Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wines of the Week - April 12th

Although it can be fun to zip through lots of wines in a larger group, when faced with wines of age and quality, it is nice to have a larger bottle to hand to get a proper assessment of the wine, and how it evolves over time in the decanter or glass. The other benefit of a magnum bottle is the lower air to wine ratio in the bottle slows down the oxidation process as the wine ages in the cellar, resulting in a fresher wine on opening. Similarly, dessert wines frequently come in half bottles, meaning you are occasionally tempted to smash the bottle to lick the last remaining luscious drops from the broken shards...or is that just me? A full bottle, especially of a sweet wine with enough acidity to remain refreshing, gives you time to savour its evolving pleasures, and get another half hour of an evening too good to end. The three bottles making up this week's wines of the week were all entirely worthy of what was a night of celebration.

Vilmart & Cie Champagne Coeur de Cuvée 1993 (magnum)

Established in 1872, Vilmart really sprang to prominence when current owner Laurent Champs (Vilmart on his mother's side) took over in the early '90s. Based in Rilly La Mountain at the foot of Montagne de Reims and at the northern edge of Champagne, the climate lends itself to aromatic purity and the 1993 Couer de Cuvee shows plenty of that. Still very fresh, with laser-like acidity, and a lovely minerality, this wine has plenty of life in front of it, especially for well-stored magnums. 

Torbreck Run Rig 2002 (magnum)

Torbreck's flagship wine Run Rig made from low-yielding old vine Shiraz with 3-5% Viognier added, has been accumulating acclaim for nearly twenty years now, led by the Wine Advocate which lauded the 2002 as such - "it gets my nod as one of the most remarkable wines made in either the Southern or Northern Hemisphere". With such high praise and a series of 98 and 99 scores, first timers used to some similarly scored but overly-extracted Australian reds might be in for a surprise. Although this wine has plenty of power and ripe fruit, it's controlled power, like a luxury car effortlessly cruising, rather than a drag car screaming and smoking. Similarly, the ripe blackberry fruit is tweaked by the Viognier to give it a softness and aromatic lift that keeps it balanced and interesting. Fantastic now, and for decades to come.

Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume 1995

A topical wine as the producers of Quarts de Chaume seek to try and establish grand cru status in the face of opposition from the owner of Baumard, 44 years after the Domaine des Baumard first proposed the idea. Read more from here.While most consumers would only be vaguely aware, at best, of differences between ice wines, noble rot and passerillage (drying grapes on the vine), the current vogue towards regional differentiation is going to make these proceedings difficult for Baumard from a public relations perspective. Regardless, the '95 Quarts de Chaume was a superbly complex wine to sip and enjoy. Sweet but not luscious, fresh but with prominent aged characters, it was a delight to the last drop.

Previous week.

No comments:

Post a Comment