The first wineries I ever visited (in 1970) were in Rutherglen and many of the early wines I cellared came from this area. Add to that my life-long love of fortified wines and those ageless big bastards of the 1970’s and you can understand why I was really looking forward to visiting the wineries in this area again. Things certainly have changed and whilst all the old names are still there, many of them are under new ownership and like the rest of Australia; there is a plethora of new wineries to explore.
In every trip like this there are some good experiences, some that you figure were a waste of tasting time and some occasional, rare ones that you will never forget. Today the day started off with a few very ordinary wines, the “experience meter” went up and down during the middle of the day, improved substantially when I found Cofield (who make some very good wine at great prices) and finished on a real high. The tasting of the complete range of stickies at All Saints is something I will not forget in a hurry. Just thinking about it makes my mouth salivate but you will have to wait until later in this chapter to read all about it, but before we do, as this is the home of all things great and fortified, we need to spend a few moments setting the scene.
Rutherglen Fortified Wines
I have always been a lover of fine Fortified Wines so a trip to Rutherglen, which is the Aussie home of this nectar, places me fair and square in the “kid in a lolly shop” category. In addition, I even designed a special tasting note sheet for the occasion, as the normal ‘TORB Red Tasting Note Sheet’ does not exactly fit the “sticky” criteria. The TORB Sticky TN Sheet can be found by following the preceding link.
There is absolutely no doubt these wines are world class and if anything deserves the regular 99 and 100 Parker points that the great man bestows, it is these wines. When most people pick up a bottle of this nectar, they probably don’t realise the incredible labour of love and dedicated commitment that is the foundation of these wines.
Just as well my mate John (Meat Pie King) Davis wasn’t with me, ……………
he would demand a pie with his Rare Tokay! …………………….…
There are four classified levels of Muscat. They are Rutherglen, Classic, Grand and Rare. Rules have been put into place as to what can be called what but based on my tastings of many of these wines; it is hard to see where the boundaries lie and how some wines manage to hoodwink their way into a particular category. Also, prices do vary dramatically in each class and a half bottle of rare can cost from between $60 and $400. Now $400 sounds like a lot of money for a 375 ml but look at how many people pay that or more for a bottle of Grange and these wines are much more rare than Grange, provide as much or more enjoyment to those that truly appreciate them and take about 90 years to make. Some even have a fair percentage of material in them that is 120 years old. Just try to figure out the cost of storing barrels of wine for 120 years in perfect conditions. Add to that the fact that most wineries would produce less than 200 gallons of the Rare wine a year whereas Grange is about 10,000 cases and it starts putting the value of these wines into some perspective.
The amount of commitment that a winery must have to make these rare wines is massive. The capital cost that is tied up in inventory is huge and the amount of time involved in making the wine is substantial. In most cases, the return is also not great and in many ways, this money could be utilised much more efficiently and profitably in other parts of the business. However, there are a few dedicated individuals who realise the importance of the heritage, which has been entrusted to them. This wine, truly is a piece of history and one that cannot be replicated over night. No matter how hard you try, it still takes 120 years to make 120-year-old material. You cannot use micro oxygenation, reverse osmosis and a whole lot of other wine making tricks to speed up the process. Some wineries do try with some of the lesser classifications and add a little caramel colouring but a good taster will spot this a mile off. If you want to see if caramel has been added just have a look at the label for additive number 150. (Most people are probably unaware that’s its perfectly legal to add caramel to fortified wines.)
The likes of Chambers, All Saints, Campbell and Buller (to name a few) are all family owned companies that are maintaining this important wine heritage and they are to be congratulated for doing so.
Now let’s start at the beginning of the days tasting and the good news is that some of the wineries in this area open at a respectable 9 am and don’t work bankers’ hours like many of the wineries in other regions. If you ever want to see what a real Aussie old time quintessential farmer is all about, you can’t miss a visit to Gehrig Estate wines. The person behind the counter there was Bernard Gehrig (who has been in the industry for over 45 years) is as typical an old country farmer as you will ever find. Unfortunately, the wines did absolutely nothing for me.
…………………..… The Sign says 1858!
