Festive drinks – one up, one down, one surprise

2001 Chateau La Tour Blanche 13%
Sauternes (Bommes).  The property is a training facility, planted with 83% Semillon, 12% sav blanc and 5% muscadelle. It regularly provides great value in the style, with typical Sauternes longevity.

Bright deep lemon colour, with toffee apple, and icing sugar notes, ripe with some vanilla and dusty varnish, joining lemon citrus and tropical fruits. Vibrant still, and very slightly too dense, but all too easy to take more. Stylish and delicious. 2001 was a ripe year, and this wine has 150 g/l residual sugar.

Drink to 2030, 93 points.

1995 Yarra Yering Portsorts 21%
Yarra Valley. Ruby colour. Marzipan, sugared almond, very soft and mellow, with the spirit basically holding this fortified wine together.

Dr Bailey Carrodus was a bit of a magpie, with many varieties at his property – Touriga Naçional, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela, and Alvarelhão were planted in 1990 – certainly unusual for the Yarra Valley.

This brand also has an interesting history. It was initially labelled as “portsorts”, but by 2000 had become “potsorts”. I have a recollection that proprietor Bailey Carrodus attempted to import the wine to the UK, but fell foul of labelling requirements, and spontaneously deleted the “r under questioning at the airport.

Drink now, 83 points.

2013 JL Chave Hermitage Blanc (bottle #4474) 14.5%
Northern Rhone. Here’s another dry wine that forces its way into my blog for its outrageous quality. All too often Rhone whites can be flabby with an oxidative edge – not this one.

Bright deep lemon colour, white stonefruit and honeysuckle; unctuous seduction, very ripe but flavour-packed, dense, textured  and persistent, just a tickle of vanilla, almond and mint. This was masked, so it looked like Old World, then the depth of flavour propelled me to a superior White Burgundy – wrong! But the wine is outstanding, rare and expensive – and shows why some persist with Marsanne and Roussanne in Hermitage. Looks good for many more years. My best Rhone white ever. Drinking span is a bit of a guess; Livingstone-learmonth claims these have a monster life-span, but I haven’t seen enough old (and decent) examples.

Drink to 2030? 96 points

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