More Rhone highlights from the Working With Wine Seminar
While the Guigal La La trio was the centre of attention at the recent Negociants Working With Wine seminars, the other wines on show probably deserve just as much attention (if not more).
Of particular note was just how good the 2011 Chave Hermitage Blanc/Rouge pair looked, showing that the greatest producers can make stunning wines even in average vintages…
The tasting wasn’t exclusively French either, with a whole swathe of Australian wines included in the mix, most of which showed very well against much more highly fancied (and higher priced) wines.
The following wines then were all tasted at the Working With Wine seminar in masterclass conditions (quickly, but thoroughly) with John Duval, Tim Kirk, Louisa Rose and Phillipe Guigal amongst the panellists in attendance.
Notes are as written on the day with extra bits in italics. RRPs are approximates.
Bracket 1 – Battle of the Blends
Duval Plexus 2012 (Barossa, SA) $40
51% Grenache. All separate components coupled at bottling. This looked very ‘Duval’ but a little simple in context. I’d probably rate it higher by itself.
Surprisingly bright and vital. All Grenache judging by the nose. Mid weight and quite chocolatey. So modern! Lovely juicy tang and some muddy black earth tarriness. Definitely more oak richness here but also genuine deliciousness. Upfront joy. 17.5/20, 91/100
Guigal Cotes du Rhone 2010 (France) $25
Immediately more jam. Blackberry jam and a lick of bitumen. Grenache! finishing with fern and meat with a bitter, dank finish. Bloody good for this price and volume, if still a slightly murky unclean wine. 16.5/20, 88/100
Domaine La Roquete Piedlong CDP 2011 (Chateauneuf du Pape, France) $110
90% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre
Lovely. A quite effeminate wine in CDP context. There’s a hint of the greyness of a wet vintage but excellent fine tannins. That palate builds before a quite warm, leathery finish with pepper and spice and rather furry, cool year tannins. Pepper and spice to the fore, without the tannins this would be an odd wine, there’s a sense of hanging out the grapes for a long time in a bid for more glycerol. Good structure, but doesn’t quite have the fullness of a great vintage. 17.7/20, 92/100
Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du Pape La Crau 2011 (Chateauneuf du Pape, France) $140
65 % Gren 15% Mourvèdre 15% Syrah average vine age 60 years.
Quite open and airy – not a masculine Telegraph by any means. There’s that compact core of old vine Grenache and again excellent tannins, the finish rather refreshing and continues right the way through. Classy finish and structure marks this as a cut above. A light Telegraphe though. 18.2/20, 93/100
Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf de Pape 2010 (Chateauneuf du Pape, France) $170
Deep and entirely tannic – very long. So compact and dense too. Easily the blackest wine of this lineup. Still, the lines are perfect – this is exceptional CNDP. A ball of gritty tannins, black mulberry fruit peaking out. Long term. Excellent, delicious and utterly exceptional wine and on a whole different level to the wines before it. 18.7/20, 95/100
Bracket 2 – The Blessed Hill
JL Chave Hermitage Blanc 2011 (Hermitage, France) $450
85 Marsanne, 15 Roussanne.
Surprisingly mealy. Complex and rather Burgundian nose with full malo and a serve of wildness. Just a flash of peach to give away the Rhone varieties. The palate, though, is a different shape to burgundy, more phenolic peach and with a little more fruit salad, finishing warmer and full but deceptively clean, peaches in cream hints filling out the chewy back end. Top shelf structure and weight. Maybe a bit warm? Still gold medal quality, 18.5/20, 94/100
JL Chave Hermitage Rouge 2011 (Hermitage, France) $470
Special wine. Special.
Purple! An utterly beguiling nose that is essence of Rhone. Makes other wines seem like pale imitations. Hung meat, leaf litter, ham, black currants and black fruit. the palate is silky with ultra fine tannins that caress your tongue, the fruit a seamless and elegant flow, even despite the full red fruit. Makes you feel refreshed just tasting it. A tonic. 19/20, 96/100
E Guigal Ex-Voto Rouge 2010 (Hermitage, France) $700
Brawny and juicy with rather absolute juiciness. Lots of plump flavours and huge oak excess. Oak tannins in abundance. Bold and black and licoricey. Almost Grenache in that fruit confection. Super youthful. Intriguing but perhaps a bit OTT in its oak. Will live for years though. 18.3/20, 93/100+
E Giugal Ex-Voto Rouge 2006 (Hermitage, France) $600
Very forward. Animale nose, red licorice and lots of chew. Sour and grainy, the cool year making for a spicy, pepper and slightly herbal wine that is just a little bitter. Pleasant but just a little overtly leafy and awkward for really big points. Tension between oak sweetness and lack of fruit sweetness, but still excellent length. 17.7/20, 92/100
Jaboulet Hermitage ‘La Chapelle’ 2006 (Hermitage, France) $500
Very dark fruited and polished. Inky dark. More leaf litter but a step up in concentration and spice over the Ex. voto, still a little hammy but has fruit sweetness too, lots of white pepper and sour cranberry here. Needs years mehthknks, has classic tannins. Drying finish and rather rustic. Perhaps a little oxidative, Average bottle? 17/20, 90/100+
Bracket 3 – The Beautiful Union: Cote Rotie and its Cousins
Yalumba Hand Picked Shiraz Viognier 2010 (Barossa, SA) $35
Closed. Some dark red fruit escaping but perhaps a light wine. Tightly wrapped.
