Friday, 29 January 2010

Gourmet Traveller WINE Page 10

Bragging is something I am no fan of, preferring modesty and straight talking over promotion any day. But on this occasion I'm going to talk the opportunity to talk myself up, partly because I can, and also because, quite simply, I'm excited.

Why am I excited? As of this week I am officially a published wine writer.

It's a pretty modest start, under 200 words after the editors chop, and squeezed in amongst a swathe of other wine news items, but it has the most important element - my name below it.

It feels great.

What's most interesting though is the realisation of how far behind most of the accomplished writers in the magazine I still am. That may sound like some sort of crap post-modern self depreciation, but writing an article for an audience such as those who read GT WINE, without sounding like a tosser, is really challenging.

I now look at the effortless wisdom of Huon Hooke or the playfulness of Nick Ryan with an entirely new appreciation of how much of an art form the whole wine writing malarkey is.

Anyway, self promotion over, please pickup a copy of the February/March Gourmet Traveller WINE (out this week) and check out my little piece on page 10, if purely to check out the picture of the lovely Holm Oak Moscato I wrote about (which is well worth a look).

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Serafino Shiraz & Cabernet

Serafino Shiraz 2008 & Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 & 2008 (McLaren Vale, SA)
$25, Screwcap, 14.5%
Source: Sample

It took me a while, but I am really warming to these Stelvin Luxe screwcaps. They seem to open with a reassuring thunk-click that feels rather good. Works well with this packaging too.

As to the wines, these three reds are sourced from the sprawling Mclarens on the Lake facility, which apparently now numbers over 300 acres under vine (making it one of the biggest in the Vale?). The two 08's in particular are well priced examples of solid McLaren Vale reds, with only the 07 Cab falling off.

First up is the 2008 Shiraz and it's a purple looking beast, the nose thick with tarry, lifted, boysenberry fruit and dominant coconut oak. The palate has some excellent mid palate sweetness, in a grape juice concentrate fashion, before finishing nice and dry.

It's a tad too obvious right now & in need of several more months in the bottle, but no doubting the thick, rich, solid character behind it. With no over-ripeness to be seen and loads of flavour without excess, there is much to like here. Great stuff & good value. Recommended. 17.5/92+

Onto the Cabernet(s) then, and what a contrast between the two - both tasting of their respective vintages, particularly with the 07 which is quite a challenge.

Lighter, redder, faded even when compared to the very purple 08, the 2007 has a rather withdrawn, cedary and leafy nose, smelling lean and just ripe. With air time a herbal, mildly confected red fruit character arises, showing both under and overripeness and reminding how hard it was to get Cabernet fully ripe in 2007.

It's the same on the palate too, with green tannins and a hollow mid palate, edged with the caramel flavours of the odd berry that had become too ripe. The end result is simply hard work, indicative of the perils of mixed ripeness in Cabernet. 14.5/82

The 2008, in contrast, is an entirely different wine. 'Just bottled' purple in colour, the nose here is all about sweet, upfront oak and purple berries, the sweetness of the fruit mingling with the sweet spicy oak in a quite appealing, juicy upfront style.

It's perhaps a bit too sweet on the palate, with blackberry flavours and plenty of oak making for a rather sticky wine that finishes light and rounded. It perhaps lacks the solid class of the 08 Shiraz, but should be quite a pleasant wine with bottle age, though it won't be long lived. Good. 17/90

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Wine scoring - what do you want to see

Wine Scoring - what do you want to see?

I'm at the crossroads.

After growing up (in a sense) with one scoring scale - the 20 point Australian wine show scoring - I'm seriously considering switching over to the 100 point format (for published tasting notes at least).

Some of the more regular readers of this website will notice that I have been toying with both scales for a little while now, so in a way I'm already half way there. Yet the question remains, should I be using the 100 point system exclusively? Is the 100 point system, which you'd argue is now the default scoring scale used in Australia, NZ, USA, South Africa & the rest, the most easy to understand of the points scores?

