Over the years, I have attended many good wine dinners but recently, I attended a dinner where all the planets must have been aligned perfectly, because I tasted more great wines in one sitting then any other wine dinner I have ever been to, and that's really saying something. Being smarter than the average bear, I didn't take any notes, I just sat back and enjoyed the wines and food but some dedicated individuals did take notes and its my pleasure to present their work here.
The organiser of the even was Attila and his notes appear in burgundy. The other serious note taker was Adair and his notes appear in blue. "Baby Chickpea" who must be a major shareholder in the Gillette Razor company as with his shaved chromium plated dome, he is bald enough to be two red bigots, claimed to have not taken any notes but managed to spew forth with a very thorough dissertation of the evening wines and his notes are in green.
Great and Rare Wines at the 2nd Club Dinner
Seven of us gathered on Saturday 24 April 2004 in the Sydney suburb of Coogee for our second club dinner. Auswine regulars Adair, Danny aka Mr.Chickpea, myself and Ric aka TORB were there with MW student David and our new guest, Stephan. The host, Peter Z. prepared sensational dishes that included W.A. lobsters. Almost all bottles were served blind. Using the double blind or ‘Spot On’ system, we had to taste and name the wines without clues whatsoever. Seven drinkers, 19 bottles, the theme for this evening was “Grand and Rare”.
(From left to right) Peter, Ric, David, Danny, Attila (front), Adair, Stephan
Peter’s understanding and skill in gastronomy, of which I
was greatly appreciative, will be detailed below. Like all Club dinners, wines
were served blind with spot-on and discussion ensuing before trivia and options
are given until the wine’s identity is known.
The evening began with an unusual anti-climax with no one bringing a Champagne. Fortunately, Peter had one of his regular “quaffers” in the refrigerator in case of emergency. This was one such occasion:
1995 POL ROGER Champagne-Epernay.
This 9 years old Champagne is from a house that is a club favourite. Danny and Stephan guessed the vintage correct while everyone knew it was Champagne. Colour pale gold, beautiful flowery aromas on the nose, delicate and promising. The palate is silky smooth, cool and slightly mineral with chardonnay dominating. A highly intelligent wine with a long and beautifully dry finish. Starting to drink now, will peak around 2011. A classic. Peter’s bottle.
Surprisingly very upfront and
drinkable with some obvious residual sweetness. Good length and well balanced.
At its peak.
Very Good 17.0 / 20
This wine was obviously Champagne on nose and palate.
Sweet green apple fruit dominant with sweet spice and apple blossoms in the back
ground. Mild but obvious yeast and barrel complexity, fully integrated into the
wine makes itself apparent not long after the fruit and bubbles hit the palate.
The front and middle palate show excellent depth of these flavours but the back
palate starts to thin. The wine was very powerful with an exceptionally
integrated acid backbone ensuring that the wine, especially its back palate,
will significantly improve with time. Despite the drop off in flavour, the
wine’s structure ensured excellent length. An excellent combination of power and
elegance. Rated Excellent now, this wine
will improve to Outstanding in a few years.
Whilst enjoying the above wine, Peter’s kitchen skill began to be displayed. The 1995 Pol was served with seared scallops in truffle oil with salt and pepper. The scallops were seared to perfection, their texture silky, their flavour in total harmony with the accompaniments, especially the truffle oil, not overdone at all, whilst the salt added a gorgeous sweetness to the dish. This dish was outstanding and I was luckily enough to have a second serving. Unexpectedly, this second helping combined extremely well with the following wine.
1992 LEASINGHAM Classic Clare Sparkling Shiraz
This wine was not served blind and, rather presumptuously, I did not expect much before assessing it. Why? I hear much about the Seppelt Show Reserve, Rockford Black and Primo Estate offerings, but not much about Leasingham’s contribution to this style. I even read more about the Majella offering, of which I am not greatly fond. However, this wine changed my presumption and indeed my opinion of this wine. The wine displayed freshness, power and bead intensity of a bottle many years younger yet the flavours were as harmonious and complex as expected of a wine afforded high quality South Australian Shiraz fruit at 12 years of age. The wine was concentrated and full of flavour. Black cherry and blackberry was in total balance with developed savoury and sweetness, neither dominating. Then there was a gamut of other flavour sensations: liquorice, chocolate, sweet spices, cinnamon, even a hint of pepper. Sugar apparent, not obvious, and in line with the style although on the sweeter end of the spectrum. All this was on a very creamy mouthfeel, contributed by great mousse and a superbly integrated structure. Great length. Great wine at its peak that will hold for many years. Rated Outstanding, Sparkling Shiraz can get much better than this.
