There's an apocryphal yarn about the murderer who, upon being strapped into the electric chair, looked at his executioner and said "This'll teach me". This wine always reminds me of that. I don't really know why: the damned thing is so profoundly confronting in its beauty and intensity that the mind does go silly, in a willy nilly, electrocuted sort of way. Thoughts fall to the floor and shatter harmlessly about the drinker: they no longer count. Perhaps it's also the serene expectation that one will soon be found dead in one's chair with a really silly smile and a glass, empty, clutched in a grip that makes Charlton Heston's rifleman speech look like something uttered by a total softcock. The smell of an organic wheatfield, almost ripe, after the lightest rain. The smell of the most delicate brioche. Hazelnut. Wet chalk. Sliced, poached almond being fastidiously placed on a perfect marzipan icing in the kitchen of La Crayere. Oyster mushroom, and enoki. I can smell it for an hour, happy to postpone the execution. But finally, involuntarily, the glass finds its way to the lips, and like all Krug, just seems to evaporate into my organs. My body. The corpuscles, the genes, the chromasomes vibrate in immaculate harmony, and purr. This must send a transmission so powerful it can be received by other life forms, billions of light years away. I remember Remi Krug remarking twenty years ago that he admired the way I guzzled the Grand Cuvee, rather than inhaling common air through it to make that obscene gurgling noise and spitting it like an Englishman. "But I am a Vikin, and Krug comes properly perforated with bubbles installed by the Krug family," I responded. "It needs no other air buggering it up." And so it goes. No need to change the technique. Gulp it down! Have it from a bigger glass! Pour yourself a tumbler! Do it again! Sell your house!
Lanson Noble Cuvee Blanc be Blanc 1989
cork; magnum well and truly drunk on 4APR10; 95++ points
As the great evening proceeds, the buttery brioche and Petticoat Tail shortbreads magnify, jumping the gastro ropes into the genteel ring with the toasted hazelnut, the lemon and strawberry pith, through the middle mousse and the perfect richness and that fabbo dry dry tail with all its langorous and perfect tannins into the uncontrollable future zippo. Pass the funnel, Jeeves, I feel like a bit of a lie down.
Kreglinger Tasmania Vintage Brut 2001
$46.50; 12.5% alcohol; cork; 94 points
René Bezemer made this wondrous explosion of titillation and luxury for the private Kreglinger company (founded in Belgium in 1797 it procured Piper’s Brook, founded in 1974, in 2003). It’s a gorgeous drink: all cracker biscuits, brioche and pickled lemons in the prickly bouquet; crunchy terroir-driven gears in the mouth. Increasingly, with wines like this, Tasmania is showing that there’s little point in going all the way to France for fizz. Kreglinger’s Belgian, and they’ve come all the way here. I’m with them. (2.2.8)
Lilbert Fils Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne NV
My money was immediately on this babe coming from Mesnil: it has that cute aroma of paper flowers that usually signifies that ville. But no - it's from further north: 60% Cramant, 30% Chouilly and 10% Oiry, with an abolutely minimal doseage. It has incredible finesse for a wine of this price: so crisp and crunchy it seems almost brittle, like those crunchy Italian almond biscotti. Very stylish indeed, and cheap!
Kreglinger Tasmania Vintage Brut 2002
$50; 12.5% alcohol; cork; 93+ points
Handsome brut, this! Very masculine, like a petit Krug GC, in that it has as much greengrocer as fruiter and haute pâtisserie in its complex, yet very fine and reserved bouquet. The palate’s creamy, full and basically plain sinful; the aftertaste lingering and teasing as much as cleansing and relaxing; and the bead very very tiny once your pour settles, which is a good thing, as we don’t want too many cavities in our drinks now, do we? Seriously, you’re a bit of a boofhead buying anything Champenoise short of $150-$300 cru prestige stuff when this is available, which it is. Which is also good. Very good. Tres bon. See, I’m like Randy Newman! I can speak French! JAN 09
$28; 12.5% alcohol; crown seal; 93+ points
Romney Park is no one trick pony. I was first nailed by the disgorged-to-order sparkling, which I reckon’s in the Kreglinger/Arras/Clover Hill/Yarra Bank league, and given its junior status and kindergarten price, comes scarily close to the Gosset/Krug school. It was whole bunch pressed in a basket, fermented in 6 year old hogsheads, underwent full malo in oak, and was cold-stored in barrel. The aroma of the stuff jumps from the glass to your nose while the glass is still on the table. It’s creamy. With wheat, paperflowers, brioche, cashew and crackers. The palate’s tight and nutty, with faint marzipan, leaf, green apples and chalk. Its 10 g/l of acidity is all natural. There are 800 bottles! While it’s rich and creamy, it’s still precise and tight, and after about twenty minutes air begins to loose delightful chèvre fats from the malo, and all the while there’s that tight swarfy acidity anchoring the foundations. “I wouldn’t use Adelaide Hills pinot for sparkling” said Rod Short. “It’s a bit sort of fat and boring”. (15.2.8)
$25; 12.5% alcohol; cork(!); 92++ points
$37; 12.5% alcohol; cork; 91 points
Next time you plan a hangover, spill a bottle of this rich, sweet, bedside fizz over a bowl of sliced peaches. Plenty of lemon juice, and a splash of kirsch, or good tequila, which doesn’t seem to exist in Australia. (There is mucho in Mexico.) Which is why you might need this healing morning sickness brekky. Leave your bowl in the fridge overnight, add rich cream, and devour before the dog bites you. Or have it neat the night before. www.greenpointwines.com.au
$??; 11.5% alcohol; cork; 89 points
Dominic Versace, and his feisty cousin, Armando Verdiglione, are making a reputation for small-volume, high-quality Italo-Australian wines from the fanatically gardened Versace vineyard on the deep loamy plains north of Adelaide. They bought fronti -- muscat blanc a petits grains -- from other vineyards to make this naughty sweetish fizz. It has the classic grilled pineapple bouquet of a moscato fizzed to champagne levels and maturing sensibly, and a presents a grinning mouthful of juicy sweet exploding joy. “Shit!” my teetotal driver said when I handed him a glass today, “I could drink a bottle of that in two seconds flat!” Which he narrowly avoided doing. I made up for him. I wish somebody in the Adelaide Hills would plant a nice high cool climate frontignac vineyard: in the hotter climes, where the stuff grows like weeds, the wine lacks essential acidity and soon takes on a burnt rubber bouquet, rather than this model’s char-grilled pineapple. MAR 09