Now, I understand that lots of people have objections to scoring wines (and I totally respect the objections), but I don't really want to argue the merits of scoring wine per se, what I am more interested in is which system people like more (that is, which system would you prefer to see a wine scored in).

Personally, I think in terms of the 20 point scale, almost like it's my natural tongue, with the 100 point scale my second language, of sorts, and I translate as required between the two. So changing over to the 100 point scale is not to be taken lightly (even though you could argue that scores are trivial anyway). However, anyone can see that outside of the arch traditional bastions of British wine writing - Jancis Robinson, Decanter et al - 'my' scoring system is largely out of fashion, and actually may not be the best way to attempt to score a wine.

So please, tell me what you think. Should I stick to a score out of 20 and an equivalent out of 100, or would you prefer one or the other?

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Pol Roger 1999 - The disappointment

Pol Roger Vintage 1999 (Champagne, France)
$85, Cork, 12.5%
Source: Retail

What a dissapointment.

I was (very) lucky to drink quite a bit of the 1998 vintage of this very wine, including emptying a bottle or three on a night out during the AWRI Advanced Wine Assessment course a year or so back. It was rich, complex and every bit as satisfying as you expect good vintage Champagne to be. I loved it.

This vintage however just doesn't hit the same heights. It looks fine, with a yellow straw colour and fine bead befitting it's age and stature, but on the nose and palate it is quite developed and broad, the bottle age giving a mushroomy edge that just seems quite dull and lacking in freshness. Structure wise, this a serious Champagne, with lots of acidity and plenty of length, yet that broadness again makes itself felt on the finish, just leaving the whole experience feeling a bit flat.

What your left with is a Champagne that tastes more like a bottle aged NV (than a supposedly superior vintage offering ) yet still leaves a vintage sized hole in your wallet. However, I am stepping cautiously here and adding the caveat that this could well have been a dud bottle, and Champane consistency is plainly appaling.

Whatever the case, I wanted more than I got. 16.9/89

Monday, 18 January 2010

Zilzie Regional Collection reds: Value!

Two brand new wines from the value skewed Zilzie operation, with these two wines representing Zilzie's first foray into purely regional wines. Judging by the quality of their basic offerings, it's of little surprise that these two Zilzie wines taste so very good.

Zilzie Regional Collection Merlot 2008 (Wrattonbully, SA)
$17, Screwcap, 14.5% Source: Sample

Obviously riper and softer than the Cabernet, this is mid purple/red in colour with a nose of plum & sappy red fruit, if punctuated by a slight green streak. Warm and very full on the palate, it tastes of obvious, good quality oak richness & dusty regional fruit characters, finishing with sweet alcohol heat and plenty of flavour. The only negative is that green edge, which I found a bit distracting and unbalanced. Still, this Zilzie packs plenty of bang for relatively little buck. Good wine, extra points for value. 16.9/89

Zilzie Regional Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Coonawarra, SA)
$17, Screwcap, 13.5%
Source: Sample

Side by side, this was an utterly unequal contest, with the Cabernet smelling every bit more fine than the Merlot, as befitting expectations. Life's tough for poor old Aussie Merlot.

An extremely young wine that smells and tastes its age, this Cabernet is more purple and dramatically deeper in colour than the Merlot, immediately showing up Merlot's inferiority on colour alone. From here, it's all rather impressive actually, with a nose that is quite distinctively Coonawarran, with cedar, blackberry and coffee oak, the fruit swallowing up the oak like fat kids with chocolate muffins.

The palate is even better - mid to full weight with the sort of richly oaked, yet utterly Coonawarran style that had me in the mind of Balnaves, which is great to see in what is basically a first release.

What I like the most (though I am a ripeness nazi) is that at 13.5% alcohol this tastes perfectly ripe, ageworthy and balanced, with no excess of ripeness or pointy green characters, just plenty of chewy tannins and fruit that tastes of the red earth it was grown on, polished with good quality (plentiful) oak.

