Saturday, December 27, 2014

On a Roll

Some situations just flow onto another, quite seamlessly, and it’s a pleasure especially in the summer holidays.  It’s a timeless scenario when everything is relaxed and life is good.  We enjoyed a pre-Christmas Christmas dinner with The Young One and Jo Lo, as well as the Mo-Ment Girl, and it was story upon story and pun after pun.  We were all on a roll.

The wines flowed easily too, but two in particular just seemed to slip down with ease, rolling along the tongue and palate.  Firstly, a favourite producer, but a new vintage, the 2013 Donnhoff Oberhauser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett, from the Nahe, and from land less cool and precipitous than our normal fare of Mosel wines.  While many vineyards can be steep, the land can be relatively more rolling and undulating in comparison.  I see the Nahe sits between the Mosel and Rheingau in character, with a roundness, but there’s enough acid vivacity there too.   The wines have a delicious richness and weight that is enhanced when hands such as at Donhoff are involved.  A gorgeous wine that could have been the favourite of the night.
Then moving on to the 2011 Honour Roll Hunter Valley Shiraz, made by our friend Mike de Garis.  He’s a man with his heart still in the Hunter Valley.  Having worked there for well over a decade, you can take the man away from the Hunter, but you can’t take the Hunter out of the man, along with other Nick Nock sayings.  This is thoroughly modern stuff, elegant and supple, still youthful and primary, and somewhat innocuous drinking on first impressions.  Then you see the complex savoury nuances lurking behind.  This is a Hunter classic for sure.  And a top vintage.  We broached it far too early.  The label is a tribute to how many awards Mike’s wines have won, and no doubt his love of puns.  He keeps on making top wines and punning.       

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Taste of Summer

The arrival of summer is always appreciated with a bright outlook to the outdoors lifestyle and all the trimmings with it, including delicious berry fruits, melons and tropical fruits.  There was a compunction to put the bottle of 2004 Moet & Chandon Champagne Vintage Rosé into the fridge to chill down.  Family and friends arrived, brunch served on the table, and out came the cork!  Soft strawberry pink with a little light-red, fine mousse streaming up through the wine to the top of the glass, carrying with it the aromas of red summer fruits and soft brioche and croissants.  Softly refreshing with just a hint of sweetness and succulence, perfectly countered by fine acidity.  Very little phenolic grip.  All judged perfectly to slip down effortlessly.  I don’t even want to be critical and say there’s no great complexity, nuance, blah blah blah.  This was just a delicious bubbles to celebrate the sweetness of life and a foretaste of summer.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Bordeaux Balance and Perspective

I must admit all around me it’s Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir, and maybe a little Syrah.  It’s the country we live in, and Pinot Noir is the most widely planted red.  And of course Syrah is tipped to be the next best thing.  It wasn’t always like that, and in the bad old good days of yesteryear, the king of the reds was Cabernet Sauvignon, because it was the majestic basis for the world’s best wines, the great first growths of the Bordeaux.  Merlot was second rate then.  But things changed, and Merlot got promoted, primarily because of Petrus, the Moueix family and Pomerol.  Then we realised that here, in our maritime climate, the Bordeaux varieties just don’t ripen as consistently as Pinot Noir, thus Cabernet and Merlot began to lose favour – quickly

There’s only a little buzz about Cabernet and Merlot at present, but that’s going to change with the 2013 Hawke’s Bay wines coming on stream.  We may see a revival, and a return to an appreciation of these varieties from a global perspective and balance.  These are the varieties and wines which still dominate the fine wine scene for the world.  And in New Zealand, Te Mata have kept the message going.

The 2005 Te Mata ‘Coleraine’ is a wonderful ambassador for Cabernet and Merlot, with 45% of the former and 37% of the latter.  There’s also 18% Franc.  It restores one’s faith in the Bordeaux style of wines in a Burgundy-obsessed situation.  Still dark as, and young, then a stupendously beautiful array of black fruit aromas, just beginning to go beyond blackcurrants and cassis, to include rich plums, earth , cedar, redcurrants, and herbs.  Gorgeously sweet and decadent, contained and bolstered by magnificent structure and extraction.  But everything in balance, and with a richness that lends opulence with supple accessibility.  Cor, I could drink this all night.  We all did and enjoyed it to a man (and woman).  There’s another decade left in this wine, and SWMBO and I are pleased we have some more…  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

White Burgundy Snobbery

As wine aficionados we all want to drink the most highly rated and regarded wines we can choose.  And of course we enjoy them.  Why would we prefer drinking a wine of lesser provenance when we can avoid it?  It’s a fine edge doing so and acting a bit snobbish, to be seen to prefer the so-called better wine when in reality the not-so-highly rated wine is actually the better drink.  I admit I’ve fallen into that trap on more than one occasion.

The situation appeared again, in the company of the Ravellers and the Roaders, who know their wines really well.  SWMBO and I were the guests, and we all wanted to put up some wines to enjoy, if not impress just a little!  First up was a 2012 Domaine Saumaize-Michelin Pouilly Fuisse.  Sure enough a decent white burgundy from the Macon.  Good honest fare without pretension, but real white burgundy nevertheless.  This was fresh, light, fruit-focussed, clean, and delivered all that you wanted in a southern country wine.  In fact, quite modern and maybe a good, leading example.  The Ravellers were pleased we all liked it.

Then served blind was a 2005 William Fevre Chablis Grand Cru ‘Les Preuses’.  A strong wine, clearly mature and needing drinking.  Plenty of weight and softening.  More Cote de Beaune as the flint, steel and acidity didn’t shine through.  My guess was a Meursault with more than a decade on it.  Signs of nutty oxidation, not necessarily premox, but more bottle development with cork losing its sealing qualities a tad.  We all sensed it was supposed to be a goodie, but we all knew it wasn’t the best of the two white burgundies.  Once we knew what it was, (SWMBO guessing correctly) we all took another glass and tried to find the goodness that should have been there.  Then we enjoyed drinking the Pouilly Fuisse.