1994 Seppelt Show Sparkling Shiraz, and more….

1994 Seppelt Show Sparkling Shiraz 13.5%
Under crown seal, this wine is outstanding, (but unfortunately my last bottle).

1994 seppelt sparkling red

A terrific Australian style; old vines from the St Peters vineyard at Great Western (Victoria)  and around 8 years on lees. Plenty of mousse, a touch of brick on the deep colour but wonderfully good for its age; a multitude of spices, black cherry, and plush leather; the palate is sensual, super rich, ripe and creamy; the combination of freshness and bottle development, blackberry, complex dark fruits, spices and a super, long, long finish is stunning. Around  25 g/l residual sugar meshes harmoniously with the evident, fine tannins.

Drink anytime over the next 20 or so years; some mushroom development will appear, but the fruit power, balance and freshness make this wine an absolute winner and a complete delight to drink.

Drink to 2035, 95 points

2007 Donnhoff Oberhauser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett 8.5%
From the Nahe (adjacent to Mosel). Light-to medium gold in colour, the wine displays cumquat, petroleum, white peach, white flowers and honey. Red apple and redcurrant are more accessible on the palate with steely acidity. Exceptionally well balanced, this is ultra-easy to drink- in the zone- with a few more years of pleasure ahead.

Drink to 2025, and 91 points

2007 Reinhold Haart Piesporter Domherr Riesling spatlese 8.5%
Mosel, with a light gold colour, tropical fruits (predominantly pineapple) meshed with lemon

There is abundant residual sugar (even for a spatlese) but the acidity is well judged. Mouthfilling, vibrant citrus and a touch of mineral and spices makes this wine easy to consume.  A touch of hardness on the palate suggests caution about further cellaring.

Drink to 2022, and 88 points

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April 1 release of the Unicorn

“Brainless, heartless, spineless, gutless, charmless and useless. But I don’t publicly use these descriptions of my competitors, especially when I have an astonishingly great breaking news announcement, said CEO Hector Lannible.

It’s rare but it’s not a myth. Well-heeled collectors often boast of their so-called “unicorn wines” – due to their cost, rarity or both. But under my dynamite stewardship at Stoney Goose Ridge, we continually break novel ground, transformationally disrupting the binary paradigm mindset, and today we launch the Unicorn into the firmament. It’s no myth – we have one. This is not a terminological inexactitude.

It’s the finest, most exclusive wine we make; a spectacularly curated selection of our top barrels, artisanised through our innovative proprietary technological wizardry.

It’s rarer than a (Northern Hemisphere) black swan, scarcer than hens’ teeth, and in shorter supply than rocking horse manure. The wine itself is obviously truly unique; a red wine from the noble Cabernet Sauvignon, with some Merlot and other varietals. It’s from a specifically unique terroir, a particular block we call Area 51, concealed from public view.

One of my numerous visionary ambitions for Stoney Goose Ridge was to create a compelling monument; several earlier attempts were declassified as not fulfilling my passionate quality aspirations, but this time I have drop-kicked the googly directly into the side-pocket to gammon the bout with a triple jackpot; at last now I proudly proclaim the impending debut of 2017 The Unicorn.

Crafted by our squadron of expert fashionistas, matured in superior oak, with all key decisions taken by myself, this wine will deservedly sell like wildfire, and even impress the legions of wine-writing toady freeloaders. Truly, I rolled the dice and came up trumps, smelling of roses. No shortcuts have been taken, no marketing expense spared, no stone left unadorned.

Although astonishingly supreme drinking already, the Unicorn will literally last for centuries if cellared under appropriate conditions, proving a long-lasting legacy for future generations.

Vegan-friendly, and fully biogeneric, the Unicorn is like finding a needle in a haystack under a blue moon on the twelfth of never at the end of the rainbow.

  • Each bottle is presented in a timber receptacle certified by sustainable forestry organisations.
  • Each individually-nomenclatured bottle is recyclable, and fully carbon offset neutral.
  • Each bottle includes a hoofprint of authenticity, with artwork inspired by the creature.
  • Each timber case contains a certificate (suitable for framing and display) commending the owner for their responsible purchase

Prepared under the indirect supervision of several RSPCA members, plus input from selected members of Zoos Australia, the World Wildlife fund, Amnesty International and Greenpeace, no animals were harmed in the manufactured assembly of this utterly glorious wine.

Some early reviews from some key columnists ….

