One sweet, one strong

1996 SA Huet Clos du Bourg Moelleux 1er trie 12.5%
Chenin Blanc, Vouvray, Loire Valley (biodynamic since 1990).

Huet is a famous maker, with a range including sparkling, sec, demi-sec and sweet. Clos du Bourg is regarded as its “top” site. Chenin Blanc is a high acid white wine variety, entirely undistinguished in Australia (although it played an important role in old Houghton White Burgundies, and there are a few brave producers persevering, such as Coriole).

1996 huet

The cork was unremarkable but had performed its task, and the colour was bright gold. Despite its sweetness level (70 g/l?)  this wine was deliberately served with a meal as a savoury white wine. The acidity was completely integrated and concealed the inherent sweetness. Apricot, cumquat, baked apple, honey, marzipan and shortcrust; resoundingly fresh and savoury in intent (regardless of its  analytical sweetness).  Super-complex, it was just a delight to drink and a reminder of the potency of the best wines of the Loire (much harder to find in Australia than they deserve).

Drink to 2030, and 94 points (for surprise value, a higher score is warranted)

1971 Metala Vintage Port
Langhorne Creek, South Australia, likely Shiraz.

Langhorne Creek is not a “renowned” area for VP styles in Australia, but it’s full of surprises. Its longstanding contributions to the red wines of Wolf Blass cannot be ignored. Bleasdale makes an array of excellent Malbecs – and much more- Lake Breeze deserves greater recognition,  as does Bremerton.

The label of this wine had effectively disintegrated, but it’s understood to have been recorked (and possibly tweaked) in 2015. Huon Hooke has an illuminating article on the recent buyback of the Metala brand here.

But it was another knockout to drink – another 51-year-old wine consumed only weeks after the All Saints.

Liquorice, dark fruits, cream and pie crumble, dark berries, dried fruits and the most startling feature was its freshness – a lovely piece of history.

Drink to 2030 and 93 points


1971 All Saints Vintage Port

Australia has a prolific number of wineries and wines with “saint” embedded in their names; St Hallett, St Hugo, St Huberts, and St Leonards are merely some that I have purchased. All Saints (established in the 1860s) is an old winery near Rutherglen that went through complex ownership, marketing and labelling upheavals (it’s now owned independently by members of the Brown family.  Visiting as a youngster, I prowled through the enormous hall where barrels of fortified matured (since mostly sold off), the castle-style main building, and the vast estate grounds full of numerous buildings.

This wine was served blind, and my impressions ran “mocha/toffee/coffee, cherry, then very dense, obviously old, sweet blackberry, traditional in style, but still fresh, lively and delicious”. My conclusions- “Australian vintage Port, likely early 1980’s, and unable to guess origin – if pushed, South Australia”,.

Regardless, it’s special occasion when I taste a wine over fifty years old.

Drink to 2030, with 91 points (higher if history nudges wine appreciation more).

2000 Pfeiffer Christopher’s VP 18%

Rutherglen, Victoria, 100% Touriga

Pfeiffer is making one of – and arguably-  the best Australian VP style with the amazing 2015 carting away numerous gold medals on the Australian wine circuit, and available on their website  for a surreal bargain price $30.

2000 pfeiffer vp

This was a recent auction purchase. The back label advises “will continue to improve for at least 21 years”, so it was expected to be ready (or near enough with the conservative winemaker predictions that allow for imperfect cellaring).

Good cork, and the sediment was easily removed with decanting

Deep ruby colour with some harmless bricking on the meniscus. There’s plentiful cinnamon spices, dark roses, cherry, and red liquorice with a faint touch pf prune. The palate is bright and fresh, and drier than most Oz VP efforts. High quality brandy spirit makes more of an impression here, overall; it’s succulent with mixed red and black fruits. There’s fine tannin, and this is another wine that provides complete satisfaction for a meagre price.

Drink to 2030, 93 points

Hector and “minimal intervention” (NOB) wines

I, (Hector Lannible) am constantly approached by business leaders, Government Ministers and the assorted press – gutter and otherwise- seeking my profound wisdom on the world of alcohol. My evidence-based, iron-disciplined views are justifiably notorious.

