Monday, August 31, 2009

Judging Chair

It was a milestone to have a Chairman of Judges visit. His last visit was a year ago, so it called for a few wines to see if he was worthy of his title, and if he could assess if I was still capable of discriminating differences in wines. To be honest, he is more than worthy, and it was great to hear his concise and accurate descriptions, not too different from what SWMBO and I thought.

The 2007 Mosel vintage has been hailed as superb, so a trio to start with. Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Kabinett was fine, delicate and subtle, and a touch of reduction which blew off. Classical Schaefer detail. J.J. Prum's Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett was very reduced, the sulphide dominating, but underneath a sheath of steel and acid. Prums are always like this and a decade of bottle age brings balance and beauty. But it takes a few bottles of Prum and time to believe it can happen. Meanwhile, an ugly duckling. Then Loosen Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Kabinett. Weighty, spicy, textured, rich. Some sulphide that blew off to become the most satisfying of the trio.

After a Chinese meal, back to Germany with a Deinhard Oestricher Lenchen Riesling Eiswein 1983. Burnished golden in colour. Toffee, caramel and burnt barley sugar on the nose. Fruit drying on the palate and typical eiswein searing acidity. This is where old dessert wines go in flavour, but if we'd drunk it a decade earlier, it would have been sweeter. This was a treasure in its day. The Rheingau was a much more highly regarded place a quarter of a century ago.

Then in honour of our Aussie Chairman of Judges, a Lauriston Show Muscat. Multiple trophies and golds. Very dark chocolate colour and green hued edge. Massive raisins and rancio. However the spirit poked out a bit. Decadent but a component out of place and not quite integrated. But still something wonderful.

Having the Chairman of Judges marked today as one where I reckon I could make the judges chair again with a bit more training. Cheers, or should that be Chairs?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Oh 'La La'

As part of the palate retraining programme, I had the chance to taste the Guigal 'La Las' from 2005 - all 100 pointers by Robert Parker. Oh La La! They were good, even to my palate that's a little sensitive to alcohol and acidity. They say that the nose can give you 80% of a wine's character. I'd better believe it. I could certainly see the terroir in the three labels.

La Mouline from the Cote Blonde, surprisingly open and broad, but lighter in weight. La Turque , a Cote Brune, but ironically with its exotic perfumes and tight concentration and backward nature. La Landonne, from the Cote Brune, full of black fruits, size and majesty. Up there with them was the 2005 Cote-Rotie 'Chateau d'Ampuis', an assemblage of fruit from selected plots, wascomplete and spicy with juiciness. Even the 'Cote Brune et Blonde', which has disappointed recently had taken a step up.

Again, all I can say is 'Oh La La'

Friday, August 14, 2009

Spinning from Spain

Another step forward as I attended a tasting of 'new wave' Spanish wines. A fellow, Telmo Rodriguez, who uses almost extinct or very old bush vines in special sites, but applying modern winemaking to make wines that are innovative and international in outlook. It was a test of the nose and the palate again, and the good news is they both work, though the palate needs fine tuning.

On the the wines. A Rueda Blanc 'Basa' 2008 was a lean Marlborough Sauvignon look-alike, and in fact included 5% Sauvignon. Yet an Alicante ' Al Muvedere' 2007 was everything you expected from a hot-climate, dead-fruited, old-fashioned red. In the end, while there were some that showed terrific value, it was the high-end wines that did it for me. You get what you pay for. Particularly head-spinning was a Toro 'Pago La Jara' 2006, a toasty oaky Rioja 'Altos de Lanzaga' 2005 and a Ribera del Duero 'Matallana' 2004 - all Tempranillo based, all over the $100.00 mark, all thoroughly modern and international in style, spinning around the notion that Spanish wine is all old fashioned, traditional or rustic.

The tasting certainly put me spinning too - into the right direction - forward. I might start trying some of those 'old treasures' soon....