Tuesday, September 28, 2010


It was a time to reflect on the past, and think about endings. Such topics arise in all situations. After a function where we tasted the wines made by The Dice Man, it was appropriate to end the night with a meal, accompanied by some good drinks. So off we went to the local ethnic eatery, bottles in hand.

It was lovely to compare two German wines, Riesling Spatlesen no less. A 2007 Loosen Erdener Treppchen was pure and fine with exciting acidity, and that hint of exoticism that this site injects into its wines. Match to a heavier, denser, more compact, but bigger 2006 Donnhoff Oberhauser Brucke. To me the Loosen won out - partly the vintage as a factor. A red is mandatory, drier and textured for food purposes, of course! Here The Enduring One brought along a 2006 Clos Salomon Givry 1er Cru. Lightish, softening, and savoury, all in a nice way. But that was it. However, his 2004 Conterno-Fantino Barolo 'Vigna del Gris' was quite spectacular. Very ripe dark fruits, almost chocolate and liquorice, with tannins and acid to die for. Great finesse, in an obvious way.

The meal finished, and we really didn't want it to end, so we all headed off home. The Library Man and the Brazillette hadn't been our way before, so it was novel for them too. In honor of all the Burgundy lovers present, SWMBO thought it was good to bring out the twin=set from Domaine Bertagna. A rare 2007 Bertagna Vougeot Blanc 1er ' Les Cras'. Faintly reductive and tainted by TCA, but rather four-square without the deft and delicate nuance that makes real southern white burgundy special. But 'it is what it is' and was accepted. Slightly better received was the 2006 Bertagna Vougeot 1er 'Clos de la Perriere', quite modern, dark berry fruited and all good, but unexciting and without soul in the final analysis.

In honour of The Library Man, who has a liking for Ch. Montrose, we brought out a 1980 Ch. Montrose St Estephe. Darkish, almost ripe, clean from horses, a little green and acid, but actually enjoyable and a revelation for a poor vintage. The Library Man was enamoured. So the 1979 Ch. Montrose St Estephe was to be a step up for him. But no, he kept on liking the 1980. Everybody else preferred the 1979, bigger, denser, sweeter, livelier and with a future still. And no brettanomyces! The Enduring Man was taken.

This should have been the end, but we thought we'd better do it properly. So out came a 1986 Penfolds Grange. A great year. Still youthful, and very Aussie, but not sickly so. Instead, refined massiveness, and just the beginnings of secondary complexities. Softened tannins, but still substantial with grip. Most thought it a decade younger. The Brazillette had only tried one Grange before....

It all settled down to a quiet time with The Dice Man, SWMBO and me. The End, it had to be. So a nice wee half bottle of 2004 Ch. Suduiraut Sauternes. Liquified hokey-pokey, but with the Semillon lanolin undercurrent, and lush fine, clean mouthfeel. Decadent, yet pure. Technocrats would say too much VA. Too much oak. But no, it was perfect to sip. To the end.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sharing and Caring

What a fun night with three blokies who are supported by three babes. Of course I'm backed by SWMBO. The New Man by The Eventress, and Brucie by the Bassinet Babe. A dinner for six saw a lovely collection of wines served with a yummy dinner, that The New Man put together.

Arrival saw our fave, an NV Veuve Clicquot Champers, soft and rich, but with good depth. A delicious slurpy-sippy start that got the conversation going. It's hard to beat a great bubbles for that. And that 'yellow' label ensures consistency and quality.

Served with fish entree were a 2008 Greenhough 'Hope' Riesling and 2004 Montana 'Terroir Series' Waiherere Chardonnay. Both worked well with the fish, the slight sweetness of the fish enhanced by the sugar in the Riesling. Nice hints of honey and toast too in it. A bit of a beauty. But a bit of a beast was the Chardy. Fat, rich, sweet and nutty with ripe tropical fruits, mealiness and coconutty oak. Yet not flabby or overblown in anyway, it was well poised. And it's freshness worked with the seafood.

Main course was a meaty casserole with new season asparagus, carrots, finely sliced Dauphinoise spuds. Classic winter/spring fare. Two rather excellent reds came out. A super, lush, smooth 2001 Craggy Range 'Sophia' Merlot/Cab. Tannins seemingly resolved, but with excellent structural and harmony. Aromatics to die for. Piece de resistance was the 1998 Te Mata 'Coleraine' Cab/Merlot. Dark, vibrant, classy Cabernet line and extract. Real ripeness with fresh acidity that is remarkable for such a hot, dry year. This was still youthful in essence and should keep another 10-20 years, based on this bottle. Fantastical stuff!

To finish the evening with the caramel and apple cake and was a rare 2006 Felton Road 'Block 1' Riesling. 9.5% alc, medium sweet, and very fine with it. You'd be a blockhead to not love it.

It was a night of sharing and caring all round, lubricated with nice wines. Another night was agreed for the agenda.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


The last few days have enabled clarity of thought and vision. Life circumstances all coming together allows this. And the wines have been all the better for it.

