2003 Pondalowie Vintage Port 19.5%

50/50 Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and Shiraz; 500ml bottle “fortified with selected grape spirit”, and only two barrels made- cork stained about 1/3 through.

Domenic and Krystina Morris have ample experience in Australia , and overseas, with workplace Quinta do Crasto in Portugal being perhaps an inspiration for their only fortified – so far. The Bendigo-based  Pondalowie wines are fruit-driven with oak as a complement; the reserve wines are vintage and variety-dependent. Prices are very fair.

2003-pondalowie-vpFrom a hot, low-yielding drought year in Victoria, the colour of this wine is a dense black red, with minor bricking;  Fruit-powered, with aromatics of  exuberant dark liqueur Morello cherry and some red liquorice; the palate mirrors this with some plum too, and fine, lingering chalky tannins; spirit is a bit hot to start but resolving.

Lovely drinking to 2023 and 91 points, but certainly requires a decant to remove the sediment.




1990 Campbells Touriga Vintage Port 18%

How could I resist trying this Rutherglen VP made from Touriga? Stanton and Killeen are well known for their use of Portuguese varieties in their VPs’s since 1997, but Chris Pfeiffer earlier made wines for Lindeman in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s using Touriga, Gran Noir and maybe other Portuguese varieties sourced from just over the NSW border in Corowa – I don’t know if these plantings still exist.

1990 campbells vp

For this wine, the cork has performed, and the label is retro and functionally brutal.

But I can’t discern Touriga in this Campbells’ wine, and would have punted it being Shiraz (its likely to have minor components of Shiraz and Durif). It’s sweet but well within normal bounds for the style. It’s a dense red colour with some trivial bricking on the meniscus. The (brandy) spirit is well integrated. The dominant character is dark cherry, backed with some straw/dried herb and orange peel, perhaps a touch of cough mixture and cola. It’s smooth, rich and raisiny, mellow and just what’s needed on a muggy Melbourne night. Drink over the next few years before the fruit recedes.

Drink to 2020, score 88 points

1967 Leo Buring P35 Vintage Port

Served masked, my guess was 1971, but bravo for another 48 year old wine.

Liquorice and some malt, blackberry, musk, and abundant rampant mocha, lush and sweet; powdery tannins and still cleansing acidity.  Clean and integrated spirit. Powdery, rich fruit, some raisin development, dark liquorice and great fruit length. Succulent, in great condition, complex and a treat to drink.

leo b vp

Its quite likely that the 1,75 on the label was the original price – in dollars

McLaren Vale grapes, source of many of the great Aussie VP’s. Leo Burings of course were best regarded for their Rieslings under legendary winemaker John Vickery; but clearly they had talents for other wine styles.

Drink now to 2025 (for best bottles), score 93 points


10 decades of (Portuguese) Vintage Port

This turned out to be extremely educational about the longevity of this style. 10 different houses, and some great comments from the organisers and a contingent of winemakers from Rutherglen. Certainly its unusual for me try more than one VP at a session. Far from easy task locate these, and we suffer in Australia from vagaries of shipping and storage. All wines were decanted for about 3 hours, and we’re looking at single bottles as they were on the night. The oldest Portuguese VP I recall is the wonderful 1970 Fonseca, with the oldest Australian versions I’ve tried include a 1956 Hardy and a 1957 Lindemans. An observation  was made at the tasting that Australia was intent on moving to a drier, more Portuguese style with greater use of Portuguese grape varieties (rather than our traditional Shiraz). There was less agreement of whether the Portuguese had made any concessions to early drinking or more approachable VP’s.

As it happened the 3 oldest wines fared brilliantly. I had feared they might be historical curios, but they were defiantly truly alive.

2012 Quinta do Noval

Not many declared 2012 especially since 2011 turned out so well.

Dense red black with purple tints; this is highly perfumed and floral – blueberry and violets and black fruits. It surprisingly approachable, but the tannins are very fine and persistent. Red liquorice and some headsy spirit. But not the magic of 2011. Score 93+, but no doubt this will live longer than I suspect.

2000 Croft

Slightly murky colour, Slightly grubby bouquet with some cough syrup and cocoa; palate is better. The spirit holds this together, and kicks in vigorously at the finish. Score 90

1997 Fonseca

Medium red, spices, grainy tannins, sweeter style on the palate. Score 91

1983 Taylor’s

Clear ruby colour, with some floor-polish aromas, seems pretty straightforward on the palate. Score 91

1977 Grahams

Clear pale ruby. Lots of rose petal, toffee/coffee/ jersey caramel. Brisk with spirit making a terrific contribution. Graham is reputed as a sweeter style, but its not out of place. Lovely now but will keep for a long time yet, such is its balance. Score 95

1960 Warres

Looking forward to this, but TCA has made an unwelcome appearance. Kept for 55 years and ruined by cork taint.

1955 Cockburn

This was also ruined, but whether oxidation or other issues was debated by the group. Certainly faulty.

1947 Delaforce

Ruby colour with some orange tints. Starting to look like an old tokay. Citrus peel and salted mixed nuts, spirit a bit hot, but lovely drinking. Score 94

1935 Sandeman’s

Ruby colour, dried fruits and plums, vanilla, and toffee. Fleshy, subtle, singing. Score 94

1927 Dow’s

Amber colour; scents of green olive, orange peel and chocolate covered peanuts (one of my favourite indulgences). Could drink this all night. Score 96