Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Rootstock Sydney 2014, part 1

Sounds a bit like Woodstock, doesn't it? Well, it was a bit dreamlike and producers were certainly very evangelical about their biodynamic approaches. Rootstock is a wine fair of not organic, but biodynamic winemakers. 70 wineries from around the world were represented. It was certainly great to speak to Vanya Cullen, Julian Castagna and Ron Houghton of Jasper Hill all within 30 minutes.

My overall conclusion about the wines was that there is quite a big divide: many wines showed vibrant fruit, but lacked structure, and I don't give them much aging potential. Then there are those who display solid winemaking technique and experience. Their wines were quite exceptional. In my experience, biodynamic soil treatment improves the freshness and vitality of the fruit, but I am less convinced about the more 'atmospheric' aspects of biodynamics. Yes the moon has a big influence on tides, but noticeable differences in the wine in the glass? Really? Be that as it may, this is what I found:

Jasper Hill was impressive with Georgia's and Emily's Paddock from 2012. The alcohol is now peared to about 13.5% and the fruit comes to the fore. In particular the Emily's Paddock is a great wine, with incredible complexity: dark fruits, leather and savoury characteristics. The meaty flavours are gone. Power is now balanced by elegance (95 points).

The 2011 Cullen Diana Madeline has beautifully lifted aromas. This wine is light and intense at the same time, with silky tannins and a long finish (95 points).

A winery not so well known, but doing great things is Ferdinando Principiano from Piedmont. This is a relatively new winery (20 years), and the move to biodynamics more recent. His 2012 Barbera d'Alba Laura is fresh, and the acids are beautifully balanced, which cannot be said about every Barbera (93 points). The 2009 Barolo Serralunga is a blend from several plots of limestone soil. This brings out the fragrance and minerality of the wine, almost like a Burgundy (93 points). The flagship 2009 Barolo Ravera is from  old grapes grown on sandy soil. This wine is more intense and powerful, but I found it had a 'smelly' aftertaste.

A big discovery was Cloudburst Wine for me. It is based in Margaret River, just south of Woodlands. This means the golden mile for Cabernet. They started in 2005 and are really boutique with a production of 400 cases. The 2012 Chardonnay emphasizes texture over fruit, but did not do much for me (88 points). However, the 2011 Cabernet was a revelation. Intensity and purity of the fruit made this wine stand out. The wine had good length, too. It remains to be seen, how well it will hold up (95 points). Its predecessor won several trophies at the Margaret River wine show last year. Now the bad news: this wine is $250 per bottle. Not bad for a new producer. The wines are aimed at flashy US restaurants. Scarcity rules, I guess.      

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