Tuesday, March 24, 2009

On a Path

Your life always follows a path. Hurdles often appear. It can take a concerted effort to overcome them, and often with help and understanding, it happens a little more easily. Wines also follow their own path. A couple of individual wines showed this to be the case last night. The Planning Man and passionate guests from a Pointed Place were the reason for opening a few:

First up was a 2000 Dauvissat Chablis Grand Cru Le Clos, initially seeming very forward, fully integrated with chalk and minerals and a soft, textured palate, though an underlying leanness, as can be expected from Chablis. The path of this bottle was nearing its end journey, disappointingly for the Pointed Place Man, whose last bottle of this wine was very youthful. Then the TCA emerged. SWMBO was instantly struck by it. Strange how cork taint can lie low, them at a certain temperature or time in glass, it announces itself.

As a wine starting is path, the 2005 Grivot Vosene-Romanee 1er Cru Beaux Monts was primary as could be. A degree of blood and iron to the richness and density. A mouthful that will follow a long and possibly glorious path over the next two decades.

Then a wine that followed a path and never deviating and will go nowhere. A 1983 Deinhard Bernkasteler Graben Riesling Auslese. Light golden, and searingly acidic. Hints of blue cheese and decrepit notes plus a little oxidation, but still discernably old Riesling from the Mosel and eye-opening for it. It must have been a tart and sharp number at the start of its path. It still is. It will not go anywhere different now. Except down.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

More Life Ahead

As we face our challenges, we must approach them knowing there is more life ahead. As part of facing a particular tough time ahead, there came the chance to open two bottles, one new, one old, with the Planning Man and The Boss.

First up was the 2006 Cloudy Bay 'Te Koko' Sauvignon, just released. Subtle, wonderfully harmonious and integrated, yet with layers of flavours that gave the barest hint of its Sauvignon heritage, but more of what the smart team of winemakers that shaped it did. The news that Head Man at Cloudy, Kevin Judd, is to leave, and that his right hand winemaking WOman has left is sign of trouble at mill. These big corporates have no feeling for people. That's for true. The big machine behind Cloudy Bay will make sure they get plenty more life ahead out of the brand, and no doubt make very good wine. The exiting humans will find freedom and their lives ahead become more meaningful, as they do, overcoming any challenge.

Then a Deinhard 1983 Kaseler Nie'schen Riesling Auslese. Deinhard was a big name over a quarter of a century ago. Landowners as well as brand-owners - Deinhard 'Green Label' Mosel Riesling. This introductory wine seemingly died, but has seen more life again in the likes of Loosen's 'Dr L'. You can't keep a good thing down. The oldie was good golden, and refined with subtle custard and toast aromas and flavours. The barest lean crispness and a hint of drying out. Drink up, but if you pushed it, there was more life ahead. These old Ruwer wines had plenty of sulphur and tart acidity, even in 1983, to ensure it would see it through to times of old. But their true nature and glory come out to be admired eventually.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

30 Years

It's the 30 year anniversary of Montana Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc this weekend. N.Z.'s most important grape variety and arguably the most important producer in terms of size and consistency. Lots has happened since then.....but the wine is still being made, and proudly. We had our own celebration, with some of the earlier vintages. To tell the truth, some of the wines were not inspiring, but some were still O.K. Here's a run down of what we looked at:

First made in 1979, that wine didn't last well. 1980 was a cracker, but we didn't look at either of those. 1981 was our first, found in the old cellar. Still varietal, some soft asparagus, greener acidity, but faded. Our 1982 was thoroughly oxidised. Did Not Put In Mouth. 1983 was actually pretty good. Riper asparagus fruit expression, some rounded weight and textures, drinkable. This was a super year for N.Z. and some of the Rieslings could also be alive.

1984 was a wine that still showed well in the early 1990s. The fresh acids were preservatives. Here it was well oxidised and green simultaneously. 1985 caused some wonderment with its freshness and liveliness. Dipped in mid-palate, a little light, but with length. Unfortunately, our 1986 was corked and had gone decrepit and rotten. It was a high yield year, so this did not surprise us.

The deep golden colour of the 1987 told us it was too late. Steely aromatics along with oxidation. DNPIM. 1988 was thin and oxidised. Cyclone Bola gave a wine with little fruit. So an oxidised dilute wine gave only oxidation! 1989 was the pleasant surprise. Sweet lemon-grass notes, soft and broad, a little dried, but with fruit lushness.

We did not expect much from the 1989 'Show Reserve', fermented and matured in French barriques. Oxidation and a hint of oak spice? The power of suggestion! 1990 was not the best vintage, but here the wine was just alive. Light, faded, but just there. We expected 1991 to be better. Other 1991 Sauv Blancs, such as Hunters, have lasted. Earthy, steely and again decrepit stuff.

I suppose the conclusion is - don't keep these type of wines this long. But the early wines were generally better. There is a case for the simplest and most reductive winemaking being suitable for ageworthiness with this style. In my books, you should be drunk in the first 5 years or so.

To reward ourselves, we had 1983 and 1982 Ch. Langoa Barton from St Julien, a third growth. As usual the 1982 had it all over the 1983. Richer, more seriously together, the 1983 faded in comparison. Leaner, drier and tougher. Overall, they showed the Langoa pedigree. Or slight lack of it. Just a little too firm and slightly coarse, when compared to its more highly rated sibling Leoville Barton. I know which one I'd drink at 30 Years of age.

Friday, March 6, 2009

In a Groove

Tough to get out to do extra-curricular stuff sometimes. Real life can intrude. So it's good to get out of that groove or rut. So it was a spur of the moment to catch up with our Pet Pals. Something new and something old to try over a quick put-together dinner.

Gruner Veltliner may be the new buzz. Those Austrians have a point of difference. So we tried N.Z.'s first commercial release, the 2008 Coopers Creek GisborneGruner Veltliner 'The Groover'. Lighter than many Austrian benchmarks, a little softer than expected, but with the ginger and pepper you want. Very easy to drink. If Coopers Creek keep this up, it'll be a groovy drink.

Then onto two groovy wines at the time. 1990 and 1991 Te Mata Estate Cabernet/Merlots. Bordeaux blends were the rage then, not Pinot Noir, no mention of Syrah either in those days. Very pleasant drops they were, so many years later. Not as good as their bigger brothers 'Awatea' and 'Coleraine', which were top of their game, especially the 1991s. But they showed ther respective vintage personalities. The 1990 a smaller scale job with acidity and a touch of the greens. The 1991 richer, sweeter, fleshier, and a touch of cedar and tobacco development. A groovy wee surprise, this pair were.