NV Saltram Mr Pickwicks Particular Tawny 19.5%

The label looks fussy and old-fashioned with its portraits of old men in the period costume of the 1830’s. The back label alludes to Charles Dicken’s (first novel) character the Mr Pickwick, founder of the Pickwick Club and his (light) adventures.

Dickens always has memorable characters (albeit often “flat”) Here’s a nice quote…
“’I assure you, my good friend, I have more money than I can ever need; far more than a man at my age can ever live to spend,” said Mr. Pickwick.
“No man knows how much he can spend, till he tries,’ observed Mr. Weller.

There’s a conflict between this homage, and the need to find a market, not easy with a fortified, and becoming even more difficult. I can’t believe I’m begging for label tweak, since this wine is readily available, retailing around $60, and represents such very good value for its quality.

nv saltram mr pickwick tawny

With an average age somewhere between 21 and 25 years (internet searches vary), this is old material – assume its Shiraz-based and from the Barossa Valley.

Amber colour with a khaki rim, its packed full of all the Christmas cake dried fruits, nuts and peel imaginable; fig, citrus, toffee, spices. Exquisite brandy spirit plays its part, and it ends with vanilla and lusciousness. There is obviously old material here, but it’s but amazingly fresh, smooth and decadent.

Oak, and vanilla presence makes a greater contribution than I would prefer in a perfect world, but there is no denying the concentration, power and grace that make it difficult to resist reaching for more.

Drink now (it will happily last a few weeks after the cork is removed), and 93 points.

Mixed drinks, recent short impressions

2003 Joh Jos Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 8%
Very pale lemon in colour, there is an array of the usual petroleum (not kero), and faint smokiness mixed with tropical fruits of mango, passionfruit, a pull of citrus, flint and warm spices. The palate is sweet, fresh, viscous  and long-lasting. The wine got better as it sat in the glass.

Its not easy to resist the style, one of my favourite Mosel vineyards plus the combination of freshness and bottle-aged complexities. It’s a triumph of old vines and winemaking nous over the heatwave European 2003 vintage.

95 points, and drink to 2030.

2014 Chateau La Tour blanche 14%
Sauternes (83% semillon, 12% sauvignon blanc, 5% Muscadelle; 130 g/l r/s)

A great VFM Sauternes producer, and a wonderful result from an excellent vintage. Light gold in colour, the wine displayed vibrant nettle, stonefruit, pineapple rind and bright lemon icing sugar. The palate showed more barley-sugar, and some vanilla pod to add to the aromatics. Rich, sweet, balanced with much more pleasure to cover over the next ten to fifteen years.

The range of fruit flavours, the complexity and balance makes the wine a delight.

94 points, and drink to 2030 (at least)

2014 Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey
Sauternes (93% Semillon, 6% sauvignon blanc, 1% Muscadelle)

Served (masked) at the same occasion as the La Tour Blanche above, this wine looked darker in colour, showed greater – and simpler- tropical fruits, and custard apple. The palate was sweet, fresh and supple, but with greater oak presence, some hardness, and some bitterness. Time may help, but the contrast did not help its cause.

87 points, drink to 2023.

1952 Saltram Pinnacle selection Show Muscat 18.8%
Barossa muscat, stored in small oak, believed to have been bottled sometime in the 1980’s.

Colour (after decanting) was a bright khaki, and the wine showed caramel, toffee, mocha. Some raisin character, and a degree of vanillan oak and rancio.

Served masked as usual, the mix of attributes made it difficult to decide style between muscat and tawny; the lushness pushing for muscat, the rancio pointing to tawny. Revealed as muscat,  the wine itself was excellent, and a nice piece of Barossa history.

90 points, drink now.

2003 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port
A devastatingly hot year in Europe, but most Port producers declared the vintage. Cork – or storage- struck; the bottle I sampled was strong, powerful in colour, but the flavour impact was tertiary mixed mocha and coffee grounds; and the wine looked plain, young, raw and lacking finesse. A hasty look at remnants from another two bottles opened showed more expected fruit flavours of violets and dark cherry, but time and the amount left conspired against further contemplation

Not rated, but I will have other opportunities!