This year the London International Wine Fair celebrates its 30th birthday. For a number of years the event has been held at the ExCel centre in London’s docklands – a vast aircraft hanger of a place en route to Beckton deep in London’s once industrial East End. It’s a well organised event, and impressive in scale – the UK wine trade’s version of the Birmingham Motor show – but it’s also an alarmingly tricky place to taste wine. It must be something to do with the multitude distractions, the thousands of people or the weird lighting that makes it a tough job for even the finest wine to sing in this setting. That said there were a number that looked good on the first day here.
The Wine Treasury’s Rory Benham took me through a fascinating horizontal of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars reds in 2006, including Fay and Stag’s Leap Vineyards along with the renowned and wonderfully expensive Cask 23 Cabernet blend. These are superb wines which seem to combine power and elegance. Duckhorn Vineyards Three Palms Merlot was also very good along with their new second label Decoy. On the Oregon and Washington State stand there were a bevy of attractive yet delicate Pinots from 2007, particularly from Beaux Freres and Sokol Blosser, the latter in particular showing just how the Willamette Valley makes wines of wonderful delicacy and fragrance. In Washington State Woodwood Canyon’s Cabernet Sauvignon looks very good in 2007, with their Artist Series Cabernet, all freshness and verve. To me has the edge over their more expensive Old Vines Cabernet, itself no slouch.
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Merlot, Napa Valley 2006: Mid red; warm nose; some exotic notes alongside the earthy characters, leaf and espresso; palate feels restrained and elegant; nice qualities more enticing than the regular Duckhorn Merlot to me; good length on the palate. Very good 90+/100
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars , Cabernet/Merlot ‘Artemis’ Napa Valley 2006: Mid red; some depth; sweet nose, attractive with perfume; silky and nice; palate sweet entry; good Cabernet this; earthy notes along with the blackcurrants and iron; some undergrowth; quite Francophone and some tannins at the end. Very good. 41% estate fruit, mainly Fay Vineyard with a small percentage from Stag’s Leap Vineyard. 91/100
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Fay Vineyard 2006: Mid depth; to edge; some herbs and garrigue notes on the nose; more Italianate here, also a little resin; palate rich and ripe; quite intense with ripe but present tannins and nice bite; good depth. Different from Artemis – more warmth [14.5%] but doesn’t feel disjointed. Very good Cab. 92/100
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Stag’s Leap Vineyard, 2006: Mid red; good depth; blackcurrants, dust and heat here but some tobacco leaf and lift to the nose; attractive; attractive oak too nicely integrated; sweet entry, blackcurrants, olives, some espresso and earthy notes too on the palate which overall feels silky. Very ttractive and silky. 93+/100
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Cask 23 Cabernet blend, 2006: Similar depth to SLV in glass; warm nose; some liquorice, minerals and iron, also some espresso ; intense wine with silky notes; blackcurrants, minerals and iron on the palate; sweet oak in background; great length. Very good and very fine. There is alcohol here but not burning. Excellent. 94/100
Duckhorn ‘Decoy’, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley 2009: Fresh, some candy; little nettle; fresh palate but with some weight. Not bad at all 88+/100
Duckhorn, ‘Decoy’, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, Napa Valley 2007: Mid depth; big berry nose; quite attractive; palate silky and well done; blackcurrants; soft and easy 88+/100
Duckhorn Vineyards, Three Palms, Merlot, 2006: Mid red; depth here; intense nose; some Italianate notes; warm coffee and mocha; ripe black fruits beneath; palate attractive, extract and grip and some alcohol on the finish but attractive. Good length and extract. 92+/100
Beaux Freres, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, 2007: Earthy red; quite clean; fresh cabbagy Pinot Noir; ripeness here; tomato plant and geranium; sweet entry, satisfying palate; some pepper and spice; attractive palate with race and style. 88/100
Beaux Freres, Pinot Noir, Beaux Freres Vineyard, Willamette Valley, 2007: Earthy purple red; quite peppery; elegant but fresh; quite nicely balanced. Good Pinot characters on the palate; lacks huge intensity but has delicacy and is attractive and round. 90/100
Beaux Freres, Pinot Noir, Upper Terrace Vineyard, Willamette Valley 2007: Earthy red; translucent; attractive peppery note; some game here creeping in; delicate and fresh Pinot; not a blockbuster but quite attractive in a cool climate way. Some pepper on the finish. Delicate and attractive 88+/100
Sokol Blosser, Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley 2007: Silky Pinot nose; sweet and attractive; some cabbage Pinot qualities; good palate; attractive; goodish bite. Lightish but attractive. 88+/100
Sokol Blosser, Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Estate, Willamette Valley, 2007: Silky Pinot again; sweet strawberry; quite concentrated and beetrooty; clean; and attractive. Delicate but round. Attractive. 90+/100
Woodwood Canyon, Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington State, 2007: Quite intense; up to edge; nice lifted Cab nose; some menthol; quite firm; good nose; wine quite big and ripe; good mid-palate richness; reminds me of Western Australia here a little without the obvious richness. Very good wine indeed. 90-92+/100
Woodwood Canyon, Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington State, 2007: Mid red/black; more oak here; mature and more developed [22 months oak, cf 18 for the Artist Series]; sweet tobacco notes plus blackcurrants; quite silky palate; some coffee and espresso, quite sublimated palate. Maybe I’m underrating this. 88-90/100
Tags: Artemis, Beaux Freres, California, Duckhorn, Dundee Hills, Napa Valley, Oregon, Pinot Noir, Sokol Blosser, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cask 23, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Fay Vineyard, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Stag’s Leap Vineyard, Washington State, Willamette Valley, Woodwood Canyon, Woodwood Canyon Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Woodwood Canyon Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon
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