Crazy crazy day today! Almost felt like I was a professional wine taster! Big thank you to Dan Murphies Bulleen to putting on a premium wine tasting session of 19 wines including vertical tastings of Rockford Basket Press, Moss Wood and a Magnum of 10 year old Grange. So pour self a glass, sit back, listen to this can get comfortable cos this is epic.

The world warriors:

Sriyan, Eugene, Michelle, Alex, Simon and Me

The bad boys:

I had received a Facebook event with premium wine tasting day. Of course I was excited and quickly sent the event out to my wine friends to in turn did the same. After a few rainchecks, we ended up with the awesome team of six you see before you ready to take on the mission. The team assembled at 1.00pm at Dan Murphies Bulleen and hit the wines asap. The tastings were done is brackets though we ended up mix and matching some of them at the end of the day.

There’s going to be a lot of repetition on these notes and I just didn’t have enough time to sit and ponder over the wines like I usually do, so in short, the notes follows this pattern:

  • Some background of the wine
  • Nose
  • Initial attack of the wine
  • Mid palate
  • Finish
  • Thoughts

Excited!? let’s do this!

Bracket 1 – Barossa/Coonawarra/Victoria

Penfolds 389 Cabernet Shiraz 1998

Wild Duck Creek Springflat Shiraz 2004

Mount Langi Ghiran Shiraz 1998

Best’s Thomson Family Shiraz 2006

Orlando St Hugo Cabernet Sauvingon 1998

Penfolds Grange 2001

Penfolds 389 Cabernet Shiraz 1998

The first vintage of Bin 389 was in 1960, and was immediately dubbed, ‘Poor Man’s Grange’. As with Bin 28, Bin 128 and 707 (baby grange), this wine was developed from Max Schuberts experiments in the 1950’s & 1960’s. Aside from Grange, this wine is the affordable flagship wine from Penfolds, and combines the Classic Australian combination of Cabernet and Shiraz. Today, this wine is sourced from a variety of vineyards in South Australia and is testament to the great interregional blending abilities of the Penfolds team. The wine consists of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon and 41% Shiraz, which has spent 14 months in American oak, 22% of which was new.

A great start to the day. Green grass fresh nose, makes me think of insects! Attack is creamy and vanilla which quickly flips into a pinewood rawness and a pit of lemon pepper. Finish is zippy and tingley on the gums. It’s long and feels high is alcohol without the burn.

Wild Duck Creek Springflat Shiraz 2004

Wild duck creek, Heathcote, is made from tiny yields of 1.5 to 1.8 tons of fruit per acre, aged in 50% new and 50% 1 and 2 year old oak (half American and half French) barrels.

Crispy skin duck with chinese spice! wierd! Hints of aniseed and liquorice also. Palate is sweet straight away, brown sugar. Mid palate continues this trend adding some bark. Zips into a candied orange and chocolate finish. Great drinking wine with the ability to age for 5 years more at least.

Mount Langi Ghiran Shiraz 1998

Originally planted in the late 1960s, the spectacular vineyard lies at the base of the 540 metre cliff-face of Mt Langi Ghiran. The well ventilated site is trellised to an arched cane system which promotes an open canopy. Vinification takes place in shallow open fermenters. The wine is aged in a combination of American and French oak barriques and puncheons for approximately 12 months before bottling.

Nose is straight away Japanese smoked eel and coffee beans. The attack is broody with the tannins tickling the tongue. It transitions into a sweet and sour profile, almost pineapple and kiwi with a side of smokey bacon. Finish is tight, very tight and tannins are prominent in the back half of your tongue and mouth. Sweet vanilla notes come in here mixed with some lemon rind. This was the dark horse of the day. Great elegant wine and great value.

Best’s Thomson Family Shiraz 2006

The particularly rare Best’s Thomson Family Shiraz is one of Victoria’s greatest wines and represents a window to Australia’s winemaking past. It has a big sweet fairy floss hits on the nose. Go back to your childhood cos this is redskins. Enticing nose, but, the attack is wanting. Its flat, mid palate is more tannins and some kiwi fruit and raspberry but nothing much going on here. The palate does not match the nose at all. Finish is dry and boring. Sorry, but for me it gets a big Pazzzzzzz.

