2007 Dirler(-Cadé) Gewurztraminer Grand cru Spiegel Selection de grains Nobles 12%

From Alsace, with its cork in excellent condition. This wine is from an exceptional year for late-harvest Gewurztraminer in Alsace. Gewurztraminer is unfairly maligned as being a “beginner’s variety” with its overtly aromatic musk, rose and lychee characters (often allied with inappropriate levels of residual sugar) make it instantly recognisable and appealing, with typically minimal ability to improve with bottle age.

In Australia, this stereotype is unfortunately largely true, with some exceptions (Delatite, Lillydale Estate, and occasional surprises from Pipers Brook and other Tasmanian producers come to mind- perhaps we have deployed lesser clones in inappropriate areas?). New Zealand has had more success with the variety with Lawson’s wines readily available.

Alsace sees gewürztraminer’s varietal expression at its fullest, with wines ranging from dry styles through to full-throttle heavily botrytised examples. Some gewürztraminer wines from Hugel, Trimbach, Stirn, Paul Blanck and  Zind-Humbrecht have provided special enjoyment over the years. Alsace, with its mix of German and French speaking residents, history, its all-around scenic prettiness, wines and cuisine should not be neglected in travels – and I have visited several times.

Dirler has an extensive list of wines available, and I have previously written about several different Dirler wines in my blog.

2007 dirler gwt sgn

This wine is a bright and healthy gold colour. It presents wonderfully as fragrant, musky, grapey, spiced, brisk and fresh. This is a full-on, heavily botrytised, powerful dessert-style wine (152 g/l residual sugar) and the palate shows dark honey, icing sugar, yellow peach, spices and lime flavours. There is abundant acidity to balance the substantial residual sugar, and the texture is lush and supple. This is just a fabulous example of an SGN, with a very, very trivial quibble about some minor palate hardness.

Each time I sampled this wine, its score – as a benchmark of this style – improved; it just possesses super drinkability.

Drink to 2025 (it may last much longer but I fear the hardness will become more obvious), and 95 points.

Advertisements

2011 Clonakilla Riesling Auslese 10%

Canberra district, screwcap, half-bottle.2011 clonakilla riesling auslese

From a “small batch release”, perhaps I had some spare cash then, and invested in a few bottles from this notoriously wet year in most of Australia (white wines fared better than red wines).

Clonakilla is famed for its Shiraz-Viognier red wine, but its Rieslings are convincing too (as are those from nearby Helms’s). But a late-harvest Riesling from Clonakilla is a rarity. And a fair amount of botrytis is suspected.

The wine is a light-to-medium gold colour, showing lime florals, white flowers, and some less overt ripe apricot and mango; the quite viscous – and sweet- palate is beautifully fresh and balanced, lime juice and spice notes finish with a cleansing citric twang to add interest to its hedonism. This dessert wine absolutely cries out for a fresh fruit platter.

Plenty of life; drink to 2025 and 93 points.

2015 O’Leary Walker “Wyatt Earp” Fortified Shiraz 18.5%

This is not my typical review, but features detours galore – that I hope will stimulate research by my readers.

Australia produced many “series” of fortified “ports” with racehorses, greyhounds, Prime ministers – and more – adorning labels. “Wyatt Earp” immediately seems to lack any Australian heritage but was a brand launched by Quelltaler, and now this vintage appears from O’Leary Walker.

Wyatt Earp was the gambler and lawman famed for the “shootout at the OK Corral”. He was portrayed by Henry Fonda  in John Ford’s excellent western movie “My Darling Clementine”. Parts of this movie – and many more – were shot in the indelibly scenic Monument Valley – (Utah/Arizona)- which I visited in October 2014 and recently in April 2019. I am a monster fan of these westerns, with Ford’s “Searchers”, “She Wore a yellow Ribbon”, “Stagecoach”, “Fort Apache”, “Rio Grande”,  “Wagon Master”, “Sergeant Rutledge” “Liberty Vallance”, plus more westerns by other directors such as “Red River”, “Shane”, “True Grit” and “Unforgiven” supremely recommended.  A further diversion is that “My Darling Clementine” also features one of my favourite character actors –  Walter Brennan, charismatically irresistible here,as well as in “The Westerner” and with Humphrey Bogart in “To have and have not”.

