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.

 

 

 

Assorted recent drinks

1979 DF vp2008 dow's lbvp 1970 warre's vp

David Franz AD 1979 Vintage Port 17.4%
Its terrific to see a 37-year-old fortified wine from South Australia. Made by Peter Lehmann, and tidied up and recorked by son David Franz; Barossa Shiraz with some Langhorne Creek Cab Sav.

The colour is a dark brick, and there is plenty of richness and softness, but also vitality. Mocha, liquorice, cardamon, orange rind, with a dash of camphor lift. Clean brandy spirit, plus figgy, dark caramel flavours, dried fruits and not nuttiness. The wine is not overblown, its gentle and reflective; a lovely piece of history that drinks compellingly.

Some people may prefer less bottle development, but this is a tribute to Barossa fruit longevity, its maker, sourcing and survival. And it may still be available in a few places for around $50. All up, a very welcome experience

Drink to 2020, 88 points

2008 Dow ‘s LBV (late-bottled vintage port) 20%
I don’t taste many of this style; more mellow than a vintage port, and substantially cheaper, these are bottled between 4 and 6 years after harvest, They are a “nearly” vintage port, with the decision on the style happening early. There are filtered and unfiltered versions, some sealed with a stopper, and debate about whether the wines can improve in bottle. An excellent discussion is on Roy Hersh’s (mostly paid) site.

Dense and cloudy,  light ruby/mahogany colour. Ripe dark cherry and slightly raw oak. Silky ripe mouthfeel, plum and light red liquorice flavours,  clean bright spirit. Brisk, and tastes youthful. This is a wine that won’t change much and there is no advantage with further cellaring.

Drink now, 89 points

1970 Warre’s Vintage Port
Decanted, due to a vast amount of sediment. We learned that this bottle had less than stellar cellaring conditions. Pale ruby in colour, the notes of almond meal, putty, mocha and rose-petal were sufficient to sway me to its Portuguese origins. Spirit looked plain, and a bit awkward, but the other characteristics offset this. The wine was quite sweet,  with dark jam and fig elements. Rich, but with energy and just a superfine sustained palate. A terrific year for VP’s though; the wine was consumed with gusto and hugely appreciated. A generous piece of history.

Drink to 2030, 93 points, and potentially other bottles will be better..

2009 Sainsbury’s late-bottled vintage port 20%

In London with my family after being in Germany and Italy. Not a wine trip, so purchased this from the local supermarket for 9 pounds. Sourced from Symington stocks of Portuguese material. (I don’t think this style is made in Australia).

Late bottled vintage ports are held in oak for a longer period than vintage ports; this softens them somewhat; whether there will be improvement after bottling depends partly on how (or if) they are filtered, and how brawny you like them.  In any case, its safer to consume them early. Stylistically they are more like a vintage port than a tawny, and once opened drink within a few days.sainsbury lbvp

Deep crimson colour, dense and healthy; muscadels, spices, and sweet spirit. There is real plumcake on the palate, marinated red and blue fruits, and a sense of restraint and balance between fruit and spirit. A nice attack of tannins making this very gluggable wine. A bit more stuffing would have made a better wine, but no complaints at the price for this style.

Drink to 2019; score 87 points.