An entirely impressive Cabernet, this lacks only the definition and power of the finest Coonawarra Cabernet, whilst comfortably weighing in at less than $20 a bottle. Winner. 17.6/92

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Clonakilla Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Clonakilla Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Canberra district, NSW)
$20, Screwcap, 12%


This was a box filler in my pack from Clonakilla, included as a curio as it's the only wine in the lineup i've not tried. Picked early, the style here is crisp, dry and built, in Tim Kirk's words, as "an aperitif for after work".

As an aperitif though, this wine is just a bit too dry, lean and simple. It smells, Riesling-like, of acidity. Acid and citrussy, green, early picked fruit. It's not unripe, but it just flows in a very linear, tight and ungiving style that leaves you ultimately wanting more.

A well made, crisp wine no question, but just lacking character. 16.5/88

Friday, 15 January 2010

Wowser's threaten Australia Day

In a rather worrying, if plain silly move, NSW Police this week have (allegedly) abused their powers with a wowserish plan that threatens the very freedom of everyday drinkers.

According to an email sent around to liquor outlets around the state, Police are asking for a ban on the sale of drinks over 4% before 2pm in amongst a raft of measures designed to limit the impacts of drinking on Australia Day (more information here).

Whilst this may sound like a rather ridiculous request at first (is this 4% alcohol on a standard drink? Where does wine fit in? Wouldn't you just buy it the day before?) it is the pointy end of a frightening neo-prohibition movement that is gathering pace around the world.

Under pressure to clarify the request by a worried - and well connected - NSW drinks industry, NSW Police have issued followup advice stressing that this was only a voluntary move and was not enforceable (here).

Still, it begs the question, is this the thin edge of the wedge? Will the (fun) Police now attempt to control the sale of alcohol via even more heavy handed moves in the future?

Whatever it means, it is certainly bad news for any normal drinker who enjoys the odd glass of wine, beer or spirit (pity anyone that enjoyed the convenience of pre mixed spirits too, they are obviously misguided drunken teenagers, regardless of their age, and should be leveraged with a ridiculous tax for liking such a drink) as it represents a further impingement on our basic freedoms.

Ultimately, knee jerk reactions such as this will do absolutely nothing to actually prevent the issues associated with binge drinking, for it ignores the real core of the issue - poor social attitudes to alcohol consumption.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Mount Trio Cabernet Merlot 2007

Mount Trio Cabernet Merlot 2007 (Great Southern, WA)
$18, Screwcap, 14%
Source: Sample

I've always admired Gavin Berry's wines - honest, regional and well priced, with this Cabernet Merlot often a stand out under his own Mount Trio label. Not too sure what happened with this wine then, though I've always wondered about getting Cabernet ripe in what is a quite cool and windy part of Australia.

Youthful purple red in the glass, Volatile, slightly minty red fruit nose with plenty of eucalypt (unsurprising considering that blue gum plantations surround the Porongorups) and very ripe fruit.

On the palate it shows some obvious mixed ripeness with both firm sticky-out acidity and tannin, with some rather meaty very ripe fruit overtones a tad raw. Structurally it's a quite sturdy wine and bound to improve in the cellar, but I'm no fan of the mixed ripeness characters on offer here. 16.0/86+

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Paxton Shiraz Rose 2009

Paxton Shiraz Rose 2009 (Mclaren Vale, SA)
$20, Screwcap, 11.5%
Source: Sample

It's hot.

So hot that most white wines just pass through you without touching any sort of side, with beer doing the same.

Curiously, I actually find myself drawn to textural whites at this time of year - like Alsatian whites - but my summer red of choice is unquestionably rose (if you can call rose 'red'). Charles Melton usually gets my first pick as pink of choice, usually because it offers more flavour and less sugar (so you can slam it down fast), but I found myself drinking this quite easily, even though it is just a little odd.

