Monday, May 31, 2010

YARRA BURN CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2006

- Yarra Valley, VIC
- $22-$35
- Cork
- 13.5%alc

All too often the Yarra Valley gets cast in the shadows of Coonawarra and the Margaret River when winos discuss Australia's premier cabernet region. A quick look at some of the names in the region (Mount Mary, Yarra Yering, Yarra Yarra, Yeringberg etc.) should quickly dispel any reservations about the Yarra's ability to produce Australia's best cabernet. Constellation's Yarra Burn tend towards a firm, dry and medium-bodied cabernet, with adequate bottle age at time of release.

Freshly scented with gorgeous minty/herbal nuances, berry fruits, plums and smoky chocolate/cedar oak, Yarra Burn's 2006 displays classic Yarra beauty throughout both aroma and palate. With deep layers of bright, silky flavour it enters the palate with a sensual elegance (which actually matches the packaging!), moving on to reveal vibrant berry and plum flavours wrapped up by fresh, toasty mocha oak and a rather approachable extract of grainy tannins, which leave the mouth feeling agreeably dry but not too dry. It's sumptuously textured, generously flavoured, beautifully balanced and much more approachable than the 2005 (89pts, drink 2015-17), but it just lacks the complexity and powerful structure required for an even higher score.

ü The large scale winemaking is noticeably evident in this very polished, perhaps predictably delicious red, but all the same, you don't see too many Yarra Valley cabernets of this quality at such a price (especially in Adelaide). Classy, wintry wine. Drink to 2016.
91 points


Saturday, May 29, 2010

PORT PHILLIP ESTATE PINOT NOIR 2008

- Mornington Peninsula, VIC
- $33-$42
- Cork (Diam)
- 14.0%alc

The Mornington Peninsula's Port Phillip Estate is one of several Victorian pinot noir specialists whose wines have been made by the ultra-talented Sandro Mosele. Their 2008 Pinot Noir has picked up a lot of good press recently, earning some positive write-ups from the guys at Red to Brown, as well as inclusion in James Halliday's latest Top 100 list.

Beautifully complete, floral and musky, this 2 year old Mornington pinot opens to a charming bouquet of cherries and bright berry fruits overlying dry and dusty, cured meat and earth aromas, with a well integrated presence of lightly spiced cedar/vanilla oak woven considerately throughout its primary fruit. Relatively supple but rather more structured and fine-grained at this stage, its tightly-knit palate presents a clear expression of regional cherry and spice notes meshed with snazzy French cedar/vanilla oak and a dry and dusty chassis of powdery tannins. Its smooth entry evolves with a gripping firmness and sour-edged meaty undertones towards the back palate, finishing with great length and focus.

ü+ Destined to flower in the bottle with medium term cellaring, the 2008 Port Phillip Estate is a top class, age worthy Mornington pinot with a much more competitive price tag than many of its regional rivals. You can happily add my name to its list of supporters. Drink to 2013. (footnote provided below)
91 points


Friday, May 28, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

ROLLING SHIRAZ 2008

- Central Ranges, NSW
- $12-$20
- Screwcap
- 14.0%alc

In today's modern Australian wine market there appears to be growing exposure given to good NSW-based shiraz labels within the $15-$20 price bracket. From various regions names like Mount Pleasant's Philip, Barwang, Printhie and Cumulus' Rolling push this trend, with their affordable wines proving more than capable of matching the value for money offered by their better known South Australian counterparts.

Attractively floral and spicy, Rolling's 2008 Shiraz displays straight forward yet heady aromas of red berries, plums and dried apricots backed by white pepper, clove and older oak. Very soft, approachable and beset with minimal tannins, the bright palate presents itself as full and juicy on entry but thins out down the stretch, finishing with gentle spices and touches of ultra-ripe berry/apricot flavour.

O At its discounted price the 2008 Rolling happily holds its own against other similarly priced Australian shiraz. It's a more than acceptable quaffing style, which would be best drunk with minimal fuss. Drink to 2012.
87 points


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

TINTILLA ESTATE JOHN BASIL SPARKLING RED 2006

- Hunter Valley, NSW
- $36
- Cork
- 13.5%alc

Bubbles, merlot and the Hunter Valley might sound like an unusual combination, but thankfully, James Lusby has once again implemented some sensible winemaking practices with his 2006 John Basil (handpicked, 7 days skin contact, 1 year French oak maturation, bottle fermentation, 3 years lees ageing and estate dosage in the way of Tintilla's 12yr barrel aged Liquor Shiraz).

Brightly coloured, fresh and inviting, the nose of Tintilla's 2006 John Basil is pleasingly regional and varietal, with its earthy, plummy fruit aromas underscored by notes of berry jam, crushed herbs, licorice and dark chocolate oak. Rich and syrupy, its palate is vibrantly flavoured with an earthy, savoury core drawn out by a generous hit of warming dosage. It finishes very long with lingering undertones of herbal, choc-licorice and tobacco-like complexities punctuated by an assertive, tough structure of fizzy cola-like effervescence and a drying, tannic astringency.

O Much like Tintilla Estate's 2009 Pebbles Brief Chardonnay (92pts), the decidedly dry, savoury and long John Basil has genuinely surprised me given its varietal/regional/stylistic boundaries. Clever winemaking. Drink 2012-2015.
90 points


Saturday, May 22, 2010

GEMTREE MOONSTONE (SAVAGNIN) 2009

- McLaren Vale, SA
- $25
- Screwcap
- 12.5%alc

After much debate, research and discussion, the Australian wine formerly known as albarino seems to of settled into its new title; savagnin. Although albarino might roll off the tongue more eloquently than savagnin (in a vocal sense), the bottom line remains the same; it's an exciting new variety with loads of potential in Australia. Some have likened savagnin to containing pinot gris-like character with riesling-like acidity.

Biodynamically produced and partially fermented in oak (20%), Gemtree's 2009 Savagnin presents a clean and clear, fresh fragrance of green nashi pear and melons with a minor suggestion of crushed nuts adding savoury interest. Surprisingly weighty and textured, its rather viscous palate pushes through very clean yet fat, gris-like crunchy pear flavours, with an extensive finish drawn out by tangy/lemony citric acids and a wonderfully even persistence of flavour.

O The 2009 Moonstone is a well judged savagnin, with its clean varietal fruit base enhanced by great length and winemaker induced textural elements. For much the same price I'd happily take a bottle of this over most Australian gris any day of the week (but riesling...). Drink to 2011.
89 points


Thursday, May 20, 2010

CORIOLE LLOYD RESERVE SHIRAZ 2006

- McLaren Vale, SA
- $67-$90
- Cork
- 14.5%alc

I'd have no hesitation in saying Coriole's Lloyd Reserve sits comfortably in the company of McLaren Vale's top 3 or 4 wines. Coriole's crowning achievement is trademarked by a level of elegance, harmony and finesse matched by few if any makers of McLaren Vale shiraz.

Coriole's 2006 is just beautiful to gaze upon in the glass; with deep, dark, inky colour it unfolds to an artfully measured nose loaded with bright berry fruits, plums and gentle cinnamon spices, with fresh and fragrant chocolate/vanilla oak adding the human touch. Its aroma reflects regional qualities of a very high standard. On the mouth it's velvety, supple and ethereal, as its exquisitely ripened palate unleashes a great depth of explosive regional fruit flavours harmonised by smooth chocolate and vanilla/cedar oak. With penetrating vitality it leaves the mouth long and fresh with traces of sour-edged, meaty, peppery fruit and polished, silky tannins which grip with an accentuating tightness around its superlative length of fruit.

