there are some new reviews oozing though here, but we're not deckin em up all pretty til we work out an otherwise unborn style for this sleazy rube we call drankster


that's a George Grainger Aldridge cartoon ... obviously a pre-screwcap man

02 May 2009


Tallarook Marsanne 2006
$??: 13% alcohol; screw cap; 93+++ points
St. Luis Riebl is the patron of Australian marsanne. He consistently conjures our best models in the Central Victorian Highlands near Seymour; often I suspect they’re better than nearly all the marsanne in France. Wild yeast, barrel ferment, sixteen munce on lees: it’s all arrogant Rhonish magnificent disdain in the manufactory; once it’s in the glass it sells itself; if you’re really smart you’ll leave it in the bottle for five years or so. It’s like cherimoya, the Peruvian custard apple: kinda fleshy in a cheeky sweet-and-sour way. So it has plenty of fat, and plenty of skinny in that long acid finish.

Yalumba Wrattonbully Vineyards Marsanne Viognier 2006
$18.55; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 93+ points
While the spin kit calls Wrattonbully “recently discovered” (there’ve been vines there at Koppamurra since 1974), and two winemakers each take the credit, on separate pieces of paper, you could say the propaganda needs a bit of a polish. But they’ve got the wine sorted: I reckon this is Yalumba’s best Rhonely white yet. With none of the petiol greens common to marsanne, but swelling with peach, bacon fat, ginger root and cantaloupe peel, it’s modestly-structured, with layers of viognier tannins working the palate. Built for pork stews and curries, cassoulets, bouillabaisse - anything from Richard Olney’s brilliant old Provence cookbook. Mm.

All Saints Estate Rutherglen Marsanne 2004
$27; 13.8% alcohol; cork; 93 points
All the saints? Just the one, really. The holy white trinity of the Rhone also includes roussanne and viognier. But like the exquisite Tallarook, from across Victoria’s Great Divide, this dry beauty would glow in Tain l’Hermitage or Tournon, and properly seduce beside a cool cassoulet of pig’s neck. Perfectly weighted and waxy, in the pear/white peach/ honeydew spectrum, it comes off as slick, slow and satiny as a long opera glove. Purrrr.

Tahbilk Nagambie Lakes Central Victoria Marsanne 2008
$17; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; drunk 29 APR – 2 MAY 09; 92++ points
Marsanne reminds me of semillon. It crops big, and smells like petiols, the stalks of vine leaves. It’s the lesser of the four great whites of the Rhone: grenache blanc, roussanne, viognier and marsanne, in descending order of favour at Casa Blanco. This one is cheeky and fragrant, without nearly so many of those weedy characters. It has musk as well as the acrid edge of a quarry blast, and lots of lemon and crisp packham pears. Its palate is slender yet supple and viscous, without any of that oxalic edge of savvyB. So it’s a modern, sanitary, Australian version of a pre-phylloxera variety from the south of France from one of the several Australian districts which have contracted phylloxera. It’s a really neat little wine, although another smidgeon of my old petiol psychosis erupts when I drink it. I’d like to see a low yield reserve with wild yeast, old oak, and as much lees as it could eat. But a greying brat vinoac from Adelaide wouldn't be out there telling the Tahbilkos what to do, would he?

Yering Station Yarra Valley MVR 2005
$23; 14% alcohol; screw cap; 89 points
Taking the acronym branding thing to another bland level, this marsanne, viognier and roussanne blend also pushes our selection of Rhonesome whites to a smarter high. It’s slightly waxy-feeling wine, with gentle fragrances of drying blooms and weedy meadow pasture as much as anything you’d say was stone fruits, which is what everybody else claims to see, particularly in viognier. Great with olives, fetta, dry tomatoes and hot cacciatore.

Terra Felix Marsanne Roussanne 2005
($15; 13.6% alcohol; screw cap; 87 points)
The Central Victorian wizard, Luis Riebl, did this with new-bought fruit and stuff that missed his prime Tallarook cut. “Marsanne has the nuts and honey, roussanne the citrus hints and blossom”, he says. The honey’s leatherwood, and there’s a shot of gunflint, too, with some syrupy aged base reserve that reminds me of ancient Hunter Semillon. It’s rich, pure, burnished, old-fashioned wine for a cassoulet of pork neck, beans, and artichoke, served barely warm. (16.12.6)

Chateau Tahbilk 1927 Vines Marsanne 2002
$45; 12.5% alcohol; cork (!); tasted 9-12FEB12; 83 points
In the fifties we had a weatherboard building just across the garden from the back door of the big house.  It had a verandah sheltering three rooms from the weather, like row cottages on a cowboy movie set.  Jasmine hung on the lattice.  The first room doubled as wash-house and grange. One side had its copper for boiling laundry and wooden troughs for soaking and rinsing, while the opposite wall was devoted to the storage of sacks of fruitaveg from the old orchard, or Pop's thriving garden.  The middle room was the toolshed and workshop; the third was the woodshed.  Each had its own dramatic smell.  This wine smells like the wash-house when the lemons and pears which had not yet made it into the Fowler's Preserving Kit were going soft in their burlap potato sacks.  There's that creamy smell of Velvet Soap in the warming copper, and the wet wood aroma of the troughs, probably from the cork.  The palate is creamy, like lemon butter and stewed yellow peaches, but only for a moment, then it's dry, like that burlap. It bounces back and forth for a while, but seems a bit of a let-down, considering its significant provenance and price.  More of a curio than a great Marsanne.  Surely the Purbriks had learned of the screw cap by 2002?  

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