WXTP Tasting II

Beautiful Wines, The Plaza
Tasted Wednesday, May 23, 2012 by Paul S with 586 views

Introduction

This was the second WXTP tasting, with Andre and Joel B Payne making up the other members of the panel. All flights were half-blind, with the vintage and varietal revealed, but the producer name and origin kept from us. We had three flights of 10, 10 and 9 bottles - Rieslings first, odd red varietals and Pinot to finish.

Flight 1 - RIESLINGS (10 Notes)

  • 2010 St. Urbans-Hof Wiltinger Riesling Kabinett feinherb Alte Reben 92 Points

    Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer

    I thought this was very nice indeed. Great value for its price. It had a very pretty nose, tropical nose of grapefruit and guava, a touch of grass and some fresh white flowers with a nice touch of underlying chalk peeking out. Slightly off-dry on the the palate, this was super-friendly, with bright, zippy acidity running through a juicy, lemony attack and into into creamily textured midpalate, where fine, bright flavours of grapefruit, pomelo and a touch of ripe guava mingled with some honey and nectar. This may lack a bit of power and substance, but it was sure very yummy. It finished nicely too, with a stony, minerally, ever so slightly spicy tail that stretched out beyond the fruit. An excellent young wine - balanced, bright, food-friendly and delicious. Everything you could ask for from an off-dry Riesling at this price range. Perfect for drinking now, although it should hold quite well in the medium term.

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  • 2010 Gustave Lorentz Riesling Goldesch 89 Points

    France, Alsace

    Decent, but far too young. A real shift of gear from the light, flighty German feinherb that preceded it, this was clearly Alsatian, with a deeper gold colour foreshadowing its rich, rather ripe nose of stone fruited peach and nectarines aromas, with some honeyed, yellow fruited sweetness and some meadow flowers touched by minerally, chalky nuances. The palate was very tightly wound, so that it showed almost as a rather clenched ball of racy acidity and citrussy fruit. There was some depth on the attack, but it just dissipated into a very bright, juicy, almost sharp midpalate, before a little linger of honeysuckle and mineral emerged at the finish. There was something charming about this and it had a nice amount of extract and material, but it was just not showing all that well, with the wine shutting down quite a bit past a certain point. One for the future though - this should be held for a good 3-4 years before broaching again..

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  • 2010 Xabregas Riesling Artisan 88 Points

    Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Mount Barker

    Pretty decent. This had little nutty accents on the nose, along with a whiff of kerosene and a little touch of glycerol over a core of ripe lemon aromas. A big, heady nose - not sure I actually liked it that much here. On the other hand, while the palate was big and fleshy, it was actually a lot lighter on its feet than the nose would suggest, with bright flavours of lemons and lime petering out into an earthy, minerally finish with a lick of almost Chablis-like salinity. This had good depth and some power, but it was just disturbed a little by a touch of alcohol at the end. Nothing too major though - it was still a decent drink. I think it would have done better with some food as well. A good one to drink now or to hold for a few year.

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  • 2011 Xabregas Riesling X by Xabregas Spencer Vineyard 91 Points

    Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Mount Barker

    This was a neat little Riesling. It had a very attractive nose, quite unlike anything I have come across in Australia, with a pretty ring of chamomile flowers and osmanthus, some sweet white peach aromas and an almost tropical edge with a bit of longans in there. With time, little hints of earthy mineral started showing up at the fringes. Nice stuff. It had a lovely palate too - very bright and energetic on the one hand, but also round and supple and quite perfectly integrated, showing lovely white fruited flavours laced with lemons and pink grapefruit notes, all dancing around in a lovely, succulent twirl that led into a slightly minerally finish. Very friendly, easy stuff, with a slightly lighter palate feel. This is a real crowd pleaser of a wine - something that I would happily serve to both oenophiles or complete wine-newbies. Good to either drink now or hold over the next four to five year.

