I remember when I first tasted this wine, in the late 90s. I came a bit late to Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, you see, but the Giesen gave me an inexpensive taste of what it was about. It continues to be my favourite “reliable” example of the genre, and as 2007 has been talked up in the Marlborough, I was interested to taste this wine over the weekend.
As is typical with this wine, somewhat explosive aromas of cut grass, passionfruit and other astringent fruits leap from the glass. This is a wine that bursts into the room with all guns blazing. It’s piercing and characterful and gloriously vulgar. It’s also, within the context of the style, balanced and attractive.
The entry shows tingly acid and a sourness that carries through to the mid-palate. Within this light bodied wine, there are intense flavours that mirror the nose, along with a somewhat scouring mouthfeel. There’s a deceleration towards the after palate, and the finish is an echo rather than a substantial continuation of the wine’s flavour, but by that time, you’re ready for another sip anyway.
No great complexity of flavour, then, but it’s a hugely enjoyable wine that exists at the more outré end of the stylistic spectrum for “budget” Sauvignon Blancs. Personally, I don’t see the point to the softer, more rounded wines that are crafted for maximum acceptability but, to me, represent a denial of terroir and style.
GiesenPrice: $A15Closure: StelvinDate tasted: February 2008
This wine, impossibly pale – approaching a sort of white tea, white grape juice clarity – smells of good quality rose petal tea from China: smooth, floral, beautiful, perhaps not terribly complex, but then again Gewürztraminer seldom is, at least on the nose.There’s also a sort of clove oil spiciness, but only just.In the mouth, this wine is a big surprise. It’s full, fleshy, but not fat; oily, but pleasantly so, and all in all strangely austere, restrained. It’s got a marzipan fruitiness combined with a dry finish, good length, and a miraculous ability to keep you going back for another taste. If anything, it reminds me of French orange blossom honey combined with Dresdner stollen: all gentle spices, orange peel, hay, and quiet. Delicious.When summertime rolls around in another few months, I’m looking forward to reading on the back patio with a glass or two of this; it’s delightful, elegant, and just the sort of thing to have with a burrito al pastor.Kathy Lynskey WinesPrice: US $13.99Closure: DiamDate tasted: February 2008
I don’t know anything about One Tree Hill. I don’t think the bottle I consumed has anything to do with Scaffidi Wines, which uses “One Tree Hill” as a label on some of its products. The back label identifies it as a Hunter Valley wine made “under the supervision of Len Evans.” It happened to be on sale for $5 at the local First Choice. I’d be interested to know more about its origins.
A dense purple-red colour, still youthful. The nose initially showed dominant raisin-like notes and assertive vanilla oak. Then some complexities: prunes, fresher red fruit, some black pepper and clovey spice. If you can get over the dried fruit notes (which, I admit, aren’t always to my taste), there’s some good intensity here. It is not, however, a lightfooted aroma profile.
The entry shows a slippery-slidey mouthfeel that lands on the mid-palate with more vanilla oak, raspberries, dried fruits. Quite intense, yet clumsy and oak heavy too. Low in acid and tannin, this wine’s structure steps back to place full bodied fruit at centre stage. The after palate is spicy but tapers quickly to a short-ish finish.
I’m not going to complain too much over a $5 wine, especially one that is full of flavour. The flavours, though, seem stressed, perhaps a result of the very dry 2003 vintage in the Hunter. Those raisin/prune notes, as well as the assertive oak, don’t mesh well with my sense of Hunter Shiraz or, more broadly, of what I enjoy drinking. On the other hand, this is very clearly not an industrial product, showing character (including what one might classify as faults or markers of a difficult vintage) and generosity. Perhaps one should be grateful for that fact alone.
