Thursday, July 2, 2009

J Ordonez Malaga Muscats

Alois Kracher made some of the best dessert wines I have ever been lucky enough to taste.  His passion led to fanatical devotion and an array of wines that sometimes made heads spin.  The yearly pre-sell offer on the wines often ran more than ten pages and I recall having outrageous numbers of dessert wines available from one vintage.  These were not all different grapes, they were sites within vineyards that developed differently, had varying levels of botrytis, etc.  Normal humans could not discern major contrasts between the various offerings (until tasting them), but Alois could and believed them all to be worthy of their own individual expression.  I often referred to him as a mad genius when trying to give customers a picture of the man behind the wine.  Unfortunately, he died in late 2007.  Fortunately for all of us, some of his wines are still available.  
Beyond his eponymous label from Austria, he collaborated on two projects, one in California and one in Malaga, off the coast of Spain.  While Mr. K Eiswein from Sine Qua Non in California can be impossible to find, and quite expensive (upwards of $150 for a 375ml bottle), his partnership with Jorge Ordonez created a trio of riveting wines that make for an unforgettable tour of Muscat de Alexandria.  They are also more reasonably priced.  
The wines are named after Jorge's father's company and come from the high in the mountains.  They are all 100% Moscatel (Muscat).  The soil is slate based and the vineyards are all farmed "using organic practices" but are not certified organic.  While it is certainly a treat to have these glorious nectars pass your lips, it can be enough just to inhale their scents...for a while.  I challenge anyone to smell and resist a taste.
Seleccion Especial #1 2006 - The vineyards are all at least 30 years old and are located at approximately 1,400 feet above sea level.  The grapes are harvested late, but do not develop botrytis and are stainless steel fermented.  The wine is clean and textural, with incredible juicy stone fruits leaping from the glass.  It smelled to me of ripe and candied fruits at the same time.  This one reminds me of non-fizzy, super concentrated Moscato d'Asti.  It would make a fantastic match with fruit deserts and whipped cream.  375ml - $20-$25
Victoria #2 2005 - These grapes come from vines in excess of 50 years of age, located at 2,250 feet.  Late harvest grapes are brought to the winery for drying, which concentrates the fruit, and are then stainless steel fermented.  More residual sugar remains in this than the first.  Creamier texture with wilder, more exotic fruits, especially peach, make this wine feel like some sort of reward for having lived a virtuous life.  Fortunately for most of us, no proof of that is required to buy a bottle.  Floral notes appear with more peach on the palate, the peach here is nearly animal wild and sauvage.  Man, what a treat.  Sleek and sexy, this wine gives me goosebumps.  There is intensity, but also delicacy and finesse.  If there is anything to complain about it might be that the finish seemed shorter than I wanted; however, part of that is simply being a rich wine, not a highly sugary one.  I am still searching for more descriptors, maybe fruit cream and maple sugar, but more delicate than that sounds.  This wine needs to come in bigger bottles!  375ml  $40-$45
Victoria #2 2006 - The nose returned to the clean freshness of the Especial, but with a touch of clove added and a hint of nuttiness.  Peach cream entices again.  This appeared to have botrytis to me on the aroma with a darker, nearly golden color.  Thick and unctuous, with a hint of sherry on the nose, the finish is all bright sunshine.  With all of the thickness implied by the entry, the finish is amazingly fresh with sweet lemon extract mingling with apricot and baking spices, nutmeg(?).  It is viscous but not cloying in the least.  375ml  $39-$44
Old Vines #3 2005 - 80-100 year old vines constitute the showpiece bottling.  They are located at 1,500 feet and the fruit is dried at the winery like the Victoria.  This is fermented in new French oak.  My notes here are less complete, perhaps due to my absolute infatuation with the Victoria #2's.  More Sauterne like, but with less nut notes and more fruit essence, this wine is more 'standard' dessert style.  Thick, rich and full in the mouth with more sugar and extract and general weight.  It is delightful and cries out for creme brulee.  The peach theme continues and this wine shows how old vines and oak can ratchet up the intensity level.  This wine makes me smile.  375ml  $65-$80
  

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