Two older Australian Barossa fortifieds

1976 Penfolds Vintage Port

Bottle #5637 (Barossa Shiraz).  I’ve never seen or tasted this wine before- the Penfolds “rewards of Patience” book only mentions the tawny styles. Sweet but supple; red liquorice, aniseed, salted almonds, clean spirit, and this was easily consumed. Traditional, and enjoyable.

Drink to 2026, 91 points.

1987 Seppelt Vintage Fortified (Touriga) 20%
Barossa Valley, GR 124 “fortified with grape spirit” with lots of bling up to 2002 – and released around that time, based on back label comments. It was a recent auction purchase for $25.

I didn’t realise much Touriga was available in Australia then, destined for vintage fortifieds; although Lindemans released some Portuguese-varietal fortifieds around the late 1970s. Probably winemakers aspired to the drier and more “classical” in style, necessitating a move away from reliance solely on Shiraz.

Now (as in Portugal) there are also some dry red table wines made from Touriga, or blended with other varieties.

I was conflicted between “too old” vs “mellow for age”. It’s a light ruby colour. Roses, and rose-hip, red liquorice with a touch of mocha, even some earl grey. I’ve settled on “OK, but better previously”. Sweet fruit, immaculate sprit and there is still tannin. But as a pointer to the drier style, this would have thrilled ten years ago.

Drink now, 90 points.

Impressions, again

2009 Zilliken (Forstmeister Geltz) Saarberger Rausch Riesling “diabas” 12.0%
Mosel, 16g/l residual sugar. Pale lemon colour, which leads to scents of passionfruit, quince, pear, red apple, and ginger spice. The palate is brisk, showcasing lemon, nashi pear plus salinity, minerals and depth. It’s rounded, textured mouthfeel, and acidity carries matters along with conviction. This wine is not dry, but not even approaching Kabinett level, and it’s drinking right in the zone.

Drink to 2025 while its fresh, complex and completely delicious – 91 points.

2007 Seppelt GR 27 Vintage fortified 19%
Barossa Valley (South Australia). Shiraz and Tinta molle.  Half-bottle with an abbreviated cork and abundant sediment. Decanting essential! Ruby colour with the beginning of some bricking. Rose-petal, sweet spices, sweet dark fruit and liquorice. The palate is soft, with the dark plum, blackberry and figgy fruit, mocha and brandy spirit in mellow harmony with a lingering spicy kick..

Drink now, as the structure may outlast the fruit – 89 points

1994 Seppelt Show Sparkling Shiraz, and more….

1994 Seppelt Show Sparkling Shiraz 13.5%
Under crown seal, this wine is outstanding, (but unfortunately my last bottle).

1994 seppelt sparkling red

A terrific Australian style; old vines from the St Peters vineyard at Great Western (Victoria)  and around 8 years on lees. Plenty of mousse, a touch of brick on the deep colour but wonderfully good for its age; a multitude of spices, black cherry, and plush leather; the palate is sensual, super rich, ripe and creamy; the combination of freshness and bottle development, blackberry, complex dark fruits, spices and a super, long, long finish is stunning. Around  25 g/l residual sugar meshes harmoniously with the evident, fine tannins.

Drink anytime over the next 20 or so years; some mushroom development will appear, but the fruit power, balance and freshness make this wine an absolute winner and a complete delight to drink.

Drink to 2035, 95 points

2007 Donnhoff Oberhauser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett 8.5%
From the Nahe (adjacent to Mosel). Light-to medium gold in colour, the wine displays cumquat, petroleum, white peach, white flowers and honey. Red apple and redcurrant are more accessible on the palate with steely acidity. Exceptionally well balanced, this is ultra-easy to drink- in the zone- with a few more years of pleasure ahead.

Drink to 2025, and 91 points

2007 Reinhold Haart Piesporter Domherr Riesling spatlese 8.5%
Mosel, with a light gold colour, tropical fruits (predominantly pineapple) meshed with lemon

There is abundant residual sugar (even for a spatlese) but the acidity is well judged. Mouthfilling, vibrant citrus and a touch of mineral and spices makes this wine easy to consume.  A touch of hardness on the palate suggests caution about further cellaring.

