better mixed sweets

2016 pressong matters r139

2016 Pressing Matters Riesling R139 9.2%
Coal river valley, Tasmania

Pale colour, lime, pear, apple, ginger biscuit. The winery specialises in the unusual combination of Pinot Noir plus assortment of Rieslings at varying sweetness levels (R0, R9, R69 and r139) with many wine show successes and a wine club that offers regular museum releases. This wine is a cracker. With the crisp Tasmanian acidity, it has the magic combination of varietal definition, botrytis and purity. White peach and lime, thrilling acidity and it just lingers gracefully. Special!

Drink to 2030, 94 points

2015 ca' d'gal vv

2015 Ca d’Gal vite Vecchia Moscato d’asti 5%
Piedmont, lightly sparking (frizzante) packed with icing sugar, musk, and grapiness, spices and texture. The muscat character shines.  Around 90g/l residual sugar, and >$100.

Not as stellar as the 2008 tasted about twelve months ago, but its vitality will utterly revive jaded palates, and confound many with its delicious, bracing freshness.

Drink to 2027, 92 points

2004 jj prum zs auslese

2004 Joh Jos Prum Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese Riesling 7.5%
Mosel, and a startlingly pale colour for its age. Showing white flowers, herb, apple and pine/nettle. The palate is full of minerals and phenolic grip. More modern vintages are riper and sweeter, but even though this wine was served straight after the Ca’ d’Gal, it didn’t seem to have the level of Auslese sweetness (my guess was Kabinett) A rare, relative disappointment from this producer.

Drink to 2026, 90 points


mixed sweets

I’ve posted about fortifieds recently, so its time for some sweet wines! All tasted “blind” except the Fighting Gully Road.

2002 baumard

2002 Domaine des baumard Clos de sainte Catherine 13%
Coteaux du layon, Loire Valley (chenin blanc)

Citrus peel and oranges, apple and pear, Light bodied but fleshy, honey and tropical fruits on the palate, and some residual sugar (40g/l?). Although chenin blanc has naturally high acid, this one looks a little underfruited.

Drink now, 90 points

2003 Marcel Deiss Schoenenbourg 11.5%
Alsace (grand cru), France. The label is traditional/retro, but under time pressure, I forgot the photo.

Musk and sultana, honey and kerosene, youthful but soft.

Identifying the origin as Alsace was straightforward – but varietal composition was a challenge, My guess was Riesling, but its a  field blend; with apparently 50-60 g/l, residual sugar, close to my assumed 45g/l). Deiss makes a number of field blends, and I’ ve had a mix of wonderful and awful from this producer. 2003 was the Euro heatwave, when some clever folk in Alsace picked ahead the official notice (if they had pickers and staff)..

Bravo! Drink soon, 92 points

2012 Jones botrytis Muscat 9.2%
Rutherglen, Victoria
Roses, floral herbs, vaguely like a vermouth! No problem, interesting little wine.

Drink now, 90 points

2017 fighting gully road

2017 Fighting Gully Rd Petit Manseng moelleux 12%
Beechworth, Victoria
Bright gold colour; mango, bruised apple, just ripe pineapple, and pear drops. This is sweet (60g/l?) , but acidity propels the wine along. Almond flavours and mixed tropical fruits. I liked this wine a lot, but the mix of scents and flavours won’t please all. Yet I kept nudging the score upwards with each taste. I recently revelled in their 2021 Sangiovese –  a label to search out.

92 points, drink to 2025

Stoney Goose Ridge CEO Hector Lannible’s EOY wrap of 2022 staff message, at last!

It’s been a difficult but rewarding year.

In calendar 2022, I enjoyed quality family time with short breaks in Aspen and Milan plus some well-deserved long weekends at Noosa, Port Douglas, Cradle Mountain, Margaret River, Portsea and the Flinders Ranges.

