Château Musar 2000

Quite a wine. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I approached this, my first Musar, and the overriding impression I’m left with is of a lovely Bordeaux crossed with something completely foreign. It’s a vibrant, rough wine, hewn of distressed leather and sweat, revelling in its imperfections. The aroma shows cigar box, snapped twig and leather, very expressive and dusty in the Cabernet manner, but lacking the poise one might expect of a fine Bordeaux. That, though, is very much part of the wine’s charm, and its wildness contributes to its presence.

The palate delivers dense flavour onto the tongue and its persistence makes sense of a chaotic flavour profile. This fairly attacks the palate with flavour, fruit stubbornly adhering to the tongue. While drinking this wine, I was reminded of old leather goods, noisy markets and desert heat, images that suggest the disorientation of travel. Tannin structure is fine and reminds one that this is, in fact, a really good wine. Generous, messy and quite delicious.

This was tasted alongside a 2000 Lake’s Folly Cabernet whose refinement of form really showed up the Musar. No matter; I kept coming back to this so that it might let me linger in its heady world a bit longer.

Château Musar
Price: $N/A
Closure: Cork
Source: Gift

Mount Pleasant Rosehill Shiraz 2000

I’ve so quickly become accustomed to the relative reliability of screwcapped wines that, when faced with an older, cork-sealed bottle, I probably feel more nervous than I ought. The last few months have seen a fair few dodgy bottles, mind, but cork does have its good moments, too. This bottle, in excellent condition, was one of them.

I last tasted this in 2008 and for the most part my earlier note stands. This is definitely a rich expression of Hunter Shiraz, a bit clumsy perhaps, but so generous and surely pleasing to lovers of the style. The aroma is very expressive, showing violets, oak, earth, leather and brown spice. Good impact and power in the mouth.

The flavour profile has evolved, showing a bit more leather and bit less brightness of fruit. It’s still fairly primary, though, and appears to be ageing slowly, so I suspect good bottles have a decent life ahead of them. Weight is only medium, despite the richness of flavour and quantity of oak.

My earlier note mentioned elegance, and I saw less of that here, but its deliciousness is only increasing with time.

Mount Pleasant
Price: $A28
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Domaine Rapet Père et Fils Pernand 1er Cru Le Clos du Village 2000

Rather too oxidised to be fully enjoyable, I’ll write this up for completeness’ sake. And because I worked my customary magic on the rather crumbly cork.

The colour is an attractive golden straw. The nose immediately betrays excessive oxidation – whether it affects just this bottle or the wine generally is something I’m not in a position to know. I tasted a similar wine (vintage, producer, classification) in 2009 and it was on song. In any case, that softly rancid brown apple aroma pervades an otherwise rather attractive, fruit-driven profile that seems quite cuddly but with a savoury, herbal edge.

The palate shows good acid and crisp flow down the line. There’s enough fruit here for me to know this would have been a nice wine, once. Good weight and generosity of flavour – the fruit tends towards white stonefruit, with a repeat of the herbal, basil-like notes seen on the nose. The palate’s texture is creamy and soft, but not flabby, thanks to that acid.

I wish I had known it in better times.

Domaine Rapet Père et Fils
Price: $A60
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Best's Great Western Cabernet Sauvignon 2000

Wines that prompt me to respond on a level other than the blandly objective are what I hope for each time I open a bottle. This anticipation is always heightened when I taste an older wine. After all, we cellar wines in the hope they will improve and reach the point of maximum pleasure. When writing about such wines, and to paraphrase (or perhaps misuse) Edward Said, I think it’s appropriate to communicate a “sense of the pleasure taken in having tried at least to meet the [wine] on some other level than the ruthlessly evaluative or the flatteringly appreciative.”

What of this bottle, then? It’s an old wine in all the best ways, though it does remind me of why they are such an acquired taste. There are very few hooks here, nothing obvious on which to hang one’s discernment. Indeed, the nose is delicate and hushed, lightweight really, smelling as much like an abandoned hope chest as a Cabernet. Everything is hinted at; old cedar wood, a wisp of vanilla, watercolour red fruit and light spice. It’s an aroma that only makes sense when you step back and understand its subtle flirtatiousness. Incredibly elegant, if not massively complex.