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  • 2011 Xabregas Riesling X by Xabregas Figtree Vineyard 92 Points

    Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Mount Barker

    Very nice - I thought this was a step-up from the Spencer Vineyard from the same vintage. It had a very nice nose, with little earthy nuances, some spice and then subtle peach and nectarine notes lined with a nice bit of minerality. The palate wad rather surprisingly rich and ripe after the quite understated nose, with expressive flavours of sweet lemons and grapefruit and green apples at the fore. These though were laced with a wonderful minerality that stained the midpalate with a lovely, slatey imprint and some lovely, juicy acidity that left the mouth watering. We had this by its own, but I am quite sure it would have been a good match with a whole range of food from shell-fish to chicken. It had a beautiful finish too, with an almost stern backbone of stone and slate and touches of spice pulling away beautifully into the distance. A very impressive Australian Riesling. Unlike the Spencer, which seems quite ready to go, this shoudl be held for a few years to allow its finer nuances to emerge. It is a good wine for the longer term too.

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  • 2002 Gustave Lorentz Riesling Altenberg de Bergheim 94 Points

    France, Alsace, Alsace Grand Cru

    This was a real surprise - unanimously the Riesling of the night amidst a very decent line-up. It had a beautiful nose, full of honey and flowers and treacle and sweet apricot aromas wafting out of the glass. Really lovely. The palate was ripe and rich, full of glowing honey notes on the attack, which then opened up into matured flavours kumquats and orange peel and honeysuckle flowers on the midpalate. Sweet on the nose and on the attack, but so much dryer as the wine moved on. While not exactly zippy, it was very nicely balanced all the way into itslLong, lingering, lovely finish, which gently floated around the backpalate with a halo of honey, earthy mineral and spice. With a bit of time, there was just the tiniest hint of secondary mushroom notes coming out at the very tail. Beautiful for drinking now, although I do think it can be easily held for a few more years.

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  • 2010 Weingut Heymann-Löwenstein Winninger Röttgen Riesling 92 Points

    Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer

    This was very good. It had an entrancing nose, smelling for all the world like a lovely cup of jasmine tea laced with flinty minerality and earthy, mushroomy notes, all held up by a core of rich apricot aromas. A really nice bouquet. The palate had a lot of succulent depth on it, opening with sweet, honeyed tones before moving on to midpalate where sweet lemons, apricots and fleshy apple flavours came to the fore. There was lovely length at the finish, with a nice appley finish with an interesting touch of bittersweet fruit pips peeking out. I liked this. However, while it was pretty decently balanced, it thought it lacked a bit of cut and precision, especially towards the finish where the wine softened noticeably - this was about the only thing that prevented me from enjoying it even more. Good stuff, and while drinking pretty well in its youth, it will definitely reward a few years in the cellar as well.

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  • 2010 St. Urbans-Hof Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Großes Gewächs 93 Points

    Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer

    Excellent. This was one of my favourite whites on the night. It had a gently sweet nose, with motes of honey and nectar floating alongside peaches and apricots and some sweet floral notes. A pretty bouquet. The palate was a slight change in gear, with lovely mouthwatering acidity on the attack that made the wine taste dryer than the nose led on. It was still a bit tight, but there was some beautiful minerality and a great amount of cut and focus, so that while the wine still rather primary with citrussy flavours of grapefruit and lime at the fore, it did have a lovely clarity to it. With time and a little air, some fleshy green apples starting showing on the midpalate and the wine took on a fleshier feel. For all that though, what I really loved about it was the beautiful precision that accompanied the fruit all the way from the attack into a stony, minerally finish that stretched on and on. A beautiful wine, with a rather profound zen-ness that promises a lot for the future. While very enjoyable now, this is really one that should be left aside for several years.

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  • 2009 Reichsrat Von Buhl Forster Ungeheuer Riesling Großes Gewächs 89 Points

    Germany, Pfalz

    Not a bad wine, but this was rather dissapointing for a Großes Gewächs from Von Buhl. The nose was nice enough, with quite a bit of kerosene drizzled over slightly funky notes of earth and undergrowth, some chalk and a waft of fleshy white fruit. Nice, but rather surprisingly developed and mature for such such a young wine - perhaps something to do with the heat of the 2009 vintage. The palate was rather more youthful though, with very bright, almost bracing acidity running though deep, almost powerful flavours white fruit with citrussy highlights and plenty of mineral and spice buried below. It had a strong finish, with a lot of earthy depth and a slightly nutty limger. Not a bad wine on all accounts, but my problem was that it did not seem all that well integrated, with the big fruit and bright acidity sticking out a bit at awkward angles. No harm drinking it now, but I would leave this aside for some time and hope that it improves. It should, but I am just not sure by how much.

