Drinks from different European areas

2008 Schloss Lieser Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese 7%
Mosel again, from winemaker Thomas Haag, with a short but serviceable cork. This wine was purchased from Eurocentric quite a while ago, and is in a great drinking phase.

2008 schloss lieser bjs spatlese

Bright gold in colour, it shows lime, icing sugar, and brown spice notes. The palate reveals more apple and mixed white and yellow stonefruit, with some green herb, plus the spices. It is sweeter than many in the spatlese category, but is poised for delight, being all too easy to drink and reach for more – the sign of a decent wine. Its racy, ready for enjoyment and shows no sign of fading.

To 2025, 92 points

2011 Georg Breuer Riesling Auslese 8.5%
From the Rheingau (Germany); another German area where most action is happening with the dry Rieslings – the Georg Breuer Berg Schlossberg is exceptional. But they have a range of sweeter styles too. Pale gold colour; fresh with dominant tropical fruits, particularly just-under-ripe pineapple. The wine still tastes fresh, honest and straightforward – enjoyable without providing dramatic highlights.

Drink soon, 87 points

1997 Trimbach Gewurtztraminer Vendanges Tardives 13%
Alsace (France). Buried in the cellar, and really should have been tackled earlier.

Pristine cork, and a bright deep gold colour. Vendanges Tardives (VT) is late-picked and my guess was around 40 g/l in this example. Tantalizing and unmistakable floral varietal scents – musk, apple, raisin and spices. Age and likely oxidation is showing with some furniture veneer and caramel aspects. Low acidity is a hallmark of the variety, and time has chipped away at this wine’s appeal. There is still rich mouthfeel, but it’s flatter than desirable, making drinking too much effort when othere wines are in reach.

Its peak drinking has gone by, so drink up – you may get a better bottle!

Two very different wines

Different ages, different variety, different hemispheres, but both provided drinking interest and satisfaction.

2008 zilliken sr kab

2008 (Forstmeister Geltz) Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Riesling Kabinett 7.5%
The company’s website is here. From the Mosel, still with a pale lemon colour. Aromatically it shows lime citrus, tropicals, spices and a sense of high acidity. The palate leads with red apple flavours, honeydew melon too, and those spices again, with a dash of pebble. Racy acid ensures the sweetness (60 g/l) is balanced. Some grip on the palate is minor quibble; the wine is drinking well.

To 2024 and 90 points.

2017 deen botrytis sem

2017 De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 botrytis semillon 11.5%
This wine is the junior brother of De Bortoli’s Noble One – more affordable , at well under $20 for a half bottle – and on its day capable of shading its more famous sibling on the wine show circuit.

The Riverina (inland NSW, Australia) is an established home of exotic botrytised Semillon (and other varieties). Lillypilly, McWilliams morning light, and other examples are worth trying. There are also some terrific VFM red wines from the Riverina, with Durif to the fore.

The style here (Semillon with heavy botrytis) is usually much sweeter than Sauternes -not as long-living, or as refined as the best examples- but significantly cheaper. They still have ample acidity to accompany the sweetness.

This wine is golden in colour, ripe with apricot, marmalade and crème brûlée. The palate shows rampant ripe tropical pineapple, and cumquat with some green fruits too. While drenched in sweetness, there is abundant citrus-led acidity to keep this wine fresh for at least another five years. It’s a rich wine style crafted to tickle the senses. Great value.

Drink to 2025 and 90 points.

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.

 

 

 

2007 Schmitges Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spatlese** 8%

Another wine from the Mosel (Germany), the ** indicates “more” than a general spatlese level.. The site is around the village of Erden, and “treppchen” means little steps. These have been carved into the steep slope to help the workers in their vineyard travails. A picture is on the Schmitges website.

2007 schmitges

Cork OK, medium gold colour. Fresh, red apple, camphor, wax, blood orange, golden delicious apple, and tropical fruits, especially mango. The palate has more grapefruit, and shows mixed apple and tropical fruits, some glace fruits, creaminess and mixed spices. (85 g/l residual sugar). It’s vibrant and compelling with cleansing acidity. A very, very satisfying, great-value purchase!

Drink to 2026, 92 points

2006 Joh Jos Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese Riesling Goldkap AP#17 7.5%

The gold capsule indicates “more” than an auslese category; greater ripeness, and complexity. This category from JJ Prum retails for around twice the price of the auslese. The combination of very special site, the experienced team that have mastered this style, the opulent botrytis-laden vintage, and the Goldkap combine to make a remarkable wine.