The palate does not speak in quite such muted tones. At first, an impression of some youth, mostly due to drying tannins that fade a little as the wine gets some air. What they leave behind is a rather beguiling flavour profile whose delicacy reminds me of a good Pinot Noir. It’s quite seamless: red fruits and vanilla ice cream at first, turning slowly to a more savoury expression reminiscent of orange peel as much as berries, moving then to a cedar-centred finish with just a twinge of “old wine” sweetness right at the back of the mouth. A strange set of descriptors perhaps, but totally convincing to me. There’s still a bit of velvet texture on the after palate, so it’s not yet at the stage where it flows in the crystalline manner of fresh water, but it’s not far off.

There’s nothing outstanding about this wine in conventional terms. It’s not ultra intense, nor dense, nor complex. But it’s absolutely worthwhile as a balanced expression of aged Great Western Cabernet Sauvignon, no more nor less. I’m enjoying it a great deal.

Best’s Wines
Price: $A35.15
Closure: Cork

Domaine Rapet Père et Fils Pernand 1er Cru En Caradeux 2000

The aroma is fresh, smelling of baked things, almonds, goat’s cheese, coriander, minerality. It’s an intriguing mix of potentially rich notes within an architecture of lean elegance. There’s so much going on in the glass, yet it remains controlled. Very classy and, frankly, bloody nice to smell.

In the mouth, a rush of flavour that is truly satisfying. The attack is gentle and persuasive, taking a smoothly textural angle at first before fruit flavour begins to well up. Suddenly, a big wash of apple pie, delicate yellow peaches and mealy nuttiness fills the middle palate. Fabulous complexity that shifts and darts about constantly (even more so with food). Structurally, the acid is plentiful enough to contain such richness within a curvaceous yet taut figure. The after palate lifts beautifully, showing white flowers and a savoury kick. A nice, long, lingering finish.

What a fabulously drinkable wine, and likely to remain so for some years. Like a fascinating conversation with someone utterly hot.

Domaine Rapet Père et Fils
Price: $A60
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Domaine des Baumard Vert de L'Or Sec 2000

Hard drive failures, like acts of God, can offer a useful perspective on what’s important. But mostly, they serve to highlight how badly prepared you are. In any case, my data are now residing on a redundant store whose blue LEDs periodically, reassuringly, blink at me. Time to open another bottle of wine.

Here’s a curiosity, then. The Baumard web site, combined with my spotty French lead me to believe this wine from the Loire Valley is made from the Verdelho grape. I gather, also, Verdelho is rather a novelty in France, or has increasingly been so since the 1950s. In any case, it appears some of it was found within the estate’s plantings, from which this wine (and a sweeter variant) is produced.

This wine bears some resemblance to Australian Verdelho-based wines but, perhaps unsurprisingly, tastes more of the Loire Valley than anything else. An aged aroma profile of some residual freshness but mostly of a waxy minerality that reminds me of the Loire Chenin-based wines lately consumed. This wine currently lacks the complexity and detail of, say, the 1995 Baumard Savennières, although it’s certainly interesting enough. There are edges of softer tropical fruit that, to my palate, are this wine’s nod to its varietal origins.

The palate is more varietally-identifiable, showing a high toned, vaguely tropical fruit character. Not hugely flavoursome on entry, it shows good palate weight and some more intensity of fruit flavour towards the middle palate. Again there’s no great complexity here, but the flavour profile is undeniably distinctive and, to my taste, quite attractive. Intensity drops off quickly through the after palate, and there isn’t an especially remarkable finish. Some lift at the back of the mouth carries things through to a soft conclusion.

A tasty, characterful wine that pairs well with fresh, strongly-flavoured food.

