What we've been drinking (3 April - 10 April 2009)
Publishing Director, Decanter
Mount Horrocks, Clare Valley, South Australia 2008
Enjoyed with Hugh Johnson at Zuma. The perfect lively fresh zing to accompany carpaccio of sea bass, chicken yakitori and chilli crab. A text book example of great Aussie Riesling. Bliss.
Chateau Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux 1990
Tasted blind, at dinner at Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste last night - alongside renowned Swiss critic Rene Gabriel, and his (entirely silent) cohorts, and of course the laid back owner Francois-Xavier Borrie. Gabriel knew it was Yquem from his first sip, but was ambivalent about the date, being equally convinced it was 'not from a great year'. He plumped eventually for 1999. I was equally convinced it was older than 90, from the rich deep yellow gold colour, the softness of the acids and a certain falling-off of body. Whatever - it was delicious - a floral nose and a palate intensely sweet still and tempered with a delicate hint of salt and spice. We had it with a chocolate and caramelised almond torte which I will remember till the day I die.
Acting Assistant Editor, Decanter magazine
Newton, Unfiltered Merlot, Napa Valley, California, USA 1995 (in magnum)
I enjoyed this wine at a London dinner with the exuberant and forthright Su Hua Newton. The Spring Mountain estate which she co-owns with husband Peter is known for its natural approach, crafting unfiltered wines fermented using only indigenous yeasts and keeping new oak to a minimum to enhance fruit purity and terroir. This Merlot (with about 13% Cabernet Franc) boasted a gamey, developing nose of cedar, sweaty saddles and truffle, with more of the same accenting the juicy damson fruit palate. The tannins were ripe and soft and it was lacking only in a touch more acidity to enliven the finish. It still has a few years ahead, however, and would make a lovely accompaniment to well-aged red meats or hard cheese.
Deputy Editor, decanter.com
Esk Valley, Chenin Blanc, 2007
Tasted at Esk Valley with genial winemaker Gordon Russell, following a tour of the terraced vineyards (while telling us the timing issues of co-fermenting Malbec with Cabernet Franc) and the winemaking facilities, including the old concrete vats so dear to the estate. This wine had a nice, perfumed apple nose with a hint of wax. It was lovely, fresh and pretty on the palate. This wine really is a treat - and it's great value too.