Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chateau Rauzan-Segla

To me, Margaux is Bordeaux's most intriguing sub-region. The floral character of many of its wines is so different from those of most Cabernet Sauvignons. Towering over others is of course Chateau Margaux, not always justified, I think. It is outside most peoples purse strings anyway.

Looking at others from the area, Rauzan-Segla is interesting. It is owned by the same owners as Chanel. A lot of investment has gone into the winery.

This time, I tried the 2004 Rauzan-Segla, from an average vintage. The wine has raspberry and cherry  sents on the nose. This follows attractively onto the front palate: an elegant and charming wine. But then it happens: the famous Cabernet Sauvignon hole on the mid-palate. All-up, the fruit does not carry the structure of the wine. The reasons for liking a Margaux wine are there, but unfortunately, this Rauzan-Segla does not fully deliver.

Score: 91/0

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Seppelt Aeriu's Heathcote GSM

There used to be a time when I drank quite a lot of Heathcote wines, but somehow they have gone off my radar. Partly, because some of them are too alcoholic, partly, because attempts to 'tone them down' have not been so interesting.

So I was curious what the 2009 Seppelt Aeriu's Heathcote GSM would be like. The wine has a plummy bouquet. On the palate, raspberry flavours dominate initially, but very quickly this is followed by a sweet core, tasting like lollypop. Clearly the Grenache component dominates, and it is too sweet. The wine is not very tannic and finishes smooth and relatively simple.

Score: 86/--

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Penfolds New 2010 Releases

Penfolds releases their prestigious wines in two batches. The premium releases in early March, the super premiums on 1 May. Penfolds winemaker Peter Gago went uncharacteristically gaga over the 2010 wines and  wine writers followed over the last few days. Phillip White disagreed and found too much oak in the wines. I tried three of the wines yesterday.

The 2010 wines are characterized by a very appealing purity of fruit. The fruit is intense, yet not overpowering, and generally in harmony with the structure of the wines. I found the oak to be much less prominent than in previous years, partly because of the intensity of the fruit. The wines are even elegant on release. In this sense there is less traditional Penfolds DNA in these wines, rather an evolution to better early drinkability without compromising the ageability of the wines.

The 2010 Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz, drawn predominantly from Barossa fruit, shows intense blackberry and plum fruit. The tannins are firm and the finish dry, but there enough fruit flavour to balance this out. This is a robust wine and clearly the value for money pick (93 points).

The 2010 Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz delivers beautifully elegant fruit on the palate. The wine is very rounded, yet complex, with mocca flavours supporting the primary dark plum and blackberry fruit. The wine moves seamlessly down the palate, before it finishes with fine tannins. Balance, balance is the word (95/++ points).

The 2010 Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon has quite a floral bouquet. The wine is incredibly smooth, yet intense and clean. It has a beautiful long finish based on fine tannins. This wine was the real surprise to me in this line-up. The quality is a major step-up from previous years. There is no green or overripe fruit in this wine. It is very drinkable now, but will develop for a decade and last for at least another (95/+++ points).

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Momofuku Wine Pairing

As most of my readers would not have had the chance to eat at Momofuku in Sydney or New York, I feel it might be of interest to report on my recent wine pairing experience there.

Like many, in particular up-market, restaurants do, Momofuku indulges in presenting obscure wines, where the customer has no reference points. I find this often a disappointing experience, but at Momofuku something else happened. Following are the wines
  - Keller 'von der Fels' Riesling 2011 (Rheinhessen, Germany)
  - Philippe Bornard 'le blanc de la rouge' Chardonnay 2008 (Jura, eastern France)
  - Ngeringa 'growers selection' Pinot Noir 2010 (Adelaide Hills)
  - Matej Skerlj Vitovska 2009 (Friuli, Italy)
  - Eric Bordelet poire 'granit' 2011 (Normandy, France)

The Riesling and the Pinot Noir were pretty much what you would expect. The other three wines, on their own, were very ordinary. The Bornard Chardonnay showed very little fruit. Minerality dominated. The Vitovska, a relatively rare grape mainly grown in Slovenia, equally had not much fruit flavours on the palate. The wine was tight and quite nutty. The Eric Bordelet is a pear cider with relatively high sugar content and firm tannins.

Yet with the food matches, these wines suddenly were shining. I have never experienced such a difference. The Bornard was paired with a trumpeter. The Vitovska was paired with congee and marron, and the cider with curd. In all cases the wines supported the food. They were all quite low alcohol. The lesson is, many wines fight with food for dominance. These wines could not dominate anything, but they added real flavour complexity in the background. What looked like a wine pairing to score points for being exotic, was actually brilliant.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Yalumba The Menzies Cabernet Sauvignon

Supposedly, this wine brand has improved significantly over the recent years. I cannot really comment as the 2006 Yalumba The Menzies is the first wine of this label I have ever drunk. I bought it years ago, as it appealed to me then, and it has a number of positive aspects now.

The fruit flavours are very typical of the variety as well as the Coonawarra region. The wine has a strong redcurrant flavour, but there is quite a lot of complexity on the palate as well, as savoury tones start to appear. The oak is well integrated. The tannins are firm and lead to a dry finish. On the other side of the equation, this wine lacks elegance and is a little rough around the edges. This will smooth out further in the next 2-3 years, but elegance will never be a feature of the wine. If you like the terra rossa fruit flavours, this wine is for you.

Score: 90/+