A gathering of generous friends in Sydney with the theme being "birthyear wines".
1979 Krug Champagne
There is a very fine bead on this but not much mousse. Orange peel, honey, almond, some oxidative characters and some toast. Compared to the bottle we had at Marque earlier in the year I thought it was lacking the flavour concentration on the palate that endeared me to the previous bottle. For me, the palate had a slightly odd sweet and sour element battle being waged.
1984 Seppelt Eden Valley Maturation Release Riesling
Opens with passion fruit, lime, floral touches and some toast on the nose. Palate is simple and lacks definition. A nice enough wine, but certainly not living up to reputation.
1981 Trimbach Clos-Ste.-Hune Riesling
A shimmering light gold colour. My first sniff straight out of the bottle was not promising - very sulphurous, but given some air time, I felt that it really started to open up with wax, straw, petrol and citrus emerging. The palate was where the class and finesse of this wine really shone through though - super balance, style, structure and length! Might be one of the few '81s that will stick around for my 30th birthday
1963 Mildara “Peppermint Patty” Coonawarra Vintage Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
This was low to mid shoulder in level. There were a series of approving noises being made about the medium garnet colour of this while it was being poured into the decanter. There was just a slight tinge of brick-red around the edges in the glass. What an amazing set of aromas it produced - smoke, leather, blackcurrant, dried flowers, a slight mulchy element, caramel, vanilla and even a touch of peppermint leading into eucalyptus. A superbly balanced, multi-layered palate with breathtaking length.
This was a very special experience. Thanks to Neville for providing.
1970 Chateau Latour
The nose is deep and rich with graphite, menthol, roasted meats, blackcurrant and some mulchy and cheesy characters. The palate is youthful and shows aggressive tannins along with reasonably good length. Didn't live up to reputation and probably suffered from coming after the legendary Peppermint Patty. 92/100
1979 Chateau Cheval Blanc
This wine was poured along with the story of Gen proclaiming to SWM earlier in the day that she was unready to die as she had not yet tasted Cheval Blanc! Initially the nose is pretty decent, some violets, cherry, spice and florals but these seemed to disappear quickly to be dominated by band-aid aromas. Palate wasn't great from the start with a lack of fruit resulting in a thin, sharp and short palate. Gen might have to continue living for just a bit longer yet.
1979 Chateau Margaux
This was the best of the three 79s that we tried. Nose shows great character with liquorice, cassis, cedar, pencil shavings, raspberry and violets. A good length palate that has aggressive tannins coming in over the top and disrupting the flow somewhat.
1979 Chateau Trotanoy
My first Trotanoy. Aromas of sea salt and brine, iodine and briary characters. The palate showed little to generate any excitement and started heading out of balance and downhill shortly after being poured.
1981 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion
A nose of cedar, graphite, pencil shavings, violets, earth and some meats. The palate is a disappointment that lets the wine down – entirely austere and overly tannic.
1981 Chateau Haut-Brion
Cooked, spoiled, yeasty, oxidised ... totally stuffed basically.
1981 Tyrrell’s Vat 5 Shiraz (Hunter Valley)
A lifted floral nose with cinnamon, raspberry, chocolate, plums and tobacco. The palate shows good balance and plenty of sweet fruit but perhaps pulls up a little bit short and lacks complexity. Regardless, it is a good wine from a less than stellar vintage in many areas of the red wine world and was the best of the flight of 81s.
1977 Penfolds Grange
Aromas of rhubarb, violets, some smoked meats and a touch of VA. Lovely aged complexity as well as rich fruits on the palate along with great length and good balance. Pretty close to its peak I would think.
1979 Penfolds Grange Hermitage
A fairly imposing nose with vanilla oak, caramel, chocolate, liquorice, raspberry, VA and tar. Palate showed very good length but was lacking in anything much else to get excited about.
1980 Penfolds Grange Hermitage
Lots of dried herbs and tea leaves on the nose as well as raspberry and redcurrant. The palate was simple, short, one dimensional and lacked structure.
1981 Penfolds Grange Hermitage
Oak, ground coffee beans, some nuttiness, sweet fruits and a smidge of VA. Palate is youthful, with reasonably good length but again some clumsy tannins on the finish throw off the balance of the wine.
1984 Penfolds Grange Hermitage
Nose is fairly simple at this stage with a fair bit of vanilla oak, blueberry and blackberry. Palate shows some youthful richness but it is ultimately too oaky and there is some bitterness on the finish. Based on this bottle I would be giving it more time, but I'm not entirely convinced that it will come into balance.
1979 Chateau Musar
A cloudy ruby colour. Earth, ash, VA, spice and smoked delicatessen meats on the nose. The palate has abundant style! Medium bodied, good balance, great length. This was my first Musar, and hopefully not the last.
1977 Moulin Touchais
Slightly oxidative nose with sour apples, ripe pear, lemon and butterscotch. Too much acid causing the palate to look disjointed and a bit short.
1968 Hardy’s Vintage Port
Has a caramel, toffee and nutty nose. Palate is fine - pretty good balance and seems reasonably fresh but there isn't any real depth or complexity.