Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Down the Line

It is amazing how things look as you go on. Down the line, you can make a better judgement or final call. We had Mr Marlborough Riesling in town, and after a good night out, we thought that some Cabernet-based wines would be fun, but also perverse. Our humour was not lost on him, as he said "I'm not familiar with this type of wine, but I'll give it a go..."

So on to some 25 y.o. reds. First up was 1983 Te Mata 'Coleraine'. Youthfully red and bright in fruit. Seemingly primary, how odd! But there it was, in beautiful condition, though the bottle was a bit ullaged. As we tried the other wines, this seemed greener, especially to SWMBO. But the next day, still vibrant and fresh, and only a little cool. Down the line, this was surprisingly good.

Next was a 1983 Ch. Beychevelle St Julien. In its day, it was deemed a little dilute. Not a great success, but an Englishman's wine, an elegant wine that is not in your face. On the night, beautifully clean and refined. Everything a claret at a quarter of a century should be. If there was a fault, it dried on the finish. Down the line, this was very fine indeed. A bit of a surprise and a stunner.

Then thirdly, a 1983 Ch. Talbot St Julien. Brett city here. But full and fleshy still. Those who don't mind not knowing the appellation or the variety would enjoy its game and meat flavours. It could have come from anywhere, I suppose. If such things as provenance and varietal identity matter, then the wine is a disaster. We were in the second camp. In its day, it was a wine that punched above its weight. The owners, Cordier, at the time, were hot. Down the line, it was a pity that brettanomyces ruined it.

We gave the three wines our best shot, but couldn't finish them. We called in reinforcements - the Master of the Universe, a good guy friend who is positive on everything. He liked all three wines, so he got to take them home. A good thing to cement our friendship, and keep us 'sweet', down the line!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Old and New

A late-night session with Hammer and Makka of the Marlborough Mafia showed the difference between old and new. Often, the old and traditional can look superb, and we can revel in their glory. But in truth, we have moved forward, and the new looks even better. Generally.

After a slap-up feed, we opened up three 1985 wines. Hammer and Makka were both in shorts when these wines were made! First up was a very smart 1985 Te Mata ‘Awatea’ Cabernet/Merlot. Dark, medium weighted and ripe enough. Quite pleasant, really. And good for an oldie, we thought. By consensus, this was the best of the three. Next was the first-ever Stonyridge ‘Larose’ from Waiheke Island. Yes, 1985 was their inaugural harvest. Lighter, more acidic, and greener. Hammer and I found it the least of the trio, but SWMBO and Makka liked it after the ‘Awatea’. It was at least clean. Next was the controversial one. 1985 Ch. Talbot from St Julien. The proverbial zoo, with horses, meat and leather. Brett rearing its ugly head. But sweet and with substance on the palate. Hammer and I could handle it, and it did settle down a bit. But SWMBO, the brett Nazi couldn’t go near it. So an old Kiwi winner!

We needed a treat, so down to the cellar, and out popped a 2002 Yalumba ‘Octavius’ Old Barossa Shiraz. Too tight at first, but developing gorgeous liquorice and spice flavours on a serious palate. It had to get past the VA lift, but, it got better and better. A ‘next day’ wine.

To the ridiculously new. SWMBO brought out some brand-spanking new 2008 rosé wines. 2008 La Strada was pretty and pretty light. 2008 Muddy Water was vibrant, but a spoiled beauty with something grubby there. Curiously enjoyable, though. And then a 2008 Ata Rangi ‘Summer’ Rosé. Excellent fruit, but a touch phenolic and grippy. Should mellow out the roughness in a few months. New wines, but not impressive.

So to a sweeter end. A new 2006 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spatlese. How do the Germans attain that special balance between what Hugh Johnson calls ‘fruity-acidity’, sweetness and low alcohol, to make an absolutely yummy wine? The Schaefer family do it consistently. The have with the wines of old. And they still do, with the wines of new.