This offline was quickly put together to coincide with Jamie’s quick visit from Hong Kong – the turnout was small, but the quality of the wines was very high. My thanks to everyone who came along, Beijing for hosting it, and especially Mark, Jeff & Chi who organised the venue & took care of the ordering:2007 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese, Mosel (cork):
Bright, medium straw. The nose is full of sugar sweetness, lychees and guava, limes and brown sugar, then poached pears, beeswax and wet limestone; the palate’s very grippy and crisp with amazing acidity that cuts through that sweetness, golden apples with a long, tingly finish. The opening “token white” too often gets overlooked at events like this, but this was too good to ignore. 2001 Main Ridge Half-Acre Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula (cork):
Light red/brick. Opens with a wallop of EA (nail polish remover) that never really settles, although there are also more attractive characters of duck fat, cedar, shoe polish and mushroom, sous bois with air. My first impression of the palate was that there’s lots of tannin but even for a pinot a distinct lack of fruit, minty/leathery/stocky with sour cherries and mushroom, tight and tingly with some alcohol warmth on the finish (14.0%). I thought this was disappointing considering its cost and reputation, and Halliday’s drink to 2008 suggestion was about right: it should be noted others were much more impressed with it. 2004 Coldstream Hills Reserve Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley (screwcap):
Light to almost medium crimson. Very stalky and green compared to the 2001 Main Ridge Half-Acre, with rhubarb, currants, mushroom, sweet/vanillin oak and black tea; the minty/cherry fruit of the palate is fresher but also lean, finishing minty with very fine but bitter tannins. I was disappointed with a bottle two and a half years ago, and sadly little has changed. 1986 Penfolds St. Henri 'Claret' (sic), South Australia (cork):
Corked.1991 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Centenary Shiraz Cabernet (cork):
Dark to inky crimson. Opens cool with red currants and capsicum, blackcurrants and peppermint, only really getting going at nights end when the bottle was empty; the palate’s medium to full weight and earthy, seemingly putting on extra weight and length every time it’s revisited. At the beginning of the night a few of us had thought this was a lesser bottle, but at the end I still had it pointed above everything else – freaky. 1998 d’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz, McLaren Vale (cork):
Medium to very dark crimson. Very spicy, sweet and dark, raspberries, soy and earth, some peppermint too, ashtray with breathing; the palate’s brawny, medium to full-weight, the fruit just on the right side of jammy with savoury/tarry nuances and a long finish. This is probably the most impressive bottle I’ve tried in the last five or so years, yet I still feel it’s a wine that tries to win you over with brute force instead of charm (like the Centenary & Mount Edelstone). 1996 Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz, Barossa Valley (cork):
Medium to dark red. Obvious, sweet coffee oak at first followed by more savoury oily/popcorn characters, ground paprika/dried chilli, dark/bitter chocolate and cedar; the palate’s minty and oily with sweet black cherries, medium-weight with a mineraly, tight finish. This had its fans, yet I found it leaner and greener than I was expecting, continuing my rather hit and miss experiences with this label – it was up against some good competition tonight.1994 Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz, Eden Valley (cork):
It’s been a few years since I tried one of these, and it’s great to have a good one that’s been cellared properly since release. Medium to dark red. Spicy and minty, cherry cola and tomato leaf, pepper and earth, full of fine, silky tannins and a hauntingly delicate finish. WOTN for most tonight, and pretty close to mine too. Thanks Jamie. 1999 Wynns Coonawarra Estate John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon (cork):
Medium to very dark blood red. An attractive nose that’s earthy with blackberries and violets dusted in cocoa; a velvety entry leads to medium-weight palate with thick, chalky, green tea-like tannins that outweigh the curranty/strawberry fruit, finishing very dry and just a touch bitter. This was tough going, and a little unconvincing at the moment.
Go ahead, make mine red.