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Anything but French: 1973 Vina Ardanza, 2005 Pahlmeyer Jayson & 2004 Amon Ra

March 4, 2013

These are notes from an impromptu dinner organised by John at short notice at Jade Palace, 17 Jan 2013. We began with a 1973 Vina Ardanza Rioja Alta (courtesy KP), decanted on-site. Fully matured, displaying a blend of rosy vermillion, yet still carrying very good levels of acidity at the sides that stung the palate initially as the fruit took longer to emerge, offering just notes of pink roses and kumquat initially. An unusual RiojaThen, it underwent quite an amazing transformation over the next 30-45 minutes, where it gained weight rapidly with red fruits and redcurrants becoming more readily apparent, the lively acidity adding to the sense of freshness in spite of its age, staying the course right till the end of dinner.

We followed up with a 2005 Pahlmeyer Jayson (courtesy PS), also decanted on-site. Coming right after the Rioja, this Sonoma County pinot noir was decidedly bolder and weightier, displaying excellent concentration of red cherries and raspberries without the heaviness, well supported by understated minerality but yet to display any significant complexity. John had brought a 1993 Lupicaia that would have been interesting but, unfortunately, the first whiff revealed that it was unmistakably corked. A real pity.

An unusual lineupThe 2004 Amon Ra, the flagship of Ben Glaetzer, brought up the rear. In spite of having been double decanted and further aeration amounting to about 150 minutes, this full-bodied wine was still saturated with super-ripe fruit with a raisiny quality that still displayed significant levels of vanilla and enamel, heady and hedonistic but undoubtedly well-crafted with textures that are smooth and rounded without any of the unctuous quality often associated with Barossa shiraz in the past. I’m not sure how much longer it needs to be left alone. Definitely one for the long haul.

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