1988 Henschke Gewürztraminer, Eden Valley, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Tasted Blind: very dark gold to Amber in colour, although wine colour still quite bright. Nose was floral, perfumed, spicy with a slight oxidative character. Palate of toffee, caramel, honey, spice, and drying tannins. Fruit not evident and secondary character predominant. Finish long and drying. Wine opened with time and went well with our spicy mussels. Probably at its peak 5-10 years ago but still an interesting wine and still drinkable. My guess an aged Gewürztraminer – more by a process of elimination of what it wasn’t and the dominance of spice and honey indicating the possibility of aged Gewürztraminer.
2005 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Margaret River Chardonnay, Western Australia.
Tasted blind: Pale straw colour with green tinges. Lovely nose of butterscotch, melon, pineapple, mango and vanilla essence. Rich and hedonistic! A beautiful rich creamy mouthfeel with spicy vanillin oak, honey, peach and clean acid. Long long finish! A beautifully integrated and we’ll balanced wine. I could drink this wine every day! Drinking at its peak now but can keep for another two years before it starts to fade. 96/100
Review from 2008: This is the most purebred and aristocratic of all Australian chardonnays. It has awesome power, grace, depth and finesse; pure grapefruit, nectarine and peach flesh aromas are framed by complex, toasty, grilled nuts; the palate is amazingly concentrated, yet portrays a lightness that is completely beguiling and incredibly long. Drink now-2020 with marron. 97 Points James Halliday – The Australian Top 100 – 2008
I was in Ottawa last week and got together with 2 sommelier buddies, Astrid and Perry to try some local wine and food. Naturally I had to bring some Aussie reds to compete. We selected the Beckta dining and wine restaurant on 226 Nepean Street, Ottawa. A great restaurant with great food and friendly service. We enjoyed sharing our wines with the Beckta’s sommelier.
We started the evening with a Riesling from Ontario – a 2008 Henry of Pelham, Speck Family Reserve. The wine opened with a soft nose with some secondary kerosene characters and soft apple and citrus on the nose. The palate was broad and flavoursome without that steely backbone evident in many top Aussie Rieslings. A very enjoyable wine that complemented my Root vegetable soup. A good pairing!
Next we tried 2 aged Aussie cabernets from my cellar: a 2004 Balnaves from the Coonawarra district in South Australia that is famous for its cabernets and a 2005 Chapel Hill from McLaren Vale in South Australia that’s probably better known for its big shiraz reds. Both wines were stunning and were tasted after one hours decanting.
The Balnaves colour was a dark plum with a purple hue and the nose was redolent with blackberry and blueberry fruit, earth, and cedar. The palate was soft and mouthfilling with spicy berry fruit, cedar and tobacco leaf. The tannins were nicely integrated and the wine would easily cellar for another 5+ years. I enjoyed the wine with the Quebec Magret Duck that was cooked medium rare to perfection and the flavours worked well with the wine.
The Chapel Hill was a monster wine with bid fruit, and big tannins. Even though only a year separated the two wines the difference was palpable. My view is that the stelvin enclosure on the Chapel made the difference. The wine was young and fresh and still quite primary, with rich spicy black fruits, anise, pepper and cedar. The palate had not integrated fully and the wine definitely needs more time in the cellar! However, Perry said it worked well with his Wellington county beef striploin that was most enjoyable.
My scores: Riesling 91/100, Balnaves cabernet 95/100, Chapel Hill 93/100.
The reds cost approx $35 each when purchased.