Saturday, March 10, 2012

Warm and Generous

After a long day out in the country, with the sun making a welcome return, wine flowing, food to consume and music to dance to, we finally made it back to base camp at the A-Prentices. What else but more wine and food, and a balmy evening making the warmth and generosity complete.

A couple of interesting rosé wines to start the proceedings. A lovely, reasonably dark coloured, near-lurid, juicy, bright raspberry fruited 2011 Tiki Marlborough Pinot Noir Rosé, absolutely delicious with its off-dry sweetness and simultaneously thirst-quenching. Perfectly made wine for the good autumn weather. A good comparison with the classical 2010 Ch. Roubine Cotes de Provence rosé. Pale coloured, quite dry, with phenolic textures that work so well at soaking up food on platters, but this vintage marked by sulphur reduction, making it hard on the palate. It will definitely handle bottle age, and drink well over time.

We went through a gamut of pretty classy Rieslings and Champers through the evening. Sitting by the fire, outside, well sated from the food, it was the perfect time to sip on three 1998 wines. A 1998 Martinborough Vineyard Riesling, 12.5% alc. and 5/L rs, still not overly golden, but fully toasty, almost smelling creamy. Dry and very fine on the palate, totally developed and integrated honey, lime, butter and toast mix, and just a trace of oxidative complexity in the mix. They say cooler years are best for aromatic whites, so this was a bit of a surprise.

There’s a bit of a backlash against the traditional, hearty full/over ripe Aussie reds at present. The Mod-Oz crowd espousing cool-climate finesse, acid and freshness, citing how good they go with modern cuisine’s lightness and health-conscious aspects. But, these warm and generous, soft textured Shirazes of old are still superb at the end of the night, to sip on for their sweetness, or matching with hearty red meat dishes and cheeses. I’m not giving up that sort of food…

Making a case for this point firstly was a 1998 Rosemount ‘Balmoral’ Syrah. Really Shiraz, not Syrah! Sweet, ripe, lush black plum, liquorices, black pepper and some sweet, meaty game. Warm, soft, and truly generous, with no harsh edges. Drinking so well no, but another 5-8 years easy. Then a 1998 Penfolds ‘Bin 389’ Cabernet/Shiraz. Also with preserved plums and liquorice, black fruits, just starting to show some earth, tar and leather. Hints of decrepit age. A touch drying and astringent, but clearly Aussie warmth and ripeness at its heart. Maybe this was a lesser bottle, as I know this wine and label can go on for decades. But this was still a great drink. I couldn’t have a wimpy, lean, skinny, dare I say it, elegant Pinot Noir at this time of night, as the embers from the fire floated into the dark of the night.

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