With the Planning Man and Mrs Well-Planned, we supped on a 2008 Vynfields Classic Riesling with a wide range of Asian dishes. What a beauty it is. Gorgeous and lush, with a perfect balance that did not allow it to err on the side over too sweet. And just a touch of toast and honey. It went with all the food!

Then a Majestic catch-up with the Little Aussie Battler. She's off to Austria soon, so no better wine to serve than Groo-Vee! A 2010 Forrest Doctors' Gruner Veltliner was chock full of exotic tropical fruits, laced with youthful bubble-gum esters. Off-dry, the sugar adding to its pleasure. Wait 'til this settles down. It's a cracker now and will continue to be. Then a 2006 Brundlmayer Ried Loiser Berg Gruner Veltliner from Kamptal, at 13.0% alc. Somewhat firm, steely and hard. Better with food and some air time. But I don't think it'll get better now. There's promise with GV in countries outside its home.

And then Kristal Kirsty and the Stromboli Import ambled in to our neighbourhood eatery. After a false start, we settled on a 2008 Villa Maria 'Fletcher' Riesling. This was a wow wine with sheer delicacy and finesse. Low alcohol - 10.5%, some rs, and the barest toastiness, all making a very delicate and crisply sumptuous aperitif. Then a classical 1982 Ch. Beaucaillou St Julien. I was a bit paranoid about brett and TCA, especially with our experiences of this vintage and this property. It seemed stinky and funky on opening. I condemned it. But again, with breathing, true clarity of character come through. This was very, very elegant, fresh and lush even for the normally austere style of the label. Sweetness and concentration, and time ahead - another 10-15 years easily. Funny how these oldies seem to have slower aging as they get older. I was a little hung up on 'resiny oak'. SWMBO probably still saw brett. KK and SI had no problem.

Ah, isn't this the joys of wine. It's so clear to me that we gotta share!

Friday, September 3, 2010


The straight up-and-down approach is best. Honest and being open. We love PB - Push Biker - he's as straight as they come. Gritty anf fun with it. He knows how the make wine too, so it was a pleasure to spend an evening with him. SWMBO, the AC Electric Man, and AM Academic Man, all had a night ambling into our favourite neighbourhood eatery, then heading home for a vertical tasting.

Over dinner, we were presented with an Albert Mann Cremant d'Alsace. Fresher that what I remember it last and good for it. Not really complex, but hey, it's not Champers! Then hearty main courses accompanied by a 2006 Ch. Leoville Poyferre St Julien. Black, shiny, tight and silky, and refined with a complex intensity lurking below. Referring back to the recently tasted fleshy Lynch Bages and exotic Gruaud Larose 2006s, this had classiness.

So off home to a vertical of Ch. Montrose St Estephe. From the 'long-left cellar', we had two bottles without labels, damage from years of neglect. But my guess they were from 1976 and 1978. In between was the 1977, label intact. So out came the corks, breaking them all on extraction, they turned out to be 1975, 1977 and 1978. The 1975 seemed a bit stinky at first, as many of these oldies get, after being cooped up for such a long time. Then breathed off to reveal ripe, sweet fruit, meaty and gamy to be sure, but actually clean with secondary character rather than brett spoilage. It took us a while to make that conclusion. Not too tough and tannic, as this vintage can be. The next night a little musty, in the 'best' sense. But still soft and very together. Montrose in those days was a bit robust, and the experts then said it needed decades to come around. They were right.

1977 was a cool year, and sure enough, stalks, herbs and high acid. Nice texturally, if you ignored the acid sear. And some freshness of fruit. Quite remarkable in that sense. Some development, but really quite backward in expression. It went into the lamb shanks stock the next day. The 1978s are proving to be less and less attractive with time. Indian Summer saved the day, so they said. But we know that accelerated end-of-season heat just can't make up for a long poor growing season. Lean hard and dryish. But dark fruits showing. Sort of Jekel and Hyde for me. Hard to drink, so off went the remainder of the bottle into the lamb shanks stock too. I bought these wines in the early 1980s for under NZD $25.00. What a great buy, looking back nearly 30 years later.

To treat ourselves with some ripe fruit and sunshine, we opened up a 1998 Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon. A great, great year as we easily saw. Wow, this was backward and tight. To me, Bin 707 is the essence of Australia using Cabernet Sauvignon. As opposed to the Wynns 'John Riddoch' Coonwarra Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the essence of Cabernet Sauvignon, using Australia. But this 707 was truly varietal, intense quality black fruits at the ripe, chocolate, licorice and mocha end of the spectrum. Hints of eucalypt. Very fine extraction, but massive with it. This will keep over two decades more. The quality was superb, just like in the 1998 RWT Shiraz we had earlier this year.

Then a little something to reminds us all that time in bottle can change an outlook. The 2001 Felton Road Riesling was pretty reductive on release. It will never be good was a call. But now, the sulpjides have integrated, keeping the fruit fresher than expected - no toast or kero. But this was a savoury Riesling now, not really racy and aromatically pure. Different, but now good.

At the end of the night I was still vertical. The others sloped off, one by one, to become horizontal. Being older, you learn how to keep going...