Just shy of nine years, and our game of chess via post card has finally come to a close. We're both alive and as far as I can tell we are in possession of functioning livers. It was a white rook in the end. . . I've managed to buy and use five chess boards in the intervening years, the latest, from ChessPlus allows pieces to fuse and later split; the hybrids pieces can move according to the rules of either piece.
A slight name change, but identical label with a subconsciously matching photo. It's clear that my thinking when it comes to photographing wine bottles is unchanged. . . 13.5%, Taggerty, Warragul, Gippsland, Victoria. The best part is the nose - vibrant, filling and primary. Mashed berries and spice, it's only later that the shadows and black cardamon appear. A little clunky in the mouth - like vegetable juice - with too much amplitude and acid. Awkward where you might hope for nuance and softness.
Context. I've been listening to a trio of books. The Overstory (by Richard Powers) - It's superb, though I can only handle one short story per day, there's too much to absorb and I keep wanting to rush home from my nocturnal walks so I might Google the featured Northern Hemisphere tree that he is painting with such vivid language. How to Change Your Mind (Michael Pollan) - is thoroughly persuasive; though one week after finishing the book, I feel less desire to go magic mushroom hunting and will likely stick to the meditation cushion and my on again off again vipassanā practice. A short way in, I'm finding The Second Mountain (David Brooks) earnest but already repetitive and perhaps overly serious. Like Pollan's book, it's theme is middle age stagnation, though with a very different prescription.
I've tinkered slightly, using a paella pan for all steps and using a different cheddar. For the record - fry 1.5 medium onions (rough dice) and 1 green chilli (de-seeded and roughly chopped) in olive oil. When starting to take on colour - add 10 chopped Roma tomatoes. Let this simmer, stirring occasionally, till a thickish sauce has been created. Add 3 cups of cooked basmati (from 1 cup of dry rice), mix and toss and pat flat. Add 2 large handfuls of grated cheddar - I used a smoked cheddar. Grill for 3-4 minutes - allowing the cheese to brown in parts.
I have a cluster of these gold cap sweeties in my wine fridge, remnants from a small and distant windfall. They poke out at my attention, promising precision and joy. There seems to be a small market for such things, I'm not sure my drinking partners approved. . . A sugar cane / toffee apple nose, sulfur and more than a whisper of botrytis. . . a tooth ache wine - sweet and stinging; intense and pleasingly thick - like apricot nectar.
A Margaret river pair. . . infants really, not yet ready for battle.
2017 Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay (13%). Still dominated by a shroud of oak and cream, butterscotch and curry leaf; the fruit obscured, but the quality is apparent. From 2021 perhaps.
2015 Cullen Diana Madeline (13%). A few weeks earlier, I had tried a 2013 Diana Madeline and was struck by the poise and balance. Possibly the best youngish DM I can recall. . . This in contrast is unresolved, smudged. Black currant and a sharp prod of menthol, creamy and rich in the mouth - inky, dark chocolate tannins.
Warm and effusive, this seems hardly more than adolescent in development. Deep with menthol and spice, soft leather and raisins. A PX soaked Christmas pudding nose. . . Terrific structure, even to this hard to please observer. . . Super balance of size and well rounded tannins.
Context - the 15th or 16th bottle of the night, proceeded by a pair of St Henri - a very cuddly and compelling 2012, and a stern but softening 2002.
Two seasons ago, relative giants - 180 and 250g apples. This time, much smaller apples - on the left a five gram Gala, perfectly ripe I might add. On the right a still modest Fuji, tipping in at 45 grams.
First the Leeuwin, an ascendant 2015 Art Series. There is much to observe and admire, the superb acids, the texture, balance and sting. It's the showier and more impressive of the two, the aftertaste more enduring, the energy more compelling.
The Giaconda was older, possibly on the other side of its peak, a 2012, also under stelvin. It's the more smouldering and aromatic wine - flint and curry leaf with a citrus edge. The shape is stubby in comparison, with more sticks and stones. Traces of black cardamon.