1998 Chateau Reynella Vintage Port 19% bottle #04293

McLaren Vale, South Australia.
When presented with what seemed like an Australian vintage fortified wine, the usual option question often resolved to “McLaren Vale (Hardy’s or Reynella) or North-east Victoria (Baileys, or Rutherglen candidates)”.

Selecting the McLaren Vale option involved dissection of the ripeness and extent of strident blackberry – sometimes with success. Another clue was the calibre of the spirit. Choosing between Hardy’s or Reynella fell outside my expertise.|

The previous bottle of this wine was in hindsight – oxidised.  This wine is youthful, despite the label helpfully suggesting “excellent drinking at ten to twenty years of age”. Many (Australian) wine show gold medals attest to its inherent quality. The cork was short but adequate, and its fine sediment merited decanting,

1998 ch reynella vp

Black red in colour, the wine displays overt ripe Shiraz – blackberry- nearly into jam territory – high-quality brandy spirit, and fresh sweet spices. Altogether this amounts to a special wine. Not overblown, not overripe, its dark fruits, concentration, ultra- fine tannins, and extended finish is manicured, and immaculately composed.

We have easy, slightly old-fashioned, delectable hedonism. It’s a model example of the Reynella style.

Drink to 2030, and 94 points

Two local drinks

2011 Oakridge Limited release yarrawood Riesling 8.0%
Oakridge in the Yarra Valley has excelled with its Chardonnays- struck-match galore but with increasing fruit presence; winemaker David Bicknell has access and the capability to preserve special sites – this one still in the Yarra Valley but from from Yarra Glen.

2011 was a particularly challenging year in Victoria, with widespread rain and humidity wreaking havoc on most of the red wines; whites fared much better.

2011 oakridge botrytis riesling

It’s a bright light gold colour, and delivers botrytis dustiness and slightly bitter almond, along with an array of apricot, yellow peach and twangy acid to hold interest. This is a crazily sweet wine (around 180 g/l) but has the bracing acidity that delivers forgiveness (and a bit more). Its absurdly easy to consume; cumquat and citrus marmalade are highlights on the palate, with varietal ripe apple flavours joining the party

When botrytis takes hold, the yield diminishes; pressing and fermentation involve significant challenges, and marketing is another conundrum.  This is a winemaker’s small-volume indulgence.

A touch of furniture polish scents, plus a suspicion of caramel and toffee holds my score back. For my taste, drink soon (to 2023); and 90 points

1982 Chateau Reynella Vintage Port 20%
Made from McLaren Vale Shiraz, this 38-year-old wine still has plenty to offer.

Bottle 4155 had a dense red colour, expressing liquorice, raspberry, chalk and almond meal. Luxuriant brandy integration. Sweetness correctly led to an evaluation of Australian origin, and more likely South Australia. The red-fruit impacts made me incorrectly dismiss Reynella and Hardys where I associate stern blackberry notes.  Not this time!

Youthful and very enjoyable.

Drink to 2030,  91 points.

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)

1975 Hardy’s Vintage Port (special release museum stock) 17.5%, and more

With 4 trophies and 20 gold medals up to 1987, this is a special wine. From McLaren Vale, South Australia, the cork has thankfully performed its duty, and the wine seems younger than its 44 years.

1975 hardy's vp

It’s a solid brick red colour (with substantial sediment that makes decanting worthwhile). Fig, rose-hip,  blackberry, espresso and sweet integrated brandy spirit are evident. Drier than the typical traditional Oz style, this wine is immaculately manicured; the satin-fine tannins melded with blackberry and a supremely extended palate fully demonstrates why obsessives bother cellaring this style.

Drink to 2030, 95 points.

2009 (Forstmeister Geltz) Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Riesling Diabas 12%
Destined for a “GG”, a cask stopped at 16 g/l residual sugar. Pale lemon colour with arresting aromas of passionfruit, white flower, red apple, and ripe green herbs. The wine is compelling in its length, texture and interest (nashi pear)  that will suit many cuisines (Asian or something simple such as smoked salmon). This Mosel area wine sits at a “feinherb” level (less than Kabinett) and is completely,  winningly delicious.

Drink to 2025, 93 points

2007 JJ Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese Goldkapsule 7.5%
The gold capsule denotes a bit “extra” for its category (some producers use “stars” such as **).

This Mosel wine instantly showed its style and class. Nettle, herb, and petroleum with white peach notes; the palate has rich tropical notes and brisk lemon but the balance of sugar and acidity makes it feathery; and a total, supple delight.

Drink to 2030, and 92 points.

2010 D’arenberg Noble Mud Pie 8%

From McLaren Vale in South Australia, this wine is a blend of 60% Viognier and 40% Roussanne. D’arenberg makes a number of botrytis wine within their immense portfolio; from different years the varietal composition of this wine changes; this year a blend of Northern Rhone varieties. I commented on the 2015 edition in November 2016.

There are difficulties making this wine style; keeping botrytis away from other grapes,  minimising errant “non-noble” rots; the fragility of grapes that easily fall from the vine; the vastly reduced yields, the difficulties pressing and fermenting. And for all the travails, it’s an under-appreciated style.

2010 d'arenberg noble mud pie

This wine has an extraordinary sugar content; around 300 g/l.  The colour is a deep copper/amber; with this degree of botrytis, varietal character is largely extinguished; there are scents of orange liqueur, stewed apricot, red apple and peppermint. The palate is very sustained and syrupy, laden with cumquat and orange marmalade flavours, with some golden honey, and typical botrytis dust and spice. There is still freshness, and enough acidity to assist with the extraordinary level of sweetness.

However, the wine would have been more exuberant, with greater interplay between fruit and development characters a few years ago.

Drink up,  90 points (with a higher score if opened several years earlier)

1997 Chateau Reynella Vintage Port 19%

McLaren Vale Shiraz, bottle number 17580. The very dry cork disintegrated despite my  best efforts with massed gadgetry, and some filtering was required to remove fine sediment.

1997 ch reynella vp

The wines is still a deep ruby colour with trivial bricking; aromas include red liquorice, black cherry, blackberry and mocha, with sweet spice notes present too. The palate is rich, sweet and fresh with greater blackberry fruit impact; the brandy spirit is deliciously balanced, the liquorice materialises with the blackberry, spices and light mocha, and there is a prolonged, pleasingly drying finish.

At 21 years, this wine has reached an excellent drinking plateau.

93 points, and drink to 2030.

 

 

2006 Noon VP (vintage port) 18%

First thing to notice is the bottle – 500ml but a narrow, towering cylinder that is difficult to store; nice label, nice name. Its 100% grenache from McLaren Vale in South Australia. Thankfully its cork has performed its function. It certainly needed decanting, as there was a pile of  sediment.

noon vp

Its not the deepest of colours; a dark ruby seems to fit; its bouquet is full of liquorice, rose petal and eucalypt. There is sweet but balanced spirit, and its eerily reminiscent of some old Reynella VPs – minus the extreme blackberry, and of course they were Shiraz based. It’s a slightly malty milk chocolate style with the sweetness and relative lack of tannins holding it back. Cleverly constructed, and an excellent “welcome back” to Australia.

Drink to 2025, score 87 points