A few different ports

1994 Gehrig Family Estate Vintage Port 17.5%
Barnawatha, on the outskirts of Rutherglen (Victoria). A recent very smart $25 auction buy. Although the cork failed to survive the corkscrew and ah-so, all was OK after the usual filtration. From “low-yielding old Shiraz vines”, it’s still a deep ruby colour with blackberry, bramble and sweet brandy vanilla. The palate is mellow and cuddly. There is fruity plum, blackberry and fig to satisfy the most fastidious with enough weight and tannin to maintain interest throughout.  Absolutely at its peak with cork gods indulgence. Terrific, and insanely delicious from a less-well-known producer.

1994 gehrig vp

Drink to 2026, and 91 points

1985 Warres Vintage Port 20%
Three different corkscrews failed to remove the cork cleanly, and plentiful sediment was successfully filtered out.

Ruby with some bricking, but the colour was still  flattering for a 36 year old Portuguese Vintage Port.. The wine is very stylish with fragrant mocha, fig, ripe red and black fruits and smart integrated mellow spirit. The palate adds almond notes, spices and the fresh as well as dried fruit flavours persist.

Drinking dramatically well now – and up to say 2030, and 95 points

1991 Seppeltsfield Para (21 year old) 21%
A single vintage tawny style, purchased last year at auction for $70. Around 40 y/o seems to be my preference in tawny styles; older wines can show extremes, meaning they are impressive but not entirely pleasurable; younger wines don’t achieve all the complexities the style is capable of. But 21 years is enough!

Seppelts (and Seppeltsfield) have unparalleled experience in this style with Para appearing in many guises. Mainly made from Grenache, there is the typical Seppelt khaki colour with a green tint. Beautifully assembled; there are all sorts of nut – almond and brazil with whispers of olive.  Toffee, caramel, mocha, hints of malt, salinity; clean spirit integrated and the end result in is a lush triumph. Rich with depth and acidy preventing any cloying. From a terrific red year in the Barossa

Drink now, and 93 points.

One sweet, one fortified

2011 Donnafugata Passita di Pantelleria Ben Ryé 14.5%
Half-bottle. From Sicily, Zibibbo (Muscat of Alexandria) air-dried, ending up with 203 g/l of residual sugar. On this island off Siciy, old bush vines are protected from the prevailing winds by terraces. The drying process means the grape-juice loss of perhaps 30%, with lots of manual handing (selecting, and de-stemming) with a flow-on to pricing. This is a super-refreshing dessert wine – no botrytis, no fortification, so there are – merely – the usual sweet wine production hazards of VA, lengthy fermentation and reduced yield. The air drying on mats or racks can add its own special dangers with humidity, insects and wildlife.  Further information from the producer is here. The wine will be hard to find in Australia, but one retailer sells a half-bottle for $80 (vintage not known).

This is a wine with distinctive character – narrow to some but mesmerising.

The colour was deep gold; scents came through with peppermint, vermouth-like herb and spices, and an overwhelming sense of apricots and other stonefruit, peaches, nectarine – a halfway house between over-ripe and tinned fruit. It’s a full-bodied wine of power and intensity. The exotically fragrant Muscat of Alexandria grape is expressed – winemaking here has been expert at preserving fruit vigour over artefact.

Drink to 2025, but it’s ready and will awaken jaded palates, so 93 points

NV Orlando Commemoration (tawny) Port
Another speculative auction purchase for just over $30, again from Barossa Shiraz, Carignan and Mataro, matured in small French oak with an average age of 15 years. So this “old liqueur port” is somewhat more than a generic commercial release, and probably hit the market in 1981 or 1982. Made in a deliberately oxidative style, any improvement in the bottle is marginal, and runs the usual risks of improper storage, cork failure, and potential loss of freshness. Decanting not only avoids sediment, but can alleviate initial aromatic oddities.

The contents have rested in a bottle for 40 years, and the cork broke when I tried to remove it. The art of blending this style is trying to ensure the blend is better than its components, getting depth and flavour complexity from older material, gaining the vibrancy from more youthful material.

I admire the squat bottle, black wax remnants and the charmingly retro label.

The colour is a amber, khaki and a lighter amber-tinted rim. Fresh and strong. The palate is a rich, smooth amalgam of mocha and light caramel, with vanilla present but not obtrusive, dried and stewed fruits, citrus peel., mixed spices- an assembly of passion. Everything sits smoothly,   

Drink now, 90 points

1976 Orlando Vintage Port 18.3%

This was a very recent speculative $20 auction purchase; a “limited special release”, Barossa Shiraz and Carignan, American oak, brandy spirit.

