Friday, September 25, 2009

No News is Good News?

Sorry I haven't posted much lately. Getting back into work is time consuming. I should be consuming some more 'treasures', especially now that I've been given much of my palate back.

Most of the wines I've been tasting are new season releases, and the older wines have taken a back seat. At this stage, anyway. These new wines are also good for training the palate. They are more up-front, primary and raw. These can be tough to see where they go in the long term.
But it takes a long-time sipper to appreciate the aged wines, and we all need more practice in this area!

A couple of new beauties have come my way recently. 2008 Mount Edward Pinot Blanc from Central Otago. The cuttings came from Larry Mckenna at The Escarpment Vineyard in Martinborough. Weighty, yet clean and crisp. Something a Pinot Gris maker could aspire to. Absolutely excellent in proportion and none of the rustic earthiness that can spoil the variety. And then a 2007 Wirra Wirra 'RSW' Shiraz from those good people in the McLaren Vale. Rich, concentrated, ripe, and stylishly restrained. Treasures in their own way.

Next news will include a couple of oldies....

Monday, September 7, 2009

Tough Stuff

Surely one of the most difficult of wine styles to appreciate is that of traditional Barbaresco and Barolo. Tar, leather, dried roses, huge drying extraction and searing acidity are the hallmarks of this long-lived style. It truly can be tough stuff to work through.

I put myself through the excercise of looking at ten of the brutes from the highly regarded Produttori del Barbaresco co-operative. The nose was the best way to appreciate and differentiate the wines. Palate textures and fruit sweetness on the palate backed up the nose.
My pick was the 2004 Rabaja, followed by the Montefico, then Montestefano.

I was rather pleased with myself, as it is a sign of the taste buds still working. Even on this tough stuff. But I know I have a long way to go.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sponteneity and Serendipity

We went out with the Chairman out for a spontaneous, quiet dinner. In some ways, a first public outing at a noted eating house, and it turned out to be one of those delightful serendipitous evenings where we met old friends and made new, and some remarkable bottles tasted.

First a catch up with the new Lady Chairman, sharing a Veuve Clicquot Rose NV, clean, fresh and with a subtle floral beauty like the Lady Chairman (and SWMBO, of course), but not overstated. It got us in the mood with fun and laughter. The Lady Chairman had a catch a flight, so missed the rest of the night with us.

At the restaurant, waiting to decide what to eat, a Lustau 'Papirusa' Manzanilla got the saliva glands into life, quite a task after two months of radiation zapping. But it was cold, crisp, salty and tangy, but not quite long on the palate to make it a star in its own right. But a successful start. We brought a couple of old bottles, which the young sommelier thought he'd tell some other diners who had brought a couple of old and interesting bottles along too. So began a swap fest.

Rumble Tumble Alex was celebrating his birthday and his 1986 Ch. Margaux was the wine of the night. Fresh, youthful, tight, elegant, dark fruited with archetype perfumes, but masses of depth and length. This could live decades, with its fresh outlook. It knocked the spots off our 1989 Ch. Cos d'Estournel St Estephe, which if served on its own would have been a silky smooth lush star, that developed funky nuances throughout the evening. Thank goodness our 1988 Jaboulet Hermitage 'La Chapelle' was the second best wine of the night. Still sweet with juicy fruit. More meaty, savoury and complex than varietal purity - exactly what Hermitage is all about. It was good with the Chicken, Duck and Steak dishes we ordered. Amazingly versatile.

Then came an odd assortment of reds that were a tier down in delivery. A 1997 Borgogno Barolo was drying and savoury. Interesting complex flavours, but the grip was a bit too much. The 2003 Faively Nuits-St-Georges 1er Porets was over-extractive. Some can handle this style of Burgundy, probably needing time - decades maybe, but too hard to enjoy for us. And then a modernist 2003 Isole e Olena Syrah, pepper and florals, international and non-individual, though pleasant.

To cap the night off, we had five Framingham sweet wines, all 2008 vintage. Riesling Auslese #1, huge botrytis on nose, with elegant weight. Then Auslese #2 dumb and flat on the nose, but with good weight. It may have been opened a bit long and seen too much air. Auslese #3, gloriously rich with botrytis and exotic sweetness and complexing positive volatility. It was my third wine of the night. The Botrytised Viognier surprisingly varietal, but a round, full number that could have done with a little more zest, and finally the SGN Gewurztraminer, again with varietal character, but flatter on palate. A fantastic comparison of what Dr Andrew Hedley, the winemaker has a passion for.

For me, the arrival of the Chairman was a starter signal to begin tasting and drinking again. The two days were a true palate workout, quite unexpected - spontaneous and serendipitous. I think I'm on the road to recovery, and will regain much of my palate. And what was pleasing was that all of us were pretty much in agreement. Long live the Chairman!