Over the past few months a lot has been going on, not least of which is that I have opened up my own wine shop. After exploring many locations and properties, it became apparent that there is no place like home (particularly when expecting your first child and have your family locally) and opened up in St Andrews. It is a very exciting thing to do, with lots of challenges being thrown at me, but I am so glad I have done it. Being your own boss is both a scary and fantastic feeling and I know I can bring some new ideas to wine retail in the UK - combining my experiences in retail, as an amateur critic and as a wine enthusiast. But that is business, and I've always kept The Tasting Note outside of business. So where are things going to differ with The Tasting Note?
The Tasting Note has always been my personal wine opinions, never influenced, nor commercialised with my work and nothing is going to change on that front. However, I’d be a total fool if I stocked a product I was reviewing and didn’t at least give you an option to buy it. All that will be different will be a link for you to purchase it from my shop if you want to. Otherwise, nothing will change and I’ll still be writing, with my usual blunt style, being honest about the wines I taste, regardless of whether I stock them or not. Essentially, if you don't click on the link to buy the wine, you won't notice anything different with this wine website.
So what have I been tasting recently? Highlights included 1968 Chateau d’Yquem, a rich honeyed aroma with lots of apricot, cheese and stewing rhubarb and clove like spice. A gorgeous cinnamon, peach and pineapple skin flavour came through with some grape stalk notes on the finish. We drank it with Roquefort and it was mindnumbingly brilliant. 92pts
A 1963 Taylors Vintage Port on the same evening was rich and spicy with a bundle of damson, menthol and wild herbs coming out. A tight, smoky palate with lots of spiced fruit coming through with the alcohol dominating a bit. It was good with the stinky cheese as well, which it needed to sing. 89pts
At my surprise leaving lunch, a group of friends had clubbed together and bought a bottle of 1966 Gruaud Larose. I’d never had this vintage of one of my favourite Bordeaux producers, and it was a lovely, old lady. Subtle sweet fruit, a dark, earthy note with some sweet blackened red pepper skins and drier fruit on the palate. Some tobacco on the finish, which balanced everything very nicely. 94pts.
Another great wine was a Lilbert-Fils Perle Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs. A lightly sparkling Champagne with a gorgeous, yeasty, citrus pith flavour and a hint of tomato soup on the nose! It was a gorgeous, elegant Champagne that was perfectly balanced. My new favourite non vintage fizz! 91pts
However, the highlight of my past few months was trying an old port. I managed to get hold of a small sample ‘test tube’ of Taylors Scion – an old pre phylloxera tawny port from 1855. It was gorgeous. Old, spicy wood with caramel and prunes on the nose. Then some baked apple comes through with a sweet balsamic, nutmeg and whisky note! There is a smoked vanilla pod, with rum soaked raisins coming out with lots of orange peel, pipe tobacco and a bit of crystalised ginger. Dried leather smeared with honey and dusted with cocoa powder was what I wrote at the time! The finish was perfect, fresh and lively with herbs, tart pomegranate and fig. A wonderful wine that I will sadly never get to try again! 100pts
So those are my wine highlights over the past few months. Thanks for putting up with a massive gap between posts, but as I'm sure you can understand, I've been a tad busy! Normal Tasting Note service will resume for 2013!