I’ve been a bit slack in transcribing my notes from the messy scribbles of my wine wankerish notepad into electronic form, so this is the first of a few compilations to come.
Enjoyed over a degustation dinner at Sydney’s a’Mews restaurant, the wines here revolved around the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir form, with a few obvious variations.
Bracket 1 – Voyager was my preferred wine, but enjoyed the differences between these three.
Voyager Chardonnay 2005
This bottle was rather backwards indeed. Spicy oak dominant, with a tight & quite lean nose, this showed its class in its construction, even if the oak was just a little dominant. Still dense and tightly packed for what is a warm year Chardonnay. Leave it for a year or two. 17.5/92+
Main Ridge Estate Chardonnay 2006
Clearly high quality if just a little awkward, this had a high toned, grapefruit and lees nose in a style that is restrained and mealy, if also quite worked. The palate is smooth & again spicy, with a mealy mouthful of lightly creamy fruit and something akin to creamy apple juice. High acid and a crisp minerality infused this with real class, but also gave it that awkwardness to prevent higher points (for now). 16.8/89++
Ten Minutes by Tractor 10x Chardonnay 2006
Solidsy, heavily worked, but still pure nose leads to a elegant palate that seems just a smidgen obscured by winemaking artefact. May well lengthen out in time, certainly classy wine. 17/90+
Bracket 2: Personal preferences again took over here. No doubting the class of the Penfolds though.
Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2004
Probably just a tad old for what is only a mid tier wine (though more recent vintages should live longer). Spicy, custard oak and apricot on the opulent nose, but in this instant it is much more settled and integrated than the preceding wines. Peach & apricot fatness derails the crisp Kumeu style with a fair whack of alcohol on the finish. Still a good drink though. 16.6/88
Penfolds Bin 03A Chardonnay 2003
Rich, cossetingly rich, oaky, powerful, full flavoured, Penfoldian rich. Very Australian. Definitely oak influenced but quite positively, with a long, quite chunky, but unarguably polished palate. Really rather tasty, in an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink style. 17.8/93
Tyrrells Vat 47 Chardonnay 1997
Unquestionably older, yet also delightful, this fairly polarised. Toasty nose, in an old Semillon like fashion, and also quite warm, this convinced me by its so generous, yet absolutely dry heart, with the unspoken acidity that Hunter whites (and Vat 47 in particular) do so well. I loved it, but I can also understand its slightly oxidised nature won’t win everybody over. 17.9/93
Bracket 3: The Blain came from my cellar, and it’s a style that I absolutely love, so obvious bias. Otherwise this was a pretty mixed bracket.
Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 1994
On the decline. Varnishy, volatile nose, with caramel donut old buttery chard style development. Palate is drying out, with the wood tannins becoming quite noticeable. Curio at best. 14/77
Blain Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet ‘La Boudriotte’ 1er 2006
Starting to close down from its opulent release peak. Dense nose in a milky and somewhat oaky
style that only hints at the flavour below. Palate is very tight and youthful, if a tad plain, with quite serious acidity (particularly for the vintage). Needs a few years at least. 18/93+
Chavy Puligny Montrachet Les Folatieres 1er 2000
Just past its prime for mine. Buttercake, almond meal & orange rind nose with plenty of developed Chardy overtones. The palate is still quite dense and chewy, which makes me think this would have been very good once, but its all getting a bit caramelised through the middle. Average. 16.0/85
Bracket 4: On to the reds and an average to good bracket.
Giaconda Nantua Pinot Noir 2004
Sappy, chocolatey oak & some herbaceousness in the background. Definitive full nose that is slightly volatile and unquestionably rich & heedy. A bit of soapyness in there too which I’m not particularly fond of. Underneath its all quite bright, red and fruity, but with some metallic acidity towards the end. Rich strawberry fruit saves the day, but its still disjointed. May well come together with more bottle age. 17.1/91
Domaine Bart Bourgogne 2006
Funky, stinky, fault ridden and simple, yet not without its charms. Its actually not a bad drink underneath it all, with leaf mulch development actually making things more interesting. 15.8/85
Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 1998
Presented blind and definitely not smelling or tasting its age, this was a pleasant surprise. Minty sweet fruit with a tinge of greenness and suggestions of what may have been a quite oaky wine in its youth. The palate though shows a delicious sweetness of fruit that fair belies its slightly hard nose, even if it ends up with quite an astringent finish. Still, the core of this wine is quite attractive indeed. 16.5/88
Bracket 5: I am a big, big fan of the Pyramid Valley wines, but no questioning the winner in this bracket. The grand old dame beat everything else.
Pyramid Valley Eaton Family Pinot Noir 2007
Clearly glowing with the health of the 07 vintage, this was very bright, with sweet cherry and raspberries dominating what it is a simple and youthful nose. Rich, smoky and long palate, with quite big alcohol and a creamy back end. Long, elemental and so very pretty, this just got better as it opened up. Beautiful Pinot. 18.1/93+
Springvale Pinot Noir 2002
Green, harsh, astringent and awkward. Can’t see why this was released. 11.8/60
Mt Mary Pinot Noir 1977
Yes, thats correct, this is a 77 vintage Pinot. And what a wine it is. Old Muscat, brownish red in colour, though more like a deep dark red with the redness leaked out. Dropping a large amount of sediment. Aged, volatile, metallic earthen nose that smells somewhat lifeless compared to the palate. Big palate, with real richness to it. In fact, it has an almost Shiraz like beefiness to it, a roasted meat and plummy chocolatey-ness that is quite unpinot like, but delightfully winey in its intensity. Silken, fully mature, and utterly seamless wine. Obviously an excellent bottle. Perhaps the WOTN, if purely for interest. 18/93
Bracket 6: Odds and sods, the Lakes Folly’s were produced more as a respect to Max himself, whom passed away in the days leading up to this dinner.
Lakes Folly Chardonnay 1985
Lakes Folly Chardonnay 1996
Considerably older than I would have opened this, but still looking youthful-ish. Creamy butterscotch like development, mixing with more characteristic peach and apple strudel fruit. Palate is rich but the acid dips and crests throughout the palate, finally taking over the tail end. Ok, if a little old and tart. 16.2/87
Bass Phillip Village Pinot Noir 2003
Caramelised, pooey nose with bacon bits and menthol obscuring whats left of the fast maturing fruit. Drying out and meaty, I didn’t get excited at all about this, but many others did. Definitely made in the Bass Phillip house style regardless. 16.6/88-
Bullers Rare Muscat
Never been a big fan of the Bullers fortifieds, yet I seem to be in the minority. This was rich, black and raisined with obviously old material, the whole lot lacking real freshness. Could be an older bottle. 17/89