This is an outstanding Mosel Riesling. Bright gold in colour, it exudes a mesh of floral citrus, light smoke, petroleum jelly (decidedly not kerosene), mango, red apple, and furriness. The palate hums along with acidity and the most seductive and utterly compelling texture and length. Honey, plus citrus, with the affluent residual sugar entirely wrapped up with acidity; it oozes pleasure and decadence.

My brief note from May 2010 is similar “complex, penetrating with plenty of acidity, petroleum jelly, red apple and red fruits, amazing length 19/20)”

No harm to drink now, but anytime to 2035 with comfort. I wavered but it deserves 97 points.

Don’t hesitate if you can find it.

Catch-up with some European sweet wines

2007 willi, grun

2007 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett AP#9 8%
One of my favourite Mosel producers. 57g/l residual sugar. A bright pale gold, red apple, touch of barely ripe pineapple. Crunchy, fresh, melons and lime, with a rich fresh mouthfeel, Comforting, comfortable, refreshing.

To 2030, 91 points.

2007 Maximin Grunhaus herrenberg Riesling spatlese 8%
Mosel. Deeper gold, Aromatically less pure than the previous wine; candle-wax, red grapefruit, spiced pears. The palate displays more dried and glace fruits; acidity does not seem as vibrant and a bit of hardness is evident. No trouble drinking this wine over several days, but early consumption is suggested.

The label is “old-school”.

To 2025 and 89 points

2006 Ch Coutet 14%
Barsac, 75% Semillon, 23% sav blanc 2% muscadelle; 149 g/l rs. A good but not brilliant vintage for Sauternes, but the wine (half bottle) has held well. There is abundant information on their website.

Light toffee colour, showing pristine vanilla, icing sugar, stewed apricot, and orange peel. The palate is very ripe and sweet, with some marmalade characters and almond (oak). Racy acid makes helps; there is tension between the exotic fruit sweetness, acidity and mouthfilling texture.

From a half-bottle, this wine was a wonderful result for the vintage and seems on a long plateau. Drink to 2025 (conservative, but the wine presents so well now), and 93 points

2010 Mader Pinot Gris Schlossberg Grand cru (sweet)
Hunawihr,  Alsace. Light gold colour, Sultana, pears, dried apple, dried apricot. The grapey palate retains just enough acidity to keep interest.

Drying out, with possibly some oxidation. There is still drinking enjoyment, but it’s on the decline

Drink now, and 87 points

Two sweet old world wines

2007 von Schubert Maximin Grunhaus Herrenberg Riesling Auslese 8%
Mosel, Germany. A clear dark straw colour, this wine from Maximin Grunhaus shows tropical fruit especially mango plus a touch of mint. The palate is slightly oily, with some bitter herb, ripe red berry and red apple. It’s not the sweetest Auslese -style encountered (although acidity is balanced). Some grippiness is evident but not unduly intrusive – and my preference would be for earlier drinking while this wine retains its fruity zestiness.

In the likely realm of bottle variation, drink to 2025, 90 points

1964 Moulin Touchais 12%
Loire, Chenin blanc. The Loire valley is home to a range of chenin blanc from dry to botrytised (and other varieties). Chenin Blanc’s versatility means it can produce sparkling wines, the dry Savennières and sweeter styles but I seldom see the wines of Bonnezeaux or Quarts de Chaume in Australia. Chenin blanc in Australia however is generally innocuous, although it was once a mainstay of Houghton White Burgundy and I recall a stunning botrytis example in the 1981 St Leonards. I have also tasted some delicious South African examples.

The sweet wines from Moulin Touchais have a reputation for extreme longevity, and I’ve tasted other examples from Marc Bredif back to 1959, and have a few Domaine Huet tucked away. The Moulin Touchais wines are apparently picked in two passes – the first early while it is full of acidity, and a later harvest when it has ripened further; these are then blended.

1964 moulin

The bottle was opened and decanted at a restaurant and I didn’t see the cork, alas. The wine was a glowing gold in colour and showed the tell-tale varietal apple aromas, with some honeysuckle and spiced sultana notes. There was also a touch of straw oxidation, but not disconcerting, the palate exhibited wax, apple, honey,  citrus, some nuttiness and refreshing texture – and at a guess 50 g/l residual sugar. There was plenty of life in this old wine, and it seemed to become richer, more mouthfilling, vigorous and harmonious over the evening, and it matched particularly well with fish courses.

Again, at this stage of life, variation is expected, and I was well pleased with the result, especially the improvement with extensive aeration.  Drink to 2030, and 92 points.

