1990 Campbells Touriga Vintage Port 18%

How could I resist trying this Rutherglen VP made from Touriga? Stanton and Killeen are well known for their use of Portuguese varieties in their VPs’s since 1997, but Chris Pfeiffer earlier made wines for Lindeman in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s using Touriga, Gran Noir and maybe other Portuguese varieties sourced from just over the NSW border in Corowa – I don’t know if these plantings still exist.

1990 campbells vp

For this wine, the cork has performed, and the label is retro and functionally brutal.

But I can’t discern Touriga in this Campbells’ wine, and would have punted it being Shiraz (its likely to have minor components of Shiraz and Durif). It’s sweet but well within normal bounds for the style. It’s a dense red colour with some trivial bricking on the meniscus. The (brandy) spirit is well integrated. The dominant character is dark cherry, backed with some straw/dried herb and orange peel, perhaps a touch of cough mixture and cola. It’s smooth, rich and raisiny, mellow and just what’s needed on a muggy Melbourne night. Drink over the next few years before the fruit recedes.

Drink to 2020, score 88 points

1981 All Saints Vintage Port

This was a recent auction purchase, so I am doing myself no favours by recommending this wine.

1981 all saints vp

It looks like a “lab label”, complete with a minor spelling mistake for the eagle-eyed. The cork has performed its duty.

All Saints is located near Rutherglen (albeit nearer Wahgunyah). Its history is replete with numerous label, marketing and winemaking changes, and it’s now run as an independent spin-off from Brown Brothers. But there was never any doubt about its store of old material. I recall my parents staying at the Riverside Motel, and All Saints was always one of our destinations; down the long tree-lined gravel road, through to the amazing castle-like façade; inside the gloom, coolness and numerous large barrels, before tackling a vast range of wines of bewildering quality, from forgettable to sensational.

The Vintage ports from All Saints have held up remarkably well, with excellent recent tasting results going back to the 1960’s.

This wine is Shiraz based, and it’s colour is a medium density brick red, with some definite browning. (and minimal sediment). Yet it is still full of character – there is ripe plummy fruit, gentle mocha flavours with a touch of raisin, and the fruit has coped with the spirit. Not as sweet as many, it’s a wine of civility that is drinking admirably, with lingering crisp acidity.

There is no capacity for improvement, but at 35 years, its ready!

Drink to 2020 (although it will hold), score 90 points

Campbell’s “1870” sparkling shiraz 14%

With a crown seal – hooray.  This was a one-off from Campbells of Rutherglen released a few years back that we paid $55 for- must have been in a good mood. (so its more serious than the Campbells $30 nv sparkling red).

The label claims its blended from vintages going back 40 years – likely Shiraz. Its vigorous in the glass, deeply coloured, lightening on the rim. It boasts an array of savoury, earthy scents – mulberry and perhaps aniseed, and old leather, with a faint touch of mushroom . The palate mirrors this, thankfully drier than most wines made in this style, with clean acidity, and welcome creaminess.  Residual sugar is difficult with sparkling reds- I think around 15 g/l is needed to balance the tannins; more than 25 is unwelcome; guessing that is around 20g/l.

nv campbells sparkling red

Another glass beckons….. yes there are wines with better QPR , but well worth a try.

Drink now- 2020, score 89 (92 with duck!)

Morris (old premium) Rare Liqueur Muscat

The colour is a deep, clear khaki/brown.

It pours slowly- like motor oil -into the glass. demonstrating its aged concentration. It smells of stewed raisins, and strong dark coffee. There is a streak of cleansing acidity that accompanies the mixed flavours of raisin, almond and mocha. The wine (17% a/v) dwells in the mouth, sticking to all parts.

This Rutherglen muscat falls into the “rare” classification. The price at cellar-door is a very respectable and fair $75, which means canny buyers can acquire the wine for around $60.

morris rare muscat

A bottle doesn’t seem to last long in my household.

This hedonistic world-class style deserves 94 points, while perhaps some judicious freshening with younger material could add to the aromatics.

NV Morris cellar reserve grand liqueur tokay 17%

This is a style that Australians should be patriotic about. It’s recently been rebadged the ghastly “topaque”, to avoid any confusion with the Hungarian Tokay, and is made from muscadelle. It’s a fortified wine, made with neutral spirit, and has extensive barrel aging. The classification scheme from the Rutherglen area ascends from Rutherglen, Classic, grand, then rare, largely based on years in barrel, but with a committee assessing submissions – older does not been better – as a bit of judicious freshening can really make a difference. As a guide, the Grand classification is usually around 10-20 years old on average, and may be upwards of 250 g/l residual sugar. This is one of the styles I perform impromptu kitchen bench blends with.

This particular wine is available at Morris cellar-door only for $50; $40 for club members

morris grand top 1

The typical memory prompts include cold tea, malt, toffee and butterscotch ; while Muscat veers more into raisins. Telling them apart is never a certainty. A little is alleged to go a long way, but the style is irresistible to me, and one glass leads to another. Many North-east Victorian wineries make this style, such as All Saints, Baileys, Bullers, Campbells and Chambers. Morris is the one most attuned to my sensitivities – or the one that seems to float my boat.

There is no real food match- heretics may pour over ice cream, some will try strong hard cheeses, nuts and black coffee; but the winning match is an open fire and pleasant conversation, The wine was made by David Morris, but no doubt incorporates heritage work by his father the legendary Mick Morris, and beyond!

It’s a deep dark khaki colour with an amber/olive rim; it’s viscous and somewhat reluctant to pour. It oozes into the glass hesitantly, the words” rich and luscious” do not do justice to the length and depth of flavours, this wine seems all about toffee and malt; there is bracing cleansing acidy that defies a person to stop sipping.

Score 94 points

It’s frightening to consider that there is a further quality echelon (rare) to come, and even more awesome that there are other special bottlings at prices beyond my means. If I win a lottery yes – but I would need to first buy a ticket.