This 12 years old sparkling red wasn’t actually part of
the dinner. Ric brought it along to entertain himself while we were going
through the whites. Most of us tasted it anyway and as I already wrote about
this at Christmas, all I can say that the wine is brilliant and is consistent
with my previous notes.
Very good – nice juxtaposition
between primary fruit and complex spice and earth flavours. “Classic” in the
true sense of the word.
Very Good 17.2 / 20
TYRRELL’S Vat 1 Semillon
This 15 years old white did not show well this time at all. My very good friend, Adair brought it along as this wine is my absolute favourite and is usually great. However, this bottle was a Tyrrell’s re-release, complete with the new label and countless gold medals. Appeared light with lots of vanilla flavours, it ended up on the shelf, not drunk, as it was a disaster. The same wine tasted last year from the first release with the original old label, was sensational.
This wine was bought in January this year from a prominent Sydney retailer. Apparently it had been cellared in perfect conditions for the last 14 or so years. It was an overdeveloped disappointment! Cream and vanilla on the front palate that fell away very quickly to a thin and short conclusion. Wine not rated. I have heard murmuring from a few sources that these re-released examples are not showing as well as hoped. If you are purchasing a 1989 Vat 1 at auction, you might consider targeting the original release rather than the re-release. Of important note, to the prominent Sydney retailer’s credit, the wine was replaced cheerfully and without fuss. It will be opened in the near future.
This re-released bottle was past its
best unfortunately: under-fruited, too oaky, very tropical nose and overdone.
Poor 14.5 / 20
2001 A.ROSTAING La Bonette Viognier: Condrieu
This 3 years old flat tasting and seriously boring wine damped the spirit further. To start with, the nose was floral and promising with lovely honeysuckle and melon but this promise faded away on the palate. The wine lacked life and excitement appearing already old and tired. I thought the AU $120 asking price was ridiculous. “I reckon it’s a nice wine… I haven’t tried it yet”- commented Peter while working in the kitchen. We kept his glass aside and moved on quickly to our next white. It was his bottle.
This wine was light gold, indicating good depth or age, in this case depth. This promise of flavour depth was delivered but the wine as a whole was terribly unbalanced. The nose and front palate was intense and complex with apricot, pear and floral notes of excellent depth. However, bitterness on the middle palate in the form of bitter almond and apricot kernels, as well as acid falling out of the wine, some heat from alcohol and also disjoined glycerine, created a wine of little enjoyment. I suspect that this wine should have been drunk upon release. Rated as Recommended, just, due to its varietal characters, maybe even some credit for its varietal faults. At $120, this wine once again shows the purchasing minefield that is Condrieu, especially such wines usually don’t reach our shores until they are pasted their used-by date!
My only note was: “Past it”.
Poor 14.0 / 20
GYÖRGYKOVÁCS Barrique Furmint: Somló, North-West Hungary
This 3 years old Furmint appeared closed but still concentrated. Legendary Hungarian winemaker I. Györgykovács (George-Smith) made it from fruit grown on the volcanic Somló Hill. He owns only 0,5 hectares. His wines are hand made from start to finish, fermentation and ageing takes place in older oak barrels. For the first time ever, he aged his Furmint in new French barrique. Colour bright pale with some gold. Vanilla and wax on the nose. Floral and slightly unusual for some of the tasters, the palate was round and quite full bodied for a white wine. As it was my bottle, I liked it a lot but others didn’t know what to make of the variety.
Compelling nose of wax, butter.
Palate very youthful and restrained. To quote the bottle’s owner Attila: “this
needs 40 years to show its best”. I’m not so unequivocal.
Good 16.5 / 20
This wine divided opinion. This wine had excellent flavour
depth and great concentration, although in a restrained style, with a long,
broad structure. However, the wine’s flavours were unusual for Australian
palates and not enjoyed by many. The wine displayed wax, butter, not cream, and
light honey characters, in balance and not flabby. Under this was a base of
apple custard and then some earthy spice with hints of pear and lime. The broad
and long structure, front to back, was assisted by good amounts of perfectly
integrated acidity. The honey finished mid-palate while the wax, earthy spice
and restrained fruit carried well. Rated, somewhat controversially in the night,
as Excellent. I had the pleasure of
tasting this wine the following day and the pear characters opened more giving a
Pinot Gris feel to the wine. I would be most interested to taste this wine again
in a few years as it definitely has the structure to age but I am unsure of how
it will taste. If its earthy spice is accentuated any more, its rating will
If there was any suspicion that Peter’s previous creation was mere luck, his skill and understanding was made very apparent by allowing the freshness and nature flavour of his next presentation to shine. Western Australia crayfish tails that were live only hours before in Peter’s kitchen were served drizzled in Charentes-Poitou Butter (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée), only lightly garnished with mild herbs.
