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.

Two long-lived vintage fortifieds

1975 baileys vp

1975 Baileys Vintage Port
The label states Bundarra, with Baileys in smaller print, but it’s the same mob. I extracted a pretty ordinary cork, which however had faithfully performed its duty for 45 years,

Made before I was even interested in wine, it was a recent auction purchase for a surreal  price just over $20. Insane value! The Baileys red wines from 1975 (and 1977, and 1979) are somewhat rustic but the depth of ripe fruit flavour is extraordinary, and they continue to surprise,

Baileys (Glenrowan, Victoria) were renowned for their monumental red wines where vigour trumped finesse; plus their luscious fortifieds (muscat and topaque). Back then, vintage fortifieds were less of a winemaker indulgence than now.

Likely to be made entirely from Shiraz, it’s still a vibrant black/red colour albeit some bricking on the rim; it’s an unashamed old-fashioned inky Oz style – a meal in a glass- with ripe fresh sweet blackberry and raspberry jam, a touch of mocha/cocoa and aromatic brandy spirit. It’s lush, rich, sweet, and endless.

I reviewed this wine on this site in November 2015, and descriptions and conclusions are (thankfully) consistent.

The wine is a tribute to the area, its maker Harry Tinson, and is completely compelling. I cannot see improvement, but its longevity is astounding.

Drink to 2035, and 92 points

1986 Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos 20%
(Served blind). The wine had a very deep red/black colour, with red liquorice and milk chocolate, plus a touch of tar. The palate was supple, showing rose-hip, cherry and red berry flavours with slightly grainy tannins. I suspected the wine was a Portuguese VP, mainly with the mixed fruit flavours, perhaps from the mid-1990’s. Other drinkers confidently stated it was Australian, and perhaps 15-20 years old.

When unveiled, the first surprise (to most) was its Portuguese origin; the next surprise its actual age (33 years); the last surprise was that it wasn’t from a widely declared year. My speculation was that the houses were dealing with (generally) declared years of 1980, 1883 and 1985 – and may have met some market resistance to another release. It was less of a surprise that the wine was from Grahams – generally characterised as making a slightly richer and sweeter style than many other houses.

Anyway, drink to 2030, and 94 points as a pleasurable educational experience.

I have negligible experience with this style, so some homework within the Graham’s website and elsewhere was needed. For Graham’s, the Malvedos site provides the main component when vintages are declared, but it’s also generally bottled in non-declared years. Its main varieties are Touriga National and Touriga Franca, plus others. The wines clearly can have great longevity (the last tranche of the 1965 Quinta dos Malvedos was re-released as a 50-year old wine).

A vertical tasting of the Quinta dos Malvedos with notes from Andy Velebil is on the For the love of port site.

And I will be slower to dismiss wines from non-declared years!

1983 Orlando vintage port 19.8%

1983 orlando vp

Barossa Shiraz from a year of drought and fires; red wines tended to be intense and the best continue to delight. The cork had thankfully performed; this wine is a solid deep ruby colour; sweet spicy brandy spirit melds with dark fruits – stewed plum, red liquorice and sweet blackberry. It’s still quite dry for the style and presents as “almost Portuguese” with its relative dryness and substantial spice-cinnamon notes. The palate is supple, rich but savoury with firm tannin and the spices make a more substantial contribution. It also seemed much more youthful than its actual age, and is on a delicious plateau.

Drink to 2030, and a resounding 93 points for this wine of surprise with its style and vitality.

More recent splashes

2014-5 doisyblanck heggies1983 vps

All served blind – it may seem premature to serve young Barsacs, but these proved wholly delicious, with enormous capacity to live and improve for many years. Cellaring estimates are conservative, but no-one is immortal.

2014 Ch Doisy-daene 13.5%
Barsac, 100% semillon 144g/l rs; The website is very detailed, and I tasted this wine a few months ago with similar notes.  Enormously aromatic; tropical fruits, pineapple rind, touch of vanilla essence, green nettle, botrytis. Exciting, fine creaminess, honeyed with lovely racy acidity, some cashew oak,  spotless.