So let me settle one controversial wine topic once and for all.

NOB – (Natural, Organic, Biodynamic) – hipster voodoo nonsense, or planet-saving healthiness?

No-one can deny trends in the wine industry. Huge strides have been made in grapegrowing, winemaking and, of course, marketing. We know all about getting the “right varieties in the right places,” old vines, and the cult of auteur winemakers.

Lately we’ve seen growing customer distrust of industrialisation; a desire for intimacy and diminished manipulation. For the story behind the wines. For doing more with less.

And the makers of these nouvelle vague wines often proudly boast they carry no winemaking qualifications, no vineyard or winery. Every wine is more honest, more compelling, and more rewarding than tricked up soulless mass-market wine products.

Critics might describe the NOB market as virtue-signalling, sandal-wearing, vegan tree-huggers with electric SUV’s. But these people are missing the key benefit of natural wine.

We can get it into the market quickly, and at a premium price.

What more could we ask for? Cashflow is king! Why bother with the time involved to make “proper” sparkling wine, with years of maturation when you can whip out “prosecco” in a few months. And why bother with that, when a “pet-nat” can grace the shelves mere weeks after harvest?

And, of course, Stoney Goose Ridge could not ignore the lucrative sales, margins, brand-building and resultant boost to my bonus.

Our wine people are always itching to tinker with new techniques and gadgetry. Thanks to my uncanny exploitation of R&D tax breaks, we have ceramic eggs, amphorae, prepared ambient yeasts, and many other toys. Under my benevolent oversight, winemakers carefully curate small batches, and after my brutal assessments and improvement finesses, these can readily transformed be into commercial wine lake quantities.

Our first lo-fi, hands-off “orange wine” Hipster’s Reward®,  laid waste to somms, and customers across several continents, smashing sales records. Our selected winemaking ambassadors fronted the media – with minders – flaunting their beards, tattoos, and piercings. Non-male winemakers too.

It was a runaway success, where our only key problem was making more!

Organic and biodynamic wines often have annoying and, frankly, unnecessarily laborious certification processes, with competing authorities, and ambiguous rules. This is ideal for Stoney Goose Ridge! We claim to abide by the principles but see no need to be hamstrung by red-tape stifling innovation.

And we are sensitive to feedback, with our massed lawyers always eager to issue writs for defamation, with corrective and humbling apologies and punitive damages sought.

Of course, our mainline is mainstream wines, utilising all the tools that make such a difference in improving quality and decreasing costs; mini-ox, oak chunks, reversal osmosis, flowcross filtering and so on in the winery, and spraying with mega-drones, and mechanical trimming and grape collection.

We even made a wine to appeal to the fervent anti-NOBs, an interstellar opposite, the ultra-hi-tech dark horse Miraculous Maximus Technoplex®.

At Stoney Goose Ridge, we are indifferently agnostic to unquantifiable customer beliefs. We proudly cater for all market matrices  that provide momentum-bursting growth and profitability metrics.

Two 2007 spatlese from Schloss Lieser

2007 schloss lieser spatlese pair

Schloss Lieser is one of my favourite Mosel producers, with a track record of providing excellence at a modest price. I have fond memories and notes from a dinner when winemaker Thomas Haag visited Australia in March 2010 – (with a mere 15! wines presented). Neville Yates‘ Eurocentric store has many Schloss Lieser wines available).

Neiderberg Helden wines are typically on the more earthy, minerally end than Brauneberg. These sweet wines of Schloss Lieser were fermented in stainless steel with wild yeasts.

2007 Schloss Lieser Neiderberg Helden Riesling Spatlese AP#7 8.5%
Mosel, 78 g/l residual sugar.

The first bottle was oxidised; so another was located and opened. Pale gold colour, Light spices, fresh red apple and some herbs. User-friendly now, with its lemon/citrus fruited sweetness melded with acidity and good concentration. But there’s no real upside in waiting.