A lolly/raspberry cordial pink pink, this smells like strawberries and dirt, with something meaty in there too. The palate is dry enough to be crisp and refreshing, but the pretty, sweet rosewater flavours make for real simple juicy fruit appeal.

Curiously, 7% of this was fermented in new oak, which is an unusual move for rose, but perhaps makes for a more textural and interesting drink. What's even more surprising is that it actually tastes hot through the finish, which makes me think that the grapes must have been very ripe indeed when they came in.

Still, this is a refreshing and quite full flavoured rose that proved very popular on a warm sydney afternoon. I'm not totally convinced by the style, hence the low score, but in this heat it's the drinkability that counts. 16.8/88

Friday, 8 January 2010

Pyramid Valley Grower Series Gewürztraminer 2007

Pyramid Valley Grower Series Orton Gewürztraminer 2007 (Hawkes Bay, NZ)
$45ish, Screwcap, 14.5%

'In Memoriam: This unique acre of 30 yr old vines was one of New Zealand's first plantings of Gewürztraminer. Once proudly tended by our friends John Orton and Kerrie Cleverdon, this parcel was summarily ripped out by new owners who deemed so small a block 'impractical'. We have bottled this wine unclarified, undiminished, as a testament to the wisdom of old vines.'

There is always a story behind the Pyramid Valley wines, and this is no exception. Tasting every bit as genuine as it sounds, this is certainly an interesting wine, particularly after a diet of rather one dimensional, whistle clean Australian & Kiwi whites.

Full yellow gold in colour and more than a little cloudy, this smells ripe and opulent, very much in the Alsatian groove, and very much in the mould of the renowned Alsace star, Zind Humbrecht. It's a nose full of stewed apricots & musk, with a little volatility thrown in to remind of how seriously ripe the grapes were. The palate too teeters into overripeness, with apricot skin & peach juice in an almost oily, viscous setting, though the length is an undoubtedly redeeming factor. There could be a smidgen of botrytis in there too, for some low level funk edges the palate, leading to a finish that is irrepressibly long and convincing, if initially very alcoholic (Don't drink this too cold).

What ultimately holds this wine together then is character. It's obviously lovingly made and, keeping with the wineries ethos, unquestionably unique. Personally, I found it a somewhat challenging drink (hence the hardly mindblowing score) but I can certainly understand and fully appreciate the 'naturalness' of this wine. 17.3/91

Monday, 4 January 2010

GT New Writer Award

For the past 10 years, Gourmet Traveller Wine, in conjunction with the Wine Communicators of Australia, have held a competition to find the finest new wine writer in the land.

For the past 2 years, I have vainly attempted to win. Twice now I have failed. This year, my third tilt, will be the last time I am eligible (more to come on that) so I really want to win, if purely to fulfil the mythical 3rd time lucky philosophy.

The challenge of course is coming up with a good angle. Just like last years entry, I am quite fond of the hidden joys of the maligned and I think I'm heading towards it again this year. But every year I come up with a whole list of ideas, and each year I dismiss them all as too broad/not unique enough, or realise that I'm simply not clever/knowledgeable enough to write about them. Such is the peril of the wannabe wine writer.....

So, wish me luck then, and hopefully come February 12th I'll be announcing my New Writer Award win on this very site (note the very positive tone).

But, in the meantime, have a squizz at my 2009 entry here which, rereading, was unsurprisingly a non winner...

Saturday, 2 January 2010

International Riesling Challenge 2009

It all started quite humbly for what is now the International Riesling Challenge, with some 137 entries from all over Australia participating in the first competition 10 years ago. Now a deacde on and the competition now boasts 550 entries from 10 wine producing nations across five continents.

I was lucky enough to make it to Canberra for the full tasting this year, and I'd happily call it the best tasting of 2009, if purely for the opportunity to try so many great Rieslings (the best white variety on the planet). More than just the diversity however, the tasting was also an excellent benchmarking opportunity, showcasing vintages, styles, sweetness levels, ageability, everything. I'll certainly be back next year!

