Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The River

Our friends the Bassinet Babes have shifted house.  They’ve moved to a street named after a river, and it was appropriate to celebrate with a wine that came from the region of that river.  We weren’t quite expecting this, as SWMBO and I had turned up with a nicely chilled bottle of bubbles, but the wine the Babes had ready and served to us was perfect.

The 2001 von Schubert Maximin Grunhaus Abtsberg Riesling Auslese is now fully developed.  Golden yellow colour, the aromas were that heady mix of savoury lime fruit with honey, beeswax, crème custard, toast and minerals, plus some kero, if you’re that way inclined.  The palate was the same, with all those complex flavours layered and interwoven.  The textures were soft and fine, and the beginnings of dryness appearing.  And the acidity just showing a sweet and sour note now.  This was just past its plateau, but still drinking extremely well.  It let you know it was the treat.

At 15 years old, it could or should have been more, especially a top a top wine from the Ruwer.   Its delicacy in great years can see it develop for decades.  2001 is indeed a great year, and the Abtsberg could be expected to go on for ages, more so than the Herrenberg or Bruderberg.  But not this bottle.  Maybe its travels across the world may have put it on a slightly earlier path of aging.  I niggle here, because the wine was still glorious.  The Mosel river flows with gold and joy, as we experienced on this day. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016


Sometimes you must realise your limits and the limitations of a wine you might be holding onto.  It’s so easy to put off opening a bottle waiting for the appropriate or better time.  Of course the wine is special to you, and you want to maximise the memories and meaning the bottle might represent.  But you must consider when is the best time to open the wine so it gives the best it can in a taste and balance sense.

So it was with the 2003 Escarpment Vineyard ‘Kupe’ Martinborough Pinot Noir.  It was the first release of this wine from newly planted vines.  It was the beginning of his new venture expressing what he wanted to do.  And SWMBO and The Young One were involved with me in bringing the grapes in.  It was back-breaking work as the vines were and still are low to the ground.

We had The Chairman with us, and there wasn’t go to be a better time to open my last bottle of the 2003 Kupe, unless we had Larry McKenna, the maker himself in our presence.  Off came the top, into the glasses, and then the tasting procedure.  Remarkably dark for a 13 year old wine.  Some garnet to the ruby-red.  Firm on the nose, the aromas of black and dark, savoury berry fruits.  Clearly in a secondary phase, but not in the tertiary.  Surprisingly, the whole bunch was not obvious, but then, Larry wasn’t as adventurous as he is today, and also young vines, so he wouldn’t want to mask or make too complex the fruit.  The Chairman felt the oak was out there.  I was OK on that.  Then firm and structured on palate, the mouthfeel a little dry and firm.  The fruit definitely starting to dry.  But this was holding it all together and within limits.  I would have liked to have drunk this around 2010 at latest, really.  It would have been at its best level of pleasure.       

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Floored Again

There’s never a dull moment with The Chairman.  He’s fun, but also very serious about his wine, though on the surface, it’s all casual.  He brings a gift every time he visits, and both SWMBO and I are very pleased to shout out or share a vinous treat with him.  But it’s hard to surprise him, as he’s very familiar with all sorts.

So off we went to the Wine Bar, and scanning the extensive wine list, we were starting to get bogged down with the choices.  There were just too many good and tempting wines beckoning us to participate in.  So in classical fashion, The Chairman floored us with the perfect choice – two different Sherries – flor-based, of course!

The Lusta ‘Papirusa’ Manzanilla was soft, light, clean and fresh with that near piercing pungency.  It nearly had the salty, sea-like tang that is attributed to proximity of the ocean, but in reality it’s the terroir of Sanlucar.  But strangely enough, it just lacked that essential acid zing and thirst-quenching delicacy that the very best examples have.  Not to say this was bad by any means, as it was still delightful, it may have been shipped a few months ago, hence the wine losing its edge of freshness.
Then the Lustau ‘Los Arcos’ Amontillado.  Aged fino, of course, and still carrying the effects of flor with pungency and crispness, with elegance of proportion.  But with age comes complexity.  Far more nutty and savoury, and in reality a great deal more body and depth.  Still refreshing to a degree, but a sipping wine to fill the palate with layers of flavours.  Gorgeous.  The Chairman floored us, as did this beauty.