Friday, 2 December 2011

A+ Wine Day, The White Wines

Having written a post the other day about Australia Wine's One Day Wine School I thought I'd write up some thoughts on the wines themselves.

There was close to fifty wines throughout the course of the afternoon, and so what I thought I'd do is just pick out some of my personal highlights, the best of the flights - along with any other interesting comments that were made at the time.

Flight 1: Sparkling Wine (2)
Both the Jansz 'Premium Cuvée' and the Brown Brothers Brut  'Méthode Traditionelle' were excellent, very little to choose between the two, and either one will be far superior to any bargain basement Christmas Champagne deals you'll find in supermarkets this month. Personally I preferred the elegance of the Jansz but I'd happily drink either.

Flight 2: Semillon (3)
I love Semillon, but perhaps with more bottle age than was shown here, although I'd imagine older examples are going to be particularly hard to get hold of. The best of these was the oldest, a 2003 'Vat 1' from Tyrell's in the Hunter Valley. It had mellowed out with the couple more years it had on the other two; pithy, delicate and flinty. A superb apéritif. £25 from Majestic.

Flight 3: Viognier (3)
The first glimpse of d'Arenberg's distinctive red stripe, and an old favourite, the 'Last Ditch' Viognier, 2008 vintage. Generous stone fruit and smokiness, by contrast with the Yalumba Eden Valley 2010 which had much more classic honey , orange blossom and floral notes. Couldn't choose between those two. £9.95 from Wine Direct and £12.10 from Slurp Wines.

Flight 4: Riesling (6)
Things were starting to get into less-charted waters here, a flight of six Aussie Rieslings? Well if these couldn't showcase the differences in the regions, what could? There was a few interesting wines in this lot. I thought the Ferngrove 'Cossack' Great Southern 2010 (£14.65 from Slurp) was great if you like a leaner, steely, petrolly style of Riesling. It's still young and somewhat austere, and like the Mitchell Wines 'Watervale' 2010 it would be interesting to see how they'd pan out with age. The Watervale had more floral and lime notes, classic Clare. Long way to travel to try this since it's available where I used to work at Weavers in Nottingham, £13.50.
Also of interest was the 'mesh' Eden Valley 2009, a collaborative effort between two winemakers who vinify separate wines from the same parcels of fruit (hence the name). I actually thought this was the best of the bunch, although I could see Nick Stock's point about wanting to try both of the wines to see what the winemakers did with the original fruit. Lots of lime cheesecake, where often I find Aussie Riesling to be a bit overpowering on the lime cordial stakes this had a lovely, almost chalky, creaminess which took the edge off. £16.60 from Slurp.

Flight 5: Chardonnay (9)
I've not done a great job of finding favourites so far, and given this is the biggest flight, I failed to do so here. Report of the death of Australian Chardonnay, crushed to death under a mountain of new oak, have been greatly exaggerated. But if you've survived this long then I narrowed it down to a pick of one from each of the three areas (there was three wines from each region).
The first group was from the Mornington Peninsula, the best of which I thought was the Ocean Eight 'Verve' 2010 which had just a touch of reductive matchstick aroma and a good chalky minerality (struggled to find this one, although apparently it's imported by Hallowed Grounds, expect to pay around £24).
The de Bortoli Yarra 2008, a former Jancis Robinson wine of the week, and again a tricky one to get hold of, had much more peachy fruit and was a more rounded style. According to the listing I was given it is a Wine Society line but they list the 2006 at £13.50, not this vintage.
Finally the Adelaide Hills 2009 from Shaw and Smith was beautifully aromatic, with lots of mellow fruit and a gorgeous supple mouth-feel and texture. (£24 from Majestic).

Plenty of food for thought there I hope. I'll return with some reds when I get a chance.

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