Drink to 2027, 90 points

2007 Schloss Lieser Braunberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese AP#8 8%
Mosel, and a high-for-style 94g/l residual sugar.

Lemon colour, exuberantly bursts out with sweet cinnamon, spices, ripe apple and honey, a dash of lime and brown sugar. Balanced, fresh, and so easy to revel in. The palate is creamy, with white peach notes, oranges and underlying flintiness.

Crisp and persistent. Precise.  Sweet and cuddly, but that natural acidity cleans up beautifully. Ripping quality and value.

Drink to 2032, 93 points

Odds and ends impressions- local, and not

at matteos

2011 Ch Climens
Barsac, 100% Semillon (biodynamic) 20-22 months in oak, 30-40% new oak

Crème brulee, stonefruit, vanilla, ripe but not overripe apricots, citrus. 140g/l rs, but light on its feet, energetic, beautifully balanced. If time permitted, more nuance would come through. A Long cellaring time beckons but no problem tackling now!

Drink to 2035, 95 points

2010 Crawford River “nektar”
90% sav Blanc, 10% Semillon. 116 g/l rs. From Henty (western Victoria), and proof that Crawford River can produce more than their mighty Rieslings.

Very youthful, with a striking overlay of an attractive green nettle character and citrus, with . Pure, bright, and frighteningly youthful, botrytis and citrus, lingering and packed with acidity. The half-bottle emptied rapidly!

Drink to 2030, 92 points.

1997 Stanton and Killleen Vintage Port
Rutherglen, and regarded by the late winemaker Chris Killeen as his best wine. 60% Shiraz, 25% touriga, 5% each of Durif, tinta cao and tinta barocca. 3 trophies and 13 gold medals (when these were hard to get).

When I tasted this wine prior to its release; I instantly signed up for six bottles, and still have a few! I last wrote about it for this site in November 2018.

Dense deep red colour, cocoa, blackcurrant, chocolate mocha, almond, liquorice and blueberry. Masterful. Australia, you bloody beauty!

Drink to 2035, 95 points

2012 Quinta do Noval unfiltered Late-bottled vintage port 19.5%
QDN now declare a vintage every year, with the “less-than VP” wines cascaded potentially into the single quinta Silval, the LBVPs, and onwards.

LBVPs are a curious partway house between VPs, and the deliberately oxidative tawnies. From a single year, they can fall into “ready” vs “worth ageing”, but I have not found “unfiltered” to be a reliable cellaring guide; the key is producer.

Regardless, this excellent-value wine is a bawling infant, crimson in colour, ultra-fresh with floral red cherry, mixed spices and almond spirit; delicious, dry but ultimately straightforward. Tannin too, but not the substantial underlying depth of a true VP.  There’s no need to rush to consume, but its best will be within this decade.

Drink to 2027, 91 points

Two worthy Oz VP styles

1996 Chateau Reynella Vintage port 19%
Shiraz, McLaren Vale, bottle #00534 “should offer excellent drinking at ten to twenty years of age”

1996 reynella vp

The photo is of bottle #500, which was rejected as being slightly dull. That’s cork!

Deep ruby in colour, with some bricking. Camphor, red berry and cherry, with a slight confectionary character, and definite sweet spices. Served blind, my conclusion was that the wine was Australian, and predominantly Shiraz, with some Portuguese varieties present. With hindsight, I attributed its plentiful spice notes to Portuguese varieties such as Touriga rather than to the high-quality brandy spirit – so there’s another factor to watch for. The palate was fresh, with mixed spices, Swiss milk chocolate, and some creaminess.

Chateau Reynella – now Reynella-  was renowned for the blackberry characteristic of its VP styles (battling with the “rounder” plate of  neighbour Hardys). However, the absence of blackberry pushed my assumption (wrongly)  to a Victorian base. Altogether, the wine was in excellent condition, and passed the “more please” test.

Drink to 2030, and 92 points.

2003 Morris Vintage Port 19%
Rutherglen, 51% Shiraz, 28% Touriga, 21% Durif.

2003 morris vp

A $22 auction purchase last year. Its label shows gold medals at four different shows across five years, a super- impressive result.

