TN: Wines from Around the World

Really mixed bag of blinded wines over a seafood dinner.

2009 Grosset Riesling Polish Hill - Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Clare Valley
First taste of the 2009 Polish Hill. Pretty good, but this really need some time to unfold. This was probably the most approachable young Polish Hill that I have ever had. Still clearly Clare Valley, quite clearly Grosset, but it did not have that hard-egded minerality and toughness of structure that marked many of the other vintages for me. Served blind, I thought it was a young Grosset Springvale, the Polish Hill’s usually softer, rounder cousin. Green gold in colour. Tightish nose. Some grass, some herbs, a little lemon maybe? More was showing on the palate. Nice minerally lines, really clean feel, with rich lemon fruit laced with racy acidity, some give-away rubber notes at the mid-palate, a hint of petroleum and quite a bit of spice, just a a touch of heat at the edges I thought, but otherwise, it was well-balanced. Nice mineral finish as well. With time, it really opens up in the glass and unfans with some weight on the mid-palate. A nice wine. It would be interesting to see what time brings to this one. (90 pts.)

2009 Weingut Josef Leitz Rüdesheimer Berg Roseneck Riesling Spätlese - Germany, Rheingau
A wonderful Riesling. This was popped and poured, rather than being left open for several days like the last bottle, but it still sang, just a little less vibrantly maybe, but still absolutely beautiful. Amazing nose opened with a flowery explosion, with Osmanthus, Chrysanthemum just wafting out of the glass, all perfumed, heady, followed by rose water, little oolong tea tones, longan secnts and almost imperceptibly at first, but slowly growing, a nice seam of slatey minerality. The palate was a little more primary than the last time I had it. Still, there was an incredibly lovely balance, and just gorgeous, fragrant flavours of poutpourri sprinkled over a tropical paradise of pineapples, lychees and rambutans that filled the mouth in the attack. Some hints of nectar and honey mingled with ripe lemons on the midpalate. Lovely concentration there, paired with really good focus for such a flamboyant wine, followed by a lovely long finish closing with a bed of serious minerality sprinkled with a playful touch of spice. Three days later, the last glass of wine drank even better, with all the floating flavours coming into even sharper focus. A joyous Riesling. (93 pts.)

1989 Poniatowski Vouvray Moelleux Clos Baudoin - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray
Very nice wine. Guessed it as an early 90s Vouvray, but would never have placed the maker. For a Molleaux from a warm year, this was really quite finely controlled and chiselled. Nose showed some tertiary elements, with whiffs of white meat and chicken essence, along with some lovely flowers, beeswax, nectar and just that hint of vanilla in the background. Intriguing. The palate was rich, sweetish, replete with white plums, honey, honeysuckle dust, some mangoes - lovely complexity, good freshness, nice bit of complexity, with white flowers lingering in the background. Delicious though it was, it never threatened to be a floozy. There was plenty of stern stuff underneath all those flowers, with a solid feel of dry extract layered just below the sweeter tones. Lovely weighty finish as well, with just a hint of spice to round things up. A really interesting wine, full of character, with plenty of quality to boot. (92 pts.)

1996 Domaine Robert Chevillon Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Roncières - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru
Hmm. Not bad, but a bit disappointing when un-blinded. This is the second Chevillon I have guessed as a new world Pinot in recent, the other being a 2003 Bousselots. One would expect that on the 2003 given the vintage, but certainly not on an acid-driven year like 1996, where Chevillon’s typical elegance should show. Did he over-extract? Colour was certainly rather darkly purple for a 14-year old Burg. Nose showed dark fruits in pure cassis tones, blackberries, dark cherries, plums and some meat, together with a bit of rubber at the edges. A bit rich and dark for what it is. On the palate, more cassis, strawberries, spice and gummy berries with more developed orange peel notes towards the back-palate. Again, a little sweet and dark. What really stood out though was the extract and tannic structure. Still firm, lots of chewiness, moving into a noticeably woody finish, with bittersweet touch at the end. It opened up and mellowed out slightly with a couple of hours in the bottle, with the fruit growing more high-toned, developing clean, clear black cherry characteristics. The mid-palate also showed more forest floor and earthy notes along with some of the super-high 1996 acidity that starting flecking the mouth. That woody hardness always just remained there in the background though, and any hidden complexity the wine may have was certainly well-recessed. I think time will do this wine some good. At the moment, decently good but nothing special. (89 pts.)

1990 Beaulieu Vineyard Special Burgundy - USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford
A really interesting wine, and actually pretty good. I thought this was an old Aussie Shiraz at first, got soundly shocked when the label was unveiled as a “Burgundy”, and was extremely amused when I found out it was a Petite Syrah blend! Nose was all meaty, woody and dark plummy. Deep aromas here. The palate was almost salty on the attack, with roast meat, some leather, and then ripe fruited raspberries, blueberries and cassis, before more savoury preserved fig skin flavours set in. The back-palate was marked with some drying tannins, before the wine finished with some freshness and a little layer of dark plums. Very resolved, with nicely aged, pretty yummy flavours - this sure was interesting. (91 pts.)


1998 Inniskillin Vidal Icewine - Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Niagara Peninsula VQA
A beautiful wine. Reminded me very much of the 1999 I last tried - this seemed just a little lower-toned, richer, but maybe a little less exuberant, but every bit as lovely a wine. The bouquet on the wine was just tumbling out of the glass with tons of sultanans, figs, honey, maple syrup - rich, thick, almost treacle-like in the way it wafted through the nose. The palate was viscous, almost thick, with savoury figs, preserved sour plums, rich sultanas, dried prunes and plums and tons of dark honey and maple tones - almost like melted brown sugar. Very lovely, rich, super-concentrated, but paired with nice complexity and a decent amount of acidity. Finish was mid-length, but it was round, succulent and delicious. A lovely wine. This was a no-brainer, accesible to all types of wine-drinkers I think. It is just impossible not to like. (93 pts.)