One Tree HillPrice: $A5Closure: CorkDate tasted: February 2008
Givry, located in the Côte Chalonnaise, is often regarded as a “value” appellation and lacks the lustre of villages located within the Côte d’Or. Given the words “value” and “Burgundy” are rarely seen together, I’m willing to give this wine the most generous of chances. Expressive, pretty nose of florals, deep red and black fruits, a very slight sappy edge and some exotic incense-like character. There’s a lack of definition to the fruit that detracts ever so slightly, but one receives adequate compensation through the amount and attractiveness of the flavours that are there. The entry is deceptively slippery, as it takes a few moments for the wine’s acidity to register. Once it does, though, relatively intense fruit flavours sizzle within the wine’s medium bodied palate. There are quite masculine berry flavours mixed in with vanilla and spice oak, plus a hint of earth/mineral. Most of the wine’s fruit weight is currently sitting towards the front of the palate, as the acid tends to take over as the wine progresses towards the after palate. The fruit hangs on, though, and re-emerges on the finish as a lingering, prickly sweetness that persists through a wash of acid and tannin. I think some time for the acid to subside will see the fruit fatten up and sit more evenly through the wine’s line. Even as it sits in the glass, the fruit is thickening and gaining weight and complexity. For all that, it’s drinking pretty well now.This is a very tasty wine that shows clean winemaking and attractive fruit. To be critical, the fruit is slightly clumsy, lacking the poise and structure of the best wines. This is not an overly intellectual wine. Drink now or drink later; the choice is yours, but I’ll be leaving my remaining bottles for 2-3 years before retasting. Good value for what it is.Clos SalomonPrice: $A38Closure: CorkDate tasted: February 2008
Disclaimer: I’m at the tail end of the annual bout of flu that goes around the office, so take anything I write here with a grain of salt…First off:
It looks like Sebastien Roux isn’t actually a Burgundy producer, but rather a négociant label used by Trader Joe’s here in the USA. [This entry was updated on Feb. 10, 2008 to correct my mistake. My apologies to M. Roux and his family – they are in fact a family-owned winery that’s been making wine since 1885. Please refer to his comment below for a complete explanation…]There’s a bit of sweet tobacco leaf on the nose here, almost exactly like Red Man chewing tobacco, and it’s pleasant enough. There’s also kind of a high-pitch neon electric cherry vibrating across the surface, and that’s not too bad, either. There’s also a sort of tomato leaf note here, a sweet greenness, that’s appealing as well; this is all balanced by a sort of low-key spice box approach, something like Dutch sausage (think cloves). In the mouth, OMG TANNIN!!!1!11! After some time in the glass, though, the tannins calm themselves down nicely, so what you get is a moderate bodied, smooth drink that ends on a slightly clumsy note of tannin and oh so French minerality. It’s all very, very French and a welcome change from the ubiquitous California pinot noir found in these parts.At this price, though… well, I suppose it’s appropriately priced. Not terrific value, but not a rip-off either. I suppose that’s the best one can expect to do in these post-Sideways times.Sebastien Roux [Domaine Roux Pére et Fils]Price: US $19.99Closure: CorkDate tasted: February 2008
Another from the variable (for Riesling, at least) 2007 vintage in the Clare Valley. Skillogalee tends to sit a bit “out there on its own,” stylistically, and I happen to enjoy many of its wines a great deal. This wine may come as a surprise to those who are more accustomed to the style of neighbouring Mitchell, for example, or any number of other more austere Rieslings from the area. A relatively rich colour; hay with a bit of light green, excellent clarity. The nose is equal parts lemon juice and sweeter, tropical fruit (tinned pineapple springs to mind). You don’t need to work hard to get smells from the glass, and the aroma profile is indulgent rather than crisp and piercing. The entry shows sizzly, textured acidity and slightly fuller body than one might expect. The mid-palate is as much textural as it is flavoursome, with more rustic acidity and some phenolics sitting alongside citrus and pineapple fruit, plus some bitter herbs. Acidity is a tad unintegrated. Flavour isn’t the most intense I’ve ever experienced, nor is there significant complexity, but it’s present and tasty. The after palate brings a focus on the fruit, which drives a nice line through the middle of the tongue. The wine dies a bit on the finish.Not everyone will like this wine, I imagine, especially if your taste runs to the dryer, more austere Clare Rieslings. And it’s not the best Skillogalee Riesling I’ve had, being perhaps a tad obvious in fruit flavour and coarse in acidity. But it’s a tasty wine, fresh of mouthfeel and with easy fruit flavour. I’d pair this with Chinese food, as I’m about to on this Chinese New Year’s evening.SkillogaleePrice: $A22Closure: StelvinDate tasted: February 2008
