For my "verbal rating system", see postscript, if necessary.
<b>Jean-Louis Chave Saint-Joseph Offerus 2003</b>
Nearly opaque purple-ruby. Green licorice stick, violet and some roasted Provençal herbs, green and some black pepper, lovely spiciness. Opened up some during the first quarter to half hour, then started shutting down again, somewhat typically for young Syrah. Warm alcohol and bitter tannin, but I expect this to mellow within two or three years and drink beautifully at least mid-term. Medium-plus length. Really more than just acceptable freshness for the vintage. Excellent!
<b>Gran Colegiata Toro Reserva Fariña 1998</b>
Thanks to my parents. Medium ruby-black. Lightly chocolatey if not cocoa-dusty, softly oaked berry fruit with a carrot top note and a touch of tarragon, faint green licorice stick note, medium complexity and length at best. Not bad at all, but very mainstream. About very good quality.
<b>Bruno Giacosa Barolo Collina Rionda di Serralunga d'Alba 1993</b>
From a perfectly stored bottle thanks to my parents, with a cork that looked like new, but nevertheless, the 1993 seems fully mature, alive and kicking, quite refreshing, if already hinting at that autumnal Malaga sweetness. Notes of hay, sweat, raisined black cherry, dried rose petal, partly dried blood orange and rose-hip, a very minor meatiness. Nice tannin and acidity, neither of which too orangey yet. Started out a bit drier and as if a fraction more oxidative than it turned out to be after half an hour to an hour in the decanter (which we felt is enough for this wine at this stage). Quite good length. About outstanding. In terms of overall harmony probably best enjoyed over the next couple of years, I believe, even though it should not fall apart anytime soon. It does not necessarily taste more mature than its age, but simply cannot be expected to improve much from here. Only one bottle to go, unfortunately, of this consistently tasty wine.
Greetings from Switzerland, David.
I usually avoid using numerical scores on the web (in order to avoid e-mails solely concentrating on the virtues of numerical rating, since I'd really rather talk about the wines themselves). For those who have problems interpreting my "verbal scoring", the numerical correspondences are as follows:
79 and below = NOT GOOD (i.e. no need to figure out exactly)
80 – 84 = GOOD (same as 16 and over in the European 20-point system)
85 – 89 = VERY GOOD (same as 17 and over; I sometimes use EXCELLENT or ALMOST-OUTSTANDING to indicate 88 – 89)
90 – 94 = OUTSTANDING (same as 18 and over)
95 – 99 = GREAT (or CLASSIC, same as 19 and over; I sometimes use NEAR-PERFECT to indicate a 98 – 99 score)
100 = PERFECT (20 out of 20)
Note I will rarely buy wine below my own EXCELLENT rating (that's where wine really starts standing out for individuality from the mass of technically impeccably-made wines) except for an occasional and there truly exceptional QPR (I must insist any wine in the VERY GOOD category with me is serious stuff, way above average wine, that I still wouldn't buy because I've got to somehow limit my wine buying). But if a wine is costly, it had better be at least OUTSTANDING!