Gehrig Estate 2001 Shiraz sells for $19.50 at CD. Spice, subtle pepper vanilla and red current are evident on the bouquet and that’s exactly what you find on the palate. The wine is medium in weight with an open structure and simple complexity. Tannins are smooth, dusty and drying with pure fruit and whilst the wine is clean, it holds no great distinguishing features and is just another wine. Rated as Agreeable with *** for value, its ready to be consumed now.
Gehrig Estate 2001 Durif sells for $25 at CD. The nose of this wine was brooding and a bit dumb but it did show some varnished oak and black fruit below the oak. On the palate its medium weight with smooth dusty tannins and fresh acid comes across as very savoury red cherry spectrum fruit with subtle spice. Complexity is plain, indeed, it’s a simple wine and there is far better available for the price. Rated as Agreeable with ** for value.
After these two, I was reluctant to try anything further, but when the person serving politely suggested that I try their clean skin, it seemed like the right thing to do.
Gehrig Estate Cleanskin 2000 Durif Shiraz blend sells for $80 a dozen at CD. The nose is sawdust and on the palate the drying tannins are the major feature because the wine lacks fruit. Rated as Barely Drinkable, give it a miss if you are offered a glass.
Morris was established in 1859 and whilst the winery is now owned by the Orlando group, a member of the Morris family (David Morris) is still making the red and fortified wines. The winery has a good range of wines and all are available for tasting if you ask. The person who served me is normally not on CD duty but as they were short staffed, she got the short straw. However, she could not have been more helpful or friendly and was the sort of person who went out of her way to assist. Its people like this that make a visit even more enjoyable.
Morris 1999 Blue Imperial sells for $17 at CD. Very unexciting, a soft easy drinking fruit driven crowd pleaser with medium weight body, an open structure and plain complexity, its rated as Agreeable with *** for value.
Morris 2000 Shiraz sells for $15 at CD. Lifted perfumed fruit, all spice and chocolate dominate the bouquet. Medium weight, the structure is almost seamless with smooth tannins, delicate fruit and a harmonious but simple complexity. A soft easy drinking red with light red and blue fruit flavours with a reasonable finish. Rated as Agreeable with *** for value.
Morris 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon sells for $15 at CD. This wine has some noticeable tannins to provide a firm backbone to the medium intensity and weight fruit. The flavours of blackberry, milk chocolate, mint and vanilla are uncomplicated. The wine need about another 12 months to show its best and is rated as Agreeable with *** for value.
Morris 2000 Durif sells for $21.25 at CD. White pepper, milk chocolate and raw timber are expressed on the bouquet. Although the smooth, drying, tannins provide ample weight, the fruit whilst obvious, is only medium in intensity and combines to produce a lighter style wine. Plum, chocolate, mulberry and coffee flavours have an agreeable complexity but there are better wines for the price. Rated as Agreeable with ** for vale.
Morris NV Sparkling Shiraz/Durif sells for $18.50 at CD. The wine is sweet, overly confected with raspberry and a load of sugary flavour. Rated as Acceptable with ** for value.
Speaking about diversions, when I saw this group wondering ….
through the winery, I wondered what they knew that I didn’t. …..
As you can see, the range of reds were not particularly impressive and even considering their price point they don’t offer much to separate themselves from the pack but the four fortifieds that I sampled brought a big smile to my face and made this stop more than just a diversion. I didn’t bother with the base wines and went straight to the good stuff!
Morris Cellar Reserve Muscat sells for $30 (for 500 ml) and is only available at CD. The wine shows a bit of a spirity nose with reasonable rancio characters, burnt caramel and honey. It’s syrupy and luscious but the acid is refreshing and combines well with the obvious rich fruit to form a clean, full bodied, well-balanced wine. Flavours of raisin, orange, honey and caramel are harmonious, have a deep intensity, finish long and clean. Rated as (just) Excellent with **** for value, this is worth the trip to CD.
Morris Premium Liqueur Muscat sells for $50 (for 500 ml) at CD. The nose on this wine is reasonably tight but did show good rancio characteristics, burnt sugar and cumquat. Full bodied, its sweet, ripe, luscious and intense. It has an intricate complexity with cumquat, a sweet mid palate and reasonable rancio flavours. The wine has a rich and fleshy consistency and finishes very long. Rated as Excellent with *** for value.
