Sunday, February 15, 2009

Having Faith

It's difficult sometimes to believe in yourself. People and situations around you can rock your faith in what you have found to be the best and true.

So SWMBO and I thought it was a time to share some bottles with the Jelly-Bean girl. At brunch, we had the option of two Champers to start with. We have always loved Louis Roederer, but last time at this eaterie, we enjoyed Pol Roger. So it was with a slight reluctance we took the Louis Roederer. It was everything it should have been. Rich and Pinot-y, but fresh, with elegance.

After, we thought a good claret should be explored. Coming to hand was a 1982 Ch. Talbot St Julien. Previous vintages around this year of Talbot have been badly bretty. But then again, some of the latest sampled1982s have been great. I was worried about how it would show. This was good wine indeed. Full, solid, almost chunky. Ripe meats and savoury ceday and a touch of mint. Sweet fruit too. That's Cabernet for you. And it's fuller structure came through with air time. I've always enjoyed Talbot, even more so than Gruaud-Larose, it's upper-market Cordier stablemate at the time. I should have had faith.

I've always trusted and had faith in Climens as a good Sauternes. The 1996 Ch. Climens Barsac, opened as a sweet end delivered everything. Restrained richness, a dry cut, classic lanolin and botrytis. Oak andsome VA lift. Good to know that having faith works out.

Thanks, Jelly-Bean girl, for making it a day to believe in yourself.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Do the Best

There's no point holding back. In life, you often only get one chance at things. After a few disappointments with the Kiwi wines, it was time to go back to the benchmarks. And with Kitty Kate and Pedro in town at different times, it was a chance to put up a few vinos, to do the best I could, considering the spur of the moment.

It was claret time, served in pairs. With Kitty Kate and her off-sider Trace, we looked at a 1982 Ch. Rouget Pomerol. A bit lean, not totally clean, but an OK drop. I was disappointed, but SWMBO was happier. So out came a 1982 Ch. La Fleur Petrus Pomerol. Much more alive and sweet in fruit. Head and shoulders above. Both with the dried tobacco and earth that only good Merlot from a decent terroir can give. As air time worked its magic, both wines became better - the Rouget a little richer, the La Fleur Petrus developing an iron core and concentration. Even 8 hours later, the better showing persisted.

Then Pedro got a pair of Pichons. One of my favourite properties, which Pedro inspired me on, so I had to do my best. 1981 and 1982 Chx Pichon Comtesse de Lalande Pauillacs. Both better than good wines, the 1981 showing its 'ordinary' pedigree of an average vintage. however. A touch on the leafy side, but intense, acidic and lively, though a leaner/lighter aspect. Real Cabernet Sauvignon here. But the 1982 was another star for the vintage. Magic how these to 1982s look so sweet and alive. Cabernet for sure, but ripe. Superb freshness and acidity. A solid and serious core and flow through the palate. These two structured wines made the Pomerols look a bit amorphous really.

To help the food go down, we had the newly arrived 2001 Trimbach Frederic Emile Riesling 375 Anniversary wine. A touch of development, bone dry, but sheer depth and classy richness. Oily and crisp simultaneously. This had to be good as an anniversary wine. The Trimbachs would have done their best on this one.

As an aside, we had a good look at some old N.Z. Sauvignons today. Te Mata 'Cape Crest'. 1996 and 1997 rather excellent, the former more broad and lantana, the latter absolutely delightful with its finesse and lifted fruit. Te Mata were doing the best at the time, no doubt, but it paid dividents with these two beauties, well-beyond their use-by date. With these two, it all came out superbly.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Little Line-Up

Wouldn't call this an opportunity, but it was a situation to look at a little line-up of old N.Z. Cabernet Sauvignons. A slice of history, I suppose. Montana Marlborough Cabernet Sauvignon 1979 to 1986 (excluding 1985). Everything was stacked up against anything good coming out of it. But my philosophy is if you don't try the bad stuff, you won't appreciate the good stuff. Montana, our biggest winemaker at the time was making this commercial label. Up-market commercial, but still commercial. Cabernet Sauvignon from Marlborough. We can laugh now. And viticulture back then. Practically pre-historic! But you just never know. The Froggies and the Ockers have wines that last the distance.....

The 1979 Montana Marlb. Cab Sauv, 11.5% - volatile as hell. DNPIM (Do Not Put In Mouth). It reminded me of "Don't say Boo Hoo, say UHU" - an old glue advertisement. 1979 was not a great year. Rains spoiled the harvest.
1980, 11.5% - light, herby, some acid, dried out. A better vintage than 1979 for sure, then. Te Mata did a great Cab Sauv which won Trophy at the NWC.
1981. 12.0% - Darker, deep, intense wine, herbal, but real blackcurrants with fruit sweetness and depth. A surprise. Again, Te Mata did a good 1981 too.
1982, 12.0% - Gentle, soft, slightly milky lactic note, acidic. Barely passable, but alive, just. The benchmark - Te Mata 'Coleraine' was first made that year. It's still alive too, but in better condition.
1983, 12.5% - a hot year. Lively, riper, sweeter, low acid, some semblance of balance. Kumeu River did a great Merlot that year. Te Mata's 'Coleraine' was a cracker.
1984, 12.5% - a wet and cool year. Brown, oxidised, very green. Everbody made a weak one.
No 1985 in this line-up.
1986, 11.5% - green peas, acidic and dried out. We've seen some 1986s that were OK.

Obviously reds fare much better than whiles, if you read the last post on old Gewurztraminers.
These little line-ups throw some curve-balls sometimes.

Don't Do This

Found a number of old Kiwi Gewurztraminers. They looked very unpromising on label at this time. But not a long time ago. Here's how they lined up:

1980 Montana Marlborough Gewurz, 11.5% - the second release under the Marlborough varietal designation. Deep golden, oxidised, a trace of cool spice.
1984 Montana 'Brookby Ridge' Marlborough Gewurz, 10.5% - won a gold medal at the 1986 National Wine Competition. Very dark golden. Oxidised. Volatile?
1985 Villa Maria Reserve Gisb. Gewurz, 12.2% - I'm sure it won gold in its day. Deep golden. Oxidised. Some botrytis.
1989 Mission 'Aged in Oak' Hawke's Bay Gewurz, 12.0% - paler colour, little varietal, dried out, a touch of oxidation. Nothing here.
1990 Mission Reserve 'Aged in Oak' Hawke's Bay Gewurz 'Rich Botrytis Sweetness', 13.0% - Oxidised, botrytis, no fruit,
1990 Chard Farm Central Gewurz, 10.5% - Very heavily oxidised. Nothing else there.

Lesson: If you have some old N.Z. Gewurztraminers. I mean 15 y.o. or more. They're probably stuffed. Even nowadays, don't do this. The only N.Z. Gewurz wine I'd contemplate trying this would be the 2004 Vinoptima Gisborne Gewurz. It has Alsace-like qualities. It might do it.