Petaluma Riesling 1999

Unbelievably, it’s taken me two years to realize that so-called sunny California isn’t always. Sure, there were those few 90 degree days in January, but then bupkus until last weekend, so that huge stash of Aussie riesling malingering in my cellar hasn’t dwindled at all. Thankfully, it’s warming up in the evenings – finally – and now it’s time to get a move on.Thanks, Julian, for this wine; this is the bottle that survived the flight back to Seattle after visiting you in Adelaide and Sydney a few years back. It’s survived well, having colormorphosed into a watery Benedictine of sorts, very much a color I’d associated with cheap, flabby California chardonnay. Of course this isn’t that: one sniff and holy cow, I don’t think you could possibly mistake this for a North American wine. It smells of children’s paste, strangely enough, but only faintly; it’s more of a curious mix that calls up bitter orange, neroli, lemon, bergamot, lavender: all of those things you’d associate with a traditional men’s cologne. There’s also the faintest trace of oxidation here, far from unpleasant, and not so much of the stereotypical diesel or kero you’d expect with something this old. The closest comparison I can think of is with Scottish heather honey that’s being produced near a peat-burning Scotch distillery; it’s sweet, floral, a little bit smoky.All over the place in the mouth, it’s hard to pin down the taste or sense of this wine. Moments after swalloing, I’m reminded of artificially flavored fruit gums, so let me back up a moment. It begins in a somewhat austere fashion, all minerals, straw, and wet stone; then, it reveals a fairly full mid-palate, not so much in body but in fruit, of which there’s still quite a bit a decade on. Acidity is very much kept in check – this won’t frighten Grandma – and there’s a lingering sense of sweetness that’s a lovely counterbalance to all of the aged bottle character this wine displays. That kero note does appear, but briefly, and it all finishes on a fairly smooth, fruity, and yet doggedly dry note that seems much less artificial after the first few sips. If anything, it reminds me of quince paste and jasmine flowers. Phenomenal stuff, in short, and far from dead yet. I wonder how long this thing is going to last? This is only bottle of the ’99, but there’s a near-case of the 2002 yet to be drunk…Petaluma
Price: $NA
Closure: Cork

One thought on “Petaluma Riesling 1999

  1. Had this at christmas time and loved it. A friend I was with had had the wine a year earlier, and while she loved it the second time around as well, thought that it might just be beginning to fade a touch

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