Three wines, at least two learnings

1982 S&K VP

1982 Stanton and Killeen Vintage Port 19%
Rutherglen Shiraz, from a vintage rated as 9/10 by the winemaker.

Forty years old , and the cork has held up. Bricky colour, but nothing out of order.
Black fruits, mocha, fresh red liquorice, and vanilla bean; almond and clove spices join in. Light milk chocolate, soft palate. Easy to ask for more.

Drink to 2025, and a resounding 91 points

Warre’s Optima 20 Year old Tawny Port 20%
Portugal, bottled in 2013 (and served blind)

Light khaki colour, and packed with toffee, caramel, vanilla, fruit peel, and citrus. Light on its feet, lingering, everything in its place…except one sensitive taster mentioned mousiness.

This is – fortunately for me-not easy to detect (it depends on mouth pH and other factors), else it would ruin my enjoyment of many fortified wines. Mousiness can occur in non-fortified wines, seemingly more prevalent with no-early-SO2 wines (hello, natural wines again). A brief article by Jamie Goode is here.

I can find mousiness via the “skin test”, smearing it over my wrist and waiting for evaporation. The result can be horrific – I liken it to burnt bacon, corn chips and popcorn with a bitter, harsh and unfortunately persistent flavour. Once detected, it’s impossible to overlook –  I’ve had worse than this wine, but…

Avoid. No score.

2008 Ca’ d’gal vite vecchia Moscato d’asti 5%
Piedmont, Italy (served blind)

Partiallly obvious what this was – the frizzante, slightly sparkling style (around 1.5 atmospheres – Champagne is 4.5-6), the sweetness (90-100 g/l) and obvious grapey muscat aromatic. However, instead of merely the usual refreshing sherbetty and “fun” approach, this wine had much more complexity – chamomile, lime, beeswax/candlewax, a spice-bucket with mandarin citrus. Flavours mirrored this, and while still bracingly vibrant, bonus merit for its surprising cellarability and the exotic souk perfumes, Aged for 5 years in bottle, and look at the meagre alcohol level! Obvious ageing potential here. The producer makes a range; this is the old-vine flagship, No surprise its> $120.

Scoring presents a conundrum – Moscato d’asti is user-friendly, but this was well beyond my expectations of the style. It startled me, and led to some research.

Drink now, and 95 points


1972 – a fifty-year-old Australian fortified

1972 yalumba vp

1972 Yalumba Vintage Port
Barossa Valley, South Australia, and assumed to be mostly Shiraz.

Excellent level, and an intact, well-stained cork.
Deep brick-red colour; sweet brandy notes, liquorice and fruitcake spices. The palate is rich, mellow and rounded with brandy, mocha and bright dark plum fruits, a touch of almond, again with some spices. Clean, lingering, balanced and refreshing. Its enjoyment quotient was enormous.

For a fifty-year-old wine (purchased at auction only six months ago for a speculative $35), this is remarkable.  Australian vintage fortifieds don’t drink any better than this.

Drink now, and this spectacular bottle – at a key anniversary age -deserves 95 points.

2017 Frogmore Creek “FGR” Riesling 10.2%

Tasmania, and around “Forty Grams Residual”, called “medium sweet” on the label. Purchased on clearance from a chain for a bargain $10 recently.

2017 frogmore

There are many terrific Rieslings from Tasmania; but few reach mainland Australia with regularity and tastings are infrequent – I have had successes with Bay of Fires, Freycinet, Heemskerk, Leo Buring “leopold”, Pooley, Pressing Matters, and Tamar Ridge.

Very pale lemon colour, scents of lime, white nectarine and spices. The palate reinforces those impressions; the sweetness melded and disguised with red apple flavours, fruit-tingles and the spice notes. It’s well made, and while I would like a dash more acidity, this is a very food-friendly style that I enjoyed with a decent chill.

Drink to 2025, 88 points

2006 Dr Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese AP#41 7.5%

From the Mosel, and a famous site. Adequate cork, and the wine is a bright deep lemon colour.