For the staff that were allowed to WFH (with key-logging, CCTV and other supervisory requirements), doubtless this made it simpler to attend our family-friendly daily 7am Zoom briefings.

Travel restrictions from COVID have now eased, so my worklife has been largely consumed by essential reconnection to suppliers, agents, employees, trade and Government representatives. Add my keynote speeches at assorted conferences, TED, accepting the voluminous marketing awards, plus recent critical networking engagements at the Superbowl, Australian Open and elsewhere.

My relentless focus on margins continues – a combination of brand premiumisation, ruthless cost-cutting, maximising trade grants and subsidies, exploiting taxation loopholes combined with our renowned extraordinarily momentous litigious manoeuvres.

Obviously, nearly all staff had their bonus expectations annihilated, and received a laser lesson in my metric-driven expectations.  Those that did not achieve “satisfactory” ratings for their KPI deliverables had instant automatic access to alternate external opportunities, apart from serving out their extended unpaid non-competition periods. Several performance reviews migrated into exit interviews. I did however find one employee with startling achievements and foresight – and under my ongoing mentorship will be joining the executive leadership team with a revised title and remuneration package plus oppressive responsibilities.

My own bonus was not as monolithic as in previous years, despite careful escape from our assorted crypto holdings one week before they crashed. My ownership interest in Stoney Goose Ridge merely ratcheted up to 28%. Of course, I have sufficient assets to purchase the firm outright, but even with other investment opportunities, clearly, I have colossal skin in the game.

I was also busy beating back persistent approaches by “Managing Partners” from the usual consulting firms, generally suggesting Stoney Goose Ridge employ their analytic expertise for nebulous and dubious “category development exploration”, “customer journey mapping” and “organisational re-alignment”. They somehow forgot the infamous bidding war for my services as a full partner while still at University; similarly, they assume I have no detailed knowledge – theory and practice- of 4S, TOSCA, MECE, Scamper, and other tools. And intimate access to the might of our data analytic practitioners. Perhaps they should note my MBA and observe that in my six-year tenure at Stoney Goose Ridge, EBIT has increased 5-fold, profit 12-fold, with killer brand awareness and loyalty. ROI, EPG, SEO, NAV etc ditto ad infinitum. Perhaps the consulting firms wish to garner and dissect our IP secrets of success? Regardless, they can return to their bunkers and recycle their dusty proposals to the gullible.

And I have leanly recruited talent while sweating our staff assets to the max. There was the usual voluminous barrage of multi-media CVs seeking employment, internships, cadetships, traineeships and work experience at Stoney Goose Ridge. Many called; few were chosen.

It is fortunate that the ineptitude of my competitors is astonishing. Their leaders and boards would achieve better results if they were replaced by sacks of potatoes – I could carve a banana with a stronger spine.  Decision-making, agility, and strategy- entirely absent. If you can’t cut the mustard, move to higher ground. Feathering their nests by milking their conflicts of interest. Their annual reports nonsensical prolix exemplars of self-serving hagiographic masterclasses in corporate doublespeak. Next step is replacing their press release puff-pieces of tripe via ChatGPT – if they are even aware. Their leadership excels in having much to be humble and modest about, bleating as they suffer the swings and harrows of outrageous fortune. What you see is all there is (WYSIATI).

When the China boom was lowered on their wine basket of nest-eggs, our competitors had to “pivot.” But changing horses midstream is a double-edged sword of Damocles. My cold, cold heart bleeds for our rivals- NOT.

Anyway, if through blind luck, nepotism or payola, a competitor’s beverage offers become successful, we have always been ready to expose the unethical or morally dubious antics of their brand ambassadors, thus eviscerating their labels – the inevitable consequence BOGOF offers and inventory write-downs. Or we create meaningful customer alternatives – such as Jason’s Creek, Cottage hill, Moister Bay, Black Rabbit, Shoeless, Gecko Falls, 16 Flames and Mellow Tale. Such is life, so it goes.

