Organiser: Wine Australia for Landmark Australia Tutorial
Commentators: James Halliday and Andrew Caillard MW
The tasting was part of the inaugural Landmark Australia Tutorial organised in the Barossa in June 2009. The tutorial has been inspired by the legendary Len Evans Tutorial, which has educated the rising Australian wine talent for decades. During the five seminar days the privileged, selected 12 international attendees were introduced to 248 top Australian wines.
The most memorable event was the Historic Perspective Tasting for which Langton auction houses fine wine principal Andrew Caillard MW and famed Australian wine authority James Halliday had selected and sourced a great collection of Australian classics all the way down to 1954 Seppelt Great Western Hermitage K72 and 1955 Penfolds Bin 95 Grange.
The unique tasting experiences were supported by Caillards in-depth knowledge of the market for mature wines and Halliday’s personal memories of earlier tastings of the same wines as well as his colourful stories of the people behind them.
I was fascinated to be part of the journey into the very early days of Australian fine wine. It was also convincing to witness the aging capacity of these wines, which do not enjoy the same reputation as their European competitors.
Seppelt Great Western Hermitage K72 Shiraz 1954, Grampians, Great Western 90p 2009/2009
Pale brown-hued, fully mature colour. Evolved, slightly oxidised dried fruit nose with figs, raisins, orange peel, tar and spices. Hint of volatility accentuates nose of the wine. Vinous, viscous and smooth palate. Almost a fortified feel to the sweet, low tannin palate. Still alive with some fruit remaining but helplessly past its peak.
Penfolds Bin 95 Grange Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 1955, South Australia 94p 2009/2015
Deep brown colour. Powerful, scented tertiary nose with tar and spices, medicinal notes as well as mocha nuances. Wide, voluptuous palate with some firming tannin left, surrounded by opulent fruit. Warming alcohol, sweet, lifted fruit and good concentration on the palate, which feels high in glycerol. Oak aromas are still detectable. This fully mature wine has still some years ahead of it.
Wynns Coonawarra Estate Michael Shiraz 1955, Coonawarra, South Australia 90p 2009/2009
Opaque mature brick red colour. Lifted spicy nose with capsicum, mint, tar and dried fruit. Powerful, leafy taste with drying powdery tannin. This wine has a distinct “European”, cool climate feel to it. Past it peak but no sudden deterioration is at sight.
Penfolds Bin 60A Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 1962, Coonawarra South Australia 94p 2009/2020
Deep browning colour. Evolved medicinal iodine nose with mint and oriental spices. High tannin content with an attractively lacy texture. Lots of sweet fruit left. Aged gracefully offering still power and complexity of fruit. A charming old wine with still a good ten years ahead of it.
Penfolds Grange Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 1971, South Australia 95p 2009/2020
Deep brown colour. Fragrant and stylish tar and mint nose with pepper and dark fruit in layers. High tannin and a drying finish. Alcohol is perfectly balanced and a nice freshness prevails. Drinking wonderfully now but there is a lot of tannin left, probably lasting longer than the now charming but mature fruit will.
Wynns Coonawarra Estate John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 1982, Coonawarra South Australia 92p 2009/2025
Medium-deep tawny-hued ruby colour. Green aromas such as leafiness, mint and capsicum dominate alongside blackcurrant and spices. Full-bodied and rounded, sweet fruity palate with bright, refreshing acidity. Pleasantly full mid-palate for an aged Cabernet with lacy, smooth tannin. Showing its full spectrum of qualities today and has a long life ahead of it.
Wendouree Shiraz 1985, Clare, South Australia 88p 2009/2009
Medium-deep ruby-hued tawny colour. Port-like alcoholic nose with woody whisky hints and oriental spices. A very peculiar aroma spectrum and an old-fashioned style. Hard drying tannin and spicy, tight-knit fruit. Will no longer improve.
Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz 1986, Eden Valley, South Australia 92p 2009/2017
Medium-deep evolving ruby colour. Powerful mint and tar nose with new oak aromas still prevailing. Nicely balanced high alcohol and attractive, firm yet ripe tannin. A very well made fine wine in at its peak.