Morris Cellar Reserve Tokay sells for $30 (for 500 ml) and is only available at CD. Good rancio characters with burnt toffee, and subtle citrus on the bouquet flows through to the palate with a similar profile. The fruit is strong, the wine is muscular in weight with a velvety consistency and it has a long length and a very clean finish. The sweetness can only be described as luscious and is well matched to the concentrated intensity and harmonious complexity. Due to its nature, the wine has a certain refinement and class. Rated as Excellent with **** for value, if you ever visit the CD and don’t buy this wine you should be committed for insanity.
Morris Premium Liqueur Tokay sells for $50 (for 500 ml) at CD. The bouquet of this wine is into the coffee and rancio spectrum. Rich, luscious, strong intense fruit supplies caramel, fruitcake and candied orange flavours that finishes very long and lingers for ages. It has a potent intensity and elaborate complexity. Rated as Outstanding with *** for value, this is a very good wine that’s well worth buying.
The next vineyard was on the list because I had seen a few positive murmurings about the winery. Unfortunately I found Andersons to be run of the mill and nothing special.
Their price list states …. “Welcome to our unpretentious vineyard and winery – we opened in March 1993. We specialise in high quality wines at reasonable prices, and invite you to taste and buy them in the environment of our modern, working, fully insulated winery building. …… We don’t have marketing hype, just fabulous wine.
Our first Shiraz vines were planted in 1992. We now have four hectares of Shiraz, and one each of Durif and Petit Verdot. We use minimal irrigation to obtain super premium quality, with crop yields of barely one tonne per acre. Our vineyard yields are less than half of other vineyards locally and even this is evident in wines that we are producing from our Cellar Block vineyard. Comparable wine from other areas would command twice the price.” (Italics and big print replicated from the original text.)
The first three wines I tasted (and there were a lot more I didn’t try) were made from brought in fruit, something that’s not mentioned in the brochure.
……. This winery is a bit new to find this sort of stuff
Anderson 1999 Cabernet Merlot sells for $18.50 at CD. The nose of this wine is dirty with oak showing through light blackberry fruit. Indeed, on the palate, the fruit is lacking and the wine unbalanced. Rated as Barely Drinkable with * for value, its not going to get any better.
Anderson 1999 Shiraz sells for $18.50 at CD. The wine shows some ripe dark berry fruit and oak nuances. On the palate the fruit is medium weight but delicate and there is insufficient fruit for the level of oak. A lighter style of wine with an agreeable complexity, its rated as Acceptable with ** for value.
Anderson 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon sells for $18.50 at CD. The nose of this wine shows typical varietal cabernet characteristics but on the palate, the oak sticks out and the wine finishes bitter. Medium in weight, it has a firm consistency, a solid structure and agreeable complexity. Rated as Acceptable with ** for value.
Anderson 2000 Cellar Block Shiraz sells for $25 at CD. A step up in class over the previous wines, the attractive perfumed bouquet also shows deep concentrated fruit. Loads of medium grained, drying tannins, fresh acid and deep, obvious fruit deliver a muscular weight wine with a firm consistency and developed complexity. Savoury blackberry, redcurrant, raspberry and chocolate have reasonable power and a good finish. Rated as Recommended with *** for value.
Anderson 2002 Durif sells for $29 at CD. Dry grown and cropped at half a ton to the acre, it’s dark purple in colour, has a bright hue and stains the glass. Masses of drying, puckering tannins currently swamp the deep, pure, persistent fruit, which is ripe and delivers a mass of black flavours and plum. The wine finishes with good length, sappy tannins and a little bitter but the bitter taste is likely to dissipate with time as the tannins resolve and the fruit surfaces. All in all, a good wine; it’s full bodied, has a very firm consistency, a solid tight structure and well developed complexity. Rated as Recommended with *** for value now, the rating should improve as the wine matures around 2010.
Anderson 1997 Sparkling Shiraz sells for $27 at CD. Savoury raspberry, chocolate and blackberry offset the residual sweetness but the wine doesn’t seem to be confected or overly sugary which is often a problem at this price point. Ample in weight, the structure is layered and the complexity agreeable. Rated as Recommended with *** for value.
The next winery visited has an awesome reputation. Chambers Rosewood Vineyard CD facility has unique style and ambience, as the photos will show. The reputation is primarily for their fortified wines but their table wines certainly seem to be inexpensive and deliver reasonable value for money at the low cost end of the market. It’s a family owned winery established in 1858 and Bill Chambers, the patriarch, as well as a number of other family members, are very much hands on in the winery. Very rustic, down to earth, there is no bovine manure around this place.