Boy, was I glad I had that 1992 Leasingham Sparkling Shiraz in front of me to sip on whilst the rest of the rest of the group were suffering through all that overpriced c-through stuff!
1981 CHATEAU HAUT BRION: Graves
This 23 year old Premier Grand Cru red was the wine of
the night for me. Ric noted immediately that this was “Seriously good s**t for a
lighter weight red”. Once Danny guessed the region right, I knew right away it
was Haut Brion.
Colour still deep red with brick on the edge. Elegant black cherry and vanilla aromas on the nose. On the palate, velvety and soft liquorice mixing with dark cherry. Unbelievably smooth and silky fruit with absolutely perfect balance. An excellent blend of Cabernet Sauvignon & Franc and Merlot with the Franc nominating. A grand wine at it’s peak now but will hold easily for 6 more years. Wine Spectator rated it 93 points, I’d rate it more. David’s bottle.
This was my first tasting of this 1st Growth Bordeaux and indeed provided a great lesson in texture and balance, especially to a New World palate such as mine. As soon as the wine was tasted by all attendees, little gasps were heard. This wine filled the front and middle palate completely from side to side, without requiring the great power that New World wines require to do so. It was supple and silky, not rich and powerful. I was confused. This wine was complete and elegant. Very, very fine tannins of a slightly chalky nature came through on the back palate adding backbone to a long finish. The flavours were understated, harmonious and complex with unmistakable Bordeaux flavour, hard to distinguish, neither ripe nor under-ripe, although flavour was not the feature of this wine. Although 23 years old, the wine’s flavours were not savoury and needed more time to gain greater complexity. All of this without power! A wine of paradox. Rated Excellent/Outstanding, I suspect others rated it higher. I probably need to taste it again to understand it better.
The wine of the night for me, and
the biggest surprise given I have never really been impressed other 1981s.
Distinctly un-Bordeaux on the nose – almost Burgundy with its perfumed and
floral aromas. Appears youthful with years to go. Silky, elegant, balanced, but
lacking the intensity and concentration to make it a really outstanding first
growth. But I’m not complaining.
Excellent 18.0 / 20
This was a seriously great wine. The bottle was finished in record time which shows how much people enjoyed it. The WOTN for me by a whisker and with its perfect balance and structure, rated as Outstanding.
1966 PENFOLDS Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz: South Australia
This 38 years old Australian red wine surprised everyone with it’s quality. After the bottle was revealed, Ric noted it with a sigh that “They just don’t make them like this anymore”. Our bottle was in perfect condition and I felt lucky that I could taste such a fantastic aussie classic right after the Haut Brion (especially because I was born in 1966). Colour brick red. Sweet and aromatic plum on the nose. Quite complex sweet blackberries and red berries on the palate. It was a perfectly mature red at it’s peak. Medium bodied with nicely integrated fruit and lovely balance. Very long aftertaste. Will cellar for 4 more years. Top wine. Stephan’s bottle.
I understood this wine. As well as Peter’s cooking, I will
remember this evening primarily due to this wine. Discussion led most of us to
Northern Rhone. All of us knew it was great. Once the options led us to
Australia, no one questioned that this wine could be Grange of a great year.
Rich developed blackberry and chocolate sweetness encapsulated this wine from
front to back. Hints of leather, liquorice and spice as well as some red berries
accompanied the broad and long, thick yet silky palate. Superbly sweet tannins
of considerable power still continue to protect the wine from age. Technically
and hedonistically awesome. Rated
Outstanding/Ultimate, this was my wine of the evening.
Stephan, who presented this wine, mentioned that the same fruit used for Grange of this vintage used for this wine, the difference being the oak treatment. I suspect that this wine, this bottle, might be looking better than its Grange brother. They don’t make Bin 389 like they used to… sigh!
Another massive surprise. I thought
it was Grange! Sweet nose, complex palate. I don’t remember the 66 Grange being
this good (when last tasted in 2002). Served after the Haut Brion, it was only a
fraction below it. One of the most resplendent 389s I can remember tasting.
Very Good 17.9 / 20
Another great wine and a real surprise to find out it was Bin 389 and not Grange. Another Outstanding wine but a fraction below the Haut Brion.
