Mid-priced imports

 

midrange imports

We’re recently allowed some small gatherings, but I opened these two wines at home recently; they are not monstrously expensive – (Kabinetts $35-70 depending on brand; the Fonseca LBVP was around $50 recently) – but sweeter German Rieslings and the uber-fashionable dry GGs can easily exceed $100; Vintage Ports from the sensational 2016 and 2017 vintages are, alas, closer to $200.

2008 JJ Prum Bernkastler Badstube Riesling Kabinett 8.5%
Gifted to me a while ago; my go-to Prum is the Wehlener Sonnenuhr, with occasional deviations to Graacher Himmelriech (Bernkastler Lay can be special too). 2008 was an “open” year, but Prum is usually backward, fully priced but usually delivers. Mosel Kabinett is “off-dry” but Prum tends to be sweeter than expected, and can still last many years.  Very pale, there is the tell-tale red apple and petroleum, nettle, earthiness and spice notes. The palate is highly acidic, with some grippiness- nashi pear, citrus, apple. Varietal, distinctly Mosel, but drink up while the fruit remains intact- the acidity is pretty dominant, which won’t be to everyone’s favour.

Drink to 2023,  88 points

2011 Fonseca Late-bottled vintage unfiltered 20%
2011 was a mighty year for Portuguese Vintage Port; late-bottled is an easier, more approachable, (and more affordable category), with a longer time in oak (or tank) to ameliorate some of the tannic stuffing. Confusingly, the LBV wines may be ready on release – or capable of cellaring. Unfiltered is a clue that some ageing is expected – yet there was no discernible sediment here, and the stopper was another surprise.

This wine was bottled in 2016, and is nearly crimson in colour. It displayed fig, blueberry, plum, violet and mixed spices and wild herbs; the palate showed cherry, milk chocolate, spices and sound spirit integration. 108 g/l residual sugar is neatly balanced with the fruit, and alcohol. Fine tannins add further interest. I was hoping for greater concentration, but it’s so easy to reach for another glass – a great test of a wine’s engagement.

Drink to 2025, and 90 points.

 

 

 

1985 Fonseca Vintage Port 20.5%

Fonseca (or more correctly Fonseca Guimaraens) is a highly regarded Portuguese Vintage Port producer, and its excellent website, with notes covering this vintage is here.

I look forward to finding an occasion – and enough enthusiasts for the style- to warrant opening a vintage Port. The cork has fulfilled its task, and came out in very nearly one piece; decanted for several hours, the wine was tackled in several passes over several days, but always with delight.

1985 fonseca.jpgIts colour is still a robust dense ruby, with no bricking. An array of scents includes fig, cocoa, almond meal, chalk, and dried herbs. The palate is medium bodied, but voluptuous, with blueberry and liquorice adding to the picture. The finish is extensive, and fine, the spirit folded in seamlessly.

There is no need to rush this delicious 32 year-old wine; it will remain in thrilling form for many more years.

Drink to 2032, 94 points.

10 decades of (Portuguese) Vintage Port

This turned out to be extremely educational about the longevity of this style. 10 different houses, and some great comments from the organisers and a contingent of winemakers from Rutherglen. Certainly its unusual for me try more than one VP at a session. Far from easy task locate these, and we suffer in Australia from vagaries of shipping and storage. All wines were decanted for about 3 hours, and we’re looking at single bottles as they were on the night. The oldest Portuguese VP I recall is the wonderful 1970 Fonseca, with the oldest Australian versions I’ve tried include a 1956 Hardy and a 1957 Lindemans. An observation  was made at the tasting that Australia was intent on moving to a drier, more Portuguese style with greater use of Portuguese grape varieties (rather than our traditional Shiraz). There was less agreement of whether the Portuguese had made any concessions to early drinking or more approachable VP’s.

As it happened the 3 oldest wines fared brilliantly. I had feared they might be historical curios, but they were defiantly truly alive.

2012 Quinta do Noval

Not many declared 2012 especially since 2011 turned out so well.

Dense red black with purple tints; this is highly perfumed and floral – blueberry and violets and black fruits. It surprisingly approachable, but the tannins are very fine and persistent. Red liquorice and some headsy spirit. But not the magic of 2011. Score 93+, but no doubt this will live longer than I suspect.

2000 Croft

Slightly murky colour, Slightly grubby bouquet with some cough syrup and cocoa; palate is better. The spirit holds this together, and kicks in vigorously at the finish. Score 90

1997 Fonseca

Medium red, spices, grainy tannins, sweeter style on the palate. Score 91

1983 Taylor’s

Clear ruby colour, with some floor-polish aromas, seems pretty straightforward on the palate. Score 91

1977 Grahams

Clear pale ruby. Lots of rose petal, toffee/coffee/ jersey caramel. Brisk with spirit making a terrific contribution. Graham is reputed as a sweeter style, but its not out of place. Lovely now but will keep for a long time yet, such is its balance. Score 95

1960 Warres

Looking forward to this, but TCA has made an unwelcome appearance. Kept for 55 years and ruined by cork taint.

1955 Cockburn

This was also ruined, but whether oxidation or other issues was debated by the group. Certainly faulty.

1947 Delaforce

Ruby colour with some orange tints. Starting to look like an old tokay. Citrus peel and salted mixed nuts, spirit a bit hot, but lovely drinking. Score 94

1935 Sandeman’s

Ruby colour, dried fruits and plums, vanilla, and toffee. Fleshy, subtle, singing. Score 94

1927 Dow’s

Amber colour; scents of green olive, orange peel and chocolate covered peanuts (one of my favourite indulgences). Could drink this all night. Score 96