Even though it's only open for a couple of weeks a year, Grosset offers the best cellar door experience I know. This is largely because Jeffrey Grosset hosts the tastings himself, but the consistently exceptional, seductive and sexual to the point of almost being feminine, wine quality helps. Quite frankly Grosset guarantees my visit to the Clare Valley every September.
As always, Jeffrey paid undivided attention to everyone in his winery, listening meticulously carefully to all the thoughtful feedback he could, regardless of the visitor's age, sex, race or whatever. Grosset is a whiz at speaking to visitors like he's known them for years, even if they've only just met. The man is a LEGEND!
Mr Grosset didn't arrange his fantastic, free tutored tastings this year (which can last up to 90 minutes across 6 wines - superb value!). The reason being he ascertained that his tutorials were being attended by essentially the same people every year, despite the fact they were originally intended to expose the finer details of his wine to a greater audience. The lack of a tutored tasting didn't bother us one bit, as Grosset attending the cellar door in his own unique, casual, friendly yet infinitely experienced manner , in a more casual tasting/discussion is every bit as good anyway.
We talked with Jeffrey on a wide variety of subjects for about 45 minutes across all his wines. He covered a number of issues with us (most interesting to me were his views on the value of riesling), but I'm trying to limit space here so I might have to return to some of Grosset's opinions in a future post.
Unsurprisingly, Grosset's rieslings were excellent, easily the best I've had from 2009. But at this early stage I'd say they aren't exceptional by his lofty standards. What did surprise me was that I had no immediate preference of the two, which usually I do. In 2008 it was the Watervale, but every other recent year I've preferred the Polish Hill. Jeffrey told me early reviews were swinging towards the 2009 Polish Hill, which in his opinion is a more accessible, open style, but he believes the 2009 Watervale will flower into the long term, lasting just as long as the best vintages and being all the better for it. I picked up a few bottles of each so I'll promise to try to review both in the next week or so. Another arduous task I've set myself! (my 'to drink' wine rack has completely gone beyond its limit at the moment - more time, or perhaps even help would be greatly appreciated!)
For fiano fans out there it might interest you to know Grosset now has that variety under vine too. Grosset admitted to me he wasn't terribly encouraged by Coriole's early attempts with the variety (something I steadfastly agree with him), but he's considering not making his first wine until vine age has reached around 7 years old, whereas Coriole released their first fiano when their vines were 2 (from memory).
Like fellow regional legend Tim Adams, Grosset's wines are sold beneath discount retail price at cellar door.
Grosset Springvale Watervale Riesling 2009 ($31) Floral, lemon lime aromas show good intensity and lift in classic Watervale style. Fuller, almost juicy palate has wonderful texture and mid-palate definition to its bell clear fruit profile, with a complementary extract of bright, brittle acidity and fine length. (full review soon) 95
Grosset Polish Hill Riesling 2009 ($39) Classic pear/apple/lemon/lime nose. More juicy fruits to the clean palate, with deceptive power which grows in a growing wave of intensity. Its acidity is surprisingly gentle and sensuous, but is hallmarked by Polish Hill's typically magnificent length. (full review soon) 95
Grosset Watervale Riesling 2007 ($36) A Jeffrey back vintage special. After 2005, 2007 was my pick of Grosset's recent riesling vintages, and this tasting reminded me why. It's revealing surprising development at this relatively young stage, with a faultless marriage of lime/toast characters. It's extremely clean and fresh, racy and textured, looking extremely good now but with years ahead yet. 96
Grosset Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($29) Interestingly the Adelaide Hills sauvignon blanc component has been cranked up to 45% this year. It's quite a pungent, juicy fruit wine with a crystal clear flavour/aroma profile underscored by some strangley toasty/dry straw notes from the semillon. Like the 2008 I feel this lacks a bit of definition and acidic drive. 89
Grosset Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2007 ($32) Another Jeffrey back vintage special, and like the Watervale Riesling, I remember 2007 being a brilliant year for this. Its semillon has taken over here, with clean toasty/straw characters and mineral tones. Sauvignon blanc now provides an undercariage of light, white tropical fruits. It's still wonderfully fresh and racy, and will probably be even better and more savoury in another 2-3 years. Remains one of the best examples of this style I've ever had from SA. 93
Grosset Piccadilly Chardonnay 2007 ($46) My tasting companions adored this wine, but I wasn't quite as enthusiastic. It has a wonderful aroma of buttered popcorn-like oak and clean, restrained white stonefruit, melon and grapefruit with a trace of funky quince. The palate shows some of Grosset's customary elegance, but I felt it ended a little raw and green edged, which I also found with his 2006. (full review soon) 90
Grosset Pinot Noir 2007 ($57) Very clear, light red in colour. Reveals a stalky, minty nose with small red berry fruits in a fruit first fashion. Its youthful palate contradicts its fragrance with a more savoury, earthy profile, in a light, elegant fashion with gentle spice tones. It contains the necessary tannin structure and balance to suggest it should develop desired richness within a couple of years. Just looking a bit thin now. 91
Grosset Gaia 2006 ($52) Cabernet sauvignon/cabernet franc/merlot. In true Gaia fashion it shamelessly flaunts its cabernet franc influence through dusty, herbaceous aromas, small bery fruits and pronounced fresh cedar oak. I found the palate more medium-full than usual, with plush, ripe dark fruit flavours and even a hint of meat. It has good, powdery tannin and pleasing shape and focus, even if it is a bit of a different, less 'feminine' Gaia. 93