Two from Australia

1975 Yalumba Vintage Port 18%


Plenty of colour here- quink ink; then comes dark fruits, violet, mocha, almond notes and clean spirit. The palate is deep and voluptuous, relatively dry with an array of mixed fruit; blueberry, fresh plum, red cherry, spice notes and light coffee.  Fine chalky tannins, and a persistent aftertaste filled out the picture – delicious! This wine presented a conundrum – the colour was un-Portuguese, as was the mocha and faint liquorice- yet the complexity of flavour components and dryness pulled me in that direction. My first guess on its age was 1985, but I revised this to 1994 based on fruit vibrancy, Wrong on all counts, but this is a triumph for Barossa Shiraz from Australia. Two bottles were opened, the second was very slightly better, and fresher than the bottle I described!

Drink now, and 94 points.

NV Wynns Pedro Ximenez 17%
Coonawarra, South Australia. Bottle # 9053

Fortified, and light gold in colour, with exotic floral scents of spices and Cointreau, with vanilla and marzipan. The palate is sweet with the cardamon, dried green herbs and raisin notes powering through. Very smooth with vibrant clean spirit – unctuous and just a little cloying, but altogether satisfying with its honeyed richness.  The raisin and light malt notes pointed me to the variety, despite this being different to the air-dried Spanish PX. Perhaps I learned something from the Bullers PX tasted in 2019!

It’s a blend across vintages, with an average age of five years – one surprise to see a young fresh example, and another to find the wine is available (albeit with some hunting) for around $60 for the 500ml bottle.

Drink now, 90 points

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.

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

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 drinking

2006 MF Richter Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese AP #7 8%
Mosel, 91 g/l residual sugar.

Bright deep gold colour, showing red apple, a hint of pineapple and spices. The palate is ripe, creamy, with similar ripe red  apple, citrus and a touch of nut puree on the finish.

It’s sweet for the style (2006 in the Mosel was a heavy botrytis year) but retains plenty of acidity. I cannot imagine additional improvement- it’s in the holding zone, and I suggest drinking rather than keeping.

To 2024, and 90 points

1973 Kaiser Stuhl Vintage Port
Shiraz, Barossa Valley. The company no longer exists – corporate shenanigans.

From an average year, the surprise is the longevity. It’s not the most complex wine, but it shows the stylistic sweet, ripe liquorice and blackberry fruit, suggestions of mocha, raisin and camphor, and warming brandy spirit. A surprise that this humble wine from an average vintage still provides pleasure after 47 years!

Drink now, 87 points.

1996 Peter Lehmann “the King” (Vintage Port) AD 2017 20%

Barossa Valley, South Australia – Touriga, Shiraz, Cab Sav (53%/30%/17%)
The very odd labelling approach has the “recommended drinking date” (21 years from vintage) at least twice as prominent as the vintage. It takes careful reading of the back label to confirm the wine is a vintage fortified style! Congratulations marketing gurus, NOT.

1996 peter lehmann vp

The cork is adequate, and there is plentiful lumpy sediment evident with decanting. Definitely a bricky colour, the wine presents a world of soft comfortable old leather, mocha, a spice chest of potpourri, cedar and chestnut, blackberry and bonfires; the palate is luxurious; there is sweet brandy spirit, fresh dark cherry pie fruit, sweet coconut cream, liquorice and mixed spices contribute, and tannin is  in support. Altogether, it’s a fine drink to reminisce over, and its price was a derisory $20 some years back.

Drink to 2026, and 90 points.

Unrelated wines – catching up

1983 orlando vp july 2020

1983 Orlando Vintage Port 19.8%
Barossa Valley (South Australia) Shiraz. Solid ruby colour with minor bricking.  aromatic – sweet, fine brandy spirit; fig, plum, stewed rhubarb, blueberry; fruitcake spices. Later, red liquorice, cherry liqueur, and a touch of almond. Lingering fine tannins meshed with that superb spirit.

Delicious drinking but without the magic of the previous bottle (on this blog Dec 2019) albeit similar notes. No complaints at 37 years!

Drink to 2030, 91 points

2008 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett AP#3 7.5%
Mosel, Screwcap, and 48g/l residual sugar. Bright gold; citrus and Jonathon apple lead with brown spices and minerals; the palate shows juicy yellow-flesh peach, wrapped up with zingy acidity. The mineral influence shines through. The wine is easy to drink, but is not as expressive as most of the wines from one of my favourite Mosel producers.

Drink to 2025, 90 points.