Chambers 2001 Shiraz and Blue Imperial (Cinsaut) sells for $12 at CD. A light, fruit driven wine that’s intensely savoury showing blackberry, char and liquorice that finishes with excellent power. Fine dusty tannins, refreshing acid and distinct, persistent fruit produces a medium weight wine with a more than agreeable complexity which would be perfect for a hot summers day. Rated as Agreeable with ***** for value, terrific if you like the style.
Chambers 2002 Blue Imperial (Cinsaut) sells for $12 at CD. A very unusual flavour profile with interesting contrasts between sweetness and acid; bitter almond characters with redcurrants and dark chocolate flavours combine to provide a diverse complexity. Loads of dusty tannins, lively acid and delicate but persistent fruit combine to form a firm, solid, tight wine that is very different. Rated as Agreeable with *** for value, it should peak in about 2006.
Chambers 2000 Shiraz sells for $10 at CD. The medium intensity, distinct fruit produces strong mulberry, chocolate and a touch of pepper. Dusty, drying tannins provide a firm consistency and solid structure for this very drinkable (for the price) wine which is rated as Agreeable with **** for value.
Chambers 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon sells for $12 at CD. Sweet blackberry, a fair wack of coffee oak and mint is not as attractive as it may have been because of the impact of a bitter finish. Medium in weight, the complexity is agreeable and the wine is rated as Acceptable with *** for value.
Chambers 2001 Anton Ruche (Shiraz Mondeuse) sells for a whopping $15 at CD. The bouquet shows some complexity with dark chocolate, floral plummy fruit and burnt coffee. On the palate, the obvious, persistent, deep fruit delivers a sweet top layer of raspberry flavour with plums and burnt toasty oak underneath. Dusty drying tannins support the ample weight with a firm backbone and the diverse complexity of flavour finishes with good length. It’s a little different and rated as Recommended with **** for value.
Chambers NV Ol Vol sells for $20 for a 375 ml bottle at CD. Can’t honesty say I was very impressed with this wine; it was cloying and very sweet. Complexity was not great and the flavour was more burnt caramel than rancio character. Rated as Recommended with ** for value.
Chambers Grand Muscat sells for $40 for a 375 ml bottle at CD. Now we are getting somewhere. Golden brown in colour, the bouquet is candied, honeyed, rancio and cumquat. The sweetness is luscious and ripe which is offset with refreshing acid. The third part of the balance equation, the fruit, is obvious, persistent and delivers raisins, honey, rancio, nutty and burnt caramel flavours and the three combine to have wonderful balance and construction. Complexity is harmonious, the consistency is rich and silky but the standout feature is the clean, fresh finish. Rated as Excellent with *** for value.
The Chamber Price List ………….
After this rather rustic experience, which finished on a high note, it was time to head back into town for a quick lunch. The local café had a tattooed “bikey” behind the counter. He was an amazingly friendly bloke and his missus made an edible salad sandwich. This café was something else; a billiard table was almost to be expected - but the barbers’ chairs came as a complete surprise; every café/take away should have a couple of them.
Pfeiffer Wines is a winery that I have read many positive things about and having never tried any of their wines, I was looking forward to the visit. The person serving politely insisted that I try their Pinot and despite my protestations about not being fond of most Australian Pinot, I wound up with a glass of it in my hand. No tasting note on that wine as one sip was more than enough.
Pfeiffer 2000 Shiraz sells for $17.90 at CD. The nose seemed flat and showed so little I thought it might have been mildly tainted but the CD staff said that’s the way it’s meant to be! Tannins are smooth, the acid balanced, and the fruit is delicate. Medium in weight, consistency is supple and the complexity harmonious. It’s a clean, well made wine in the lighter style but typical of a man in a grey suit, gets lost in the masses. Rated as Recommended with *** for value, I can see why people like it but it is not my style.
Pfeiffer 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon sells for $17.90 at CD. Dusty cedar and black fruit on the bouquet shows up as savoury blackberry and spice on the palate. Lots of fine dusty tannins provide a firm ample weight wine with simple complexity, it’s very clean. Rated as Agreeable with *** for value it should peak in 2007. Just for the hell of it, and to see if I had missed my mark with these wines, after completing these notes I looked at the Pfeiffer website to see what they had to say and here is their TN on this wine.
