Old Baileys fortifieds

From a recent auction purchase, the two wines described are believed to have been bottled at least 35 years ago. The style can lose freshness, even under screwcap. I have many vivid memories of visiting Baileys outside Glenrowan, Victoria – even as a child – and their heroic and long-living ferrous red wines and luscious fortifieds. It was a rare day when visits did not coincide with bitter weather (and a welcome open fire) or alternatively a heatwave, when it was tempting to remain inside. HJT are the initials of legendary winemaker Harry Tinson and these wines represent their best selections of the styles. Harry led Baileys from 1973 to 1986, before escaping to start his own label at nearby Lake Mokoan,  (but died in 1995).

My impression is that under assorted corporate ownership, Baileys was starved of investment (except for label redesigns), and its existence, location, wine styles, and its loyal and vocal customer base was regarded as a nuisance, and largely ignored. It’s now under the Casella umbrella, and I remain optimistic.

The wines of Baileys are now made by Paul Dahlenburg (also at the excellent Eldorado Road) and have the same intensity with some more winemaking finesse – something I only picked up with 2009 vintage and onwards; the fortifieds are again outstanding.

nv hjts

NV Baileys Winemakers selection HJT Liqueur muscat
The wine is a dark khaki/coffee grounds/motor oil colour; the aromas are stacked with all the mocha/toffee/orange rind and spiced raisin that are desired; the palate is very, very concentrated. rich, ultra sweet but with the bracing freshness, dried fruits and a touch of camphor to brighten the excesses and “please sir can I have some more?”

Drink now, but 92 points for this piece of history

NV Bundarra (Baileys) Winemakers selection HJT Liqueur (tokay) Topaque
Time has been less kind to this bottle, but no-one had issues drinking, and requesting top-ups. It’s a similar colour to it sibling, albeit not quite as deep. The varietal malt/anchovy/fishoil/butterscotch characters are present with saline, malt and some staleness. The palate is very rich and luscious. Malt extract, roast hazelnuts and dark chocolates build a delicious complex picture, but this wine requires some judicious freshening (use another bottle of topaque and experiment!)

Drink now, 86 points (well worth the purchase price to revisit tasting and travel memories)

Stoney Goose Ridge – another wine release – the Maximus

There’s far too much overhyped flim-flam about natural wines; and their laid-back minimalist intervention philosophy. Of course, Stoney Goose Ridge was an early adopter with the phenomenal Hipsters Reward.

Briefly, the backstory was that I, Hannibal Lector, intervened to rescue an accidental hands-off wine, adding polish through nomenclature, packaging and allied branding prestidigitational transformational manoeuvres.  Hipsters Reward caused a monumental monster feeding frenzy in the marketplace, but with limited supply we had to put the brakes on to ensure equitable distribution amongst our long-term supporters in emergent market-domiciles. We profited immensely from this launch, provoking jealousy and consternation amongst our perennially feeble competitors, while we gained goodwill and now make an annual release of this brand byline behemoth. Legions of copycat efforts came a cropper.

But truly it’s now time perhaps overdue to reflect on the welcome effluxion of temporality and the relentless march of progress. In the world of wine, we’ve only utilised bottles in the last few hundred years, (cans too). It’s only been for a brief interval that electricity has been harnessed for industrial and domestic quality of life advancement purposes. With grapes we have better clones, rootstocks, have planted in more appropriate sites, with canopy enhancements, advanced chemicals, mechanised spraying, pruning and harvesting.  Together with improvements in winemaking processes generally, these have cumulatively culminated in compellingly improved vinous beverage refreshments. Yeasts have been refined in their efficiency productivity quotients; packaging and the sales journey have benefited from progress in science, finance, advertising and management.

And now for something completely different. A wine that celebrates and rewards innovative progressivity. Too much water has gone under the bridge to turn back the clock, jump the hurdles and nip it in the bud. It’s par for the course.

This wine represents the epitome, the quintessential embodied essence of technology – the Maximus – absolutely Vegan inimical. With an RRP of merely $15, it displays the rewards of progress at its most unleashed. No innovations ignored. Ahead of the narrative curve; cutting, leading and bleeding edge.