Same producer as for the Bourgogne Rouge tasted earlier this week, but a decided step up in grape source. This wine is from the 1er Cru Les Caillerets vineyard in Volnay. A more youthful, purple colour than the lower wine, good clarity. The nose is really interesting. There’s definite complexity here, mixing plums, a sort of floral yet spicy candied fruit character with a hint of sous-bois and perhaps a tiny bit of brett too. It’s seamless and smooth, if a little understated. The palate’s entry shows really fine, firm acidity that underlines the wine’s flavour profile and creates good movement through to the mid-palate. The flavours here are a replay of the nose, and there’s a tightness (without any sense of brutishness) to the wine that suggests it may take some time to find its proper expression. Sweet and sour cherries, some foliage, minerality — good intensity — again seamless and elegant, a wine with self-confidence. The after palate displays a hint of oak as tannins start to dry the tongue and prepare for a finish of good length. It’s too early to fully enjoy this wine, but what’s here is promising. I will revisit it in a few years’ time. I’m about to sit down to dinner and will be interested to see how it responds to food.Christophe VaudoiseyPrice: $A58Closure: CorkDate tasted: February 2008
What with everyone carrying on about 2005 red Burgundy, it would be remiss of me not to contribute a few notes. I have here a selection of Burgs, nothing outrageously expensive, Bourgogne Rouge to 1er Cru, various appellations. I thought I’d start with a modest Bourgogne Rouge from producer Christophe Vaudoisey, who is based in Volnay. Pretty ruby/orange colour, lightish, transparent. It was a bit reticent on opening, but just a few minutes in the glass has seen its nose reach a more satisfying expressiveness. There’s a touch of rubbery smokiness that, for me, does not detract from the pretty florals and fresh crushed red berries that form the major notes here. There’s a sharpness to the aroma that is pleasing and clean. The entry is slippery and focused, if not immediately flavoursome. The middle palate is where things start to get interesting. Light to medium bodied, there are more fresh, astringent berry fruits along with an almost citrus-like sourness, some herbs, and sweet florals. Straightforward, not especially complex, perhaps slightly thin. Mouthfeel is heavily influenced by rough acidity that creates a rustic impression. Flavour intensity is at its greatest as the wine moves into the after palate, where a nice fruit sweetness frames the sour fruit and helps it to sing. The finish is really quite long and satisfying.For the price, this wine is a bit of a bargain. What you get is an honest, very drinkable wine that combines attractive flavours with a slighty chunky, fun mouthfeel that begs for food. It’s not complex but it has character and charm. A good alternative to local Pinots at this price point.Christophe VaudoiseyPrice: $A22Closure: CorkDate tasted: February 2008
Two steps up from the Windy Peak Pinot Noir is this number, made from Estate grapes in the Yarra Valley. The 2005 vintage was excellent, so I snapped this one up to try this evening. A bright ruby, transparent, moderate density. The nose is controlled and delivers a hit of red fruits, both sweet and savoury, plus some minerals, sap and oak. Some good complexity, and just a hint of prettiness. It smells astringent, somehow, and this impression is confirmed on the palate. This light to medium bodied wine enters the mouth with good impact, both acid and sour fruit flavour registering immediately on the tongue. Intense, fresh red fruits mix with sappy flavours on the middle palate, mostly savoury in character but with edges of sweetness, in the same way that some Chinese teas register a delightful sweetness at the very edges of their flavour profile. The wine is well textured, due mostly to its acid, which is assertive without being lumpy or disjointed. The after palate does thin a bit, riding a wave of acid towards a finish that persists with good length.The structure of this wine, especially its acidity, suggest it may drink better in a few years’ time, when it has attained better balance. For now, though, it is a fresh, sophisticated wine of good complexity and notable texture that will match well with food. We had ours with gourmet pizza, to good effect.Update: I left it overnight and revisited a glass the next morning (spitting of course). The fruit opened up a notch, revealing additional layers of rhubarb-like flavour, and there is a spicier, custardy dimension too. It’s still very tight and structured, though. There’s definitely some life in this wine.De BortoliPrice: $A25Closure: StelvinDate tasted: February 2008