A fun offline in Sydney focusing on “Cult” wines – generally defined as small production (and often hard to obtain) wines that receive large scores from prominent overseas wine critics.

All wines except for the two sparkling wines were tasted blind. The identities of the wines were known (except for the mystery wine) but not the order or the flight that they would be in. The wines were divided into the two sparklings and then four flights of four, the wines listed in the order of tasting below.

A vote was taken at the end of the night and before the identities of the wines were revealed, with each person nominating their five favourite wines, wth 5 points given for a 1st place vote and so on until 1 point for a 5th placed vote.

Tarlant “Brut Zero” NV (Champagne):
This has a light straw-green colour with a fine bead. Nose is comprised of lemon, pears and unripe nectarines. The zero dosage really shows on the palate which is very dry and tastes like tart apples. Finishes rather abruptly, but for the price it serves its purpose.

Wild Duck Creek “Sparkling #2” (Heathcote):
There was a very light fizz and mousse to this wine. The nose is cheesy, yeasty and there is a touch of a spirity type background character on the nose and palate that adds to the wine rather than causing problems with balance. The light fizz lends a interesting texture and creamy character to the palate. There are multiple layers of complexity to this wine and I was rather impressed overall.

Kay Brothers “Block 6” 1996 (McLaren Vale):
There is smoky, toasted oak on the nose as well as raisins, tar, brown sugar and some alcohol heat. The oak and alcohol carries onto the palate, throwing the balance of the wine into disarray.

D’Arenberg “Dead Arm” 1996 (McLaren Vale):
Liquorice, cherry and chocolate on the somewhat reclusive nose. The palate is soft and without any real complexity or character to call attention to. Fairly disappointing, especially once the identity was revealed.

Rockford “SVS Hoffmann” 1996 (Barossa Valley):
This wine delivers a ripe, rich, crowd pleasing nose of liquorice, blueberry, raspberry, blueberry and a cherry liqueur character. The palate was ripe and packed with deep fruit flavour but also showed good length and balance. I was surprised to find out that this was ten years old and still showing so much primary fruit character – it seems like it is going to live a very long life and if it stays balanced it could be very good.

Clarendon “Astralis” 1996 (McLaren Vale):
A bizarre (read: horrible) nose of pumpkin, green beans with melted butter and tobacco. Palate is short, with drying tannins and is genuinely dreadful. Something wrong with the bottle obviously, maybe it was opened and left in the oven with a roast dinner?

Whistling Eagle “Eagle’s Blood” 2002 (Heathcote):
A nose comprised of deep spice and blackberry, red fruits and a violet floral touch. Delivers a tight, classy palate with gorgeous texture and fine-grained tannins providing serious structure. This stood out in a crowd of generally opulent wines as showing that a wine can have good flavour while also showing restraint.

Standish “The Standish” 2001 (Barossa Valley):
Shows dominant medicinal characters, chocolate, vanilla and sweet, ripe raspberry jam on the nose. The palate is dense, jammy and lacks any sense of cohesion.

Kaesler “Weapons of Mass Seduction” Shiraz/Cabernet 2002 (Barossa Valley):
A bright, perfumed, complex nose of musk, cinnamon, violet, blackcurrant, chocolate, plums and smoked meat. The palate is brooding and there are oodles of deep set fruit here. Provides a balanced, refined palate with a defined structure that bodes very well for the future potential of this wine. Drinking the remains of the bottle two nights later and it is worth a points more, the nose is still vibrant and the palate has taken on a delicious spicy and smoky character while retaining its length and balance.

Glaetzer “Godolphin” Shiraz/Cabernet 2004 (Barossa Valley):
A punchy nose of dark cherry, blackberry, some vanilla and floral overtones. The thing that really lifted this wine apart from the rest for me was that while it was rich and generous in flavour, unlike some of the other wines on the night that felt one dimensional and forced, there was much more to it. It was structured, focused and balanced (15% alcohol but didn’t show it) with a super seductive, pure silky texture to it. This was a really impressive wine and my favourite on the night. The only “problem” is that I can perhaps see that it could end up being a better wine while young than with much more age on it, but that it easily solved by drinking and enjoying it now for the special wine that it is.

