Christmas Drinks: Dönnhoff, Ata Rangi, Roagna, Morris
Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett 2007 (Nahe, Germany) 8.5%
It’s still surprising (to me) how polarising off dry rizzas can be, particularly given the similar residual sweetness levels of many more popular wine styles (such as cheap sparkling whites). I was just a little worried that this might have been too sweet for my family though (who don’t typically like them ‘fruity’) but with honey ham it just worked. Win.
The wine itself is still bursting with sulphur though, with lemon and grapefruit layers peeking out from underneath. In fact, even after 6 hours in the glass (an errant glass not finished earlier) and the sulphur still hasn’t blown off, which is a quibble (I quibble even at Christmas). Luckily the juice underneath is absolutely first rate then, with a creamy, nervy line of grapefruit, mineral and lemon fruit, the grainy, citrus richness of residual sugar woven through the prominent acidity to make for a snaking, complex and finely balanced wine of finesse and style. Yummo.
Lovely off dry Riesling of proper form and structure this. Very good. 17.9/93
Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay 2009 (Martinborough, NZ) 13.5%
I’d rate this up in my top handful of NZ Chardonnays, sitting just below Neudorf and Kumeu River in my personal favourites. This 2009 is a seriously good release too. Another win.
It’s always a ‘big wine’ is the Craighall, so it’s probably not going to be for everyone (my ABC subscribing mum was no fan. ‘I just don’t like Chardonnay’) yet I’m absolutely down with the style.
That weight is announced from the outset, the nose flush with peach and grapefruit, spicy vanillan oak and a real suggestion of ripe fruit.
The palate starts off quite lean, but gathers steam as it moves along, moving through citrus, thickened cream oak, and orange, the acidity a thick vein that holds this richness together. The overall effect is just a lovely, full flavoured mouthful of Chardonnay goodness in a ‘this is how new world Chardonnay should taste like’ form. Yes. 18.4/94
Contrada Rampante 2008 (Sicily, Italy) 15%
Horribly corked. ‘Are you sure that it’s wine’ corked. Sigh. Fail.
Raogna Pajé 2003 (Barbaresco, Italy) 13.5%
Not corked (sigh of relief). In the zone actually. Old school, rustic, oxidative (but clean) Barbaresco that is just begging for red meat. Begging. Yum.
It smells it’s age, does this red, which actually means nothing in Nebbiolo terms, but worth noting in passing perhaps. It’s a nose of Nebbiolo goodness though, full of iron, and blood and dirt and metal filings and roasted meat. All secondary, all very un-fruit like, but with enough freshness to carry everything off. If anything it’s just a fraction roasted, as befitting the very warm vintage, though again not heavy.
The main feature of the palate too is classical Neb tannins – dry, long, grainy, tea leaf tannins. It’s those tannins that have you coming back, as they are delightfully firm, long and serious. I’m not totally taken by the rest of the palate, which is just a fraction overripe and carrying the nuttiness that cooked fruit carries (and is evident in plenty of 08 South Australian reds), but the wine viewed as a complete package is still tasty, especially when drunk with said red meats.
Good stuff, if just off great. 17.3/90
Morris Old Premium (Rare) Tokay NV (Rutherglen, Vic) 18%
Forget dessert wine (ok, so maybe I did) this is THE way to finish off an Australian Christmas lunch. In fact, we should all pledge to all drink this stuff at the finish of every boozy lunch. (That’s it, I’m starting a website…)
The Morris fortified style is typically a richer, sweeter one compared to some neighbours, which makes for seriously opulent wines. Suffice to say that I like opulent (even if I think that Chambers has the edge in overall quality stakes and Campbells makes a better Tokay) which is why I like this wine. Alot.
Typically volatile on the nose (it’s part of the style, not a distraction), it smells quite oaky, with a dark chocolate and coffee edge that is very alluring, if quite sweet. A swimsuit model wine if ever there was one. Happily, welcomingly, typically, the palate is all choc-coffee liquid fruitcake, rich and heady, if not quite as petite and ‘varietal’ as some other Rutherglen Tokays. It’s a big, warming mouthful of deliciousness, with that long long long long palate that the magic of Rutherglen Tokay and Muscat shows to distinction.
The end result? It’s just yum. A big, sweet and full Tokay, full of heart and sweetness, if not quite as nuanced as some others from the region. But I’m nitpicking, and nitpicking over something that is absolutely world class in the quality stakes. 18.7/95