This evening, joea and myself found ourselves at the Roots’ place for a tasting of the wines of one of my favourite Australian producers: d’Arenberg. The four of us all have several bottlings in the cellar, and we thought it would be an interesting and fun idea to taste some of the range next to each other. Non of the wines were tasted blind.
As usual, we brought too much wine, too much cheese and too much atmosphere. With this disclaimer, here are my TNs:
We started the evening with two whites: Ronnie had already opened the 2003 The Broken Fishplate (Sauvignon Blanc) for use in a sauce. An pale wine if ever I saw one. Grassy nose, a bit smelly, typical SB in my book. The body displays sweet apples and mineral flavours with a hop bitterness. It is very, very fat as well, unlike any SB I’ve tasted. This also makes it rather unbalanced. The finish is nice, fresh but a bit bitter. 83 points.
Next up, the 2002 The Olive Grove (Chardonnay). Light golden yellow in colour, the nose nose was an almost cliché for a New World Chardonnay: rich, fat, buttery with a smokey touch. A big bodied wine with liquorice and load of herbs. Quite acidic and a bit bitter. The medium finish was grassy and again a bit bitter. 82 points.
We took a small break here, in order to taste some olive oils Joe was kind enough to bring: I’ll post notes on them in Dining & Cooking in a short while.
In the meantime, Ronnie had prepared the our first course: Scallops and langoustes with sepia spaghetti and a lobster broth / PX-vinegar sauce – insanely delicious! We paired it with the Chardonnay, and it was a resounding failure. It didn’t matter, the dish was SO good it didn’t need anything next to it.
Time to try some reds! The first one we tried was one we were all VERY eager to try (insert tongue-in-cheek graemlin here): the 2000 The Peppermint Paddock (Chambourcin). What do you mean, you never heard of the Noble Grape that is Chambourcin? Well, neither had I, but I received some “encouraging” information on this French direct producer in this thread.
According to the d’Arenberg website, this wine is available only on the Australian market…and I wished they’d kept it there: this wine should not have escaped that continent to haunt us here…
First impressions were favourable: it is extremely dark coloured and youthful looking. The nose starts of with a heavy dose of spearmint. This soon fades to reveal amazing degrees of funk, barnyard, baby diaper, manure and assorted related aromas – most impressive! The body is as far removed from a red wine as possible: the most favourable comment was made by Lady Roots, who commented that it reminded here of grapefruit juice gone bad. I only recall an acidity of epic proportions. The finish is long, and that is NOT a good thing. Why this was ever bottled and released will probably remain a mystery forever. NR.
So, time to try something serious: the 1997 The Ironstone Pressings (GSM-blend). The colour is revealing some age. Minty nose with spice, vanilla and barnyard, but sweet as well.
Thin bodied with vanilla, exotic spice and some eucalyptus on the midpalate. A bit medicinal. The tannins were a bit rough at first, but became smoother after we decanted it.
Long finish, rather dry and with a lingering, artificial sweetness to it. Not bad, but not very exciting either: 87 points.
Joe and I thought this wine might have suffered from heat damage: for sure it was nowhere near the quality of the 1995 (my TN here) or the ’98 I’ve also tasted. Disappointing.
1995 The Coppermine Road (Cabernet Sauvignon) – Ronnie and I tried this wine quite recently, so we were sure this would show better than the previous wine. I might have, had we decanted it and given it plenty of time: tonight, this was an utterly closed wine that refused to open up. NR.
There was some left and the Roots will post on the development of this wine.
2001 The High Trellis (Cabernet Sauvignon) – The nose started out very odd: custard with cranberry sauce?! With some time in the glass, it became more behave: blueberry, cherry, some oak.
A big but accessible wine: fresh and fruity, not overtly complex and lacking a bit on the midpalate.
Medium finish, sweet. Nice wine, but not to get very excited about either: 86 points.
I tried both the Ironstone Pressings as the Coppermine Road with our main course: leg of wild boar with assorted mushrooms, baby potatoes and a Sandeman ’66 Vintage Port sauce (don’t ask – too painful). A great meal, with which the Coppermine Road paired nicely.
We discussed the wine we had tasted after dinner: stylistic, they are quite similar. We were (and are) rather puzzled why we did not enjoy them more: did tasting too many of them make them boring? Weren’t we in the mood for d’Arenberg? Did we get unlucky and had some unrepresentative bottles? Whatever the reason, we decided to skip the ’99 Dead Arm and ’98 Vintage Fortified Shiraz, and opened a Casella 2000 Carraman Estate Botrytis Semilloin instead – and a good thing we did! What a lovely wine. Orange golden in the glass, this had a great nose of honeyed apricot, green tea and straw. Sure, it is sweet and thick, but has an acidity that makes this wine dance on the tongue with pineapple and papaya flavours. Medium finish, honey and again pineapple: 91 points.
(We knew beforehand this would be a great wine: the label boasted no less than 9 medals: 1 top gold, 3 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze and 1 mysteriously called “blue gold”)
To wrap up the evening: an Andresen 1982 Colheita (bottled 2000) – Orange brown, with a sweet, alcoholic nose that shows brown sugar and coffee aromas. Quite hot, but with a velvet-like body. Not very complex. Medium finish, again a bit hot, raisiny and nutty. Decent enough, but just a bit too hot: 83 points.
All in all, some disappointing wines, but did that make the evening any less enjoyable? Noooo, of course not: can’t wait for the next time we’ll meet!