As you can see by the notes below the quality was very high, and so are my scores. Even so, with such talent on hand, many great wines got lost (or never made it to the notebook) and my notes are obviously very brief indeed (my apologies as usual).

For a full list of the wines on offer this year check out the competition website here.

Where possible, I have grouped the wines by country, region and age, though things occasionally get wobbly. I've also included drinking windows and the medals (or lack of) that each wine received.

The wines:


Frogmore Creek Tasmanian Riesling 2009

No Medal. Very closed and all too primal, to the point of being almost painful. Hard work. Drink 2010-2015+. 15.5/85++

Pipers Brook Pipers River Riesling 2009
No Medal. Bright & fruity, lemon & florals. Tight palate with lots of acidity, but balanced by fruit sweetness. Long & very pretty. Simply delicious. Drink 2009-2016+. 18.5/94

Frogmore Creek Iced Tasmanian Riesling 2008
No Medal. Heavy nose, heavy palate. Awkward sweetness, though I was struggling with the sweeter wines when I tasted this. Drink 2009-2015ish. 16.5/88

Pirie 'Clark's' Reserve Tasmanian Botrytis Riesling 2007
Bronze Medal. Toffee & citrus in a light and clean sticky style that is long and refreshing. Tasty stuff. Drink 2009-2015+. 18/93

Nick O'Leary Canberra Riesling 2009
No Medal. Rocky and quite green nose, leading to quite fat palate and somewhat flabby back end. Just a bit disjointed. Drink 2009-2013. 16.5/88

Ferngrove Cossack Riesling 2009
Bronze Medal. Super pure & lemony with a real fleshiness to the palate. Just a tad broad through the finish. Drink 2009-2015. 17/90

3 Drops Great Southern Riesling 2009
Bronze Medal. Orange rind & perhaps some residual sweetness on the nose. Palate is clean but just a bit short. Drink: 2009-13. 16.8/89

Plantagenet Mt Barker Riesling 2004
Bronze Medal. Talc with orange marmalade development on the nose, but palate is bone dry & backward. Attractive, but better with more bottle age. Drink 2011-2019+. 17/90+

Thistle Hill Mudgee Riesling 2009
Bronze Medal. Clean & almost leafy nose with a warmer tropical palate. Soft & friendly, if somewhat unusual wine. Drink 2009-2012+. 16.8/90

Bests Great Western Riesling 2009
Bronze Medal. Pear & slate. Powerful, pear driven palate with noticeable intensity and quite dominant acid. Linear and quite attractive for a region not known for its dry Riesling. Drink 2009-2015+. 17.5/91

Delatite Upper Goulburn Riesling 2006
Bronze Medal. Very pretty & sensual style with a long, lean & quite soft palate. Serious acidity though. Sneaky good, the sort of wine that you forget how good it is until its gone. Drink 2009-16. 18.3/94

Jacobs Creek Reserve South Australian Riesling 2009
2 Trophies: Best Current Vintage Southern Hemisphere Riesling & Best Current Vintage Australian Riesling. Fleshy & very inviting. Rather less serious than so many of its competitors, but also more approachable which may well have swayed the judges. Technically spotless, if perhaps lacking real character & a bit simple. Extra marks for drinking appeal. Drink 2009-2013. 17.3/91

Jacobs Creek Steingarten Barossa Riesling 2009

No Medal. Almost undrinkable. Huge, slatey nose still dominated by ferment esters. Palate is razor like acidity which then falls short. Freshly bottled I wonder? Drink 2010-2019? 15/84++

Jacobs Creek Steingarten Barossa Riesling 2007
Trophy: Best Open Class Riesling. Lots of toast on the nose, lots of acid on the palate. Very clear cut, which is obviously what the judges liked here. Should be even better in a few years time. Drink 2010-20+. 17.8/93++