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  • 2009 Weingut Heymann-Löwenstein Winninger Uhlen Riesling "L" Laubach 92 Points

    Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer

    This was very impressive in its own way, but not quite together yet. The nose was dominated by a strong whiff of kerosene spiked with a little sulphur and little reductive notes that combined to layer over everything else, making it hard to pick out the little touches of chalk and stone fruit that lay underneath that. The palate was thankfully more approachable though. Powerful, deep, with lots of breadth and substance, it showed rich, rather sweetish stone fruited notes, with fleshy, honeyed flavours of apricots and nectarines at the fore. Very mouthfilling, this packed quite a punch on the midpalate and into its long, spicy finish. However, while there was enough acidity to bring balance to the whole package, there was not quite enough to lend the wine the precision and litheness one would expect from a Mosel. Even though this was not quite my style I must say that it was impressive in its presence and size though. This could well be the dry Mosel for those who like their wines to pack a wallop. Even then, it does need some time to shed its puppy fat and develop some complexity. I would set this aside for a few years before trying again.

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Flight 2 - ODD REDS (10 Notes)

  • 2007 Viña Bisquertt Malbec Casa La Joya Reserve 87 Points

    Chile, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley

    This is one wine where you get exactly what you pay for - nothing more, nothing less. The nose was nice enough, in a very ripe, modern way, with full-on plums and black cherries with a very Chilean twist of vine stems and typically Malbec earth, herbs and spices. Rather attractive actually. Unfortunately, the palate was not great. It was drinkable, but just slightly disjointed with sharpish acidity poking out through ripe black fruit and juicy cherry notes. Rather simple, a touch candied. This was not all that great. I actually thought the short finish was the best part of the wine, with its nice little burst of spice and brambly herbs. Drinkable for its price, but not one I would rush out to buy. It is made in an early drinking style and should be consumed now. I do not see much upside for this wine.

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  • 2008 Viña Bisquertt Carménère Ecos de Rulo Q Clay 85 Points

    Chile, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley

    I did not like this much. No flaw, decent wine-making, but it was just exceedingly simple and not very pleasant. It had a very sweet nose, all rather confected, with sweet, candied aromas of berries and cherries and another twist of very Chilean green vine stems. Not exactly what I would call a nice bouquet. The palate was far too sweet for my liking as well, with candied black cherries and berries dominating the flavours. There was some juicy acidity and decent tannins riding alongside another hit of greenness and some spice at the back-end, but that too did not come together all that well. This is another wine that I do not see improving much with time.

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  • 2011 Culemborg (DGB) Pinotage 80 Points

    South Africa, Western Cape

    Wow - this was just absolutely mediocre, made all the worse by the fact that it came just before a very polished, well-made Kanonkop Pinotage. It was only saved from being the dud of the night by the fact that it was not flawed or faulty wine-making that made it bad, and also by virtue of a very awkward Fruhburgunder coming later on in the light. The nose was extremely sweet, with stewed cherries and raspberry ripple aromas and some floral essence spiked with a whiff of burnt rubber. Most of the young South African reds have somehow shed the burnt rubber thing over the past few years, but this wine seemed to have missed the boat completely, with the whiffs on the nose being amplified so much on the palate that the wine was almost rendered it undrinkable. Only with a lot of swirling and some concentration did the curtain of smoky rubber part to show a sweet layer of black fruit and some spice that barely surfaced until the finish. To add insult to injury, the acidity stuck out a bit awkwardly too. I am not sanguine about the aging potential of this wine. As the next wine in the series showed, it is not impossible to make good, or at least decent Pinotage in the Western Cape - I just wished that this was not so mediocre.

