Petaluma 1999 Coonawarra

86-91 points (depending on the bottle).

Coonawarra, South Australia. 13.5%. cork. 60:40 Cab Merlot blend.

At its best this wine is marked by sweet coffee oak well matched to the concentrated fruit in a big style. Somewhat Opus One like.

But many bottles simply don’t sing, the definition is lost, as is much of the fruit and oak sweetness. Which makes the touch of eucalypt on the finish quite jarring.

I blame the corks.

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Cullen Diana Cabernet Merlot 1999

87 points

Margaret River, Western Australia. 14%. cork

From a fine vintage in WA I hoped for better.

Muted nose, slightly muddy minerally old-fashioned Bordeaux.

Nice palate weight but a greeness to the tannins on the finish. OK but far from delicious. Would not stand well in the company of current vintage WA cabernets.

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Yalumba Chardonnay FDW7c 2009

91+ points

Adelaide Hills, South Australia. 13.5%

Sawdusty lemon nose.

Surprisingly friendly forward (say compared to Ashton Hills, Adelaide Hills Chardonnay) yet still clearly young. Stylish modern Australian Chardonnay. Has the savoury complexity of some of the best European whites with the core of fruit intensity of really expensive wines.

Better yet in a year or two.

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Yalumba The Menzies 2006

87++ points

Coonawarra, South Australia 14%

Dark opaque colour.

Oaky, raspy even on the nose.

A strong dense wine still gripped by oak. Concentrated fruit, muscular texture and then minty finish. Built to impress rather than to charm though this vintage has enough mid-palate that I think it will age well into a looser more charming wine. Personally I’d like to see a touch of Merlot, lower alcohol and less oak. Less show pony and more sophistication. It’s a bit butch and in a vintage where it’s probably got its best clothes on.

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Vintage Flip-flops

In June 2012 Steven Spurrier wrote “There is no doubt that the red wines of (Bordeaux) 2011 merit more consideration than….the hard 2004”.

And I just found a (slightly) old Decanter (March 2007) where he reiterated what he wrote in 2005 “the description most heard of the 2004s was ‘classic’ … (this) might carry a whiff of ‘old fashioned and austere’. Not a bit of it, for from both banks the wines are among the most lively, fruity and fresh-tasting that Bordeaux has ever produced….attractive for the medium term, they will have a long enough life for the collector.”

Decanter has made quite a few flip-flops on Bordeaux vintages. Good, bad, then good again.

Humpf!