Stoney Goose Ridge
also justly celebrated assorted non-wine SKU product launches:

  • premixed cocktails, not just the typical cosmopolitan, expresso martini, margarita, bloody Mary, old-fashioned, daiquiri, Mai tai, Manhattan, amaretto, negroni and mojito, but a few specials – the “leap into an open grave” and the “big orgasm”. Naturally our premium cocktail range leaves other producers in the shade, quality-wise, thanks to my interventions in their formulations.
  • Zero (and near-zero) alcohol beers and spirits, under our umbrella branding paradigms Less is more! and D’lite, not intended to satisfy the wowsers and abstinent self-flagellating martyrs of Feb-Fast, dry July etc, or the conspicuously affluent consumers. Again, our adversaries provide a flavour-deficit, with their infallible inability to deploy the sensitive assemblage of base material and technical interventions. We deserve wealth and recognition from providing feel-good healthiness to the abstemious.
  • Packaging into cans, pouches, growlers, paper and plastic bottles. If the market, margin and motivation is present, we launch! And we did – leveraging niches is part of our corporate mRNA.

And of course, our ongoing beers, ciders, spritzers and spirits sales are gangbusters.

Merch sales are also fantastic, with social media ablaze with influencers and followers flaunting Stoney Goose Ridge apparel in exotic locales. And our POS paraphernalia continues to dazzle customers.

Adventure afar (AA) is our retargeted strategic global thematic, with omnichannel touchpoints including packaging, POS, OOH, digital, experiential, social and events across key live markets. Media partners and customers adore this refreshed conceptual vitality framework.

My biggest challenge has been sourcing supply to cover the inexorable sales growth of Stoney Goose Ridge. There is no compromise on quality, and it is fortunate that the world is awash with excess stock, giving a wide supply source – if my quality hurdles are met and the price can be optimised for our margins. Truly I am absolutely unique, with creativity, vision, direction, unparalleled negotiating prowess and riveting determination to untangle the sludge in supply chain bottlenecks.

Dealing with the media and press – gutter and otherwise- seeking my profound iron-disciplined evidence-based insightful wisdom on the world of alcohol is as tedious as the junkets and contra they expect.

I spent several days embedded in woodshedding with our wine fabricational staff. They had prepared hundreds of sample blends, with exemplars of their components and accompanying spreadsheets.  Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but when the facts emerged, their judgements were proven wrong. They were predictably enthralled by my swift assessments and the massive improvements made through my blending mastery, admiring the Midas touch of my magic wand. There is no substitute for virtuoso genius, despite their obsessive analytical endeavours and constant requests for additional devices, soil mapping drones and variegated storage- even new barrels every year! (my accountant joke!)

Believe the HYPE
To my disappointment, there have been no new wine brands released from Stoney Goose Ridge since early last year with our record-breaking World Heavyweight Champion. But here it comes.

We used Intercontinental blending material (ICBM) so Merlot from Bordeaux, Cabernet from China, and Carmenere from Chile, fully capturing the essence of their organic terroirs, and biodiversity paradigm.  And surprisingly, no component from Australia. As the premiere release, it was initially evaluated as ICBM #1. Appropriately, this uniquely revolutionary, ground-breaking contemporary concept is labelled “the Hype.” It comes with the usual proprietary QR, AR and a plethora of security devices to help further protect the iconic form of the Stoney Goose Ridge brand, prevent dilution from unauthorised copies and serve as a precedent across jurisdictions. Focus group participants begged to purchase the wine – for amounts well beyond its market tariff – as its sensuous aromatics, and sublime structural finesse flabbergasted their gustatory experiences.

Stoney Goose Ridge always wants its products to be available for our true hyper-dedicated fans, and it is priced at AU$ 38, NZ$ 41, US$ 26, GB£ 21 and €24. 2021 The HYPE is available from select outlets from 20 February, and of course via our multi-award-winning website.