Aroma: Freshness…freshness from fruit, freshness from oak…wait till your glass is empty and just sniff the aromas!
Palate: What lovely flavours cross your palate and linger longer the more you think about it. Fresh grape characters of berried fruits, loads of tannins that soften with food and pleasing mouth filling textures that linger longer.
Cellar: 8 years to 2007
Interesting? In their tasting note, the word “freshness” is used four times. The words “linger longer” have been used twice. Other than that, the two tasting notes tell much the same story but one appears to be more positive about the findings.
Pfeiffer Old Distillery Classic Rutherglen Tokay sells for $22.50 for a 500ml bottle at CD. An unusual bouquet of cedar and raisins leads to a very sweet palate of average complexity. Lighter in weight than many wines of this type, it is clean and has a good finish. Rated as Recommended with ** for value.
After a visit to this winery, I was not impressed, but if you like clean lighter style wines then no doubt, it may impress you more than it did me.
Just up the road is another winery, which I have heard polite noises about but based on the last couple of experiences today, I wasn’t overly hopeful. A very able and professional Scott Howard at Cofield Wines hosted my visit, which turned out to be very positive, and was the red wine find of the day! I even wrote up a Pinot here, - will wonders ever cease? The vineyard was planted in 1986 and the winery opened in 1990. There are two levels of wine, the first sells for $18 a bottle and contains some brought in fruit from the local area. The Quartz Vein series costs $28 and are hand picked and sourced from a single vineyard. The 2001 Durif and Malbec are the first vintages of these two varietal wines and both are worthy of purchase. Max and Damien Cofield are the father and son winemaking team. Wines are 10% off for club members.
Cofield 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz sells for $18 at CD. The nose shows reasonable complexity with obvious spice as well as sweet characteristics. Medium weight, the tannins are abundant and drying, the acid is noticeable and crisp. The obvious medium intensity fruit delivers an agreeable, diverse complexity of pepper, blackberry, blackcurrant, a hint of chocolate and mint flavours. There is some elegance to the wine and it’s OK for a lighter style. Rated as Recommended with *** for value.
Cofield 2000 Shiraz sells for $18 at CD. The bouquet is dominated by dusty oak, coffee and chocolate; the rest of the fruit is buried. Tannins are smooth and drying, the acid balanced and the obvious fruit delivers pepper infused chocolate and coffee essence that finishes with good persistence. Ample in weight, it is well constructed and clean - a nice wine and not at all boring. Rated as Recommended with *** for value, it should peak about 2006.
Cofield 2002 Merlot sells for $18 at CD. An unusual flavour profile, the sweet musky fruit on the uptake is slammed by strong obvious white pepper and liquorice. There is a reasonable level of tannins but they are unobtrusive and provide a supple consistency, which is well supported by the ample fruit. Needless to say, the complexity is diverse and there is nothing wimpy about this wine. Give it a few years in the cellar and you may be impressed. Rated as Recommended with *** for value.
Cofield 2002 Pinot sells for $18 at CD. If you like Pinot you can do far worse than buying this wine which is attractively priced and drinkable. Raspberry, cherry and chocolate have an appealing, reasonably well developed, slightly feral flavour profile and the medium weight wine finishes with good persistence. Tannins are smooth, the acid lively and the fruit is pure and deep. This deserves a look and is rated as Recommended with **** for value. What gives with TORB writing up a PeeNo? This deserves it! …
…… The Pickled Sisters Café ….. Now I wonder……….
Cofield 2001 Quartz Vein Malbec sells for $28 at CD. I sometimes wonder why people make a straight varietal of some of the “lesser” grape varieties that are normally used for blending and then when I taste a wine like this I know why it’s a worthwhile pursuit. The nose on this wine was closed; shut down; come back next time you visit. Smooth, very fine, drying tannins and deep pure fruit combine to form a perfect structure that’s solid, tight, has some elegance and is a clean as a freshly laundered white shirt. Savoury cherry, chocolate and spearmint flavours are harmonious. In short, this classy, special wine needs time, about another eight years should do it. Rated as Excellent with **** for value.