ü+ I'm a bit behind on this (as the 2007 has just been released) but it really must be said; Coriole's Lloyd Reserve rises up as a star performer from the quality 2006 vintage. More style than Clark Gable cruising the streets of Monaco in a 1929 Bugatti. Drink to 2020.
96 points


LLOYD SHIRAZ VINEYARD

These old vines occupying the terraced slopes adjacent Coriole's winery produce wines of outstanding depth and flavour.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

BROKENWOOD ILR RESERVE SEMILLON 2003

- Lower Hunter Valley, NSW
- $38-$60
- Screwcap
- 11.0%alc

Rated alongside Tyrrell's Vat 1 and Mount Pleasant's Lovedale; Brokenwood's ILR is one of the very finest dry semillon labels on the planet.

From a vintage characterised by its heat and dryness, Brokenwood's 2003 ILR presents itself as a relatively youthful colour in the pale-gold/light-straw spectrum, before it unravels to an evenly developed, classic bouquet of honey toast and dry straw with grapefruit, mineral and white flower aromas providing necessary freshness and life. The artfully composed and attractive nose precedes a wonderfully focused, zesty palate marked by a chiselled extract of chalky, sour citric acids, which drive the wine to a scintillating climax of exceptional length and tightness. It possesses terrific shape and mouthfilling structure, with a joyous thread of honeyed richness beginning to emerge underneath its primary melon and lemon/lime citrus flavours.

ü+ An absolutely stunning hot year semillon with plenty of Brokenwood's trademark zip, freshness and acidity. I'd happily give it another 5 years at least. Drink to 2018.
95 points


Monday, May 17, 2010

SHAW VINEYARD ESTATE PREMIUM CABERNET MERLOT 2008

- Canberra District
- $25
- Screwcap
- 14.5%alc

Merlot can act a bit like Cher to Sonny when it comes to covering up cabernet sauvignon's deficiencies (probably an unfair judgement!). So if you find yourself in the predicament of purchasing cabernet from a region which isn't necessarily recognised for the style, it could be considered rational thinking to opt for a cabernet merlot over a straight cabernet sauvignon.

Shaw Vineyard Estate's 2008 Cabernet Merlot displays clear varietal character on the nose, as it opens to lighter scents of olive and herb partnered by blackcurrant and graphite, with a minty tone of older chocolate/vanilla oak sitting happily in the background. Rich and juicy, condensed flavours of bright blackcurrants and dark plum announce the palate, which evolves with smooth chocolate-like undertones and lingering tones of minty/herbal freshness. It's medium-bodied, pleasingly dry and dusty for the most part, with an approachable level of seamless structure imparted by integrated tannins and bright acid.

ü Straight forward it may be but it's also charmingly varietal (in a soft sense), ably balanced and beautifully set for the shorter term. A good cabernet blend from the nation's capital. Drink to 2014.
90 points


Sunday, May 16, 2010

MOUNTADAM ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2008

- Eden Valley, SA
- $20-$33
- Screwcap
- 14.0%alc

Thanks at least in part to the directions undertaken by ex-Petaluma winemaker Con Moshos, Mountadam has gone full circle, regaining their status as benchmark producers of Eden Valley whites. Personally I'm thrilled by Mountadam's recent success, as Mr Moshos is amongst the most likable, friendliest and upfront winemakers I've ever met.

Quite worked yet clean, classy and balanced, Mountadam's 2008 Chardonnay opens to savoury winemaker derived scents of grilled nuts, wheatmeal and cheesy/creamy tones overlying grapefruit and lemon citrus aromas with a note of toasty butter oak evident. With masses of flavour and penetrating length the mouthfilling palate delivers a funked-up tapestry of grapefruit and melon flavours with toasty vanilla/cedar oak, cheesy malolactic notes and side-splitting grapefruit-like acids, which combine to make for an in-your-face yet perfectly harmonious and surprisingly squeaky clean drinking experience.

ü+ It may be a different beast to your typical modern Australian chardonnay but Mountadam's 2008 can't be faulted within its stylistic boundaries. It's very long, funky and rather special considering its modest price, while it should age particularly well too. Drink to 2015.
93 points


Saturday, May 15, 2010

STANTON AND KILLEEN VINTAGE FORTIFIED 2002

- Rutherglen, VIC
- $27-$43
- Cork
- 18.1%alc

Take a quick look around any Australian liquor store and you'll notice vintage fortifieds aren't the most popular style around, but one thing's for sure, you can always rely on Stanton and Killeen to make a stunning example of the style. In addition to shiraz and durif grapes, Stanton and Killeen's 2002 also includes the classic Portuguese varieties of touriga nacional, tinta cao, tinta barocca and tinta roriz.

Crimson red/garnet in colour, the 2002 reveals a funky, complex and deep nose that shares some elements with maturing warm-climate shiraz, although there's also an obvious, generous whiff of fortifying spirit ever present. Liqueur cherry and stewed date aromas lead the bouquet, which also presents nuances of rich chocolate/plum sauce and boot polish with a savoury hint of spicy, seasoned oak residing throughout its spirity fumes. Its wonderfully elegant palate is gentile in more of a medium-bodied style, with lusciously rich and sweet, shiraz/durif influenced brandied cherry and plum flavours harnessed by the savoury and rustic qualities of the Portuguese varieties, which add complexity and character to the aftertaste in particular. Its silky smooth textures are drawn down the palate by traces of sour acidity, polished, matured tannins and an all too welcoming coverage of spirity warmth underscored by choice flavours of game meats and raisin.

ü+ Only just starting to hit its straps, the 2002 is a classic reflection of Stanton and Killeen's efforts to make a fortified wine which balances both Australian and Portuguese traditions. Drink to 2017.
93 points


Monday, May 10, 2010

AN OVERLY DETAILED FINE WINE AUCTION REPORT: ODDBINS IN ADELAIDE 4/5/10

A rather hazy and distant image of Oddbins' Graham Wright doing what he does better than just about anyone else: auctioning off wine!

Like most drinkers of fine Australian wine I possess a bit of a collection of the stuff. Now I don't know about everyone else, but always somewhere in the back of my head lies the thought; 'hmm, I wonder what that wine's really worth?'. Even though I have absolutely no intentions of ever selling any of my prized personal selections, I still ponder what the actual resale value of any of my particular wines are, just in case of financial hardship ;)

Probably the best (and most fun) way for a person like myself to monitor these values is to attend a live wine auction. Live auctions provide a great way to see what wines are selling, and for what, as well as the obvious opportunity to pick up more fine wine on the cheap to bulk up your collection.

Fortunately, Adelaide's Oddbins hold a live wine auction every two years (complete with free nibbles and wine tastings), although this years event was postponed a year due to an anomaly of the Tasting Australia schedule.

For the benefit of my readers (but largely myself!) I sat through the arduous task of taking down the results of the entire auction, compiling the statistics and presenting them here in this post for all to read. Now as I said before I've always had a bit of interest Australia's secondary wine market, but if you don't, now is probably a good time to stop reading. There's a large amount of information and tables here and it could all get quite boring. Those familiar with and interested in Australia's secondary wine market however, will hopefully find some useful bits and pieces on the shape of things over here in Adelaide.

