Brokenwood Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz 2004

90++ points

Hunter Valley,NSW, Australia. 12.5%

Concentrated wine with youthful acidity and oak. On a frame of only 12.5% alcohol – a long way from being a syrupy blockbuster. Tremendous potential.

Savoury complex shiraz without the floral aspects of cool climate shiraz nor any of the pruney aspects of warm climate shiraz. Like Hermitage in a good year!

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Pittnauer St Laurent 2009

88+ Points

Burgenland Austria. 12.5%

I thought that this was Pinot. But apparently the grape is St Laurent, which is like Pinot, but (being Austrian) very dark cherry-like. Very enjoyable though young. Of course I have no experience with aging. It’s fresh tasty, nothing over-worked. So my advice is enjoy now.

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Tyrrell’s Vat 9 Hunter Shiraz 2000

91+ points

Hunter Valley,Australia. 13%

Seems odd to put a plus sign (for extra potential) on a wine already almost 14 years old but this has a way to go. Aged complexity is emerging, but there is plenty of fruit sweetness, almost too much. Otherwise it has nice restraint.

Lovely aromas. Inviting. Varietal. Not masked by oak.

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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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De Iulis steven vineyard shiraz 2009

92+ points

Hunter Valley, Australia. 13%

Top wines are marked not just by their concentration of flavour but by their wonderful balance. This wine is beautiful young, pristine shiraz, totally effortless nothing forced, everything nicely in place, including moderate alcohol.

Needless to say this is attractive drinking now but it really is a waste the flavours are still youthful and primary. The rewards of cellaring should be great.

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Seppelt St Peters Shiraz 2007

91+ points

Grampians, Victoria. 13.5% screwcap

This is very good. Sleek, concentrated, great flavour. Quite fresh and young, has long life ahead of it. Great components, bright savoury fruit, restrained French oak. Impressive young wine.

Enjoy now or in 10 years time.

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Rockford Basket Press Shiraz 1999

89 points

Barossa Valley, South Australia. 14.5%

I’d forgotten how Penfolds this wine is, the added acid and sunstantial oak. Best after breathing. These are wines best consumed young for the bright fruit or as old as possible (definitly 12+ years).

PS Awesome bottle. Best back label in Australia.

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Penfolds Bin 90A 1990

91 points

Coonawarra Cabernet & Barossa Valley Shiraz. South Australia. 13.5%

When I lasted tasted this wine it was in Bordeaux in the company of some old claret and this wine stood out as quite a freak. Not because of the shiraz, but the American oak, the eucalypt mintiness, and the added acid.

Today a few years later and alongside a Coonawarra Cab it’s less freaky but still a very unusual wine. It’s so obviously built for long aging. Very concentrated and with lots of tannin, both grape and oak, and the acid of course.

I think this really does have the potential to turn into something dry and more ethereal, as very old food friendly table wine. But it’s 23 years old already and it still tastes manufactured, not complete relaxed wine.

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Lindemans Pyrus 1996

89 points

Coonawarra, South Australia. 13%

Fresh colour. Has a mixture of young and old characters. Some oddly vanillian French oak. It’s not going to age well further I suspect, it will get further disjointed. But, for now, with food, it is a pleasant drop. Interesting, for a fairly simple Bordeaux blend.

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Tyrrell’s Wines Vat 9 Hunter Shiraz 1998 & 1991

91 & 92 points

Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia. 13.5% & 12.4%

Both flavoursome Shiraz unadorned with new oak flavours. Both mid-weight although the 98 is darker, more dense and ripe. The 91 is all the more fascinating for its low alcohol. A lovely complete wine. A good bottle.

Clean modern wines but characterful reflections of terroir (without any “sweaty saddle”). Ahead of their time.

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Willow Bridge Estate G1-10 Chardonnay 2011

89 points

Margaret River, WA. 13%

Full flavoured chardonnay. Oak well integrated. Good early drinking restaurant wine. Almost oily texture. Says only 13% on the label, thank goodness, this wine would be unbalanced if it were any higher. Although this is a lucious forward wine it does have nice balancing acidity – for now.

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Chateau Barde-Haut 2001

90+ points

Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux. 13.5%

Dark colour. Complex, savoury nose rather than pretty. A bit funky. Touch mercapten.

Rich but not weighty, nor the least bit extracted. Thankfully not a souped up St Emilion. Has some development ahead of it, enjoyable but still a tad closed. I’m pleased I bought this wine that was quite unknown to me.

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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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Moet and Chandon 2002

90+ points

Whoa, this is intense powerful champagne. Not pretty. Will benefit from more bottle age, two nights later the second half of the bottle was more charming than the first.

I’m not sure I approve of this style, but nevertheless it’s impressive, particularly coming from such a large commercial house.

Great label – unmistakenly vintage champagne!

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Willi Schaefer 2007 and Dr Loosen 2009 Wehlener Sonnenuhur Riesling Kabinett

87+ points. 7.5%

I was surprised to find so little difference between these wines. The Willi Schaefer was a little more developed, again not surprising given it was two years older. The Dr Loosen was more aromatic which I think is due to the screwcap.

Perhaps this similarity is to be expected given that two highly competent winemakers are making wine from the same vineyard.

Neither burst with acid and concentrated flavour. The 30 or so grams of residual sugar perhaps dampen the acid.

Neither are (yet) particularly luscious and flavoursome as good Riesling that has some residual sugar can be.

Given a choice I’d buy the Dr Loosen because of the screwcap.

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Chancers and visionaries by Keith Stewart

This book, a history of wine in New Zealand is well researched and written.

It was an interesting read for me particularly as a grew up in the modern wine era and so knew of many of the “chancers and visionaries” who feature in the modern varietal dry table wine era. Many other areas of the world, even old world wine areas, went through a similar revolution in the past 30 years so non Kiwis may also find thus book interesting.

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Voyager Estate Cabernet Merlot 2008

90+ points

Margaret River, Western Australia. 13.6%

I stopped buying Voyager cabernet after the 2004 vintage. Their quality was undeniable but stylistically they were heading towards a hefty Californian style. But this is a breath of fresh air, great (albeit youthful) flavour with a lovely freshness and vitality. I wasn’t surprised to see they have moderated their alcohol level too.

Well done. Seriously good WA cabernet blend.

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