Google revealed the antipodean connection to Dodge City and Tombstone’s marshall. American explorer Lincoln Ellsworth converted a boat for polar use in 1929 and named it “Wyatt Earp”, after one of his heroes. The boat made several voyages (from Adelaide) to Antarctica until the Australian navy acquired the vessel in 1939 – renaming it “Wongala”.  Several more names changes occurred until the boat ran aground in 1959. A Quelltaler box claimed that the boat’s skipper developed a firm friendship, and made regular copious vintage port purchases for the crew. The fortified was then branded as “Wyatt Earp” in celebration. The earliest Wyatt Earp vintage I found references to was from 1947, with the latest from 1977. But I’m glad it was revived!

It may seem odd to be tasting a fortified Shiraz that is so youthful, with many years before its most rewarding drinking window. The winemaker has to aim a long, long way into the future. However, this drinking decision was inspired by Andrew Jefford’s extraordinarily stimulating column in Decanter, where he describes the winemaking process as  “fruit is pummeled to annihilation as quickly as possible during a break-neck vinification period of extreme if carefully controlled violence (perhaps cage-fighting would be the best metaphor of all)”. Jefford then adds a riveting tasting note, in support of early – and later- drinking of this fascinating wine style.

After these digressions, (finally) I turn to the 2015 O’Leary Walker Fortified Shiraz (screwcap, 500ml, Clare Valley – South Australia, available from the O’Leary Walker website). The back label asserts it’s made from 80y/o Shiraz vines and fortified with brandy spirit.

2015 o'leary walker fortified

It’s a luscious, youthful purple/crimson colour; its perfumed meld includes blackcurrant, dark cherry, plum, light cocoa, and delicious fine, sweet brandy spirit; the palate adds blackberry, blueberry and the emergence of some fig and dark cocoa. By no means a blockbuster, it’s ultra supple, with fine tannins supporting the fruit weight. This wine is surprisingly delicious already, although another 20 years is easily achievable and will increase the variety of characters detectable. I’m very glad Jefford tempted me into trying this youthful wine!

Drink to 2040 and 92 points.

An Alsace VT, and a Portuguese Vp

2001 Louis Sipp Kirchberg de Ribeauville  (grand Cru) Pinot Gris (vendanges tardive) 12.5%
Alsace provides disproportionate disappointments caused by cork- oxidation and TCA. The discard rate should make anyone extremely wary. When the wines behave as intended they can be magnificent (the 1990 Trimbach Clos st Hune Riesling garnered a perfect score from me once; a second bottle a few years later was almost as memorable, and I have tasted awesome bottles from Josmeyer and Zind-Humbrecht).

This Louis Sipp wine was a final gamble– a bottle tried a few months ago was oxidised to undrinkability. Pinot Gris is a low acid, “quiet”  variety (undistinguished in Australia), but if aiming at the “gris style” with sensitivity, ripeness and some residual sugar, it can be a surprisingly adept partner with fish. Obtaining texture without phenolics being too overt is the winemaking key; alcohol, residual sugar and winemaking finesses are important.

2001 louis sipp pg vt

Vendanges tardive indicates late harvest, but the residual sugar level – moderate but an easily discernible amount- is unknown. The wine is golden in colour, displaying tropical notes of pear, baked apple, mango, honey, spice, and glace fruits. The palate is drying out, but still exerts attractive grapey sultana character, mandarine, yellow peach and mixed spices to wrap it up.

Better a few years ago, but a decent, well-chilled bottle will provide considerable enjoyment

Drink now (or via time machine a few years ago), 89 points.

