Negociants Australia conducted their fabulous sommelier training program around Australia this week under the title “Working with Wine” under the byline Down to Earth Viticulture, focussing on vineyard practices.

And this company’s investment in the top end discussions about winespeak are well recorded. This time it was the evangelistic writer and Melbourne-based Max Allen armed with a plethora of biodynamic jargon and fact.

The day’s proceedings got down to tasting biodynamic and organically certified wines of various styles.

From Martinborough NZ, Palister Estate Riesling 2008 (USD 16), lime juice, off-dry, talcum powder acidity (89), a terrific Great Southern Riesling from Howard Park2009 (USD 22); austere nose but oh so wonderful palate, a full, front-palate wine (95), Radford bio-dynamically Grown Riesling 2009 ( USD 33.50) from Eden Valley was more the kero style, warmer fruit and austere and grainy (89); then the real revelation from the Mosel is Egon Muller Riesling Spaetlese 2008 (USD 136) with deliciousness and ripeness written all over it (96).

Yalumba’s Organic Viognier 2010 (USD 13) from Loxton has a great green colour, the telltale Yalumba skills at slippery palate for this variety (89) backed up with the Y Series 2010 (USD 12) ever so good as well, with real interest in the nose and palate structure-juicy (90).

Great biodynamic chardonnays included the standout Cullen Kevin John 2008 (USD 62), pale, restrained, austere now, yet to flower (95), a magnificent Macon-Milly-Lamartine “Clos du Four” 2008 (USD 47), at the nadir of chardonnay style with barrel ferment, solids infusion, super-tight palate belying much oak, owned by Comte Lafon (97), and quite an oaky Domaine Leflaive Pugliny Montrachet “Folatieres” 2007 (USD 210),complex sour lemon nose, closed and tannic, syrupy and lean with a backbone of intensity (94).

Globe-trotting Grant Taylor of Valli in central Otago presented non-organic three pinots under his banner; all terrific 2008s; Gibbston, Bannockburn and Waitaki (all USD 51). It’s amazing to line up three wines of similar provenance but totally different character caused by site and terroir. The Gibbston had the black fruits, brash on intensity, very closed up, quite edgy (93), Bannockburn was more forward from the warmer site, sweet fruit already, very soft with the fishtail tannins (91), and Waitaki powerful in fruit, almost steroidal, a step-up in concentration and a lot of additional winemaking happening, drying tannins, (92).

There was a little discussion about biodynamic nebbiolo, but the wine to cap the day was Gaja Barbaresco 2006 (USD 261), ever some well done, feral nose characters but the great palate combining high acid, high tannin and still finishing flush and chalky (95).

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