Before I get on with the post there's a few points I want to make first, which everyone reading this should be aware of:-
- Statistical Inaccuracies. Compiling the stats for this was more difficult than I originally intended. The auction took over 4 hours with 563 lots present. By my maths that's roughly two lots auctioned off every minute, which makes for some frantic auctioning! Also, I went with a group of guys who during the auction were regularly muttering to me; "hey, should I bid for this Chris?", "how high should I go on this?", "was this a good vintage for this wine?" etc. These constant interruptions made it difficult to concentrate on the auction, but I did appreciate the company guys. Basically, don't expect all the information here to be 100% accurate, but it should be a close proximation of the auction results anyway. A good indication of the inaccuracy is the total lots numbered by Oddbins is 563, while my first table shows 566.
- Oddbins Selections. The wines present were not everything in Oddbins possession, just hand selected lots chosen to show the true gems of Australian wine.
- Subject to Reserve. Some of the wines at time of auction ended up 'subject to reserve', which essentially means the wine reached a price short of its low reserve price (usually not by much). All subject to reserve wines have been counted down as sales by me, as previous experience (and indeed on this occasion) has shown me these wines normally sell.
- Post Auction Purchases. Just because a wine didn't sell at the auction doesn't mean it didn't sell. All passed in lots are up for enquiry at Oddbins in the days following the auction, and I can personally vouch that many passed in wines did indeed end up selling.
- Lot Sizes. By no means is a lot defined to be a single bottle. Yes, many lots are single bottles, but equally as many are 2, 3 4, 5, 6 or even more bottles. For the sake of this report I've left lot size information out, but all prices here are to be taken as the single bottle price.
- 15% Buyer's Premium. All prices included in this report are that of what the seller receives. All lots purchased demand a 15% buyer's premium added onto the final hammer price, which I guess just goes to Oddbins. So remember, in all instances in this report the actual BUYER'S price is 15% above what is stated.
- Bottle Condition. Bottle condition can make a big difference in the price of any certain lot. Bottles with old labels, noticeable ullage, cellar damage or anything of the like will genuinely receive a lower catalogue price. Likewise, signed bottles, or those in presentation cases or original cartons can receive a higher price. For the sake of this report I've left these details out.

That's about it for the introduction here, so now onto some stats! For the record there was 563 lots in total, of which almost exactly half sold on the day. So I'm taking it that if anything sold at a rate of above 50% then they were doing pretty well, whilst if anything sold at a rate of below 50% than they were kind of letting the team down. Bit of a broad generalisation but hey!

The report I've written is broken into four sections:-
1. Breakdown of lots by variety/style
2. Breakdown of featured styles by region
3. Most featured wineries
4. Key wine label results
Under key wine results I've included some information from Oddbins' 2007 live wine auction as a way of monitoring price fluctuation over the past 3 years. Unfortunately not every wine present at the 2010 event was also present in 2007.

One final point I want to mention is that the people who attend these live wine auctions really know their wine (and are prepared to fork out for the stuff!) and by evaluating this auction I can see many smart choices made by the buyers in general.


BREAKDOWN OF TOTAL LOTS BY VARIETY/STYLE
-

VARIETY/STYLE

Total Lots

Lots Sold

% of Lots Sold

Shiraz

332

173

52%

Cabernet

107

45

42%

Pinot Noir

5

5

100%

Red Blends

68

23

34%

Other Reds

6

3

50%

Chardonnay

7

3

43%

Riesling

8

5

63%

Semillon

0

-

-

Sauvignon Blanc

1

0

0%

Other Whites

0

-

-

Sparkling Wines

2

1

50%

Sweet Wines

3

2

67%

Fortified Wines

27

20

74%

Mixed Lots

0

-

-

TOTALS

566

280

49.46%

For variety/style I've broken down the lots into the same groupings I use for the Australian Wine Journal reviews, using the same principles.
Unsurprisingly shiraz dominates here, with nearly 60% of the total lots, and the sales figures for shiraz also mirror that of the entire auction in general. I'll take a more detailed look at shiraz figures later on in this post.
Cabernet comes next in total lots, although its sales figures are down somewhat on the auction average. Poor results for Coonawarra cabernet played a large reason in this low sales percentage. I'll also take a deeper look at cabernet later in this post.
Although the lots were few pinot noir had a wonderful clearance rate, clearing 5 out of 5 lots. Some very handy wines were present on the pinot side of things, with a 1999 Bass Phillip Premium fetching $120, a 1996 Bass Phillip Reserve $160 and a very affordable bottle of Henschke's 2006 Giles going for $20. A couple of mini-verticals of Bindi's Block 5 also sold, one covering vintages 2006-2008 for $80 a bottle, the other, covering vintages 2003-2005, sold for $110 a bottle. More so than any other lot in this auction, the mini-vertical of Bindi Block 5 covering the 2003, 2004 and 2005 vintages was the one lot that I'm filthy with myself for not getting. Indeed, those 3 wines are some of the greatest expressions of Australian pinot noir around and they deserved their high price.
The well represented red blends largely consisted of traditional Australian styles, blends of cabernet, shiraz, merlot etc, but the likes of Charles Melton's Nine Popes (1995 magnum-$60-no sale), d'Arry's Original (2005-$8) and Noon McLaren Vale Grenache Shiraz (2 lots-no sales) came to represent the Rhone styles, although sales figures weren't great. Penfolds Bin 389 (discussed later), Penfolds Bin 60A 2004 (5 lots-$400-no sales), Wendouree's Shiraz Malbec and Shiraz Mataro, Wolf Blass Black Label and the Henschke Abbott's Prayer merlot blend and Keyneton Estate were the most prevalent of the red blends. South Australia certainly completely dominated this category.
The measly 6 other reds broke down into d'Arenberg's 2005 Custodian Grenache ($12-no sale), a 1996 Haan Merlot ($35-no sale), 3 lots of Irvine's Grand Merlot, all of which were way below current retail with two sales (1992-$40 and 1996-$45) and a 1999 Sorrenberg Gamay, which one adventurous punter took the gamble on and paid $12 for. Clearly, the currently trendy Italianettes have yet to truly arrive in South Australia's secondary wine market, but that's a trend I can see changing in the future. I'd love the see the other reds section of an Australian fine wine auction in about 20 years, hopefully brimming with more lots of nebbiolo, sangiovese, tempranillo, zinfandel etc. Diversity is excellent!
The lack of chardonnay lots surprised and disappointed me somewhat, particularly as I was intent on walking away with at least one bottle for Beck. Leeuwin's Art Series dominated the lots with 4 out of 7, and I'll discuss those later. A 5 bottle vertical of Bindi's Quartz Chardonnay (covering vintages 2004-2008) couldn't interest buyers for $60 a bottle, despite the enthusiasm shown for Bindi's pinots, while a 4 bottle vertical of Giaconda (covering 1997-2000) fetched a nice $88 a bottle. An interesting if perhaps 'tired' lot was 6 bottles of the 1996 Eileen Hardy, which sold for a rather appropriate price of $30 a unit. I was surprised by a few omissions here; Petaluma yes, but Yattarna especially.
Riesling was highlighted by two older lots of Grosset's Polish Hill, both of which sold (1996-$35 and 1997-$55), while Petaluma couldn't shift out the 2002 Hanlin Hill for $28. A 1994 Peter Lehmann Eden Valley Riesling exceeded its high reserve of $14 by making it to $16. None of the classic Leo Buring wines of yesteryear were present. Personally, more rieslings would've been nice. Especially from other states, as South Australian regions comprised 100% of the limited riesling lots.
Semillon, zero. Something of a small surprise and a disappointment, as I was keen to pick up some cheap, old bottles of the Hunter's best. At the previous 2007 auction there were a few lots of Mount Pleasant's 1996 Elizabeth going for $25 a lot, but not today. No Vat 1, Lovedale, ILR anything. Not even those old classic Lindemans Bin wines. I'd love to see a comparison of semillon lots with a similar wine auction in Sydney...
A surprise was a single sauvignon blanc lot in the way of a box of Henschke's 2007 Coralinga. Unsurprisingly, no one was willing to take the $12 dive.
Like other reds, other whites have yet to create a presence on South Australia's secondary market, as evident by their lack of a single lot. When, or perhaps if, this does change, I would expect Yalumba's Virgilius Viognier to be right at the forefront of the movement.
Sparkling wines were represented by a 1997 Barossa Wine Show Special Sparkling Shiraz and a bottle of Penfolds 1973 Museum Sparkling Burgundy which sold for an impressive $220. I think I can speak for the table of guys I was with by saying how disappointing it was to not see at least one lot of Rockford's Black Shiraz, which is usually a staple at this type of thing. A fairly standard auction price for Black Shiraz is $55 (that's what I've paid previously), significantly less than the $110 or whatever Man Durphy's charge (who probably just buy the wine from Langton's auctions anyway).
Sweet wines were represented by that ever present auction staple, DeBortoli's Noble One, which had two lots (1994-$38 and 1999-$25-no sale) and the all time Australian classic; Penfolds 1962 Bin 414 Show Sauterne (a very impressive $390 sale). The Bin 414 was present at the auction and in its clear bottle showed a wine coloured like muscat. It really was one of the night's highlights.
Depending on your take of their position in the current market place fortified wines either surprised with a good number of lots, or met expectations. Certainly their 74% clearance rate was well above the night's average. Both Penfolds Grandfather ($80) and Great Grandfather ($210) sold, but other than that it was mostly classic, old vintage dated styles from the likes of Hardys, Stonyfell (1950-$80 and 1967-$68) and in particular Seppelt. Seppelt had a good showing, selling a very credible 9 out of 15 fortified lots including a 1901 Para Liqueur for $610.
I did notice a lack of the classic old Yalumba Vintage Ports (none in fact), although that same maker did step in with a wonderful, old bottle of their 1950 Old Pot Still Liqueur Brandy, which did very well by far exceeding its high reserve of $160 with a final sale price of $210. The South Australian secondary market for fortifieds is certainly a long way from dead yet.