“Yet another brazen barrage from the inexhaustible Stoney Goose Ridge; extraordinarily detailed, indeed lavish packaging, presentation and production. The wine is symptomatic of the producer’s style, and some may even be prepared to pay the piper.” (J ”Doc” Hallidae)

“Formidable box, bottle, certificate” (CM – Frontwine)

“Squarely aimed at a particular lucrative market niche, even down to the minuscule but accurate Chinese back label” (J. Olivier)

With an RRP of AU$140 (€88, £78, US$80), the Unicorn 2017 represents a valuable pathway entry to the stratospheric pantheon of upper echelon vinous beverages. This mega ultra-premium super-deluxe wine is affordable even to aspirational mass-market millennial gen X FMCG consumers, and is predestined as a lavish-appearing gifting reward. WYSIWYG. Alternatively, guests will be stunned by the magnanimous generosity of humanitarians prepared to sharingly broach the contents when it’s opened.

Truly, the Unicorn is a wine worthy of its origins, my own unrivalled, unparalleled creative genius and a worthy homage to immortal gravely endangered creatures. And it tastes just magnificent. All the usual rent-a-crowd misfit vinous scribblers will whole-heartedly fulsomely endorse its compelling virtues. Stoney Goose Ridge triumphs once more!

Importantly, for every bottle sold, with our culturally embedded philanthropic charitable ethic, Stoney Goose Ridge commits to donate $1 to the Unicorn Funding Organisation (UFO), for habitat rejuvenation. Additionally, our ensemble of tax magicians will ensure intangible magnification of counterbalanced downstream benefits.

Available from 1 April, and likely to sell out on the same day, do your duty to this blue planet, quickly rush to your nearest fine wine boutique for your piece of the Unicorn”.

An Australian Topaque and a Pedro Ximenez

Lindemans Classic  Tokay (topaque)  solera WH2 18%
Lindeman’s is a well-established Australian wine label, whose wines have lost lustre and market credibility over the years, with short-term accountancy driving the brand backwards. The Hunter River Semillons and Shiraz are almost invisible – and of lesser renown; the Coonawarra wines (St George, Limestone Ridge and Pyrus) still exist as the flagship, and the Leo Buring Rieslings – Leonay excepted – are a shadow of their antecedents.

Lindemans ran a Classic release program; my paper archives record that the Tokay solera WH1 was released in 1996 with an RRP of $64.95 – serious money 20 years ago! From Corowa and Rutherglen, it was based on an old Rutherglen Tokay parcel purchased in the late 1950’s. The WH2 was a later release that picked up 1 trophy and 20 gold medals.

nv lindemans tokay

It’s another historic fortified wine that is a seriously dark khaki colour with amber tints. Varietal malt, smoothness and density attest to serious average age. Malt, honey, espresso mocha and the clean acid grip of barrel-age impresses, but it still displays wonderful sweetness, balance and refreshment. More please!

Drink now, 94 points.

Buller Pedro X 18%
Buller is based in Rutherglen, Victoria and their bird park was a delight for my children that compensated partly for the long road-trip. Occasional sparkling reds, fortifieds and even a botrytis Semillon (from Swan Hill) were greatly enjoyed. The family has moved on, but this wine is still available (full-bottle) on their website for $29.

In Spain, Pedro Ximenez is often air dried before being used to either bolster sweeter sherry styles, or on its own as a powerfully sweet fortified wine packed with raisin and coffee liqueur traits. In Australia, several brave souls have made PX into a -typically undistinguished- dry white wine, but it has more often been blended with palomino to make sherry-styles.

NV buller px

This wine does not possess an attractive label, and the bottle is another regrettably heavy dreadnought. The cork is pristine, and the back label claims the base wines date back to 1976, with brandy spirit used in the fortification.

Surprisingly, this Buller wine is entirely in the style of Topaque; the colour is a lovely khaki; an absolute paradigm of malt, mocha and honey are in play; the palate is rich and sensual, malt, toffee and caramel combine, with a supple, all-too-easy dark and light honeyed palate. This is an exceptionally smooth, luscious (albeit not the oldest) fortified wine that is utterly delicious.

At the price, it’s worth a food match with a range of cheeses, and after-dinner conviviality.

Drink now, 92 points – and extra merit for great value.

