Meerea Park Alexander Munro Shiraz 1998

One of the lessons of this wine is that old Hunter Shiraz is a great way to screw with a wine options game. Great wine, though, and the highlight of an evening that featured several big names failing to live up to their reputations.

On the nose, a Mataro-like meatiness along with dirty leather, some residual red fruit and what is best described as “the smell of old red wine.” It’s not overly developed for a wine of this age, though, and as we worked our way through the options game, most of the group thought it was a much younger wine (five to eight years old). There’s a bit of oak riding through the aroma profile, chocolate-vanilla in character and quite well balanced. Just a really interesting, not-quite-mellow nose.

The palate shows the full extent of this wine’s development, which is to say it remains a structurally youthful wine whose flavours are developing but not yet fully mature. Given the nose’s reticent fruit, what jumps out first here is a roundness and generosity of red berry fruit that screams this wine’s origins, if not its age. This fruit is quickly overwhelmed by savoury notes and the tertiary sweetness that I especially enjoy with older reds. This particular bottle has thrown quite a sediment, and the glass I’m tasting right now has more than its fair share of muck, so it’s possible the muscular tannins I see have a bit of grit mixed in. Structurally, though, this remains an impressively primary wine, with bright acid and well-formed tannins contributing real sophistication to the overall tasting experience. A long, gentle, vibrant finish.

Excellent wine, and one with many good years ahead of it.

Meerea Park
Price: $A110
Closure: Cork
Source: Gift

Domaine des Roches Neuves Terres Chaudes Saumur-Champigny 1998

An older Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley.

Some bricking but mostly a rich, dense garnet. The nose is appealing, with sweet hay and a touch of dusty library, plus a bit of mushroom. We’re a long way from fruit bomb land here, the aroma profile being quite angular and savoury. There’s also, perhaps, a hint of brettanomyces here, coming across as a meaty (verging on shitty) note, but it’s certainly subtle enough to slide into the mix without overwhelming anything.

The palate is all about line, slinky elegance and elusiveness. It’s also about fruit, quite sweet really, and unexpected considering the savouriness of the aroma profile. On entry, a cool burst of leather and sweet berry fruit, the latter taking over as the wine moves to the mid-palate. There are also assertive tannins, very fine, a little unevenly distributed, and very drying. Some good complexity here, with a range of barbecued meat type flavours in addition to the core of fruit. Overall, the impression is lean and bright and a little unclean. Leathery notes float over the top of the wine’s finish, which is of good length.

If ever a wine were a matter of taste it would be this one. It’s a bit stinky and I suspect this isn’t terroir-related. If you can get past the faults, though, there’s some interest here, not least a lithe, elegant line that communicates the pleasures of structure better than many wines.

Domaine des Roches Neuves
Price: $NA
Closure: Cork
Date tasted: November 2008

Lindemans Pyrus 1998

On release, I liked this wine more than its siblings, the St George and Limestone Ridge. I can’t remember why, exactly, so this tasting is a good opportunity to find out whether it’s as special as I remember. The colour is garnet with some bricking at the edges. The nose is a classic mixture of tobacco, vanilla oak, dark fruit and a bloom of aged influences expressed as sweet leather and mushroom. Assertive, seductive and lush, despite the abundance of savoury notes. The palate shows some surprises. Youthful red and black fruits register first on entry, followed by a series of more savoury elements, such as leaf and leathery notes. These add complexity to the core of sweet fruit, though never quite dominate it. A remarkably persistent intensity of flavour kicks in towards the mid-palate and dominates one’s sense of the wine from that point onwards. This is a very assertive wine; fruit and delicately sweet aged characters attach themselves to the tongue aided by a blanket of fine tannins. These flavours stay attached through the after palate, and it’s only towards the finish that other influences, such as sappy oak, start to displace them. Length is very impressive.Interesting wine, this one. Initially, I was super impressed with its intensity and impact, but realised after a while that these qualities mask a certain one-dimensionality to the flavour profile. It’s still a good wine, just not the most elegant style, or perhaps it’s not at an ideal stage of development. I wonder, too, whether the fruit character hints at DMS. If you have some, wait a little longer. I suspect if the fruit recedes a further notch or two, it will be more rewarding to drink.LindemansPrice: $A50Closure: CorkDate tasted: July 2008