Wednesday, December 2, 2009

R Wines Tasting with Chris Ringland

It was a real treat to have Chris Ringland in the store a couple of weeks ago for a public tasting of some new releases. Chris makes the wines for "R" Wines, a partnership with Dan Philips and the wines are imported through The Grateful Palate. Over the past few years, Chris and Dan have been focusing on securing leases on some of the choicest vineyards in Australia and are producing a multitude of wines of amazing quality that are selling at amazingly affordable prices. Of course the upper tier wines will still knock your socks off!

It was my first opportunity to taste the 2008 Marquis Philips Riesling 44. Classic riesling notes of rich apricot and petrol waft from the glass, followed by crisp, mineral laden riesling that is bone dry. Very Alsatian in character.

Next we poured the 2008 Bitch Grenache. The response to this wine has always been the same. People buy the wine for the novelty of the label and then they come to buy more. The recipe is very simple: pick ripe old-vine fruit, let it ferment and put it in a bottle. No oak, no manipulation, just ripe concentrated fruit-driven wine.

2008 Permutations Pinot Noir and 2006 R Wine "Little R" Cabernet are both well-made and varietally correct, which is a big statement when you are talking about these prestigious grapes and the affordable prices these wines command.

The star of the evening was the 2007 Chris Ringland Ebenezer Shiraz. And what's not to like about this wine? Beautiful silky black fruits are robed in veils of vanilla and toasty oak. It just tastes too good and is way too easy to drink. Surprisingly, Chris says this wine is just a baby and recommends using a Vinerator wine aerator or double-decanting the wine to see all the comlexity. People seemed to like it straight from the bottle as we sold every bottle we had in the store.

And then they went to the table with the big-boy wines!

First up was the Chateau Chateau 2007 David and Goliath McLaren Vale Grenache. The Chateau Chateau series features small lots of exceptional single vineyard Grenache. The spectacular labels are designed by the Hungarian Artist, Istvan Orosz, who creates images with impossible objects, optical illusions and double-meanings. The David and Goliath, 100 cases produced from 80 year old vines aged in neutral barrels, featured layers of richly perfumed red fruits, spices, minerals and leather.

The next three wines were extremely limited expressions of Shiraz and were only available on a pre-sale basis. Evil Incarnate 2004 and The Wine 2004 are both sourced from the Hoffman Vineyard in Ebenezer, but the barrels selected for each wine were selected for their unique characteristics. Evil Incarnate was aged for 36 months in French hogsheads. The multitude of pure black fruits were precisely etched, with soy and truffles leading down a dark path of smoky earth and finely integrated tannin. The Wine saw the same barrel regimen, but the fruits are richer and more opulent and are graced with notes of soy and hoisin before dissolving into a long finish with fine tannin and dark chocolates.
Anamorphosis 2006 is sourced from Kalimna and was aged for 30 months in new French oak barrels made from four of France's finest coopers. The wine explodes on the palate in a dizzying array of red and black fruits. Imagine berries of pomegranate, huckleberry, raspberry, blackberry, red currant, black currant and cranberry all popping crazy on your palate simultaneously. Something like that. And then it just slowly dissolves into infinite inky blackness. Nice.

It so happens that the word 'anamorphosis' has a very specific meaning. (I had to look it up!)  An 'anamorphisis' is a drawing that presents a distorted image which only appears in its natural form under certain conditions, say, viewed in a cylindrical mirrored surface, like a wine bottle. Istvan Orosz specializes in such things. The wine comes in a special box with the bottle (in a black fabric bag to protect the mirrored finish) and the poster with the inscrutable drawing of a forest floor on which to place the bottle to reveal the image.

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