Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Royal Melbourne Wine Awards Judges Dinner

I cracked an invitation to the dinner on the cheap; I only judged the Provenance wine class, with much pleasure and speedy agreement between the panel which saw Granite Hills emerge with the Trophy thanks to its three vintages of Riesling: ‘13, ‘08 and ‘03.

The dinner was held at Bellota, next door to the Prince Wine Store, and one of the most congenial restaurants for wine events, but also allowing diners to choose wine from the Prince Wine Store and effectively do a BYO from that point onwards. The menu and wines follow, with my shorthand tasting notes in italics (the wines for the dinner came from several sources).  The theme was a truly interesting one: the 2011 vintage, with its mix of very good (Victorian cool region chardonnays) and rather dilute reds in the eastern half of Australia, with the exception of the Hunter Valley.  On the Burgundian side, 2011 is one of those lighter vintages which give enormous pleasure when young, and just may continue to do so for many years to come.  It certainly ranks behind ‘09 and ‘10 in the view of some commentators, but I would far prefer to drink the ‘11s now than either the ‘09s or ‘10s.  So here goes, and I do emphasise that these are deliberately abbreviated tasting notes.  Having said all that, Rousseau is in a class all of its own; the only problem is getting hold of the wines – as difficult as Domaine de la RomanĂ©e-Conti.

Baby spring vegetables, leaves, salted ricotta

Ocean Eight Verve Chardonnay  
Very intense and focussedYabby Lake Single Vineyard Chardonnay  Refined, balancedSeppelt Drumborg Vineyard Chardonnay  Greatest drive, singularityGiaconda Chardonnay  The most complex and grippy
Snapper, fennel, heirloom tomatoes and green olives
PHI Single Vineyard Chardonnay  Long, intense, lingering
Oakridge Lusatia Park Vineyard Chardonnay  By far the most complex; sulphide works well
Hoddles Creek 1er Yarra Valley Chardonnay  Supple, long
Coldstream Hills Reserve Chardonnay  Very, very fine; still a baby

Braised spring lamb, seasonal vegetables and roast potatoes
Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin  Super fragrant; what an entry wine! Savoury, but with lovely red fruits
Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux-St-Jacques  Some darker fruit notes with lovely spicy, dancing tannins and red fruits
Armand Rousseau Mazy-Chambertin  Very supple, though initially showing some stemmy/green notes which miraculously disappeared
Armand Rousseau Charmes-Chambertin  Bright red fruits with a cross-cut of spice and forest; by far the most charming of the first group – why not?

Herve Mons Comte Reserve – 24 months
Armand Rousseau Clos de la Roche Grand Cru  Great hue; has that lovely sauvage character of Clos de la Roche – as ever
Armand Rousseau Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru Clos des Ruchottes  An avalanche – gentle – of red fruits to start, then forest and spice
Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St Jacques  Perfection – how can this be when there are theoretically better wines to follow?
Armand Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru  A truly amazing wine; this defies all logic for the vintage, with splendid depth and texture
Armand Rousseau Chambertin Grand Cru  Superb colour, superb wine; finesse, line and length. It kept on disputing first place with Clos de Beze, the latter often regarded as more attractive and open than the Chambertin in the early phases of development

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