I’m back across the Great Dividing Range again, swapping the cool and dry of Canberra for endless moistness here in Sydney.
Before I left our nation’s capital there was a final day of wine show judging (and a BYO dinner expedition). And I’m proud to point to the trophy wines from the Semillon and Shiraz classes of the Winewise Championships and think ‘we did good’.
The Semillon trophy taste off, in particular, was a highlight. 3 vintages of the same wine, among a pack of frontrunners. And when the winning bottles were cracked out at lunch, it was impossible to ignore the rampant quality.
If you’re not drinking aged Semillon, you’re not drinking well.
The overall Shiraz trophy winner was another icon, though built in a mid weight and modern style. It’s the sort of wine that I’d want in the cellar.
Actually, the only downers about the Shiraz class was to see quite a few reductive wines, even for things that have been in bottle for 12+ months. I get the push to freshness in young reds, but a little oxygen goes a long way.
Speaking of freshness, at dinner a bottle of 2002 Pol Roger was up against a just-released 2012 Dom Perignon for a fascinating fizz face-off (thanks to Dean & Lester for these ones). The long-disgorged Pol was my pick, with its nutty, golden bottle age giving so much extra drinking enjoyment next to the tight and clinical Dom. Again, I just don’t dig Dom Perignon enough to justify buying it. Please, give me Dom’s stablemate Krug, which swaps the Dom ‘elegance’ for a full throttle mouthful of Champagne. Krug is good.
In other dinner highlights, there was a 2012 Grosset Springvale Riesling that had lost none of its Watervale limey energy, and now introducing an extra hue of deft toasty richness. I’ve often thought that Springvale is best drunk within 12 months of release but this was so vital and so complete at 10 that I might have to reassess. Even in 2032 this will be a delightful Riesling.
By contrast, a 2011 Rudi Pichler Smaragd just looked old. If you want a reason to bottle Riesling in screwcap, then the Rudi vs Grosset comparison was obvious evidence.
Moving into the red wine quarter of the evening and a 2013 Le Chiuse Brunello looked clumsy, oaky and too young (I’ve got a few 07s that need a revisit). But then came a real star – a 2001 Brokenwood Graveyard. Now fully resolved and utterly seamless, this proudly ripe, non-leathery (but earthen-etched), silken punch of flavour was an absolute joy. On a drinking pleasure basis it was on a par with the compelling Morey-St-Denis from the night before, and reminded that fully resolved Hunter reds like this are such satisfying and luxurious drinks.
Closing out the red proceedings was a pleasant and super smooth Yering Station Reserve SV from the early noughties (circa 2004) that was enjoyable, but not inspiring enough for me to remember the vintage.
Finally, with the dessert course was another bottle of 2009 Raymond Lafon Sauternes.
Close followers of this site will know that I’m selling my remaining bottles of this vintage because I don’t love it. I love the producer (and have bought some 2015), but these 2009s are too ripe and not Sauternes-y enough. Typically, this was a super bottle – so concentrated and layered – so no one could understand why I was selling them off. Eh, you can’t win.
Oh, and for the Canberra followers after a BYO, I can recommend La Cantina in Narrabundah. I’d like a tiramisu with a bit more oomph and less cream, but that’s my main quibble for what was a nice meal. It was full on a Thursday night too, and empty by 9:30pm in true Canberra style.
Speaking of Canberra, I took the cover shot picture from the side of Black Mountain, and would once again like to say that Canberra is a trail runners delight. Super MTB trails as well.
Finally, a note to say that I would not recommend buying an MG HS. My small/medium SUV hire car for the week, this dumb, pretender of a grown up car was quite an experience. Indeed, I’ve never sworn more at a new car in my life, and I’ve driven plenty of ‘economy’ hire cars. From the infotainment system that would just turn off mid corner, to a schizophrenic gearbox that changed gears in the driveway (made worse by turbo lag), or seats that weren’t made for humans. It’s a well-priced budget car with some of the tech accessories of something fancy, that fails in its execution of said accessories. I would go from yelling at the cruise control (the light stays on, even when it’s not on) then need to take my hands off the wheel for the fiddly aircon (just put a dial in) and then the Bluetooth would inexplicably not connect. Rinse, repeat, with a sore back from the seat. Our ten-year-old Corolla is a more comfortable, less bewildering drive.
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