Two inexpensive mature wines

richter s&k

2006 MF Richter Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett AP #35 9.5%
Mosel, and this bottle was found in a mini-stocktake. Few Kabinetts should be kept this long, so I was nervous. Cork was fine, and the colour was developed but not alarming.

Deep gold, but bright. Apple pie, sultana and raisin, citrus peel, sweet spices and mango. It’s full-on for a Kabinett, with 83 g/l residual sugar. On the palate, the mixed sweet spices are prominent, with redcurrant fruits, honeyed peach, mineral and citrus. The wine is surprisingly fresh, with excellent depth of flavour. Fully mature, it’s honest and a welcome surprise. My previous impression was posted on 15 July 2020 – and a relatively consistent note.

Drink up (it may have been better in the past) and 90 points.

1990 Stanton and Killeen Jack’s block (vintage) Port 18.5%
Rutherglen, Victoria 100% Shiraz. A recent – bargain – $33 auction purchase; rated 9.5/10 by the producer, it has assorted trophies and gold medals while the back label modestly proclaims, “optimum drinking around the year 2010”. A note on its sibling – the 1990  Moodemere –  was posted on 19 November 2018 with a similar note; this wine is slightly better!

Cork broke. The colour is developed ruby with bricking on the meniscus, mocha, camphor, floral, blackberry and sweet well-integrated spirit. Dark and dense, blackberry and red liquorice, mixed nuts, lavender, fine chalky tannins and light coffee. Lots of different aromas and intermittent flavours = complexity, and explain the score, I have many bottles from this producer, but can’t resist purchase when reasonable opportunities arise. Mature, but still vibrant and utterly delicious.

Drink to 2030, 94 points

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.

Two from Australia

1975 Yalumba Vintage Port 18%


Plenty of colour here- quink ink; then comes dark fruits, violet, mocha, almond notes and clean spirit. The palate is deep and voluptuous, relatively dry with an array of mixed fruit; blueberry, fresh plum, red cherry, spice notes and light coffee.  Fine chalky tannins, and a persistent aftertaste filled out the picture – delicious! This wine presented a conundrum – the colour was un-Portuguese, as was the mocha and faint liquorice- yet the complexity of flavour components and dryness pulled me in that direction. My first guess on its age was 1985, but I revised this to 1994 based on fruit vibrancy, Wrong on all counts, but this is a triumph for Barossa Shiraz from Australia. Two bottles were opened, the second was very slightly better, and fresher than the bottle I described!

Drink now, and 94 points.

NV Wynns Pedro Ximenez 17%
Coonawarra, South Australia. Bottle # 9053

Fortified, and light gold in colour, with exotic floral scents of spices and Cointreau, with vanilla and marzipan. The palate is sweet with the cardamon, dried green herbs and raisin notes powering through. Very smooth with vibrant clean spirit – unctuous and just a little cloying, but altogether satisfying with its honeyed richness.  The raisin and light malt notes pointed me to the variety, despite this being different to the air-dried Spanish PX. Perhaps I learned something from the Bullers PX tasted in 2019!

It’s a blend across vintages, with an average age of five years – one surprise to see a young fresh example, and another to find the wine is available (albeit with some hunting) for around $60 for the 500ml bottle.

Drink now, 90 points

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.