace
97 points
A stunning burnt orange appearance; haunting, almost reluctant and teasing nose with beautiful florality, cut flowers, lavender, orange marmalade, cinnamon; huge, layered waves of flavor: clean, rich and balanced (plenty of acid); perfumed floral honey, dried apricot, spun sugar & quince; peaks on the finish, with a surge of flavor. Bravo!
Red - Fortified
2011 Churchill/Graham Porto Fojo Single Quinta Vintage Portugal, Douro, Porto
It was just too hard to make the adjustment to such a deep, backward, primary wine after the flight we enjoyed; I recall notes of black pepper and concentrated fruit; chewy, dense and deep. Not Rated

Flight 2 - General Walkabout Tasting: Some Whites (5 notes)

White
2010 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Bougros France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis Grand Cru
89 points
Showed well, with clean salinity, green apples and pear, but unremarkable.
White
2011 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Bougros Côte Bouguerots France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis Grand Cru
93 points
A touch of yeast, crushed rocks and smoky chiffon; primary, concentrated and fresh; should be amazingly good.
White
2012 Bouchard Père et Fils Corton-Charlemagne France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
91 points
A pale & delicate appearance in the glass; floral nose with white pepper, somewhat backward; no noticeable oak at this point; explosive in the mouth, floral and potent; good minerality; persistent finish with a touch of caramel emerging at the end. I guess I expected more, somehow.
White
2013 Verget Pouilly-Fuissé La Roche Terroirs de Vergisson France, Burgundy, Mâconnais, Pouilly-Fuissé
91 points
Some mild spice on the nose, rich fruit-forward mouthful with fine acidity; chewy and substantial.
White
2011 Guffens-Heynen Saint Véran Clos de Poncetys France, Burgundy, Mâconnais, Saint Véran
92 points
A restrained nose but explosive in the mouth, with generous mid-palate featuring some pear, mild citrus and a touch of smoke. I’d like to find more.

Flight 3 - General Walkabout Tasting: Portugal (3 notes)

Red
2011 João Portugal Ramos Ribatejo Conde de Vimioso Reserva Portugal, Ribatejo
87 points
A somewhat one-dimensional wine with noticeable oak, ripe berries, a thick texture (dare I say ‘hairy’?); very high acidity; a herbal aspect on the rear palate.
Red
2003 João Portugal Ramos Vinho Regional Alentejano Marquês de Borba Reserva Portugal, Alentejano, Vinho Regional Alentejano
89 points
The wine was all about power, with warm red fruit; a bit thin and acrid on the mid-palate. I liked the rusticity but found it unfocused.
Red
2012 Duorum Douro Portugal, Douro
90 points
A deep ruby appearance, with some ripe fruit and herbs on the nose; a rather hot wine, chewy tannins and a medium-plus finish.

Flight 4 - Dominus Master Class (6 notes)

Red
2001 Dominus Estate USA, California, Napa Valley
92 points
Blackberry and slight menthol in the nose; closed and tannic; balanced, restrained and subtle on the palate, with well integrated oak, mocha, menthol and a touch of sweetness; not the most complex though, maybe due to the merlot component?
Red
2002 Dominus Estate USA, California, Napa Valley
94 points
A ripe and herbal nose, complemented by a diverse spice palate and some fennel; intense and concentrated mouthfeel, with black cherries, plum and soy, rich and sort of Pomerol-esque, a bit of an outlier in this flight, but a rewarding one.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2006 Dominus Estate USA, California, Napa Valley
94 points
A warm, straightforward nose showing its youth; in fact, sort of in a dumb phase (aromatics will develop with time, one suspects); the purity and concentration show but it comes off as one-dimensional, for the moment only I think.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2008 Dominus Estate USA, California, Napa Valley
95 points
An unmistakably Napa nose, ripe but in balance, with sweet spice, muted licorice, dark fruit and a touch of yeast; rich and layered on the palate, with a glycerin texture, plentiful dark fruit, sweet tannins and a rich finish in which some grilled herbs emerge along with the fruit; nowhere near peak, but very impressive.
Red
2009 Dominus Estate USA, California, Napa Valley
97 points
A commanding, almost palpable nose: pure, tight fruit, some grilled meat emerges, but very monolithic tannins shield the complex flavors underneath; lacks some richness on the palate but it will surely evolve into something complex and rewarding in time.
Red
2010 Dominus Estate USA, California, Napa Valley
98 points
Perfection on the nose, an absolutely flawless combination of restrained fruit, mild herbs and cut flowers. I could not look away. Amazingly approachable, powerful yet in perfect balance. Plums, soy, grippy tannins. Such a baby but it should not take long. Menthol, herbs and tar on the finish. Easily the WOTF.