Drink to 2022, and 88 points

Facts behind iconic Australian wine labels

Professor Albert Pedant (MA Hons- Lagos, PhD – Port-au-Prince) – from the online university of Woolloomooloo,  has diligently researched the history of numerous Australian wine brands and labels. “There are extensive gaps in the records; family and staff have often put a spin on history; but meticulous searches through dusty filing cabinets, microfiche, oral histories and numerous interviews  have shown much of the branding is a mixture of spin, myth, mischief and accident; my definitive conclusions are set out below – certain to disturb and dismay the establishment. No black armbands, fake news or alternative facts here!”

Clonakilla
Long-claimed that Clonakilla refers to the name of Dr John Kirk’s Irish grandfather’s dairy farm (translated as the meadow of the church); my scholarship proves the name was inspired by the family’s shared love of ritual and obsessive viewings of World Championship wrestling on their TV. The stunning character of Killer Kowalski, and his trademark manoeuvres – the piledriver and Kowalski claw – stimulated much household study and emulation. There was also an protracted period when winemaker Tim (“Captain”) Kirk channelled the music of another “killer” –  Jerry Lee Lewis – but with guitar rather than piano.

Clonakilla thus epitomises the Kirk clan’s hero worship and Tim’s secret ambition to become a professional wrestler. As chief winemaker, Tim’s career is probably a win for oenology, but a sad loss to the gladiatorial arts.

clonakilla logo

The Clonakilla logo is purportedly taken from the 7th century Irish gospel manuscript the Book of Durrow. But its resemblance to Killer Kowalski’s championship belts is compelling.

It’s no coincidence that the very same wrestler also inspired the label Kilikanoon. Lightning can strike more than once. Certainly, the Killer has left an indelible mark on Australian wine.

Henschke Hill of Grace

henschke hog bottle

The legend insists that the famous Henschke wine Hill of Grace is a translation from the German ‘Gnadenberg’ (a region in Silesia). The truth is more prosaic; although vines were planted on the location in 1860, the site produces an extra-ordinary variety of weeds, thistles and thorns; the biological control agent deliberately introduced – rabbits- did not have the desired outcome. Instead, several different grassy cover crops -both local and imported- were – successfully-  deployed to crowd out the weeds. Thus for many years, the site was known to the family, and neighbours as Hill of Grass”.

This was the intended name for the label, and it was only due to the linguistic misunderstandings, and a degree of hearing impairment of the printer, that Hill of Grace was created. In 1958, When Cyril Henschke saw the newly-printed labels for the first time, he was torn between fury and despair. Owning a cashflow-impaired small business, he could not afford a reprint, and was gracious enough not to hold the printing firm, or the printer- a fellow congregationer -responsible for their error. Thus Hill of Grace was born- now a venerable Australian wine icon.

But the true founder of this Australian label is a long-forgotten, unknown print tradesman of ethnic German descent.

Seppelt (now Seppeltsfield) Para Port
There is no truth that “Para” was derived from the arcana of print and publishing mark-ups.

para labels

The legend attributes this Seppelts (and now Seppeltsfield) brand to the Para river in the Barossa valley; but this is erroneous. The key market for Australian wines – at that time – was England, and the Antipodean approach to branding was to create “critter labels” often featuring emus, kangaroos and other native fauna.

The group tasked with creating the name settled on Parrot Port. Further, the colourful Australian King Parrot was chosen to be depicted on the label. But economics intervened; the quoted cost of multi-coloured printed labels was formidable and weighed decisively against a new market entrant. A plainer label would fail to display the avian magnificence of this ornithological beauty.

Forced to make a hasty decision , the shorter Para was selected. It’s become famous in its variant guises, especially the extra-ordinary 100 year old “port”.

Penfolds Grange Hermitage
The official back-story is that Penfolds’ winemaker Max Schubert travelled to Bordeaux, and after returning to South Australia made the very first – experimental –  “Grange” in 1951. But where did the name come from? This question is far from straightforward.

One proposal – noted in Huon Hooke’s volume “Max Schubert winemaker” – suggested Grange was the name of the Penfold’s cottage inside the Magill vineyard- but alternate explanations surely have greater plausibility than this convenient corporate flim-flam.

penfolds grange

Due to a scarcity of high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon, Max used the grape variety Shiraz (aka Hermitage). Max would have been well aware of the famous Chapel (la Chapelle) on the Hill of Hermitage. Did Max pay direct homage here? – it’s not a huge leap of description between Chapel and Grange.