Jacobs Creek Steingarten Barossa Riesling 2006
No Medal. Very backward. Lime & sherbet & talc in the typical style. Lost somewhat between primary fruit & bottle aged goodness, and obviously needing some quiet time. Plenty of stuffing though. Quite backwards compared to the 07. Drink 2011-2016+. 17.8/93++

Trevor Jones Reserve Barossa Riesling 2002
Bronze Medal. Toast & honey nose, rather sweet, rich and developed palate that is just starting to decline. Fat & very toasty, but nice enough. Drink 2009-2011. 16.2/87

Kilikanoon Morts Block Reserve Watervale Riesling 2009
No Medal. Very pretty, classic Watervale lime nose let down by limey, yet flabby palate. I used to love this wine, but the last two vintages have been forward and dissapointing. Drink 2009-2014. 16.5/88

Kirrihill Slate Creek Single Vineyard Clare Riesling 2009

No Medal. Lifted, lemon, lime and banana nose, palate though starts a bit loose, but flourishes with lovely Watervale slate & lime at the back. Good. Drink 2009-2015. 17.5/91

O'Leary Walker Polish Hill River Riesling 2009
No Medal. Forward, green pea meets lime and a smidgen of toast. Getting fatter by the minute. Not for me. Drink 2009-2015. 15.8/85

Pikes Traditionale Polish Hill River Riesling 2009
No Medal. Pretty & typical Pikes Riesling nose, opulent even, with a bit more texture going a long way here. Generous and appealing. Drink 2009-2015. 17.6/92

Crabtree Watervale Riesling 2009
Bronze Medal. Fleshy Watervale nose with super intense Clare Riesling characters. Very Watervale, with a subtle green pea flavour on the back the only distraction. Good wine. Drink 2009-2019+. 17.9/93

Wilson Vineyard Polish Hill River Riesling 2009
Bronze Medal. Quite a neutral nose over an utterly backward, yet intense palate. Hard at present but extra marks for potential. Drink 2010-2020+. 17/90+

Rise Watervale Riesling 2009
Silver Medal. Classic Watervale. Excellent flow & purity. Just a picture perfect, firmly delineated, essence of Clare Valley Riesling, in an immediate, drink-me-now style. Very, very good. Drink 2009-2015. 18.6/95

Pauletts Antonina Polish Hill River Riesling 2009
No Model. Extremely tight & brimming with sulphur. Shutdown, but serious structure lies beneath. Hold. Drink 2011-2020+. 17/89++

O'Leary Walker Watervale Riesling 2009
No Medal. Pretty nose, broad, forward and developing palate. Awkward acidity. No. Drink 2009-2012. 15/84

Brian Barry Juds Hill Clare Valley Riesling 2009
No Medal. Rich & quite sweet but with a proper slatey backbone. Nice and fresh, if a tad simple. Drink 2009-2013. 16.8/89

Leo Buring Leonay Mature Release Clare Riesling 2005
Gold Medal. Delicious mix of lemon and toast on the nose, with a palate defined by a very rigid acid backbone. Real style and flavour. Very good! Drink 2009-2025+. 18.4/94

Cardinham Clare Valley Riesling 2003
3 Trophies, including 'Best Riesling in the world'. Best Riesling in the world? Probably not, but an excellent developing Clare Riesling nonetheless. Honey & barley sugar on the full, toast & lime nose. Long palate starts toasty & developed but gets fresher and more citrussy towards the back end. It's quite a broad style for the Clare, but you can't doubt the rather perfect & quite delicious form. Very good indeed. Extra marks for drinkability. Drink 2009-2014+. 18.5/94

Richmond Grove Watervale Riesling 1998
Silver Medal. Rich & toasty, lemon butter nose with obvious age & dominant toast on the palate, yet supported by good length and acidity. Wow! Screwcap serving this wine will indeed. Probably not getting any better, but great stuff. Drink 1998-2012. 17.8/92