Flight 5 - Bond Master Class 2010 Horizontal (5 notes)

Winemaker Cory Empting really impressed me with his passionately and precisely articulated support for the operation’s belief in their single-vineyard approach, simultaneously scientific and non-interventionist. What a showing!

Red
2010 Bond Vecina USA, California, Napa Valley
98 points
A forest floor nose at first, but the bouquet has layers, if that is a thing: fruit, spice, soil; the palate impresses immensely, yet falls just a bit short of the extraordinary bouquet at this young age, though it would be hard to keep pace: powerful, deep blue fruit and thick tannins.
Red
2010 Bond Pluribus USA, California, Napa Valley
99 points
An inescapably inviting nose of sweet, ripe fruit with tremendous depth; warm but not hot; intense, savory wild berry flavors, which gently step back then reassert on the finish; firm tannins supporting a racy structure with loads of acidity pushing the guard rails but never losing balance; flirts with perfection, as they say.
Red
2010 Bond St. Eden USA, California, Napa Valley
99 points
A powerful, dense nose of blue fruit and grilled herbs; sort of a roller-coaster ride on the palate: firm tannins, rich acidity (no other way to describe it), potent fruit and layered, tannic blackberry/blueberry waves. Stunning stuff.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2010 Bond Melbury USA, California, Napa Valley
96 points
The darkest of all 5 in the glass; ripe nose, expressive, no oak or spice, just dark red fruit; a tannic powerhouse with plum, mocha and spice; gets a bit muddled on the rear palate but I'm splitting hairs.
Red
2010 Bond Quella USA, California, Napa Valley
96 points
Sweet spice, blue fruit, an almost volatile acidity; rich and slightly confected, with chewy tannins and a clipped finish; needs years but the potential is impressive.

Flight 6 - General Walkabout Tasting: Some Miscellaneous Wines (6 notes)

Red
2012 Bouchard Père et Fils Corton-Le Corton France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton Grand Cru
94 points
A soft nose of grape vine & Asian spice; acidic but balanced; an ethereal palate, almost airless. Light, balanced and impressive.
White
2013 Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc Single Vineyard Block A South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch, Bottelary
flawed
This was a touch oxidative, perhaps a bottle variation issue, so came off as somewhat bland.
White
2013 Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc Single Vineyard Block S2 South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch
92 points
Lush and eminently ageworthy, with well-defined lines and a fine acidity.
White
2013 Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc Single Vineyard W Block South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch
94 points
A complex tour de force, with some coconut, waxed fruit and intense minerality meshing beautifully.
White
2013 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay South Africa, Cape South Coast, Walker Bay, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley
90 points
A light-bodied Chardonnay, coming across as young and a bit primary; white stone fruit, creamy lemon chiffon, tea and melon.
Red
2013 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot Noir South Africa, Cape South Coast, Walker Bay, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley
89 points
Not really my style of Pinot, light t bodied, very light in color, featuring loads of spice, eucalyptus/menthol and some mushroom notes.

Flight 7 - General Walkabout Tasting: Italy (4 notes)

Red
2010 Tenuta di Trinoro Toscana IGT Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
91 points
A ripe nose of red berries; fresh and elegant, though surprisingly lighter weight and relatively unstructured, even so young (may come together better with time).
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2004 Fattoria Le Pupille (Elisabetta Geppetti) Maremma Toscana Saffredi Italy, Tuscany, Maremma, Maremma Toscana
92 points
This was graciously poured by Elisabetta Geppetti, who was probably looking for a well-deserved break by this point! While clearly a remarkable wine, this was not its best showing, I’m afraid, coming across as a touch green, and very tannic, without either silkiness or power; I thought is was the Syrah dominating on the nose, with pepper and restrained fruit, and later learned through the kind help of CT member Lipsman that this was the first year they used Syrah rather than Alicante; rich, red fruit on the palate; fully integrated oak.
1 person found this helpful Comments (5)
Red
2006 Tua Rita Redigaffi Toscana IGT Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
95 points
More floral than forceful, showing cherries, plum, licorice and coffee; plenty of structure to hold this intense wine intact.
Red
2006 Romano Dal Forno Amarone della Valpolicella Italy, Veneto, Valpolicella, Amarone della Valpolicella
96 points
Such a treat; a ripe, powerful nose (17%+ alcohol!); sweet spice and baked berries; very approachable, and amazingly balanced on the palate, with complex layers of blackberry, plum, cedar and spice; sure it's hot but it never veers off the highway, and should last forever.

