It never ceases to amaze me how with one style of wine you can approach perfection going in opposite directions. Perfection is not something to narrow in on, but to go forth and seek out. It is both objective and subjective… Whoa, don’t go to philosophical discussions where you know too little…. Two sweet wines served on one night came close to perfection. Yet they were so very different. They both just missed out on being seen as good as they could be by the slimmest of margins in the least of details. Mr Magic and Mags, along with SWMBO and I were enjoying a lovely afternoon and early evening tasting and drinking all manner of wines, when it was time to move into the dessert styles.
The first was the 2013 Esk Valley Hawke’s Bay Late Harvest Chenin Blanc. A beautiful, even light golden colour, the aromas and flavours of honey and flowers were enriched by stonefruits and ripe citrus fruit marmalade. A touch of botrytis maybe? Maybe not as 2013 was super dry. Very harmoniously integrated, with flashes of raisins and oak. The acidity is seamless and perfectly balanced. Spotlessly clean and pure. Innocence personified, without any corruption. This was the best New World interpretation of a Sauternes I reckoned I’d seen for yonks. The figures aren’t Sauternes territory, with 10% alc. and 204 g/L RS, and winemaker Gordon Russell would prefer to drink it earlier, I know, but it’ll keep. It only it had a little botrytis complexity to make it street-wise, then it would foot it with great Sauternes. Then it’d be closer to perfect.
We had to match it with something as good. So it was a long-kept bottle, given to us as a gift. The 1998 Fromm ‘La Strada’ Marlborough Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese. This was a special wine for Hatsch to make, in cahoots with guest vigneron Daniel Vollenweider. If there was any wine seeping on the barrel, Hatsch’s finger would wipe it up to be licked and savoured. It poured a dark mahogany colour into the glass. Oozed would be a better description. Dense and savoury with dark toffee, caramel and even some molasses. Even more decadent and thick, more than unctuous. But under it all, a remnant of finesse that Riesling gives, and that acid cut. It took 4 years to ferment to 5.5% alc., leaving 360 g/L RS, but balanced by TA 12.4 g/L and a pH of 2.83, but it seemed like 3.83. Like the 2013 Esk Valley, botrytis-free, as it was such a dry year too. But shrivel and raisins galore. This is immortal liquid toffee, and I’d say Hatsch would agree. Only 75 L were made, giving 185 x 375 ml bottles. If only there was botrytis, and it was less outrageous, maybe a tad cleaner, it’d be perfection in my books.