BREAKDOWN OF SHIRAZ LOTS BY REGION
-

REGION

Total Lots

Lots Sold

% of Lots Sold

Barossa Valley

118

72

61%

South Australia

97

42

43%

Eden Valley

42

15

36%

Clare Valley

25

9

36%

McLaren Vale

18

16

89%

Coonawarra

6

5

83%

Langhorne Creek

5

3

60%

Heathcote

5

2

40%

Great Western

3

2

67%

Hunter Valley

2

1

50%

The Barossa Valley took the honours for most shiraz lots at this auction, which I'm guessing is usually hotly contested with South Australia (Penfolds really) on an auction by auction basis. Rockford and Greenock Creek wines, as well as Penfolds RWT made up a good percentage of the Barossan lots, although other classics like Yalumba Octavius (2 sales out of 4 lots), Grant Burge Meschach (2 sales out of 3 lots) and Peter Lehmann Stonewell (2 sales out of 2 lots) also did well. Surprisingly, not a single Torbreck wine was present. I'm not sure if there's any direct correlation but sales figures do suggest the single region Barossa wines certainly sold better than the multi-regional South Australian wines. Rockford's SVS (Single Vineyard Series) wines sold an incredible 7 out of 7 lots, with $110 being the standard going price. Terroir anyone? ;)
The 97 shiraz lots from South Australia comprised entirely of Penfolds Grange (81 lots), St Henri (14 lots) and Kalimna (2 sales from 2 lots, 1998-$35 and 1999-$18). I'll take a look at both Grange and St Henri later in the piece.
The 42 Eden Valley shiraz lots comprise entirely of Henschke's Hill of Grace (24 lots), Mount Edelstone (15 lots) and the ultra-rare single vineyard Hill of Roses (2001 and 2005-no sales, 2004-$245). The relatively poor sales percentage here reflects a lot on how Henschke wines performed on the day (particularly Hill of Grace) and I'll be taking a deeper look at both Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone later.
The good number of Clare Valley shiraz showings were dominated by Wendouree and Tim Adams Aberfeldy (4 lots-1 sale-1994/$55), which incidently is sourced off the Wendouree block as well. Jim Barry's Armagh had two lots of the 1998, neither of which could interest anyone for $150 a bottle. A very handy and drinkable selection of 3 1998 Mitchell Peppertree's sold for $25 a bottle, while the idiosyncratic and mysterious Waninga Silky Hills showed up and managed to move one of two lots (1991-$65). Anyone with any information on this winery would be greatly appreciated.
The 89% sales of McLaren Vale's comparatively small lot was very encouraging. McLaren Vale doesn't possess the blockbusters of Grange, Hill of Grace, Wendouree, Basket Press, Roennfeldt Road etc, but its top drawer wines lose little if anything by comparison and seem to be much more affordable on the secondary market. The stunning Mclaren Vale shiraz results were driven by Coriole selling 3 out of 3 Lloyd Reserve lots (1992-$60, 1996-$70 and 2006-$58), Hardys selling 3 out of 3 Eileen Hardys lots (1992-$45, 1996-$75 and 1997-$41) and Kay Brothers selling all four of their shiraz lots. d'Arenberg also chipped in by moving 3 out of 4 lots of their iconic Dead Arm. Some of the McLaren Vale shiraz sold on the night were real regional gems, and relatively affordable considering. I'm not surprised the sales percentage was as high as it was really.
In contrast to the region's cabernet, Coonawarra shiraz fared quite well on the night. Single lots were sold by Bowen Estate (1987-$20), Majella (1996-$32), Penfolds Bin 128 (2003-$18) and Punter's Corner's Spartacus (2002-$35), while Wynns managed to move one of two Michael lots (1998-$61). Maybe it's not true what they say about Coonawarra shiraz?
The Langhorne Creek wines were headed by sales of Metala Original Plantings (1998-$40) and two lots of Noon Reserve (2004-$60 and 2005-$60), however, a pair of Bremerton Old Adam lots, including the 2002 for $35, couldn't interest buyers.
Heathcote led the way for non-South Australian regions with a relatively slender 5 lots. This comprised of two lots of the Parker classic Wild Duck Creek Duck Muck (2000-$300-no sales) and 3 lots of Jasper Hill's Georgia's Paddock, which managed to sell a 1991 for $50 and a 1996 for $60. Pretty good buying for the '96 really.
The 3 Great Western lots were completely comprised of Best's Thomson Family Shiraz, which sold a 1997 for $75 and a 1995 for $100, but no one was interested in the 1992 for $80. As previously mentioned in this post there's definite interest in interstate wines in South Australia's secondary market, there's just not a hell of a lot of them around. The lack of any Seppelt Great Western shiraz, Best's Bin No.0 and Mount Langi wines highlights this issue.
The Hunter Valley wines were a 1991 Brokenwood Graveyard, which was surprisingly turned down by all for $85, and a classic Lindemans Bin 6600 Hunter River Burgundy from 1983. The Lindemans wine was one of the auction's highlights, as its bidding went far above its high reserve of $200 to settle on a sale price of $305. I figure old Australian classics like this are just getting rarer and rarer.