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  • 2009 Kanonkop Pinotage 90 Points

    South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch, Simonsberg-Stellenbosch

    This was an impressive, enjoyable Pinotage. It showed sweet blackberries and black cherries with a twist of herb on the nose - a sweet and simple bouquet, but certainly not unattractive. There were nice gummy fruits on the palate, again in the form of rather sweet blackberries and dark cherries, seasoned at the sides with a nice sprinkle of peppery spice and roasted herbs. It certainly showed some summery ripeness, but this came more in the form of a natural sweetness rather than the confected mess that some of the wines we tasted were. Best of all, the wine carried with it a nice juicy balance and a fine tannin structure that made its presence felt in a nice finish with little licks of smoke at the tail. I can really imagine enjoying this with a nice steak or a bit of BBQ. While eminently drinkable now, I think it will continue to improve over the next five to six years and beyond as well. This is often the best Pinotage produced in SA to my mind, and it was certainly no surprise when it was revealed as a Kanonkop upon un-blinding. Nice stuff.

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  • 2009 Seebrich Frühburgunder 78 Points

    Germany, Rheinhessen

    An interesting wine. Not much good, quite yucky in fact, but interesting from a geeky point of view. A Frühburgunder is a mutation of the Pinot Noir grape (aka Pinot Noir précoce or early ripening Pinot) that is predominantly grown in the Ahr Valley, at one of the Northern extremes of winemaking. It was thus a bit of a surprise to find that this was a bottling from Rheinhessen. There perhaps is certain conventional wisdom in keeping the grape that far North though, because this more Southerly version was rather a mess. It had an interesting nose, which unfortunately bordered on the sickly sweet, starting with kirsch and than moving on to cherry syrup and then rose water aromas - just a bit too sickly for me. The palate was very light bodied, almost like a Beaujolais village in texture, but far sweeter, with simple flavours of candied cherries and blueberries pierced with very high acidity. So high that it made the wine awkwardly sharp, disjointed, and actually difficult to drink. After some time, this seemed all acid and sugar. I can now tick Frühburgunder on my list, but this version is certainly not one I would like to try again.

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  • 2007 Torrevento Primitivo di Manduria Ghenos 88 Points

    Italy, Puglia, Primitivo di Manduria

    This wine split the opinions of the panel. Joel did not like it very much if I recall correctly, but I actually found it a decent, and certainly very interesting wine. The nose was very funky to begin with, with a whoosh of barnyardy, stinky animale notes, lots of earthy, loamy, undergrowth inflections and, only when one got past that, savoury smoked meats and dark fruited aromas, with some floral perfume at the edges. There was a bit of glycerol stirred in there to make things even more complicated. I was not exactly put-off, but I am not quite sure I liked that nose either. I found the palate interesting though. There was still the leather and smoked meat and more barnyardy notes, but this had stepped into the background to allow a well balanced and nicely structured mouthful of dark, plummy fruit to take the fore. It was actually very drinkable. The finish still seemed a bit tight, with high acidity and firmish, slightly rustic tannins leading into a slightly smoky tail. It was not bad though. Not one I would rush out to buy, but it was certainly a decent wine and quite ready to drink, especially for those who like their reds meaty, leathery or even with a touch of the sauvage on them.

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  • 2009 La Spinetta (Rivetti) Langhe Nebbiolo 88 Points

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC

    Not a bad wine in its own right, but this was rather spoofy for a Nebbiolo. A bit of a disappointment given the decent pedigree of the maker and the fact that the grapes apparently come from the Starderi vineyard. The nose started out distinctly un-Nebbiolo like, with very sweet aromas of red cherries and sweet berries, almost a bit candied. It was the rather Bandung-like rose petal scents which followed the fruit and some earthiness that started emerging with time that pulled us back to Piedmont. Still though, it was at least a couple of notches too sweet on the nose for me. The palate was sweet too, with ripe cherries and berries at the fore. So much so that I found it difficult to place this. Thankfully, the ripe modernity on the wine was wed to some nice acidity and chased by a more recognisable lick of tar and smoke at the finish. The tannins were still much too tough for the wine to be very drinkable, coating the mouth in a firmly textured grip. This is certainly one to hold a good 6 to 7 years more at least. It should hopefully it will improve with time as it softens and mellows though.

