2001 Gunderloch Nackenheim Rothenberg Riesling Auslese (goldcap) 9.5%

The cork had behaved; its colour was copper; but in this case evidence of botrytis, not oxidation. I’m not very familiar with the Rheinhessen area of Germany; haven’t visited, and haven’t tasted much – more homework is needed!

The Rheinhessen is  Germany’s largest wine-growing area, often used  in making mainly innocuous white wines, but has undergone a re-evaluation with some very serious winemakers (such as Keller).

Its Australian importer Cellarhand has some helpful notes on the producer, site and winemaker here. The gold capsule indicates the wine is “more” than a basic Auslese.

2001 gunderloch auslese gc

The wine presents with raisin, red apple, dark honey, orange peel, and fruitcake spices, plus a hint of syrup and wax; the palate is vibrant and unctuous; stonefruit impressions add to the mix. Bounteous residual sugar is balanced by acidity; the compelling richness and freshness tempts further sipping, analysis and enjoyment. No hurry to drink (cork permitting).

94 points, and drink to 2028 (cork permitting).

Advertisements

Two Australian off-dry Rieslings

2017 Pikes “Olga Emmie” Riesling 10.5%
From the Clare Valley, South Australia, from a classic year.  Pikes make a well-priced and readily available “traditionale” Riesling, and their reserve is the “Merle” (a terrific wine that I have purchased to cellar).

2017 pikes oe riesling

The “Olga Emmie” is Pike’s off-dry Riesling, described as “slightly sweet” on the back label, with perhaps 20 g/l of residual sugar. It is available for around $20, and well worth seeking out.

“Olga Emmie” proved an interesting wine, particularly since I had the luxury of consuming it over several days. Each time, my assessment, and score improved- so perhaps this is a wine whose virtues are not instantly obvious. It’s youthful and pale in colour; its aromatics are present but not overt and include lime marmalade, passionfruit and pebbles.

There is some residual sugar, and my first impression was that an extra tweak of acidity would have pleased me; but the wine is absolutely delicious with lime, and then lemon, and some fresh honeydew melon. The acidity is keenly pitched, and fills out a wholesome drinking experience.

I am baffled that there are so few examples of serious off-dry Rieslings in Australia; food-friendly, approachable and delicious – Grosset’s Alea, and the  Pewsey Vale Prima come to mind; further mental effort retrieves Pressing Matters R9, a Rieslingfreak offering, then the memory bank fades.

It’s not necessarily easy for a customer to work between the range of “dry” and “dessert”; and the complex interplay of sweetness and acidity on perceptions is another issue; not today’s topic! Labelling wines as off-dry, semi-sweet, medium dry or medium sweet doesn’t seem to have helped.

While this Pike’s wine will certainly improve for a few years (particularly based on the moving target of my views), it will already be a terrific accompaniment to a range of foods much broader than generic “Asian”, with fish and white meats well into play.

Conservatively, drink to 2022 and 90 points

Disclosure- this was a sample bottle.

 

2009 Lethbridge Dr Nadeson Riesling 11.5%
Although Lethbridge is based in Geelong Victoria, this particular wine is from Portland, SW Victoria, from the Barratt vineyard. There have been several releases from this vineyard, but not for the past few years.

2009 lethbridge riesling

It’s a pale gold colour, and displays varietal talc, wax, mango, cantaloupe and some definite but unobjectionable petroleum. The palate shows green apple characters, some textural grip and a twist of lemony acidity. There is perhaps 10 g/l of residual sugar which adds to the package, providing intrigue to the palate . Nine years old, but the taste is still defiantly fresh.

Perhaps not a wine for technocrats (with its degree of textural grip); certainly idiosyncratic in its winemaking approach, and I firmly favour drinking this wine soon, while its vibrancy critically supports  its drinkability. But the wines very slow evolution means it will last much longer.

Drink to 2020, and 88 points.

More recent random “theme” drinks

2008 Schloss Lieser Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett 8%
Cork Ok, and another 2008 Mosel riesling ready for action.
Light gold colour, abundant ripe red apple, white flowers and lemon aromatics; the palate is light-bodied but full-flavoured, with  red berries, apple, honey and willing acidity. Purchase notes indicate 63 g/l residual sugar. Irresistible, but drink up while it’s still bursting with energy.

