May 17, 2009

White and red

With summer weather in Portland, we got the dry season off to a nice start last night with dinner in the backyard with neighbor friends. After a little Blind Pig ("Swig a Pig") ale from Russian River Brewing, we tried two very interesting and delicious wines.

First, the 2008 Torbreck Woodcutter's Semillon from the Barrossa Valley of Australia. I found this for $8 locally, which is aberrant pricing. Still, at $15 or so, this is a seriously nice wine for summer. Light gold in color with a slight greenish cast, this is fresh smelling, lemony with light wax and mineral notes. Nothing complex but just so beautiful and pure, I loved this. The flavored followed, with bright, crisp lemon and steely notes, pure and focused but with just enough fat to give a sense of richness. This is excellent Aussie semillon, exemplifying yet another wine category beyond the usual shiraz that merits your attention. I don't know if this is worth aging, but semillon from down under can have surprising cellarworthiness.

Then the 2000 Thunder Mountain Star Ruby, a Bordeaux variety blend from the Cienega Valley of California. Check out this old Elevage post from 2005 when I detailed the sad but uplifting story of this winery. Sad in that Milan, an old acquaintance from wine board days, is no longer with us. Uplifting because he was a homebrewer who went pro and made excellent wines like this one.

So how's this bottling holding up? From that old post, I see that I found this wine tight and needing age. Nearly four years later, it's rocking good. Certainly in no danger of fading, but this is drinking really nicely. Lots of berry, cassis and barrel toast on the aroma, all nicely integrated as age does for good wine. There's some tobacco in there and other spicy notes. The flavors follow, with lovely fine tannin that's beginning to resolve. This has terrific balance and a long finish, just what I look for wine a wine. Four years ago I said this could easily go for 10+ years, and I still feel that way. You can drink it now or over another decade. Thanks Milan.

1 comment:

dfredman said...

I'd have no worries about giving the Torbreck Semillon an additional 5-10 years in the cellar. Barossa Semillons tend to be a little more forward than the traditional Hunter Valley Semillons that can give Shiraz a run for its money in the "Greatest Australian Wine" category. The fruit for Torbreck wine comes from five different vineyards within a short distance from the winery. The vines range in age from about five years up to 100, with the younger components being handled in stainless steel, while the fruit from the older vines undergoes élevage in very neutral (5-6+ year old) barrels. After blending, this gives the Woodcutter's Semillon fruit and complexity. While not showing the enamel-removing acidity in its youth that the best Hunter Semillons exhibit, this wine has the balance and the structure to evolve. A bottle of the 2002 Woodcutter's White (100% Semillon) opened a couple of weeks ago was delicious. At $8/bottle, it's a steal.