This wine was assembled from different parcels, all machine pruned and harvested (no organic or biodynamic grapes used) complete with MOG, using stainless steel tanks, roto-fermenters, air-bag presses and strict temperature control, inert gas cover, DAP, micro-ox, mixed cultured yeasts, enzymes, pumping over, added tannins, additions of citric and tartaric acid, varied fining agents, membrane and cross-flow filtration before bottling. Some parts pasteurized, and even some reverse osmosis. Plus sulphur. Under screwcap, so no need to fear cork artefacts. Even the bottle is light-mass thanks to production expertise. The four-piece label reflects ultra hi-tech engineering prowess. The entire kitbag of bells and whistles.

My role was critically essential. The wine crew had assembled a few sample blends, with each component separately available. It took me only 15 minutes to refine the proposed blend to a better-quality outcome result; and simultaneously reduce the volume of wine that needed to find another home; another win-win-wine for my growing throng of excited brand loyalists.  The platoon could only applaud and celebrate my achievement, and my direct report subordinates watched in rapture.

The wine team has explicit extensive technical qualifications, but needs my proven analytic sensory organoleptic flair to add the X, Y and Z factor that excites sommeliers, wine show judges, and all drinkers both novice and seasoned. And my vision and hands-on nano-management exertions to translate extraordinary wines into extraordinary sale profitability metrics.

Mentoring is just one of my numerous acknowledged talents. It is a truth universally acknowledged that there are two kinds of people; those that know Hector Lannible, and those that aspire to meet and consume his insights, wisdom and generosity.

Stoney Goose Ridge is thus absolutely fervently excited to launch Miraculous Maximus Technoplex®. The name says it all, reflecting its origins and lineage.  It’s already won awards for offset carbon footprint measurement refinement, and innovative marketing prizes are guaranteed. Its another wine in the expansive Stoney Goose Ridge masstige premiumisation portfolio.

At this point of temporality, the Maximus is exclusively available within Australia, as certain components are unbelievably prohibited in selected overseas markets, a consequence of brittle and cowardly obsequience in trade negotiations. It’s truly a loss to potential consumers, distributors and outlets. People should be outraged and mobilise to demand alterations to trade arrangements and associated arbitrarily restrictive punitive legislation. After all, the end-consumer deserves benefit from widespread availability of this and similar exemplars from Stoney Goose Ridge.

Due to selectively critical blockchain negligence, certain components had incomplete documentation meaning their additive compositions could not be fully audit certified for export. This situation will be rectified, enabling the inevitable future editions of this wine to grace overseas shelves, tables, cellars and most importantly partaken with elan by our growing hordes of eager core vertical customers.

In the meantime, Australian consumers are the winners with another gratifying astonishment from the restlessly creative Stoney Goose Ridge under its inspiring dynamic CEO Hector Lannible.

Miraculous Maximus Technoplex®; RRP $15.

More recent splashes

2014-5 doisyblanck heggies1983 vps

All served blind – it may seem premature to serve young Barsacs, but these proved wholly delicious, with enormous capacity to live and improve for many years. Cellaring estimates are conservative, but no-one is immortal.

2014 Ch Doisy-daene 13.5%
Barsac, 100% semillon 144g/l rs; The website is very detailed, and I tasted this wine a few months ago with similar notes.  Enormously aromatic; tropical fruits, pineapple rind, touch of vanilla essence, green nettle, botrytis. Exciting, fine creaminess, honeyed with lovely racy acidity, some cashew oak,  spotless.

Drink to 2030, 93 points

2015 Ch Doisy-daene 13.5%
Barsac, 100% Semillon, 136 g/l rs. A slightly greener fruit profile than the wine above, ripe pear and more stonefruit white peach (and botrytis); this wine already seems more rewarding, with impressive fine honeyed texture, greater- but still balanced-ginger-spice oak, and richer depth and mouthfeel, with supporting acidity.

Drink to 2035, 94 points (and more to come)

2005 Paul Blanck Furstentum vendanges tardives Gewurtztraminer 12.5%
Alsace, screwcap! Half-bottle, purchased at the winery, from a special site. Light gold in colour, it displays musk, roses and oiliness. The palate is moderately sweet, but its persistent, varietal with a winningly appealing citrus twang

Drink to 2025, 92 points

2007 Heggies “242” botrytis riesling 8.1%
A half-bottle located after my records showed I had none left (previously reviewed on this site). Amber/light copper coloured. The 242 refers to the amount of retained sugar, which comfortably sits at the BA level, and from a site in the Eden Valley, South Australia – where mostly dry Rieslings are produced, but often a small amount of botrytised Riesling. It’s packed with orange essence and marmalade, very decadent; on the viscous palate there are apricot and stonefruits. It’s still fresh, ultra-sweet -but still balanced-  some hardness is emerging, so drink sooner, not later.