CHATEAU LÉOVILLE LAS CASES: Saint Julien
This 29 years old 2nd Growth appeared a little tired in my opinion, especially the next day when I re-tasted it along with the Bin 389 that was still shining. I had few 1975 Bordeaux’s in the past and although they were good they’ve never really shined. This Léoville was in very good condition and was brought along kindly by Danny. The longevity of this Chateau wine can be proved by the fact that the last Léoville I’ve drunk previously was a 1966. Colour brick red, looking aged. Dark chocolate, oak and mocha with savoury plum on the nose. Elegant and stylish but it lacked intensity on the palate. A decent amount of fruit was still showing with interesting complexity, however I believe it has passed its peak but still holding up very well after nearly 3 decades.
I thoroughly enjoyed this 2nd Growth. Developed Cabernet nose. Moderately intense sweet mulberry wrapped cigar and cedar until prominent, gravely yet soft tannins heralded the wine’s end when suddenly a burst of sweet charcoal was released after swallowing. An interesting and complex wine holding very well. Rated Excellent, this wine was very easy to drink and needs to be drunk now.
Very dry and savoury with some
cedar, oak and mocha, ash and pepper. Tannin cuts short the length. A good wine
but it ain’t gonna get better.
Good 16.6 / 20
1971 DOMAIN CLAIR-DAÜ Cazetiers: Gevrey-Chambertin, Burgundy (1er Cru)
This 33 years old Pinot Noir from a great year was another surprise. Colour very old brick red with a medium orange rim. Beautifully complex and delicate nose with cherries, leather and a hint of strawberry jam. The palate had excellent sweet fruit that still appeared somehow vigorous and dare I say “fresh”. The silky and complex flavours were quite amazing. Ric who doesn’t usually like Aussie pinot noir made the comment that this wine was “Very good... I’m enjoying it”- so did we. Definitely a highlight, a great burgundy at it’s peak. Thank you David for sharing this bottle with us.
Others enjoyed this more than I.
Far, far too acidic and slightly unbalanced for me. Would’ve been better a
minimum 5 years ago. Nose (sweet, meaty) held up better than the palate. Still,
a good showing given its age and pedigree.
Good 16.8 / 20
The wine’s light red appearance indicated this wine was old, but no one thought Pinot Noir at 33 years of age could be this good, this great. Indeed, I was most amused as I watched everyone, besides David who presented the bottle, deducing that this wine was not from Burgundy. Rhone? Italy? I knew it was. The search for the my next great Burgundy since the 1989 ROBERT CHEVILLON Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Vaucrains (1er Cru) tasted in the middle of last year was over. Somewhat amusingly, another 1er Cru delivered the promise of Burgundy again despite numerous Grand Crus being tasted in between. The amazing flavours and complexity of flavour wafting from the wine and being displayed on the palate, to their credit, provided a great disguise to the wine’s remarkably youthful base of sweet strawberries. It was very easy to focus on, and indeed get lost in, the gamut of other flavours including milk chocolate, liquorice, leather, blackberry and forest floor. The palate was silky. The tannins were fine, nearly gone. The only negative was that the acid was starting to fall out of this wine. This wine should have been drunk 2 to 5 years ago. It would have been the ultimate Burgundy experience but this wine displays enough to know what that would have been like. Due to slightly disjointed acid, I rated this wine Outstanding/Ultimate.
Peter’s next gastronomic presentation confirmed not only the greatness of the wines, but the grandeur of the evening. In the morning of the dinner, Peter did not realise he was going to present his 3-tier omelette. Whilst searching for veal, he could not go past a vine of rich red, nearly purple, tomatoes. The quality of these tomatoes forced him to buy the vine and change original idea. The top layer was egg, the middle spinach and the bottom was a combination of these vine-ripened tomatoes crushed, thyme, salt and pepper. Once again, Peter provided the assistance to allow marvellously fresh ingredients to shine. Although this sounds simple, it requires seriously good oven handling. Indeed, the three layers combined to create gorgeous flavour and texture, nearly silky, although when eaten separately were nothing special. Superb!
An Outstanding wine which I thoroughly enjoyed and even had a second glass. Adair was right about Peters cooking, the food was superb and that three tier omelette was a work of gastronomic artistry.