A pair of 2006 Rieslings from Max. Ferd Richter

The Richter winery is based in Mulheim, in the Mosel, and when I visited – and tasted- had an extensive range of back-vintages available for purchase. Richter produce richer wines than typical Mosel producers, and are very well known for their Helenkloster Eiswein, which – unusually- is produced in most years.

The wines below made an educational pair- the technical/analytic numbers are reasonably similar; the wines (from a year with plenty of botrytis) are very different. Corks were respectable for their age.

2006 richter pair

2006 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese 8%
91 g/l residual sugar
Light gold colour, and highly aromatic- camphor, wax, tropical fruits especially mango, and a little petroleum. Palate is varietal, clean, lively and delicious.

Drink to 2025, 90 points

2006 Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese 9.5%
106 g/l residual sugar.
A slightly deeper gold colour than its sibling; and a bit shyer aromatically, but displaying  honey, and minerals., The palate is weightier, fleshier, creamier and richer, with brown spice, mineral, ripe apple and blackcurrant. This wine is drinking beautifully.

Drink to 2030, 92 points.

1980 Dow’s Vintage Port 20%

Dow’s is part of the Symington stable, with its vintage ports regarded as relatively dry for the style.

1980 is regarded as a “lesser” – but still declared – vintage in Portugal, but this wine shone – despite a pretty soaked cork.

1980 dow's vintage port
It still possesses plenty of brooding colour, with even some crimson left; camphor, dark chocolates, figs, blueberry, spices (nutmeg and cinnamon). On the palate it’s a drier, savoury style, delicate, and lively with clean spirit, very smooth and persistent; almond-meal, redcurrant, and mulberry.  “Correct” and very stylish, with fascinating melange of flavours- blue, red and back fruits; its balance will see this wine hold for many more  years – a magically impressive bottle!

Drink to 2030, 94 points.

2010 D’arenberg Noble Mud Pie 8%

From McLaren Vale in South Australia, this wine is a blend of 60% Viognier and 40% Roussanne. D’arenberg makes a number of botrytis wine within their immense portfolio; from different years the varietal composition of this wine changes; this year a blend of Northern Rhone varieties. I commented on the 2015 edition in November 2016.

There are difficulties making this wine style; keeping botrytis away from other grapes,  minimising errant “non-noble” rots; the fragility of grapes that easily fall from the vine; the vastly reduced yields, the difficulties pressing and fermenting. And for all the travails, it’s an under-appreciated style.

2010 d'arenberg noble mud pie

This wine has an extraordinary sugar content; around 300 g/l.  The colour is a deep copper/amber; with this degree of botrytis, varietal character is largely extinguished; there are scents of orange liqueur, stewed apricot, red apple and peppermint. The palate is very sustained and syrupy, laden with cumquat and orange marmalade flavours, with some golden honey, and typical botrytis dust and spice. There is still freshness, and enough acidity to assist with the extraordinary level of sweetness.

However, the wine would have been more exuberant, with greater interplay between fruit and development characters a few years ago.

Drink up,  90 points (with a higher score if opened several years earlier)

Henriques and Henriques Terrantez 20% (Madeira)

I am well out of my comfort zone here, as respectable Madeiras are not easy to find, or affordable in Australia, so my tasting experience is limited. This wine was an opportunity to increase my knowledge; although retail at around $125, an extravagant exercise.

Madeira is an island of Portugal, but lies roughly 1000k south-west of the mainland, and has a Mediterranean climate.

The main variety used in making (cheaper) Madeira is Tinta Negra Mole; the higher quality varieties are Sercial, Verdelho, Bual, and Malvasia (Malmsey), in order of increasing sweetness.  Terrantez is another quality variety, but an outlier – due to its rarity. Cheaper, earlier drinking madeiras are made by heating, and cooling the wines; higher-quality wines rely on barrel aging and associated oxidation, so these wines are “sherry-like”. Once opened, they can be consumed – very slightly chilled- over several weeks.

There is more extensive detail on the internet than I expected; an excellent resource on Madeira wine is here, another from Nicks is here and a blog from a mad-keen devotee here.

h&h 20 terrantez

It’s amber in colour with a clear, almost green rim; bouquet has spices, walnut, fruitcake, curry powder, dried fruits/fruitcake, but there is a stale note too. The palate is better; medium-dry, lively with fresh almond, citrus peel, fig, coffee , abundant acidity and a dry crisp finish.

The wine will not improve after bottling, but will hold for a long time; the touch of staleness (real, or unappreciated with my naivety at the style) restricts my score to 88 points.