BREAKDOWN OF CABERNET LOTS BY REGION
-

REGION

Total Lots

Lots Sold

% of Lots Sold

Coonawarra

29

4

14%

South Australia

18

12

67%

Barossa Valley

15

5

33%

Clare Valley

14

9

64%

Yarra Valley

10

6

60%

Margaret River

7

5

71%

Eden Valley

7

1

14%

Langhorne Creek

4

3

75%

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Coonawarra presented the most cabernet lots, but rather more surprising was the paltry 14% clearance rate of South Australia's most feted cabernet region. The regional benchmark wines of Wynns (1 out of 10 cabernet lots sold, both Black Label and JR), Parker's Terra Rossa First Growth (none out of 3), Orlando's Jacaranda Ridge and St Hugo (a combined 1 out of 5 sales) and Petaluma's Coonawarra (none out of 6) were the main contributors to Coonawarra's lack of sales success. I'll look deeper at Wynns and Petaluma
later on but I must say there were some pretty handy wines present. Parker's First Growth in particular, had three classic vintages available in the way of a 1990 ($65), 1996 ($65) and 2004 ($60), but none of these fairly priced wines could interest bidders. Coonawarra's current 'in vogue' wineries, Majella and Balnaves, had no cabernet wines present between them. I wonder if a couple of vintages of Majella's Cabernet Sauvignon or Balnaves Tally could've made things look more respectable for Coonawarra's sales figures?
The South Australian cabernet lots were made up entirely of Penfolds Bin 407 and Bin 707. Bin 407 had a pretty good outing with 4 out of 6 lots clearing, but prices were certainly a bit sporadic. The older vintages of Bin 407 present, 1996 and 1998, recorded relatively high sale prices of $42 and $50 respectively, while the younger vintages from 2002 and 2004 recorded much lower sale prices of $26 and $25, which is good buying really (especially for the '04). I'll look at Bin 707 with more detail later on in the post.
Interestingly enough, the Barossa Valley cabernet lots were dominated by Rockford, who counted for 10 of the 15 lots in total. I think this is a pretty good indication of how labels can be more important than wine quality at auctions sometimes, as I for one usually don't consider Rockford to be one of the region's best makers of cabernet. I wonder if more labels like Grant Burge's Shadrach (1 lot-2005-$38-no sale) and Peter Lehmann's Mentor ( no lots) were available would the sales figures of been better or worse?
Like the Barossa and Rockford, Clare's cabernet lots were dominated by Wendouree, who counted for 10 of the 14 lots in total. Of the other 4 Clare cabernet lots present, all 4 happily sold. A 1988 vintage of Stephen George's Galah ($25), which can be made from declassified Wendouree fruit, two Grosset Gaia cabernets (1995-$40 and 1999-$32) and a 2004 Leasingham Classic Clare ($26) all would've settled into new homes after the auction.
It was good to see Yarra Valley cabernet relatively well represented, as I for one certainly believe too many people forget about the Yarra when discussing Australia's best cabernet regions. Mount Mary Quintet made up the bulk of the lot, and I'll look at those 6 wines in greater detail later. That regional icon, Yarra Yering Dry Red no.1, had a good showing by chipping in with 3 old lots and selling all 3 (1988-$50, 1990-$110 and 1990-$115). A 1997 vintage of Wantirna Estate's Amelia cabernet blend also reached a sale price of $75.
Australia's most successful cabernet region across recent years, the Margaret River, showed up with 7 lots and sold 5, but I think it could've easily been 7. Vasse Felix sold a 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon (which was technically more Mount Barker fruit than Margaret River, but hey?) for $28 and a 1998 Heytesbury for $38, while Moss Wood sold a 1997 vintage of their flagship for $90 as well as two lots of their 1997 Glenmore Vineyard for $35 each. In fact the only Margaret River cabernets which didn't sell were both from Cullen, although I personally felt they might've been a touch overpriced. The 2001 Diana Madeline carried with it a low reserve price of $150, which isn't that far off double the cellar door price of a current vintage. Either way the healthy clearance rates of both Yarra and Margaret River cabernet further indicate there certainly is interest in quality interstate wines in South Australia's secondary market.
Eden Valley cabernets were completely represented by Henschke's Cyril Henschke, which I'll take a closer look at later on.
The 4 Langhorne Creek cabernet lots were entirely comprised of Noon's Reserve, which sold 3 lots including a mini-vertical covering 2002-2004 for $62. Two lots of the 2004 sold for $50 each.


MOST FEATURED WINERIES BY TOTAL LOTS
-

WINERY

Total Lots

Lots Sold

% of Lots Sold

Penfolds

165

81

49%

Henschke

67

24

36%

Rockford

58

33

57%

Greenock Creek

28

13

46%

Wendouree

22

14

64%

Seppelt

16

9

56%

Wynns

12

2

17%

Saltram

11

8

73%

Anyone surprised to see Penfolds topping this list probably hasn't paid too much attention to South Australia's secondary wine market. Penfolds alone made up roughly 30% of the night's total lots, with Grange accounting for nearly half of all Penfolds lots. Like shiraz, the sales figures of Penfolds accurately reflect that of the auction as a whole. I've already discussed some of Penfolds more interesting single lots (1962 Bin 414 Sauternes, 1973 Sparkling Burgundy, Great Grandfather, Bin 60A) and I'll be further analysing Penfolds' most prominent labels later on. As previously mentioned Yattarna was not present.
The poor clearance rates for Henschke wines was one of the noticeable trends of the auction, and I'll look at some of the reasons for this when I take a closer look at Henschke's individual labels. Mount Edelstone and Keyneton Estate did produce some good clearances though.
It surprised me a bit to see Rockford go so close to topping Henschke in the way of total lots, yet Rocky O'Callaghan's winery easily outdid the Henschkes in the way of total sales. Basket Press accounted for over half of all Rockford lots, and I'll look at that wine later. The star performers for Rockford however were their Single Vineyard Series Shiraz wines, which sold an astonishing 7 out of 7 lots (all from the 2001 vintage) at an average price of $110 each. The more affordable Rifle Range Cabernet Sauvignon was also well represented with 7 lots, but it only managed to sell 1 of those (2005-$25).
Greenock Creek showed me the influence of Robert Parker might still emanate throughout South Australia's secondary wine market, if at least of mention in Oddbins' catalogue! The cult winery popped up with an impressive 28 lots, of which nearly half sold. Roennfeldt Road Shiraz attracted some very high prices, and I'll look at that wine later on. Greenock Creek's most successful wine on the night (in terms of clearance rates) was the more affordable Seven Acre Shiraz, which sold a very credible 6 out of 9 lots. The excellent 2004 vintage of Seven Acre Shiraz sold 3 out of 3 lots at an average price of $41, while the 2003 accounted for all 3 Seven Acre lots which didn't sell. A 1998 Seven Acre Shiraz reached a high sale price of $65.
Next on the list is Wendouree, who had a pretty good night by selling 14 of 22 lots or 64%. There was a nice mix of old and newer Wendourees, although there wasn't a single wine more recent than the 2000 vintage in any of the lots, proving how much faith buyers have in the ability of Wendouree's reds to age. The Shiraz Mataro had the best clearance rate, selling 4 out of 6 lots, but every bottle went for under $60. I'll look more at Wendouree Shiraz later on.
Seppelt had a good showing by selling 9 out of 16 lots, although only one of those lots was a still wine (a 1989 Barossa/Eden Shiraz which couldn't sell for $18). No Great Western guys? A good collection of 21yo Tawny Ports from the 1980's sold 4 out of 6 lots at an average price of around $60, and while 3 older lots of Para Liqueur Port from 1939 couldn't sell for $80, a 1933 vintage sold for $130. The highlight of course was a half bottle of the 100yo Para Liqueur from 1901 which sold for $610. Judging by the good sales figures it can be assumed fortified wines will continue to command a presence in South Australia's secondary market for some time to come (so long as the old wines exist and people are still willing to sell 'em!). Indeed all of the old Seppelt wines sold will doubtlessly provide hedonistically delightful drinking experiences for their lucky new owners.
Like most from Coonawarra, Wynns sales suffered. The classic Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon provided 4 lots but not one sold (vintages and low reserves were; 1986-$50, 1990-$55, 1991-$50, 1998-$45). Some pretty handy wines there but I feel that buyers might've been concerned that any of those Black Label lots could've been a bit tired or a bit pricey. The 1990 Michael Shiraz couldn't sell for $70 but the 1998 happily sold for a price of $61. John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon will be looked at later on.
I was somewhat surprised to see Saltram next on this list with 11 lots and even more surprised to see 8 of those 11 lots selling, but closer inspection reveals it all makes perfect sense. All the Saltram wines present were relatively modern, with nothing older than 1999. Of course, Saltram had a pretty fruitful period at the start of this century, which was reflected in buyer enthusiasm for the Foster's brand. Saltram's No.1 Shiraz was only available from less recognised vintages but still managed to move a respectable 4 out of 6 lots (1999-$35, 2000-$35, 2001-$31, 2003-$35 and 2005-no sales) at very fair prices to the buyer. Saltram's flagship Eighth Maker Shiraz sold 2 lots from the excellent 2002 vintage ($95 and $100) although the 2004 Eighth Maker couldn't reach its low reserve of $120 and didn't sell as a result. It's just a shame that 'eighth maker' Nigel Dolan has moved from Saltram, as he certainly crafted some modern day Barossa masterpieces during his stay at the Angaston winery.