And what a stunningly luminous collectable trompe-l’oeil label! The EOI for the 3D NFTs surge.

The wrap
There will be a barrage of typically glittering omni-channel launches in 2023.
Ubiquity is Utopia. Again, we celebrate our nimiblity – your motivational icon, Hector A Lannible

Two South Australian vintage fortifieds

2002 d'arenberg vp

2002 d’arenberg Vintage fortified Shiraz 18.5%
McLaren Vale.

Last year I tried to visit D’arenberg to see the notorious cube, plus try some of their gigantic range of eclectically-named wines.  Their baffling website defeated my booking attempts, and the door-keeper was reluctant, and then in fact unable to assist. Who needs usability when the website looks attractive?? My conclusion was “never again”. But here is one of their wines…

This bottle was purchased a few months ago at auction for a meagre $23, so another bargain (and bonus points for being a cool vintage).

Battered cork, but the wine has survived 21 years. Loads of sediment.
Deep black colour, bricking but Ok; Dark fruits, red liquorice, fine brandy, plentiful spices. The palate has ripe, sweet dark fruits, fruit-peel characters and very refined “milk chocolate” tannins – altogether a memorable little package. Time ahead too, cork permitting.

Drink to 2030, 92 points, and 92 points.

1972 seppelt vp

1972 Seppelt Barossa Vintage Port GR72 20%
Shiraz, Barossa Valley

Served blind. Ruby with some bricking and evidently significant age.
Ripe, sweet, old-fashioned, cuddly, delicious. Australian, brandy spirit (although one winemaker thought neutral SVR). Very, very fine and lingering. Creamy and just some complexing hints of oloroso sherry.

A different bottle showed as slightly more youthful. I guessed mid-1970s, and from North-east Victoria, but when unveiled -a terrific treat as a 50 y/o with great wine show results.

Drink to 2035, and 94 points

Another batch of rushed (mostly blind) impressions

2007 jjchristoffel uw spatlese

2007 JJ Christoffel Erben Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling spatlese Ap#5 7.5%

Deep gold colour- wax, lime, lanolin, assorted sweet spices. Texture. A dash more acidity would have been welcome, but no mistaking its origin or variety, and merrily consumed over several days. But drink up!
90 points, drink to 2025

2011 Zilliken Saarburger Rieling Kabinett 8% AP#6
Mosel, from two half-bottles, one better than the other, but not by much.

59.9 g/l residual sugar (no wonder I assumed spatlese). Great colour for age; minerals, limes, texture and rampant tropical fruits.

91 points, drink to 2027

1995 Ch Coutet
Barsac. Deep gold colour; orange blossom, dusty botrytis notes, icing sugar and patisserie. Apricot and cumquat flavours. Altogether lovely, and absolutely ready to drink

93 points, drink to 2027

NV Campbells Merchant Prince Muscat
Rutherglen. An old bottling, suspected late 1970s.

Deep dense khaki colour with an olive rim. Rum ‘n raisins and the pungency of age. Very viscous, very ripe, and very sweet. Muscat certainly, Rutherglen probably. Maker??? There is no doubt the material was old, but I kept thinking that a tweak of freshening would have raised enjoyment to another level. But that’s what happens when the wine has been busy resting in bottle for forty years,

Drink now, 92 points

2004 grahams malvedos vp

2004 Graham’s quinta dos malvedos 20%
Cork very hard to extract (I broke it) – and plentiful sediment – decanting recommended. Malvedos provides the core when Graham’s declares a vintage port, so hopes were high. This wine has a ridiculously youthful dense crimson/black colour; blueberry, blackberry, minerals, spices and pepper. Palate is dark cherry and other dark fruits; good intensity but ultimately less complex than the initial promise. But a good advertisement for the quality of single quinta styles,

92 points; wait three years, then drink to 2030

1951 hardy's show port

1951 Hardy’s reserve bin show port bin M127
McLaren Vale, Shiraz.

Rancio, vanilla, superior brandy spirit. Tawny style, no doubt. 20yo? Mellow, lingering, satisfying. Label states aged in oak for over twenty years. Curiously bottled under screwcap, likely in the mid-late 1970s, so this is another curio that has been resting in bottle for nearly fifty years.

