Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Reining in the Richness

We had The Master grace us with his presence, and we always learn from his experience and deep thought.  His approach is never rushed, and thus his judgements sound and sensitive.  Of course there’s always the occasion to open some wines, and two very different bottles had a similarity in that their inherent richness was reined in, so that a greater sense of stylishness and elegance was achieved.

After a long day at work, a sugar hit can hit the spot, and a 2003 Bourillon Dorleans ‘La Coulee d’Or’ Vouvray was the start-up wine.  Though not having tried this example of botrytised Chenin Blanc for a few years, I knew we could expect some richness and decadence here.  2003 a heat-wave year too, could possibly add some power and weight.  In the glass, a little golden colour, and strangely quite restrained, without masses of ripe fruit nor overly honied.  Clean stonefruit and a soft waxy, lanolin core, with the honey nuanced.  Sweet, but not based on sugar on palate, with the density that this label exhibits, and only a slow building in unctuousness and flavour.  The accumulation of unctuousness really quite slow, and the cut of acid from the variety most subtle.  It was as though the wine may have been scalped by barely detectable cork taint.  The overall feel was one of sleekness, rather than richness.

In a polar opposite, The Master directed me to broach his 1997 Penfolds ‘RWT’ Barossa Shiraz.  The first vintage of what is deemed a modern classic from the very traditional Penfolds,  Opulence in a bottle with a hefty dose of sweet new French oak over shiny, ripe, oozy chocolate, pepper and spice.  Always luscious in youth, its finesse isn’t enough to hide its sweetness of fruit.  It’s a combination of ‘over-the-top’ with class.  A little maturity in the garnet-brick colour, but smelling of savoury brown spices and ripe plums left in the sun, and liquorice with black pepper.  The fruit could be seen as a little fade, and to the wine’s benefit.  The extract drying a little, but this too a redeeming feature.  The dryness countering the fruit, now dropping.  Indeed, balanced and developed perfectly for drinking, and with the meaty meal.

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