Two sweet old world wines

2007 von Schubert Maximin Grunhaus Herrenberg Riesling Auslese 8%
Mosel, Germany. A clear dark straw colour, this wine from Maximin Grunhaus shows tropical fruit especially mango plus a touch of mint. The palate is slightly oily, with some bitter herb, ripe red berry and red apple. It’s not the sweetest Auslese -style encountered (although acidity is balanced). Some grippiness is evident but not unduly intrusive – and my preference would be for earlier drinking while this wine retains its fruity zestiness.

In the likely realm of bottle variation, drink to 2025, 90 points

1964 Moulin Touchais 12%
Loire, Chenin blanc. The Loire valley is home to a range of chenin blanc from dry to botrytised (and other varieties). Chenin Blanc’s versatility means it can produce sparkling wines, the dry Savennières and sweeter styles but I seldom see the wines of Bonnezeaux or Quarts de Chaume in Australia. Chenin blanc in Australia however is generally innocuous, although it was once a mainstay of Houghton White Burgundy and I recall a stunning botrytis example in the 1981 St Leonards. I have also tasted some delicious South African examples.

The sweet wines from Moulin Touchais have a reputation for extreme longevity, and I’ve tasted other examples from Marc Bredif back to 1959, and have a few Domaine Huet tucked away. The Moulin Touchais wines are apparently picked in two passes – the first early while it is full of acidity, and a later harvest when it has ripened further; these are then blended.

1964 moulin

The bottle was opened and decanted at a restaurant and I didn’t see the cork, alas. The wine was a glowing gold in colour and showed the tell-tale varietal apple aromas, with some honeysuckle and spiced sultana notes. There was also a touch of straw oxidation, but not disconcerting, the palate exhibited wax, apple, honey,  citrus, some nuttiness and refreshing texture – and at a guess 50 g/l residual sugar. There was plenty of life in this old wine, and it seemed to become richer, more mouthfilling, vigorous and harmonious over the evening, and it matched particularly well with fish courses.

Again, at this stage of life, variation is expected, and I was well pleased with the result, especially the improvement with extensive aeration.  Drink to 2030, and 92 points.

1998 Stanton and Killeen Vintage (port) 18%, plus other impressions

At 21 years of age, this Rutherglen (Victoria) fortified is still very youthful. It has 1 gold and 5 silver medals to its credit and composition is 26% Shiraz, 26% Touriga, 20% Durif, 13% tinta cao, 13% tinta barocca, and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon; a mix of “traditional Australian”, and Portuguese varieties. Remarkably, the wine is still available ($114) – with many other vintages- on the Stanton and Killeen website.

1998 S&K VP

The cork emerged well, and in excellent condition. The colour is outstanding for its age, a very dense dark black crimson,  and there is an exciting range of aromas- dark liqueur cherry, almond-meal, blueberry, mulberry, and spice notes The quality of (brandy) spirit is excellent, and has integrated well. The palate is sweeter than Portuguese versions, but certainly drier than most Australian attempts. The palate is full-bodied but very supple, showing a lingering mix of black and red fruits, red liquorice and fine chalky tannins.  Above all, it is deliciously drinkable.

Drink to 2030, and 93 points.

1986 Stanton and Killeen Vintage Port
Served blind, this wine was bricky in colour, showing sweet mocha notes, dried fruits and citrus peel. The spirit was sweet; the palate was also sweet, soft and mellow, and seemed Australian in style. The milk chocolate and plum flavours suggested Victorian origins, and my conclusion “around 30 years old, Victorian, Shiraz” turned out to be reasonably accurate. (95% Shiraz, 5% durif). The wine is fully mature, and bottle quality may differ!

Drink to 2025, 90 points

2007 JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese Riesling AP#22 7.5%
Very pale in colour, this Mosel wine is supremely elegant and needs much more time (still) to reveal more of its charms. It displays smoke, petroleum, crunchy ripe red apple and tropical fruits, particularly just-ripe pineapple. The palate is pebbly, sustained and the acidity really masks the considerable sweetness. This is a mouth-filling, creamy, intense and decadent wine, but it’s not yet resolved, and I recommend a further 5 years aging if you are fortunate to own any.

Drink to 2035, 92 points –  with more in the future.

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.

