1997 Chateau Reynella Vintage Port 19%

McLaren Vale Shiraz, bottle number 17580. The very dry cork disintegrated despite my  best efforts with massed gadgetry, and some filtering was required to remove fine sediment.

1997 ch reynella vp

The wines is still a deep ruby colour with trivial bricking; aromas include red liquorice, black cherry, blackberry and mocha, with sweet spice notes present too. The palate is rich, sweet and fresh with greater blackberry fruit impact; the brandy spirit is deliciously balanced, the liquorice materialises with the blackberry, spices and light mocha, and there is a prolonged, pleasingly drying finish.

At 21 years, this wine has reached an excellent drinking plateau.

93 points, and drink to 2030.

 

 

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2016 Cookoothama Darlington Point Botrytis Semillon 11%

From the Riverina, New South Wales, where the De Bortoli Noble One produces the best known example of a consistently excellent botrytis Semillon style. The Cookoothama is however, a more affordable option, and at around $22 for a half-bottle, is outstanding value.

The wine is a bright light gold colour, with voluminous scents of orange blossom, ripe apricot, vanilla icing and lime and orange marmalade. This wine is exuberant on the palate, very rich, sweet, powerful and flavour-packed, with enough acidity to avoid any cloying sensations.

This wine has enough power to match most desserts (avoid chocolate though) and is utterly delicious.

This is a wine that I would enjoy while it demonstrates its youthful precocity; a few years won’t hurt, but it’s beautifully pitched for short-term enjoyment.

Drink to 2023, and 92 points

Bodegas Alvear Pedro Ximinez 1927 solera 16%

From Spain, in the Montilla-Moriles region. Pedro Ximinez (commonly referred to as PX) is a thin-skinned white grape variety with some minor plantings in Australia (Campbells and Buller’s come to mind).

In Spain, it is often air-dried on  mats, concentrating the sugars, placed into barrel, and fortified to produce an unctuous, dessert wine, often using a solera system to keep the blends fairly consistent.

This wine (served blind and shared with a group) was a very dark khaki/espresso coffee colour with an amber rim. It was bursting with vitality, with ripe raisin and some black tea characters. While people were having mental debates about whether this wine was a muscat or a topaque (formerly tokay)  – of considerable age), I confidently asserted that the wine was an excellent PX example.

The palate was incredibly lush, with raisin, mocha and toffee notes; the flavours lingered, and while I guessed that the wine had >300 g/l of residual sugar, their website confirmed 405 g/l. The intensity assisted my score, the freshness also assisted, but the wine was relatively straightforward. Its alcohol level made the wine very easy to drink!  Despite being an excellent example of an old PX, it lacked the savoury bite, mouthfeel and layers of myriad flavours of old and rare Rutherglen fortifieds.

The bottle shows 1927 as the start date of the solera,and it undoubtedly contains some very old material, but I find it’s very difficult to assess an average age for this wine – as does the producer– but warmly encourage people to give this wine style a try.

Drink now, and 92 points

Two Australian off-dry Rieslings

2017 Pikes “Olga Emmie” Riesling 10.5%
From the Clare Valley, South Australia, from a classic year.  Pikes make a well-priced and readily available “traditionale” Riesling, and their reserve is the “Merle” (a terrific wine that I have purchased to cellar).

2017 pikes oe riesling

The “Olga Emmie” is Pike’s off-dry Riesling, described as “slightly sweet” on the back label, with perhaps 20 g/l of residual sugar. It is available for around $20, and well worth seeking out.

“Olga Emmie” proved an interesting wine, particularly since I had the luxury of consuming it over several days. Each time, my assessment, and score improved- so perhaps this is a wine whose virtues are not instantly obvious. It’s youthful and pale in colour; its aromatics are present but not overt and include lime marmalade, passionfruit and pebbles.

There is some residual sugar, and my first impression was that an extra tweak of acidity would have pleased me; but the wine is absolutely delicious with lime, and then lemon, and some fresh honeydew melon. The acidity is keenly pitched, and fills out a wholesome drinking experience.

I am baffled that there are so few examples of serious off-dry Rieslings in Australia; food-friendly, approachable and delicious – Grosset’s Alea, and the  Pewsey Vale Prima come to mind; further mental effort retrieves Pressing Matters R9, a Rieslingfreak offering, then the memory bank fades.

It’s not necessarily easy for a customer to work between the range of “dry” and “dessert”; and the complex interplay of sweetness and acidity on perceptions is another issue; not today’s topic! Labelling wines as off-dry, semi-sweet, medium dry or medium sweet doesn’t seem to have helped.

