Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wines of the week - March 29th

Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett 2010

With 350 years of family ownership behind his winery, its safe to say Johannes Selbach has a fairly good idea about extracting the best from their various sites in the Mittelmosel. Of the five vineyards, the steep, slate-ridden Zeltinger Sonnenuhr has the driest soils, which must have made for nervous times during the mid-summer dry spell in 2010. Ultimately, after some ups and downs it was a great vintage for Selbach-Oster from a quality perspective, although yields were lass than half those in 2007. This Kabinett is extremely good value, and worth seeking out, especially for those not afraid of a bit of sweetness, as this wine could easily be confused for a Spatlese with its initial sweet attack. Racy acidity keeps the wine taut and balanced, allowing the apple and honeydew characters to complement the tremendous minerality of the wine.    

Littorai Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2009

Littorai is a family run winery started by Ted and Heidi Lemon in 1993. Following on from Ted's formative wine years in Burgundy, the couple specialize in Burgundian-style wines, making a range of Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs using sustainable agricultural techniques. Their focus is on the terroirs to be found in Sonoma and Mendocino, and they make a number of  site-specific wines, as well as this excellent Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. Leaner than most Californian Chardonnays, it shows nice restraint while still possessing plenty of bright flavour. Very pure and classy, I look forward to drinking some of the single site wines as they develop in the next few years.

Tyrus Evan Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2008

Although Washington is better known for its Cabernet, there's plenty of Syrah being made these days, and even a fair bit of that classic Australian blend, Shiraz (Syrah) Cabernet. Walla Walla even sounds Australian, and it is also a town in New South Wales. However, the Walla Walla Valley  is decidedly American, even if it can't decide on a state, straddling the Washington-Oregon border. The winery behind Tyrus Evan is actually the renowned Oregon Pinot house, Ken Wright Cellars. When Ken Wright wanted to expand, he decided not to muddy the waters and created a new label for his Syrah and Cabernet bottlings, with the name taken from his two sons' middle names. The 2008 Walla Walla Syrah is still very youthful, offering plenty of rich, ripe fruit, but with more a red fruit cool climate bent than a Barossa equivalent.

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