Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Old wine treats

Over the summer break I have been lucky enough to enjoy some fantastic wines including a number of older wines.

A couple of weeks ago a friend of ours invited us to lunch with a small group of fellow wine lovers. After we had enjoyed some vinous treats with lunch sitting around the table on a miserably wet Sunday our host disappeared into his cellar and reappeared with a bottle of 1990 Henscke Hill of Grace. This stunning aged South Australian shiraz was appreciated and enjoyed by the small gathering but because it didn’t last long our host disappeared again and returned with a bottle of 1977 (considered the best vintage of the last century) port. Another stunning wine and I can’t think of a better way to spend a wet afternoon, enjoying fine wine with friends and great food.

Also this month Brightwater Vineyards are celebrating their tenth vintage producing wine under their own label and they are doing this by opening a bottle of wine from each vintage of one variety every weekend.

They started with 10 vintages of sauvignon blanc. The next weekend 10 vintages of chardonnay then 10 vintages of riesling. Finally this coming weekend they will be opening 10 vintages of merlot for tasting at their cellar door.

You may be thinking ‘who drinks old sauvignon blanc?’ and it is probably a fair question. We are told by most that sauvignons are best enjoyed young and fresh but this tasting proved that not only are older sauvignon blancs ok but they can be very good.

The most interesting thing to come from this tasting for me was the difference between wines sealed with a cork in the early part of the decade and wines sealed with a screwcap from 2004 onwards. The early wines suffered from bottle variance and some showed quite advanced age characters with one vintage in particular being effected by a batch of poor quality corks with three bottles opened and each one being quite different.

Once we hit the wines sealed with a screwcap the wines still showed some age characters but no where near as much as the earlier wines and they consistently had nice fresh characters. In these wines you could taste the difference in vintage conditions; by this I mean the wines all had very similar characters so you could taste how they were all made by the same producer from fruit grown on the same vineyards but some had riper fruit characters with slightly different flavours and textures that came from vintage conditions.

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