I went to a hastily arranged dinner at Sakana-Ya in Crows Nest following the Torbreck tasting at North Sydney Cellars that I wrote about here. The quality of the dishes was good and there was some interesting food that I haven’t tried previously (Fried Eel being an example). The service was attentive and polite. Take your own glassware if you are serious about wine as the provided stemware is sub-par. It was slightly on the expensive side, but I guess when you are paying for high quality, fresh sushi-grade seafood it is to be expected.

All wines were tasted blind except for the Plantagenet and the Leo Buring.

Clos Cazals Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru 1997 (Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Champagne):
Slightly toasty, apples, pears, lots of flint and minerals on the nose. Very elegant and what I would call a “pure” tasting palate with good length and balance. It started to take on a bit of extra palate weight with air time but still had fine and focused flavour.

Gaston Chiquet Tradition Brut Premier Cru NV – Disgorged November 2004 (Dizy, Champagne):
80% 2000 and 20% 1999 fruit. 45% Pinot Meunier, 35% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir. Nose is fairly intense with slightly funky/sulphurous notes and earth, with yeast and brioche. I found the palate a little bit broad and just a bit short.

An interesting contrast in style to the Clos Cazals.

Plantagenet Riesling 1992 (Mount Barker, Western Australia):
The nose is obviously quite developed – honeyed with some marmalade and orange and just a small whiff of petrol. Palate has some decent intensity to it, but is lacking the acid structure to retain balance.

It was doing alright for a 14 year old Western Australian Riesling, but the Plantagenet 1991 we tried 6 months ago faired a considerable amount better.

Leo Buring Leonay DW16 Watervale 1994 (Clare Valley, South Australia):
1994 was one of the few vintages when a Leonay was produced from both Eden Valley and Clare Valley fruit.

There was some gasoline and citrus (lemon and lime) on the nose. The palate is loaded with acid and a slight spritz as well as a bitter character on the finish. Not really falling over, but I doubt that this bottle would have come into any kind of balance in its remaining life.

I had enjoyed a stunning bottle of the Eden Valley Leonay last year, but this was just not as good.

Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz 1999 (McLaren Vale, South Australia):
This is clearly a serious wine. I found it to be brambly, a bit leafy and spicy which led me on the wrong path with options, as well as some bitter chocolate. Good tannins and what I thought was well integrated oak provided good structure. Clearly needs some time to develop fully, but I didn’t mind drinking it as is.

Wild Duck Creek “Yellow Hammer Hill” Shiraz Malbec 2000 (Heathcote, Victoria):
65% Shiraz, 35% Malbec. This is apparently inspired and moulded on the Wendouree Shiraz Malbec blend and only available through some restaurants and to some customers at cellar door.

A nose comprised of earthy, gamey, weedy and a hint of cheesy characters. It is certainly a wine with a point of difference. Nicely integrated palate components – everything working together well. I enjoyed it for being out of the ordinary.

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  1. Funny how you were led down the wrong options path by the Fox Creek wine. It’s even worse in a blind tasting with no options, In my food & wine club, members are very often led astray with humourous results. In twenty odd years of trying I’ve got it completely right only once.

    Plantagenet is one of my fave styles, with a point of difference to Clare and Eden rieslings, sort of Germanic in conception, so I was sorry to read old age caught up early.

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