1997 LUCE Della Vite by Frescobaldi and Mondavi: Tuscany, Italy
This 7 years old unique blend of 50% Sangiovese and 50% Merlot from a great Tuscany vintage was a rare and delicious treat for me. I dug the wine from the beginning, getting vintage, region and the Sangiovese component right. Grapes were harvested from 20 year old vines planted in the Montalcino region. Winemakers Lamberto Frescobaldi and Tim Mondavi made sure they’ve created an excellent first vintage of the Luce. Colour bright cherry red. Strawberry compote on the nose with vanilla custard. Superbly soft palate with aromatic fruits that was very captivating and charming. Delicious now, will cellar for 10+ years. The wine finished with fine tannins and perfectly judged oak. I really loved it although the price at AU $125 is a little steep. (I’ve drunk a nice glass of it for breakfast the next day!) Stephan’s bottle.
Top vintage. BUT quite tough
fruit-wise, very dry and savoury. Noted: “A bit all over the shop”. Seems too
young but not sure how this will age.
Good 16.0 / 20
Savoury and iodine characters on an intense base of sweet
red fruits with good acid lifting the wine. Excellent balance but a bit brutish
at the moment with fine but very grippy tannins. Sweet oak in the background.
Excellent depth but does not display much breadth on the palate. I suspect time
will assist. Good length. Rated as Excellent
without there being anything overly exciting about the wine. The flavours led me
to Italy and I thought the tannins were strong enough for a young northern
Italian, not Barolo but nearby. However, I was not surprised when it was
revealed it was Sangiovese based.
Peter then served roast rabbit with rabbit liver and kidneys and snow peas seasoned heavily with garlic. The rabbit was good without being great, and as such was probably the weakest link in Peter’s gastronomy presentation. Roast rabbit was always going to be a risk. Its flavour was superb but not as tender as I am sure Peter would have liked. The liver and kidneys, however, were awesome. It reminded me of great Wagyu beef, yes really. Their flavour was strong without being overbearing and they fell apart like chocolate on the tongue. The freshness of the snow peas was obvious to all and my wife was complaining continuous the following day about the garlic. Yes, it was that good!
CHATEAU PICHON LONGUEVILLE COMTESSE DE LALANDE: Pauillac
This 21 years old Pichon is not from a strong vintage for this Chateau. I am still thankful for Danny for bringing it because I’m a fan of this 2nd Growth Pauillac estate. Colour brick red. Interesting chesnut oak on the nose with coffee and cassis. Good medium bodied palate with long flavours of blackcurrants and red berries. Quite tasty and fully mature but will hold until 2008. A nice cabernet wine in anyone’s book.
This 2nd Growth Pauillac from a great estate was testament to the whole 1983 Bordeaux vintage – nothing special! I am not convinced about Margaux either. This wine was based with pleasant developed red fruits with mint, cassis and cedar complexity. Reasonably complex and long but not enough depth or mouth filling finesse to hold much interest on a night like this. Rated Highly Recommended.
Quite good considering the vintage.
Holding up well but will never be top tier. Nice balance, fine length but lacks
Very Good 17.0 / 20
CHATEAU TAHBILK Claret 1860 Vines Shiraz: Goulburn Valley, Victoria
This 18 years old Shiraz is truly a classic. I’ve tasted it on release and it was good to see it again so many years after. Colour bright cherry red. Fragrant and spicy on the nose with anise and black pepper. Excellent sweet fruit on the palate, lovely drinking. A medium bodied wine with aromatic plum, herbs and spices. Quite long. It’s pure old vines fruit. Delicious. Ric’s bottle.
Heaps of sweet, sweet black fruits and liquorice being the
dominant facets with mint, sweet spice, vanilla and pepper aspects. Beautifully
balanced, harmonious and opulent. Perfectly integrated structure. Tannins very
ripe and smooth and still very present. No commercial or obtrusive wood tannin
here. A truly great Australian, New World, wine. Rated
Outstanding, this wine is still
Excellent colour and still youthful.
Nice nose of spice and liquorice. Palate has good integration of fruit, oak and
tannin but very deep an pronounced olive-like taste put me off slightly. No
hurry to dink up.
Very Good 17.3 / 20
My second favourite wine of the night and rated as Outstanding and right up there with the Haut Brion. This bottle was also finished very quickly. Why did I waste such good wine on these peasants (evil grin).
ROCKFORD SVS Hoffmann Shiraz: Barossa Valley, South Australia
This 8 years old SVS (Special Vineyard Selection) is made from Shiraz grapes grown in the Hoffman vineyard in the north of the valley. This vintage was the first one made of this wine, I am thanking Adair for sacrificing this rarity tonight on our table. You won’t see this Shiraz too often in Australia. It’s over the top, a fully loaded blockbuster style. Colour very deep ruby. Fragrant vanilla, chocolate and coconut on the nose. The palate is absolutely FREAKY, packed with sweet, sweet fruit. So sweet in fact that I thought we’ve arrived to the dessert wines phase in our dinner. There is almost too much of everything, sweetness, oak, spices. Parker would love this. Over the top fruit bomb for me. It may come into balance in a decade.