“Ideal for enjoyment now…potential for further cellaring”.
So, an each-way bet, although 45 years cellaring was likely beyond the writer’s imagination. Simpler times then, well before my interest in wine turned to an obsession, with fortified wines a mystery then – still partially mysterious.

The level was low neck., and the cork was stained but intact. There was abundant fine sediment. The high-cropping and well-coloured Carignan turns out to be more widespread in the Barossa than I thought, but its regarded as a second-rate variety confined to blends.

Blood-plum colour with some bricking, the fruit still remains with headsy brandy spirit, and just a gentle touch of mocha.  The palate is relatively soft but with a pleasant lick of tannin to finish. Plum and blackberry dominate, with a suggestion of blueberry, but nothing burnt or over-ripe. Sweet, old-fashioned, straightforward, invigorating, and ideal for a winter’s night of contemplation over the embers of the fire.

Drink now, and 88 points

Spatlese – one Mosel, one Nahe

2005 MF Richer Brauneberger Juffer-Sonneuhr Riesling Spatlese AP#22 8.5
Regarded as an excellent “all-round” vintage, this is a super-ripe spatlese (106 g/l residual sugar). Cork was quite wet.

Golden in colour, there’s a cascade of ripe pear, yellow peach, cumquat, and spicy dried fruits, with a suggestion of leafiness. The palate is rich, honeyed, spiced but beginning to show some drying characters.

Drink soon, and 91 points, although other bottles may be better given the state of the cork.

2007 Schafer-frohlich Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Spatlese AP#26 7.5%
From the Nahe – a small area to the south of Mosel, but very similar in style, albeit Riesling is a smaller part of production and there is more focus on drier styles. Donnhoff and Emrich-schonleber are also quality winemakers.

Light straw colour, there’s some flytox, which dissipates, and then there are tropicals – pineapple, nettle, and abundant spices. Palate is red apple and cream, drizzled with honey; lingering, great depth. Hugely enjoyable

Drink to 2025, and 93 points

Half year report from Stoney Goose Ridge

We have reached 2021! All staff have returned from compulsory leave over the merry festive season, fully refreshed and prepared to devote full attention to contractual obligations and KPIs. As CEO, I, Hector Lannible am looking forward to another year of success, and proper reward for my fulsome endeavours.

Our financials remain astonishingly, spectacularly rock-solid; surveyed staff report Invigorated team engagement 24/7 with full focus, and unstinting praise for the calibre of their top management.

Project Overlord to re-insource services has not diluted the clarity of demonstrable accountabilities, with data and digitisation abstract acceleration improvements maximising value from our remaining vendor spend.

Meanwhile, our rivals’ overt incompetent mismanagement, plus COVID seismic headwind disruptions continues to wreak destruction – these greatly assist the unparalleled Stoney Goose Ridge growth trajectory mission.

For several years, our country’s educational and training institutions became obsessively fixated on luring international students and thought this windfall expansion would continue like a magic pudding. But the supply dried up, embarrassingly leading to redundancies, distressed asset sales, raids on fiscal reserves, and attempts at recapitalisation to remain afloat. Similarly, many of our alcoholised rivals fantasised on export opportunities primarily to one Asian country. The chickens have come home to roost, like rabbits in the headlights, leaving management with egg on their red faces. Demonstrating pedestrian inertia, their belated – meaningless – alleged headline strategy is to “pivot”.

Festooned with bonuses and rewards from the bonanza growth, they boasted with messianic fervour of their profound business acumen and strategic global initiatives. They basked in first-class junkets, seminars and other love-fests broadcasting their vison and expertise.  Now, they hypocritically seek life support subsidies to alleviate their inept “strategies”, squealing and bleating about their former economic contribution and bemoaning damage to their precious communities. The return of their undeserved STI doesn’t enter their reckoning, and ongoing pain is confined to their underlings, suppliers and downstream impacts. The mouthpieces have lost their credibility foothold leaving big shoes to fill. We hope assorted Government entities are not gulled yet again by these parasitic PR advocates and lobbyists.

Other businesses set up or repositioned solely to exploit niche marketing opportunities based on inbound tourism of one country. Surprise! They set up for eternal growth; and have been taken aback. They do not deserve to be propped up if their model is so inflexible. Business demands nimble agility. These companies should have focussed on their lifeblood knitting instead of the artwork of their business cards, advertising in foreign-language vehicles, and elaborate web paraphernalia.

