Sunday, June 17, 2007

Older wines: the 1984 Metala Cabernet-Shiraz

Metala Cabernet Shiraz was one of the more reliable, long-lived South Australian red wines that is sourced mainly from Langhorne Creek in South Australia. At a recent retrospective, wines from Metala were sampled back to 1945 – the 1951 shiraz-cabernet was still sound after 50 years in the bottle and one of the best wines sampled. The 1945 vintage port was also very much alive and was described, with the degree of hyperbole, that one expects from a reviewer - who has spent his (or her) whole day sampling 60 years of vintaged wines - as ‘one of Australia’s great wine treasures’.

No I didn’t go to this retrospective and I can only comment on one of the supposedly lesser wines reviewed there, the 1984 shiraz-cabernet, which I drank this evening. The wine was in near perfect drinking condition showing bottle age characteristics, but much strength and character. There were (as earlier reviewers found) some herbaceous characters which I didn’t find troubling in the least. Good color, with no browning, and with tea leaf flavors and nose. A great old wine that, while certainly not outstanding, was pleasurable drinking.

I didn’t start a cellar until the late 1980s and recall scouting around Melbourne then for wines with a few years’ bottle age. I paid $16-99 for this, then, and I reckon in retrospect it was a bit pricey since at a 5% discount rate that would work out at about $50 today. But, I could have enjoyed it 10 years ago!

The reviewers at the retrospective mentioned were less complimentary about this wine than I was. It could have been that in a lineup dating back to 1945 this wine under-performed others or it just might be that I don’t enjoy their expert ‘good taste’. Their comments follow:

‘ 1984 Stonyfell Metala, Langhorne Creek, South Australia.

A disappointing Metala with too much herbaceous, unripe fruit character. Deep brick red colour, with orange, tawny brown hue. The nose displays herbaceousness, tea leaf notes, followed by an earthy end note. On the palate, flavours of spice and tea leaf over a herbaceous background. Firmish, dry tannins, followed by a tea leaf aftertaste. Drink (2002).
RATING: 78/100’.