Cofield 2001 Quartz Vein Durif sells for $28 at CD. The bouquet is earthy and varnished with very interesting floral notes, chocolate and plum. It’s a clean well made wine with copious quantities of smooth, fine, drying tannins which currently buries the pure deep strong fruit. On the palate, plum and white pepper flavours have excellent length and finish. Ample in weight, its firm and solid with a certain refinement and should develop well in the bottle. Don’t think about drinking it till 2010 or beyond. Rated as Highly Recommended with **** for value, the rating should improve as the wine matures.
Cofield 2001 Quartz Vein Shiraz sells for $28 at CD. Subtle but obvious French oak nuances with white pepper, spearmint and vanilla flow through to the palate with subtle coffee and mocha (oak) strong plum, and milk chocolate flavours that finishes with reasonable length. It’s a muscular weight wine that is well supported by very fine, drying tannins and intense, distinct, deep fruit. Firm but supple, the wine is clean and well made and will show its best around 2008. Rated as Highly Recommended with **** for value.
Cofield 2000 Quartz Vein Sparkling Shiraz sells for $28 at CD. There are very few bottles of FRS (fizzy red s**t) at $28 that are not overly confected and NutraSweet. This wine has sweet and savoury dark chocolate with mulberry that finishes dry and no confection characters. Rated as Recommended with *** for value, it’s a good buy in this price bracket.
It was well after 4 pm when I left this winery and after all these enjoyable, quality wines I was feeling good. I was tempted to stop for the day and finish on a high note. After an experience like this, there is nothing worse than having the last CD visit of the day being a let down. However, All Saints were just up the road and open until 5.30 so it would have been a shame to waste over an hour’s tasting time. (Talk about being a desperate wino.)
All Saints Estate is one of Australia’s oldest wineries; George Sutherland Smith and John Banks established it in 1864. In 1980, Brown Brothers of Milawa purchased the neighbouring St Leonards winery and then in 1992 they purchased All Saints. Peter Brown subsequently took over the Company in July 1998 and is the current owner.
When you arrive at the winery, you can’t help being impressed by the castle which was built in the 1880’s and by the turn of the 20th century, it was the largest wine storage facility in the southern hemisphere. Today, the castle is used for the storage of fortified wines and the CD facility. Very little of the wine produced winds up in bottle shops as 80% is sold to a thriving members club, something many wineries would love to be able to emulate. Club members also get 20% off the listed price of wines and that should be remembered when looking at the value ratings of the wines.
This stylish operation appears to be very professionally run. I arrived out of the blue (without an appointment) with my trusty clipboard and note sheets in hand. At the counter, there is a bewildering array of wines to try and the menu of wines is longer than those found in many restaurants. After scanning the list, I asked to start with a particular wine and thought nothing of it when a fresh bottle was opened. After tasting the first wine, I requested the next wine, and another fresh bottle was opened. I figured that it must have just been coincidence that both wines were fresh. The staff pretty much left me to my own devices and didn’t say much at all. By the time I was ready to try the third wine, one of the staff made a very gentle and subtle comment about my obvious love of wine, as he opened another new bottle. This led to a very friendly conversation and exposed my ‘mission”.
Normally, in many wineries when I walk in with my clipboard and tasting sheet I get a full frontal assault of questions. Peter Norris, the CD Manager, did it with subtlety, class and dignity, a most refreshing change. As an aside, I might add that during the 1970’s, All Saints reds were a staple in my cellar, now onto the tasting notes. All prices quoted in the TN’s are 20% less for members.
All Saints 2002 Estate Cabernet Shiraz sells for $22 at CD. The wine showed varnish, liquorice and white pepper. The obvious medium intensity fruit has sweet strawberry, savoury pepper, chocolate and liquorice, which all waft in and out with a well-developed flavour complexity. The consistency is supple, the tannins smooth and dusty; it’s a clean easy drinking red that’s ready to go now. Rated as Recommended with *** for value.
All Saints 2002 Estate Shiraz sells for $22 at CD. The bouquet of this wine was very similar to the blend but this one has sweeter fruit. On the palate, it’s also very similar to the blend but it is more earthy and savoury with spicy black pepper characteristics. The fruit is obvious, distinct and has medium intensity; the dusty tannins provide enough backbone to hold it together. Complexity is harmonious, the wine is medium in weight and clean. Easy to drink now, it’s rated as Recommended with *** for value.