These enterprises never bothered with risk assessment, contingency plans, exit strategies and other management fundamentals; my own extensive applied solution contributions have been well publicized within management journals and studied by MBA candidates, and countless CEOs, Boards and so on.. But clearly others lacked the imaginative interdisciplinary competency to apply these simple process template matrix panaceas.

I am completely sympathetic and compassionate for the casualties of corporate greed and bungling; the survivors are worthy of our care and support – but their senior management merits derision and lifelong exile from leadership.

Stoney Goose Ridge is virtuosic at exploiting support schemes, but entirely within the spirit and subject to the usual stringent qualification and reporting necessities; we abhor ad-hoc white-board special supplementary arrangements based on megaphone diplomacy and subliminal blackmail. As always, we support whistle-blowers to report improper activities of our competitors.

In the world of wine, short- to-medium-term, consumers will benefit through vinous firesales from companies desperate for cashflow from their excess stocks. The companies don’t care that much of the wine has been “tweaked” (aka sweetened) for export.  The use-by date looms for their inventory bloat. It’s a race to the bottom. When our antennae decoded and translated whispers, we rapidly diverted stocks to various insatiable export markets – clamouring for our product suite – just in time to avoid disruptions, truly a tribute to our Enigmatic intelligentsia.

And Stoney Goose Ridge has capacity to expand our footprint, to maximise the commercialisation opportunities by offering pitiful payments to our ham-fisted rivals for swathes of stock. We are vigilant for recruitment of discarded and disaffected staff. We thrive on volatility, fully leveraging the pipeline of interested mandates.

Celebrity endorsements of thought-leading influencers have been achieved. Our forensic scrutiny ensures no scandal or inappropriate historic actions affect potential sales, with iron-clad contracts ensuring behavioural value alignment compliance guarantees. Our customers are also happily cemented into lifestyle category relationships.

Our attention focuses on the cascade of launches of our excitement-inducing plethora of iconic innovative brand extension labels. New products are waiting in the wings just around the corner on the horizon. This confounds our competitors who wonder “what happened”?

We are fully prepared for the anticipated wannabe copycat attempts, typically with inferior products hastily cobbled together and pitched at lower RRPs. Truly shameful. Our legal forces are on red alert for even minuscule breaches to be punished with exemplary damages.

Vintage has started, and “best ever” is our mantra, regardless of climate or circumstances.

Inspirationally yours in 2021, Hector Lannible

Impressions, again

2009 Zilliken (Forstmeister Geltz) Saarberger Rausch Riesling “diabas” 12.0%
Mosel, 16g/l residual sugar. Pale lemon colour, which leads to scents of passionfruit, quince, pear, red apple, and ginger spice. The palate is brisk, showcasing lemon, nashi pear plus salinity, minerals and depth. It’s rounded, textured mouthfeel, and acidity carries matters along with conviction. This wine is not dry, but not even approaching Kabinett level, and it’s drinking right in the zone.

Drink to 2025 while its fresh, complex and completely delicious – 91 points.

2007 Seppelt GR 27 Vintage fortified 19%
Barossa Valley (South Australia). Shiraz and Tinta molle.  Half-bottle with an abbreviated cork and abundant sediment. Decanting essential! Ruby colour with the beginning of some bricking. Rose-petal, sweet spices, sweet dark fruit and liquorice. The palate is soft, with the dark plum, blackberry and figgy fruit, mocha and brandy spirit in mellow harmony with a lingering spicy kick..

Drink now, as the structure may outlast the fruit – 89 points

Recent impressions and snippets

2009 Ch Suduiraut Lions de suduiraut
From Sauternes, Bright pale lemon colour, tropical fruit salad, with lime and orange blossom; palate displaying greater apricot and some toffee. Light oak at finish and some honeycomb.  I haven’t seen this label before, but it seems like a second label, and intentionally an earlier drinking style – potentially from younger vines or from lesser graded barrels. 2009 was a rich and successful year for Sauternes, and this wine was a stimulating surprise.

Likely to be excellent value, drink to 2025 and 90 points

2008 Ch Lafaurie-Peyraguey
Also from Sauternes, this wine was a deeper light bronze colour. This wine was made with attitude- the fruit had more intensity, and much greater oak impact- conveying a complex wine of spices and vanilla. 2008 is regarded as a lesser vintage than 2009.  Unfortunately, the dark honey bouquet was accompanied by some varnish and fly-tox notes. Although this distraction declined with breathing, it still remained, rendering the wine unsound for me (two bottles tried with similar results), although other tasters were more complimentary. The palate had a furrier, more complex marmalade and mineral texture. Winemakers at the tasting suggested aspergillus (an undesirable fungus) was present along with the botrytis. This is a wine to divide opinion, with the grubbiness battling power.