My only scribbled comment was:
“Daffy Duck wine”. Far too over-the-top and richly sweet. A caricature wine -
almost Botrytis Shiraz. Not even Duck Muck is this flamboyant. Not impressed.
Give me the blended Basket Press any day.
Good 16.7 / 20
I presented this wine and, too be honest, I was
disappointed. To be brutally honest, I completely crashed and burned this
evening with this and my 1989 Vat 1 disaster.
This wine is one of three single vineyard wines bottled separately from the 1996 vintage out of the nearly 40 vineyards that contribute to make the Rockford Basket Press Shiraz. This was bottled to represent the more ripe grapes that make up the blended wine and became the most notorious of the three primarily due to a 98/100 rating from RPjr. However, I suspect this wine is in a bit of a trough as I felt that it lacked the expected flavour depth and broad mouthfeel, especially compared to the 1997 Hoffmann tasted a few months previously. It was indeed ripe and balanced, as expected of any wine with Robert O’Callaghan’s print on it, with very intense blackberry, chocolate, mint, dark cherries and something, which I am not very fond of, coconut. I appreciated the elegance that this very powerful still maintained. The tannins were superb and length great as well, but it left me feeling slightly empty as expectations and promises were not delivered. Thankfully I have a few more in the cellar. The next will not be opened for another 5 years. Rated as Excellent at the moment, some of this wine’s facets are phenomenal and show great promise for the future.
Another simple yet greatly flavoursome and sensational cooked meal followed. Duck breast steaks, cooked medium-medium-rare (yes, I classify to this degree), served in a cream sauce of veal stock, Janneau Armagnac and peppercorns with a side of roast potatoes cooked in duck fat. Actually, I enjoyed this meal more than any other. In fact, again, I had two servings. Peter achieved something that even Claude’s did not. Cooking the duck meat for maximum enjoyment whilst also enabling the duck fat surrounding the meat to melt on the tongue. Sublime! The potato in duck fat flavours, as one would expect, combined extremely well whilst Peter’s cooking again was highlighted by the crisping outside and fluffy inside texture of the potatoes. While the 3-tier omelette was Grand Cru Burgundy, this was 1st Growth Bordeaux!
1992 JASPER HILL Emily’s Paddock Shiraz/Cabernet Franc: Heathcote, Victoria
While in the options stage of this wine’s presentation, Ric revealed it could be another Victorian. In response, Attila commented: “I hate most of Victoria (presumably referring its wine)”, Ric replied: “And guess what, most of Victoria hates you!”
Ric, did in fac, not need to reply. This wine was superb. Ric could not have proven Victoria’s ability to produce world class wines any better than with the outstanding Victorian, 1986 Tahbilk 1860 Vines Shiraz, and this Victorian. Similar in many ways to the Tahbilk, this wine allows fruit to shine. Sweet oak was well into the background but black fruits and mint were the dominant facets with aniseed, leather and sweet spice aspects. Massive fruit depth. Ripe tannins are integrated perfectly to provide elegance to this wine of great power. In fact, this wine has many years of life ahead for it to gain greater complexity. Excellent length. I rate this wine Outstanding but it will get even better!
This 12 years old impressed me as I’ve had a pretty
average run with Victorian reds in the last 3 years. Grapes were picked from a
vineyard planted before 1975 and the viticulture is almost organic. The wine
matured in French oak and was named after one of the daughter’s of winemaker Ron
Colour dark cherry red. Dark cherry and smoky bacon on the nose. Excellent and concentrated savoury fruit on the palate. An excellent and beautiful wine that will improve for an other 10+ years. Surprisingly powerful and focused. Excellent choice by Ric.
I was smitten by this, an excellent
wine from a supposedly indifferent vintage. Nuances of plums, spicy oak, earth,
venison, olives and tar. Seamless package. If anything, needs more time and may
Very Good 17.5 / 20
CHATEAU DUCRU-BEAUCAILLOU: Saint Julien
This 21 years old famous 2nd Growth was brought out by Peter as he had a sudden generosity attack. He stood on a chair (and didn’t fall off) while he accessed his home cellar tucked in a cupboard. Colour brick red. Interesting shoe-polish on the nose with oak and dark berry fruits. On the palate it appeared fully mature, perhaps even passed it’s peak. The Pichon looked better from the same vintage earlier the night but I wouldn’t put my faith in most 1983 in the future. The palate was medium bodied with good cabernet fruit and good complexity but I had a feeling that it should have been drunk 5 years ago. Still, it was a good experience to have.
