Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Three old reds

I was fortunate enough to drink three well-aged, red wines over the past few days. I’ll bet you are all glad to hear that and to have the opportunity to share, if only vicariously, in my pleasures. Its kind of ‘Will you buy me an ice-cream? No, but I’ll let you watch me eat it!’

Besides I love posing as a knowledgeable wine critic when, if the truth, be known, my major abilities are to be able to open bottles and drink the stuff.

1. First was a 1992 Campbell Bobbie Burns Shiraz, a high alcohol (14.5%) block-buster from Rutherglen. As a youngster this had fruity, fortified characteristics and was a great drop but, as a 14 year old, it was a little past its prime although it did have some pleasant, slightly gamey, characteristics. Current vintage sells for about $20 – a quality cheapie but don’t hang onto it for as long as I did. Particularly as current vintages have more water in them. Ranking from this guzzler 84/100.

2. Next was a 1990 Penfolds Bin 389 which was a delightfully robust young wine but which, after 16 years was pretty much a faded version of the original. A good drink but, like most of the aged Penfolds wines I have drunk, no real complexity. Tastes like wine, constructed by a committee without great personality - although still very much above-average drinking. Retails for around $60 a bottle and is probably fully priced at this. Current vintage sells for about $35. If you must fall for the Penfolds hype, drink their wines young – they don’t improve much and there are much better cellaring options. Ranking 89/100.

3. Finally, a 1990 Yarra Yerring Dry Red Number 1, mainly Cabernet blend. One of Dr. Bailey Carrodus’ Coldstream Hills absolute classic reds from the Yarra Valley. A magnificent drop which shows no signs of fading with age. Intense coffee fragrance, magnificent colour without the slightest trace of brown and with intense, complex sweet fruit flavors. An absolute beauty. I bought 2 dozen of these in 1990 as a reward (unremarked on to the rest of my grasping clan) from a well-paid consultancy. I paid $20 per bottle and have about 12 left.

Now the current vintage sells for $50+ a bottle and the 1990 for about $100 which to me is again not excessive. The wine snobs have seized this beauty and I can’t afford to take the trip out to Coldstream to buy more at these prices - this is definitely an exhaustible resource. I’ll drink a bottle every 2-3 years until it starts to fade and then will guzzle the remainder. A memorable drop – I always enjoyed Bailey’s Dry White which never got great rankings from the wine pros. Ranking 95/100.

By the way, with respect to these, market valuations (greater cost) are consistent with my preferences (stronger preference).


Bring Back EP at LP said...

sorry Harry but the Bin389 ain't worth half of its price. it was good value back around $15-18.

Agree on the Yarra Yering though.

I would have thought this needed more time though.

hc said...

The Yarra Yerring will last at least another decade. I think the much-celebrated Penfolds wiines are generally best drunk yound. They will last in bottle but don't seem to improve much.