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  • 2006 Giovanni Manzone Barolo Castelletto 93 Points

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo

    This is a solid Barolo built in a lovely, traditional style. Great value at its price. The nose was rather challenging, with a little swoosh of alcohol that blew out of the glass initially. However, this dissipated rather quickly and was followed by nicely savoury aromas of earth and broiled meat wed to rich cherry and plum notes. There was nice ring of violet flowers in the background. too The palate is a bit very difficult at the moment, with ripe but absolutely teeth-coating tannins and a layer of fresh acidity more or less cloaking its limpid black-fruited notes on the attack. What was clear was the lovely quality on the wine though - there was a distinct ring of clarity and some lovely purity to the fruit and a classically sculpted feel to it, all the way from the firm attack into its muscular mid-palate and then through to the impeccably balanced finish, where the fruit was kissed with a nice touch of smoke and spice. Boy - this was really crying out for a well-cooked of meat. Here is a wine that requires patience and will reward it. It is way too tight and unyielding at the moment, but there is a lot of great raw material here and it should be a really nice wine for those who are happy to wait a decade or longer.

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  • 2008 La Spinetta (Rivetti) Barolo Vigneto Garretti 89 Points

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo

    I was rather disappointed by this. It was okay, decent, but not great - especially coming after a beautiful sculpted, traditionally styled Manzone Barolo which goes for roughly half the price. This was about as modernly styled a Barolo as I have had a for a long time, with sweet aromas of dark plums and berries floating out of the glass alongside some slightly green, herbal notes and earthy hints. There was something ever-so-slightly medicinal about the bouquet, which made it not that nice. The palate seemed rather simple too. The tannins were ripe and very approachable for a 2008, but the wine seemed to lack the noble balance and structure that you would expect of a well-made Barolo, showing in a rather soft mouthful of sweet berries and cherries touched with a soupcon of spice. All in all, a decent wine, but not a great Barolo. On the good side, while it should improve with time, it is actually surprisingly approachable in its youth, and could even be drunk now. Word to the wise though - given the natural acidities and tannins of the Nebbiolo grape, I would far rather have a well-sculpted wine that requires some patience in the cellar than this forward, but rather more mediocre example.

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  • 2009 Casisano-Colombaio Rosso di Montalcino 88 Points

    Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino

    I was rather less impressed with this than when I last tried it several months back. Still though, it was a very pleasant wine. It had a decent enough nose, a bit on the sweet side, with a touch of confection to otherwise nice aromas of berries and plums and some violet flowers touched-up with some earth and a touch of herbs and cigarette smoke. It was clearly the fruit and floral notes that were a the fore though, just shading into candied territory for me - a lot sweeter than I remembered it being. Thankfully, I thought the palate was rather better than the nose, with nicely juicy, tomato-ish acidity and fine tannins running alongside sweet plum and black cherry notes. There was a good bit of freshness and verve to it. Rather simple, maybe lacking some of the more interesting little nuances I picked out the last time, but this is nevertheless a very pleasant wine for drinking now, and it should continue to develop at least for the next couple of years in the bottle as well. A good value wine.

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Flight 3 - PINOTS (9 Notes)

  • 2009 Gustave Lorentz Pinot Noir La Limite 88 Points

    France, Alsace

    Pretty decent. This had a rich, thick nose, with lots of sweet cherries and raspberries lined with more reserved notes of earth and mineral, a bit of meat and a touch of herb. The palate had that same richness to it - this was clearly a big wine, with a lot of depth and a lot of sweet cherry and blueberry fruit, but thankfully it was neither brutish nor imabalanced, with a good bit of juicy acidity and some fine but firm tannins girding it somewhat. My only issue was that it was rather one-dimensional at the moment, mostly all fruit, with just little savoury shades of meat and earth at the edges. Okay but not great. I would hold this for at least 3 to 4 years before trying again.

