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A mixed bag of wine

The sundial vineyard at the town of Wehlen in Germany. The sundial was put there long ago, when the workers joined a union (Photograph supplied)

Today I am just thinking back to some of the wines that I have enjoyed during this month, and I would like to share my thoughts with you. A few weeks ago, my wife picked out two mixed cases of very reasonably priced reds, with the intention of narrowing them down to a few casual summer sippers.

I was really impressed with the organic 2018 Veramonte Merlot that hails from the beautiful Casablanca Valley in Chile. Here the fruit can ripen slowly under the gentle cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean and of course the lack of any artificial fertilisers, pesticides and so on makes for purity in the bottle. I found a very pleasing balance of blackberries, raspberries, currants and spices. If you are of the vegan persuasion, then you can happily enjoy this wine as no animal products, such as eggs or gelatin, were used during the fining process. $19.50 (Stock #6194).

Another red from this selection that is certainly on our buy again list is the Australian 2020 Lindemans Bin 50 Shiraz that sells for $17.30. This winery was founded in 1843, but today it is owned by Penfolds, one of our world’s most respected and renowned wineries. As I have found with any of the quite extensive range that we stock from Lindemans, this shiraz particularly impressed. Berries, plums and spices, hints of oak and vanilla, all make it a good bottle to open when the barbecue is being used. (Stock #7211).

We like to keep some chianti on hand and 2019 San Felice Chianti Classico brings back memories of such a wonderful stay at this Tuscan property, and even hosting their winemaker as our house guest a few years ago. Italian law requires at least 80 per cent sangiovese grapes, but San Felice are at the forefront of developing and protecting old indigenous vines and so they add some colorino and pugnitello. There are elegant hints of plum, blackberry and raspberry that stand out. This wine and some aged cheeses are just a lovely start to the evening. James Suckling gives it 91 points, as does the Wine Enthusiast, which writes: “easygoing and enjoyable, this has pretty aromas of violet, eucalyptus and wild berry. The smooth palate boasts ripe raspberry, juicy black cherry and star anise accompanied by pliant, polished tannins. Drink through 2024.” $24.95 (Stock #8974).

Earlier this month I was invited to dine with a group that included visiting with a very long-time associate in the wine trade. In fact, he works for the winery that I hold responsible for my joining of the wine trade back in 1975.

I was poured a glass of white and here I would like to quote from the winery site: “Every now and then when tasting wine, you come across one that makes you fall into its gravity. One moment you are having a great time with friends and the next you’re stuck with your nose in the glass — time stands still, and you appear to have a blank stare on your face. The gravitational pull makes time stop.” They are referring to 2018 Orin Swift Blank Stare Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc.

Their winemaker comments: “Glowing in the glass, the aromatics concentrate with notes of lemon grass, fresh-cut grass and hints of lavender, cream and jasmine. On the palate, the entry is all acidity but with a serious mid-palate — lively flavours of kiwi, lime and intriguing minerality. The finish is bright with slight Meyer lemon rind closing out the wine.” It is certainly my type of wine and for Orin Swift fans the label is shockingly collectable, as they all are. $48 (Stock #6657).

On June 20, 1977 I enjoyed a beautiful bottle of German spätlese and so, exactly 45 years later, I did so again this week. Why would I do this? Well, back then I had just met a lovely woman and I suggested that we buy a bottle of wine and have a chat. “You pick,” I said. “Spätlese,” she said. And what a journey it has been. So, this year I bought home a bottle of 2017 Dr Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese that we enjoyed on Monday night with a dessert of fresh fruit — and of course a chat.

By 1978 we had stood together in the “sundial” vineyard at the town of Wehlen in the Mosel River area of Germany (“er” means “from”, hence Piesport-er and so on). Spätlese means “late-picked”, and it was explained to us how the monks at one wine estate had to wait for a messenger from the archduke to grant permission for them to pick their crop of grapes. One year the young man apparently met a young woman while on his journey and arrived about three weeks late with his message to pick. The nervous monks picked the now overripe grapes. A wonderful, slightly sweet, but highly complex wine style was born!

This precipitously steep and rocky vineyard, Wehlener Sonnenuhr (vay-len-er con-en-ooer) yields some of the most elegant and sophisticated white wines in the world. The classic blue slate soil gives the wine a delicate, crisp acidity that perfectly balances the pure peach and lemon fruit. It's a charming wine that dances gracefully on the palate.

The Wine Enthusiast awards it 94/100 and writes: “The nose is demure here, suggesting more mineral and earth than obvious fruit. But the palate surprises with heaving layers of juicy white grapefruit, peach and apple flavours. It's delightfully zesty and spry, balancing sweet against tart and lingering on a cool steely tang.” Riesling has the ability to age well and stored with care this wine has ten more years left in it. $38.35 (Stock #8595).

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Published June 24, 2022 at 7:58 am (Updated June 24, 2022 at 7:56 am)

A mixed bag of wine

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