The Knotters put up an NV Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Premier. Fresher than ever and very fine. Is the style becoming a little lighter and less aldehydic? Based on this bottle, I’d say ‘Yes’. Old-timers might think there’s less character, but the autolysis underlines the palate superbly. Matching it was our NV Charles Heidsieck Champagne ‘Brut Reserve’, some residual stock before the new label, bottle and blend comes on the market. Showing a great deal of time on cork. Full, soft, broad and toasty. Seamlessly interwoven aldehyde, autolysis, fruit and bottle-aged notes. Lacking a little pizazz, but making up for in creamy richness.
A 2011 J.J. Prum Wehelener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett was beautifully refreshing. Classical J.J. Prum reduction on nose, but in no way intrusive. Clean and pristine, delicately luscious and great refinement, as the blue slate soil of the site gives. Mouthwateringly refreshing with a hint of succulence.
A brace of Chardonnays ltook us into more complex realms. A 2006 Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet 1er ‘Morgeot’ was affected by cork taint. SWMBO saw it first, as she normally does. It needed to warm up and breath before it became a problem for me. The TCA had dumbed down the fruit expression, but there’s some lovely wine underneath. Creamy MLF and barrel-feement notes, and perfect oaking, nevertheless. After this was a favourite for us all, a 2011 Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay. A wine of majesty. A bit on the young side for sure, but power, bridled and nearly tamed. Layers of complex reduction allied to beautifully rich white peachy, citrussy fruit and nutty oak in the background. Some more sensitive than me thought the oaking a little prominent, but no problem for others.
There always is a flight of Pinot Noirs nowadays, the variety now the ’hot’ international, taking over from Cabernet Sauvignon. The Rider had brought her 2010 Refugio Montsecano Casablanca Pinot Noir, a Chilean number made in ‘egg’ fermenters, seeing minimal oak. Strangely, I thought it had the typical rauli wood smell. Or was it a herbal edge. Identifiably Pinot Noir still and with a sweet and juicy fruitiness, and not a great deal of extraction. An enjoyable introduction to the reds. Next was the 2008 Desert Heart ‘Mackenzies Run’ Central Otago Pinot Noir. Fruit from the estate Felton Road vineyards, and a deliciously sweet-fruited, vibrant wine with everything in support. Nicely balanced oaking, supple mouthfeel and just spot-on grip. An all-rounder, bounding with energy. With a little more airing, the fruit faded somewhat, leaving undergrowth and savoury oak. It’s a wine that’s drinking now. A 1998 Montille Pommard 1er ‘Rugiens’ was next. Quite elegant at first, with the acidity prominent alongside savoury red and brown berry fruit with truffle notes. The Pommard iron core seemingly missing. Was it a function of the vintage? As it breathed, the firm tannin line and strength came through, and the appellation and vineyard personality built up. It remained an elegant number in the final analysis.
The final wine of the night was a 2011 Ridge ‘Geyserville’, a field blend of 78% Zinfandel, 16% Carignan, 4% Petite Sirah, with 1% Alicante Bouscet and 1% Mataro. Lovely blueberry, boysenberry and raspberry flavours on a supple, smooth and fruity palate. The modern Zinfandel style is so smooth and elegant nowadays. A crowd-pleaser with plenty of style. But this has a serious side and again style of real interest. What a lovely way to tie up the night.