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.

another Willi Schaefer

2007 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprost Riesling Auslese #17, 7.5%
94 g/l residual sugar- serious territory.

2007 willi schaefer

The wine is still a bright pale gold colour, with more “presence” than the two Kabinetts opened earlier.  There is a touch of petroleum, which does not detract from the array of white peach, white flower, ripe red apple, lemon sherbet  and flinty aromatics; the palate is sensual, with those fruit flavours melding with light honey viscosity and a twangy vibrant acidity. This wine is a parcel of delectability, and a fine example of a Mosel sweetie with some bottle development – with great prospects for its future.

Drink to 2033, and 94 points

Mixed drinks, recent short impressions

2003 Joh Jos Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 8%
Very pale lemon in colour, there is an array of the usual petroleum (not kero), and faint smokiness mixed with tropical fruits of mango, passionfruit, a pull of citrus, flint and warm spices. The palate is sweet, fresh, viscous  and long-lasting. The wine got better as it sat in the glass.

Its not easy to resist the style, one of my favourite Mosel vineyards plus the combination of freshness and bottle-aged complexities. It’s a triumph of old vines and winemaking nous over the heatwave European 2003 vintage.

95 points, and drink to 2030.

2014 Chateau La Tour blanche 14%
Sauternes (83% semillon, 12% sauvignon blanc, 5% Muscadelle; 130 g/l r/s)

A great VFM Sauternes producer, and a wonderful result from an excellent vintage. Light gold in colour, the wine displayed vibrant nettle, stonefruit, pineapple rind and bright lemon icing sugar. The palate showed more barley-sugar, and some vanilla pod to add to the aromatics. Rich, sweet, balanced with much more pleasure to cover over the next ten to fifteen years.

The range of fruit flavours, the complexity and balance makes the wine a delight.

94 points, and drink to 2030 (at least)

2014 Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey
Sauternes (93% Semillon, 6% sauvignon blanc, 1% Muscadelle)

Served (masked) at the same occasion as the La Tour Blanche above, this wine looked darker in colour, showed greater – and simpler- tropical fruits, and custard apple. The palate was sweet, fresh and supple, but with greater oak presence, some hardness, and some bitterness. Time may help, but the contrast did not help its cause.

87 points, drink to 2023.

1952 Saltram Pinnacle selection Show Muscat 18.8%
Barossa muscat, stored in small oak, believed to have been bottled sometime in the 1980’s.

Colour (after decanting) was a bright khaki, and the wine showed caramel, toffee, mocha. Some raisin character, and a degree of vanillan oak and rancio.

Served masked as usual, the mix of attributes made it difficult to decide style between muscat and tawny; the lushness pushing for muscat, the rancio pointing to tawny. Revealed as muscat,  the wine itself was excellent, and a nice piece of Barossa history.

90 points, drink now.

2003 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port
A devastatingly hot year in Europe, but most Port producers declared the vintage. Cork – or storage- struck; the bottle I sampled was strong, powerful in colour, but the flavour impact was tertiary mixed mocha and coffee grounds; and the wine looked plain, young, raw and lacking finesse. A hasty look at remnants from another two bottles opened showed more expected fruit flavours of violets and dark cherry, but time and the amount left conspired against further contemplation

Not rated, but I will have other opportunities!

2001 Gunderloch Nackenheim Rothenberg Riesling Auslese (goldcap) 9.5%

The cork had behaved; its colour was copper; but in this case evidence of botrytis, not oxidation. I’m not very familiar with the Rheinhessen area of Germany; haven’t visited, and haven’t tasted much – more homework is needed!

The Rheinhessen is  Germany’s largest wine-growing area, often used  in making mainly innocuous white wines, but has undergone a re-evaluation with some very serious winemakers (such as Keller).

Its Australian importer Cellarhand has some helpful notes on the producer, site and winemaker here. The gold capsule indicates the wine is “more” than a basic Auslese.

2001 gunderloch auslese gc

The wine presents with raisin, red apple, dark honey, orange peel, and fruitcake spices, plus a hint of syrup and wax; the palate is vibrant and unctuous; stonefruit impressions add to the mix. Bounteous residual sugar is balanced by acidity; the compelling richness and freshness tempts further sipping, analysis and enjoyment. No hurry to drink (cork permitting).

94 points, and drink to 2028 (cork permitting).