Grange is not a wordplay on Garage, and it’s not related to 3rd growth St Julian property Chateau Lagrange. It is highly unlikely that Max was aware of the gentlemens’ establishment outside La Grange Texas (also called the Chicken Ranch), brought to widespread notoriety in 1973 by the band ZZ Top.

Max Schubert typically refers to the wine as “Grange”, but he has unwittingly provided several clues, claiming his aim was to produce a wine “capable of improving year by year for a minimum of twenty years …something different and lasting….controversial and individual.”

One serious suggestion is that Max Schubert was inspired by the Australian composer and performer Percy Grainger– best known for his revival of the tune “(English) country gardens” but also a renowned connoisseur and collector of Europe’s finest wines. Could Max have originally referred to his own opus as “the Grainger”, but ultimately tired of explanations to his less-high-browed colleagues, and gradually it became the “Grainge” and then somehow the spelling was corrupted or simplified? Certainly this heritage is controversial, individual and different.  It is unclear, however, if Max was aware of Percy Grainger’s proclivity for self-flagellation and his other sado-masochistic interests.

Grange is a seaside suburb of Adelaide, where Max spent countless hours on his lesser-known pastimes, fishing from the jetty, and imbibing beer – and smoking-  at its numerous attractive hostelries. Like Marcel Proust’s madeleines,  did this humble municipal district and its numerous attractive recreational memories – perhaps a teenage romance? –  inspire Max to pay tribute, and create the wine Grange?

We have a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; the contenders are numerous, but the true origin of Grange remains a conundrum. Further research is planned, although regrettably the current owners of this brand have so far not co-operated with my endeavours.


As Austrlia’s foremost historian, and while my vinous research is ongoing, (Wendouree and Giaconda are currently under my intense scrutiny), I am honoured to have finally set the record straight on the factual origins of these famous Australian wine brands, and shamed the writers and historians who have uncritically and recklessly promulgated the fantasies behind these labels.

My discoveries will surely impel studies of establishments in Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhone Valley, Rioja, Alsace, Tuscany and Piedmont – just for starters. Heads will roll – Vive la revolution!

Snippets, again

Maybe not thematic, but these fragments deserve a note; on the cork front, an unusual  run in the past six months yielded only 2 wines affected by taint or obvious oxidation–  a “meagre” 3.7%. Not many industries would accept this level of wastage. The degree of TCA in both wines was amazing- textbook examples.

  • 1993 Craiglee Chardonnay – replaced
  • 1996 Baileys Shiraz – no response from winery

And quick notes follow about wines that impressed

2015 Tolpuddle Chardonnay 12.5%
“Full malo” is a phrase that normally makes me run away, but served masked (of course) this Coal River valley (Tasmania) wine astonished. It’s a modern melon and smoke style- such as Oakridge or Seville Estate- cashewy oak, mineral-drenched fruit and the Tasmanian acidity powers through this utterly delicious wine.
From the Shaw and Smith stable, it’s around $60 a bottle retail – I ordered 3 bottles on the spot. Wonderful, and will hold for quite a while.

2015 Wynns Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 13.5%
This is the 60th release of this label; a few years ago, I tasted the 1960, 1965, 1966 and 1972; there is no doubting the longevity of the style; its affordability makes it deservedly popular among wine-drinkers (not just unicorn-collectors). This release is ripe, beautifully manicured and balanced; blackcurrant and other dark fruits, chalks; it flows gently, deliciously and juicily along. Lovely, with a huge future. Coonawarra, and unforced.