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  • 2009 Wooing Tree Pinot Noir 88 Points

    New Zealand, South Island, Otago, Central Otago

    Not bad, but not really my preferred style. It had a very expressive nose, with funky nuances of wet soil and boiled herb running alongside dark cherry and floral aromas. Pretty attractive, and the palate was not half bad either. It opened with sweet, slightly candied flavours of cherries and plums, but these were undergirded by a nice savouriness that provided a nice relief to the sweet fruit. Past the midpalate, it actually got downright earthy, meaty and a little minerally at the finish - pretty nice and complex actually. This was not quite my style of Pinot - it was a bit too sweet at the get-go, but it was certainly not bad, with a decent sense of balance and structure to it. If anything, I actually enjoyed this rather more than the far more expensive Californian monsters that came shortly after. There is no harm done drinking this now if you like the primary fruit, but I do think this will actually age pretty well and mellow a little. Give it 3 to 4 years.

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  • 2007 Melville Pinot Noir Terraces 89 Points

    USA, California, Central Coast, Sta. Rita Hills

    A decent wine, but not one for me. I may be biased, but this Pinot had just a bit too much of everything at the moment for my tastes. It was as far away from Burgundy as one could get, but it was not that fact that disturbed me, but that the wine seemed to be pushed to the limits on almost all aspects. The big, heady nose was a fair warning of what was to come ahead but, to be fair, it was actually quite attractive with its rush of cherries, raspberries and sweet strawberry aromas and wafts of violet flowers nestling amidst some earth, herb and angelica root notes. It was the palate that threw me off. This was a huge wine, almost monolithic in its big, candied red fruit flavours - almost like sucking on boiled cherry sweets in one single beam of flavour, all the until the finish, where some herb and earth notes emerged. However, in spite of its great size and gobs of primary fruit, this actually had a nice sense of balance and proportion, with juicy acidity and fine tannins lending good support, and only a little trail of alcohol distracting from its overall poise. So, all in all not undrinkable, just that it is not all that enjoyable with its over-the-top feel at the moment. This should improve with time though. Unless you love the big-fruited style, I would leave this aside for 3 to 4 years to see how it develops.

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  • 2009 Melville Pinot Noir Carrie's 88 Points

    USA, California, Central Coast, Sta. Rita Hills

    I did not like this very much. A little warning about bias again though - it was no doubt a pretty well-made wine and a decent enough drink, but it is miles away from what I imagine an ideal Pinot, old world or new world, tastes like. It had a pretty nose, with lots of floral perfume and clear, ringing notes of sweet cherries and raspberries with a little twist of vine stems at the side. However, this was disturbed by an overt amount of glycerol winding in and out of the finer aromas. Likewise, the rich, lush palate was noticeably alcohol-laden, something that was obvious in the midst of its huge depth of sweet, ripe fruit, from jammy plums, to sweet dark cherries and macerated black berries. It was so big, and sweet and alcoholic in fact that it was bordering on port-likeness. While neither imbalanced or unstructured, this was just way too big for me. It thankfully finished a bit cooler and less sweet, with a ream of spice coming up. Like its stable-mate, the 2007 Spencer's, that we drank alongside, this will give much pleasure to big-fruit lovers now, but anyone looking for more reserve and complexity should really wait a good 5 to 6 years for this to develop.

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  • 2009 Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noir Mount Carmel 90 Points

    USA, California, Central Coast, Sta. Rita Hills

    This was clearly another ripe, sunny Californian Pinot, but I found it a sight more drinkable than the pair of Melville wines that preceded it. We got another sweet nose here, with rich aromas of over-ripe cherries and raspberries, slightly candied, almost sickly sweet, with a twist of stems in there somewhere pulling it back from the edge somewhat. Not quite to my liking there. I thought the palate was a lot better than the nose would suggest though. It had a greater clarity and brighter, more energetic balance than the Melvilles. It was still really big for sure, with gobs of red and black fruits on the attack and the midpalate, but these were nicely supported by well-formed tannins and juicy acidity leading into a freshly fruity finish lined with some stems and spice. Still a bit too much if everything at the moment, but this at least shows good aging potential and a promise to improve. It would be interesting to try this in say four to five years time. I think it will keep developing for quite a long time after that. Pretty good.