Orlando St Hugo Cabernet Sauvignon 1998

From Orlando wines, St Hugo is a  classic stylish Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon from a great vintage.

Extremely green on the nose, reminds you of pine needles. Attack is jumbled, mix of sour cherries, strawberries and a dash of cardboard like tannins. The mid palate brings it all together well. The finish is tart, minerally and dark chocolate. It’s somewhat short. A fine wine.

Penfolds Grange 2001

Australia’s most famous wine, Penfolds’ Grange cuvee (the word Hermitage has been dropped because of legal issues). The 2001 Grange is one of the few vintages of this cuvee to be composed of 100% Shiraz (the others being 1951, 1952, 1963, 1999, and 2000). Aged 17 months in 100% American oak, and tipping the scales at 14.5% alcohol, the 2001 is undeniably one of the top examples of this wine. Lucky enough to try this wine three times over the course of the day.

First go brought cinnamon, spices and violets to the nose, extremely complex, creamy and lush. Lots of spice and vanilla and feels very young. Initial attack on the palate is a bit tannic, acid from some sour cherries. It does mellow out to at the mid palate, slightly sweet with great balance of flavours, though you have to search for it. Even so, I foudn it disappointing in the flavour department I blame the tightness. Finish is long and acidic and you can feel the heat of the alcohol but it’s not unpleasant. Soft and more flavours come in here. Still young and needs more time. At this point, I would suggest another 10-15 years more.

Second go brings a big oak nose, again very creamy and smooth. Attack is sweeter, bready like cinnamon doughnuts. Some slight tannins in the background but generally very smooth. The mid palate is big bold and oaky in flavours with large fruit characteristics. Finish is long, touch of acid and complex and rich. Still need more time! Better than before, From here I would say, try again in  10 years.

Third go was vs the Basket press Shriaz 1996. The noses are comparable though you get more from the Grange. The taste is again very similar though you get more complexity and layers from the grange though I am splitting hairs here. Definitely two wines cut from the same cloth, the grange is just a notch better but value for money, my pick goes to the Basket Press. Grange is the Johnny walker Blue label of wines, the quality is there but extremely over priced. For people who don’t enjoy analysing wines, the Basket press will give you the same pleasure as the Grange. It’s basically a slightly inferior Grange but again, it’s only the subtle differences.

Bracket 2 – Barossa / McLaren Vale

Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz 1998

D’Arenbery Dead Arm 2002

BVE E&E Black Pepper Shiraz 1999

Rockford Basket Press Shiraz 2003, 2001, 2000, 1996

Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz 1998

Fox Creeks most celebrated wine, first made in 1994 and typical style and characteristics of the best wines of the McLaren Vale region. The Reserve is noted to have an extraordinary range of flavours and decanting is recommended.

Dull nose with some dusty plums. Attach starts off strong with some wasabi, definitely cleared up my nose! Mid palate is sour and rum soaked strawberry. Felt too much alcohol on this wine and a touch rough. Oak comes in at the finish to round things out. Unfortunately I didn’t find tis to be a pleasant wine. At the price, (I think $200+) P, A, double S, which is surprising for such a highly rated wine. I guess you never never know if you never never go!

D’Arenbery Dead Arm 2002

The Dead Arm, from McLaren Vale gets its name after the disease “Eutypa Lata” which afflicts some of the oldest vines at d’Arenberg from which we get the majority of fruit destined for The Dead Arm. The disease, Eutypa Lata, or ‘Dead Arm’ is common all around the world in old vineyard sites. The disease  slowly reduces one of the ‘arms’ of the vines to dead wood, making the other arm of the vine produce small volumes of the most incredibly concentrated and highly flavoured grapes (score!).

Light sweet caramel fruits on the nose. Seems like a cheaper version of the 2001 Basket Press (see below). Some earthy vanilla components also. Attack is dry on the lips and tongue with spikes of bitterness and some guava. Mid palate becomes more dry and bitter but not in a bad way. T also has some nuttiness to it and feels restrained. Finish feels short and mimics almost an indian spiced curry. Not sure if its good but definitely an interesting wine.

BVE E&E Black Pepper Shiraz 1999

The plush Barossa Valley Estate E&E Black Pepper Shiraz is sourced from some of the best mature and independently dry grown vineyards in the northern Barossa sub-region of Moppa and Ebenezer. With an average age of over 60 years, these vineyards yield fruit of great power and finesse.