2012 Giant Steps Applejack Pinot Noir 13.5%
This is a wine that nearly won the notorious Jimmy Watson trophy, but there was insufficient volume. At  5 years old, this  Yarra Valley wine has time on its side. Its amazingly fragrant, with small, succulent, sweet red berry scents, plus seasoned oak. The palate shows much more ripe strawberry, and again the oak is present, somehow making a savoury impact. But where this wine stands out is for its prodigious, long-lasting, ultra-refined finish. Another 5 years at least, and 95 points

2002 Seppelt St Peters Shiraz 14%
Wonderful wine. Cork was not the greatest visual composition, but no travel.
2002 was a cool year in Victoria, and this wine is special. My records indicate I paid $35; some key notes; the colour is deep black/red, and there is no browning even at the rim; the wine is beautifully poised with vibrant, intense fruit, oak very much a background factor. Its ripeness is spot-on; blackberry, mixed spices and mocha, some very faint herbal tannin bitterness, and just powers along. Easy, hedonistic drinking, and will remain so for another 15 years – or more. Instant gold medal score, and another example of Grampians Shiraz seduction.

1995 Guigal Hermitage
From a great year in the Northern Rhone; power+, ripe +, slinky old-vine mouthfeel. Dry herb, chalk, iron filings and spices, powdery tannins, touch of bitterness. At plateau and another 10 years will not tire it. Outstanding, 94 points

 

And a few rarities from a very special dinner

2002 Bollinger RD disgorged 24/6/2014
Served at a “just right” temperature in appropriate glassware (flutes are NOT proper stemware for Champagne, any kind of tulip-shaped glass is better). It’s a light straw colour; Immediate sense of class. There are scents of pastries, fruit tingles, strawberries dusted gently with icing sugar (the Pinot dominance roughly 60/40 is felt); a touch of oak/chalk/cream, a touch of almond. Then the palate lights up with exuberance, tiny bead, and the flavours just linger on, the wine seems bone dry (4 g/l is very dry even for a prestige champagne). This is just a wonder, so sensual and so compelling- finally it just powered along with more nuances with each refreshing sip. A wine that could accompany many foods, and was not elbowed aside by a truffled croquette. 96 points.

1990 Trimbach Clos st hune Riesling 14%
Approached with some trepidation as a bottle tried in 13/5/2013 unexpectedly threw me in to delivering a perfect score.

Was I delusional? Would another bottle disappoint?This wine from Alsace has a bright clear gold colour; but amazingly, almost pungently floral. Light honey, lemon peel, bottle age, flint ripeness. Palate, silky, fluffy, candied dried fruits, flint, stone, mineral. The magic combination of richness and freshness.

Another 20 years in sight. 98 points.  (Notes were similar)

1990 Jaboulet Hermitage la Chapelle 13.9%
Everyone’s favourite in a bracket of 3 Hermitages including 1990 JL Chave and 1990 Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavilon, and so easy to love. Very dense colour, with trivial bricking; barnyard, earth, butterscotch, then the palate runs rampant with dark cherry, tar and more earth, some smoky, dried meaty aspects. Oak is entirely vanished, we’re left with a slinky vinous old-vine palate of fine, fine tannins. Memorable and contemplative – mature wines don’t really come better.
Drink to 2040, 98 points

Seppelt Port siblings

Seppelt Commemoration Port (Oscar Benno Seppelt) 20%

Blended from selected reserves of – Barossa – Para liqueur 1933 to 1980.

Commemorating the 100th anniversary of OBS’s birth in 1873, this is one of the series (there was a large family) and I gather this bottle was released around 1990, as a “premium” release. Internet searches have not been illuminating!

It was unusually sealed with a normal cork (not a stopper) and has thrown a very heavy crust. It’s a recent auction purchase. After bottling, this tawny style will change very little, but certainly needs aeration after its extended time in bottle, and a very careful decant.

In the Seppelt Para house vein, the colour is a brilliant glowing amber with a khaki rim. Myriad flavours; coffee bean, vanilla bean, nuts (more almond than walnut, but both are present).

nv seppelt ob

It seems relatively dry, a marvel of blending old material with fresher wines “selected by the directors”; savoury and delectable on a gloomy winter night. The inherent acidity makes another taste inevitable.

Drink now (but will not collapse); 90 points as a drink, more if history is valued.

 

Seppelt Commemoration Port (Leo Renato Seppelt) 21.5%

Blended from Para liqueur port vintages 1933 to 1972.

Not unexpectedly, there is little difference in colour, aromatics and flavours. This wine tastes slightly “brighter” with its fruit profile displaying some citrus peel nuances as well as those mentioned above, and perhaps the weightier mouthfeel of the marginally higher alcohol -but we are well into the realm of variation between individual bottles

This wine nudges up to a score of 92 points, with the key word “yum”.

