Torbreck The Bothie 2003 (review)

89 points.

Keeping with the mainly Rhone nature of the evening, we finished with this Barossa version of the Muscat de Beaumes de Venise. Given the previous 3 bottles, Byron probably forgot we drank this one (just kidding).

This wine is made with muscat grapes fermented to about 4% residual sugar and then brandy is added to stop fermentation. Total alcohol is only 13%, so it is a light fruity wine best with fruits, but not bad with chocolate mousse!

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Roger Sabon Chateauneuf de Pape cuvee prestige 2000 (review)

90 points.

From Northern Rhone, France. 14.5%

An odd Chateauneuf de Pape, lightish in colour. Gloriously ripe, sweet, opulent with soft acids and intruiging spicy herb flavours mixed in with sun ripe grapes. A hedonistic wine. Perhaps it will age well, but why wait ?

Parker raved about it (92 points) “Full bodied, sexy, concentrated, and loaded with the essence of Provence… smells like liqueur of black pepper intermixed with lavender, game, and black fruits. It tastes so much like Provence that one almost expects some of their miniature figurines (santons) to jump out of the glass. Ripe, layered, and spicy, with soaring aromatics, this fleshy, chewy 2000 is undoubtedly hiding some serious tannin. Drink now to 2016.”

Nice description except that it isn’t chewy, unless you think soft ripe fruits are chewy, and if it is hiding serious tannin it is doing the hiding very well.

PS some bottles have been corked, some show some cork influence – another reason not to age it.

Pesquera reserva 1996 (review)

91 points.

Ribera del Duero, Spain. 13%.

A very good vintage and this wine is going strong. Matched against Rockford Shiraz the fresh acidity of tempranillo is apparent, though the wines are reasonable partners. Both rich, soft and savoury. The Pesquera is more a wine for food.

Pesquera’s reservas do tend to be finer, with higher acids, than the normal label. Built to age longer. This has lost the flush of youth with the primary fruit flavours subdued now, but I think it is settling down for a few years of very slow development. Drink now, but no rush whatsoever.

Rockford basket press Shiraz 1996 (review)

94 points.

Barossa Valley, South Australia. 14.5%

A real treat. Serious Barossa shiraz, from a great vintage, aged for 9 years.

Still quite dark this wine is showing wonderful leather complexity and yet probably has another 5-10 years development in it. Fabulous fruit driven wine, honest, made in the vineyard, soft but not creamy. Savoury, though with nice mid palate fruit sweetness, big wine but not a super opulent chocolate milkshake style.

The back label says it will put a smile on the face of all who drink it, but the biggest smiles will be those who cellar it for 10 years. Truth in advertising.

Suggests that the quality 98’s (another great vintage) should be kept for at least another 2 years.

St Hugo Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 (review)

86 points

Coonawarra, South Australia. 13.5%

Tremendous colour, like the Balnaves 99.

Lifted, obvious Coonawarra eucalypt aromas, and some sweet oak, quite mint chocolate still. Showing little sign of age.

A strong flavoured wine, a little commercial for a wine of this quality/concentration, sweetish fruit with somewhat cosmetic oak. Quite enjoyable though this intense tamarillo style is not something to drink regularly. Very abrupt acid finish. Good with tomato sauce (eg pasta) dishes.

Balnaves Coonawarra Cabernet 1999 (review)

87 points.

Coonawarra, South Australia.

I’ve long been a fan of Balnaves reds. They emerged on the market at a time when many other Coonawarra producers were accentuating the herbal minty eucalypt characters of Coonawarra fruit by picking early, or at least some grapes early. Even now, when everyone is picking late and gaining huge alcohols Balnaves stands out with good physiological ripeness.

Incredible dark colour – and at 6 years old ! Unmistakably Coonawarra aromas, but not outrageous hard mint. An impressively structured wine, fat mid-palate, densely concentrated, though someone dumb. Perhaps it is still too young and will gain complexity with age. I find that a little hard to beleive, but probably worth taking the punt if you can still find some (I bought this off retail shelves this week).

Well priced.

Chateau Talbot 2001 (review)

88 points.

St Julien, Bordeaux, France.

Talbot doesn’t have a reputation as a great value wine, but rather as affordable serious claret. It’s not one of the high flyers nor premium old names, but it is an old name. New owners since Cordier (who seem to have sold off their stable) seem very serious.

It’s a curious wine. Fine oak handling – giving just a hint of warmth and well oak flavour (not vanilla or other cosmetic flavours). Good breeding. Flavours that are strong, some really savoury and ripe, and some hard/green. Victorian claret. And yet very soft tannin. So sort of approachable, and yet confronting.

Anne rated this wine even higher. I suspect it will benefit from some (3-5) years of age and turn into a very classical savoury claret, but maybe there is no need to wait. It is a somewhat curious wine, not what I expected from Talbot.