Tuesday, September 22, 2009
A LONG-LOST COLLECTION RETURNS
I've written a few things of late about our good friends at Tramonte & Sons, and today is no different. This small, family-run distributorship serving both Ohio and Kentucky, has just picked up The Australian Premium Wine Collection, a fantastic importer of quality, vineyard and terroir-specific wines from across the continent and country of Australia. With owner/winemaker John Larchet leading the charge, wineries such as Elderton, Rutherglen, Hewitson, and others, have become long-sought-after staples for any fan of Aussie wines.
This afternoon, I was invited to a seminar, hosted by Mike and Matt Tramonte, at Jag's Steakhouse in West Chester. There amongst several other restauranteurs and retail shop owners and buyers, we were treated to a "meet-n-greet" tasting with John Larchet, Dean Hewitson (of Hewitson Estates), Allister Ashmead (winemaker for Elderton) and Patrick Gehrig (winemaker for Rutherglen). 23 wines in all were featured from each winemaker (with John Larchet walking us through his projects The Wishing Tree, Hill of Content, The Old Faithful, and Tir Na'Nog).
For the first time, I actually "tweeted" my tasting notes as I was tasting, so feel free to check them out at http://twitter.com/k2whino. Suffice it to say, there wasn't a dud in the bunch. The only bad thing was that the very first wine of the event, the Hewitson "Lulu" Sauvignon Blanc 2008 was a no-show on account of being sold out. Aside from that, everything was amazing, and I say that with some surprise, specifically because I have become bored with Australian wine as of late. The whole over-the-top, high-alcohol, "I just got 109 points from Robert Parker" thing just sends me into fits. I taste so much wine at work, when I drink it at home, I want something that will go good with whatever the heck I am cooking/ordering in so something of the "left-handed" persuasion is best left to go on my pancakes, not in my wine glass.
With the wines from TAPWC, the wines are almost "anti-Australian" in that they are well-balanced, with enough fruit bombast for the Parker disciples, yet enough structure and elegance to satisfy the rest of us. And the big focus, thankfully, for TAPWC, is quality AND affordability. Wines like The Wishing Tree Shiraz 2006 and the Rutherglen Red 2006, are phenomenal reds for the price - both clocking in under $15 - while the Chardonnays from The Wishing Tree and Elderton, as well as the amazing Rutherglen Alliance 2008, are exceptional values for white wine, from anywhere in the world.
My favorite though, and this has always been my weakness, are the dessert wines of Australia - affectionately dubbed "stickies." The Rutherglen Muscat NV and the Elderton Botrytis Semillon 2007 are remarkably priced sweet wines that just finish eternally. The Rutherglen Muscat particularly was just divine hedonism, if there could be such a thing. It was one of those eyes-rolling-back-in-my-head moments that wasn't boredom, but ecstasy. And of course, the Elderton Command Shiraz 2005, TAPWC's answer to Penfolds Grange. A powerful, dense, concentrated Shiraz that possesses the ethereal prowess and density to weather a 20-year stint in one's cellar, or just a blow-the-doors-off-an-evening for friends or family at a hearty steak dinner.
Several of the wines from The Wishing Tree, Elderton and Rutherglen are returning to the store this week, after a lengthy absence from this market. And just in the nick of time too. My Australian section was getting pretty damn dull.