Adequate cork. Deep black with some trivial bricking on the rim. Cherry ripe meets blueberry and violets. Sweetness with wafer-fine tannins. Spirit folded in. Seductive, sensuous texture. Concentration with elegance. Supple, bright and fresh, with a lot of time left to mellow. Bargain.

Drink to 2035, 93+ points

A wine worth the weight

As CEO of a global beverage company, every day has challenges – which I, Hector Lannible, broadcast to my staff at all hours, 24/7. Truly, my KPI intangibles are off the chart.

I was amazed to read recently that Jancis Robinson found a full wine bottle that weighed 2.043 Kg. My instant reaction was ‘That’s ridiculous’ and ‘surely we can do better!’

Many people believe impressively heavy wine bottles are a guarantee of inherent quality. Big is better. And filling market niches is the raison d’etre why Stoney Goose Ridge always has new wines in the pipeline ready to cascade to market.

Following Jancis’ inadvertent disclosure, I initiated yet another inspirational venture:

  • Create a massive heavy-weight bottle, and
  • Create a suitable flavour-packed wine worthy of this special package

Loyal customers thrilled when we released “The Black” a few years ago, a monumental flavour-bomb essence made from Zinfandel, Saperavi, Mataro, Durif and Tannat. Demand was ballistic.

But for this dreadnaught project we needed something completely different. I settled on the noblest variety: Cabernet Sauvignon – the undisputed King of Grapes – which I masterfully synergised with batches of Nebbiolo – acknowledged as a rival King.

Wood is good

With 100% new oak barrique maturation, this wine makes a profound statement. The cohort of Stoney Goose Ridge wine fabricators were again in awe of the outcome of my sublime virtuosic blending assemblage.

Considerable technical logistical challenges solved included manufacture of especially substantial glass bottles, extra-long Diam cork, the wax canopy, and the impressive, embossed label. All of these add lustrous icing to the cake. Our wine stands alone.

Unnecessarily restrictive Health & Safety restrictions mean this wine can only be packed in cartons of six bottles. But meritoriously, our prestigious hefty creation will survive a fall from a height of two metres.

When full, our new bottle weighs almost 2.5Kg, a 20% uptick and a giant progressive leap for the wine industry. Truly, we’ve set the hurdle at a new pinnacle for any vinous wannabe copycats. And that’s before we even get on to the sustainably harvested timber presentation case.

Marketing, branding and packaging awards are warranted, and I predict we’ll have to expand the trophy display warehouse. I can already hear the bleating squeals of tall-poppy jealousy. But once again Stoney Goose Ridge has snookered its competitors for a touchdown.

I’m sure we’ll attract specious dummy strawman objections on so-called “environmental” grounds. As if depriving consumers of freedom of choice helps the aspirational economic paradigm! That horse has firmly bolted from the starting blocks.

Serious responsibilities

Regardless, Stoney Goose Ridge takes its ESG obligations sanctimoniously, with developmental best-practice carbon offset, enlightened employment, and numerous evolutionary policies. To be totally clear: Stoney Goose Ridge is absolutely committed to the onboarding scoping process of its fungible MOU sustainability jurisdiction.

There is no doubt that our newest remarkable product is ground-breaking, and innovative. It stands alone as an outlier. Prodigious, and unchallenged. Olympian.

Which is why we have anointed it with the name World Heavyweight Champion™. Available right now from the finest retailers, it’s an impressive collector’s item, with both the package and its contents certain to provide admiration and enjoyment for years. It’s a guaranteed blue-chip super-premium icon luxury brand, unrivalled in its domineering attitude.

Pricepoint- wise, it is pitched within reach of memorabilia collectors, fine wine aficionados and the hyper-loyal Stoney Goose Ridge customer base. Internally, its value equation perfectly conforms to our stringent internal ROI pricing positioning metric margin principles. Plus it tastes great.

Long may this champion reign!

2020 Stoney Goose Ridge World Heavyweight Champion Cabernet-Nebbiolo.
RRP €60, £50.22, HK$531, $68US, $128AUS

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