KEY WINE BREAKDOWN
-
PENFOLDS GRANGE
Total Lots/Total Lots Sold: 81/35
Key Vintages:-

VINTAGE

Total Lots

Lots Sold

Average Sale Price

2010 Catalogue

2007 Catalogue

1953 (Bin 10)

1

0

-

$9,500+

-

1954

1

0

-

$18,000+

$18,000+

1955

1

1

$2,500

$2500-3600

$2500-3600

1956

2

0

-

$18,000+

$18,000+

1971

1

1

$660

$590-700

$450-550

1976

3

1

$510

$510-650

$650-800

1985

7

3

$293

$270-$350

-

1987

3

3

$300

$280-$320

-

1990

3

0

-

$500-580

$500-580

1996

6

1

$390

$390-480

$340-400

1998

4

4

$500

$480-540

$440-520

1998 (Imperial)

1

0

-

$32,000+

-

2000

3

1

$370

$370-420

-

2001

2

2

$315

$320-400

$230-400

2002

1

1

$450

$380-450

$400-450

2003

1

1

$350

$340-380

-

2004

1

0

-

$450-520

-

Grange certainly remains the cornerstone of Australia's secondary wine market, and its 43% clearance rate at Oddbins' May 2010 auction isn't too bad considering its worth. However, I do recall greater interest in Grange lots at the 2007 auction, but to excite enthusiasts there was a full set of Grange available that year (which didn't meet its reserve price of $175,000 by the way). Despite no real increase in catalogue prices since 2007, the old and rare, pre-1970 Grange wines didn't sell a single lot, with the exception of the classic '55 which found a happy buyer for $2500. The 2 classic vintages from the 70's; 1971 and 1976, both managed to find buyers. The 1971 saw a rather dramatic increase in catalogue price from almost 3 years ago (roughly $150) yet still managed to sell for an impressive $660. The 1976 however, saw a similar decrease in price, had 2 lots not sell, while the lot that did sell moved for its low reserve of $510. Grange from the 80's produced some pretty good clearance results for the label, moving 14 out of 26 lots in total. Most bottle prices for the decade were around the $300 mark, with a 1986 fetching the best price of $480. The highly rated 1990 vintage couldn't tempt anyone with 3 lots, while the 1996, with a $50 increase in catalogue price from 2007, could only move 1 of 6 lots. The 1998 however had a great night, selling 4 of 4 lots for $500 each, while a John Duval signed imperial of the same vintage in its original timber case was the most expensive wine to be auctioned off on the night, with a reserve of $32,000 (no sale). The more modern Granges sold quite well. Even the Jermey Oliver bashed 2000 vintage managed to sell a single lot, however, it must be said going prices for these wines are significantly less than what they were at release. For example; the 2003 is $200 less to buy from auction than what it was 2 years ago from retail, while the 2004 couldn't interest anyone for $450, which is still probably $100-$200 less than what it currently is in shops. The excellent 2002 did bid out to its high reserve of $450 though. Anyone without expendable money who is seriously interested in buying Grange should really consider talking to an auction house, not Man Durphy's. The savings could allow you to buy a new set of glassware to drink your Grange from!


ROCKFORD BASKET PRESS SHIRAZ
Total Lots/Total Lots Sold: 41/22
Key Vintages:-

VINTAGE

Total Lots

Lots Sold

Average Sale Price

2010 Catalogue

2007 Catalogue

1993

1

0

-

$60-75

-

1996

1

0

-

$110-140

$100-130

1998

2

2

$142

$140-190

$100-120

1999

3

3

$97

$80-95

-

2000

5

5

$65

$65-$80

$75-$85

2002

2

0

-

$110-140

$95-120

2004

1

1

$80

$80-95

$80-$105

2004 (Magnum)

2

0

-

$240-280

-

2005

6

6

$75

$75-95

-

2006

8

1

$90

$80-95

-

2007

1

0

-

$80-100

-

I'm not sure if it's just me but I'm rather surprised to see Basket Press having a third more lots than Hill of Grace. Basket Press' popularity on the secondary market remains undoubtable, and I'm very interested to see how vintages 2005-2008 will fare in years to come. One of the real highlights of the night would had to of been the results for Rockford's 1998 Basket Press. With 2 out of 2 lots selling for $138 and $145 respectively, my estimations are that this wine's tripled in value from its original cellar door price some 9 years ago - not too many Australian wines you can say that about! Just look at the difference in its catalogue price from 2007. For interest Tim Cohen reviewed it over at Cooked and Bottled in Brunswick recently, giving it 100 points - fair call Tim! Even at the lower end, the sale and reserve prices of Basket Press remain higher than original cellar door price, although the current 2007 vintage couldn't interest anyone for $80 (which is slightly above what it was recently retailing for). Given all of this, are good vintages of Rockford Basket Press the safest modern day bet in Australian wine investment?


HENSCHKE HILL OF GRACE
Total Lots/Total Lots Sold: 24/5
Key Vintages:-

VINTAGE

Total Lots

Lots Sold

Average Sale Price

2010 Catalogue

2007 Catalogue

1979

1

1

$130

$130-150

-

1990

2

1

$390

$390-460

$350-400

1991

5

0

-

$330-370

-

1992

3

0

-

$280-350

$220-260

1994

2

0

-

$280-340

$230-300

1996

3

0

-

$400-500

$260-360

1998

2

0

-

$460-520

$280-350

1999

2

1

$300

$300-380

$210-280

2002

1

1

$360

$360-440

-

2004

1

1

$370

$350-500

-

On paper things look pretty bad for the Hill of Grace results. Five out of 24 lots sold. Of those 5 sales one was a 1979 curio for $130 (I know that because a friend of mine bought it as a birth year mantlepiece ornament) and two of them were some very good modern vintages which still sold for hundreds of dollars less than what their original asking price was (if I'm correct the 2002 was $550 cellar door). That leaves only a single sale from 1990 ($390) and one from 1999 ($300). There wasn't a single Hill of Grace from the 1980's present, making 1990 the next oldest vintage after the 1979 wine. But why the poor sales for 1990's Hill of Grace? A quick look at the table above and you'll notice an increase in catalogue price for every vintage that decade. In particular, the highly rated 1996 and 1998 vintages saw a dramatic increase in catalogue price of around $150 from that of 3 years ago. Obviously buyers weren't willing to cover these price increases. I wonder if the noticeable price hike had anything to do with Hill of Grace's poor clearance rates?


PENFOLDS BIN 389 CABERNET SHIRAZ
Total Lots/Total Lots Sold: 19/6
Key Vintages:-

VINTAGE

Total Lots

Lots Sold

Average Sale Price

2010 Catalogue

2007 Catalogue

1981

1

1

$40

$28-34

-

1990

2

0

-

$80-100

-

1996

1

0

-

$70-85

$55-70

1997

1

0

-

$35-45

$30-40

1998

6

3

$63

$60-80

$50-65

2000

2

0

-

$45-55

$30-40

2001

1

1

$35

$40-50

$30-40

2002

1

0

-

$50-60

$35-45

2004

1

0

-

$40-48

-

Bin 389 isn't just one of my favourites, it's also something of a darling on the secondary wine market, which is why it shouldn't be surprising to see it here with the fourth most lots in total. However, its 32% clearance rate was a bit of a surprise, so let's see if we can see why. Immediately, by looking at the table, we can see an increase in catalogue price for all the stated lots since 2007. The 2 classic 389's; the 1996 and 1998, now sit in pretty high territory price wise, although the 1998 still sold half of its lots (it's a personal favourite of mine!). The 1997, which I can attest to drinking superbly right now, should've been great value at $35, but no one bought it. Still, I didn't buy it so who am I to say anything? As another note, I must mention that the increase in Bin 389's catalogue prices here fairly coincides with Penfolds recent increases in Bin 389's retail price. But just because a wine's current retail value goes up does that mean its secondary value should as well?


