A few different ports

1994 Gehrig Family Estate Vintage Port 17.5%
Barnawatha, on the outskirts of Rutherglen (Victoria). A recent very smart $25 auction buy. Although the cork failed to survive the corkscrew and ah-so, all was OK after the usual filtration. From “low-yielding old Shiraz vines”, it’s still a deep ruby colour with blackberry, bramble and sweet brandy vanilla. The palate is mellow and cuddly. There is fruity plum, blackberry and fig to satisfy the most fastidious with enough weight and tannin to maintain interest throughout.  Absolutely at its peak with cork gods indulgence. Terrific, and insanely delicious from a less-well-known producer.

1994 gehrig vp

Drink to 2026, and 91 points

1985 Warres Vintage Port 20%
Three different corkscrews failed to remove the cork cleanly, and plentiful sediment was successfully filtered out.

Ruby with some bricking, but the colour was still  flattering for a 36 year old Portuguese Vintage Port.. The wine is very stylish with fragrant mocha, fig, ripe red and black fruits and smart integrated mellow spirit. The palate adds almond notes, spices and the fresh as well as dried fruit flavours persist.

Drinking dramatically well now – and up to say 2030, and 95 points

1991 Seppeltsfield Para (21 year old) 21%
A single vintage tawny style, purchased last year at auction for $70. Around 40 y/o seems to be my preference in tawny styles; older wines can show extremes, meaning they are impressive but not entirely pleasurable; younger wines don’t achieve all the complexities the style is capable of. But 21 years is enough!

Seppelts (and Seppeltsfield) have unparalleled experience in this style with Para appearing in many guises. Mainly made from Grenache, there is the typical Seppelt khaki colour with a green tint. Beautifully assembled; there are all sorts of nut – almond and brazil with whispers of olive.  Toffee, caramel, mocha, hints of malt, salinity; clean spirit integrated and the end result in is a lush triumph. Rich with depth and acidy preventing any cloying. From a terrific red year in the Barossa

Drink now, and 93 points.

1976 Orlando Vintage Port 18.3%

This was a very recent speculative $20 auction purchase; a “limited special release”, Barossa Shiraz and Carignan, American oak, brandy spirit.

“Ideal for enjoyment now…potential for further cellaring”.
So, an each-way bet, although 45 years cellaring was likely beyond the writer’s imagination. Simpler times then, well before my interest in wine turned to an obsession, with fortified wines a mystery then – still partially mysterious.

The level was low neck., and the cork was stained but intact. There was abundant fine sediment. The high-cropping and well-coloured Carignan turns out to be more widespread in the Barossa than I thought, but its regarded as a second-rate variety confined to blends.

Blood-plum colour with some bricking, the fruit still remains with headsy brandy spirit, and just a gentle touch of mocha.  The palate is relatively soft but with a pleasant lick of tannin to finish. Plum and blackberry dominate, with a suggestion of blueberry, but nothing burnt or over-ripe. Sweet, old-fashioned, straightforward, invigorating, and ideal for a winter’s night of contemplation over the embers of the fire.

Drink now, and 88 points

Recent impressions and snippets

2009 Ch Suduiraut Lions de suduiraut
From Sauternes, Bright pale lemon colour, tropical fruit salad, with lime and orange blossom; palate displaying greater apricot and some toffee. Light oak at finish and some honeycomb.  I haven’t seen this label before, but it seems like a second label, and intentionally an earlier drinking style – potentially from younger vines or from lesser graded barrels. 2009 was a rich and successful year for Sauternes, and this wine was a stimulating surprise.

Likely to be excellent value, drink to 2025 and 90 points

2008 Ch Lafaurie-Peyraguey
Also from Sauternes, this wine was a deeper light bronze colour. This wine was made with attitude- the fruit had more intensity, and much greater oak impact- conveying a complex wine of spices and vanilla. 2008 is regarded as a lesser vintage than 2009.  Unfortunately, the dark honey bouquet was accompanied by some varnish and fly-tox notes. Although this distraction declined with breathing, it still remained, rendering the wine unsound for me (two bottles tried with similar results), although other tasters were more complimentary. The palate had a furrier, more complex marmalade and mineral texture. Winemakers at the tasting suggested aspergillus (an undesirable fungus) was present along with the botrytis. This is a wine to divide opinion, with the grubbiness battling power.

Not rated.

1975 Baileys (Bundarra) Vintage Port
Glenrowan Victoria. Previously tasted in Nov 2015.

This was a canny auction purchase from 2019 with the level at the base of the neck. The cork was meagre, but had performed its duty faithfully over the intervening 45 years!

Still owning a dense bricky colour, the wine was replete with liquorice, mocha and some rose-petal. The palate was sweet but vibrant- iron tonic, blackberry, coffee, milk chocolate and lush mouthfeel. Another tribute to the late Harry Tinson’s winemaking prowess. Old-fashioned, but frighteningly enjoyable.

From a very good season, drink to 2030, 91 points.

