More recent splashes

2014-5 doisyblanck heggies1983 vps

All served blind – it may seem premature to serve young Barsacs, but these proved wholly delicious, with enormous capacity to live and improve for many years. Cellaring estimates are conservative, but no-one is immortal.

2014 Ch Doisy-daene 13.5%
Barsac, 100% semillon 144g/l rs; The website is very detailed, and I tasted this wine a few months ago with similar notes.  Enormously aromatic; tropical fruits, pineapple rind, touch of vanilla essence, green nettle, botrytis. Exciting, fine creaminess, honeyed with lovely racy acidity, some cashew oak,  spotless.

Drink to 2030, 93 points

2015 Ch Doisy-daene 13.5%
Barsac, 100% Semillon, 136 g/l rs. A slightly greener fruit profile than the wine above, ripe pear and more stonefruit white peach (and botrytis); this wine already seems more rewarding, with impressive fine honeyed texture, greater- but still balanced-ginger-spice oak, and richer depth and mouthfeel, with supporting acidity.

Drink to 2035, 94 points (and more to come)

2005 Paul Blanck Furstentum vendanges tardives Gewurtztraminer 12.5%
Alsace, screwcap! Half-bottle, purchased at the winery, from a special site. Light gold in colour, it displays musk, roses and oiliness. The palate is moderately sweet, but its persistent, varietal with a winningly appealing citrus twang

Drink to 2025, 92 points

2007 Heggies “242” botrytis riesling 8.1%
A half-bottle located after my records showed I had none left (previously reviewed on this site). Amber/light copper coloured. The 242 refers to the amount of retained sugar, which comfortably sits at the BA level, and from a site in the Eden Valley, South Australia – where mostly dry Rieslings are produced, but often a small amount of botrytised Riesling. It’s packed with orange essence and marmalade, very decadent; on the viscous palate there are apricot and stonefruits. It’s still fresh, ultra-sweet -but still balanced-  some hardness is emerging, so drink sooner, not later.

Drink to 2022, 92 points

1983 Stanton and Killeen Vintage Port 19%
Rutherglen, and a hot dry year. A solid bricky colour, but browning only on the rim. Ripe and sweet with some raisined fruit, iron and liquorice, sweet, chalky, lively but a little warm. But it’s 35 years old, and 100% shiraz. On the evidence of this bottle, no further improvement is likely, but it’s still a satisfying and rewarding wine

Drink now, 88 points

1983 Dow’s Vintage Port 20%
Portugal of course. Paler colour than the wine above, showing a more interesting fruit expression of blue and red fruits, and milk chocolate covered almonds. The palate is fine and detailed – and medium-bodied, but also suggests the acidity will hold while the fruit recedes. At this stage, the tannin is balanced, but every bottle will be different.

Drink to 2025, 92 points

Two (young) Sauternes from 2014

2014 sauternes

Served blind (as usual), it’s always a useful, and challenging exercise to predict the future of young wines, especially with this style where acidity, sweetness, oak, and botrytis clamour for attention. The usual balance, length and complexity assessment follows, as does the hoped-for appearance of an “x factor”- some compelling attribute that delights the senses and intellect.

2014 Ch La Tour Blanche 14%
This wine was pale in colour, displaying rich tropical fruits (especially just-ripe pineapple), a fresh, ripe, rich, bright palate bursting with citrus and stonefruits; botrytis makes its presence felt, and supportive, creamy spicy oak oak made this supple fresh wine easy to drink, but with effortless potential (82% Semillon, 12% Sav blanc, 5% Muscadelle, 130 g/l residual sugar; from the Bommes area within Sauternes). Ch La Tour Blanche has excellent QPR and I have four vintages represented in my cellar.

To 2035 and 93 points – and potential for a higher score in the future

2014 Ch Suduiraut 14%
This wine had a deeper colour, but was still a bright light gold. Here the aromas were more oak-derived, with marzipan, and a very pleasant coconut/sunscreen oil riding along with citrus and yellow peach (90% Semillon, 10% sauv blanc, 150 g/l residual sugar; from Preignac within Sauternes). This wine had greater density, richness and mouthfeel than the wine above, but will be a fascinating exercise to watch these in the coming years – or decades. Ch Suduiraut is sparse in my cellar, but now on the radar for some backfilling!

Drink to 2040, and 94 points – with potential for improvement.

What a triumph to see two quite different, very youthful, delicious expressions of Sauternes wines from estates a mere 4 kilometres apart, but subject to the botrytis vagaries of fogs on the gentle hollows, the different varietal composition, staggered picking times, and the varied winemaking inputs.

2010 D’arenberg Noble Mud Pie 8%

From McLaren Vale in South Australia, this wine is a blend of 60% Viognier and 40% Roussanne. D’arenberg makes a number of botrytis wine within their immense portfolio; from different years the varietal composition of this wine changes; this year a blend of Northern Rhone varieties. I commented on the 2015 edition in November 2016.

There are difficulties making this wine style; keeping botrytis away from other grapes,  minimising errant “non-noble” rots; the fragility of grapes that easily fall from the vine; the vastly reduced yields, the difficulties pressing and fermenting. And for all the travails, it’s an under-appreciated style.