 

NV Saltram Mr Pickwicks Particular Tawny 19.5%

The label looks fussy and old-fashioned with its portraits of old men in the period costume of the 1830’s. The back label alludes to Charles Dicken’s (first novel) character the Mr Pickwick, founder of the Pickwick Club and his (light) adventures.

Dickens always has memorable characters (albeit often “flat”) Here’s a nice quote…
“’I assure you, my good friend, I have more money than I can ever need; far more than a man at my age can ever live to spend,” said Mr. Pickwick.
“No man knows how much he can spend, till he tries,’ observed Mr. Weller.

There’s a conflict between this homage, and the need to find a market, not easy with a fortified, and becoming even more difficult. I can’t believe I’m begging for label tweak, since this wine is readily available, retailing around $60, and represents such very good value for its quality.

nv saltram mr pickwick tawny

With an average age somewhere between 21 and 25 years (internet searches vary), this is old material – assume its Shiraz-based and from the Barossa Valley.

Amber colour with a khaki rim, its packed full of all the Christmas cake dried fruits, nuts and peel imaginable; fig, citrus, toffee, spices. Exquisite brandy spirit plays its part, and it ends with vanilla and lusciousness. There is obviously old material here, but it’s but amazingly fresh, smooth and decadent.

Oak, and vanilla presence makes a greater contribution than I would prefer in a perfect world, but there is no denying the concentration, power and grace that make it difficult to resist reaching for more.

Drink now (it will happily last a few weeks after the cork is removed), and 93 points.

1983 Orlando vintage port 19.8%

1983 orlando vp

Barossa Shiraz from a year of drought and fires; red wines tended to be intense and the best continue to delight. The cork had thankfully performed; this wine is a solid deep ruby colour; sweet spicy brandy spirit melds with dark fruits – stewed plum, red liquorice and sweet blackberry. It’s still quite dry for the style and presents as “almost Portuguese” with its relative dryness and substantial spice-cinnamon notes. The palate is supple, rich but savoury with firm tannin and the spices make a more substantial contribution. It also seemed much more youthful than its actual age, and is on a delicious plateau.

Drink to 2030, and a resounding 93 points for this wine of surprise with its style and vitality.

Recent splashes

It seems I have been busy; so just a few quick impressions (of wines tasted blind) before more regular and detailed notes resume…

1988 hardys vp1965 campbells vp

1978 Hardy’s 125th anniversary Vintage Port
McLaren Vale. Raspberry jam and cherry liqueur; very sweet in style with liquorice and plum; terrific length; exceptional spirit integration – whacky bottle I’d never seen either.

Drink to 2030, 94 points

1965 Campbells Vintage Port
Rutherglen. Label clues are Cabernet and Shiraz “will improve for years to come”. Its not often I see a wine older than 50 years. It’s a very viscous, dense wine with its main impressions not fruit; mochas, coffee cream, toffee. This made its style not straightforward to discern- not the florals or richness of muscat or topaque (or acidity), not the rancio of a tawny style. Yet it didn’t look like a VP. IT seemed Australian with its relative sweetness, and brandy spirit. However it remained a lovely drink of indeterminate origin until revealed. Straightforward flavours, but its solidity and age a tribute to the style

Drink now, 91 points

1985 Gould Campbell Vintage port 20%
Despite reviewing this wine very favourably in February 2017, I didn’t identify it when it was served by a member of one of the tasting groups I frequent. Pale ruby colour and the mixed spices plus red and blue fruits indicated Portuguese varieties. Fig, almond, and the voluminous aromatics, albeit with a faint touch of rubber. Not quite as stellar as my last bottle, but still excellent

Drink now to 2027, 93 points

2005 Seppeltsfield Shiraz/touriga Vintage Port (screwcap)
Barossa (74% Shiraz, 23% Touriga, 2% Tinta barocca, 1% Tinta Cao) Abundant spices and almond character, but not the complexity of Portugal (and a bit sweeter too). Drinking well, but straightforward. My notes indicate this wine was purchased as a cleanskin for $8, and I have a few bottles in the cellar for more leisurely contemplation and reflections.

Drink to 2023, 90 points

2016 Crawford river “nektar” Riesling 12% (screwcap)
Henty, Victoria. 152 g/l rs. Very pale light lemon with green flashes, Nettles, sherbet, very sweet and viscous, mixed tropical fruits and lemon peel. Compelling length, a wonderfully realised botrytised wine where pure varietal character is not overwhelmed. Crawford River crafts outstanding dry Rieslings; this wine is still available on their website for a fair price considering its quality,

Drink to 2032, 94 points (and more when it relaxes in a few years)