Chris Ringland “Randall’s Hill” 1995 (Barossa Valley):
Spice, earth, smoke and tobacco on the nose as well as a smattering of oak. The palate is opulent and slightly over the top, with the richness masking any nuance that the wine has to offer at this stage. Again, I was slightly surprised by the age on this when revealed.

Greenock Creek “Roennfeldt Road” Shiraz 1997 (Barossa Valley):
Seems rather restrained on the nose with tar, earth and some blackberry. The palate has a very big flavour profile without ever seeming to stray into over the top ripe characters. Very good and could well get better with time.

Torbeck “RunRig” 1998 (Barossa Valley):
Chocolate, blackcurrant and some stewed fruit characters – didn’t get any hint of Viognier and didn’t imagine it would be revealed as the Runrig. The palate is savoury and textured but the balance is marred by alcohol spikes along the line of the wine.

Wild Duck Creek “Duck Muck” 2000 (Heatcote):
A cooked, spirity, meaty, pepper, VA, vegetable nose. Palate has no balance and finishes very short. Perhaps something bad happened to this bottle, but I think it had been cellared properly since release by the owner. The nicest thing that I could say about it is that at least it wasn’t quite as bad as the Astralis.

Kalleske “Johann Georg” 2004 (Barossa Valley):
A youthful nose of lovely floral notes, black pepper and vibrant red fruits. The standout elements of the palate were the great texture and stylish mouth-feel although the generous flavour and very good length were also positive attributes. One of the wines on the night to show the critical balance between generosity of flavour and structure that turns a very good wine into an excellent wine.

The Mystery Ring-in – Domaine du Pegau “Cuvee Reserve” 2003 (Chateauneuf du Pape, France):
Chinese five spice powder, condensed onion essence, violets and a slightly rancid funky edge. The palate is unfocused, metallic and got worse with time in the glass before getting what it deserved (poured into the spittoon of shame). I don’t mind some brett but this was terrible.

Glaetzer “Amon Ra” 2004 (Barossa Valley):
There are notes of mocha, ground coffee, vanilla bean and raspberry on the nose. The palate is rich and generous, but there are signs of class there as well. Firm tannins form the backbone of the excellent structure with the finish very long and satisfying. Perhaps a smidge too much oak at this stage but the depth of fruit could well stand tall and hold things together until it comes into balance over the next few years.

Noon “Reserve” Shiraz 2004 (Langhorne Creek/McLaren Vale):
A mix of seaweed, blood, iodine and spirit characters. The palate has weight through obvious oak influence and there is an alcohol spike on the mid-palate that destroys any semblance of balance. Not enjoyable at all.

The group of 10 rated the wines as follows;
1: Kalleske Johan Georg….39pts (six 1sts, three 3rds)
2: Glaetzer Amon Ra……….37pts (two 1sts, five 2nds, one 3rd, two 4ths)
3: Glaetzer Godolphin……..32pts (one 1st, three 2nds, five 3rds)
4: Greenock Creek RR……..12pts (one 2nd, two 4ths, four 5ths)
5: Rockford Hoffman………..7pts (one 2nd, one 4th, one 5th)
6: Kaesler WOMS ……………6pts (two 4ths, two 5ths)
7: Standish…………………….5pts (one 1st)
8= Kays Block 6………………3pts (one 3rd)
8= Whistling Eagle………….3pts (one 4th, one 5th)
10=D’Arenberg DA…………..2pts (one 4th)
10=Torbreck RunRig…………2pts (one 4th)
12=Randalls Hill……………….1pt (one 5th)
12=Noon Reserve…………….1pt (one 5th)

No votes: Duck Muck, Pegau, Astralis

An enjoyable night and as always with blind tasting, very educational. Worthy of comment is the fact that the the wines that cost $100, $65 and $40 (my favourite on the night) came out by a long margin on top of some of the other wines that can fetch upwards of $400 at auction …

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. I’d have thought pumpkin and melted butter was a good thing, but maybe not with tobacco and beans! It’s interesting how great a reputation some really quite unpleasant wines have. I remember being utterly gutted having shelled out £50 for a bottle for a special occasion and cooked an ideal meal to match it, and it was close to undrinkable.

  2. What a great way to taste and test wines and test the tasters – if that is not too muc alliteration for one sentence.

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