A friend asked me along to a wine dinner in Sydney that he was organising for some visiting Norwegian wine enthusiasts that had spoken to friends of his living in England through the Jancis Robinson message boards …

The aim of the dinner was to bring some Australian wines of interest. Some wines didn’t show as well as we had hoped, but I think our visitors had a good time regardless.

The Rothbury Estate “Individual Paddock” Semillon 1979
A promising yellow-gold colour. The nose is surprisingly fresh with apple, lemon, floral notes, grapefruit and a tinge of honey. There is some lovely fruit sweetness still with good acid balancing things out. The flavour lingers only very briefly before leaving the palate but this is really delicious and I could drink a wine like this all night long.

Lindemans Hunter White Burgundy Semillon 1974
The aromas on the nose are rather reclusive, with some butter, hazelnut and toffee in the background. The palate is short on fruit and length, becoming watery on the back palate. Drinkable, but well past its best.

Tahbilk Marsanne 1976
Orange coloured. Interesting nose with ginger, butterscotch, honey, apricot, peach and some oxidative notes that some with more experience with this wine said are typical of the style with age. The palate was a little light on flavour to begin with, but built up with some time in the glass. The alcohol content sticks out a little bit above the fruit, but this was still quite nice.

Leeuwin Estate “Art Series” Chardonnay 2001
Aromas of mandarin, freshly popped popcorn, grapefruit and nectarine, with oak use that I thought was noticeable but nicely integrated, even at this early stage. Palate shows lovely length and texture with a powerful drive and focus. I thought it was drinking alright now actually, but will undoubtedly get better over the next 5 years.

Kooyong “Meres Vineyard” Pinot Noir 2003
Cherry, rhubarb and clean fruit aromas but for a touch of earth and stalk. Medium bodied with good length and balance. Lacking in complexity but very good for drinking over the next 3-4 years.

McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant “Maurice O’Shea” 1991
“Deep Heat” aromas on the nose with some leather and lots of VA. I thought it better on the palate initially, light-medium bodied with an interesting texture but missing fruit and lacking in points of interest. Was given some time to open up, but went downhill rather than being healed.

Rockford “Basket Press” Shiraz 1987
Leather, spice, violets and a touch of VA to the nose – was almost a bit Hunter-esque to me. Palate lacks depth and complexity and is looking pretty tired. It is time to drink, based on this bottle, if you have any left.

Voyager Estate Cabernet Merlot 2002
The nose was showing gravel/crushed rock with capsicum, vegetables and fresh parsley coming in strongly. Medium bodied palate that didn’t show as green as the nose did for me. Good, but I don’t know that this is going to improve greatly unless you already love it.

Orlando St. Hugo Cabernet Sauvignon 1996
Wet moss and mint, tobacco and rich blackcurrant aromas. Tannins still play a prominent part on the palate but do not totally dominate proceedings. I would be interested to see this in 5 years time as I think it was good on the night, but may look better with time.

d’Arenberg “Dead Arm” Shiraz 2001
Dead fruit, powerful blackberry and raspberry aromas. Strong tannins are offset by deep, powerful, sweet fruit intensity on the palate. Good length and has the structure and potential to improve.

Elderton “Command” Shiraz 1998
Dark, rich fruits form the core of the aromas with some tobacco, blackberry and chocolate oak playing a background role. Palate continues the ripe theme with cherry, blueberry and chocolate flavours. Coating mouthfeel and good length, it was just a bit over the top to reach balance for my personal tastes.

Glaetzer “Amon Ra” Shiraz 2005
Full on aromas of spice, blackberry, florals, tar, licorice and tobacco on the nose. Sweetly fruited, ripe and intense on the palate with good length, but a bit of alcohol evident when swallowing throws things off a bit. I really loved this, every sniff revealed something different, but one glass is entirely enough for me.

Glaetzer “Goldolphin” Shiraz Cabernet 2005
Fresher than the Amon Ra on the nose, with lifted florals prominent (one taster while the bottle was masked was certain that it had viognier in it), raspberry, blackberry and cherry. A juicy, silky palate with no bumps along the way. Excellent drinking now.

Wild Duck Creek Fortified 2005
Blueberry, cherry, earth and fennel on the nose that shows no real sign of the 18% alcohol. The alcohol is a bit more evident on the palate, but more so through the mouthfeel rather than being out of balance. Excellent length and rich flavour profile with a bit of overlaid spice characters. Great stuff.

Buller “Calliope” Rare Muscat NV
Intoxicating notes of cloves, crème brulee, caramel, burnt sugar and maple syrup. The palate is luscious, with intensely sweet, but never cloying, complex flavour. Layered and balanced, with incredible length. This is truly a truly exceptional wine.

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