1980 Warre’s Vintage Port 20%
Served blind, and a translucent brick colour, this wine exhibits mocha, almond, vibrancy and is relatively dry for the style; then fig and rose-petal emerge. Uniformly identified as Portuguese by commentators at the table, Warres was the house deemed likely. Its age was assumed as a declared but “lesser” year. This wine is a further triumph for 1980, showing a winning combination of life and mellowness ,with a wholesome, lingering palate.

Drink to 2030, and 92 points.

1975 Hardy’s Vintage Port (special release museum stock) 17.5%, and more

With 4 trophies and 20 gold medals up to 1987, this is a special wine. From McLaren Vale, South Australia, the cork has thankfully performed its duty, and the wine seems younger than its 44 years.

1975 hardy's vp

It’s a solid brick red colour (with substantial sediment that makes decanting worthwhile). Fig, rose-hip,  blackberry, espresso and sweet integrated brandy spirit are evident. Drier than the typical traditional Oz style, this wine is immaculately manicured; the satin-fine tannins melded with blackberry and a supremely extended palate fully demonstrates why obsessives bother cellaring this style.

Drink to 2030, 95 points.

2009 (Forstmeister Geltz) Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Riesling Diabas 12%
Destined for a “GG”, a cask stopped at 16 g/l residual sugar. Pale lemon colour with arresting aromas of passionfruit, white flower, red apple, and ripe green herbs. The wine is compelling in its length, texture and interest (nashi pear)  that will suit many cuisines (Asian or something simple such as smoked salmon). This Mosel area wine sits at a “feinherb” level (less than Kabinett) and is completely,  winningly delicious.

Drink to 2025, 93 points

2007 JJ Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese Goldkapsule 7.5%
The gold capsule denotes a bit “extra” for its category (some producers use “stars” such as **).

This Mosel wine instantly showed its style and class. Nettle, herb, and petroleum with white peach notes; the palate has rich tropical notes and brisk lemon but the balance of sugar and acidity makes it feathery; and a total, supple delight.

Drink to 2030, and 92 points.

1994 Seppelt Show Sparkling Shiraz, and more….

1994 Seppelt Show Sparkling Shiraz 13.5%
Under crown seal, this wine is outstanding, (but unfortunately my last bottle).

1994 seppelt sparkling red

A terrific Australian style; old vines from the St Peters vineyard at Great Western (Victoria)  and around 8 years on lees. Plenty of mousse, a touch of brick on the deep colour but wonderfully good for its age; a multitude of spices, black cherry, and plush leather; the palate is sensual, super rich, ripe and creamy; the combination of freshness and bottle development, blackberry, complex dark fruits, spices and a super, long, long finish is stunning. Around  25 g/l residual sugar meshes harmoniously with the evident, fine tannins.

Drink anytime over the next 20 or so years; some mushroom development will appear, but the fruit power, balance and freshness make this wine an absolute winner and a complete delight to drink.

Drink to 2035, 95 points

2007 Donnhoff Oberhauser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett 8.5%
From the Nahe (adjacent to Mosel). Light-to medium gold in colour, the wine displays cumquat, petroleum, white peach, white flowers and honey. Red apple and redcurrant are more accessible on the palate with steely acidity. Exceptionally well balanced, this is ultra-easy to drink- in the zone- with a few more years of pleasure ahead.

Drink to 2025, and 91 points

2007 Reinhold Haart Piesporter Domherr Riesling spatlese 8.5%
Mosel, with a light gold colour, tropical fruits (predominantly pineapple) meshed with lemon

There is abundant residual sugar (even for a spatlese) but the acidity is well judged. Mouthfilling, vibrant citrus and a touch of mineral and spices makes this wine easy to consume.  A touch of hardness on the palate suggests caution about further cellaring.

Drink to 2022, and 88 points

April 1 release of the Unicorn

“Brainless, heartless, spineless, gutless, charmless and useless. But I don’t publicly use these descriptions of my competitors, especially when I have an astonishingly great breaking news announcement, said CEO Hector Lannible.

