25 January 2012
McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant 1946/66 Hunter Valley Sauternes
From a private collection; 10.2% alcohol; cork; consumed January 2012; 96 points
In 1966, the winemakers at McWilliams decided a batch of sweet Muscadelle, made by the mysterious genius Maurice O’Shea in 1946, deserved a touch of freshening. So they put it in a tank with some sweet Gewurztraminer to make a blend, 36% of it being the O’Shea wine. Even under cork – we were lucky - the resulting wine was striking in its freshness and vibrancy, 46 years later. Overwhelmingly heady blossoms, even the pungent elder flower, poured from the glasses and over the table in the most composed and authoritative ooze. Honey and butterscotch came to mind, but such simple words cannot do this alarming tincture justice. It was sublime. Elegant, yet with the most seductive syrupy texture, the wine held its freshness until the bottle was spent. It’s not exactly common, but, cork willing, THE gift from heaven if you ever see one on the auction lists. I will remember this wine forever.
Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Gewurztraminer 2008
$25; 12% alcohol; screw cap; 89++ points
Only those hardy souls who've lived near the top of the Barossa Range through a few winters can appreciate how much more wild and wooly is the weather there: it's a freezing blustery place for most of the year, then in comes the blanching summer dry and the air is crisp and crunchy as a chip and you hear the odd thud as the big regums drop their mighty limbs. This gewurz has wind in her hair, and reeks of the bleak sandstone and schist-based soils that make up the High Eden Ridge. Winemaker Louisa Rose, who has property on said ridge beside Mountadam, knows this weather. She fermented this gewurz in old Frecnh barriques, and it smells like it's all wild yeast to match. Then comes the frail yellow rose aroma of the variety at its best, maybe some lychee or guava. The palate's dry as ground-up bone china. But the fruit is fleshy, and just manages to cover all that stone and acid. Perfect for the pickled cabbage and smoked sausage choucroute, plenty of hot mustard seeds in the sauce. 05 MAR 09
Pipers Brook Vineyard Tasmania Gewurztraminer 2008
$27.50; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 84 pointsMusk sticks, ripe raspberry fruit gels, maraschino cherries, blood orange, ly-chee, freesia – lotsa purdy party favours in this bouquet. But it’s all very well-formed and polite – there’s no sign of misbehaviour. No seductive wickedness. The palate shows some of the errant tropicals and spice I need in gewurz, but it all feels a bit Sunday School Teacher to me. Neat dry finish, but even that’s a bit hymnbookish in its structure and papery tannin. Cucumber sandwiches: white vienna bread, unsalted butter, crusts cut off.