Assorted goodies from Fine Wine Partners
So my liver has been taking a pounding of late, with wine tastings/drinkings/dinners/masterclasses aplenty. Not that I’m complaining of course (for there has been some mighty fine booze consumed along the way), but the results from this excess of springtime activity has been that the pile of tasting notes besides my computer has grown quite significantly, whilst my stock of milk thistle (which is magic stuff by the way) has inversely diminished.
As a result I’m in catchup mode here at Ozwinereview HQ, wearing my typing fingers to the bone in a blind attempt at reducing said tasting note stockpile into something more manageable (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself).
The following (slightly waylaid) tasting notes then come from this years Fine Wine Partners boozeapalooza, a massive trade tasting showcasing the FWP portfolio (which is one of the largest in the country) and featuring everything from Bollinger through to Petaluma, St Hallett to Drouhin, Villa Maria to Henschke and many more in between.
What I find the biggest challenge to be with a tasting like this is simply how to deal with the embarrassment of riches, that eye-blurring dilemma you face when attempting to work out which of the several hundred wines on taste you can actual get around to see in a limited time frame. I went mainly for a few imports on this occasion, but to turn to leave and realise that you’ve barely scratched the surface is a disheartening feeling indeed, particularly for a mega wine geek like me…
Wines (all tasted non blind. Notes in italics are supplied by the winery).
Joseph Drouhin AC Chablis 2009
Slightly tinny but correct Chablis nose, built surprisingly lean for the vintage. The palate is lean too, a wine made with freshness but not complexity in mind. There’s some of that briny oyster shell richness on the back too but it still can’t talk up what is a mono dimensional wine. Still refreshing and drinkable, if unremarkable. 15.9/87
Joseph Drouhin Clos de Mouches 1er Blanc 2007
Sexy label on this, with that old school, ornate Burgundy scribbling (that I quite like). It’s a deep and rich wine, if still slightly metallic, with a very dry, just creamy palate that looks a fraction heavy and oaky. A disjointed back end muddles the flavours, though that generosity is still proper serious and genuine. Still not quite the delineation though. 17/90
Michele Chiarlo Barolo Cerequio 2006
If the world was a kinder place this wine I could afford to drink more of this wine. Suffice to say that this is a rather tasty modernish Barolos showcasing so much Nebbiolo goodness, focusing on deep black, figgy ripe fruit and integrated tannins. The palate particularly has a wonderful line to it, a balanced flow of dark, rich and slightly oak fruit built quite large but genuinely delicious. The kicker though is the balance between tannins and richly extractive fruit. Crying out to be in my cellar…. 18.3/93+
Wither Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011
In wine writer land it’s probably pretty uncool to say this, but I think this is a genuinely good wine. In fact I’ve shared a bottle of this very drink recently with some seriously ordinary Thai food. The wine came out looking good….
It’s very much a ripe and passionfruit driven style this one, the style leaning toward the bigger and riper end of the spectrum. The nose – as is typical of the style/variety – is where the party is, with the palate just reinforcing things. It’s a sharp wine with sharp acidity but also balanced out with enough juiciness to keep everyone happy. Entirely serviceable Sauv Blanc this. 17.3/90
Wither Hills Rarangi Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Sourced from a seaside vineyard below the Richmond Ranges.
I managed to snaffle a piece of sushi to have with this Savvy and it just made the wine even more refreshing, that reminder of why Marlborough Sauv is so widely loved – it’s just a good easy drink.
Conversely though this is not quite a simple wine, built instead as a single vineyard release designed to showcase fruit intensity but built up with 6 months on fine lees. What that translates to is a Savvy where the flavours have been turned up a fraction, the intensity, drive and palate weight all much more serious. What’s more impressive is how it’s holding up to the extra bottle age, with no sign of it tiring any time soon. Pretty impressive Savvy. 17.7/92
Wither Hills Marlborough Pinot Noir 2009
100% destemmed. 14 months in oak. Lightly fined and filtered.
For a big volume wine this looked pretty clever. It’s built juicy, ripe and fruit forward, the quite simple vibrant strawberry fruit an easy open hit on the nose. Yet still the palate is spicy, ripe, finely tannic and appropriately long, built without a hint of commercial cynicism yet still crafted for an everyman palate. Approachable, generous yet pinoty, this is an easy Pinot to recommend, even if it’s not super complex. 17.7/92
Mt Difficulty Long Gully Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009
A small amount of whole clusters used during (warm) ferment. Extensive cap plunging during ferment and post ferment maceration (up to three times a day!). 14 months in barrel. 14% alc. pH 3.6
One of three Mt Difficulty single vineyard wines, I’ve occasionally struggled with the extraction of these Pinots and the 09 trio is no exception.
This is easily my least favourite wine of the three though perhaps showing the most potential. Tightly coiled, dark fruited and even slightly reductive on the nose, the palate looks a little hard and extracted, finishing warm and astringent, the fruit not quite up to all that winemaking. Still attractive though I wanted more. 17.3/90+
Mt Difficulty Pipeclay Terrace Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009
Similar handling to the Long Gully. 14% alc. 3.7pH.
A thicker, richer, full style with pippy, macerated and rather ripe, typically Otago red fruit on the nose. Again it’s dry and serious on the palate but longer, fresher and cleaner here, that dry cherry ripeness carrying the whole way through. A quite charismatic Pinot if still just a fraction stunted, this shows off plenty of the good things about Central Otago Pinot 17.7/92+
Mt Difficulty Target Gully Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009
25% whole bunches. 9 days post ferment maceration. 16 months in barrel. 14% alc 3.6pH.
Easily the most lush, plush and open of the trio, this looked estery, pretty and inviting. That carries through onto the generous if slightly sweet and sour palate with the concentration of fruit matched up with drying, slightly dessicated tannins. A big and juicy Pinot with no shortage of power and weight. Distinctive and good. 18.3/93+
Pedestal Vineyard Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010
60% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Semillon. 10% new French oak used for fermentation.
The Pedestal Vineyard is one of Larry Cherubino’s (many) projects, with him working in conjunction with the Pedestal Vineyard owners to market the brand. The Pedestal Vineyard itself is well situated indeed, located behind the Woodlands vineyard on Caves Road Margaret River, sharing some of the prized Wilyabrup loam and gravel soils of Woodlands along with some more sandy patches.
I thought this looked pretty good, even if I believe that the ’11 would have looked even better. A greenish, grassy nose, the Sauv dominance stamping gooseberry and melon all over the nose. The dry, slightly herbal and greenish palate looks long, quite neutral and pure, driven by good lines if just a little soft through the finish. Good wine. 17.8/92
Pedestal Vineyard Margaret River Cabernet Merlot 2009
Ahh Margaret River Cab Merlot, how I love your distinctiveness. This looks fittingly herbal, pure, leafy and well dense, the drying tannin and leafy heart signalling a grown up wine with grown up structure. Some may find it a little too leafy but it’s perfectly lean and svelte for my tastes (and will only get better. Good. 17.7/92
Pedestal Vineyard ‘Elevation’ Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Hand picked, berry sorted. 12 months in oak and 12 months in bottle before release.13.8% alc
Ahh, a wine crafted with tannins! Lovely. Ripe and cedary, leafy and dark fruited, with dark mulberry fruit, firm tightly grained oak and red dustiness. The kicker of course is the tannic length, the tannins themselves ripe but prominent, not quite Bordeaux-ish in their dry perfection but fleshier and ‘redder’ regional Wilyabrup tannins. I like ’em and I like this wine very much. 18.5/94