Not as good as the 83 Pichon but
still holding up pretty well. Less body and focus.
Good 16.5 / 20
Seriously, this wine could have been a Hunter Shiraz, but
the 1983 Lindemans Hunter River Burgundy would have been better! Some black
fruits on a base of savoury flavour with sweet spice and oak complexity
providing interest. This 1983 2nd Growth again showed a lack of flavour depth
while its structure suggests it should have been drunk a while ago. Rated as
Recommended/Highly Recommended, only the
highest tier of 1983 Bordeaux should be considered for presentation at future
What ended being the last dish of the evening was served. Unfortunately, our host was not able to serve his selection of cheeses later in the evening. This dish consisted of generous quantities of fresh strawberries and blueberries with lightly sweetened thick cream, remarkably similar to Sara Lee French Vanilla ice-cream, on a sweet balsamic vinegar base. Combining these flavours was a risk, and indeed at the edge of my bowl the balsamic vinegar was slightly overpowering, but for the majority of the dish, the flavours combined perfectly. The flavour and consistency of the cream was my highlight.
1931 BERENGARIA Genuine Old Commandaria: Berengaria, Cyprus
All bloody night long, Attila regaled us with comments about the rubbish we had brought "to his dinner" and how none of us had ever tasted a world class great wine, but he, Attila, the wine God was going to fix that with his last offering. Well, it was a wine that definitely turned me to religion, when I tasted it I said "my God, what is this crap."
This 73 years old dessert wine was supposed to be the
grand finale. A wine style that is famous and drunk by the crusaders since the
12th century. Commandaria took the name from the Knights Templar headquarters,
the “Great Commandaria” of the castle of Kolossi in the Limassol region of
Cyprus. Commandaria is a blend of two grape varieties, the black Mavro and the
white Xynisteri. The grapes were harvested by hand then laid out to dry on the
sun. After the pressing and fermentation, the wine was matured in oak then
sealed into great earthenware jars and matured there until 1971 then it was
bottled under screwcap. This wine style is unfortified with the natural
alcoholic strength of 15% vol.
Colour very pale brown. Lot’s of complex walnut, and roasted hazelnut on the nose with fragrant, flowery honey aromas. Extremely long and seamless palate of pure silk honey flavours and burnt raisins. Very, very sweet and concentrated. Too sweet in fact. “Just because a wine is very old, it doesn’t mean it’s good” commented Ric and run out the door with Adair to get some other dessert wines from his hotel room. I felt a little down because it was my bottle (I knew I should have brought the GREAT 1926 that I’ve drunk few weeks earlier) but they’ve returned with some fantastic Aussie classics.
High expectations for this
unfortified 15% wine from its very fortified owner. Yes, it’s very good and very
sweet but not great. I liked it more than most but clearly just lacking
requisite complexity and backbone to rein in the sweetness.
Good 16.9 / 20
This wine was still living, sort of! Its light brown colour was of no concern but there was cloudiness. I appreciated the wine for what it could have been. It was greatly complex. The front palate was thick, rich and concentrated with raisins, honey and nuts but the wine’s structure disappointed. The wine fell into a hole on the middle and back palate allowing an unpleasantly bland flavour to dominate. I have little doubt that other bottles or bottles of this wine drunk many years earlier would have lived up to the once-great Commandaria heritage that is often forgotten today. There is no point rating this wine.
After the disappointment of the previous dessert wine, Ric
felt it his duty to ensure that the night ending on a “Grand and Rare” note. I
had no hesitation when Ric asked that I drive him around the corner (literally)
to his hotel room to get two wines that he assured me would do the trick. He was
correct. We drank the following two wines side by side.
Isabella Rare Tokay: Rutherglen, Victoria (375 mL)
The oldest component of this wine is over 60 years old, it was blended with younger material to a certain style. The grape variety is Muscadelle. Colour bright mahogany. Fresh honey and tea leaves on the nose with some burnt coffee. Very rich and thick on the palate. Finely balanced with excellent depth and concentration. Long and smooth on the finish. I’m not sure if this bottle size is good value at AU $90. Ric’s bottle.
