There are wines that are difficult to assess objectively. Wines from Baileys present this issue to me, for a raft of sentimental reasons. In the heartland of Ned Kelly country near Glenrowan in Victoria, Baileys is a winery that I travelled to with my parents, then with my family and children. We often seemed to visit partly to break the journey north, and my memories recall many a sweltering day, when the winery provided temporary relief from the un-airconditioned car. Inside was dark and blessedly cooler. The counter was typically set with a large range of whites, reds and an impressive range of fortified wines including the “founder” range. The general instruction was “start at that end and keep going”.
My visits covered a range of winemakers including Harry Tinson, Steve Goodwin and more recently Paul Dahlenberg, and the usual problem was to limit purchases to either fit the available budget, or avoid taking up much space in the car – generally artfully jam- packed for holidays. Down a bunch of narrow roads with turnoffs easy to miss at the speeds travelled. Afterwards there was the classic all-too-brief drive across the scenic Warby ranges with the possibilities of going to Brown Brothers at Milawa, or trying the range of mustards nearby (and the pie shop).
At various times there seemed to be numerous back vintages of Baileys available at very reasonable prices. But the wine in question was purchased at auction perhaps 10 years ago, with the label, level and cork looking pretty good – after all –its now 40 years old!
This wine (made by Harry Tinson) had surprisingly little fine sediment; and key impressions were dark, dark red black colours, initially with some hot spirit showing. seeming much younger than it really was. And a typically sweet, old-fashioned Australian vintage fortified, BUT with air of generosity; milk chocolates, cocoa, chalk, and a long-lasting fruitcake palate. The spirit settled, the fruit emerged from its long sulk, and others at the table had no problems in returning for further sampling. All Shiraz, and while its fully ready, it’s in no danger of collapse and seems to be on a plateau that will provide quite decadent drinking for at least another 10 years.
Drink now to 2030; score (objectively) 90; sentimentally 93