Review Kunstler Reichestal Riesling Kabinett 2002

88 points

Rheingau, Germany

Greenish gold. Nice minerally, fruity aromas with a touch of talcum
powder. A medium sweet palate, with gorgeous ripe green/white grape
flavours, freshest apricot, with a touch of lime and limestone. So
much classic Riesling flavour in a 7.5% alcohol wine.

Perfect for Summer sunny late afternoons. Preferably to be shared
with several friends, as I find the sweetness makes it difficult to
drink many glasses. Best without food except perhaps nibbles like
nuts – before or after dinner.

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Review Rupert & Rothschild Baron Edmond 2000

84 points

From Coastal Region, South Africa. A bordeaux cabernet, merlot,
cabernet franc blend. Not to be confused with the various Lafite
Rothschild joint ventures around the world.

A curious wine. Dark brick red. Lifted nose, some attractive
cabernet aromas. A rich soft wine with swirls of sweet, coffee
caramel oak, and ripe and some under-ripe vegetal green fruit
flavours. Accompanied by 14.5% alcohol. It’s like they have set out
to make a top class wine, but it’s a clumsy effort. Apart from the
high alcohol it reminded me of some of the better New Zealand
cabernets of the 1980s, before they found out how to get evenly
ripened fruit.

Not unpleasant, interesting rather than enjoyable. Drink now or over
the next 3 years.

Review Fire Block Clare Valley Old Vine Shiraz 2002

86 points

from Clare Valley, South Australia, Australia.

Dark with purple edge. Warm to hot (alcohol) and figgy aromas.
Nicely balanced with soft chewy tannins, but somewhat old fashioned
winemaking with noticeable added acid and oak flavours that, while
pleasant, aren’t really integrated. A good quality, if somewhat
commercial style. Nice label.

PS I just read that Phillip White (writing in the Adelaide newspaper The Advertiser) gave this 95 points !?!?!

Review Houghton’s White Burgundy 1999

94 points – wow !

The current vintage is 2004 and 95%+ of Houghton’s White Burgundy is consumed within the week it is purchased. So what is the point of reviewing a wine that is no longer available ? In this case to signal that this cheap wine ages magnificently.

Who would have thought that a sub $10 bottle of wine could turn into something so sublime? OK there is an old French saying that there are no great wine, only great bottles (which is really a commentary on the quality of corks) but this wine has a well established aging pedigree. Houghton’s used to (perhaps still do) release an aged version of this wine after it had picked up many trophies.

Actually even young this blend is very good. First released in 1957, it has historically been largely based on (the great grape) chenin blanc but with quite a few others into a very distinctive house style. Highly flavoured with soft acidity and yet great aging material. It develops rich golden characters with little in the way of kerosene or oxidised/sherry characters.

So many back labels say “enjoyable young but improves with age” – yet this is a wine that actually delivers – in spades.

WARNING recently Houghton’s have been bottling this with cheap composite corks – so aging is a real risk. When they move to Stelvin/ screwcap I’m going to buy lots, but not until then.

Review Koonowla Clare Valley Shiraz 2002

89+ points.

Flash and fresh, a modern wine that carries its 14.8% alcohol very well. Spicy shiraz flavours, smooth, but fairly tight structure, with balanced acidity. A great restaurant wine, in that it will go with a wide good range of fine food, and appeal to most people. Accessible yet fine. Without quite the concentration of a truly great wine, but well priced.

And as an extra bonus it’s bottled with screw cap enclosure. Well worth buying. Drinks well now, may warrant slightly higher points with age.

Leeuwin Estate Prelude Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 (review)

89 points

Leeuwin Estate Cabernet stands out in Australia with a very distinctive house style. It’s closer to top Bordeaux in flavour profile in both fruit flavour and winemaking. But over the years the wines have become increasingly huge, and 1999 (a very good vintage in Western Australia) is no exception. I don’t really approve of the trend of moving to 15% alcohol in Leeuwin Estate Cabernets, but it hasn’t turned me off the wines completely because their quality and distinctive style are so attractive. I bet Robert Parker would like them.

Prelude is the “2nd wine”, about one third the price of their Art Series Cabernet. A deep dense red, with ultra ripe (not jammy) Cabernet aromas, not fruity at all, into a much more physiologically ripe spectrum. Oddly this sort of ripeness is not often seen in Australian cabernet. There are flavours like ripe Malbec.

The palate of this wine hits with a whomp. It’s serious, savoury, and large. 2nd wines like this seldom are so rich. Drinking well now, I expect it will continue to do so for much of this decade.