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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Craggy Range Le Sol shiraz 2007

90+ points

Craggy Range, Hawkes Bay, NZ. 14%

Quite a sophisticated show pony. Well judged expensive oak frames silky cool climate shiraz. It’s good.

I just fear that it seems to lack character. Perhaps with age?

And I find the price a bit disconcerting. This is exciting cool climate shiraz but it has a number of Australian competitors now. It stands out for sophistication but some of its competitors have pedigree, distinctiveness, regional character and/or price advantages.

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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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Bernard Faurie Hermitage (assemblage) 2005

90++ points

Rhone, France. 13%

This is fine wine, effortlessly balanced. Very impressive winemaking and viticulture. This is natural, low intervention wine.

Distinctly cool climate floral notes though this is ripe, medium bodied fruit.

Very young. It will always be an elegant wine. Needs another 5 years and may last decades after that, power and extract aren’t needed for longevity.

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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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Domaine des Lises Crozes Hermitage 2006

88+ points

Crozes-Hermitage, France. 13%

From Maxime Graillot, son of Alan, famous Crozes-Hermitage producer. This vintage is quite a confronting wine. It’s not green but it reeks of stalky floral flavour. And black pepper.

It’s been near impossible to drink until now when it’s starting to calm down and put on some flesh. I find it hard to believe this wine will ever be more than characterful, but I’m optimistic.

Interesting to give to someone used to warm climate shiraz. I don’t think they would ever guess it is the same grape.

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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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Yalumba FDR1a 2008

86 points

Barossa Valley, South Australia. 13.5%

FDR1A stands for “fine dry red” a Cabernet Shiraz blend aged in French, Hungarian and American oak. I’m not sure what the point of this wine in Yalumba’s portfolio when they already have The Signature cab/shiraz blend which is supposed to be “the finest red of the vintage”.

Anyway this isn’t a patch on the 2006 Signature. The fruit doesn’t sing in anything like the same way.

Heavily oaky dense, old fashioned wine.

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Seppelt St Peters Shiraz 2000

91 points

Great Western, Victoria. 13%

Prematurely aged. Astonishing to think this is only 2 years older than the 2002. Cork probably is partly to blame, also the vintage.

Funky flavoursome wine. Volatile acidity gives it quite a lift. Tonnes of character, not all pleasant but complex and great sweet core of fruit. DRINK NOW.

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Seppelt St Peters Shiraz 2002

94+ points

Grampians, Victoria, Australia. 14%

Wow, the 1998 is excellent but this is even more exciting.

Highly aromatic, still youthful. Spicey floral aromas mingle with oak. Still large primary aromas. Great potential.

The palate is intruiging, very complex, not forceful or weighty I think this fine wine’s charms could be missed in the wrong setting. The balance makes it exceptionally easy drinking though it is still youthful. The last glass is better than the first – seemed like a half bottle said my wife, a sure sign of a fine well balanced wine.

Would love to try this against Turkey Flat Shiraz 2002 ie Barossa and therefore much warmer weightier but also a french oaked wine of restraint.

I wish this wine was screwcap not cork, and there was more available to buy.

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