Padthaway, South Australia. 15%.
A fabulous full-throttle cooler climate Shiraz, from a stellar vintage. Very very impressive. Possibly even more intense than the 1998.
Shiny dark red. Very deep aromas, some savoury, some sweet; very ripe, but not porty. Fabulous depth of shiraz flavour, very long. A huge lucious wine with great intensity. The (American and French) oak is substantial but not over powering.
It’s young, there are some disjointed aspects, but pleasing complexity too. Great potential.
An absolute bargain – A$17, US$13, 10 Euro, 7 GBP.
3 years later, November 2008 – I think my tastes have changed, or this wine has not developed as expected. It’s big and sweet with a green seam. 86 points.
Padthaway, South Australia. 14.5%
Deep dark red. Rich spicy aromas. Incredibly rich, ripe, lucious wine. Cooler climate shiraz with the creaminess of a top Barossa. Intense flavour.
In its youth this wine was impressive but marred by heavy oak. At 7 years of age the oak is integrated (which surprised me). A powerful, if a tad straightforward, wine.
An absolute bargain when it was released. Doubly so now. With some development potential ahead of it.
Barossa Valley, South Australia
Charles Melton is Barossa aristocracy, ie one of the top boutique producers that really came into their own after silly government schemes in the 1980s to pull up old vines. In a ‘counter revolution’ a few winemakers proudly exhibited their old vine wines and rapidly captured the public (and wine critics) hearts.
Not cheap but not exorbitent (given its status) either, and bottled with screw cap – two attractive features.
This is fine and flavoursome, but I still suspect some added acidity, in spite of the wonderfully cool vintage. Restrained, concentrated, best with food. Lacks the intensity, attack and complexity of some of the new wave of Barossa producers, and not as lucious as some older competitors.
Very good, but not quite as exciting, or as competitive, as this wine could be.
Pauillac, Bordeaux. 5th growth.
A half bottle, more developed than a full bottle tried last year that was quite elemental (and robust, agressive even). This is fine, and fragrant, with rich black current fruit. Concentrated and quite elegant for a young wine. Well balanced acidity and tannin. A fine example of the quality of the 2001 vintage (which is still selling at substantially cheaper than 2000 or 2003).
Youthful, with the French oak not yet integrated, but well handled. A very enjoyable wine with food.
Still good colour, some red at core. Delicate nose with some classic herbal, blackcurrant, tea leaf notes–but ripe. Clean, palate of good length. Appropriately light bodied (? alcohol–prob c11%), fine tannins with good length. Not dry or hard. Well preserved for vintage. Interesting.
Dow’s 1985 Colour suggests it is forward. Muscat and mineral nose, but some grip and reserve as per Dow. Fully developed. Good. 87pts
Grossot Polish Hill Reisling 2001 Well known to all, i’m sure. Young (in stelvin). All the right adjectives or lime etc. Acidity initially prominent but okay. Lovely. Good for another 5 years. 87pts
Monbazillac Tirecul la Graviere 1996 Mature, sauternes-like wine. Full botrytis, orange nose. Sweet but drying a tad– perfect now. Excellent. 91pts
Curico Valley, Chile.
Nice red colour. Smoky claret aromas with herbaceousness and coffee, not too deep but attractive. Black cherry flavours, not complex or concentrated, but pleasant; marred by a somewhat overly acidic and short finish. Nice commercial wine.
I’m positive about the future for Chilean wines. They used to be nice, but a bit boring. Now they seem to be gaining in complexity. I haven’t tasted any Chilean wine that suffers from over extraction – yet. I’d rather spend a $ on Chilean cabernet/merlot than Californian; they are better value, but also reasonable balanced and unpretentious. And some really impressive.
St Julien, Bordeaux. 12.5%
Very dark red and shiny. Wonderful smoky aromas, smells like a great wine should, like it is some new fine food dish you have never tried – and want to. Yum, this is a fine wine. Classic, but approachable; a perfect example of what the 99 vintage can be.
The oak is toasty, the fruit fine. It is very consistent across the palate, quite soft (in the sense of dilute) in a characteristicly 99 style. But this wine is still very good.
Vintages like 99 should be cheaper than super great vintages, but we’d wish that all wines of “merely very good” vintages would be like this.
PS 99 was a good ripe vintage that was hit by some rain.