HENSCHKE MOUNT EDELSTONE SHIRAZ
Total Lots/Total Lots Sold: 15/9
Key Vintages:-

VINTAGE

Total Lots

Lots Sold

Average Sale Price

2010 Catalogue

2007 Catalogue

1988

1

0

-

$80-90

-

1990

1

0

-

$90-120

-

1992

2

0

-

$65-90

$60-70

1996

2

2

$85

$80-100

-

1998

2

0

-

$85-95

$65-75

2001

1

1

$65

$65-85

-

2002

2

2

$95

$100-130

$90-110

2005

3

3

$60

$60-80

-

2006

1

1

$75

$70-80

-

Personally I believe Mount Edelstone's been kicking some big goals quality wise lately, which is reflected in the wine selling 7 out of 7 lots from this century. By some distance it was Henschke's best selling upper tier label on the night. The prices on Mount Edelstone are still pretty fair really, with most of the lots selling for around its current retail. The 2005 would've made some pretty smart buying for $60, while some people seem happy to be paying an increased (in way of catalogue and original asking) price for the superb 2002 wine. In fact the only Mount Edelstone vintage which didn't sell between 1996 and 2006 was 1998, which saw a $20 increase in catalogue price from 3 years ago. The wonderful 2004 wine wasn't available. Without Mount Edelstone, the overall results for Henschke at this auction would've looked significantly worse.


PENFOLDS ST HENRI SHIRAZ
Total Lots/Total Lots Sold: 14/6
Key Vintages:-

VINTAGE

Total Lots

Lots Sold

Average Sale Price

2010 Catalogue

2007 Catalogue

1975

1

0

-

$110-140

-

1986

1

1

$125

$120-150

-

1997

1

0

-

$50-65

$50-60

1998

2

1

$85

$80-90

-

2002

1

1

$60

$60-80

-

2003

2

0

-

$50-60

-

2004

1

0

-

$65-75

-

2005

1

1

$55

$55-65

-

Lot numbers for St Henri were up on 2007, when the auction presented 5 St Henri lots, of which, 3 were pre-1966. If anything St Henri put up some real bargains at this auction, with some recent wines from very good vintages selling at close to half current retail. $60 for the 2002 would've been an absolute steal here. A 2001 sold for a rather low $48, but I didn't think much of that wine. All the same, I can't believe I just paid $100 for the current 2006 vintage at cellar door! Having said that, quite a few of these lots did get passed in, even a 2004 at $65. Low prices, getting passed down, what does this say about St Henri?


PENFOLDS BIN 707 CABERNET SAUVIGNON
Total Lots/Total Lots Sold: 12/8
Key Vintages:-

VINTAGE

Total Lots

Lots Sold

Average Sale Price

2010 Catalogue

2007 Catalogue

1986

1

0

-

$130-160

$110-145

1990

1

1

$160

$140-170

$130-160

1993

1

1

$115

$100-$130

$95-100

1994

3

3

$130

$120-$150

$90-120

1994 (Imperial)

1

1

$1,340

$900+

-

1996

3

2

$155

$110-220

$120-150

1998

2

0

-

$170-200

$120-140

Bin 707 performed very well at the Oddbins May auction, selling two thirds of its lots and commanding good prices despite a noted increase in its reserves from 2007. A 1994 Bin 707 imperial, with its back label painted by artist Richard Karuvovich, proved THE highlight of the night. The bottle was displayed and bidding for the wine went fierce and fast. It quickly escalated from its reserve price of $900 to a final hammer price of $1340. It did look very good though. 1998 was the most recent vintage, which couldn't sell anything, while the 1994 sold 3 out of 3 lots. It would've been interesting to see more lots from this century in attendance. Maybe South Australians don't want to part with them just yet? Personally, I've always felt Bin 707 offers better value than Grange (at retail and auctions), but I can't afford Grange anyway.


WENDOUREE SHIRAZ
Total Lots/Total Lots Sold: 11/3
Key Vintages:-

VINTAGE

Total Lots

Lots Sold

Average Sale Price

2010 Catalogue

2007 Catalogue

1983

1

0

-

$150-180

-

1985

1

0

-

$150-160

-

1988

1

0

-

$110-150

$125-160

1989

2

0

-

$110-150

-

1990

1

0

-

$110-$145

-

1990 (Magnum)

3

2

$380

$380-$450

$320-$360

1991

1

1

$115

$100-130

$115-135

2000

1

0

-

$70-90

-

Not a great clearance rate for Wendouree's flagship shiraz (27%) given the brand's overall good performance on the night, but there were quite a few older wines present and the more recognised (and collectable?) recent vintages weren't around. A couple of 1990 magnums fetched some fair prices and they effectively made up two thirds of Wendouree's total shiraz sales. $70 for the 2000 Wendouree must be considered cheap, even if it isn't one of their better releases. There is a bit of an oddity compared to the previous wines I've looked at here, as two of Wendouree's Shiraz vintages (1988 and 1991) actually went down in catalogue price since 2007.


GREENOCK CREEK ROENNFELDT ROAD SHIRAZ
Total Lots/Total Lots Sold: 10/4
Key Vintages:-

VINTAGE

Total Lots

Lots Sold

Average Sale Price

2010 Catalogue

2007 Catalogue

1995

1

1

$300

$300-370

-

1996

2

0

-

$250-320

$370-450

1998

2

1

$320

$320-380

$300-380

1999

2

2

$160

$150-180

$200-250

2000

1

0

-

$160-220

$180-220

2002

1

0

-

$300-400

$230-280

2004

1

0

-

$250-350

-

Some noticeable fluctuations in the price of Greenock Creek's Roennfeldt Road Shiraz were evident on the night - isn't it amazing what a difference Robert Parker Jnr and 2 points can make? The 1995 and 1998 (both RPjnr 100pt wines) Roennfeldt Roads sold for some very hefty prices, effectively doubling the sale price of the other sales, which were two 1999's (a RPjnr 98pt wine). In fact, Robert Parker's name and scores are littered throughout the Greenock Creek section of the Oddbins catalogue, and the catalogue prices of their wines tend to go up and down in tune with his scores. The 2002 Roennfeldt Road was another Parker 100 point wine by the way, which didn't manage to sell.


PENFOLDS RWT SHIRAZ
Total Lots/Total Lots Sold: 9/8
Key Vintages:-

VINTAGE

Total Lots

Lots Sold

Average Sale Price

2010 Catalogue

2007 Catalogue

1997

4

4

$85

$80-95

$70-75

1998

1

0

-

$110-140

-

2002

1

1

$101

$100-120

-

2003

1

1

$95

$90-110

-

2006

2

2

$84

$80-110

-

The new baby to Penfolds' upper tier, RWT, had a very good night by selling a superb 8 out of its 9 lots. It seems like collectors might be trying to make up for lost time! A quick look at the prices though and you'll notice they're rather low, at least when compared to retail prices (the current vintage RWT sells for $170 at cellar door). In my own experiences with RWT I've found it to be a very good wine, if not a $170 wine. Obviously I might not be alone in that belief. Either way, buyers definitely bought up Penfolds' premier expression of a single region shiraz at Oddbins May auction.