 

Sparkling reds extravaganza

Just one evening after Australia day, a small group tried 8 sparkling reds (aka sparkling Burgundy). It’s not quite a unique Australian style, but near enough; many European tasters are perplexed. It’s a style that seeks to balance ripe fruit, and acidity. Residual sugar via liqueuring, typically  with “port” styles  between 15-30 g/l being common – and necessary – to balance the tannins. Time post-disgorgement helps, although “how long?” is a matter of personal preference.

Sparkling reds are a surprisingly food-friendly style; anything “gamy” succeeds; turkey, duck, pork, some cheeses, or merely as an interlude; even beef succeeds; I am not at all in favour of deployment as a “breakfast style”, or with bacon and eggs; this underplays its potential seriousness and quality.

Time on lees helps, but earthy and mushroom aspects seem to emerge up after about 10 years; 15-20 years on lees seems too much based on the few samples I’ve had. Brett needs close attention, as it thrives in the environment of sugar.

The interplay of these elements, plus temperature makes a big difference.

Extended time on lees means there is more chance that the wine has had several winemakers involved through its path to release.

Australia has generally used Shiraz for the style, but I’ve seen examples with Cabernet Sauvignon, Durif, Pinot noir and Merlot, plus assorted blends. Wines were served in brackets of two, and my notes are impressions, not fully contemplative.

2008 Castagna (Beechworth 13.5%) – 89 points

NV Rockford (Barossa) disgorged August 2010 – 92 points

The immediately noticeable difference is that the Rockford seems richer and sweeter. It’s creamier, oakier with raspberry red fruits. A real crowd-pleaser, while the drier Castagna showed some light mushroom, and fine mousse.

I have had worrisome experiences with leakage with Rockford in the past; this bottle was pristine.

2005 Peregrine ridge (Heathcote) 14% – not rated

2005 Peregrine ridge (Heathcote, late disgorgement, 6.5 years on lees) 14% – 94 points

This was a useful exercise, with the later-disgorged style showing a creamy texture, raspberries, violets and Its had well-deserved success in some wine shows. Lovely drinking, and perhaps even better with a little less r/s.  I thought the standard release was very dull in comparison – a faulty bottle is suspected.

2002 Andersons (Rutherglen) 14.5% – 96 points

1998 Leasingham Classic Clare 14% – not rated

The Anderson’s is a lurid healthy bright red colour. Dense, creamy with has balanced mushroom, its bursting with ripe blackberry dark fruits; there is compelling deli meats and charcuterie, and spiciness. To my bafflement, its still available at cellar-door for a derisory $49. Lots of well-merited show bling. Extraordinarily good VFM.

The Leasingham has alas, died.

1991 Seppelt Show (Grampians) 13%, 6.5 years on lees – 96 points

2004 Seppelt Show (Grampians)  13.5% 8 years on lees- 96 points

It’s just as well these two wines were not masked, as they were just so good and so different. Seppelt has a long history with sparking reds, even their standard vintage sparkling red (available for less than $20 to canny buyers) will surprise – even better if it was under crown seal)

The 1991 was at a lovely stage; certainly more developed with some honey, hay, camphor, truffle, leather and dried mushroom. But fruit is still present; a very appealing package, but to drink, not to keep.

The 2004, from the St Peters, Imperial and McKenzie blocks) is a ripper, albeit embryonic. Its very ripe and somehow balances bright red berry fruits with a gentle touch of capsicum and tomato-leaf, without veering into greenness. The plate is darker, some chocolates, an array of mixed spices and so finely manicured!  Leave it for 5 years to soften, and it will be very, very special. Or leave for much longer, safe with a crown seal to make it almost indestructible.

All in all, however, a stimulating set of wines, that deserve those terrific scores.

Grampians masterclass

Grampians (Western Victoria), centred around Stawell and Ararat is less known for its Rieslings than its Shiraz, – probably overshadowed by the Rieslings from Henty (Seppelt Drumborg and Crawford River). However the Grampians can produce long-living, floral and mineral styles. Judicious use of low levels of residual sugar seems to help. The wines below are firmly in the “fruity” camp, not sweet.