All Saints 2002 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon sells for $22 at CD. The bouquet was closed but did reveal ripe, rich, blackcurrant fruit and vanilla. This is a bit more serious than the last two wines (but as a result not as friendly now) with loads of drying tannins on the finish, fresh acid and obvious distinct fruit, which delivers intense spice, blackcurrant, tobacco and mint. The wine is ample in weight with a firm consistency and harmonious complexity but the one down side was it was a bit short. Rated as Recommended with *** for value, give it a few years.
All Saints 1999 Carlyle Shiraz sells for $46 at CD. The bouquet closely reflects the palate with coffee essence, plum, chocolate and other sweet berry flavours that subtly waft in and out of the flavour profile. Ample in weight, the abundant smooth drying tannins provide a firm backbone and are well matched to the pure, deep, persistent fruit. There is some elegance to the structure and the complexity is refined. The wine has a good mouth feel but the tannins need about another 3 years to integrate. Rated as Highly Recommended with ** for value.
All Saints 1999 Carlyle Ruby Cabernet sells for $34 at CD. The bouquet on this wine is not exactly subtle; profuse, dusty tannins dominate the clean buried fruit. On the palate, it’s a chewy wine, very earthy and old fashioned like the Rutherglen reds of days gone by. Muscular in weight, the fruit is deep but one can only speculate how long (if ever) it will take to emerge. My guess is about 2012. Rated as Recommended with *** for value, this wine demands cellaring and the rating will improve when the fruit surfaces.
All Saints 1999 Carlyle Durif sells for $41.50 at CD. A big brooding old fashioned Rutherglen red of the nicest sort. Lots of everything, drying puckering tannins that require a razor to shave the tongue after one sip; the plum, dark chocolate, aniseed and mint flavours finish long and persistent. A full-bodied wine that’s a little hard at the moment but then its also very tight so given eight years or more and it should be terrific. Rated as Highly Recommended with *** for value now,
All Saints Sparkling Cabernet sells for $27.50 at CD. A super sweet wine, it is a little confected. Raspberry, milk chocolate, blackberry and bitter chocolate characters show but the wine did little to excite. Rated as Recommended with ** for value. I have yet to find a sparkling Cabernet that I want to drink.
At this point, I asked Peter to try one of the muscats, I don’t exactly remember which one it was, but Peter asked me if I would like to sample the whole range. Now that’s like asking your dog if it wants to stick its head out of the window when you are driving. Not many things (that I can write about here) give more pleasure. So, the glasses were lined up, a few quick breaths through the hooter to get it into condition and away I went; the Muscats were first.
All Saints Classic Muscat sells for $30.50 (500ml bottle) at CD. Raisins, honey, cumquat floral notes flow through to sweet simple raisin flavours on the palate. Muscular in weight, the wine is sweet with obvious fruit and an agreeable complexity, it’s a bit ordinary. Rated as Recommended with ** for value.
All Saints Grand Muscat sells for $57.50 (375ml bottle) at CD. A marked step up in quality over the Classic. A standout feature here is that despite the alcohol there is no volatility or even lift to the bouquet, which expresses reasonable honeyed complexity. The wine has syrupy sweetness, is rich in consistency, the intensity is deep and it finishes long and crisp. The fruit is deep and delivers harmonious, reasonably developed complexity, with honey flavours and rancio characteristics. A very nice wine with some refinement and elegance, it is rated as Highly Recommended with *** for value (just).
All Saints Rare Muscat sells for $107.50 (375ml bottle) at CD. Beautifully balanced and structured, it’s ripe and supple, the rich, persistent fruit delivers rancio and butterscotch flavours which finishes clean and long. Muscular in weight, the wine has deep intensity, a sophisticated and refined complexity and some elegance. Rated as Excellent with ** for value, there is no doubting this wine’s quality.
All Saints Museum Muscat sells for $434.50 (375ml bottle) at CD. Dark drown in colour the bouquet of this wine is stunning with total rancio characters and burnt toffee, it’s gloriously intense and a joy to sniff. Luscious sweetness, refreshing acid and deep, concentrated, persistent fruit delivers an elaborate spectrum of complex flavours including glorious rancio characters, honey and butterscotch. It’s a full-bodied wine that’s deep, intense and not at all cloying, heavy or sticky; in fact it finishes long, clean and crisp. This is as good as wine gets and it is rated as the Ultimate; as for value, who cares how much a wine this good costs!