Drink to 2030, 93 points

2015 Ch Doisy-daene 13.5%
Barsac, 100% Semillon, 136 g/l rs. A slightly greener fruit profile than the wine above, ripe pear and more stonefruit white peach (and botrytis); this wine already seems more rewarding, with impressive fine honeyed texture, greater- but still balanced-ginger-spice oak, and richer depth and mouthfeel, with supporting acidity.

Drink to 2035, 94 points (and more to come)

2005 Paul Blanck Furstentum vendanges tardives Gewurtztraminer 12.5%
Alsace, screwcap! Half-bottle, purchased at the winery, from a special site. Light gold in colour, it displays musk, roses and oiliness. The palate is moderately sweet, but its persistent, varietal with a winningly appealing citrus twang

Drink to 2025, 92 points

2007 Heggies “242” botrytis riesling 8.1%
A half-bottle located after my records showed I had none left (previously reviewed on this site). Amber/light copper coloured. The 242 refers to the amount of retained sugar, which comfortably sits at the BA level, and from a site in the Eden Valley, South Australia – where mostly dry Rieslings are produced, but often a small amount of botrytised Riesling. It’s packed with orange essence and marmalade, very decadent; on the viscous palate there are apricot and stonefruits. It’s still fresh, ultra-sweet -but still balanced-  some hardness is emerging, so drink sooner, not later.

Drink to 2022, 92 points

1983 Stanton and Killeen Vintage Port 19%
Rutherglen, and a hot dry year. A solid bricky colour, but browning only on the rim. Ripe and sweet with some raisined fruit, iron and liquorice, sweet, chalky, lively but a little warm. But it’s 35 years old, and 100% shiraz. On the evidence of this bottle, no further improvement is likely, but it’s still a satisfying and rewarding wine

Drink now, 88 points

1983 Dow’s Vintage Port 20%
Portugal of course. Paler colour than the wine above, showing a more interesting fruit expression of blue and red fruits, and milk chocolate covered almonds. The palate is fine and detailed – and medium-bodied, but also suggests the acidity will hold while the fruit recedes. At this stage, the tannin is balanced, but every bottle will be different.

Drink to 2025, 92 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)

1985 Taylor’s vintage port 20.5%, again

I reviewed this wine in April 2016, and again in August 2018- and my final bottle was very recently consumed. Notes turned out to be similar!

Taylor’s is a distinguished house, with a useful, informative website.

1985 taylors vp 2019

The label was a bit damaged; the cork “almost” came out Ok, and the results from this good – albeit not outstanding -Portuguese vintage?

The wine is a solid ruby colour, with vibrant aromatics including fig. cocoa, dried citrus peel, sweet spices, and an intrigue of mixed blue and red berries; the palate is medium bodied but more substantial than expected – it shows fruitcake, hazelnut and mellow mocha characters, with some spicy, malty, almost gravied hints. The spirit and fruit are deliciously integrated with a sweet, lingering finish.

Beautifully put together, the wine provides complexity and freshness; drinking superbly

Drink to 2035, and 94 points.

 

Portuguese Vintage Ports; and cork problems so far in 2019

Many of the wines I drink are served “blind”; the wines below were briefly and typically presented as “a fortified”. The task? To describe, and determine style, age, origins and sometimes the producer. Encounters with two recent fortifieds left me confused.

I described the first as a vintage port style, showing blueberry and violet fruits, and some spicy notes. This mix of fruit aromas indicated Portuguese origins, but the relative sweetness suggested Australia, as did the spirit hotness and sweetness  The suppleness of the tannins, and a touch of chalk and almond meal however suggested Portugal. I assessed the age as 15-20 years, and the wine as very good but not excellent quality; finally the tannin descriptors made me stray from Portugal. The wine was a 2001 Taylors Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port.  Drink to 2026, and 91 points

The second wine was a 1994 Dow’s Vintage Port– “sweet, ripe, pruney” -were my first descriptors for a wine that didn’t excite me. The lack of elegance (incorrectly) pointed me to an Australian origin. This wine is from a widely declared year in Portugal, and when revealed, I expected better. Hindsight suggests some oxidation, so I have not scored this bottle. It will have another chance!

I have updated the “hall of shame” in the page “corks and statistics” For 2019 so far, issues with TCA or oxidation of wines – under cork-  that I own and have opened unfortunately reached 9.62%.

