March 1st, 2005

Atacama

le wine blog™ - OMG this is like tres OTT

Let's just say that I've done a lot - nay, an awful lot of drinking since I got to Australia. Hey, I'm on vacation. I'm allowed. And best of all, I get to drink with the awesome jcoldrey, whose expertise and tasting ability puts mine to shame, so it's even better.

Some of the things we've attacked so far:

2004 Tahbilk marsanne, $8 - finally in screwcap, this is lovely, light, airy, and smells vaguely like mead.

1997 Tahbilk marsanne - you'd never guess this is the same wine, just a lot older. One of many bottles contributed by Julian to the ongoing drinkup, this is much darker, richer, and takes off in kind of a lemon custardy sort of direction. Proof that it's worth the wait - if you can - to drink this stuff. http://www.southernwines.com has some in stock most years.

2003 Petaluma Hanlin Hill riesling, $20 - this is easily one of my favorite wines made in Australia. I saw the 2004 for sale on Oxford St last night, but I'll wait until I can find a Dan Murphy's to buy some. The 2003 is much like the 2002: floral, nearly bone dry but with a tiny bit of sweetness there, minerally, and all around awesome. If you don't think riesling can make wine other than sweet crap, try this.

2002 Orlando Jacob's Creek Steingarten riesling, $20. I didn't care for this so much - it seems to have been made by an anhedoniac. Slaty, steely, minerally, no sugar that I could tell, smelled ever so slightly like talc. Needs time - say, 20 years or so. No fun at all, but obviously a very expensive wine.

NV Chandon sparkling pinot shiraz, $20 - all I can say is yum. This isn't your typical sparkling shiraz cuz it's got pinot in it, but it's a far cry from a Chandon [France] blanc de noirs cuz it's a medium shade of red. I'm a sucker for sparkling reds in general, and this is kind of a curiosity in that it's so very elegant [unlike bruiser Aussie sparkling reds that reek of barrels and shiraz]. I do like it and wish I could try some that's been aged for a few years. I guess I'll have to take some home.

NV Seppelt sparkling shiraz, $12 - this is almost what I like in a sparkling shiraz, but not quite. Getting there with the ball-busting taste, but only halfway. Good value for money, but it's no Yalumba D Black, alas. Fun, though!

2002 Yalumba Barossa shiraz, $10 - 5% viognier makes this a really lovely style of shiraz; perfume on the nose, but still very much a hard core Barossa shiraz hides behind it, which I suppose makes this an experience akin to having really rough sex with someone whom you know loves you. [That's a good thing.]

1999 Clare sparkling wine [cleanskin of sorts, allegedly made by Brian Croser from riesling fruit], Vintage Cellars, $10 - yuck. No wonder it was so cheap and in an unmarked bottle. Sorry, kids: if you're going to make sparkling riesling, keep it cheap, young, and ordinary [there's a place in Idaho that does it well].

2004 Cape Mentelle sauvignon blanc / semillon, $18 - finally in screwcap. This is for some reason cheaper in the USA [I've seen it for $12 in Tucson], but whatever. For me, this is one of Australia's best stabs at sauvignon blanc; it's good stuff, very mellow, tastes kind of like semillon that's been grown somewhere near sauvignon blanc. Kind of a shock if you're used to Sancerre, but still good.

2004 some other sb/s with two hands on the label from Victoria - um, forgot what this was called, but it was probably some Aboriginal influenced name. Good too, but sweeter and simpler.

1994 Leo Buring riesling, $34 - ouch, expensive, but I justified it by reminding myself that the cheapest bottle of white wine at Claim Jumper will set you back $26 by the time you've figured in tax and tip. Picked this up on the way to Lure [one of my favorite restaurants in Sydney] last night; it's very, very correct but somehow not old enough yet to really get the kerosene/petrol odors going on in any noticeable way. Tastes like it could've been made last year; again, absolutely lovely, subtle riesling better than anything I've ever tasted from the USA [although Chehalem comes close]. Yum.

1996 Leasingham Classic Clare cabernet sauvignon - amazing what nearly a decade of bottle age does for this wine. Seamless, elegant, tastes something like the way some corners of antiquarian bookshops smell. Thanks again to the awesome Mr. Julian Coldrey for donating this to the party - this is drinking beautifully now.

2002 Baer Ursa, $25 - from Woodinville, WA, near Seattle. Not bad, mostly merlot with some cab franc, but somehow not as fabulous as you'd hope for. Just kind of ordinary and clumsy, especially compared to the Patron's Reserve we tasted at a winery in the Hunter [will update this later with its name].
2001 Andrew Rich Klipsun Vineyard cabernet sauvignon [eastern Washington], $50. What a letdown. Expensive, and so totally not worth it. Pretty cool smell on the nose, something like spicy pencil shavings, but totally disjointed in the mouth - and overly alcoholic to boot. Distinctively unlovely, and embarassing to think that this is supposed to be one of Washington's best wines. Especially shameful as Andrew Rich does make some good wines [his roussanne and syrah are fantastic].

2003 Bonny Doon sweet syrah, $12 - If you ever wondered what syrah would taste like if you vinified it in the style of a German spaetlese, well, this is what it tastes like. It's a one note wonder, but at least it's a good one. Still, definitely not something you'd want to drink more than once or twice. Good curiosity value though, and a cool Gary Taxali label.

1999 Bonny Doon recioto di barbera, $30 [375 mL] - not easy to find, this smells something like that awful organic cola Hansen's used to make in the 80s, albeit in a more savoury mode. This is dessert wine, but the sweetness works well with the acidity of the barbera. Cool stuff!

And that's it for now. God knows I'm forgetting stuff [the 2001 Grosset Picadilly chardonnay, for example, which is the loveliest, most balanced chardonnay I've had in, well, basically forever], plus everything we tasted in the Hunter on Sunday [the Rosemount Mountain Blue cabernet blend from Mudgee is mind-blowing], but the sun's coming up now [it's 6:37] and I'm feeling like some coffee.

Cheers!