Leafy and bushy nose, firm and bold but not overpowering. Attach is flat but suddenly you get a hit of white pepper, lemon and kiwi peel. Mellows out in the mid palate but firms up and integrates all the flavours. Finish is seemless, feels like it sits in the background and lingers at the back of your tongue. Nice wine.

Baket Press Vertical Tastings: 2003, 2001, 2000, 1996

Rockford Wines of the Barossa Valley is owned by the very modest Robert O’Callaghan. Basket Press Shiraz, first produced in 1984 uses traditional winemaking techniques and equipments. Made from fruit sourced from local growers around Kalimna, Ebenezer, the Eden Valley and Central Barossa with vines between 60 to 136 years old.

Rockford Basket Press Shiraz 2003

Firm nose, caramel, dirt ad earthy aspects here. Attack is sharp, sweet and acidic. Well balanced. Smooths out of the mid palate with sour cherry but it’s very grainy. I want to say sand papery but it’s not that harsh. This follows into a gritty finish especially on the tongue. interesting.

Rockford Basket Press Shiraz 2001

Burnt candy and caramel. It’s a mix of vanilla oak and ripe sweet fruits. Attack is a touch bitter, tight to start with leading into a big sour cherry and strawberry hit. Finish is sharp and acidic, gentil tannins, firm and well structured. Great great wine. Interestingly, I tried this with a Riedel glass and it brings up cashew nuts whist firming up the tartness. Wow.

Rockford Basket Press Shiraz 2000

Great nose! Meaty like a slow cooked sweet spiced lamb. Accented nose coming in and out. Attack is maple syrup, bacon bits and smokey characteristics. Carries this flavour out through to the finish which is relatively short and somewhat waxy on the tongue.

Rockford Basket Press Shiraz 1996

Very different from the previous 2000’s range. A much more aged nose, more old world, earthy and dirt aspects and less sweet caramel noses. Attack is much more acidic than the others, thing and tingley on the palate with coco and chocolate flavours. Mid palate is more Cabernet than Shiraz and the finish actually changes and evolves, builds up in flavours over time and more cherries. Great wine.

Bracket 3 – Western Australia

Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot 2000

Howard Park Cabernet Sauvignon 2001

Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 2000, 1999, 1997, 1992

Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot 2000

What haven’t I said about Cullen, probably my 3rd or 4th bottle of Diana Madeline this month! Must be blessed, but alas, today was not a good day for what I perceive to be my personal top 3 Cabernets.

Very aromatically challenged. Even with the Riedel glass, you could only get some american oak and dark fruits. Very closed. Palate starts off very smooth, well balanced leaning on the tannins. Finish is found wanting. Bit disappointed with this wine, I have high hopes but it fell flat. Sigh.

Howard Park Cabernet  Sauvignon 2001

This premium West Australian Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot is the flagship wine from Howard Park. Made by chief winemaker Michael Kerrigan with its first vintage was in 1986, this wine has been a true reflection of the best fruit chosen from a handful of the oldest vineyards in Western Australia’s Margaret River region and the Mount Barker sub-region of the Great Southern. Rated under the “excellent” class of Langton’s Classifications, denoting “high performing wines of exquisite quality”.

Green, leafy nose with crushed rocks and dried berries. Attack is very good, well structured, weight but light on the tongue. Tannins a grippy on the gums. Mid palate is strong, firm and powerful whist balanced with a tannin backbone. Great wine. Finish is long, pepper steak notes with bay leaves and curry spices. Another value buy.

Moss Wood Vertical Tastings: 2000, 1999, 1997, 1992

Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon. Premium wines from the magical land of Margaret River owned by Keith and Clare Mugford. A magical set of wines mirroring the beautiful Bordeaux styles. I have said enough previously so let’s get to the tastings!

Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 2000

A bit aromatically challenged only getting bitter dark chocolates. Attach is almost buttery and creme brulee flavours. Thick and creamy with the balanced acidity of caramelised orange and lemon to match. Really really nice wine. Great balanced and the mid palate is bolder and more punchy. Finish is long, deep dark fruits and berries and chocolate. Wow. my pick of the wine of the day.

Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 1999

Different nose, very leafy and some toffee. Spicy on the attack, prominent acid but well balanced. Mellows out instead of lifting the flavours. Finishes dry and grippy leaving you with feelings of red/lush salted strawberry. Long and beautiful and very evolving wine. Cant help but think…slightnly over oxidised?

Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 1997

Feels past its prime, with lemon and lime on the nose. Attack is dusty, some sharpness, bit all over the place and not balanced. There is some chilly flakes and pizza dough on this guy. Strange. Finish is damp and musty and not what you expect from a wine at this price point.

Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 1992

Cork died on this one so it was aerated. Definitely an older wine. A bit sour on the nose, but also marshmallow and musty. Off? Hope not. Attack is sour and musty, some bitterness and tannins but not overly unpleasant though definitely past its prime and a ghost of its former self. Feels like it would have been high in fruit flavours but tasting today, a so so effort. Feels like secondary fruits were used. Bad beats hey.

Wow, that was epic. 19 wines over 3 hours of sniffing and drinking. Lovely day, and I hope all my friends had a great time!

My personal favourites:

  1. Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
  2. Basket Press Shiraz 2001/1996
  3. Penfolds Grange 2001
  4. Mount Langi Ghiran Shiraz 1998 / Howard Park Cabernet  Sauvignon 2001
  5. Wild Duck Creek Springflat Shiraz 2004

I had such a great time, thanks again to Dan Murphy’s. I hope they didn’t think I was too drunk!

So you may ask, why does the title say 22 wines? Well, 22 is in fact the best number there is. It’s the date of my birthday, nats birthday, our anniversary and the date we settled our house so obviously I just HAD to find 3 more wines. Lucky for me, we were heading out to dinner tonight with my parents and the in-laws for Christmas and lo and behold, we all bought some fun 😛

Mum and Dad brought their now favourite wine, the Cullen (if you’re looking to buy some, your out of luck, I think they must have bought every bottle!). Father-in-law brought the Wynns.

Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot 2009

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz 2004

Shadowfax Shiraz 2008

Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot 2009

I should get sponsored by these guys. Seriously but hey I’m not complaining! An earthy nose, leafy but some alcohol wafts into your nose. Attack is high in acidity and heat which is very strange to me. I have had this bottle and vintage 2-3 times over the last month and this is definitely not the profile I was expecting. Too hot? OK, lets to a palate cleanse.

Second round, not much has changed. Again the acid is prominent with zippy spikes of heat. Mid palate is hostile and tired. Finish is again on the alcohol side. WTF?! I don’t understand whats going on?! Is my mouth tired after drinking all the other wines?

Ok, round three. I swirled this wine and tried to cool it down a bit (thought that maybe it was too hot). you get a bit more artificially sweetness but still the same. I made sure my palate wasn’t playing up my comparing notes with others on the table and I felt I wasn’t far off, but everyone else seemed to enjoy it. : ( I’m sad now, going to put this down to being a bad bottle. Screw cap my ass!

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz 2004

Ok, next wine. Big fruit, black berries and plums accompanied with some sweetness from the vanilla, liquorice and black pepper. Quite smooth initial attack, bit oak and black fruits fill the mouth whist the tannins sit back. Some heat and acidity in the background making things a touch bitter. Finish is long and tingley on the gums. I usually don’t enjoy this wine but it was actually ok!

Shadowfax Shiraz 2008

This wine was a freebie. The boss of the restaurant we went to offered us some free samples! Shadowfax is from Geelong and this is ment to be a good vintage. Straight off, it’s a bit aromatically challenged but I get black plums and berries. Very dark nose with some alcohol. As a side note, all these last 3 wines showed a higher amount of alcohol and I’m thinking that perhaps the heat had a negative effect on the wine. I think I should keep this in mind. Ok, the attack is basically lemon rind and some sticks. As it gets into the mid palate, it develops some green tea notes and numbs your tongue. Finish is sharp, some alcohol presence, deep dark fruit and raw fresh wood. Some spicy mineral notes also. I notes that the wine feels warm in your mouth. Not sure of it’s a good wine or not, I’m leading on the no.

Wow, that was a long report! If you made it this far, thanks for reading and hope to see you at a tasting!