2010 d'arenberg noble mud pie

This wine has an extraordinary sugar content; around 300 g/l.  The colour is a deep copper/amber; with this degree of botrytis, varietal character is largely extinguished; there are scents of orange liqueur, stewed apricot, red apple and peppermint. The palate is very sustained and syrupy, laden with cumquat and orange marmalade flavours, with some golden honey, and typical botrytis dust and spice. There is still freshness, and enough acidity to assist with the extraordinary level of sweetness.

However, the wine would have been more exuberant, with greater interplay between fruit and development characters a few years ago.

Drink up,  90 points (with a higher score if opened several years earlier)

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

2010 Petaluma Botrytis essence 13%

From Coonawarra, with a label showing astonishing (albeit tiny-fonted) detail,  174.7 g/l residual sugar, Sav blanc 53%, Semillon 47%, and much more about its oak handling, and vintage conditions.
2010 petaluma botrytis essence
Meanwhile the wine is a brilliant gold colour, with scents of botrytis, lime and orange marmalade; the palate is full-throttle, unctous and rich, ultra decadent, with flavours ranging through ripe stonefruit – apricot, peach – plus honey and orange. It’s a lovely drinking experience, good VFM, but a little less oak and a dash more acidity would have elevated my score.

Under screwcap, this wine has a long life ahead I but cannot see an upside in the flavour profile with further cellaring, and suspect it will taste very similar in 5 years.

Drink to 2025 and 88 points

1988 Chateau Coutet 14%

The picture shows the cork inside the bottle – my technique with the ah-so failed.

IMAG0726

Bright medium gold colour (excellent for age); this is not the richest Barsac you will encounter, but it provides plenty of drinking pleasure. It’s still showing freshness after nearly 30 years, and while beginning to dry up, its full of interest thanks to its lovely balance. Botrytised fruit, oak and bottle age are in harmony.

This wine is a blend of 75% semillon, 23% Sauvignon blanc and 2% muscadelle, 100% barrel-fermented in new French oak – detailed in the informative Chateau Coutet website. 1988 was an excellent year in Sauternes and Barsac with widespread botrytis.

Medium bodied, and not as sweet as its modern counterparts, it’s clean and shows tropical notes (mainly pineapple) and orange rind. The palate is more oriented to barley sugar and quince paste, with some raisined, and glace fruits; plus a bit of marmalade and syrup fills the picture. A light touch of oak is present to contribute further mouthfeel and aid its complexity. Lively acidity really proves its class.

My only bottle, a speculative auction purchase – drink to 2020, although some bottles will live much, much longer and 92 points

2015 D’arenberg Noble Mud pie 11.1%

95% Viognier, 5% Arneis; screwcap, 375ml RRP $20

People seem to tolerate my comments on wines that are not available- so here’s one at the start of its journey, for $20; less with careful shopping.

Viognier is a grape of Condrieu, where it makes distinctive, exotic dry white wines (and in more recent times, sweet wines too. More important is its contribution (in minor proportions)– with Shiraz- in Cote Rotie. In Australia, Yalumba has pioneered Viognier to make a dry white at varying price levels, from the humble but VGV “Y” series, through the Eden Valley range, then up to the Virgilius, (and sometimes a botrytis Viognier as well). Viognier is also used in some Cote Roties, with Clonakilla’s Shiraz Viognier generally regarded as Australia’s best.

Viognier may have vivid scents of ripe aprico -better examples show white peach- and the texture and mouthfeel make an enormous contribution to its appeal. Getting picking times correct seems critical to keep the wine brightly flavoured.

Arneis is an Italian grape variety- albeit one that I am not familiar with- but the textbook descriptors of pear, apricot and peach seem a good fit with Viognier. Arneis is another variety that is becoming hip throughout Australia, although vine age  and familiarity with appropriate growing and winemaking mean we hasten slowly.

The number of wines that D’arenberg produces from its base in South Australia’s McLaren Vale is dizzying; and the labels have their own distinctive quirks, and stories.

For the last few years, they have produced several “Noble” (botrytis-affected wines) – and this is one, from along the road in the Adelaide Hills. Using Viognier in a botrytis wine is unusual, and this blend is a one-off; how much the 5% Arneis contributes is problematic.

2015-darenberg-mud-pie

It’s a bright gold lemon colour, with aromatics of apricot, marmalade, cumquat, and dusty nutmeg botrytis spices. The palate is intensely sweet (my guess was 150 g/l of residual sugar, but a peek at the spec sheet indicated 185 g/l). Most Australian sweet wines are flabby, but thankfully here is ample acidity to maintain freshness. The palate is also complex, and very dense with some tropical fruits- candied pineapple, and some lime pie to bolster the yellow peach and ripe apricot.

I was quite impressed, with the wine demonstrating excellent value, and providing an interesting “alternative” drink that will work beautifully with desserts from fruit platters through citrus-oriented pies.

Somewhere however, the “x-factor” is missing. Drink to – conservatively- 2020, and 91 points, but the sugar/acid balance makes this wine a bracing and instructive treat.