Brokenwood Hermitage Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz 1986, Hunter Valley, New South Wales 93p 2009/2015
Tawny colour. Toasty and smoky nose with liquorice and animally hints. Earthy complexity and lots of character. Firm structure of dry tannin on the palate. Very different from the rest of the wines. Peaking now but has several years ahead of it.
Mount Mary Vineyard Lilydale Cabernets Quintet 1990, Yarra, Victoria 90p 2009/2020
Deep, dark purple colour. Fragrant, minty cabernet nose with ripe plums, mint, liquorice and leafs. Refined nose with harmonious and structured palate. Green fruit flavours continue on the palate. Nice freshness and length. The wine shows wonderfully today but fruit concentration and structure will keep it going for another ten years.
Cullen Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1995, Margaret River, Western Australia 92p 2009/2020
Deep ruby red colour. Beautifully fragrant, spicy and meaty blackcurrant nose. Wide and round, silky concentrated palate. Wonderful green fruit and floral touches on the long and still tight palate. This wine will improve for the next 10 years.
Clarendon Hills Astralis Vineyard Shiraz 1996, McLaren Vale, South Australia 90p 2009/2018
Deep ruby colour. Overt nose of tar and roses. Complementing spice, vanilla, cherry and green pepper complexity. Full-bodied and firmingly tannic palate. Weighty, even heavy on the long, warming palate. Still all elements not completely integrated, if they ever will.
Penfolds Block 42 Kalimna Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1996, Barossa, South Australia 92p 2009/2020
Opaque, ruby colour. Nicely evolved, open, fragrant cassis nose with spicy, new French oak aromatics. Full, powerful and technically perfected palate. Starts to see its peak but there is lot of fruit and substantial tannin left.
Best’s Wines Thomson Family Great Western Shiraz 1996, Grampians, Great Western 89p 2009/2020
Deep, dark red colour with signs of evolution. Fragrant, even pungent tequila nose with blackberry and black pepper aromas. High, warming alcohol on the tannic and concentrated palate. Impressive concentration but lack freshness and finesse of a great wine. Lot’s of life ahead, though.
Petaluma Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1998, Coonawarra, South Australia 90p 2009/2025
Deep dark, garnet colour. Spicy, capsicum nose with meaty characters and oaky nuances. Very young on the tight palate that has grippy tannin leading to a drying finish. Needs at least five more years to reach peak.
Torbreck Run Rig Shiraz Viognier 1999, Barossa, South Australia 89p 2009/2017
Bright blood red colour. Pronounced medicinal, iodine nose with vanilla and herbs. Warming alcoholic feel on the full-bodied and round, even cooked palate. Concentrated and too heavy to my taste. Will benefit from a few more years’ cellaring.
Bass Phillip Reserve Pinot Noir 2001, South Gippsland 89p 2009/2015
Medium deep ruby colour developing tawny hues. Pungent nose of sweet red fruit, spices, liquorice and farmyard notes. Meaty, charred and savoury complexity. High alcohol on the palate, which has a velvety smooth texture with enough freshness and length. Lots of flavours and personality here. Not everybody’s cup of tea though.
Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2001, Canberra District 93p 2009/2018
Ruby-red, bright colour. Highly spicy and fragrant floral nose with both varieties showing. Lovely mid-weight palate with charming elegance of tannin and enough freshness. Pepper on the surface. Enjoyable just now but with a few more years of improvement potential.
Seppelt St Peters Great Western Shiraz 2002, Grampians, Great Western 90p 2009/2023
Opaque purple colour. Vanilla, dough and spice nose. Wide, powerful and concentrated palate with oak, herb and lactic flavours. Highly extracted, heavy and lacking finesse. Very young still and needs time for better integration of oak.
Balnaves of Coonawarra The Tally Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Coonawarra, South Australia 89p 2009/2020
Purple colour with evolving red hues. Green, minty nose and plummy liquorice fruit. Huge tannin and chewy fruit. This wine should not be touched for the next five years.