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!


Random recent drinking

2010 Ch La Tour blanche 14% (sauternes)
80% Semillon, 15% Sav Blanc, 5% Muscadelle, 130 g/l rs
A chateau that overdelivers on bang-for buck, there is stonefruit, barley-sugar, just-ripe apricot and cumquat. Oak plays in the background and this is delicious.
93 points, and irresistible to 2025, or longer.

2007 Joh Jos Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese AP29,  7.5%
Ripe red apple, petroleum, minerals.Crunchy, some fruit rind notes too on the palate, bracing, lovely tingly, pebbly drive.
The 2007 Mosel Rieslings have emerged from their shell and are providing rewarding hedonistic drinking
92 points, and drink to 2030 or beyond

2004 Ch Climens 13.5%, (Barsac)
Glue smells accompany apricot cream and almond. Very sweet, but with a some bitterness too. It had the misfortune to be contrasted with the next wine, and while this half-bottle was eminently drinkable,
86 points. Perhaps an underperforming bottle.

2005 Ch Doisy-daene 14% (Barsac)
Another VFM producer, and the wine shows nutmeg and cinnamon spices, pineapple and vanilla. Classic palate length, with sweetness and acidity just right.
93 points, and drink to 2028.

Sauternes, again

In recent weeks, I’ve enjoyed 3 excellent sauternes from different vintages – from full-sized bottles.

The underlying question is “what is the right age to drink sauternes?”. There must be some allowance made for half vs full bottle size, producer and vintage, but is there even a rule of thumb?

Certainly we would aim to avoid immature wines, wines that are nowhere near their optimum; similarly we want to avoid drinking relics, whose best times are well past.

I want to see interplay of fruit flavours and development, with the desirable attributes of balance, length, concentration and a sense of place.

Sauternes have the ability to mature for a long time; their regime of high alcohol, medium sugar – say 120 to 150 g/l, low acid contrast to say a Mosel Riesling equivalent BA with its low alcohol and high acid; but both contain the stuffing to ensure a long life – cork permitting.

So 3 different vintages with ratings and general comments from Wine Spectator Sauternes vintage chart

1995 87, drink- sweet and balanced, uneven quality

1998 88, drink- elegant, refined and delicious

2005 93, hold- opulent and structured with underlying finesse

vitsoc feb 2016

1995 Ch Suduiraut 13%

90% Semillon, 10% sauvignon blanc in Preignac. Amber/gold colour, but alive with pear, apricot, marmalade and vanilla bean. Fully ready, and its churlish to mention how a 21- year-old wine needs a touch more acidity to provide better refreshment, and an even higher score; being tasted next to the de Fargues did it no favours, but in its own right – no problem!

Drink now-2020; 93 points

1998 Ch de Fargues 13.5%

Owned by the de Lur Saluces family, the wine (80% semillon, 20% sauvignon blanc) is from a highly regarded property -whose wines I have not previously tried- made in the same fanatical and meticulously low yielding methods as Ch D’Yquem. Lighter in colour than the Suduiraut, this wine is a stunner, very ripe and sweet with a lime-juice and guava palate, refreshing acidity and the finest ultra-silky palate.

Drink to 2025, 96 points

2005 ch la tour blanche

2005 Ch La Tour blanche 14%

Approx 80% Semillon, 15% sauvignon blanc, 5% muscadelle, from Bommes. Gold/Amber colour, barley sugar, vanilla, citrus and poached pear. Ripe, with grippy balanced phenolics. Almond meal, and some complex tropical fruit reverberate on a long creamy palate. Fantastic fresh wine, with buckets of time ahead.

Drink to 2025, 95 points

High scores, and these wines often come up at auction with prices that are – relatively speaking, value for money (the 1995 Suduiraut and the 2005 La Tour Blanche for under $100). And my conclusion for optimum decadent drinking? From lesser years, 10-15 years; from best years 15-20 years, with numerous exceptions.