Notes from a recent gathering of my group that drinks their best wines together – the wines you collect and then they sit there because they are just a little too good to bring out for just anything, and the special occasion never seems to come around. We all had that sort of wine and decided that we would meet 5 times a year and MAKE the occasion when we could haul out our special bottles and drink them together. Core group of 5 people and we sometimes add one guest.
This time around was my turn and I opted for Australian wines, drunk in the garden with a marinated BBQ butterflied leg of lamb.
1992 Rosemount Roxburgh Chardonnay – this was an unlisted cellar find a few years ago – a wine I thought had long been drunk up but there was one remaining bottle. At that age I figured I’d hang onto it until we had a decrepit chard event or for something like this. The colour was amber, but there was only the faintest hint of oxidation in the nose and the fruit was still holding well. Interesting and well worth tasting. We decided to cork the remaining half bottle and compare it with the backup I hd standing by, no spring chicken itself.
1998 Ch. Reynella Chardonnay (McLaren Vale) – this wine got 75% American and 25% French oak for 9 months and 40% went through malo-lactic. A yellow wine, but without the orange highlights of the older chard. Smooth toasty nose and some decent complexity on palate, the oak now fully integrated (a few years ago it was a bit one-note). Nice balance.
1996 E&E Black Pepper Shiraz – OK, I’ll fess up – this was supposed to have been a vertical of Eileen Hardy, but I couldn’t find mine in the cellar. I KNOW there is a sixpack of Eileen Hardy 1996 lurking there somewhere, I just have to guess where and start excavating…. I decided to put this one up – nice wine unfortunately rated by the Wine Speculator at about the time it was released here. A 97 point score meant it was instantly unobtainable. A massive sweet minty fruit nose makes this one a bad choice for a blind tasting (which this was not) as it is so easily identifiable. Smooth and sweet on palate, with some tannin but essentially ready fro prime time. Really smooth and the best nose of the bunch.
1997 Eileen Hardy Shiraz – a yellow label and marked as 100% Mclaren Vale fruit. This wine was even darker with another minty nose, a bit less complex and layered than the E&E. It was also smooth and had excellent length with the best finish opf the lot. Very nice wine ready to start drinking.
1998 Eileen Hardy Shiraz – beige label which didn’t indicate fruit origin. Also predictably dark with less mint and more vanilla in the nose, and similarly smooth with fairly sweet fruit and good length, but I liked the 97 better, which surprised me a little given the rep of this vintage. I have noted my predilection for the earlier vintage with other wines like the Fox Creek, which reminds me to (find) and pull a bottle each of their 1997 and 1998 Reserve Shiraz one of these days to try out my theory.
1997 Brokenwood Shiraz Reyner Vineyard – good thing we decided to taste this one separately as it had different weight than the others. Lots of blackberry here and with 18 months of American oak lots of vanilla and cocoa as well. Big wine, it had a weighty middle and still shows as fairly tannic with excellent length. Great with the cheeses. Still needs time.