An amazing Australian wine tasting
Tasting rare and old Australian wines, back to 1884

Chairman’s Dinner, Royal Melbourne Wine Show, 10 October 2012

This was to be a special evening. The judges at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show gathered to taste a remarkable collection of mostly old Australian wines with dinner. It seems mad to give special old bottles like these a score, so ignore the numbers if this grates with you. It's also really hard to assess old wines when there's something special about them aside from simply how they taste.

David Bicknell, Chairman of the RMWS, speaks

Seppelt Drumbourg Riesling 1978 Drumbourg/Great Western, Australia
Lovely texture and good acidity here: rich and toasty with notes of apricot, ripe citrus fruit and some herbal notes. Odd-dry style. 93/100

Orlando St Helga Riesling 1996 Eden Valley, Australia
Toasty, herby and citrussy with richness and boldness. Some tangerine notes. Attractive, structured style. Dry. 91/100

Orlando Steingarten Riesling 1997 Eden Valley, Australia
Nutty, toasty and pithy. Rich, evolved style with waxy, herby notes and a dry finish. Some richer peach and apricot notes in the mix, too. 90/100

Peter Lehmann Reserve Riesling 2001 Eden Valley, Australia
Austere, dry style, still youthful and dense with intense lime cordial character. Primary flavours need time to develop. 89/100

Orlando Steingarten Riesling 2005 Eden Valley, Australia
Pithy, lively and intense. Primary, grippy, taut and austere. Hard to assess at this stage. 89/100

By Farr Chardonnay 2004 Geelong, Australia
Mealy, rich and broad with notes of peach, pear and spice. Soft palate with nice depth of creamy pear fruit. Broad and appealing. 92/100

By Farr Chardonnay 2008 Geelong, Australia
Textured and pure with peach, pear, apple and melon fruit. Rich, smooth, polished and rounded. 91/100

Tyrrell’s Vat 47 Chardonnay 2008 Hunter Valley, Australia
Taut and quite fresh, but rich at the same time. Nice peach and pear fruit with some lively acidity. Not as rich as you’d expect from this wine, but 2008 was a tricky vintage indeed in the Hunter. Fine and expressive with some toasty notes. 92/100

The Mooraduc Chardonnay 2008 Mornington Peninsular, Australia
Mealy, peachy and rich with bold fruit flavours. Soft textured and broad. Very rich in style. 91/100

Giaconda Chardonnay 2008 Beechworth, Australia
Fine, bold, rich and peachy with some pear notes. Ripe and full with lovely texture. Toasty, mealy and rich with a long finish. 94/100

Bindi Quartz Chardonnay 2008 Macedon Ranges, Australia
Beautifully precise with a hint of matchstick and some pronounced mineral notes. Lovely texture and freshness with lemony fruit. Fresh, precise, wonderful. 95/100

Salo Chardonnay 2008 Yarra Valley, Australia
Taut and precise with some phenolic notes. Lovely pear, peach and apple fruit with appealing minerality and a bit of grip. 93/100

Penfolds Yattarna 2008 Coal River Valley, Tasmania, Australia
Rich and intense with lively, complex pear, peach and tangerine notes. Very lively with good acidity. Fills all the gaps in the flavour space. Quite profound. 94/100

Yarra Yerring Dry Red No 1 1983 Yarra Valley, Australia
This is a Cabernet-based wine. Savoury, earthy yet fine with lovely leathery notes as well as cherry and plum fruit. Fine and expressive with lovely weight. 93/100

Mount Mary Quintets 1986 Yarra Valley, Australia
Earthy, mushroomy, taut, precise with iodine and mineral notes as well as bright, fresh notes. Savoury and linear. 94/100

Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 1990 Margaret River, Australia
Savoury, a bit earthy, spicy and dense. Nice acidity with some berry fruits and a bit of blackcurrant. Good depth and freshness. Nice fruit here. 92/100

Bests Pinot Meunier 1976 Great Western, Australia
From an 1860s planting. Some soy sauce, iodine and mineral notes but the dominant theme is sweet, pure, linear cherry and berry fruits. So linear and pure, with real elegance and freshness. 96/100

Bass Philip Pinot Noir Premium 1989 Gippsland, Australia
Meat, bovril and spice notes on the nose. Firm and savoury with some spicy depth. Dense, evolved, earthy and quite tannic. 86/100

Tyrrell’s MT Hermitage 1986 Hunter Valley, Australia
Earthy, jammy, mature and leathery with nice berry and plum fruits backed up by firm tannins. 90/100

Brokenwood Graveyard Hermitage 1991 Hunter Valley, Australia
Minerally and earthy with notes of spice and herbs, as well as cherry and plum fruit. Savoury notes of iodine, earth and leather on the palate, with warm, precise berry fruits. 94/100

Wynns Hermitage 1965 Coonawarra, Australia
Herb, mineral and spice notes on the nose, with nice precise cherry and berry fruits. Good acidity, and notes of leather, herbs and spice. Fine and expressive. 94/100

Wendouree Pressings 1977 Clare Valley, Australia
Lovely taut, dense, spicy black fruits with a hint of earth. Nice density and savoury seriousness, with good structure. 93/100

Mount Langhi Ghiran Shiraz 1981 Grampians, Australia
The first bottle showed rather tired fruit and meat, bovril and spice notes. The second is much fresher with vitality, lovely fruit and good weight. Stylish stuff. 93/100

Saltram Vintage Port 1945 Barossa, Australia
This is Cabernet: the cellar hands fortified the wrong fermenter, and instead of Shiraz, fortified this Cabernet. Sweet and intense with notes of mint, meat and warm sweet raisins, as well as cherries, spice, plums and a hint of treacle. Very sweet and warm with lovely mint notes. Brilliantly integrated spirit. 96/100

Campbells Rare Muscat NV, Rutherglen, Australia
From the 1950s and 60s, blended in the 1990s. Complex, rich and raisiny. Spicy and bold. Viscous, powerful palate, so lively and intense with great acidity and amazing concentration. 95/100

Seppeltsfield Para Tawny 1884 Barossa, Australia
Seppeltsfield have an unbroken line of tawny ports in bottle from 1878-2012. Amazingly intense nose of treacle, spice, raisin, balsamic vinegar. Viscous and amazingly concentrated. Powerful, spicy flavours with treacle, molasses, raisins and stunning acidity. Some crème brulee too.  A remarkable experience. 98/100

See also:

A historical perspective: tasting old Aussie wines

Wines tasted 10/12  
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