Drink to 2022, 92 points

1983 Stanton and Killeen Vintage Port 19%
Rutherglen, and a hot dry year. A solid bricky colour, but browning only on the rim. Ripe and sweet with some raisined fruit, iron and liquorice, sweet, chalky, lively but a little warm. But it’s 35 years old, and 100% shiraz. On the evidence of this bottle, no further improvement is likely, but it’s still a satisfying and rewarding wine

Drink now, 88 points

1983 Dow’s Vintage Port 20%
Portugal of course. Paler colour than the wine above, showing a more interesting fruit expression of blue and red fruits, and milk chocolate covered almonds. The palate is fine and detailed – and medium-bodied, but also suggests the acidity will hold while the fruit recedes. At this stage, the tannin is balanced, but every bottle will be different.

Drink to 2025, 92 points

Recent splashes

It seems I have been busy; so just a few quick impressions (of wines tasted blind) before more regular and detailed notes resume…

1988 hardys vp1965 campbells vp

1978 Hardy’s 125th anniversary Vintage Port
McLaren Vale. Raspberry jam and cherry liqueur; very sweet in style with liquorice and plum; terrific length; exceptional spirit integration – whacky bottle I’d never seen either.

Drink to 2030, 94 points

1965 Campbells Vintage Port
Rutherglen. Label clues are Cabernet and Shiraz “will improve for years to come”. Its not often I see a wine older than 50 years. It’s a very viscous, dense wine with its main impressions not fruit; mochas, coffee cream, toffee. This made its style not straightforward to discern- not the florals or richness of muscat or topaque (or acidity), not the rancio of a tawny style. Yet it didn’t look like a VP. IT seemed Australian with its relative sweetness, and brandy spirit. However it remained a lovely drink of indeterminate origin until revealed. Straightforward flavours, but its solidity and age a tribute to the style

Drink now, 91 points

1985 Gould Campbell Vintage port 20%
Despite reviewing this wine very favourably in February 2017, I didn’t identify it when it was served by a member of one of the tasting groups I frequent. Pale ruby colour and the mixed spices plus red and blue fruits indicated Portuguese varieties. Fig, almond, and the voluminous aromatics, albeit with a faint touch of rubber. Not quite as stellar as my last bottle, but still excellent

Drink now to 2027, 93 points

2005 Seppeltsfield Shiraz/touriga Vintage Port (screwcap)
Barossa (74% Shiraz, 23% Touriga, 2% Tinta barocca, 1% Tinta Cao) Abundant spices and almond character, but not the complexity of Portugal (and a bit sweeter too). Drinking well, but straightforward. My notes indicate this wine was purchased as a cleanskin for $8, and I have a few bottles in the cellar for more leisurely contemplation and reflections.

Drink to 2023, 90 points

2016 Crawford river “nektar” Riesling 12% (screwcap)
Henty, Victoria. 152 g/l rs. Very pale light lemon with green flashes, Nettles, sherbet, very sweet and viscous, mixed tropical fruits and lemon peel. Compelling length, a wonderfully realised botrytised wine where pure varietal character is not overwhelmed. Crawford River crafts outstanding dry Rieslings; this wine is still available on their website for a fair price considering its quality,

Drink to 2032, 94 points (and more when it relaxes in a few years)

Two affordable Australian muscats from Rutherglen

These bottles have been lurking, and it’s proper to assess them before they are entirely empty – in itself a recommendation. It’s entirely possible to accompany this rich wine style with foods – hard cheeses suffice – but in cool months an open fire, witty company and a sparkling comedy or “film noir” would be my preference.

These wines are made from Muscat a petit grains Rouge grapes (aka Brown Muscat) picked when ripe, fermented, fortified with neutral spirit and matured in large oak. With time, the wine becomes more concentrated, and complex. The art is again in blending judicious quantities of younger material to keep the wines fresh. Companies can make several different muscats (Morris releases 4 or 5) and the oldest can command prices of over $1000 per bottle. Considering the average age and holding time, this kind of price is not farfetched, but substantial pleasure can still be derived from more basic offerings.

