Old friends; great wines

old friends(by peter)

Ever since we’ve been plotting our move to Winchester, we’ve been trying to tempt our friends down this way. And what better lures than the likes of Cristal, Comtes de Champagne and Côte-Rôtie?

We were having some of our oldest friends to stay. Over two nights, with the kids tucked up a little more firmly than usual, we celebrated everything we could think of: exam success, christenings, having a night off…

The wines tasted more or less as follows:

Cristal 2002, Louis Roederer, 12%

Shows notable aromatic development: waxy, honeycomb, bready, biscuity. Evolves in the glass subtly and slowly. Red apples emerge. Then, on the palate, a different beast altogether: laser-like in its focus, vibrant and gripping acidity, though rounded, polished and effortlessly engaging. Very young indeed (I’d leave this for another 5 years at least, though it’s drinkable now if served with food). [Peter’s score: 9/10]

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1998, Blanc de blancs, 12%

Both these fizzes were presents: this one specifically for Susie’s MW success. And what a toast it made, too. Very different in style from the Cristal 02, very Chardonnay, and wonderfully evolved in its rich, yeasty, honeyed nose. Super fine bubbles and smooth texture. Poised, drinking very well, but capable of improving in the long term. Serious stuff. [Peter’s score: 9/10]

Nikolaihof Steiner Hund Reserve Riesling 2003 trocken, 12.5%

So: you’ve got the monkfish curry bubbling away, and you’re scrabbling round for a bottle of something…if you’re very, very lucky, you’ll come across this. I’ve long been a very vocal fan of Christine Saahs’ wines from her biodynamic Wachau estate, and this showed why. Superb golden Riesling richness with toffee apple, lime and buttered toast aromas, and a serious, structured palate profile in which flavours wash over you. Notably developed (vintage-related?) but not at all lacking in vibrancy and grip. [Peter’s score: 8.5/10]

Côte-Rôtie 2004, Bernard Burgaud, 12.5%

Meaty, dense, yet very elegant. Drinking beautifully but with a very slight tightness to the tannin, which indicates it will continue to age gracefully in the medium term at the very least. [Peter’s score: 9/10]