Richmond Grove Watervale Riesling 1999
Silver Medal. More custard & cream than the 98 with more finesse and less obvious ripeness, but with a smidgen less impact. Interesting wine regardless. Drink 1999-2012. 17.5/91

Wolf Blass White Label Eden Valley Riesling 2009
No Medal. Slatey & pretty nose with a very firm, almost metallic palate. Future performer. Drink 2011-2019+. 17.5/91+

Henschke Julius Eden Valley Riesling 2009
No Medal. Scalped. Like sticking your nose in a bucket of SO2. U/R

Mountadam Eden Valley Riesling 2009
No Medal. Piercingly fresh & slatey nose. Wow length and structure with brilliant acidity. Long termer & such an impressive wine. Brilliant. Drink 2009-2020+. 18.5/94

Dandelion Vineyard Wonderland of the Eden Valley Riesling 2009
Bronze Medal. Rocky, slate nose. Palate is extremely tight & stern with blinding acidity. Wow wine, if in need of bottle age. Drink 2011-2019. 17.7/92+

Poonawatta Estate The Eden Riesling 2009
No Medal. Forward, developing quickly and short. No. Drink 2009-2013. 15/84

Heggies Eden Valley Riesling 2009
No Medal. Fleshy & quite soft & pretty nose, similarly stony but soft palate in a quite pretty, if slightly honeyed through the finish. RS? Drink 2009-2018+. 17.6/91

Wolf Blass White Label Eden Valley Riesling 2002
Silver Medal. Sexy, essence-of-maturing-Eden-Valley-Riesling nose with milky richness/bottle age with lovely definition. Just a bit overt, but much to like. Drink 2009-2012. 17.5/91

Poverty Hill Eden Valley Riesling 2004
Bronze Medal. Relly fresh & inviting nose, with a clean, pure & quite backward palate. Softened, but still with such crispness. Yum. Drink 2009-2015+ 18.2/93

Bethany Eden Valley Riesling 2001
No Medal. Just the first hint of marmalade fatness of the downward spiral on the nose, with the chubby palate pulling up short. Drink 2007-2009. 15.5/85

Leo Buring Medium Sweet Eden Valley Riesling 2009
Bronze Medal. Ripe & pretty, opulent & very soft, this is bound to make friends but really lacks the acid to balance out the sugar. 16.0/86


Schloss Johannisberg Erstes Gewächs Rheingau Riesling 2007
Bronze Medal. Pure, slate and talc nose over a richly, phenolic backed palate with great texture and length, highlighted by just a hint of peach fruit richness. Powerful and ripe dry Riesling of real style. Drink 2009-2019+. 18/93+

George Muller Muller Stiftung Hattenheimer Wissel Brunnen Erstes Gewächs Rheingau Riesling 2008
No Medal. Beautifully clean & crisp wine that is all about acidity. Perfectly dry and firm young Riesling. Long. Quintessential dry German Riesling. Wonderful. 18.5/94

Langwerth Von Simmern Hattenheimer Wisselbrummen Erstes Gewächs Rheingau Dry Riesling 2008
Bronze Medal. Now that's a wine name! Bright, if quite neutral and very young, with a stony nose leading to a very tightly restrained, yet still ripe palate that is refreshing, if just a little severe. Future improver. Drink 2011-2021. 17.7/92++

Kloster Erbach Berg Schlossberg Erstes Gewächs Rheingau Riesling Trocken 2008

Bronze Medal. Tight, beeswax nose over very long palate and fiery acidity. Long & very powerful dry Riesling of certain appeal, but not quite as magical as some examples here. Very good regardless. Drink 2009-2015+. 17.5/91+

GH Von Mumm Rudesheimer Berg Rottland Erstes Gewächs Rheingau Riesling 2008
Silver Medal. Phenolic & very dry but just too firm to like right now. Have to appreciate that structure though. Drink 2012-2019+. 17/89++