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  • 2009 Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noir Melville Vineyard 91 Points

    USA, California, Central Coast, Sta. Rita Hills

    A nice expression of Californian Pinot, this was the best of the four young Santa Rita Hills wines that we had. Here again, the nose that started with a whoosh glycerol, not very pleasing, but that quickly gave way to more pleasant aromas of sweet berries and slightly candied cherries with a little hints of ripe stems. Rather pretty - this was probably my favourite nose amongst the four wines. The palate was the most complex of the quartet as well, with little savoury, meaty nuances dancing out alongside dark fruited notes, plums maybe, which then shaded into red cherries and strawberries on the midpalate. Here at last there was a sense of poise and nuance, with the alcohol held somewhat in check by the juicy fruit and earthier accents all the way into the finish, where a bit of heat peeked out. Nothing too distracting though. The wine was actually very nicely structured with fine tannins and juicy acidity. A nice wine, but rather too primary and not altogether integrated at the moment. It should do well with time though. This is another wine that will reward five years or so in the cellar, and probably has enough in its tank to go on developing for some time after that.

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  • 2005 Weingut Ökonomierat Rebholz Siebeldinger Im Sonnenschein Spätburgunder Großes Gewächs 88 Points

    Germany, Pfalz

    Decent without quite being great, this had a very earthy, funky nose, with lots of sous bois and wet leaves, mushroom and game aromas along with a waft of plummy fruit. The palate was almost surprisingly light after the depth on the nose, with high-toned flavours of dark cherries laced with citrus acidity and fine tannins. It had a light freshness and the bright cleanness to it, especially on the attack, that was rather a relief after the four Californian bruisers that preceded it. However, the midpalate just lacked a bit of body and depth, showing a bit lean as it worked its way into a slightly herby finish. A pity, because this was otherwise a nicely shaped Spätburgunder that was at just about the right place to start drinking. This too should improve with time though - it has the bones to age for quite a will more. I only hope that the light-bodied fruit will last as long as the structure on this.

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  • 2007 Frederic Esmonin Ruchottes-Chambertin 92 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru

    This was pretty good in the context of the vintage. Not a great Grand Cru experience, but certainly a nice wine. The nose had a very clear Gevrey character to it, with slightly funky aromas of earth, meat and spice trilling alongside some ripe red cherries and berries with a flowers thrown into the mix. A nice nose. The palate was surprisingly rich for a 2007, with more ripe expressions of red cherries and strawberries, earth and meat, framed by juicy acidity and fine but firm tannins. Pretty good depth, but it was perhaps a little roughly extracted, so it came across as a bit tough and rustic at points, especially as the wine moved into its long, spice-kissed finish. It is still primary and monolithic, and will improve with time though. One to hold for quite some time yet.

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  • 2008 Frederic Esmonin Chambertin-Clos de Bèze 92 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru

    Another pretty good wine that did not quite do justice to its terroir. While the 2007 Ruchottes was good for its vintage, I thought this underperformed for a 2008 Beze. Opened and left in the bottle some 9 hours before serving, it had a relatively open, very attractive nose with lots of herbs and spice sprinkled over a core red fruited cherries and raspberry aromas and then opening up into a bass of some meaty accents and a lovely minerally note. Nice stuff. The palate could not quite keep up though. I found it a bit on the soupy side for Grand Cru, let alone a Chambertin-Clos de Bèze, with a gentle wash of acidity lapping over a softly fruited mouthful of cherries and rapsberries and pretty floral inflections wed to more savoury earth and mineral notes on the midpalate. This was a nice flavour profile, and there was a ring of clean, clear purity to it that I liked. The terroir shone through quite well too, so that we were in not much doubt that this was a Gevrey, and probably either a Le Chambertin or a Bèze when blinded. However, while this was not exactly thin or lean - it actually had quite a bit of depth - it just seemed rather shapeless and not every well-focused in its soft, supple, barely-there tannin structure. If anything, this caused the wine to be more like the Californian Pinots that we had earlier in terms of mouth-feel than anything else. A bit strange. Thankfully, it finished quite strongly, with a deep pill of pure fruit seasoned with a nice bit of spice. A good enough wine, but not a fantastic GC. I do not think this will be the longest-lived Clos de Bèze. However, while approachable young, I have hopes that this will improve in time. I would hold off drinking for at least 3 to 4 years before taking another sounding to gauge its progress.

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