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Aussie All-stars: 1994 Grant Burge Meshach, 1994 Parker Est Terra Rossa First Growth, 1993 J Barry Armagh, 1990 Penfolds Grange, 2009 Henschke Hill of Roses…

November 30, 2018

I know certain people are averse to drinking an all-Australian line-up for fear of the potential after-effects: severe myalgia and headaches. However, when Dr Wang KW invited me to partake in a dinner where a 1990 Penfolds Grange will be popped, all resistance melted. Dinner eventually took place on 10 November 2018 at the Chinese restaurant of Raffles Town Club, Singapore, with the wines (with the exception of Vasse Felix, Rockford and Henschke) being generously sponsored by Ms Jennifer Chia. The reds (except the Henschke) were mostly double-decanted many hours in advance. This was one of the rare occasions where I get to drink Australian reds aged beyond 20 years. If there is anybody who still harbours doubt about the ageing potential of Aussie reds, the evening’s line-up was solid evidence that they do age well. Not only that, they seem to age very slowly, as some still appear relatively youthful. I certainly enjoyed them. Did we suffer any after-effects? Nobody said anything but I can tell you one part of my bodily system didn’t seem to agree with the wines for several days after; I shan’t divulge any further. Nevertheless, a huge thank you, Dr and Mrs Wang, for the dinner and especially to Jennifer for sharing all these gems.

2015 Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay, courtesy of George. Generous aromas of lead petroleum on the nose while the palate is layered with ample yellow citrus and lime, exuding fine acidity and controlled intensity within a very focused narrow profile, missing in inner detail and succulence.

20181110_181124.jpg2003 Rockford Black Shiraz, drunk from an identical pair that I’ve cellared since buying them direct from Rockford’s cellar door in late 2003. This famous sparkling shiraz opens with an excellent depth of dark currants, ripe blackberries, medicinal herbal tones and licorice on the nose and palate, subtly structured with smooth gentle bubbles and sweet undertones that lent a sense of understated intensity, displaying good complexity though less of its famous liquered finish. Still holding well after 15 years, the oldest Black Shiraz that I’ve ever had.

1994 Grant Burge Meshach. Deep crimson. Complex bouquet of ripe wild berries, dark currants and dark plums. Open with great concentration and excellent depth on a plummy cedary floor, gently structured with good linearity, turning more minty with a spicy glow at its finish. Not much of inner detail but sufficiently compelling and delicious. Still youthful. Excellent.

1994 Parker Estate Terra Rossa First Growth. Still very dark in colour, proffering a delicious nose of ripe dark cherries and blackberries on an earthy palate, supported by very good concentration of fruit. Very well balanced. Still going strong. Excellent.

1993 Jim Barry Armagh. Deep garnet red with a rim of vermillion. Closed on the nose though the palate is right upfront, big and bold, imbued with an abundance of wild berries and dark fruit, very ripe with a distinct vegetal note, rounded with excellent presence and depth, exuding an open spicy intensity. Very fine, but needs plenty of time in the glass to reach its best.

2009 Henschke Hill of Roses, a bottle I’d purchased directly from Henschke’s cellar door. Single vineyard, grown from cuttings taken from the 20 best rows of Hill of Grace in the Eden Valley of the Barossa. Deep purple, exuding a generous bouquet of ripe dark plums and blackcurrants tinged with incense that hinted at wonderful depth. Full-bodied. Richly layered in fruit and earthy minerals, swathed in a luxurious sheen of svelte velvety tannins that oozed with understated sweetness. Highly sophisticated in feel and structure, superbly balanced with feminine grace, opening up with lovely deftness. Surprisingly delicate. A worthy successor to Hill of Grace. Excellent.

1990 Penfolds Grange. Impenetrably dark. Highly generous bouquet of warm ripe Barossa shiraz, beautifully nuanced with characters of dark plums, black currants and bell pepper that carried well onto the palate with lovely expanse and weight, displaying great cohesion, density and fabulous intensity of fruit, structured with great acidity and transparency with superb inner detail and complexity. Still youthful. Outstanding.

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