Domaine des Baumard
Price: $NA
Closure: Cork
Date tasted: September 2008

Leasingham Bin 7 Cellar Selection Riesling 2000

If Riesling is daggy enough, then aged Riesling would surely give our fortified Muscats and Tokays a run as most unfashionable wine style. How unfair (on all fronts). For starters, like the fortifieds, many of Australia’s Riesling styles are quite singular, and on this basis alone worthy of attention. Then there’s the question of kerosene aromas in aged Riesling. I admit to some partiality to these aromas, and personally don’t regard them as a fault if in balance. But this is far from settled. What should aged Riesling taste like? Perhaps some readers might weigh in with opinions here.

To the undoubted relief of some, petrol doesn’t enter into the picture at all with this wine. The integrity of screwcap closures, though, does. This would have to be one of the oldest Stelvin-sealed wines in my cellar, so it was particularly interesting to see a lot of crustiness, attributable I assume to leakage, on and around the screw cap after I had opened this bottle. Mind you, I had to use a pair of multigrips to actually get the cap off, as it was essentially glued to the bottle (we winos are a resourceful lot when it comes to opening wine). I feared the worst.

The colour shows development, but not overly so, with some golden-hay hues that are pretty but not especially dense or rich at this stage. So far, so good. Some definite aged characters on the nose: honey, toast, nuttiness, all those good things. As mentioned above, no kerosene on this one. There’s also little primary fruit, which is interesting because the aged characters, though evident, don’t seem to me to be in full flower. Entry is very lively and recalls a freshly bottled wine rather than one at eight years of age. Very lively, almost spritzy acidity dominates the mouthfeel and creates an odd counterpoint to the aged notes that begin to register on the tongue. As with the nose, there are notes of honey and toast and little primary fruit. Acid becomes more assertive towards the mid-palate and, for me, is quite intrusive given this wine’s stage of flavour development. On the after palate, the honey starts to fade and, as there’s precious little primary fruit, one is left with an impression of toast and sourness and not much else. To the acid’s credit, though, it does push the wine to an excellent, lengthy finish.

The first thing I will note is that I tried a bottle of this about a year ago and was blown away by how good it was. That bottle (looking back on my notes) showed more development and brilliant balance between primary and aged characters. It appears there was also quite a lot more fruit still in evidence. It had me singing the praises of our wonderful, cost effective Rieslings. So I’m led to suspect this bottle isn’t representative, although the fact that its structure is still so youthful is odd. Perhaps the fading primary fruit accentuates this impression. Having said all that, it’s not a bad wine, and if I had tasted this as my first bottle from the cellar, I would simply have said it needs more time for the structure to calm and aged notes to develop further. Perhaps, indeed, that’s all it wants.

Price: $A15ish
Closure: Stelvin
Date tasted: June 2008

Brokenwood Semillon 2000

I can’t remember why I decided to buy at least four bottles of this and place them in the cellar. It must have shown promise on release. Either that, or I found it at a ridiculously low price and made an impulse purchase. It’s been known to happen. Anyway, here we are eight years later and I think it’s time I checked on its progress. Still relatively pale in colour, showing hints of richer hay in amongst the fresh green hues. Mercifully, not corked. Subtle aromas of sharp citrus with a touch of the aged honey character that one anticipates in an aged Hunter Semillon. But it’s hardly a full-blown aged aroma profile. The palate is disappointingly dilute, and I don’t know whether the wine is going through a “phase,” or if it lacks sufficient intensity of flavour to become a satisfying mature style. Entry shows remnants of the spritzy acidity of a young Hunter Semillon, but this quickly trails off to a smoother, slightly waxy mouthfeel. Again, there are hints of the aged flavour profile; honey, lanolin, beeswax, etc; but there’s also easygoing citrus attributable to an easygoing youth. It’s all attractive enough, but somehow watery too, and I found myself reaching for flavour but never getting enough to feel satisfied. I’m not sure if I’ll bother leaving the rest of the stash to mature further. Well, maybe one as an experiment. The rest, I’ll drink soonish and enjoy what is an easy quaffing style that doesn’t ask a lot of the drinker (and doesn’t give too much in return).BrokenwoodPrice: $A20ishClosure: CorkDate tasted: June 2008