Georg Muller Stiftung Hattenheimer Engelmansberg Rheingau Riesling Spatlese feinherb 2007
Silver Medal. Another brilliant Georg Muller wine. Very correct, well delineated nose. Fresh palate carefully balanced by dancing sweetness. Excellent length, superb drinkability, just a great wine really. Yum. 18.5/95

Schloss Johannisberg Rheingau Riesling Spatlese 2008

Bronze Medal. Open yet pure nose, with obviously more residual sugar. The palate is long and quite opulent, fleshy even, with an apricot mid palate. The kicker though is the length - it just goes on and on. Superb tension between acidity and sugar. Glorious. Drink 2009-2019+. 18.7/95

Georg Muller Stiftung Hattenheimer Hassel Rheingau Riesling Spatlese Trocken 2007
No Medal. Brilliant. Honeyed, rich fruit on a palate that starts quite rich & full, but finishes limey and dry, showcasing ripe fruit and acidity. So refreshing! Awesome. Drink 2009-2019+ 18.7/95

Langwerth Von Simmern Hattenheimer Hanberg Rheingau Riesling Auslese 2003
Bronze Medal. Sweetly toffeed but just a bt hard and dense. Decaying back end. Not going anywhere particularly good. Drink 2006-2009. 15.5/84

Georg Muller Hattenheimer Nussbrunnen Rheingau Riesling Auslese 2007
Bronze Medal. Floral nose but obviously very tight. Mineral water & slate. Long, refreshing, shrp palate that is full of structure that the Auslese level sweetness hits as an afterthought. So dry for an Auslese! Huge future ahead. Awesome wine. Drink 2009-2020+. 18.5/95+

Schloss Vollrads Rheingau Riesling TBA 2003
Bronze Medal. Honey & brown toffee. Very sweet and heavy brown sugar style that's just too sugary & heavy for real enjoyment. Could well support a vertical spoon. Drink 2009-2012. 16.0/86

Staffelter Hof Krov Steffensburg Moselle Riesling TBA 2005
Trophy: (shared) Best Museum Class Riesling. So much fresher than the 03 above, this has a grapey beeswax nose overlaid with heavy botrytis characters which continue right through the palate. Lightness through the backend though gives some real refreshment. Should get even better with bottle age. Good stuff. Drink 2009-2020. 17.5/91+

New Zealand

Seifried Sweet Agnus Iced Nelson Riesling 2009
No Medal. Sweet & pretty if not the most intense wine, its lively & fresh with good acidity and maximum refreshment. Lively & good. Drink 2009-2016. 17.5/91

Forrest Estate The Doctors Riesling 2009
Bronze Medal. Surprisingly simple given the high standard of the normal Forrest Estate sweeter styles. Light & crisp & not too sweet, but perhaps missing out on some generosity in the process? Drink 2009-2016. 16.5/88


Chateau Ste Michelle Waussie Limited Release Columbia Valley Riesling 2008
No Medal. Very tight, young and just a bit hard. Good length though. Drink 2011-2018+. 16.9/89+

Chateau Ste Michelle & Dr Loosen Eroica Washington Riesling 2008

No Medal. Much more Germanic style, but less stony & more pretty. A bit of a hole in the back end but certainly attractive enough. Drink 2009-2015+. 17.0/89+

Chateau Ste Michelle & Dr Loosen Eroica Single Berry Select Washington Sweet Riesling 2005
No Medal. Like attempting to drink quince jam. Rich & really too sweet, this is a tooth killer of a wine that I found just too heady to be enjoyable. Drink 2009-2015+. 16.2/86

Pacific Rim Selenium Vineyard Vin de Glaciere Washington Riesling 2007
Bronze Medal. Stinky and heavy nose but with a really clean and limey, acid driven palate. Unusual and very fresh considering the absolute sweetness on offer. Drink 2009-2017+. 17.5/91