Tyrrell’s Wines Vat 9 shiraz 1997

92 points

Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia. 12.8%

One bottle was partially oxidised. This review is of the 2nd. Both had crumbly corks but the better bottle had better fill.

Warm, deep red flavours, quite a lot of fruit sweetness. Smooth and rich but not cloying. Food friendly.

A bit more spice, even a touch of greeness would have really made thus wine. But then I can hardly accuse them of picking too ripe at a mere 12.8%. Fascinating wine.

Might have lived another decade under screwcap.

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Sandalford estate reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

88 points

Margaret River, Western Australia. 14.5%

This is a very good wine but I’m marking it down a few points because it’s just a bit to showy. The oak is obtrusive, dry and a bit raspy. And the alcohol is too high. I know it is young but I have major doubts that this will properly knit together, at least into something fine.

So breathe the wine now and enjoy it young as a showy wine. Nice flavours even if it lacks mid palate density.

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Shaw + Smith Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2010

90+ points

Adelaide Hills, South Australia. 14%

Gosh. This is so like a Northern Rhone, a Cote-Rotie, without the sinew or tannin of a Hermitage. Quite beautiful and floral.

I’m not good at judging young cool climate shiraz. In fact I don’t usually like it while it has this flush of youthful, floral fruit. But this is good after a good breathing.

Worth watching over the next decade or so.

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McWilliams Mount Pleasant O.P & O.H. Hermitage 1967

89 points

Hunter Valley, Australia. Unknown alcohol level probably 13% or lower.

Yes a real mueseum wine with fabulous old label. Fill level was down to just below top shoulder, not alarming for a wine of 46 years.

From “the old paddock” and “the old hill”.

Quite good darkish colour.

Clear nose, very old.

Possibly the most savoury dry wine I’ve ever had. All fruit sweetness has dried up. Surprisingly there seems to be some lingering oak flavour. With food this was quite good. Nice weight. Interesting aged flavours. The next bottle which has better fill might even be better?

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Meerea Park Hell Hole Shiraz 2003

86 points

Hunter Valley, NSW. 14%. Screwcap

I’m disappointed, this wine hasn’t developed as well as I hoped. Or perhaps simply isn’t as good as I once thought.

There are some interesting leather tones but the main impression is overly ripe grapes rather than regional character. Lacks the finesse, acid of great Hunter shiraz.

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Cape Mentelle shiraz 2001

94 points

Margaret River, WA. 14.5%

One of Australia’s great shiraz. Distinctive style, a sort of North South Rhone mix. Opulent yet fresh.

For a good while I though the 99 superior to the 2001 but now I think this has not only improved but now surpassed the 99.

I very much anticipate the 2007+ vintages which were superb. They just need 12 years or so in bottle, if you can resist enjoying them earlier.

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Pavillion Rouge du Chateau Margaux 1996

92 points

Margaux, Bordeaux. 12.5%

Many bottles from this case have been disappointing. A good but rather plain, obviously Merlot oriented wine. Out of company with other left-bank 96s.

But now at 17 years old it is starting to blossom. Rich but now with savoury and green hints, making a very attractive wine.

For a 2nd wine showing this sort of longevity is a surprise to me. I wrote this wine off too early. Very pleased to be found wrong.

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Alloomi Jarrah Shiraz 1998

93 points

Frankland, Western Australia. 12.5%

There is a French saying that there are no great wines just great bottles. If the cork gods are smiling, if the mood is right, if you open the wine at just the right age…

Other bottles of this wine were interesting. A distinctly cool climate wine with plenty of acid, low alcohol.

This bottle, my last (of course) was superb. Like a great Northern Rhone the aroma was beguiling and the taste savoury, complex, refreshing.

From 30+ year old vines, 18 months in new French oak.

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Greenstone Shiraz 2008

91+ points

Heathcote, Victoria. 13.5%

Very impressive wine. Not over blown like some Heathcote wines, restrained alcohol and extraction.

For me this is quintessential flavour of shiraz. Not baked warm climate and no flowery cool climate distractions. Just pure essence of shiraz.

Moderate concentration. I’m not entirely sure how long to age it. Should drink well for 10 more years.

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Wendouree Shiraz 1997

91 points

Clare Valley, South Australia. 13.6%

Whoa. There is still obvious, very fine, new oak. Still fresh with youthful acidity.

Fine fruit, not cool climate but far from heavy or sweet.

Strange wine in that some elements are built for the very long term, but also a touch of aged oxidation.

That’s why some bottles of Wendouree are sublime and others so so. Thank goodness they are using screwcap now because corks just aren’t up to wines with this longevity.

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mesh Eden Valley Riesling 2012

90 points

Eden Valley, Adelaide Hills. 12%

A creation of Jeffrey Grosset and Robert Hill Smith (of Yalumba). Presumably grapes from Yalumba vineyards made into wine by Grosset.

A very nice wine with svelte acidity. I suspect that 2012 is a natural acidity (ie not added) vintage and the wines are so much better for it. This is dry yet low alcohol. It’s not quite a charmer, it’s a little too savoury for that. Needs to be matched carefully to food.

Pikes Clare Riesling seems to have more fruit sweetness.

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Jacob’s Creek St Hugo Barossa Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2010

87+ points

Barossa Valley, South Australia. 14%

Surprisingly soft approachable style with minimal tannin and even acid, and no obvious wood flavour.

The flavour there is is not cosmetic lolly young grenache. It’s like the old Burgundy style of Australia. Not particularly concentrated though and so a bit swamped by food.

Not thrilling, yet I suspect it may gain a lot from short-term cellaring, and will decline slowly after that.

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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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