2006 loosen spatlese

There are delightful wafts of honey, spices, tropical fruits – particularly passionfruit- citrus and apple and raisin. The palate, as expected is sweet, clean and there is the magic interplay between acidity, alcohol, and sweetness. However, there is more grippiness than desirable- possibly some slight oxidation?

There may be better bottles, so…
Drink to 2023 and 90 points

Stoney Goose Ridge end of 2021 half-year review

Despite the difficulties of COVID, international logistics issues, and the dead hand of tariffs and taxation, Stoney Goose Ridge had another record-breaking year, nearly meeting most of my demanding stretch targets. The bean-counters have finished with their spreadsheets, and ritual accounting GL P&L minutiae. New markets, new products, and the constant task of meeting the insatiable demands of our hyper-loyal expanding customer base kept me at agile warp-speed velocity.

Certainly, Stoney Goose Ridge unerringly pinpoints the bullseye sweet-spot continuously.

We justly celebrated the acumen of commercial, business, and financial innovation with our release only a few months ago of “the Ponzi.” Options and futures on this item have now expired, and the limited release is no longer available for subscription. If you have any, lucky you!

As usual, the tranche of awards and prizes for our marketing campaigns, cutting edge design, outstanding leadership, and financial innovation stewardship, had a monumental uptick. My TED talks continue to be compulsive viewing.

Stoney Goose Ridge chooses not to participate in wine and spirit shows where “every child wins a prize,” nor entertain scribes with lavish junkets, nor flog our wares with fawning hyperbole. Unremitting fanatical praise from our consumers is our key reward. Further, my assessment of quality is far more rigorous than so-called qualified judges and their closed-shop cohort of cronies.

Sales, EBITDA, NPS, ESG, ROA, NAV, social media, and new product launches were satisfactory from my standpoint, with lapses caused solely by personnel blinking at critical moments, thereby failing to fulfil my objectives. My incessant hyperactive management means those underlings now seek alternative opportunities since they abandoned the wholesome family of Stoney Goose Ridge. My frenetic trading in alternative crypto- currencies and NFTs was also naturally lavishly lucrative.

Our legal domain has a record number of cases underway, with progress slowed by Court, Tribunal, and rulings inertia – allegedly due to COVID constraints. This means 2022 anticipates a deluge of favourable decisions, with appropriately punitive exemplary costs and windfall damages. And we have buckets of new litigation planned.

Our success has been orchestrated by my peerless magnetic personality and persuasiveness, partially blunted by the lack of face-to-face meetings, with Zoom and Teams a dull substitute. But this allowed me more time to work on strategy, and to email relentless concrete action demands to the workforce, insisting on “Citius, Altius, Fortius,” reinforced with blistering texts and phone calls.

Stoney Goose Ridge has not succumbed to the fad of “celebrity booze.” Typically, actors, so-called musicians, and internet poseurs may licence their names as a brand, sometime even having some trivial tangential role in the production, or labelling. Few people can withstand scrutiny of their past crimes, escapades and attitudes, racism, sexism, domestic violence, irrational texts, tweets, images, private videos and so on. Our rare social media ambassadors and influencers ran the gauntlet of a 106-question checklist to reach the starting gate. Stoney Goose Ridge will not produce any of the salacious records of aspirants that were rejected – except under court orders – unless in the public interest.

I provided a monster list of potential brandnames to our analysts, and these capable data-nitpicking elves trawled through historic records to find potential grape sources. Our winemakers provide samples for my assessment and sublime blending conclusions. These outstanding efforts are bottled under our DRC label (Decisive Real Champions) and so far, we have released the stellar blue-chip Chateau Margot, Chateau Shovel Blanc, Chateau Angela’s, Chateau Lapin, Clos de Bees, Hill of Graci, Stone’s Terraces, and one (so far) wine from Henry Jaya- (Clos Parasol).

DRC wines are produced at the premium price-point they deserve, restricted to our very special clients, on application and allocation. Our discretion to these VVIP tycoons is assured, whether their expertise lies in one-to-many pharma, logistics to freedom fighters, taxation nano-minimisation, wagering, facilitating, and brokering local distribution, running monopolies, Governments, finance innovation, or loosely, entertaining the huddled masses.

