2003 Pondalowie Vintage Port 19.5%

50/50 Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and Shiraz; 500ml bottle “fortified with selected grape spirit”, and only two barrels made- cork stained about 1/3 through.

Domenic and Krystina Morris have ample experience in Australia , and overseas, with workplace Quinta do Crasto in Portugal being perhaps an inspiration for their only fortified – so far. The Bendigo-based  Pondalowie wines are fruit-driven with oak as a complement; the reserve wines are vintage and variety-dependent. Prices are very fair.

2003-pondalowie-vpFrom a hot, low-yielding drought year in Victoria, the colour of this wine is a dense black red, with minor bricking;  Fruit-powered, with aromatics of  exuberant dark liqueur Morello cherry and some red liquorice; the palate mirrors this with some plum too, and fine, lingering chalky tannins; spirit is a bit hot to start but resolving.

Lovely drinking to 2023 and 91 points, but certainly requires a decant to remove the sediment.




NV Pondalowie special release sparkling shiraz 14%

From near Bendigo in Central Victoria. Goldfields areas, so often a portent of wines of amazing colour and depth of flavours. Appropriately I opened this bottle on Australia’s “spurgle” (sparkling red) day. While this style is not – quite- unique to Australia, we’ve given it a home, and when I’ve shown examples to some European tasters they have been baffled. Generally made from Shiraz, but sometimes other varieties are used- Cabernet Sauvignon, Durif, even Merlot. Like other sparkling wines, time on yeast lees really makes a difference, as does ripeness, as does time in oak. A bit of sweetness is necessary to balance the tannins- anywhere from 10-50 g/l, but I think less successfully when over 30g/l. And they can age very well, under cork or increasingly common crown seal (think of the seal on a beer bottle…).


Enough preamble- the Pondalowie is a blend of several vintages. It’s a very dense blood red/black colour. The bubbles are not very persistent, but thankfully the wine is at the drier end of the spectrum – my guess is about 15g/l. incidentally the label depicts a stylised dog – not barbed wire as I once suspected, and is sealed with a diam cork. Its all about intense ripe blackberry, fruitcake spices, other dark fruits including cherry. It walks the line of combining long savoury notes and the creaminess of the palate. How could anyone not enjoy this? Score 91, Drink now- 2020

This wine is currently available on the Pondalowie website for $40. If you enjoy this wine style – which matches extremely well with duck, and other red meat roasts, – try the 2012 Seppelt or if you are not constrained by cash or availability, the Primo estate “Joseph” in its extraordinary tall bottle, or the NV Rockford Black Shiraz, or sparkling reds from Anderson’s in Rutherglen.