Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Two more cracking wines from Joseph Swan Vineyards

I must confess that I was a bit worried about this wine when I first opened it. I couldn't quite put my finger on what might be "wrong" with it, though. Hints of cabbage (the red sort - but not exactly pickled), jam, tar and volatility were dominating the fruit, whilst the palate was exhibiting plenty of highs and lows - but not an awful lot in-between. But rather than dismiss it as a bad bottle (or even, heaven forbid, a bad wine) I decided to give it time to clean-up its act in the decanter. And it worked a treat, so I can only assume that this was a rather extreme case of reduction/bottle stink. What follows is a tasting note compiled over 2 or 3 hours, as the wine continued to open-out and blossom into something really quite lovely.

A semi-transluscent blood red core, fading gently to a raspberry rim. An unusual nose, combining black fruits, citrus fruit and peel, herbs and coal tar, with just a hint of trademark Swan volatile acidity and earthiness and a note of warming eau de vie. A little coaxing reveals further hints of leather, exotic spices and polished old wood. Over time, the palate reveals itself to be remarkably zingy and youthful, with plenty of primary red and black fruit flavours, allied to nicely grippy tannins and a mouthwatering backbone of lemony acidity. Subtle spicy and herby flavours begin to emerge after a good 2 hours in the decanter, and the fruit really begins to blossom, with the bramble and raspberry flavours turning to red cherry, redcurrant and even a hint of cranberry. There's also an intriguing earthiness, which adds yet more interest to what is already a considerably complex wine. This is no rich, extracted or overly-concentrated fruit bomb - in fact it really is quite elegant and restrained, in an almost Tuscan (Brunello/Chianti/Sangiovese) way. Indeed, the transformation from opening to 3 hours down the line is quite remarkable. All of which leads me to suspect that this is a bit of a sleeper, that may take just a few years to show its real potential - but I have a feeling that it could turn into something rather special. 14.0% abv. £21.95.

No such teething problems with this one, I have to say! A deceptively light-coloured wine - pale raspberry red at the core, fading to a watery pink rim. The nose really is essence of Pinot Noir - ripe summer fruits, exotic mixed spices, roses, leather and forest floor. The entry is soft, velvety and full of sweet, succulent fruit, with gentle tannins and ample acidity, making for a supremely balanced wine. There is a touch of old(ish) oak influence, but only in the background - this is a wine dominated by fruit, with flavours of raspberries, strawberries and cream, and a hint of cranberry adding lightness. This isn't trying to be Burgundy - it it is somewhat richer and more velvety, and doesn't possess the heightened acidity usually found in a Burgundy. But neither can it be compared to young New Zealand Pinot Noir, many of which - to my mind - can seem over-extracted, tarry and obvious by comparison. No, this wine has a style all of its own, managing to be both generous and elegant at the same time. And although relatively primary at the moment, it shows enormous potential for development over the next 5 years or more. But it really is so lovely to drink now, who could wait that long? A(nother) lovely wine - in fact, I can't remember ever having a wine from this grower that I haven't loved. 14.5% abv. £23.50.

1 comment:

Vinogirl said...

Great tasting notes, lovely descriptors.
Happy New Year!