Drink now, 92 points.

Rushed impressions – recent blind tastings

1998 Ch Coutet 14%
2000 Ch Coutet 14%
(Semillon 90%, Sav Blanc 9% muscadelle 1%)
Neither are from a “top” year, yet Coutet seems to have a knack of over-delivering for its price. Both these wines are in the drink soon category.

Barsac, both swerved blind- I had to beg a small sample of the second, as our table’s bottle was TCA affected. These were stylistically similar, both showing obvious development of colour and aromatics; the older wine slightly flatter, with orange marmalade and icing sugar notes; the second wine with vanilla, light pineapple, camphor – and certainly some forgivable floor polish VA – cinnamon notes, and altogether a better wine than its components indicate.

89 and 91 points respectively

2003 Taylors Vintage Port
Portugal. Our table’s bottle was again TCA affected, but remnants from another bottle arrived.

Cherries and other red fruits, almond meal, liquorice and light tannin- pleasant but slightly skinny; my guess was an LBVP or a quinta wine. After the “reveal”, this was a disappointment from this maker and looked more advanced than expected. Maybe a lesser bottle?

Drink to 2027, 88 points

1980 warres vp 2

1980 Warre’s Vintage Port 20%
Portugal. This was a much more vibrant and youthful bottle than the one I described a few months ago.

Developed but still ruby; blue fruits abound (a pointer to Portugal), roses, mixed spices; a soft but hauntingly persistent palate – mocha, fine dark creamy chocolate, integrated spirit, mixed red and dark berries.

Drink to 2032, and 94 points

One spectacular (Oz) fortified

1992 S&K Vp

1992 Stanton and Killeen Jacks block Vintage Port 19%
Rutherglen; 90% Shiraz, 5% Durif, 5% Touriga

From a special year in North-east Victoria, the back label shows 3 trophies and 12 Gold medals from credible wine shows. The (late) winemaker Chris Killeen rated that year’s vintage fortified wine as 10/10.

This wine is amazingly fresh for its age, and beautifully balanced. Cork and level in terrific form. It absolutely deserved its decant to remove the plentiful sediment. Very floral – dark cherry and some blackberry, red berry, toffee apple, lavender, mocha, fruitcake nut and spices are all present. The palate is dry (for Australia) and the persistence is exemplary. An absolute treasure, drinking amazingly well, but with power in reserve. Skimpy notes, as the group (and myself) tucked in, leaving nothing for a next-day retaste!

Drink to 2037, 96 points (I was very tempted to give 97 points)

Two less common Australian fortifieds

1976 seppelt para

1976 Seppelt Para Liqueur 22%
Barossa, predominantly grenache with some Shiraz and Mataro.

Most of these Seppelt tawny styles have a lovely amber/khaki colour with an olive green rim – the handbell/lantern shaped bottle is distinctive, but a minor storage hazard- though most will be kept on their original cardboard boxes.

This is not a 46 year old wine! Vintage Paras were released in 1922, 1925, 1927, 1930, 1933, 1939, 1944 and 1947. Labelling laws and imperfect records meant the year referred to the oldest component. The “101” was released in 1975, with an average age around 28 years. The numbered series continued up to “126”, but the releases were slightly more often than annually. This 1976 vintage wine was released in 2004, (aged in oak perhaps 28 years) and has been resting in bottle – and not improving- for nearly 20 years.

It smells ripe with citrus peel, mixed roasted nuts, fine caramel, fruitcake spices and quality brandy spirit. It’s lush on the palate, with some mocha creaminess, and a warm and decadent finish. The style is under-rated, and the quality is exemplary.