Within Australia, northeast Victoria – particularly around Rutherglen –  is the epicentre of this style, with Glenrowan a significant outlier. This style of Muscat is also made in other areas such as the Barossa Valley, and Swan Valley but I am much less familiar with their wines.

Once opened, the bottles can be kept for several weeks, but its uncommon for open bottles to survive long at my home, unless placed in a cupboard and temporarily forgotten.

two muscats (2)

NV Morris Classic Liqueur Muscat 17.5%
Freely available for $25 – or under.  Bright mahogany in colour, it flaunts its raisin, roses, fruitcake and sweet spices; it’s lush, with some mocha joining the dried fruit flavours; it has a lingering finish that is bright, sweet yet not cloying, insistent on further sampling. Artfully made, with greater complexity than its price would indicate.

Drink now, 92 points

NV Seppeltsfield Grand Muscat DP63 17%
Minimum average ten years, and available for around $30. Similar colour, perhaps with a touch of green olive, and slightly deeper. Mocha, fig, toffee. Greater mouthfeel and viscosity, greater length, greater volume of decadent mocha and cleansing acidity. Another great value buy.

Drink now, 93 points

 

These are both exciting drinks that provide fabulous enjoyment with superb value. A worthwhile exercise is to try blending (bottled) muscats together in varying proportions. One useful tip is that a smidgen of little older material makes much more difference than expected.

Two (young) Sauternes from 2014

2014 sauternes

Served blind (as usual), it’s always a useful, and challenging exercise to predict the future of young wines, especially with this style where acidity, sweetness, oak, and botrytis clamour for attention. The usual balance, length and complexity assessment follows, as does the hoped-for appearance of an “x factor”- some compelling attribute that delights the senses and intellect.

2014 Ch La Tour Blanche 14%
This wine was pale in colour, displaying rich tropical fruits (especially just-ripe pineapple), a fresh, ripe, rich, bright palate bursting with citrus and stonefruits; botrytis makes its presence felt, and supportive, creamy spicy oak oak made this supple fresh wine easy to drink, but with effortless potential (82% Semillon, 12% Sav blanc, 5% Muscadelle, 130 g/l residual sugar; from the Bommes area within Sauternes). Ch La Tour Blanche has excellent QPR and I have four vintages represented in my cellar.

To 2035 and 93 points – and potential for a higher score in the future

2014 Ch Suduiraut 14%
This wine had a deeper colour, but was still a bright light gold. Here the aromas were more oak-derived, with marzipan, and a very pleasant coconut/sunscreen oil riding along with citrus and yellow peach (90% Semillon, 10% sauv blanc, 150 g/l residual sugar; from Preignac within Sauternes). This wine had greater density, richness and mouthfeel than the wine above, but will be a fascinating exercise to watch these in the coming years – or decades. Ch Suduiraut is sparse in my cellar, but now on the radar for some backfilling!

Drink to 2040, and 94 points – with potential for improvement.

What a triumph to see two quite different, very youthful, delicious expressions of Sauternes wines from estates a mere 4 kilometres apart, but subject to the botrytis vagaries of fogs on the gentle hollows, the different varietal composition, staggered picking times, and the varied winemaking inputs.

1985 Taylor’s vintage port 20.5%, again

I reviewed this wine in April 2016, and again in August 2018- and my final bottle was very recently consumed. Notes turned out to be similar!

Taylor’s is a distinguished house, with a useful, informative website.

1985 taylors vp 2019

The label was a bit damaged; the cork “almost” came out Ok, and the results from this good – albeit not outstanding -Portuguese vintage?

The wine is a solid ruby colour, with vibrant aromatics including fig. cocoa, dried citrus peel, sweet spices, and an intrigue of mixed blue and red berries; the palate is medium bodied but more substantial than expected – it shows fruitcake, hazelnut and mellow mocha characters, with some spicy, malty, almost gravied hints. The spirit and fruit are deliciously integrated with a sweet, lingering finish.

Beautifully put together, the wine provides complexity and freshness; drinking superbly

Drink to 2035, and 94 points.