Although it was getting very close to closing time and Peter had someone waiting to leave with him, he insisted there was no hurry and lined up the range of Tokays for me to sample. Now I must admit that as much as I love Muscat, I prefer the Tokays so this looked like it was going to be a real treat.
All Saints Classic Tokay sells for $30.50 (500ml bottle) at CD. Average age of the material of this wine is reputed to be 15 years. The nose shows slightly lifted alcohol with some rancio characters. It’s syrupy with obvious, persistent fruit but the acid is refreshing which allows the wine to finish reasonably dry. Muscular in weight, the rich, fleshy consistency and concentrated intensity delivers excellent rancio characters without the refinement of an old wine. Rated as Highly Recommended with *** for value.
All Saints Grand Tokay sells for $57.50 (375ml bottle) at CD. Average age of the material of this wine is reputed to be 25 years. The bouquet has no noticeable alcoholic lift and shows lots of citrus and rancio that is faithfully reproduced on the palate. It is luscious, ripe, rich and intense with a well-developed complexity that finishes long and clean. In short, a great, very drinkable wine, it’s rated as Excellent with *** for value.
It’s interesting to note that as these wines get older, they get more refined, more complex, have more class and become less reliant on weight or stickiness.
All Saints Rare Tokay sells for $107.50 (375ml bottle) at CD. Average age of the material of this wine is reputed to be 45 years. The bouquet is refined and subtle with well-developed rancio characters and complexity, once again no sign of alcoholic lift or volatility. The luscious sweetness and rich, deep, fruit is perfectly counterbalanced by the refreshing acid which provides a lingering, persistent, long, clean finish. An ample weight wine, the complexity is elaborate and refined, it’s just fantastic! Rated as Outstanding with *** for value, this is indeed a rare treat.
All Saints Museum Tokay sells for $434.50 (375ml bottle) at CD. Average age of the material of this wine is reputed to be 80 years. Rancio personified with strong coffee essence, the wine is luscious, sweet and almost syrupy with rich deep fruit that is beautifully counterbalanced by refreshing acid. Muscular in weight, the consistency is velvety and the deep, intensely, powerful persistent finish goes on forever. The complexity is overwhelming! It has been said that for a wine to be great, it must have “wow” factor. The equivalent Muscat I tasted earlier certainly had that, but this wine is unique in that it has a double “wow” factor. Rated as the Ultimate, it is the finest fortified wine I have every tried.
The time was 5.45 when we said our goodbyes and at 6.30, I could still taste that Tokay and it still had wow factor. What a wine and what an experience the whole visit had been and one I will long remember.
All that tasting had worked up an appetite so based on the recommendations of a few people it was off to dinner at Beaumonts Café. The menu is not exactly huge, but the selection very interesting and you can BYO with a reasonable corkage charge. The next table to me was occupied by four ladies (two with blue hair) who would have all been closer to eighty than seventy and what initially surprised me was they were drinking (and obviously enjoying) a bottle of sparkling shiraz. Once they had finished that, they got into a bottle of “sweet Chenin” and then a bottle of Queen Adelaide and I left before they got to their fourth bottle. OK, so they enjoy a glass of wine but they also managed three courses (with substantial servings) and one of them backed up with an Irish coffee too. When I am that age, I hope I can enjoy life as much as they obviously did, it was great to see.
For a starter I had herb-crusted sardines on salad leaves with shaved parmesan and balsamic dressing ($16). The main course was a shellfish medley (scallops, lobster tail and prawns) with angel hair pasta in a citrus herb beurre blanc sauce ($28). I was going to pass on desert but decided I was on holidays so why not! I couldn’t make up mind between the macadamia nut tart and the chocolate and almond tart and said I would leave it up to the waitress to decide. She very kindly suggested a small piece of both may be a good idea, naturally I concurred.
The food was very good, all dishes cooked perfectly and the service friendly and professional, so there are two places in Rutherglen I am happy to recommend for a meal.
After a short walk back to the motel, it was off to bed to dream about those fortified wines.
The next chapter will be the last in this Tour Diary but there are still some great experiences and surprises to come, so don’t miss next weeks instalment.
Copyright © Ric Einstein 2004