Flight 8 - General Walkabout Tasting: Australia (9 notes)

White
2012 Giaconda Chardonnay Estate Vineyard Australia, Victoria, North East, Beechworth
95 points
Another ‘wow’ wine, so young but expressive nonetheless, with a clean nose of salinity and smoke, no oak whatsoever; there was a fine minerality alongside a very complex array of flavors: toasted cashew, stone fruit, steel and clovered honey; a very rich finish -- time will serve this well.
Red
2012 Giaconda Shiraz Estate Vineyard Australia, Victoria, North East, Beechworth
94 points
A very expressive nose evoking black fruits, lavender and bitter dark chocolate; textured and peppery in the mouth, with grippy tannins and a very long finish.
Red
2012 Mitolo Shiraz Angela Sandra's Block Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
92 points
Fresh and stemmy, with a creamy texture and a palate of oak, pepper and ripe fruit.
Red
2004 Penfolds Shiraz Bin 28 Kalimna Australia, South Australia
90 points
Espresso and dark berries on the nose, also showing some oak; the palate evidences lots of green wood, herbs and nice spice, with heat emerging on the finish.
Red
2012 Penfolds Shiraz Bin 28 Kalimna Australia, South Australia
88 points
Surprisingly light and approachable, though tannic, with ripe red fruit, mocha and cloves.
Red
2012 Penfolds Shiraz Bin 150 Marananga Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
87 points
An expressive nose of smoky red and black fruits; impressive spice in the mouth but surprisingly lacked some concentration.
Red
2005 Penfolds Shiraz RWT Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
93 points
A very aromatic bouquet of cut flowers and dark berries; elegant, refined, full bodied and quite rich and energetic; no evident heat.
Red
2012 Penfolds Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 707 Australia, South Australia
93 points
An archetypal Aussie Cab., mocha, cassis, mint, menthol. Very powerful, should gain weight over time too.
Red
2011 Penfolds Shiraz St. Henri Australia, South Australia
94 points
I really love this cuvee and had not had the 2011 before. There was an enticing bouquet of grilled herbs, olives and pepper, with more spice, pepper, dark chocolate, toasted oak and sweet tannins on the palate. Intense and angular, full bodied, with a great future.

Flight 9 - General Walkabout Tasting: California (4 notes)

Red
2012 Donelan Syrah Cuvée Keltie USA, California, Sonoma County
95 points
My first exposure to this cuvee, and it did not disappoint. The nose was restrained, not surprising given the youth, but the glycerin texture in the mouth and layered, intense fruit impressed immensely. Blackberries, pepper, cut flowers, smoked meat.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2005 Vérité La Muse USA, California, Sonoma County
93 points
A perfumed nose, with cedar, pencil lead and plum, almost a touch musky; dark berries and some chocolate, with good minerality and fine tannins. Faded a bit on the finish.
Red
2012 Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
94 points
So young, but so well stitched together, all finesse and flowers in contrast to much of what comes from this fruit. I picked up some greenness I did not expect, but the balance of the wine prevailed in the end.
Red
2012 Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
96 points
Powerful and ripe, and a bit green as well, but what stuffing this wine has; should be special when it comes together.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Flight 10 - A Special Rarity (1 note)

White - Fortified
1907 D'Oliveiras Madeira Malvazia Colheita Portugal, Madeira
Tangy and fresh, with rich, malty/nutty flavor, some orange rind and herbs and an impressive persistency. This deserved much more attention than I gave it. [Not Rated]

Flight 11 - Leoville Barton Vertical at Hedonism (6 notes)

Red
1998 Château Léoville Barton France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
88 points
Not the best vintage, of course, and came across as a bit dried out; muted fruit, high acidity.
Red
1999 Château Léoville Barton France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
87 points
Notes of blueberry & baker spice on the nose; fruit-forward; austere on the palate, clipped finish.
Red
2000 Château Léoville Barton France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
94 points
Blue & black fruit on the nose, a touch restrained; purity defined on the palate, with a lovely sweet aspect emerging; lush, dense and elegant at the same time. WOTF.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2004 Château Léoville Barton France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
90 points
An enticing nose of tobacco leaf, red and blue fruit and a bit of menthol, but doesn't really deliver on the palate, coming across as a bit thin and simple, fading quickly in the mouth.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2005 Château Léoville Barton France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
92 points
A clean and powerful wine, with a layered nose and great depth in the mouth; notes of currants, truffle and mocha; always balanced; the finish faded a touch.
Red
2007 Château Léoville Barton France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
92 points
A rather herbal nose together with some black fruit; very approachable; great structure, with blackberries, some floral aspects and chewy tannins. A pleasant surprise.

Closing

Despite best efforts, I missed countless of my favorites: the Bordeaux room with Veronique Sanders pouring Haut Bailly next to her husband and his Giscours and du Tertre, as well as Smith Haut Lafitte, Pontet Canet and others nearby; most of the Aussie and much of the Italian offerings; South America, etc. This was an impressive event.

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