2012 Petaluma fortified Shiraz 19.5%

Adelaide Hills, 375ml screwcap and another recent auction purchase. Petaluma and Bridgewater Mill do not appear on the front label; the only concession on the back label a reference to the “B&V vineyard”, and Petaluma in tiny print.

2012 petaluma fortified shiraz

Ridiculously youthful colour; purples and crimsons still. Supple, engaging. Dark chocolate and liquorice, dak crherry, cocoa, blueberry, just a smidge of purple fruits too. Super quality spirit (“old wood-aged brandy”). Ripe fruit, and will  guarantee converts to the style. What more can a wine do? Mingled regrets and happiness; regret that the bottle is too small and has been consumed; happiness both at the meagre price for the pleasure delivered, plus satisfaction that I have a few more of these beautiful half bottles lurking. Astutely judged. Crisp, luscious, memorable. Ten more years easily in prospect.

Drink to 2035 and 93 points


More recent random “theme” drinks

2008 Schloss Lieser Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett 8%
Cork Ok, and another 2008 Mosel riesling ready for action.
Light gold colour, abundant ripe red apple, white flowers and lemon aromatics; the palate is light-bodied but full-flavoured, with  red berries, apple, honey and willing acidity. Purchase notes indicate 63 g/l residual sugar. Irresistible, but drink up while it’s still bursting with energy.

Drink to 2023, and 91 points; I’m quietly purring that I have some of their higher-end wines from that year too….

2010 Petaluma Fortified shiraz 20%
half bottle, cork, and probably a cellar-door wine as the “Petaluma” brand is buried in the back label.

This is a very smart wine from the Adelaide Hills (South Australia); abundant ripe black cherry melded with sweet brandy spirit. Irresistible.  And then the subtleties emerge; this is pristine-  blueberry, mulberry, morello cherry. Whispery, very fine silky tannins. A modern, seductive, classy fortified with supreme balance that will mature gracefully over many more years. Juicy, fleshy and the “drunken cherry” flavours are wondrous.

Drink to 2030, and 93 points.

2010 Petaluma Botrytis essence 13%

From Coonawarra, with a label showing astonishing (albeit tiny-fonted) detail,  174.7 g/l residual sugar, Sav blanc 53%, Semillon 47%, and much more about its oak handling, and vintage conditions.
2010 petaluma botrytis essence
Meanwhile the wine is a brilliant gold colour, with scents of botrytis, lime and orange marmalade; the palate is full-throttle, unctous and rich, ultra decadent, with flavours ranging through ripe stonefruit – apricot, peach – plus honey and orange. It’s a lovely drinking experience, good VFM, but a little less oak and a dash more acidity would have elevated my score.

Under screwcap, this wine has a long life ahead I but cannot see an upside in the flavour profile with further cellaring, and suspect it will taste very similar in 5 years.

Drink to 2025 and 88 points

Guilty pleasures and objectivity in tastings

There are wines that have more interest than their score indicates. These will be wines with a story.

The story could be

  • Some personal relationship with the winemaker, or winery
  • A purchase from a special place, or time, or price, including wines from overseas that went into the luggage
  • Some rarity from mailing lists,  or a peculiar bargain, perhaps trying some barrels at a winery, or something from “under the counter”
  • Some revisiting of an earlier experience

My guilty pleasures include

Baileys of Glenrowan. We always seemed to visit when it was searingly hot, so we’d welcome a break from the non-air-conditioned car, and the old tasting room was refreshingly cool. Alternately, the days would be wintry, and the log fire inside was very inviting.

Later I remember tasting the Founder Liqueur wines, and the “HJT” fortifieds and heroic red wines – wines that had the ferrous “iron filings” profile. The 1992 Shiraz wines are still going strong, with the ripe blackberry fruit winning the battle with the typically deep tannins – something that could not always be relied on. 1975 was another year with this fruit power

Petaluma Riesling. The 1980 Petaluma Riesling was a wine where I have consumed far more than my fair share. This was because a nearby wine shop (long closed) had the wine for sale for around $10 per bottle. My partner and I would drink a bottle, marvel at it, then return at some stage to buy a further bottle or two for drinking. Our usual “budget” drinking white wine at the time was the Wynns “high Eden” Riesling.

Leo Buring. At an early Expovin in Melbourne’s Exhibition buildings, John Vickery politely asked if I wanted to try some Rieslings. I jumped at this opportunity and recall trying some wines from early 1970’s including some  ”show” wines.

Brown Brothers. Again at Expovin, I think Huon Hooke showed a range of perhaps 6 different Noble Rieslings. A fantastic insight into cellaring capabilities and vintage variation, and a tremendous exercise in brand building by Brown Brothers.

Chambers (Rutherglen). Another winery we visited when I was young, with the red wines often stored in an old fridge, with the instruction from Bill Chambers to “help yourselves”. Again I can only remember visiting on stinking hot days. It turned out that my father had worked as a labourer at the winery in the 1940’s as a recent migrant with rudimentary English.

And of course there were the visits to the original Dan Murphy cellars in Prahran (its now a JB Hi-fi store).

There are also  wines where we have a negative perception; the cellar doors that treated people rudely, served derisory samples, or only showed their basic wines, or where their prices heavily exceeded retail.  And those that had dire levels of TCA and made refunds difficult – or impossible. Or the wines that have had rave reviews and been disappointing, where the hype exceeded the experience.

These all colour our attempts at objectivity.

The impact is that the nostalgia confounds “objective” scoring to a considerable degree.  I carry around some affections for these wines named above, and other wines  – from the places where I have picked grapes, cleaned (lots and lots of cleaning) , filled barrels, foot-trod grapes, and so on. And then consider that I selected these places based on something, and they put up with my efforts.

For those other scribblers that are awash with samples, and assess them in a masked format – there is a further challenge to demonstrate objectivity in what is chosen for weekly, or irregular articles. It cannot be achieved- we are creatures surrounded by our history and habits, that influence what we taste, what we buy, and what we write.