Friday, January 28, 2022

Chateau Lafite Rothschild

 Great producers do well in difficult vintages. An example is the 2003 Chateau Lafite Rothschild. It was a hot year,  and the risk was to make overripe wine. Enter this excellent drop.

This wine is velvety on the nose, very inviting. On the palate feminine flavours of loganberry and mulberry engulf the mouth. This wine is super smooth. It is delicate and fragrant. There is a significant vanilla/oak influence, but it does not detract from the fruit where black currants rule on the back palate. The finish is very long and balanced. This is a complete wine.

Score: 98/+++

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Can Sauvignon Blanc Age?

 A few days ago, I had an opportunity to taste a couple of older Sauvignon Blancs. They were not pure, but the 2010 Mount Mary Triolet included at least 75% Sauvignon Blanc, barrel-fermented, and the 2016 Blanc de Lynch-Bages had 52% Sauvignon Blanc. The other varieties in both cases are Semillon, and Muscadelle.

In terms of the question asked in the headline, the Lynch-Bages has the advantage. The Semillon component is larger, and the wine less old. And it showed.

The Lynch-Bages had good energy. There was a tropical expression on the palate, with pineapple and guava flavours. I tasted cinnamon spice as well. The wine delivered an attractive velvety mouthfeel. It was still fresh (92 points).

The Triolet had an attractive entry on the palate. The flavours were more in the citrus spectrum, but I detected a bit of guava as well. However, it fell off on the back palate and the wine finished quite flat. The second taste was a bit more satisfying (89 points).

Has the question been answered? Not really. The Triolet made you question the ageing potential, and the Lynch-Bages had too much Semillon in the wine to answer in the positive.


Thursday, January 20, 2022

Chateau Magdelaine

 Collecting Bordeaux is not that easy. It takes 10 years for a wine to show its true colours (flavours), and then you can no longer stock up. You can collect well known wines without tasting, but that will cost you. Or you base decisions on an early tasting, if you get the opportunity.

I decided to buy a number of different wines at attractive prices from the highly regarded 2009 vintage. The results were mixed, but I am in luck today, as I taste the 2009 Chateau Magdelaine.

In Australia, left bank wines are much more common than right bank, partly a result of relative volumes, but also partly because of the mixed reputation of Merlot, which is the dominant right bank grape.

This Merlot blend opens with huge aromas of blackcurrant and forest berries, some raspberry even.

On the palate, black fruited flavours come to the fore; there are earthy notes and mild spice as well. This is a ripe wine, but very balanced, with oak in the background. There is some development in this wine. At this point, it delivers a satisfying sweet/savoury mouthfeel. The tannins are firm and ripe, well integrated. And the finish lasts and lasts.

I think I am drinking this wine at its sweet spot. It is ripe, but has a decent structure. While it delivers a good package now, it may fall apart sooner than other wines from this vintage.

Score: 94/++ 


Monday, January 10, 2022

Nimbostratus Chardonnay

 I have never heard of this wine before I bought the 2019 Nimbostratus Chardonnay. This is a pity, because apparently this is the last vintage. Nimbostratus is the name for unattractive, thick dark clouds, apparently the kind you get from where the wine is from. The vineyard is located in the Victorian highlands, about 50km southwest of Beechworth, at an altitude of 868 meters.

The wine is wild fermented in French oak and matured on lees for nine months. Only 180 cases with this attractive label were made.

You can immediately tell this is a high altitude wine. Citrus flavours and acidity dominate the palate. This wine has a nice zing to it and is quite harmonious in its dryness. There is a subtle power and concentration underlying it all. I certainly enjoyed this wine. The small production may have made it uneconomical.

Score: 93/++  

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Penfolds The Max Schubert Cabernet/Shiraz

 The overall Penfolds offering is not that easy to understand. Sure, there are the well established brands such as Bin 389, Bin 28, Bin 707, St. Henri. But then, there are other offerings. First, the cellar reserve wines. These are experimental wines, with grapes not common in the key brands, such as Pinot Noir and Sangiovese. They are offered on an irregular basis. Then there are wines which are special one offs in years where there is an abundance of great fruit, not all required for the traditional blends. This has been taken to an obscene level lately, where extreme scarcity has driven prices to  the stratosphere. And then we have the Napa wines, and white wines, of course.

The wine I am reviewing today is the 2012 Penfolds The Max Schubert Cabernet/Shiraz. This is a new creation before the frivolity set in, although it is quite pricey as well. The idea here is to honour Max Schubert with a blend which tries to copy the 1962 Bin 60A, Max Schubert's and probably Australia's greatest wine. 2012 was the inaugural release, with less than 500 cases made. This wine should not be confused with the Max series, a cheap quaffer, which should never have carried Max Schubert's name.

The blend in this wine is 48% Coonawarra Cabernet, 13% Barossa Cabernet, 39% Barossa Shiraz. This compares with a 66/34 split of the 1962 wine. The Max Schubert was matured for 15 months in 100% new American hogsheads.

Pouring the wine, a dark purple colour emerges, slightly 'dirty' - a bit surprising. I experience blackcurrants and vanilla oak are on the nose.

On the palate, there is blackcurrant, ripe plum, mocca, charcoaled meat, and vanilla. Coarse tannins hit the palate early, then concentrated, sweet fruit hits like a bomb. This is quite a chewy wine, yet the acidity is quite high, too. No doubt, this wine has high quality fruit, but it has not come together for me at this point. It definitely needs protein, and is basically too early to drink. But will it be harmonious, ever? The wine opens up in the glass with increased elegance, but it feels only half the race is done at this point, and a 1962 Bin 60A it is not (says me who has never tasted the 62). 

Unmistakably Australian, typical Penfolds!

Score: 96/+  


Monday, January 3, 2022

The Most Read Blog Posts In The Last 6 Months

 The top 5 blog posts in order were

1) What to do with your wine cellar

2) Top 5 wine trends

3) by Farr Farrside Pinot Noir

4) Penfolds 389 Cabernet/Shiraz

5) Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay

This demonstrates there is an interest in general topics. I will continue to write some of these when I can think of  interesting content. Clearly, people want to hear about premium mainstream Australian wine. But close behind were the posts on wines from the Jura and Chateau Malescot St. Exupery showing interest in international wine as well.  

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Mount Pleasant Maurice O'Shea Shiraz

 To ring in the new year in style, I drank an iconic wine from the Hunter Valley, the 2014 Mount Pleasant Maurice O'Shea Shiraz. 

The thing that strikes you immediately is the great purity of this wine, and its depth of flavour. This full-bodied wine is red fruited. It does not give away much at the moment. The mouthfeel is smooth, and the velvety nature of the tannins is emerging. This will more fully develop in time. There is great harmony on the palate.

This wine comes across as very aristocratic, and at peace with itself. It was way too early to drink and will probably still be good in 50 years.

Score: 95/+++