Did you get a long weekend last week? I joined in the throng of people making their way northwards in search of sunshine, landing in Noosa (along with half of Victoria’s winemakers apparently) for a few days of not doing much at the beach.
Given that my tiny rented apartment here in Sydney is only 450m from the beach anyway this might seem like overkill, but it’s still just a bit cold to swim much here in Sydney, while it was 34C with 22C water temps in Noosa. Plus the food and wine scene is excellent.
Noosa’s restaurants all have a natural bias towards lighter Asian style food, with lots of seafood dominating red meat. That means wine lists laden with Provence rosé, aromatic whites and lots of Chardonnay/white Burgundy, interspersed with way too many full-bodied reds (which makes no sense when you’re eating fish and it’s 26C with 88% humidity. WTF).
Of all the wines I tried over the long weekend (and I was in holiday drinking mode, so volumes were well up), two wines stuck out as obvious standouts.
More than just standouts, these two wines represent reminders. They’re exclamation mark drinks, which remind that we have glorious white wines here in Australia that age magnificently and are well priced.
That last bit is particularly important. I paid $80 for the Pewsey Vale on the list at two hatted Wasabi (a late birthday dinner. Best food in Noosa), and there is no wine as complex anywhere near it. Basic Bourgogne or magnificent aged Riesling? No contest.
As for the Semillon, I still can’t understand why some wine writers ignore aged Hunter Sem (for evidence, check any non-NSW wine writers Insta feed and find much Hunter Sem). That delicate balance between aged complexity and sprightly acidity, all in a framework of low alcohol is addictive. Shit, we should be putting this up along with Rutherglen Muscat on our wine coat of arms.
Broadly, this isn’t just about white wine. The price of red Burgundy now means that, unless you’re willing to part with decent cash, it’s not worth buying. I went hard on 1er Cru Burgundy about 5 years ago and nearly every bottle has dissapointed. Anyone wants to buy some 2010-2012 vintage Burgundy you can have it. I’d rather buy some of these Pinot or these instead and keep the change to spend on a few bottles of 2017 Clare/Eden Valley Riesling.
I’ll get off my soapbox now. Go buy some Riesling and Semillon.
Brokenwood ILR Semillon 2009
From a warm vintage in the Hunter better known for reds than white. Here, that has translated into a wine of flesh, the middle showing lemon toast, the edges soft and just a little blurred, but all without losing vitality. It’s a more forward ILR, but that combination of weight and acidity makes for such an easy wine to love. It’s cosseting, the mouthfeel both plump and full like a bottle aged Chardonnay that has gone through full malolactic fermentation, but there’s no oak or alcohol, the finish lemon freshness, the acid more prominent than you’d expect. Lovely wine, and a suitable drink for both Coffin Bay oysters and a crab and chilli pasta. Best drinking: 2017-2027 but heck it will keep living. 18.7/20, 94/100. 10.9%, $60 odd. Was $115 on a list. Would I buy it? Sure would.
Pewsey Vale Contours Riesling 2011
Produced from the oldest vines at Pewsey Vale in the Eden Valley. I’m not sure if this is just the Contours block (which is literally planted on the contour of the slope) or just the older vines. Released as a five year old, though the cold and wet 2011 vintage means this looks still very young, the colour more green than yellow. By contrast to the Semillon this is tighter, the shape different – there’s no opulence, just classic lines. It’s more lime than lemon, the toast of bottle age nibbling at the edges but otherwise playing a supporting role for the dry, ultra precise and powerful citrus fruit. Great lines, this is so refreshing, if still so youthful. As a younger wine this may well have been hard work, as even now its subtle. Every sip it moves between primal fruit and bottle age weight, but then gives you snippets of complexity, then a tighter finish. A superb oyster wine and all round delicious drink, even if the best years are still ahead of it. Best drinking: 2017-2031. 18.5/20, 94/100. 11.5%, $36. Would I buy some? Back up the truck.