Seppelt Great Western Riesling 2014

Varietal bath-salts, talc, mineral tang, zippy, delicious (14 g r/s) balanced, versatile

Drink now-2020, Score 92

Mt Langi Ghiran Langi Riesling 2010

Geisenheim clone of Riesling. Some bottle age-characters, honey and limes, but is on the austere side

Drink now- 2020, Score 88

Halls Gap Estate Riesling 2015

Obviously very youthful, residual sugar (8 g/l) is subdued by the beautifully judged.acidity, Fruit tingles. A producer new to me, although winemaker Duncan Buchanon is well known

Drink now- 2025, score 94

Best’s Great Western ‘Foudre ferment’ Riesling, 2014

Alsace-inspired, but thankfully at 11% not overblown as Alsace can be. Moderately soft, with some musk, citrus peel and florals, but the reward is the palate- slippery, slinky, textured, rounded.

Drink now- 2022, score 91

Jamsheed Garden Gully Riesling 2013

Skin contact, some barrel ferment. unfined, unfiltered, Looked a bit cloudy, and had some sour/bitter characters. Full on, very determined winemaking, very individual, but definitely didn’t appeal to me.

Not recommended

The Story Westgate Vineyard Marsanne Roussanne Viognier 2014

OK its not a Riesling, but was included in the bracket. There’s only a few rows of these varieties around in the district, and it’s a field blend. Bright, clear, tell-tale citrus and honeysuckle with a rounded palate. Comfortable rich wine, but I think some extra acidity would be my preference.

Drink now-2017, Score 86

 

Grampians shiraz is the “hero” wine; like many of the red wines grown in alluvial areas, it’s robust in flavours while being only medium bodied – likely benefitting from old vines, and restrained yields. The array of exotic spices and pepper integrated with natural acidity means the wines are long-lived, savoury and food-friendly. A move to whole bunches in the ferment means care has to be taken in techniques and judgement to avoid green characters and the technical composition including pH of finished wines.

2013 was a warm vintage with the added issue of varieties ripening together, complicating the typical vintage task of matching capacities of the right kind of vessel and picking best blocks at right times while crossing fingers and toes for the rest. All colours of wines tasted below were very youthful, with oak and tannins just beginning to really integrate. Alcohol levels were generally around 14%. Patience will be rewarded, as they are a pretty bracing now, with their best well ahead, as demonstrated with the bracket of wines following.

I feel that maybe it was not the best season to be brash on whole bunch inclusions.

Seppelt St. Peter’s Grampians Shiraz 2013

A riot of mixed spices matched with fine mocha-oak. Mix of black and red berries. Balanced but possibly lacking the usual concentration of this marque. Whole bunch used as “blend-in” material. Curiously disappointing after recalling the quality of the VFM Seppelt 2013 Chalambar Shiraz.

Drink 2018 – 2030, score 91

Bests Bin 0 Great Western Shiraz 2013

No “Thompson” made in 2013, so this wine has benefited from the “trickle-down”. A very health rude purple colour, there is upfront oak, but built in over savoury, clove-y, cocoa notes. I find the Bests Bin 0 often not especially varietal except via elimination, but this is a splendid wine regardless.

Drink 2016-2030, score 94

Jamsheed Garden Gully Vineyard Syrah 2013

80% whole bunch – high pH, high TA (a curious combination). I found the tannins here hard and green, Time may help, and I may be entirely wrong.

Drink 2015-2019, score 82

Halls Gap Estate Shiraz 2013

Seems, rawer and sweeter-fruited than other wines in the bracket. Tannins make their presence felt, but ultimately seems a bit straightforward – although keenly priced.

Drink 2016-2020, score 86

The Story Westgate Vineyard Grampians Shiraz 2013

Crisp, savoury, smooth, slinky, classy wine. There is some hardness in the tannins here too. I’m a fence-sitter on this one

Drink now-2020, score 89

Mt Langi Ghiran Langi Shiraz 2013

Slightly medicinal bouquet (forgiveable) which dissipated over time, oak is prominent, acid is poking through and this wine looks entirely backward; hard to describe which means it is “right”, with all in place; best course is to revisit in a few months

Drink 2017 – 2027, score 91

Now we get to look at the time capsule; older wines as a pointer to how the 2013’s could develop. Most of these wines are lower alcohol.