Not rated.

1975 Baileys (Bundarra) Vintage Port
Glenrowan Victoria. Previously tasted in Nov 2015.

This was a canny auction purchase from 2019 with the level at the base of the neck. The cork was meagre, but had performed its duty faithfully over the intervening 45 years!

Still owning a dense bricky colour, the wine was replete with liquorice, mocha and some rose-petal. The palate was sweet but vibrant- iron tonic, blackberry, coffee, milk chocolate and lush mouthfeel. Another tribute to the late Harry Tinson’s winemaking prowess. Old-fashioned, but frighteningly enjoyable.

From a very good season, drink to 2030, 91 points.

Drinking JJ Prum (again)

2008 JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett #17, 8%
Spatlese and Auslese get more attention, but there is nothing like the weightless attractions of the Kabinett style. Still a very pale lemon colour, there is a characteristic reductive note, followed by waves of lemon and white peach. The palate is more lime-driven, light honey with red and green apple, plus pear notes wrapped in electric minerality. It’s another wine that defies willpower to insist on further sampling. Sweet, but a wine of joy.

2008 jj prum ws kabinett

While Mosel Rieslings often look thrilling when young (say for three years), they often proceed through a sulky stage for three to five years, before re-emerging in glory. This wine, like many of its 2008 Mosel brethren has always irresistibly delivered delicious drinking.

Drink to 2030, and 91 points

2007 JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Goldkap AP #17, 7.5%
This wine was also a pale colour belying its age. Honey, nettles, yellow peach and green plum were all present; a viscous, rich, decadent palate with spice notes and faint nuttiness intermingled., wrapped in appropriate vibrant pebbly acidity. Radiant, luscious, seductive and visceral.

To 2035, 95 points.

NV Morris CHM Muscat 17.5%

My few, (but select) readers will know my affection for the style of Morris fortifieds – go cruising for my thoughts on the amazingly affordable Old Premium (rare) muscat, or the 1986 Muscat. Morris – in Rutherglen Victoria – has large stocks of old fortified material, but it’s not solely age that matters – even though the holding cost, maintenance and evaporation are issues – the key is retaining life, vitality, and freshness where judicious blending with younger material is a dark, and underappreciated skill.

The CHM – named for winemaker David Morris’ father, mentor and legend Charles Henry (Mick) Morris – is a cellar-door only wine, pitched at $500 per half bottle (less for Club members) and I easily parted with my money after tasting the wine. Apparently only 100 half-bottles are released annually (mine was #70), and is described by David Morris as “the best muscat that I can make”. It shows love can triumph over the accountants!

If the Rutherglen “rare” classification is around” the 20 year mark – what is the next level? – Antique? Museum? Pinnacle? Icon? And despite more than 300 g/l of residual sugar, the acidity ensures a clean, refreshing wine.

Is there a food accompaniment? Not for this wine – give it some contemplation, let the flavours tantalise, and just smile and nod in appreciation and respect for the style, and the wine.

nv morris chm muscat

It’s a dark, dense mahogany colour, sticking to the glass. Floral raisin, mocha, toffee, rose-petal, cardamon and other spices. The very intense palate joins with a cascade of salinity, dried fruits and roasted mixed nuts on a silky, endless finish. The fortifying spirit is seamless.

Like all wines that stick in the memory, it has the magic that insists the bottle size is too small, and there just isn’t enough. A true “desert island” wine, it seems cruel to provide a score.

Drink now (if you can find it) and conservatively, 98 points.

Nearly Xmas drinks

2006 MF Richter Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese AP #18 9%
Mosel, 106 g/l residual sugar.

2006 richter bjs spat

It’s a bright deep gold colour (like its sibling tasted recently), but the scents include honey, red apple, some white stonefruit, citrus peel and spices; it’s ripe and mouthfilling despite the modest alcohol, and some lime joins the picture at the finish.

Its mature but still fresh, and delivers enormous pleasure.

To 2024, 92 points

1997 JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese AP #2 99 7.5%
Mosel. Cork has managed its task. There seem to have been a few variations of this (Cellartracker lists Ap 8, AP 9 and Ap 16). Light lemon colour, with vibrant scents of red apple, and ripe nashi pear. Smoke, citrus, lime, apple, trails of petroleum and abundant mineral make up the package. Mosel wines age with grace!

1997 jj prum ws auslese

A tremendous effort for a mature wine (an auction purchase in 2015), with vitality to spare.

To 2030, and a very easy 93+ points.