One big bottle – 1990 Buller Vintage Port 20.8% (magnum #310)

Rutherglen Shiraz, but possibly with some Swan Hill fruit and perhaps some Portuguese varieties too! Who would know? What crazy person buys a magnum of a fortified (guilty) – yet 10 people over a long lunch left only perhaps 400ml, which is a hearty recommendation of the wine’s drinkability.

Buller’s was an obligatory first stop when visiting Rutherglen – its bird park an irresistible and unfailing attraction for my children, and a welcome chance to stretch out after a long car journey.

1990 bullers vp

The wine was a  bit advanced for its age – and a very ordinary cork- but forgiven for its deliciousness factor. Ultra-clean, likely neutral (SVR) spirit, there’s a wisp of mint/menthol/wintergreen; it’s very sweet and soft and densely packed with mocha and blackberry. Just the wine to soothe over a winter fire with witty conversation or a sparkling comedy.

Drink to 2030, 91 points


Humbling masked tasting of 2 Victorian fortified wines

It’s never straightforward tasting masked wines, attempting to reach conclusions on characteristics, origins, quality, while at the same time attempting to appreciate their virtues – a clash of analysis and appreciation. This was another lunch, with two delicious (masked) fortifieds to finish.

The first wine showed some bricking in colour, and the aromatics showed cocoa, raspberry, and blackberry jam – a vintage port style. The spirit was integrated with a hint of perfumed, headsy character. The palate was quite sweet, almost too much, but the fruit was dense, vibrant, and juicy. Warm but not hot with its alcohol, this deliciously cuddly wine seemed an “old-fashioned”, typical Australian in style, and more in a North-eastern Victorian vein, likely Rutherglen. My guess was that the wine was from the early 1990’s. The surprise was that the wine was actually 1975 Bailey’s Vintage Port. Made by Harry Tinson,  its source in Glenrowan is “near enough” to Rutherglen to claim some minor credit. The wine looked so much younger – in a holding pattern -with plenty of time ahead of it (to 2035). I scored it at 92 points, and it turns out I previously tasted it and described here about one year ago. The score, and descriptors are quite similar, so I’m either consistent or adjectivally deprived.

The calibre and deliciousness of the first wine made me turn reluctantly to pay attention to the second wine, which was similar in style. It seemed older, based primarily on its colour, and its aromatics of dark chocolates and lavender immediately led my thinking- vintage Port; Australia; Rutherglen; mid- 1980’s. Some almond meal, and its lower degree of sweetness compared to its companion led to a fleeting flirtation with Portugal, but I stuck with my first impressions. Quite mellow, it suffered in the shadow of its brooding companion. And the wine was 1987 Bullers Vintage Port (magnum).  I scored it at 91 points, drink to 2030.

Both wines are likely to be predominantly Shiraz.

What an extraordinary privilege to drink a 40 y/o and and 30 y/o wine in one bracket. More please!

Two young VP styles

2009 Buller’s VP
Buller’s (Rutherglen) VPs have proven cellaring potential – I have tasted examples with more than 30 years bottle age. I opened this embryonic wine as I purchased several  bottles at a bargain price. Buller’s table wines never excited me, but when visiting we always spent time at the bird park- irresistible to my children, who usually found some feathers to collect.

The wine is spookily dense black crimson in colour, and both the fruit and sweet spirit are battling joyously. Flavours are more than just simple plum jam; there is red liquorice, tar, and other very dark fruits. Oak is properly transient. Its a supple textured wine, with a very lingering finish – difficult to resist. Everything is in place to provide pleasure over the next 3 decades, and a long decant is recommended if opening anytime over the next 10 years.

A terrific result, regardless of its bargain-basement price.

Drink 2023- 2030, score 90 points

1998 morris vp

1998 Morris Vintage Port 18.8 %

This wine from Rutherglen made by David Morris has won a few trophies and gold medals at Rutherglen and Melbourne, so it’s no slouch. Disappointingly, it has a puny 3.7cm cork, which nevertheless has done its duty.

Variety not known, likely Shiraz with some Durif (or vice-versa) but not really relevant, its a dense and weighty wine; colour is a deep blood plum; its shows floral red liquorice with headsy, well integrated spirit; flavours are all dark fruits, plum, milk chocolate with a touch of fine chalk and talc. It seems slightly old-school, and if a touch drier would have merited even more praise, but truly a style I enjoy and wholeheartedly support. It shows some real class- vibrant, smooth, and inviting with potential for improvement over the next 15 years.

Drink to 2030, score 93 points