Huge depth and complexity of flavours as expected as a wine of this classification. Ripe and luscious with enough acid to provide great length. I’m sure if I sat in front of one of those wine flavour wheels I could list dozens of flavours within. Honey, nuts, toffee, coffee on the back is a start. Most people state tea leaf as a typical Tokay character but I perceive this character to be better described as a combination of orange peel and tea leaf, hinting to a typical citric feature as well as tea leaf character. This component was very apparent in this wine, especially compared to the next, and highlighted a slight imbalance within the wine. The marmalade citrus acid aspect was too obvious and took the wine slightly off its line. However, I would have no issues spending hours appreciating this wine and rate it Excellent/Outstanding.
Super wine. Amazing length and
complexity. Rich, intense, hints of peach marmalade, tea leaves, sugared figs,
honey, barley, dark chocolate, coffee, mandarins, forest, etc. World class. I
preferred this to the Buller but only fractionally.
Grand Vin! 19.0 / 20
& SON Rare Liqueur Tokay: Rutherglen, Victoria (375 mL)
The oldest component of this wine is over 50 years old, it was blended with younger material to the Buller style. The grape variety is Muscadelle. Colour bright and dense amber. Beautiful toffee, caramel and figs on the nose with some tea leaves. The palate is simply superb. Perfectly balanced wine with long maple and caramel flavours in harmony. Lovely acid and a clean finish. Lighter weight than the Isabella and I prefer this when compared. Justly awarded 94 points by Wine Spectator. Cost AU $69. Ric’s bottle.
Like the above wine, this had huge depth and complexity, but in comparison, this wine had more depth, was creamier and more balanced. The typical orange peel/tea leaf was very present but perfectly integrated with the aged characters. Extremely long. I can only use superlatives to describe this wine. Rated Outstanding/Ultimate, this wine is not only great, but great value at $70 per 375mL bottle.
As above almost exactly but just
missing a smidgin of the complexity. Also I found this sweeter too. Still superb
Excellent 18.9 / 20
If these bastards think I was going to share two half bottle of great stickies that cost $160 between them they are crazier than I thought they were. Also, I don't normally just happen to have two spare great wines like these hanging around my hotel room but DJ's had a 30% off sale that I had just been to that afternoon. In a fit of magnanimous inebriated generosity, a life savour was called for to get Attila out of the swamp of excrement that he had created for himself, so being the kind, sharing person that I am, I stepped on his head as I flew out the room to get the wine and have since sent him the bill for said wine.
DO NOVAL Vintage Port: Douro, Portugal
This 34 years old port closed the evening. I absolutely loved and adored it. It wasn’t the ultra rare “Nacional” bottling but good enough for me. Colour deep and bright mahogany. Intense nose of nutty walnuts and maple syrup. Huge silky palate of restrained sweet fruit that was very smooth and drinking well. The brandy spirit in this wine was superb, really enchanted me. I asked David if I could take the bottle home but he declined and hid the bottle somewhere safe.
This wine was overshadowed by the previous. However, this
wine had good intensity and depth with quite beautiful aromatics. High quality
spirit was very apparent. The wine was balanced and long although I felt its
flavour slightly fell away on the back. I need to have paid more attention to
this wine to provide a fully reliable tasting note, but I think a rating of
Highly Recommended is justified.
Pretty classy stuff and not as weighty as other 1970 Portuguese ports I have tasted. Impeccable balance with a myriad of nutty flavours and just-right sweet fruit and stunning alcohol integration. Not as "hot" as the 1970 Taylors, Grahams and Dows I have had.
Very Good 17.3 / 20
It was well after midnight (after our host crashed in the bedroom) that we all left and went our different ways. I thought I’d be walking but my wife was waiting for me downstairs in the car. It was a superb club dinner and I’d like to thank everyone for their great wines and company.
Before I conclude, I must thank my wife, Mardi, for enabling me to fully appreciate and enjoy this special evening considering that she was nursing our 13-day old daughter, Vienna, our first child. I also must thank all the attendees for their generosity and particularly Peter for his time, effort and skill to ensure that the evening was not only a success in vinous terms.
Thanks to all participants – especially Peter (chef) who did a fabulous job in the kitchen.
Peter did an absolute brilliant job in the kitchen and his efforts were sure appreciated by me but my waste line wants to have a serious chat with him! The wines were simply a wonderful collection and the combination of the wine and food made this the best wine dinner I have had the privilege to attend, even if it was organised by the mad Hungarian.
I would also
like to remind Attila, that in a fit of generosity, (after I pulled him out of
the quagmire of hot excrement that he had encased himself), that he invited me
to the next one, on August 7th. Thanks to all players for making this such a
fun, and light hearted night, despite the serious wine and food conversation.
Please keep contributing.
Copyright © Ric Einstein