These DRC wines are the true showcase expression of their micro-terroir and pay exceptional homage to their historical antecedents – awash with innovative artwork styled by HALHector Achilles Lannible, (myself) and replete with microchip, QR and other blockchain security protections. These extraordinary wines have already made rare appearances on the secondary market with stratospheric interest, and prices. The winemakers who source these amazingly meritorious batches are rightly celebrated with my personal recognition, a deserved micro-bonus, and several bottles of their produce. Naturally, this reward comes with a binding agreement for themselves, their heirs, and successors in perpetuity not to sell, trade, exchange ….and so forth, to avoid damage to the brandage and the market.

But while adding to the lustre of Stoney Goose Ridge as a renowned global luxury icon brand, the DRC range is an infinitesimal volume of our torrential innovative array of wines, beers, spirits, ciders, spritzers and so on, which are our lifeblood bread-and-butter staples. A glittering range of transubstantiated beverage creations is scheduled for 2022, which will fundamentally disrupt the apple-cart of our rivals. I promise tantrums, blood, sweat and tears for them.

Stoney Goose Ridge has the terrific ongoing blessing of self-immolation from our competitors. Their vision, capability and execution are risible; apart from panic, their three speeds are slow, very slow and stop; their intellects modest at best – a career pivot to ballast or crash test dummies overdue. Addicted to the perpendicular pronoun, OTT FOMO and unable to STFU, their faces are made for podcasts; their manners for the zoo, their irrational, incomprehensible utterances and scribbles suitable only for collection in anthologies of business ineptitude. With supine Boards, shareholder apathy, and their snouts in the trough of the gravy train, long may their reign continue!

There are tens of thousands who read my daily zeitgeist; I have been described as “very remarkable, someone of rare perspicacity, with extraordinary talents and incomparable nobility of character…with qualities especially famed, namely self-sacrifice, devoted friendship, nobility of purpose, perceptiveness, ingenuity and courage.” I humbly agree with that impartial assessment, although certain attributes have been overlooked, doubtless through lack of space.

My festive break will once again consist of ruthless triage of the acreage and pixelage of submissions from candidates seeking internships, and multi-media CVs for the rare vacant positions that I did not directly catapult elite talent into.

I will also turn the screws on the deluge of plaintive proposals from rivals who – surprise surprise – found themselves with meagre or non-existent cashflow, excess inventory, equipment, staff, land, leases, and other generic afflictions. Many companies are still trying to unload their smoke-tainted wine onto ignorant losers. Ha! Stoney Goose Ridge is always alert to take maximum advantage of opportunities when we smell blood in the air, and we decisively snapped up evidence-backed assets at subterranean bargain-basement rates.

Meanwhile, staff – except those on essential duties during the festive break – can concentrate on self-reflection and preparation for their looming performance review, focussing on how they can improve, with fulsome admission of their shortcomings. Pledged commitments are always required. I am pleased to note that nearly a handful of staff achieved a bonus this year. This is a rare honour, and a tribute to their heroic endeavours under my oppressive supervisionary oversight, wisdom and profound stimulation.

Again, several staff were promoted – in title or remuneration – testament to their ability to absorb some portion of my on-the fly-masterclasses in negotiation, creativity, strategic planning directionality, project plan dimensioning, financial and taxation circumlocution, as well as tactical organoleptic analysis. All are aware of my renowned open-door policy, and readiness to provide 30-second consultations – sometimes more!- and incisive guidance.

