This year’s Terra Australis, organized by our guest contributor Attila Halász, was held at Curia Restaurant. You can find his scores either here or here. Hungarian bloggers share their thoughts here and here. Funny, but this time my scores are pretty close to Attila’s, while the usual thing is being close to TheEdAlc.
We started with a sauvignon blanc called Cornelius Sauvignon 2007, by Scotchmans Hill. It is a beautifully crafted wine, in the style of the Bordeaux blancs, but still staying an authentic Australian wine. I am not a fan of sauvignon blanc, but this one could dismiss some of my doubts whether a 93 point sauvignon blanc may ever exist. I still had some second thoughts, but basically, I was convinced.
A deep, greenish-yellow hue, with a compelling & elegant nose with smoke and fruits. Nuts, green apple, with a touch of tropical fruits. An elegant structure, with round, but lively acids, a wee bit hot on alcohol, with a medium body and intensity, but a long aftertaste, nevertheless. A very well-made, clean and elegant wine, not dominated by an expensive barrique. Reaching as high as white Bordealais, more elegant than any other sauvignons, but still has room to improve. As for me, concentration & intensity could be better indeed. This is a beautiful wine, but you need to go after it. It should have more immediate presence in the glass, thus command more admiration. Perhaps balance could be even sharper through a bit lower alcohol, but to be honest I do not really care. I leave that to the English. 93 points, with room to improve. (Most other tasters skipped this wine with a score of 89, as it is lacking things mostly up front – but actually these are the only bits separating it from perfection.) If every country has sauvignon blanc, why don’t they try to make a wine like this?
Oakridge 864 Chardonnay 2009
Light-to-mid lemon & green hue, roasted sunflower seeds, citrus fruits and candies on the nose. It has intensity, depth, and complexity. Thick in the mouth, with huge intensity. Vivid, but ripe acidity, an incredibly long aftertaste. Easy-to-understand, clear, simple and complex at the same time. A faultless wine with a remarkable intensity of taste and an extreme length of aftertaste, rising up to 95 points. Again, there are some obvious areas to improve (like matching a relatively faint nose to the very strong performance on the palate), but that would close up on the 100 point score.
By Farr Sangreal 2005
Mid garnet hue. Rose hip and liquorice dominate the nose, with some old cherry jam. A delicate nose with fine little twists. The very same notes appear on the palate, good intensity, nice, ripe acidity, and a very long aftertaste. Just as a great Burgundy, definitely not a New World pinot by style. There are two considerable differences: this wine is ripe for drinking (or ‘surprisingly mature’ in Old World terms). Unable to reach up to the very best of Burgundian pinot noirs, but it is not a failure by any means, unlike so many expensive Burgundys. Do not cellar, drink it now, there is not much acidity or further tannins to support the structure for ageing. 94 points.
Clonakilla Shiraz-Viogner 2009
Beautiful, glowing deep ruby hue, with an intensive scent of sour cherry and sweet, ripe apricots, and peaches. Lively and vivid on the palate, the first such wine tonight. It has a firm body, but the acids make the wine diverging, alcohol seem to be high, it is much less impressive for the structure than for the aromas. A really long finish and aftertaste makes it truly outstanding.
It scores 93 points altogether with me, it has everything the ’08 was lacking on the nose and the palate, but the structure fails to live up to it. I was satisfied with the ’08 wine for being focused and concentrated, even though it was closed down aromatically. They seem to be on par altogether. Perhaps it has lost some charm while travelling, as it is an outstanding wine, but I still fail to see it as the best Aussie wine of any vintage. A big step behind the later competitors.
Gróf Buttler Syrah Nagy-Eged 300-400 meter 2005
The second highest member of the syrah trilogy from Nagy-Eged. Ruby hue, with sour cherries and black pepper dominating the nose. Very obviously a Buttler syrah, even blind, notably without the vegetal/green marks. A ripe, fried beetroot-like note, typical for Eger & Gróf Buttler! Promising indeed. Ripe on the palate, though slightly lazy, and a lot of alcohol. Still, it reaches up to 89 points with me.
Gróf Buttler Syrah Nagy-Eged 400-500 meter 2005
The highest member of the syrah-trilogy. Even deeper hue, more intense on the nose, sour cherry, black pepper, nutmeg and more barrique notes, higher intensity & richness. Thicker, heavier stuff, with an even higher alcohol, but still in better balance. Could be 92 points or even higher, but the alcohol deprives it from higher scores. (Surprisingly, the label states 14% abv for both Gróf Buttler wines.)
Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet-Shiraz 2002 (the Baby Grange)
A really European wine, perhaps the only one tonight. Deep garnet colour, with a pale rim. Cedar, nutmeg, liquorice. Maturing cabernet & oak dominate the nose, a rather conservative, Old World style. At first it is like a pure fruit & some oak claret. Shows well on the palate, lively acids, good composure, but it also drinks well. A touch of mint of the nose, too. Marginally New World, overwhelmingly Old World in style, easily approachable for a Hungarian palate, too.
Great intensity, but the alcohol is slightly high. Nevertheless, it scores at 94 points, perhaps the best wine of the evening until now.
Wendouree Cabernet-Malbec 2004
Deep, opaque violet-ruby colour, ruby rim. Sour cherry, plums, a touch of marzipan. Plasticine, typical for Argentinian malbecs. Depth & concentration on the nose. Very thick stuff, but still far, far away. Smooth on the palate, thick, concentrated and focused. Impenetratable. Extreme acidity, but very well contained, just as in the Szepsy 6 puttonyos aszú 2006. Extremely powerful, impulsive, but very much bearable. Same on the palate as on the nose. Later liquorice & cassis / cassis liquor.
It is like gulping down the T1000 model down your throat. This year’s Nobel Prize goes to Tony & Lita Brady for inventing Bradynium. 98 points, could perhaps be more complex, but this is absolutely not a deficit. (i.e. Who cares?) Unique & unforgettable. Could well be a 100 points, as Tim Atkin puts it: Fuck it, how much better does wine get than this?
Penfolds Grange Bin 95 2004
Deep, opaque ruby colour, nearly black. A shocking, extreme intensity on the nose, sweetness, coconut, thick, dried sour cherry jam and plums. Extremely concentrated superripe fruits. Nothing cooked, or jammy. Sweet spice, and a touch of herbs: cooling mint and thyme. Very thick, heavy and concentrated on the palate, lots of acids curb a huge alcohol, and a Gargantuan body. Should have spent at least a day decanted. Hard to score, as it has been tasted nowhere near its full potential, approximately 95 points now. A less impressive personality than the Wendouree, but running very close.
Gróf Buttler Bikavér Nagy-Eged 2006
One of the highest rated wines from Gróf Buttler is the Bull’s Blood Cuvée, besides the syrahs and the occasional Pinot Noir selection. Nagy-Eged is definitely top rated terroir in the region. The wines of the 2006 vintage was much debated in public, certain critics providing really enthusiastic opinions, while others are debating jammy flavours, high alcohol, harmony and longevity. I share the worries of the latter group, while admitting to a very limited experience on maturing Gróf Buttlers.
This wine was an absolute waste to open after the Wendouree & the Grange. I was most sorry for the loss of the afterscent of Wendouree in my glass.
Mid ruby hue, with a slightly disturbing vegetal nose of black raddish, beetroot & cardboard. (No cork taint, though.) A very high alcohol on the palate. Overly aggressive & disharmonic. Neither flabby, nor lazy, but simply disturbing tonight. A taste of overripe, baked fruits, definitely improved from my latest memories a year ago, but the aftertaste in burned up by alcohol. Not a fair moment to score this wine, but it is obviously unable to keep up with the aussies yet.
Surprisingly, my fellow Hungarian tasters preferred this wine to the two syrahs, scoring them ca. 91 points vs 88 points, while I was rather thinking the other way round. Actually, I would have scored this wine under 85 points for sure, but I preferred forgetting it immediately, and got back to retasting the Wendouree.
Lillypilly Noble Family Reserve 2002
Deep golden hue, with a grapey, muscat scent, with surprising flashes of high volatile acidity. Funny to see how well the Sauternes varietals reproduce the very same wine style as in Sauternes and how it gets accepted for recreating the benchmark experience. Very sweet on the palate, could go with some more acids, it is a bit geil for me. Very clean flavours of grapes, apricots, apples, and a bit of tropical fruit. Very nice to drink, surprisingly enjoyable after the first impression, but pretty simple. Yes, the aussies seem to be able to produce an excellent wine in this category, but fail to excite my by any means. 90 points for being an excellent, nice, smooth & tasty wine, and also 90 points for being uninteresting and uninspiring.