When cold, a restrained aroma that is part delicate flowers and part stone. There is a hint of sweet, slightly tropical fruit running underneath all the high toned goodness, though it seems to duck for cover whenever it is in danger of being fully recognised. Some
It’s especially satisfying to follow a label over time and observe how it varies with each vintage. Sometimes an especially good vintage will show extra depth, or unusual complexity, or a particularly intense perfume, all the while retaining an essential consistency with its siblings. There’s no doubt this is an excellent Hilltops, and it shows the trademark fruit density and character that I look forward to every year. But there’s a powerful something “extra” in this release — an almost flamboyant spiciness that is present both on the nose and palate — that has me smiling tonight.
Only this afternoon I was listening to Max Allen’s Crush podcasts, which briefly discuss various Australian wine regions in Mr Allen’s typically fanciful style. The episode on Langhorne Creek discusses at some length the relative invisibility of this South Australian region, although plantings there are extensive. Fortuitously, I came across this wine when rummaging through the “cellar” at home. Not only is it a Langhorne Creek wine, but (according to the back label, anyway) is made expressly to showcase the region’s qualities. “Created” by Cellarmasters but made at Bleasdale, the wine was assembled from several growers’ grapes;
Forever the underdog is Riesling, at least in Australia. In a way, though, it parallels our most successful grape, Shiraz, in its diversity of regional expressions. Within the generally dry style in which it is made here, there is a range of worthwhile variations across the country. Most enthusiasts have added (at least) Tasmania, Canberra and Great Southern to the Clare and Eden Valleys as regions of note for Riesling. In this case, we have a Great Southern example from the 2007 vintage.
Never having had a Ridge chardonnay before, I’ll freely admit that I was expecting something entirely different. At first sniff, this is very much a buttery California chardonnay, with the tell-tale roasted nut nose and fat whack of malolactic fermentation. Mmm… delicious?Yes, delicious. Slightly chilled, the nose is complex and inviting, with sweet cream, pineapple (almost), roasted nuts, and something of a dusty note, light reflected on neglected wooden blinds. Curious!Fairly fat in the mouth, or at least wide, the secret weapon appears to be bright, assertive acidity that quickly cuts it down to size. Before the smooth, refreshing acidity on the finish, though, you’re treated to cashews and pears, summer citrus fruits, and again a sweet creaminess before the acidity arrives to wash it away – and then a very rich, leesy finish arrives to carry it all away on little cat feet. Surprisingly, there’s an almost medicinal note there as well that reminds me of my father’s podiatry office when I was a kid: an unusual ozonic lemon air freshener note (although that sounds terrible, it is in fact appealing in context). Some faint yeasty characterics are also apparently after the wine warms up a bit, subtly framing things in a lovely, earth way.Is this Chablis? Hell no. It it Californian? Hell yes. Most importantly, though: Is it delicious?Yes.Ridge
I suppose we all come to a point in our drinking lives when we open yet another bottle of yet another respectable, well-regarded wine and shrug, jaded, resigning ourselves to yet another evening of predictable pleasure. What is to be done? Well, for starters, we train ourselves to pay more attention, to reach back into memory to remember why we’re here in the first place, what that first bottle was like, the time when the wine was the focus of everything, not the alcohol that washes away the cares of the day, not the hastily prepared food that serves as a haphazard coda to the day’s endeavors.So! This wine is getting on in years, its bouquet shot through with violets and summer strawberries and cream, edged with darker leather and tobacco. It’s as if someone spilled cassis liqueur in tobacconists with a significant overstock of paperback novels; it’s eating ice cream at a wake, it’s watching the London winter rage outside from within a greenhouse at Kew.Vibrant, acidic, with tannins that surprise quickly before fading entirely from view, I find the wine to be distinctly peppery and just a little bit simple; it’s much more an Old World model in terms of body, opting for nerve instead of plushness. Still, there’s a certain creaminess, languidly unfolding, that trails off into a finish that reminds me of unsmoked cigars you never knew your Dad smoked, but that you found poking around the basement as a child. All in all, this wine tastes like something unexpectedly retreived from memories you aren’t sure are yours to begin with, like a memory of wine drinkers past. It’s good.Grosset
There are a few notable Merlots on the local scene but I’d struggle to articulate (based on admittedly limited experience) what a regional Aussie Merlot should taste like. Is that a bad thing? I’m not sure; it certainly makes for unexpected, though often bland, tasting experiences.
My first instinct was to write a short review that went kind of like this:There are some amazing wines produced in Georgia. This is not one of them.My second instinct was to make an abstruse, lame joke about Two Lari Chuck (or whatever Chuck is in Georgian), but you know? That’s lame. Also, abstruse.So. Here’s the real tasting note:The packaging is cheesy and Russian: a cheap glass bottle inexplicably ribbed for your drinking pleasure. I suspect it’s supposed to look like a woven basket, but what does that have to do with kvevri?The nose is simple and grapey; with ten minutes’ aeration, it does eventually gain a bit in complexity, but not much. Fans of Zinfandel might like this or even confuse it with Zin, especially if already drunk. (Hint: This could be a bottle to serve once you’ve served the good stuff at the beginning of the party.) Thin and gnashingly acidic, it does manage to right itself somewhat on the afterpalate, but the only flavors here are generic grape wine product with an edge of raspberry sorbet. It’s not nasty, but it’s also not enough to make me want to finish the bottle.My third and final idea for a brief review:How do you say sangria in Georgian?Oddly enough, this wine improved greatly after half an hour in the glass. Ultimately, I don’t think it’s a bad wine, just a fairly traditional one that doesn’t show well immediately after uncorking it, which is probably a bad thing for a wine in this price bracket. Even so, I’m not in a hurry to drink any more of it.Two Georgians
A dark, rich red with edges of purple. This wine’s nose is like a bunch of dark cherries being greedily, juicily eaten by a feral animal. There’s some stink that comes in waves, but the overriding impression is of fresh juice and tart, split berry skins. At the edges, an appealing, icing sugar-like powderiness that adds some detail and presence in the higher registers. This seems a darker wine overall, though not serious so much as rich and generous. I’m not sure the animalé is entirely terroir-driven; it smells as much of boiled eggs as it does wild Pinot. Certainly within tolerable limits.
From memory, a deeper aroma profile than its predecessor, and slightly