Wednesday Wines – Episode 34

Episode 34 – 18th November 2020

 Two wines this week, from one winery and one epic winemaker, Andrew (Ox) Hardy, and both are way over a tenner (so I have broken my own WW rules, again), but they are magnums and they are both drinking at their peak right now!  The notes below have been lifted from the Petaluma website and edited a touch, and then I have added my thoughts on the end of each passage.  Don’t forget, Christmas is coming and magnums make twice the impact!

2012 Petaluma, Hanlin Hill Riesling, Clare Valley, South Australia 13% alc. (£55.00, magnum, Harrods tel. 020 7730 1234).

The handpicked grapes were transported from the Hanlin Hill Vineyard, in Clare, to the Petaluma winery in the Piccadilly Valley, in the Adelaide Hills.  The bunches were then destemmed, crushed and chilled and the free-run juice separated in a Willmes tank presses.  This cold juice was settled before the partially clarified juice was racked off gross lees and inoculated with a selected yeast strain. The alcoholic fermentation was carried out in stainless steel tanks and it lasted about three weeks.  At sugar dryness, the wine was chilled to -2°C and cold-settled for a month before a light filtration and then it was sterile-filtered into bottle in July 2012.  The 2012 Hanlin Hill Vineyard has produced a full-flavoured, dry, slate-y Riesling. This vintage will go down in history as one of the great years with wonderfully high natural acidity.  This Riesling is a full, dry style with lovely, delicate, floral aromatics and a hint of tropical fruit. Lemon-lime blossom on the nose flows onto the palate, showing trademark citrus flavours with a hint of spice. The naturally high acidity gives a wonderful lift on the finish.  While the 2012 is immediately approachable on release, it will also age gracefully.

With all of this in mind, I can add that at eight years old, I feel that this wine will undoubtedly roll and roll, but for my palate, this wine has reached the top of the ladder and it is striding purposefully across the platform to the edge of the diving board.  Sensational lime curd notes abound and so, it is time for this wine to perform before the Germanic tones creep in.  I would advise that you grab this epic magnum and serve it with your very best friends this Christmas.  It’s probably worth noting that 2016 is the current release right now and it sells for around the £25-mark, so the price for this eight-year-old magnum is extremely attractive, too.

2008 Petaluma, Evans Vineyard, Coonawarra, South Australia 14.5% alc. (£85.00, magnum, Harrods).

Although the winter of 2007 was drier than usual, there was wonderful, soaking Spring and early Summer rain in the Evans Vineyard in Coonawarra.  The growing season was quite cool with the vineyard receiving 1503º C days of heat, slightly more than the long term average of 1414º C days. Happily, after the rigours of the frosty lead up to the 2007 vintage, there were no significant frosts in Coonawarra in the growing season. The ripening months of February and March were quite cool, and the old vines ripened their meagre crop in mid-March.  All of the fruit was hand-picked, taking the Merlot on the 13th and 14th, the Shiraz on the 17th and the Cabernet Sauvignon from the 18th to the 20th March. The pristine whole bunches were then trucked to the winery in the Piccadilly Valley, destemmed, crushed and chilled into a combination of Potter heading-down-board fermenters and 1.5-tonne open fermenters.  The cold must was then inoculated with Petaluma’s chosen yeast strain to encourage primary fermentation after 3 to 4 days cold soaking. The Potter fermenters were racked and returned once per day, that is, the fermenting juice is drained away from the skins to another tank and then pumped back up, refloating the ‘cap’. This helps gentle colour and tannin extraction.  The open fermenters were hand-plunged twice per day, ensuring that the floating cap does not dry out. The alcoholic fermentation lasted up to 15 days and the wines were left on skins for a further few days to help tannin extraction, aroma flavour complexity.  The sugar-dry wine was then drained off the skins and gently pressed and the blended wine was gravity fed to barrel after settling for 24 hours. Malolactic fermentation was encouraged in barrique using chosen native bacteria. After malo, the wine was racked out of oak, analysis-checked and sulphur dioxide was added before being returned to barrel. At Petaluma, the favoured cooper is Dargaud et Jaegle, based in Burgundy, and our Coonawarra reds are all matured in French oak barriques from the forests of Alliers and Nevers.  These forests produce very fine-grained oak, ideal for the reds from Coonawarra. The individual batches were blended after 20 months in barrique, egg-white-fined and then gently filtered to bottle, in February 2010.  The 2008 Petaluma Coonawarra is once again a blend of predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) and Merlot (31%), with Shiraz (9%) making up the balance.  Typically elegant Coonawarra Cabernet Merlot in style, the Shiraz adds a lovely, sweet supple middle. Deeply intense in colour with soft, sandy abundant tannins, the 2008 Petaluma Coonawarra is a big brooding dry red, and it ranks among the best vintages in Coonawarra. While the wine is soft and approachable now, it deserves very long term cellaring to allow the underlying cedar and spice to fully develop.

Once again, this is a super-detailed analysis of this wine.  2008 was a ripe vintage and so this wine has jogged along nicely and it is definitely at its peak.  It is utterly brilliant, perfectly balanced, fully mature and it will give any Left Bank claret a run for its money!  At the equivalent of £42.50 per bottle, this is an awesome experience and a great way to drink a fully mature Coonawarra classic.