Seppelt Great Western Hermitage 1971

A wine I have agonised over on previous occasions; is it a bit of TCA, or is it a combination of some hay/straw and some garlicky sulphides and varietal mushroom? It resuscitates on the palate as a fully mature, generously flavoured old wine with tremendous now-vinous fruit concentration. Remember its 44 years old, and deserves respect.

Drink now, Score 87

Bests Bin 0 Shiraz 1984

Chewy, some Ribena-like characters, and dark cherries. No rush!

Drink now-2020, score 86

Bests Bin 0 Shiraz 1998

Vibrant, beautiful medium bodied wine of length, charm and finesse. Astounding.

Drink now- 2025, Score 95

Mt Langi Ghiran Langi Shiraz 1998

Also very alive, with some sweet toasty oak, a decent wine but wouldn’t place it as Victorian

Drink now – 2018, score 87

Mt Langi Ghiran Langi Shiraz 2004

Colour seems to show its been in a deep freezer; ultra youthful. But it seems a bit “stretched”, and I cannot see improvement with further maturation.

Drink up 84

Jamsheed Shiraz 2006 (magnum)

Colour is a bright bomb; there is some slight reduction on the bouquet, but the wine is dense, and flavour packed. Very happy here, and future is extensive.

Drink now- 2022, Score 93

Seppelt Show Sparkling Shiraz 1986

Disgorged in last week or so, there are some unattractive decayed elements on the bouquet, and the degree of bubbliness is subdued; BUT the fruit power remaining on the palate is extra-ordinary; full ripe plums, and blackberries, a wine at peace with itself.

Drink now, score 90

One dry, one sweet

2003 Seppelt Drumborg Riesling 12.5%

From Henty in western Victoria. Screwcap, so unmodified by any cork influence, the wine is very pale light straw in colour. Abundant lemon/citrus aromas absolutely vibrant acidity. Pristine, high class, indestructible, delightful. Flavour without fatness.

seppelt rr 2003

Drink anytime over the next 20 years, score 95

2001 Ch Filhot (sauternes)

Light bright straw, and immediately obviously from Sauternes (or Barsac). Pears, spices, citrus and some grip. Some botrytis dustiness. About balance not power. Fresh, lovely drinking. So it seemed likely that the wine was from a “lesser” vintage such as 2002 or 2004. When revealed, it made more sense. The fantastic year of 2001 had bolstered the usual Filhot style

Semillon dominant with some sauvignon Blanc and muscadelle, Filhot is not a property that comes to mind when looking for quality (although known VGV); this wine was a resounding success, and proved that I had unfairly maligned the Chateau.

Drink now – 2020; score 94

1930 Seppelt Para Liqueur Port

1930 seppelt para

This wine is available through auction, and is in a squat bottle.

Its believed to be bottled around 1955 from stocks at least 21 years old, predominantly from the 1930 vintage, and Grenache dominant. This was part of the series that included 1927, 1930, 1933, 1939, 1944, and 1947. (There was another series bearing the names of separate members of the very extended Seppelt family).

The prevailing wisdom is that Seppelt reverted to calling later blends 101, 102, up to 127, resuming with a 1976 when perhaps their records were such that they could amply demonstrate the vintage nature of the base.

These wines are matured in barrels, and the gradual oxidation (and evaporation) over time increases the sugar, the alcohol, and the VA. The wines do vary, despite their prolonged aging. The winemaker has numerous blending decisions as there may be varying sizes of barrels (and their location on top, outside, or middle of stack), plus the amount freshening required.  I had a very educational tasting a few years ago at Seppeltsfield where I tried a mini-vertical of 1989, 1990 and my preferred 1991.

Naturally the 1930 wine has thrown a crust, so the 2 cautions are –the wine needs some decant time to breathe, and some filtering to remove the worst of the sediment. In the glass it has the absolutely typical Seppelt khaki/green colour. It’s rich, vibrant and long in the mouth, with a welcome cleansing alcohol and acid kick (perhaps 22%). It’s a treat to drink these venerable wines, remembering that most of those involved are no longer alive.