There will be some vintage variation with varying degrees of ripeness, minor spirit tweaks, and the usual artful blending from barrels of different sizes, and heights in the stacks. There are plenty of variables to keep across. The current release (from Seppelts) is the 2001, available for $95.

Match with sparkling conversation, contemplative music or a witty movie.

Drink now, 94 points.

20 yo de bortoli black noble

De Bortoli 20 years old Black Noble 18.5%
Bottle #585. Released in mid-2018 ($90) to celebrate 90 years of de Bortoli winemaking. Average age 20 years, and made from incredibly ripe botrytised Semillon,  fortified and barrel -aged. Botrytis is often accompanied by volatile acidity, which makes its presence felt strongly here.

It’s a very dark treacly/espresso colour (indicating barrel age), with citrus and espresso, dried fruits and dusty fruitcake spices.

The palate has the nuttiness, an extra mocha shot and abundant spices, It’s turbo-charged with sweetness, acidy and power. It’s a monster step up from the widely available 10 y/o black noble. There is no getting away from the VA, but when there is so much intensity, flavour, lusciousness, and pleasure that I become a convert.

Drink now, 94 points.

Three more vintage ports

1996 ch reynella vp again

1996 Chateau Reynella Vintage port 19%
Shiraz, McLaren Vale, bottle #532. Served blind.
Ruby with some bricking, dark berries, mint and camphor. Sweet dark berry flavours, mocha, liquorice, sweet spices, ample tannin but absolutely ready to drink.
Drink to 2030, 92 points. (an uncanny similar description to my post from March this year)

1980 warre's vp

1980 Warre’s Vintage Port 20%
Portugal. Served blind.
Ruby colour, camphor, cardamon, wax, putty. I was suspicious that there was a faint whisp of TCA, but it was invisible on the palate, so I relented. Palate is soft, with mocha and some figgy character with headsy spirit. This is a wine where the fruit was playing second fiddle to the spirit, but the whole seemed better than its components
Drink to 2030, 92 points (and there may be better bottles around)

1980 taylors vp

1980 Taylor’s Vintage Port  
Portugal. Served blind.
Ruby colour, with some browning. Putty, cherry and almond. Palate drier than Australian, with marzipan and cherry; spirit slightly sharp, but a winner on the flavour persistence stakes.
My initial age range was 1975-1985, and when options came up as 77/80/83 I correctly selected 1980. (However, I got the house wrong- I don’t drink enough Portuguese VPs!)
Drink to 2035, 94 points

Three from Europe

2007 schafer-frohlich

2007 Schafer-frohlich Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Spatlese AP#26 7.5%
Nahe (near Mosel), with its cork in good condition.

Golden colour, vibrant redcurrant, musk, spices, marzipan and tropical scents. The palate is viscous and leans into red apple notes, mandarine, honey and is still crisp. Guessing around 75g/l residual sugar, and balanced. Peak drinking now, and is yet another instance of “double-barreled or not-easy-to-pronounce name = bargain price”.

Drink to 2027 and 93 points.

2011 Ch Haut Bergeron (Sauternes) 13.5%
Not in the 1855 classification, but produces some terrific, and underpriced wines. 80-90% Semillon and 10-20% sauvignon blanc, the wine swallows the oak.

Pear, honey, marmalade; obvious, authentic and excellent Sauternes. This is a “power” style, but irresistibly delicious.

Drink to 2030, 93 points

2014 Ch Coutet (Barsac) 14%
75% semillon, 23% sav blanc, and 2% muscadelle. 162 g/l residual sugar! 18 months in French oak barrels

From the ripe 2014, and this is just beginning to give glimpses of its future. It was served as a masked pair with the previous wine, and showed more honeyed notes and finesse on the palate. It seemed less ripe, but showed more lemon blossom. Finer, but at this stage more reticent

Drink to 2035, 92 points now, but more in the future.