As usual, I have had no failures with wines under screwcap, diam or crown seal.

1998 Stanton and Killeen Vintage (port) 18%, plus other impressions

At 21 years of age, this Rutherglen (Victoria) fortified is still very youthful. It has 1 gold and 5 silver medals to its credit and composition is 26% Shiraz, 26% Touriga, 20% Durif, 13% tinta cao, 13% tinta barocca, and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon; a mix of “traditional Australian”, and Portuguese varieties. Remarkably, the wine is still available ($114) – with many other vintages- on the Stanton and Killeen website.

1998 S&K VP

The cork emerged well, and in excellent condition. The colour is outstanding for its age, a very dense dark black crimson,  and there is an exciting range of aromas- dark liqueur cherry, almond-meal, blueberry, mulberry, and spice notes The quality of (brandy) spirit is excellent, and has integrated well. The palate is sweeter than Portuguese versions, but certainly drier than most Australian attempts. The palate is full-bodied but very supple, showing a lingering mix of black and red fruits, red liquorice and fine chalky tannins.  Above all, it is deliciously drinkable.

Drink to 2030, and 93 points.

1986 Stanton and Killeen Vintage Port
Served blind, this wine was bricky in colour, showing sweet mocha notes, dried fruits and citrus peel. The spirit was sweet; the palate was also sweet, soft and mellow, and seemed Australian in style. The milk chocolate and plum flavours suggested Victorian origins, and my conclusion “around 30 years old, Victorian, Shiraz” turned out to be reasonably accurate. (95% Shiraz, 5% durif). The wine is fully mature, and bottle quality may differ!

Drink to 2025, 90 points

2007 JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese Riesling AP#22 7.5%
Very pale in colour, this Mosel wine is supremely elegant and needs much more time (still) to reveal more of its charms. It displays smoke, petroleum, crunchy ripe red apple and tropical fruits, particularly just-ripe pineapple. The palate is pebbly, sustained and the acidity really masks the considerable sweetness. This is a mouth-filling, creamy, intense and decadent wine, but it’s not yet resolved, and I recommend a further 5 years aging if you are fortunate to own any.

Drink to 2035, 92 points –  with more in the future.

An Alsace VT, and a Portuguese Vp

2001 Louis Sipp Kirchberg de Ribeauville  (grand Cru) Pinot Gris (vendanges tardive) 12.5%
Alsace provides disproportionate disappointments caused by cork- oxidation and TCA. The discard rate should make anyone extremely wary. When the wines behave as intended they can be magnificent (the 1990 Trimbach Clos st Hune Riesling garnered a perfect score from me once; a second bottle a few years later was almost as memorable, and I have tasted awesome bottles from Josmeyer and Zind-Humbrecht).

This Louis Sipp wine was a final gamble– a bottle tried a few months ago was oxidised to undrinkability. Pinot Gris is a low acid, “quiet”  variety (undistinguished in Australia), but if aiming at the “gris style” with sensitivity, ripeness and some residual sugar, it can be a surprisingly adept partner with fish. Obtaining texture without phenolics being too overt is the winemaking key; alcohol, residual sugar and winemaking finesses are important.

2001 louis sipp pg vt

Vendanges tardive indicates late harvest, but the residual sugar level – moderate but an easily discernible amount- is unknown. The wine is golden in colour, displaying tropical notes of pear, baked apple, mango, honey, spice, and glace fruits. The palate is drying out, but still exerts attractive grapey sultana character, mandarine, yellow peach and mixed spices to wrap it up.

Better a few years ago, but a decent, well-chilled bottle will provide considerable enjoyment

Drink now (or via time machine a few years ago), 89 points.

1980 Warre’s Vintage Port 20%
Served blind, and a translucent brick colour, this wine exhibits mocha, almond, vibrancy and is relatively dry for the style; then fig and rose-petal emerge. Uniformly identified as Portuguese by commentators at the table, Warres was the house deemed likely. Its age was assumed as a declared but “lesser” year. This wine is a further triumph for 1980, showing a winning combination of life and mellowness ,with a wholesome, lingering palate.

Drink to 2030, and 92 points.

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.