Recent drinking

2006 MF Richter Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese AP #7 8%
Mosel, 91 g/l residual sugar.

Bright deep gold colour, showing red apple, a hint of pineapple and spices. The palate is ripe, creamy, with similar ripe red  apple, citrus and a touch of nut puree on the finish.

It’s sweet for the style (2006 in the Mosel was a heavy botrytis year) but retains plenty of acidity. I cannot imagine additional improvement- it’s in the holding zone, and I suggest drinking rather than keeping.

To 2024, and 90 points

1973 Kaiser Stuhl Vintage Port
Shiraz, Barossa Valley. The company no longer exists – corporate shenanigans.

From an average year, the surprise is the longevity. It’s not the most complex wine, but it shows the stylistic sweet, ripe liquorice and blackberry fruit, suggestions of mocha, raisin and camphor, and warming brandy spirit. A surprise that this humble wine from an average vintage still provides pleasure after 47 years!

Drink now, 87 points.

1993 Stanton and Killeen Vintage Port 18.6%

90% Shiraz, 5% Durif, 5% Touriga. Rutherglen, Victoria
This vintage was rated very highly by the late master winemaker Chris Killeen from Stanton and Killeen – it won 5 trophies and 13 gold medals when these were hard to come by. “Will mature and improve in bottle for up to 25 years” claims the label – accurately!

1993 S&K vp

Deep ruby with some bricking. Aromatic, violets and a hint of mint, wafts of sweet mixed spices. Mellow, rich and lush – camphor, raspberry jam, sweet dark fruit – mulberry, blackberry, raspberry and excellent brandy spirit. With more time, greater red fruit characters emerge – red cherry and red licorice; this renewed complexity and the wine’s memorable flavours linger, forcing a score upgrade!

Altogether integrated and delicious, on a lovely plateau. Outstanding.

To 2025 (or longer), 95 points

1998 Chateau Reynella Vintage Port 19% bottle #04293

McLaren Vale, South Australia.
When presented with what seemed like an Australian vintage fortified wine, the usual option question often resolved to “McLaren Vale (Hardy’s or Reynella) or North-east Victoria (Baileys, or Rutherglen candidates)”.

Selecting the McLaren Vale option involved dissection of the ripeness and extent of strident blackberry – sometimes with success. Another clue was the calibre of the spirit. Choosing between Hardy’s or Reynella fell outside my expertise.|

The previous bottle of this wine was in hindsight – oxidised.  This wine is youthful, despite the label helpfully suggesting “excellent drinking at ten to twenty years of age”. Many (Australian) wine show gold medals attest to its inherent quality. The cork was short but adequate, and its fine sediment merited decanting,

1998 ch reynella vp

Black red in colour, the wine displays overt ripe Shiraz – blackberry- nearly into jam territory – high-quality brandy spirit, and fresh sweet spices. Altogether this amounts to a special wine. Not overblown, not overripe, its dark fruits, concentration, ultra- fine tannins, and extended finish is manicured, and immaculately composed.

We have easy, slightly old-fashioned, delectable hedonism. It’s a model example of the Reynella style.

Drink to 2030, and 94 points

1996 Peter Lehmann “the King” (Vintage Port) AD 2017 20%

Barossa Valley, South Australia – Touriga, Shiraz, Cab Sav (53%/30%/17%)
The very odd labelling approach has the “recommended drinking date” (21 years from vintage) at least twice as prominent as the vintage. It takes careful reading of the back label to confirm the wine is a vintage fortified style! Congratulations marketing gurus, NOT.

1996 peter lehmann vp

The cork is adequate, and there is plentiful lumpy sediment evident with decanting. Definitely a bricky colour, the wine presents a world of soft comfortable old leather, mocha, a spice chest of potpourri, cedar and chestnut, blackberry and bonfires; the palate is luxurious; there is sweet brandy spirit, fresh dark cherry pie fruit, sweet coconut cream, liquorice and mixed spices contribute, and tannin is  in support. Altogether, it’s a fine drink to reminisce over, and its price was a derisory $20 some years back.

Drink to 2026, and 90 points.

Unrelated wines – catching up

1983 orlando vp july 2020

1983 Orlando Vintage Port 19.8%
Barossa Valley (South Australia) Shiraz. Solid ruby colour with minor bricking.  aromatic – sweet, fine brandy spirit; fig, plum, stewed rhubarb, blueberry; fruitcake spices. Later, red liquorice, cherry liqueur, and a touch of almond. Lingering fine tannins meshed with that superb spirit.

Delicious drinking but without the magic of the previous bottle (on this blog Dec 2019) albeit similar notes. No complaints at 37 years!

Drink to 2030, 91 points

2008 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett AP#3 7.5%
Mosel, Screwcap, and 48g/l residual sugar. Bright gold; citrus and Jonathon apple lead with brown spices and minerals; the palate shows juicy yellow-flesh peach, wrapped up with zingy acidity. The mineral influence shines through. The wine is easy to drink, but is not as expressive as most of the wines from one of my favourite Mosel producers.

Drink to 2025, 90 points.

 

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!