Drink to 2023, and 91 points; I’m quietly purring that I have some of their higher-end wines from that year too….

2010 Petaluma Fortified shiraz 20%
half bottle, cork, and probably a cellar-door wine as the “Petaluma” brand is buried in the back label.

This is a very smart wine from the Adelaide Hills (South Australia); abundant ripe black cherry melded with sweet brandy spirit. Irresistible.  And then the subtleties emerge; this is pristine-  blueberry, mulberry, morello cherry. Whispery, very fine silky tannins. A modern, seductive, classy fortified with supreme balance that will mature gracefully over many more years. Juicy, fleshy and the “drunken cherry” flavours are wondrous.

Drink to 2030, and 93 points.

2007 Knebel Winninger Rottgen Auslese Riesling 7%

From a half bottle, the cork shows some wine travel- no qualms; the label is cellar-scuffed, but the contents are much more important.

knebel 2007

 

The colour is bright gold, with abundant, tantalising stewed apricot, cinnamon spice,  pineapple and dark honey. This is class! Reinhard and Beate Knebel  (Mosel, Germany)  have no trouble delivering wines with an abundance of richness, but with the harmonious balancing acid to provide delight.

The palate is palatial and unctuous (with 190 g/l of residual sugar, somewhat atypically abundant for an Auslese, but I am not complaining). Apricot, quince, honey, wrapped with cinnamon and faint vanilla pod spices. Fresh and  smooth, from a fairly typical recent Mosel vintage, this is a startling reminder of the lush featherlight excellence of a sweet Riesling,  full of flavour with modest alcohol.

Match with a fruit platter or by just by itself for delightful contemplation.

Drink to 2030, 95 points and I am jealous of anyone that has some bottles remaining.

2005 Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese #6, 7.5%

This wine is still a clear and bright pale straw colour, with voluminous aromas of petroleum, kiwi-fruit, green melon, lime, some waxiness, and a touch of camphor too.

2005 fritz haag bjs auslese

The palate is poised and effortless, concentrated , with more lemon and light tropical flavours added to the mix. Its the kind of wine that puts me on high alert as it slides along and teases the senses, freshness and balance a key attribute.

Fritz Haag is one of the top Mosel estates, and this wine was a lovely example of Riesling with some bottle maturity, and naturally capable of much further aging. My suspicion is that the residual sugar level is around 80 g/l.

Drink to 2028 and 93 points.

 

2005 Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese (AP 03 07) 7%

IMAG0812

The wizened cork has nevertheless done its duty, but I hope my remaining bottle will be preserved for at least another 5 years.

The wines of JJ Prum are easily available in Australia; the Wehlener Sonnenuhr is my “go-to” vineyard, and the Auslese level hits my personal “sweet spot” of complexity and affordability. But the JJ Prum wines- like so many Mosel Rieslings – reward cellaring. 2005 was an exceptional vintage in the Mosel.

The colour of this Mosel wine is a bright clear light lemon; there are enticing scents of ripe red apple, dried pear, lemon, smoke, petroleum, stones and a twist of ginger. The palate is rich, clean and overwhelmingly pretty; it’s viscous with natural acidity that is refreshing, and insists that further tasting is mandatory. My guess was around 90 g/l of residual sugar, but beautifully integrated. The palate shows white honey,  red apple, some emerging lime, and of course flint. A wine that is easily approachable, enjoyable and complex.

Drink to at least 2035 , and 95 points for now – with enormous prospects for improvement in the future.

Snippets, again

Maybe not thematic, but these fragments deserve a note; on the cork front, an unusual  run in the past six months yielded only 2 wines affected by taint or obvious oxidation–  a “meagre” 3.7%. Not many industries would accept this level of wastage. The degree of TCA in both wines was amazing- textbook examples.

