Friday, May 25, 2012

Hiding Sailor, Crouchen Riesling

Despite making a wrong turn on a highway exit - during rush hour none-the-less - and having to retrace so many miles of our drive back to Perth, we made it back to our B&B just in time for Happy Hour. Our host, Richard de la Haye, had already opened a first bottle. We quickly followed with a second.

1134. 2010 Pierre Naigeon Beaujolais (AOC Beaujolais - France)

I always enjoy seeing the wines that other people buy and I definitely found the choice of a Beaujolais in the farthest point of Australia to be an interesting one. Through most of our trip Down Under, wine lists - and often entire bottle shops - have been decidedly Australian. The Aussies are real home court drinkers when it comes to wine.

Then again, Richard isn't your everyday Aussie either - and, no, he doesn't wear his vintage naval outfit all the time. He did appear willing, however, to don it at a moment's notice. If only because, every time he sported the jacket, he got around to plugging his historical novel of Captain Bligh's untold story of forbidden love - Beyond the Capes.

I know as much about Pierre Naigeon as I do about the times of Nelson's Navy. But a little Google shows that Naigeon is a fifth generation winemaker who's company produces 50 different wines, including three Grand Crus and several Premier Crus Burgundian wines. The big reason for all the different wines is that they take single vineyard to the extreme with their Burgundian Pinot Noirs. They also make a number of village and regional offerings - and, so it would seem, at least one Beaujolais or Gamay Noir.

A simple and quaffable red for the Aussie heat. It was nice to come home to.

1135. 2010 Moss Wood Amy's (Margaret River - Australia)

As a thank you for his hospitality, we gave Richard a bottle of Moss Wood's introductory wine - which he graciously opened right away.

It might have been Moss Wood's introductory level but this was no light Beaujolais. It was a classic Bordeaux blend - with a touch of that extra, Aussie kick of dark fruit. Amy's is made from fruit grown on three of Moss Wood's six vineyards. The final blend for the 2010 vintage was 50% Cab Sauv, 32% Petit Verdot (don't see that too often), 12% Malbec and 5% Merlot.

I was particularly happy to fit in a bottle of the Moss Wood since we're only able to take one bottle home with us and it should be laid down for awhile before opening it.

Merlot Boy lined up dinner for our final evening and called up Bluey and Rosie, his newly transplanted Perth buddies, and they joined us for cocktails - performing an invaluable service by helping to finish off much of the remaining vodka. A few martinis to the good, we wandered down the street and found one of the local pan-Asian restaurants that populate the area. Scanning the wine list for something to match with pork intestines (Boo's and Rosie's contribution to the family style meal) isn't one of my strong points, but I did see a wine that piqued my interest.

I figured why not end the trip with another Aussie surprise.

1136. 2011 Brown Brothers - Crouchen Riesling (Victoria - Australia)

Crouchen Riesling sounded like a sequel to the movie, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Turns out Crouchen is yet another varietal that I've never heard of before. The Crouchen grape originated in the Western Pyrenees of France; however, it's hardly grown there anymore. Writer, Jancis Robinson, notes that there are records of the grape being shipped to South Australia in 1850, where it was long confused with Semillon, "which Australians were wont to call Riesling." It was called Clare Riesling until 1976 when French ampelographer (or grape classifier), Paul Truel, toured Australia and identified it as the little known French varietal. The grape is also grown to some extent in South Africa where it is often called Cape Riesling.

Crouchen is hardly a popular varietal in Oz though. In the mid-2000's, there were maybe 250 acres of the grape grown in the whole country.

This blend from Brown Brothers (the winery that also brought the Tarango grape to my attention for the first time) is 2/3's Crouchen and 1/3 Riesling. Light in alcohol at 9.5%, the wine was a touch off-dry and it had a good whiff of passionfruit on the nose and taste on the palate. The sweetness actually did match well with the spices and curries that coursed through our plates as well.

My guess is that I'm not too likely to run across this varietal very often. So, a last minute addition to my Wine Century Club tally is a nice little going away present from our little Aussie adventure.

It was grand of Merlot Boy and Margarita to fly across the country to join us in Perth and Margaret River. They helped make our visit all the more fantastic. As sad as it was that our trip was coming to an end, I suppose all the untasted wines and missed locales will just spur us on to come back again.

The realization finally hit us that it was time to click our heels and prepare to leave Oz. Our 4.30 wake-up call wasn't all that far off. So, with good-byes to good friends all in order, we shuffled off to finish packing - and to count the number of wine bottles we were still lugging around. With both of us facing a two bottle allowance at Canadian Customs, we figured we were going to have to face the reality of paying extra duty. Bugger. I think the trip was worth it though.

No comments:

Post a Comment