Thursday, August 27, 2015

Danube Dalliance

It’s an auspicious occasion when The Prince and Shady Dog Jim are in town and pay a visit.  It was a call out of the blue.  What to do?  What to serve them?  As they know their limestone from their clay, and they appreciate good bottles, it was a bit of a challenge.  Rummaging through the first wine cupboard, there was a theme of Danube Dalliance with three Austrian reds.  Something a little unusual for all of us.  They’re brought into the country by the Aromatics Ace, and his wines are always interesting…

First the 2012 Brundlmayer ‘Dechant’ Blauer Burgunder.  This is of course Pinot Noir, this bottling aged in 2-3 Austrian 300 L oak barrels.  As with all the Brundlmayer wines, very elegant and refined.  Not a blockbuster, with slightly cooler red fruits, strawberries and a touch of herbs.  Absolutely refreshing and juicy, enlivening to drink. An easy wine that won’t shake the earth if you’re looking for that, but it sneaks up and totally impresses.  Maybe The Prince and Shady Dog Jim want’ed an earth-mover, as they just smiled when discussing the wine.  SWMBO and I were more pleased.

Then I tried an earth-mover, the ‘iconic’ 2011 Moric’Reserve’ Blaufrankisch.  I love the description that Blaufrankisch sits in the middle of the triangle of spicy Syrah, tannic Nebbiolo and soft silkiness of Pinot Noir.  Black-red, impenetrable, with a powerful, intense bouquet of savoury black berry and plum fruits, along with a subtle lift.  The Prince mentioned Pinotage individuality.  It certainly had interest.  Rich and full-bodied with sweet fruits, black berried fruits, minerals, and plenty of mouthfeel and structure.  Then the funky brettanomyces emerged.  SWMBO and I have had other bottles, much cleaner.  Shady Dog Jim was brutally honest and said he couldn’t drink any more after the first couple of mouthfuls.  So that was that.

My last attempt at interest was the 2011 Pittnauer ‘Rosenberg’ Sankt Laurent, from sandy soils and aged in seasoned large format oak.  Certainly a piquant, lively and fruity wine.  Reminding me of the size of the Brundlmayer, but with more savoury and lifted intensity.  That odd, aromatic, spicy, game-like edge that the variety has.  A slightly firm line, not overly hard, but more with drive and linearity.  I liked the flavours, but maybe pre-conditioned by the previous, the others saw game, funk and spoilage.  Ah, the power of suggestion…

It was agreed, we’d move onto more familiar territory, and we did, to everyone’s pleasure and a measure of extra delight.      

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Support Network

Our friends and family make our support network, and we share pleasant times to keep the bonds strong.  So the occasional meal and catch up, with all the news and gossip does wonders.  Just-a-Sippy and Izy are such friends and a meal with soup and pasta was accompanied by an appropriate vino.  The 2007 Contea di Castigline Barbaresco is a label from the Cantine Castel di Boglione, a co-operative founded over 60 years ago, and now with 700 ha in Piedmonte.  As with most co-operatives, the pricing is keen and friendly, and the wines made as freely available as possible.  Just like the friendship of the network of support.

2007 was a hot and dry growing season and Barbaresco fared better than Barolo, the more elegant style having more leeway to absorb the heat and having somewhere to go.  This is classic Nebbiolo with fragrance, yes, even in such a year, with dried roses.  Not so much tar, but with savoury dried herb, leather and earthy suggestions.  There’s always a backbone of tannin, but here it’s fine with its graininess.  It allows the fruit to show through, but it does eventually build up.  There’s a femininity there and it’s easier to make the call on Barbaresco rather than Barolo.  And it’s friendly and supported the duck pasta, lubricating our relationship with our hosts.