Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Continuum

We have an on-going relationship with The Eventress and The Old Salt.  It continues to flourish with irregular and infrequent, but positive get-togethers.  The last time was a dinner, and this time they were on a journey from one end of the country to the other, calling in on us, as they continued with their travel.  I’m sure their lives have all types of flavours, but essentially they working and having fun, so it’s a good flavour.

The analogy to two Shiraz/Syrah wines was very obvious.  We all seem to love the Shiraz/Syrah grape when it is dome properly, and are happy to accept the differences in style, especially when climate has a say in how the wine tastes.  There is a continuum of aromas and flavours that is a family, and all the wines along it bear a basic and core resemblance.  Taking a wine from one far end, say cool-climate and comparing it to the polar opposite, from a very hot region, and allowing vintage conditions have a say, one could easily think there was no similarity.

Our dinner had two such wines.  The cool was the 2006 Te Mata ‘Bullnose’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah.  Very elegant and extremely aromatic. Perfumes with pepper and spices, and silky smooth on the palate with lovely fresh mouthfeel from the acidity.  The penetrating aromas and flavours were certainly the feature.  Deliciously fine stuff!  And alongside it, a 2008 Penfolds ‘Bin 150’ Marananga Barossa Valley Shiraz.  Ultra dark, ripe and densely concentrated,  Black fruits with liquorice and spices, with chocolate, and masses of weight and texture.  Sweet and lush, and very mouthfilling.  There was a spice and pepper theme, albeit different in expression.  One refreshingly light, the other heavy and sweet.  Both satisfying and both great to drink.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Expectations Altered

It is easy to let expectations rule the mind and prejudice your impressions.  The ‘V Man’ brought along a 2011 Vigneau-Chevreau Vouvray Demi-Sec ‘Clos de Vaux’ for dinner.  My last couple of experiences of 2011 Vouvray were a bit disappointing, even though the reports are that it is better than the 2010, examples of which I seemed to enjoy.  I haven’t see Vigneau-Chevreau before, though my research said it was a “producer of note”, and there were no notes on them.  So I wasn’t expecting too much.  Where the ‘V Man’ sourced it from wasn’t a place of great provenance.  The odds were against it.

On opening the bottle, the‘Magic Man’ said it was a good example that would drink well earlier in its life.  He’s a man with lots of experience in such things, so I took it on board, with a grain of salt, of course.  First impressions were that it was light, a bit plain, and somewhat thin.  Sure some sugar was there, a little honeysuckle, and fine, sinewy reduction.  It was as I expected it to be.  Or was I programmed to see what I was told I should see?

With a little more time in the glass, it got richer, sweeter, and more complete with fruit depth and harmony.  Lovely tingling and dancing acidity, some yellow stonefruits, honey rather than honeysuckle, and a smooth, seamless texture with a hint of lusciousness.  Don’t get me wrong, it hadn’t changed dramatically, only subtly, but definitely in the right direction.  SWMBO and the ‘V Man’ had grins on their faces as they saw my expectations altered.   

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Settled Aussies

 There’s a lot of talk in and about the Aussie wine industry and the styles that are made.  It seems that elegance and finesse is becoming the only place to be, and the traditional wines of old are less desirable by the world.  That’d be a shame as the good old fashioned wines have their place in the world.  Sure the styles are gradually evolving and better wines the result.  But I reckon it’s good to be inclusive and each style for what it is.  The Aussies are going through a bit of a tough time in their wine life, and they’ve got to get to a position of being more comfortable with themselves.  Then the world will accept them more so.

We finally caught up with our Little Aussie Battler after a little break.  She’d worked through some life turmoil too, and she’s in a really good space.  We missed a significant event by a few days, so we were in catch up mode.  We celebrated with some Aussie wines very much settled in themselves, as she was
One of my favourites and a classic, a 2006 Penfolds ‘Bin 389’ Cabernet Shiraz.  A baby by all means, even though it has seven years of age.  Black hearted in colour and character, packed full of dense fruit and sweetness, perfectly moderated by fine, dry tannins.  More Shiraz than Cabernet tonight with spices and a black pepper line.  Still tight, but oozing fruit lusciousness in the glass.  Nice integrated oaking, but definitely there.  Baby Grange?  Quite possibly, and this will keep another 20+ years, maybe even longer.  A match with the venison.

Then a birth year wine, for the Battler and one year older than Donski.  A 1972 Wynns Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon.  Still dark ruby at the heart of the glass with some garnet/bricking on edge.  Wonderful nose, still fresh with lovely cedary fruit aromas, soft red currants, and a whisker of resinous oak.  No green, no stalkiness, no animal funkiness.  Clean as a whistle.  Still commanding presence on the palate, but the tannins resolved.  Cedar and resin again, the mouthfeel soft and dry, but not drying or dried out.  A little more fruit sweetness and length would make it a super star instead of just a near star.  A treat to see a wine in its fourth decade.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Two Sides

There’s two sides to every story they say, and my lazy impression is that Italian whites are a bit bland and flavourless.  Well, in comparison to the flavour-packed whites we see in the New World.  It’s easy to be biased in favour of flavour, but there’s a lot more to wine, and cleanliness, precision, cut and quenchability have a large say in seeing how a wine can work in with food and life.  A pair of Tuscan whites made the point pretty clear.  And they show how the Italian’s can foot it with the New World.

Firstly the traditional.  A 2012 Castello Banfi ‘San Angelo’ Toscana Pinot Grigio, pristine and pure, pretty much bone dry, with subtle stonefruits, nuts and herbs.  Refreshing and mouthwatering.  You might as “where’s the flavour” if you were on a diet of Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc, but it is there and is judged perfectly if you are sipping away, quietly.  Finesse with cut.

Then the innovative.  The New World is discovering Vermentino, but the Italians have had it as a staple.  It suits the modern world, because it can be so up-front and fruity.  And it was with a 2012 Banfi ‘La Pettegola’ Toscana Vermentino.  Exotic florals mixed with herbs.  In your face in aroma and flavour, but balanced by freshness, raciness and a clean, crisp finish.  It offers the taste for flavour seekers, but the palate for those who need the food-friendly cut and dryness.