Families are a wonderful diversion from the ceaseless demands of commerce; I’m certain that among our FTEs, contractors, consultants and agents, there have been romances, heartbreaks, personal development, and triumphs, possibly even new workplace opportunities. My own family welcomes my holiday presence, lamenting that there will be essential protracted international business travel in the next twelve months. At least we can now plan a sensible holiday – perhaps Cannes, shows on Broadway or the West End, or ski-Ing in Switzerland – feasibly all of these, plus short local breaks at Thredbo, Uluru, Rottnest, and Cradle Mountain

My slim, lean, dream-team of PA’s, media, archivist, biographer, stylists etc loosely met their base KPIs of “turn up, keep up and shut up.” They are continually thrilled and amazed, absorbing my hands-off mentoring. Direct reports and staff during our 360-degree processes mentioned my inspirational catalytic galvanisation capabilities, anticipating the starter’s gun with a monkey-wrench, thereby short-circuiting our oppositions’ intentions.

Finally, management consultants recommended that my Stoney Goose Ridge CEO duties should be more formally defined and delegated to a Global Sales and Marketing Director, Head of Beverages, CFO Finance, Legal Director, and Head HR (Human Remains). These will be my new direct reports and the search is underway. Staff in related positions must prepare for the inevitable ruthless and gruelling rounds of interviews, scenarios, and presentations. In the meantime, we accepted the benchmarked recommendation that my base remuneration be tripled and backdated with a commensurate increase in my potential bonus. My key-man insurance and “golden handcuffs” have also been significantly upgraded.

Gather with your family, and any friends to raise a glass of enticing mildly intoxicating Stoney Goose Ridge – in drinkwise moderation – to celebrate this year’s glorious achievements under my exemplary leadership.

Buckle in for the tightrope ride in 2022, a whirlwind roller-coaster awaits!

In solidarity, your legendary, generous CEO, Hector.

Festive drinks – one up, one down, one surprise

2001 Chateau La Tour Blanche 13%
Sauternes (Bommes).  The property is a training facility, planted with 83% Semillon, 12% sav blanc and 5% muscadelle. It regularly provides great value in the style, with typical Sauternes longevity.

Bright deep lemon colour, with toffee apple, and icing sugar notes, ripe with some vanilla and dusty varnish, joining lemon citrus and tropical fruits. Vibrant still, and very slightly too dense, but all too easy to take more. Stylish and delicious. 2001 was a ripe year, and this wine has 150 g/l residual sugar.

Drink to 2030, 93 points.

1995 Yarra Yering Portsorts 21%
Yarra Valley. Ruby colour. Marzipan, sugared almond, very soft and mellow, with the spirit basically holding this fortified wine together.

Dr Bailey Carrodus was a bit of a magpie, with many varieties at his property – Touriga Naçional, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela, and Alvarelhão were planted in 1990 – certainly unusual for the Yarra Valley.

This brand also has an interesting history. It was initially labelled as “portsorts”, but by 2000 had become “potsorts”. I have a recollection that proprietor Bailey Carrodus attempted to import the wine to the UK, but fell foul of labelling requirements, and spontaneously deleted the “r under questioning at the airport.

Drink now, 83 points.

2013 JL Chave Hermitage Blanc (bottle #4474) 14.5%
Northern Rhone. Here’s another dry wine that forces its way into my blog for its outrageous quality. All too often Rhone whites can be flabby with an oxidative edge – not this one.

Bright deep lemon colour, white stonefruit and honeysuckle; unctuous seduction, very ripe but flavour-packed, dense, textured  and persistent, just a tickle of vanilla, almond and mint. This was masked, so it looked like Old World, then the depth of flavour propelled me to a superior White Burgundy – wrong! But the wine is outstanding, rare and expensive – and shows why some persist with Marsanne and Roussanne in Hermitage. Looks good for many more years. My best Rhone white ever. Drinking span is a bit of a guess; Livingstone-learmonth claims these have a monster life-span, but I haven’t seen enough old (and decent) examples.

Drink to 2030? 96 points

Recent misses (and hits)

1968 Moulin Touchais (Coteaux du Layon) Loire Valley
Chenin blanc. A bit of dried apple, but this oxidised bottle provided no pleasure.
1979 Moulin Touchais (Coteaux du Layon) Loire Valley
Similar, but worse. Pretty dead.

These “fails” could not be scored. But Cellartracker shows there are better bottles around.

