Kanta Riesling by Egon Müller 2005, Adelaide Hills, museum release
There is no doubt that Egon Müller sits on a throne of a Riesling Kingdom. Who else could we expect to come to Australia, the best Riesling country out of Europe, to create a wine with a considerable German touch. The concept was called Kanta Riesling and apart of Müller there were two other personalities involved – Michael Andrewartha and Akos Forczek. Grapes were, after years of site searching, sourced from Shaw and Smith´s Adelaide Hills vineyards and the first vintage came out in 2005. The result was a wine which did not have much in common with South Australia Rieslings nor with Mosel ones. It also didn’t amaze Australian wine critics, James Halliday gave the first vintage 91 points (this is not much from this generous man) and Huon Hook was even less impressed – obscure 85 points. How could they? This is king Egon! He should have got 95 points as soon as he left Wiltingen with a flight ticket to Australia in his pocket. Now a museum edition of the first vintage is out. Is it really that… not amazing?
Kanta is extremely seductive on the nose and indeed more German than Australian. No, you don’t smell oil mines while having nose in a glass of this golden viscous Riesling as it is full of honey, bee wax, camomile and candied fruits. It even has the “plastic” notes which can remind you of old Riesling from Mosel. Where is the catch? Is it that far from the Aussie style that those famous critics didn’t get it? I am afraid that they were right because the palate is rather disappointment. Yes, it is intensive, it is rich and it is complex but also heavy as a cathedral (13,4 % of alcohol)! The wine is bone dry, full of ripe citruses, honey and stewed apples but it marches on the tongue like a platoon of Turkish soldiers leaving a tarty bitter sensation. I mean it is a truly impressive wine, different from what all Aussie Rieslings usually produce with fantastic aromas and flavour intensity yet the elegance of a tug boat and tarty finish pulls the wine down to average which is a shame because this wine has potential to make a deep European footstep in Aussie Riesling traditions.
Alcohol: 13,4 %
Quality: very good
Would I buy again? No, but I would like to try more recent vintage
Mammoth Rare White 2015, Moutere Hills
Nobody knows better than Kiwis what a flexible variety Sauvignon Blanc can be. Even if you planted the vines into concrete and fermented the juice in a toilet bowl there would still be drinkable wine at the end. As easy as it seems to make a good Sav Blanc the harder it appears to create a great wine from it. I know, I know, I know… Sancerre, Pouilly Fume, Bordeaux… these regions can produce fantastic wines but compared to the amount of below average herbaceous scrap boosted with aromatic yeasts produced worldwide and mainly in New Zealand, it is not enough. Nevertheless, it was a New Zealand Sauvignon that made my nostrils purr while my tongue was doing a double backflip.
The wine is called Mammoth Rare White and even though it is a young project it has already become a legend. Grapes are sourced from an organically farmed vineyard in Moutere Hills (Nelson) and Michael Glover, the author of the Mammoth, gives the grapes very extravagant treatment. “Whole bunches go into our 8 tonne concrete fermenters. I do absolutely nothing for approximately 2 weeks which allows for the enzymatic carbonic activity inside the grape. After two weeks, I dig out the whole bunches and press. Primary ferment finishes in Chassin coopered puncheons, Billon acacia hogsheads and my bespoke ‘Che Glovera’ Bordeaux coopered cigars that are 200 litres and very long to increase the lees to wine ratio. The wine stays in these vessels for a year without being touched before the lees is stirred back into suspension and the wine is moved to tank for a further 6 months lees ageing. No fining, no yeast, no enzyme.”
First sniff and I feel like someone threw a piece of flint stone straight into my face – interestingly, it doesn’t hurt, just tickles. Second sniff and the variety is slowly coming up with gooseberries, ripe peaches but still in a cloud of caveman´s fire smoke. Wow, it is so weird… but I like it. The palate is less unconventional but even more entertaining. It is rich, flavours are intensive, very smooth on the palate yet balanced and fresh. Ripe citruses on the frontline followed by a cavalry of gooseberries, grass and ubiquitous smoke, long and mineral finish. The wine is everything else but restrained as all Kiwi Sauvignons that we are used to spit on but this time it doesn´t matter. It is actually the other way around, it is fleshy and kind of shocking but more like Salvador Dali´s painting rather than Kim Kardashian´s butt. What else? Go for it, it is after all a very rare Rare white.
Alcohol: 13,5 %
Variety: 100 % Sauvignon Blanc
Would I buy again? YES