May Wines of the Month: Elderton Western Ridge 2012 & Blandy’s Malmsey Vintage Madeira 1988
Stylistically, my May Wines of the Month could not be more different but they are similar in one way. Both blew my socks off! Here are my notes:
Elderton Western Ridge 2012 (Barossa Valley)
The maiden release of Western Ridge (and Elderton Greenock One & Greenock Two) comes from a vineyard in Greenock acquired by Elderton in 2010. It draws on fruit from the oldest vines planted to Carignan in 1915. Comprising just 8% of Western Ridge it seems to bring elegance and line to this Grenache dominant blend, reigning in the latter variety’s exuberance. Perhaps also because the two varieties were picked and fermented together? Fermenting at relatively cool temperatures (to ensure that fruit freshness was preserved) and ageing in seasoned French oak has also paid dividends in terms of the elegance of this winsome wine. It has great levity and intensity. A translucency to its bright, almost crunchy, skinsy red pomegranate, cranberry and cherry (lips) fruit readily reveals sandy, mineral tannins and delicious savoury, spicy, herbal incense, earth and lavender nuances. Though with its medium-bodied, relatively austere palate (especially given the high Grenache component) one is conscious of the alcohol, there is plenty else to distract and ensnare the taste buds and I found myself going back to the glass again and again. Loved it. 14.5% RRP £31
Blandy’s Malmsey Vintage Madeira 1988 (Madeira)
Blandy’s are big on Malmsey or Malvasia, accounting for over 50% of the island’s annual production of around 120,000 kgs. Still, in the scheme of things it’s not very much and and there are only 1,589 bottles of this, Blandy’s first vintage Malmsey release since 2009 (when the 1985 was released). It was bottled in 2013 and, with knife edge sugar acid balance, it is an exceptionally lively, fine, very pure and persistent expression of Malmsey with zesty orange peel, delicate sweetness and tea leaf/herbal lift. Delightfully youthful with an appetisingly fresh, clean saline note to its ultra-long finish. I have no price indication for this wine but I do have some other (technical) numbers for you – 21% abv, Total Acidity: 9.53g/l, Baumé (20ºC): 3.30, Residual Sugar: 123 g/l.