Being inquisitive and looking for perfection are noble traits. That's what makes good people what they are. It's similar to finding the best drinking wine you can. Most of the time, you can't stop opening bottles to find that elusive wine that suits you and occasion. So it was with the arrival of The Dragon and Ha ha, and The Man-None-Other with Souther-girl, all good people, looking for a good wine.
We started off with the special Villa Maria Methode Traditionnelle NV, a robust Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the result of a project under Corey Ryan. Good bubbles with real character. Then onto a couple of classy Rieslings. A 2009 Coopers Creek Marlborough 'SV-Mr Phebus' coming across dry and very limey, with beautiful textures. This will improve. Then a 2007 Spy Valley 'Envoy' Riesling, medium in sweetness and with some toastiness developing, to me, curious in its balance, but The Dragon liked this.
Then onto a flight of 1986 N.Z. Chardonnays. Not expecting anything with these now, being too old, but in their time they were top quality. The Delegats Proprietors Reserve was on the edge of falling over. Big, broad and flat with no personality left. The Vidals Reserve was unripe with acid and oak still remaining. The surprise was the Villa Maria Reserve, from Gisborne fruit. Rich, toasty oak, some past matured fruit, drinkable if you had to. Then the super-duper Villa Maria Reserve Gisborne Barrique Fermented - unfortunately now too oxidised on nose and palate.
Some interesting reds were presented. Rather austere, dry and tertiary was the 1995 Jean Boillot Nuits-St-Georges 1er 'Cailles', along with the 1982 Ch. L'Evangile Pomerol, full of expectations for this, and starting off with rich, savoury plums but getting leaner and drier in glass. Nothing special in the end to me, but Ha Ha liked this. I liked the 1991 Wynns 'Centenary' Coonawarra Shiraz/Cabernet, still lively and with spicy dark fruits, mint and a touch of eucalyptus. It should live for ages.
The Man-None-Other knew that Ski-Man Sandy was in town alone, so he joined us. It was time to look at his wines. The 1999 Felsina 'Verardenga' Chianti Classico was elegant and extremely well-proportioned. Not quite the complexities of the top cuvees, but delicious. It was the favourite for SWMBO. And an unusual one, a 1994 Ch. Montus 'Cuvee Prestige' Madiran, dark and invitingly sweet, almost a lolly note, dense, then the Tannat tannins kicked in. Quite fine-grained in the end. Ski-Man Sandy was a welcome addition indeed!
Seemingly nearing the end of the evening, a pair of 1983 Alsace Vendange Tardives from Leon Beyer. The Tokay Pinot Gris slightly grubby and oxidised, without any varietal character or richness. Minerals and acid, with some weight did not deliver enough. The Gewurztraminer was slightly corked, but you could see the spices and florals still. Underneath, some richness and enlivening acidity. But again, not worth drinking up, leaving us searching for something drinkable.
Last chance....out came a 2005 Aime Stentz Alsace Pinot Blanc 'Rosenberg', a bottle given to us by The Lancer. Delicious with its clean and clear stonefruits and touch of honey and spice, plus a little residual sugar. Clever wine! It was a clear winner for most of us. The Man None-Other brought out a 2003 Abtei Muri Sudtirol Lagrein Riserva. Dark, sweet jammy nose and lush, dense, but supple palate. A surprise and another hit for all the drinkers. Our search for good drinking wine was over at that point.
And just in case, a 2004 Seresin Noble Riesling for those with a sweet tooth. Oddly sweet and sour on the nose, but lush and savoury-sweet on palate in a workable way. The botrytis not totally noble, but passable. Most of us stuck with the Pinot Blanc and Lagrein...