1998 Stanton and Killeen Vintage (port) 18%, plus other impressions

At 21 years of age, this Rutherglen (Victoria) fortified is still very youthful. It has 1 gold and 5 silver medals to its credit and composition is 26% Shiraz, 26% Touriga, 20% Durif, 13% tinta cao, 13% tinta barocca, and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon; a mix of “traditional Australian”, and Portuguese varieties. Remarkably, the wine is still available ($114) – with many other vintages- on the Stanton and Killeen website.

1998 S&K VP

The cork emerged well, and in excellent condition. The colour is outstanding for its age, a very dense dark black crimson,  and there is an exciting range of aromas- dark liqueur cherry, almond-meal, blueberry, mulberry, and spice notes The quality of (brandy) spirit is excellent, and has integrated well. The palate is sweeter than Portuguese versions, but certainly drier than most Australian attempts. The palate is full-bodied but very supple, showing a lingering mix of black and red fruits, red liquorice and fine chalky tannins.  Above all, it is deliciously drinkable.

Drink to 2030, and 93 points.

1986 Stanton and Killeen Vintage Port
Served blind, this wine was bricky in colour, showing sweet mocha notes, dried fruits and citrus peel. The spirit was sweet; the palate was also sweet, soft and mellow, and seemed Australian in style. The milk chocolate and plum flavours suggested Victorian origins, and my conclusion “around 30 years old, Victorian, Shiraz” turned out to be reasonably accurate. (95% Shiraz, 5% durif). The wine is fully mature, and bottle quality may differ!

Drink to 2025, 90 points

2007 JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese Riesling AP#22 7.5%
Very pale in colour, this Mosel wine is supremely elegant and needs much more time (still) to reveal more of its charms. It displays smoke, petroleum, crunchy ripe red apple and tropical fruits, particularly just-ripe pineapple. The palate is pebbly, sustained and the acidity really masks the considerable sweetness. This is a mouth-filling, creamy, intense and decadent wine, but it’s not yet resolved, and I recommend a further 5 years aging if you are fortunate to own any.

Drink to 2035, 92 points –  with more in the future.

1975 Hardy’s Vintage Port (special release museum stock) 17.5%, and more

With 4 trophies and 20 gold medals up to 1987, this is a special wine. From McLaren Vale, South Australia, the cork has thankfully performed its duty, and the wine seems younger than its 44 years.

1975 hardy's vp

It’s a solid brick red colour (with substantial sediment that makes decanting worthwhile). Fig, rose-hip,  blackberry, espresso and sweet integrated brandy spirit are evident. Drier than the typical traditional Oz style, this wine is immaculately manicured; the satin-fine tannins melded with blackberry and a supremely extended palate fully demonstrates why obsessives bother cellaring this style.

Drink to 2030, 95 points.

2009 (Forstmeister Geltz) Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Riesling Diabas 12%
Destined for a “GG”, a cask stopped at 16 g/l residual sugar. Pale lemon colour with arresting aromas of passionfruit, white flower, red apple, and ripe green herbs. The wine is compelling in its length, texture and interest (nashi pear)  that will suit many cuisines (Asian or something simple such as smoked salmon). This Mosel area wine sits at a “feinherb” level (less than Kabinett) and is completely,  winningly delicious.

Drink to 2025, 93 points

2007 JJ Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese Goldkapsule 7.5%
The gold capsule denotes a bit “extra” for its category (some producers use “stars” such as **).

This Mosel wine instantly showed its style and class. Nettle, herb, and petroleum with white peach notes; the palate has rich tropical notes and brisk lemon but the balance of sugar and acidity makes it feathery; and a total, supple delight.

Drink to 2030, and 92 points.

A pair of 2006 Rieslings from Max. Ferd Richter

The Richter winery is based in Mulheim, in the Mosel, and when I visited – and tasted- had an extensive range of back-vintages available for purchase. Richter produce richer wines than typical Mosel producers, and are very well known for their Helenkloster Eiswein, which – unusually- is produced in most years.

The wines below made an educational pair- the technical/analytic numbers are reasonably similar; the wines (from a year with plenty of botrytis) are very different. Corks were respectable for their age.

2006 richter pair

2006 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese 8%
91 g/l residual sugar
Light gold colour, and highly aromatic- camphor, wax, tropical fruits especially mango, and a little petroleum. Palate is varietal, clean, lively and delicious.

Drink to 2025, 90 points

2006 Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese 9.5%
106 g/l residual sugar.
A slightly deeper gold colour than its sibling; and a bit shyer aromatically, but displaying  honey, and minerals., The palate is weightier, fleshier, creamier and richer, with brown spice, mineral, ripe apple and blackcurrant. This wine is drinking beautifully.

Drink to 2030, 92 points.