While this Pike’s wine will certainly improve for a few years (particularly based on the moving target of my views), it will already be a terrific accompaniment to a range of foods much broader than generic “Asian”, with fish and white meats well into play.

Conservatively, drink to 2022 and 90 points

Disclosure- this was a sample bottle.

 

2009 Lethbridge Dr Nadeson Riesling 11.5%
Although Lethbridge is based in Geelong Victoria, this particular wine is from Portland, SW Victoria, from the Barratt vineyard. There have been several releases from this vineyard, but not for the past few years.

2009 lethbridge riesling

It’s a pale gold colour, and displays varietal talc, wax, mango, cantaloupe and some definite but unobjectionable petroleum. The palate shows green apple characters, some textural grip and a twist of lemony acidity. There is perhaps 10 g/l of residual sugar which adds to the package, providing intrigue to the palate . Nine years old, but the taste is still defiantly fresh.

Perhaps not a wine for technocrats (with its degree of textural grip); certainly idiosyncratic in its winemaking approach, and I firmly favour drinking this wine soon, while its vibrancy critically supports  its drinkability. But the wines very slow evolution means it will last much longer.

Drink to 2020, and 88 points.

1985 Taylor’s Vintage Port 20.5%, again

I reviewed a bottle of this wine in April 2016, so it proved an interesting exercise to read my old comments, score and drinking window after writing this newer note. Thankfully, there were similar descriptions and conclusions.

1985 taylors vintage port

From a widely declared (but not regarded as a wonderful) year, this Portuguese Vintage Port is in a attractive drinking zone.  The cork broke a little when I opened the wine, but was in excellent condition for its 30-odd years. Decanting was needed to remove sediment, and away we went!

The Taylor’s website is user-friendly and their assessment of the vintage and this wine is here, along with plenty of other useful information.

A ruby colour, with some age-appropriate bricking on the rim, the wine displayed a mix of floral red and black fruits (mulberry, fig and plum) plus other characteristics including oatmeal and hazelnut. The spirit was generous and well integrated.

The palate was mellow and savoury, with mixed mocha and chocolate cream characters,  with minerally flint and iron notes, then the generous baking spices followed. Tannins are fine, but certainly present.

All up, this is a delicious wine, drinking irresistibly. I purchased a few bottles of this wine at auction in October 2015, and have been delighted with the results, with one bottle left.

Drink to 2030, and 95 points.

 

PS – Jancis Robinson has recently been running a competition about how people started on their wine journey- my published entry is here.

 

More recent random “theme” drinks

2008 Schloss Lieser Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett 8%
Cork Ok, and another 2008 Mosel riesling ready for action.
Light gold colour, abundant ripe red apple, white flowers and lemon aromatics; the palate is light-bodied but full-flavoured, with  red berries, apple, honey and willing acidity. Purchase notes indicate 63 g/l residual sugar. Irresistible, but drink up while it’s still bursting with energy.

Drink to 2023, and 91 points; I’m quietly purring that I have some of their higher-end wines from that year too….

2010 Petaluma Fortified shiraz 20%
half bottle, cork, and probably a cellar-door wine as the “Petaluma” brand is buried in the back label.

This is a very smart wine from the Adelaide Hills (South Australia); abundant ripe black cherry melded with sweet brandy spirit. Irresistible.  And then the subtleties emerge; this is pristine-  blueberry, mulberry, morello cherry. Whispery, very fine silky tannins. A modern, seductive, classy fortified with supreme balance that will mature gracefully over many more years. Juicy, fleshy and the “drunken cherry” flavours are wondrous.

Drink to 2030, and 93 points.

2007 Dirler Gewurtztraminer Saering vendanges tardives 14%

Alsace, Grand cru, and 54 g/l residual sugar. The VT description really just means late harvest. It seems I wrote about this wine about two years ago, and my notes and score are moderately consistent (but this time the camera refused to take even a passable photo).

The cork has lasted well and the wine is a bright deep gold colour,  Gewurztraminer is an aromatic variety, and there are attractive mixed scents including honey, rose-petal, orange blossom, marmalade and cooking spices (mainly cinnamon).

The palate is true and lush, with more stewed apricot, orange marmalade, and grapey ripe sultana displayed. It is rich, ripe and becoming a little hard, with its sweetness being slowly overtaken. But I doubt that many will have deliberately kept this wine for so long, and it improved for one day after opening before its charms receded. It was probably more exuberant a few years ago.

Drink up, but 90 points still.