2004 fonseca
2004 Fonseca Guimaraens Vintage Port
Portugal. Ruby colour with some bricking; dark red fruits and plum, dried fruitcake and spices, almond meal, clean spirit, savoury, grippy, chalky. Maybe a tad light, but very smashable at the end of a long night! Not a generally declared year, and in this year Fonseca also produced a Panascal. The single quinta wines can be excellent value.

Drink to 2030, 92 points

2005 Zind-humbrecht Turkheim Riesling 13%
Alsace. Advanced mandarine colour; apricot and tropicals run riot. Palate is off-dry, waxy, with lime marmalade, and  22 g/l residual sugar. Great fun, but drink up. Alsace is so inconsistent, but when they get it right. Zind-humbrecht sometimes seem alcohol-heavy; this hit the spot.

Drink now, 90 points

2000 Chambers botrytis tokay
Rutherglen, Victoria. Its colour was almost mahogany, but it was still kicking sweetly with orange, toffee, quince,  and dried fruits. It was very grapey, spicy, and varietally not Riesling nor Sauterne-like. I was pondering Frontignac, or something unusual.

Botrytis tokay (muscadelle) is uncommon, but not unique. Chambers in Rutherglen released thi style from 1996, 2000 and 2011. Pfeiffer has also made the style.

Drink now, and 90 points-  as a wine that was difficult to define, but worth the effort.

1977 taylors VP
1977 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port
Portugal. Memories came flooding back after this wine was unmasked; it was the first Portuguese VP I ever tasted, and I instantly purchased one bottle despite my meagre salary. That bottle was opened in mid-2005 – “rose-petal & raisin & Turkish delight, high alcohol, huge power- another 20 years”.

Sixteen years later…. ruby with some brick, not the deepest, but with a mix of red, blue, black, purple fruits; fresh, fleshy, ultra-supple, clean spirit, almond notes, spices and rich dark chocolate. Its owner informed that a three-hour decant did the trick. This wine looks indestructible, and its complexity was a delight.

Drink to 2040, and 95 points

Two different Port styles, two countries

2000 graham's vp

2000 Graham’s Vintage Port 20%
Cork in great condition, and the wine has a youthful deep crimson colour; bracingly fresh and floral raspberry and faint musk; palate with rich cherry liqueur and blue fruits ; terrific calibre of spirit, chalks and almond; has entered a decent drinking stage of a long, long, life. Graham’s reputed to be at the sweeter end of Portuguese VPs- but there were no complaints at the table.

Drink to 2040, 93 points – with more to come.

1933 para

1933 Seppelt Para Liqueur Port
1933 merely represents the oldest material in this barrel-matured tawny blend, which was released around 1962. At that tender time, there was no requirement to list alcohol, and its composition is likely to be some mix of grenache, shiraz and Mataro, with an average age guessed at 25 years.

There is the unmistakable squat bottle; but the colour did not show the tell-tale Seppelt khaki/green. It revealed more vanilla characters than expected for this style. However, it was fresher than several previous examples, and showed an array of dried fruits, almond and caramel, with a touch of mocha. Aged Barossa Valley material, and it’s always a treat to look at some history.

Drink now, 92 points.

2012 Petaluma fortified Shiraz 19.5%

Adelaide Hills, 375ml screwcap and another recent auction purchase. Petaluma and Bridgewater Mill do not appear on the front label; the only concession on the back label a reference to the “B&V vineyard”, and Petaluma in tiny print.

2012 petaluma fortified shiraz

Ridiculously youthful colour; purples and crimsons still. Supple, engaging. Dark chocolate and liquorice, dak crherry, cocoa, blueberry, just a smidge of purple fruits too. Super quality spirit (“old wood-aged brandy”). Ripe fruit, and will  guarantee converts to the style. What more can a wine do? Mingled regrets and happiness; regret that the bottle is too small and has been consumed; happiness both at the meagre price for the pleasure delivered, plus satisfaction that I have a few more of these beautiful half bottles lurking. Astutely judged. Crisp, luscious, memorable. Ten more years easily in prospect.

Drink to 2035 and 93 points