  • 1993 Craiglee Chardonnay – replaced
  • 1996 Baileys Shiraz – no response from winery

And quick notes follow about wines that impressed

2015 Tolpuddle Chardonnay 12.5%
“Full malo” is a phrase that normally makes me run away, but served masked (of course) this Coal River valley (Tasmania) wine astonished. It’s a modern melon and smoke style- such as Oakridge or Seville Estate- cashewy oak, mineral-drenched fruit and the Tasmanian acidity powers through this utterly delicious wine.
From the Shaw and Smith stable, it’s around $60 a bottle retail – I ordered 3 bottles on the spot. Wonderful, and will hold for quite a while.

2015 Wynns Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 13.5%
This is the 60th release of this label; a few years ago, I tasted the 1960, 1965, 1966 and 1972; there is no doubting the longevity of the style; its affordability makes it deservedly popular among wine-drinkers (not just unicorn-collectors). This release is ripe, beautifully manicured and balanced; blackcurrant and other dark fruits, chalks; it flows gently, deliciously and juicily along. Lovely, with a huge future. Coonawarra, and unforced.

2012 Giant Steps Applejack Pinot Noir 13.5%
This is a wine that nearly won the notorious Jimmy Watson trophy, but there was insufficient volume. At  5 years old, this  Yarra Valley wine has time on its side. Its amazingly fragrant, with small, succulent, sweet red berry scents, plus seasoned oak. The palate shows much more ripe strawberry, and again the oak is present, somehow making a savoury impact. But where this wine stands out is for its prodigious, long-lasting, ultra-refined finish. Another 5 years at least, and 95 points

2002 Seppelt St Peters Shiraz 14%
Wonderful wine. Cork was not the greatest visual composition, but no travel.
2002 was a cool year in Victoria, and this wine is special. My records indicate I paid $35; some key notes; the colour is deep black/red, and there is no browning even at the rim; the wine is beautifully poised with vibrant, intense fruit, oak very much a background factor. Its ripeness is spot-on; blackberry, mixed spices and mocha, some very faint herbal tannin bitterness, and just powers along. Easy, hedonistic drinking, and will remain so for another 15 years – or more. Instant gold medal score, and another example of Grampians Shiraz seduction.

1995 Guigal Hermitage
From a great year in the Northern Rhone; power+, ripe +, slinky old-vine mouthfeel. Dry herb, chalk, iron filings and spices, powdery tannins, touch of bitterness. At plateau and another 10 years will not tire it. Outstanding, 94 points

 

And a few rarities from a very special dinner

2002 Bollinger RD disgorged 24/6/2014
Served at a “just right” temperature in appropriate glassware (flutes are NOT proper stemware for Champagne, any kind of tulip-shaped glass is better). It’s a light straw colour; Immediate sense of class. There are scents of pastries, fruit tingles, strawberries dusted gently with icing sugar (the Pinot dominance roughly 60/40 is felt); a touch of oak/chalk/cream, a touch of almond. Then the palate lights up with exuberance, tiny bead, and the flavours just linger on, the wine seems bone dry (4 g/l is very dry even for a prestige champagne). This is just a wonder, so sensual and so compelling- finally it just powered along with more nuances with each refreshing sip. A wine that could accompany many foods, and was not elbowed aside by a truffled croquette. 96 points.

1990 Trimbach Clos st hune Riesling 14%
Approached with some trepidation as a bottle tried in 13/5/2013 unexpectedly threw me in to delivering a perfect score.

Was I delusional? Would another bottle disappoint?This wine from Alsace has a bright clear gold colour; but amazingly, almost pungently floral. Light honey, lemon peel, bottle age, flint ripeness. Palate, silky, fluffy, candied dried fruits, flint, stone, mineral. The magic combination of richness and freshness.

Another 20 years in sight. 98 points.  (Notes were similar)

1990 Jaboulet Hermitage la Chapelle 13.9%
Everyone’s favourite in a bracket of 3 Hermitages including 1990 JL Chave and 1990 Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavilon, and so easy to love. Very dense colour, with trivial bricking; barnyard, earth, butterscotch, then the palate runs rampant with dark cherry, tar and more earth, some smoky, dried meaty aspects. Oak is entirely vanished, we’re left with a slinky vinous old-vine palate of fine, fine tannins. Memorable and contemplative – mature wines don’t really come better.
Drink to 2040, 98 points