What characterises wines I enjoy?
Whenever I am asked what's the best wine I've ever tasted I have to declare a draw between 1985 Frederic Mugnier Musigny and 1962 Penfolds Bin 60A Coonawarra Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz (I've tasted three bottles - two were great and the third sublime). Both wines stunned me into silence.
1985 Frederic Mugnier Musigny
Tasted in a restaurant in Dijon. I did not make notes but have a very clear recall of experiencing perhaps the greatest wine I have ever tasted. I was at first charmed by the wine's ethereal, silken texture and then awed as it revealed layer after layer of complex flavours that were displayed on a lingering finish like a peacock's tale. The wine has enormous power and concentration and still manages to be profoundly seductive. A deeply religious experience.
2012 Framingham Noble Riesling, Marlborough
Hand harvested grapes over a 12 week period with bunches showing 15-100% botrytis infection (net botrytis estimated at 50-60%). Fermented in oak barrels and 50 litre stainless kegs before blending. Very intense wine that combines the very best of pure botrytis influence with concentrated Riesling characters. Winemaker, Andrew Hedley has really nailed it. I tasted this wine with a line-up of truly stellar Framingham 2012 dessert wines and was forced to give the highest score I have recorded in recent years. An exquisite Riesling that promises to be a long distance runner.
1962 Penfolds Bin 60A Coonawarra Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz
Fabulous colour: very deep purple red, dense and rich and bright. Great bouquet of floral aromas; anise and violets, fresh and powerful, very intense and fragrant. Lush flavour floods the palate: a deliciously fruity wine, not overly tannic at all (unlike the young Granges of 20 years ago) but with stunning early appeal, drinkability and balance. A beautiful modern-style Grange, which will drink well for another 25-plus years.
2011 Bell Hill Pinot Noir, North Canterbury
Tasted alongside the Old Weka Pass Road there was a clear family resemblance with both wines expressing similar tautness, purity and minerality but this more expensive label shows significantly greater concentration and structure. Supremely powerful Pinot Noir but the power is delivered with great finesse. Clearly built for the long haul, I would feel a sense of loss if I opened a bottle before 2019 and expect it to continue to give pleasure for more than a decade after that.