One local, one “near-local”

2013 felton

2013 Felton Road Riesling 9.5%
Bannockburn, Central Otago, New Zealand. Screwcap, 62 g/l residual sugar.
Still a youthful lemon colour; lime and grapefruit with a tropical fruit basket and Germanic petroleum; the palate has plenty of vitality, with a flinty, mineral twang rolling along with apple, talc and lime. Super fun.

Drink to 2030, 92 points

2000 morris vp

2000 Morris Vintage Port 19%
Rutherglen, Victoria
Served blind, no trouble nailing this as Australian, albeit drier than most. Blackcurrant, chalk, fine cocoa, abundant spices and quality spirit.  With a significant proportion of Portuguese grape varieties, I settled on the mid-late 1990s, with Rutherglen as the likely origin…. except the unveiling showed 100% Shiraz. Its label was adorned with credible Australian wine show gold and trophy bling. Delicious, persistent, and no hurry here.

Easily 93 points, and drink to 2032


Catching up with some wines

2012 felton rd riesling

2012 Felton Road Riesling 8.5%
Bannockburn, Central Otago, New Zealand. Screwcap, 64 g/l residual sugar. Lemon/gold colour, lime cordial and nectarine scents, red apple with a dusting of icing sugar; red apple again with some grippiness on the palate; flinty and convincing, even though the sweetness is spatlese-level.

Drink to 2025, 90 points

old ch gilette

1996 and 1997 Ch Gilette Crème de tete  (sauternes)90% semiilon,8% sav blanc, 2% muscadelle.  A curio, as the chateau ages the wines in concrete tanks for around twenty years prior to bottling. I will seek help from the boffins to understand how the wine remains sound under the circumstances. No oak!

These were served as a blind pair, and I was confident that they were Sauternes from the late 1990s. Both gold in colour, I found the 1997 to be a bit cloying, medicinal and varnishy. Relatively light-bodied, grapey with muscat-like overtones, and some stonefruit beneath. The 1996 had more depth, and more acidity, with marzipan, marmalade and mixed nuts over ripe stonefruit and citrus.

Very different wines, with the “other” bottles of the 1997 apparently better. I went in search but found the contents had “evaporated”. Curios certainly, but still an exercise in intrigue.

Drink soon; I rated the 1996 at 92 points; the 1997 at 86 points.

2001 Taylors Vargellas Vintage Port 20%
Served blind, this was obviously Portuguese, with its floral rose, violet, and spice notes, backed up by dark plum and berry flavours and a dry, long, chalky profile on the palate. It didn’t quite have the finesse of a truly serious VP, so my thoughts ran to a “lesser vintage or house”, and I was speculating on a year in the 1980s. Wrong! Much younger, but a terrific result from an undeclared year.

Drink to 2030 and 92 points.

2010 Felton Road Block 1 Riesling 9%

Well known for Pinot Noirs, Chardonnay, and Riesling, especially their “block” wines, Felton Road winery – Central Otago, New Zealand – has a well-deserved reputation for excellence. Their wines have good distribution in Australia and elsewhere. The  detailed website has much detail on each vintage and a handy, albeit optimistic “when to drink” chart.

2010 felton rd riesling bock 1

This Felton Road wine is a bright light gold, showing the prized combination of fruit vibrancy and complexity from development in the bottle. Citrus (lime and lemon) is to the fore, wax and light honey – then ripe red apple emerges. The palate – 64g/l residual sugar- sits at around Spatlese-weight, the citrus flavours are joined with slinky textural flintiness plus the red apple, and some fruit-salad flavours. Acidity matches the fruit sweetness. It’s in the zone now, and hard to imagine better drinking with more age.

Drink to 2023, and 91 points.

2011 Auburn (lowburn) Riesling 11.5%


This is a sibling of the Auburn Bannockburn Riesling tasted recently. Not surprisingly, it’s similar, but not identical.

From a sub-region of Central Otago, in a screwcapped crazy-tall bottle, the wine is pale in colour. It has varietal lime and lemon aromas, with wafts of mineral and tangy saline characters, possibly with some botrytis. The palate is rich and crunchy, carrying its 48 g/l of residual sugar; intense citrus , red apple and stony, talcy flavours linger deliciously. This wine is more complete than the nearby Bannockburn-sourced wine – there is no hardness or reductive distractions; just fruit purity.  Overall, an excellent wine.

Drink to 2022, and 92 points.

2011 Auburn (bannockburn) riesling 10.5%


I seldom see Rieslings from Central Otago (NZ) – apart from Felton Road- and I am not familiar with wines from Auburn. They make Riesling wines from several small plots in the region, and I will open a Lowburn and report on it soon.


It’s a tall, and absurdly heavy bottle. Under screwcap, this wine is pale, but displays vibrant lime and orange blossom aromas, fainter spice (ginger) notes, and some reductive touches too. The palate shows welcome viscosity, and brisk natural acidity which neatly balances the 45 g/l of residual sugar. There are echoing orange and mandarine flavours, plus mineral notes, but there is also some underlying hardness, which prevents a higher score. This level of integrated sweetness means it suits a surprising variety of dishes; it was consumed with pan-fried salmon, but would also match well with many Asian-oriented meals – or by itself as a surprising aperitif.

It scores 89 points, and will provide drinking pleasure to at least 2020.