It’s rare but it’s not a myth. Well-heeled collectors often boast of their so-called “unicorn wines” – due to their cost, rarity or both. But under my dynamite stewardship at Stoney Goose Ridge, we continually break novel ground, transformationally disrupting the binary paradigm mindset, and today we launch the Unicorn into the firmament. It’s no myth – we have one. This is not a terminological inexactitude.

It’s the finest, most exclusive wine we make; a spectacularly curated selection of our top barrels, artisanised through our innovative proprietary technological wizardry.

It’s rarer than a (Northern Hemisphere) black swan, scarcer than hens’ teeth, and in shorter supply than rocking horse manure. The wine itself is obviously truly unique; a red wine from the noble Cabernet Sauvignon, with some Merlot and other varietals. It’s from a specifically unique terroir, a particular block we call Area 51, concealed from public view.

One of my numerous visionary ambitions for Stoney Goose Ridge was to create a compelling monument; several earlier attempts were declassified as not fulfilling my passionate quality aspirations, but this time I have drop-kicked the googly directly into the side-pocket to gammon the bout with a triple jackpot; at last now I proudly proclaim the impending debut of 2017 The Unicorn.

Crafted by our squadron of expert fashionistas, matured in superior oak, with all key decisions taken by myself, this wine will deservedly sell like wildfire, and even impress the legions of wine-writing toady freeloaders. Truly, I rolled the dice and came up trumps, smelling of roses. No shortcuts have been taken, no marketing expense spared, no stone left unadorned.

Although astonishingly supreme drinking already, the Unicorn will literally last for centuries if cellared under appropriate conditions, proving a long-lasting legacy for future generations.

Vegan-friendly, and fully biogeneric, the Unicorn is like finding a needle in a haystack under a blue moon on the twelfth of never at the end of the rainbow.

  • Each bottle is presented in a timber receptacle certified by sustainable forestry organisations.
  • Each individually-nomenclatured bottle is recyclable, and fully carbon offset neutral.
  • Each bottle includes a hoofprint of authenticity, with artwork inspired by the creature.
  • Each timber case contains a certificate (suitable for framing and display) commending the owner for their responsible purchase

Prepared under the indirect supervision of several RSPCA members, plus input from selected members of Zoos Australia, the World Wildlife fund, Amnesty International and Greenpeace, no animals were harmed in the manufactured assembly of this utterly glorious wine.

Some early reviews from some key columnists ….

“Yet another brazen barrage from the inexhaustible Stoney Goose Ridge; extraordinarily detailed, indeed lavish packaging, presentation and production. The wine is symptomatic of the producer’s style, and some may even be prepared to pay the piper.” (J ”Doc” Hallidae)

“Formidable box, bottle, certificate” (CM – Frontwine)

“Squarely aimed at a particular lucrative market niche, even down to the minuscule but accurate Chinese back label” (J. Olivier)

With an RRP of AU$140 (€88, £78, US$80), the Unicorn 2017 represents a valuable pathway entry to the stratospheric pantheon of upper echelon vinous beverages. This mega ultra-premium super-deluxe wine is affordable even to aspirational mass-market millennial gen X FMCG consumers, and is predestined as a lavish-appearing gifting reward. WYSIWYG. Alternatively, guests will be stunned by the magnanimous generosity of humanitarians prepared to sharingly broach the contents when it’s opened.

Truly, the Unicorn is a wine worthy of its origins, my own unrivalled, unparalleled creative genius and a worthy homage to immortal gravely endangered creatures. And it tastes just magnificent. All the usual rent-a-crowd misfit vinous scribblers will whole-heartedly fulsomely endorse its compelling virtues. Stoney Goose Ridge triumphs once more!

Importantly, for every bottle sold, with our culturally embedded philanthropic charitable ethic, Stoney Goose Ridge commits to donate $1 to the Unicorn Funding Organisation (UFO), for habitat rejuvenation. Additionally, our ensemble of tax magicians will ensure intangible magnification of counterbalanced downstream benefits.

Available from 1 April, and likely to sell out on the same day, do your duty to this blue planet, quickly rush to your nearest fine wine boutique for your piece of the Unicorn”.