A quite glossy red, Some unusual boysenberry fruit. Light tannins too. Simple wine, but pleasant and varietal. Holds its head high here. 17/20, 90/100
Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2012 (Canberra) $90
‘A challenging vintage’ TK. A side note, Tim has been using stalks since 1993.
Rather obvious Viognier – lifted and bright. Palate is juicy and plump, all loud fleshy fruit and just a hint of stalks. Maybe a little sunflower in there? Definitely some rare roast beef in that nose too. Really quite a success for the vintage – bright and full, with not bitterness or ugly fruit. High quality. Everything on display. Maybe a bit too sweet fruit in this lineup.? Head turner though. 18.2/20, 93/100
Guigal Cote Rotie 2010 (Cote Rotie, France) $110
Deep and rather pretty, the palate is all about the back end – juicy at first and then builds in hey he glass, the palate fanning into something rather savoury and utterly delicious. Long and delicious, this seems rather balanced and really not far below the La Las. Excellent wine. 18.5/20, 94/100
Guigal Cote Rotie ‘Chateau d’Ampuis’ 2010 (Cote Rotie, France) $250
7% Viognier. 38 months in barrel.
Follows the cote rotie but darker and less open. Lovely fruit. Deepset. Moreish. I do wish the oak wasn’t so intrusive though. Seriously quite perfect regardless. 18.7/20, 95/100
Rene Rostaing Cote Rotie Cote Blonde 2011 (Cote Rotie, France) $250
95% Syrah, 5% Viognier.
Wild and stemmy – loads of stems in here, the tannins very dark and firm. Sweet and sour palate. maybe too stemmy? Amazing tannins though! Super dry finish. Will live for years and years. Divisive wine though. Will it stay so bitter? 18/20, 93/100
Bracket 4 – Single vineyard Shiraz/Syrah
(This bracket was served blind. I’ve included both blind and unmasked thoughts as they’re kind of fun).
Vina Ventisquero Pangea Syrah 2009 (Colchagua Valley, Chile) $75
I didn’t like the 08 either.
Blind impression: Earthen. Savoury. Too savoury for modern Oz. Warm alcohol. Almost minty finish. South Africa?
Unmasked: Chilean Syrah – the more I looked at it, the more herbal and leafy it looked. Bittersweet and drying finish this doesn’t have enough liveliness for me to really like it. That oak looks like Duval oak the harder I look. Still sour though. I don’t like this much, even though structurally it’s quality. 16.5/20, 88/100
Yalumba Steeple Vineyard Light Pass Shiraz 2009 (Barossa, SA) $55
From a single vineyard at Light Pass.
Blind: Juicy and jubey. Almost confected juicy. The nose suggests Barossa, but the palate seems spicier and cooler than that, flecked with mulberry and black pepper. Slightly jubey, grenachey finish. Barossa?.
Unmasked: Really quite a complete, chocolatey Shiraz that has layers of flavour to go around – jubey and black cola fruited, the cedar oak swallowed up into the palate. Classic Barossa. 17.7/20, 92/100
Fromm Syrah 2010 (Marlborough, NZ) $70
I’d love to have a look at this by itself.
Blind: Ultra modern and lifted. Just Shiraz? No Viognier? A light Hunter red even? Certainly light and juicy. Very Light tannins too.
Unmasked: Looks very silky and rather intriguing – black fruit, and just a whiff of ham, the texture oh so polished and real. Very pretty. Very soft tannins. Maybe a little soft? 18/20, 93/100
Brokenwood Graveyard Shiraz 2011 (Hunter Valley, NSW) $200
Blind: Dandelions and ham. This feels more like Hawkes Bay, the tutti fruit ham fruit and grippy tannins offset by sweet vanilla bean oak. Seriously savoury though. Great depth.
Unmasked: Coffee oak. Red fruit and that juiciness should have screamed. Hunter to me. oh well. Very grippy and a little oaky to finish. Tricky to score as it looks like a work in progress. Such a febrile wine though. There’s a beauty to this that is more than welcome, gee it’s a tight wine though. Context here suggests the potential is off the scale, 18.2/20, 93/100++
Jim Barry Armagh Shiraz 2009 (Clare Valley, SA) $250
I’ve liked this better in other lineups.
Blind: Australian. Mint and raspberry suggest Langhorne?
Unmasked: How did I miss this? Chocolate mint pies and high alcohol. It’s luxurious minty flavours looking a little bitumen and heady today, a bit bulky for me. Licorice bullets aplenty. Wish it was a little more contained. Hot finish signals this is a warm vintage. 17.5/20, 91/100