PENFOLDS MAGILL ESTATE SHIRAZ
Total Lots/Total Lots Sold: 8/5
Key Vintages:-

VINTAGE

Total Lots

Lots Sold

Average Sale Price

2010 Catalogue

2007 Catalogue

1985

1

0

-

$45-55

$45-50

1994 (Magnum)

1

1

$105

$100-120

$120-130

1996 (Magnum)

1

1

$118

$100-140

$120-130

1997

2

2

$45

$45-60

-

1998

1

0

-

$70-85

$55-60

2000

1

0

-

$45-55

-

2001

1

1

$41

$40-55

-

As previously mentioned with St Henri and RWT, the prices on offer for some Magill Estates at the auction were roughly half that of current retail, or even less in the case of some (see 2000 and 2001 vintages). In fact, a 1994 Magill Estate magnum actually sold for a fraction more than what a standard size bottle currently costs at cellar door (2007-$100). What does this tell us about secondary buyers attitudes towards buying certain Penfolds wines? They want to pay less? A lot less? They believe Penfolds charge too much in the first place? Oh, back to Magill Estate. The label's certainly produced some pretty good wines since the 2001 vintage, so it would be of more interest to see what sort of prices Magill Estate might command from vintages like 2004 or 2006.


HENSCHKE CYRIL HENSCHKE CABERNET SAUVIGNON
Total Lots/Total Lots Sold: 7/1
Key Vintages:-

VINTAGE

Total Lots

Lots Sold

Average Sale Price

2010 Catalogue

2007 Catalogue

1996

1

1

$110

$100-150

-

1999

1

0

-

$70-75

-

2002

2

0

-

$90-110

-

2004

2

0

-

$80-100

-

2006

1

0

-

$65-75

-

Like all of Henschke's premier labels except Mount Edelstone, the sales performance of Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon on the night wasn't great (14% clearance rate). It's pretty hard to point the finger on why this might have been other than just simple lack of buyer interest. There were some pretty handy vintages available and prices were quite fair really(the 2002 Cyril was superb). Interestingly, the most expensive lot (the excellent 1996) was the only one that sold. $65 might seem relatively cheap for the 2006 Cyril Henschke but personally I felt it was a slightly underperforming wine given the vintage.


HENSCHKE KEYNETON ESTATE EUPHONIUM
Total Lots/Total Lots Sold: 6/4
Key Vintages:-

VINTAGE

Total Lots

Lots Sold

Average Sale Price

2010 Catalogue

2007 Catalogue

1999

1

0

-

$28-36

-

2002

2

2

$35

$30-40

-

2004

1

1

$30

$25-30

-

2005

1

0

-

$30-40

-

2006

1

1

$30

$25-35

-

I've included Keyneton Estate here because I feel it currently claims an interesting position in the secondary market. I believe that the strong 2002, 2004 and 2006 vintages might do for Keyneton what 1996 and 1998 have done for Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna. These wines make great each way bets in the secondary market for both buyer and seller. They're easy and affordable to buy, they're from prominent labels, they can age, and if you don't meet your reserve price they'll always make for a great drinking experience. The sales results for those 3 vintages of Keyneton show I might have a point, especially as all 3 experienced some form of bidding and all sold above low reserve.


MOUNT MARY QUINTET CABERNETS
Total Lots/Total Lots Sold: 6/2
Key Vintages:-

VINTAGE

Total Lots

Lots Sold

Average Sale Price

2010 Catalogue

2007 Catalogue

1990

1

0

-

$210-260

-

1991

1

0

-

$90-100

-

1992

1

0

-

$90-110

-

2002

2

2

$93

$100-140

-

2005

1

0

-

$120-160

-

The most iconic of Victorian cabernets, Mount Mary Quintet, showed up with 6 lots at the auction, which actually made it the most prominent of any interstate label (South Australians-you gotta love their patriotism!). The classic 1990 vintage couldn't interest buyers with its low reserve of $210, as with the less heralded 1991 follow up for less than half that price. Two out of 2 lots of the 2002 sold for below reserve, but buyers weren't interested in bidding on the more expensive but arguably superior 2005 vintage.


WYNNS JOHN RIDDOCH CABERNET SAUVIGNON
Total Lots/Total Lots Sold: 6/1
Key Vintages:-

VINTAGE

Total Lots

Lots Sold

Average Sale Price

2010 Catalogue

2007 Catalogue

1988

1

0

-

$55-$65

$45-55

1988 (Magnum)

2

0

-

$120-150

$110-140

1993

1

1

$48

$45-55

$70-90

1998

2

0

-

$70-80

$58-75

One out of 6 lots sold sounds pretty bad for Wynns John Riddoch, but there could be some explanations. The prices are actually quite fair ($48 for the '93 is great) but we're looking at some older wines which were all pre-Wynns expansive vineyard rejuvenations (which took place between the 1999 and 2003 releases). I for one believe that since the extra work in the vineyard took place, John Riddoch has achieved new heights in Coonawarra cabernet excellence. The 2004 and 2005 wines in particular. I'm sure most buyers at the auction would be aware of this and it would've been interesting to see what sort of difference those more modern wines would've had on John Riddoch's auction results.


WOLF BLASS BLACK LABEL
Total Lots/Total Lots Sold: 6/1
Key Vintages:-

VINTAGE

Total Lots

Lots Sold

Average Sale Price

2010 Catalogue

2007 Catalogue

1985 (Magnum)

2

0

-

$120-140

-

1992

1

0

-

$60-70

-

1994

1

0

-

$70-95

-

1998

1

1

$85

$80-110

-

1998 (Magnum)

1

0

-

$190-210

-

Wolf Blass Black Label red blends have been Australian auction staples for some time now, but I wonder where this brand will sit in about 20 years time. There's certainly a lot changes constantly going on at the winery in a multitude of directions. Other than the 1998 Black Label (which was the only one that sold) my guess is that the other vintages present at the auction might be starting to look a bit tired, and careful buyers might not have been willing to take the risk involved with these wines (especially as the night was coming to a close).


PETALUMA COONAWARRA CABERNET BLEND
Total Lots/Total Lots Sold: 6/0
Key Vintages:-

VINTAGE

Total Lots

Lots Sold

Average Sale Price

2010 Catalogue

2007 Catalogue

1988

1

0

-

$40-55

-

1990

2

0

-

$50-65

-

1991

1

0

-

$40-55

-

1998

2

0

-

$60-75

$45-55

Zero out of 6 lots was a bit of a disastrous result for Petaluma's Coonawarra and I honestly can't explain why, other than perhaps the crowd were all anti-Coonawarra cabernet? Japanese ownership resentment maybe? Either way, the prices for Petaluma's Coonawarra wines were quite good (obviously the 1998 was cheaper in 2007), especially considering 1990, 1991 and 1998 are three of the best vintages of Petaluma's Coonawarra ever! I wonder if it's too late to get in touch with Oddbins over some of these wines...


LEEUWIN ESTATE ART SERIES CHARDONNAY
Total Lots/Total Lots Sold: 4/1
Key Vintages:-

VINTAGE

Total Lots

Lots Sold

Average Sale Price

2010 Catalogue

2007 Catalogue

1995 (Magnum)

1

0

-

$170-200

-

1999

1

0

-

$70-80

-

2001 (Magnum)

2

1

$170

$160-190

-

The only white wine to have more than 2 lots at the auction was Leeuwin Estate's Art Series. As shown by the table there was nothing terribly recent though, and 15 year old Australian chardonnay can be a bit of a hard sell for $170, even if it is a magnum of Art Series. A bit of a shame really, as I walked into the auction feeling a smartly priced bottle of 2002, 2003 or 2004 Art Series chardy would've made a great gift for Beck.


NOTABLE OMISSIONS
Here's a list of some of the names which didn't make it into the auction at all. Some are probably to be expected but some were quite surprising.
- Clonakilla
- Clarendon Hills
- Torbreck
- Bannockburn
- Penfolds Yattarna
- Seppelt Great Western
- Houghton
- Chris Ringland Three Rivers
- Mount Langi
- Wynns Michael Shiraz 1955
- Rockford Black Shiraz
- Tyrrell's
- McWilliams Mount Pleasant
- Penfolds Bin 60A 1962
- Cape Mentelle
- Joseph

CONCLUSION
I originally intended on writing a big conclusion but this post has gone on way, way, way too long. So, I'll leave the final line with Oddbins, who took out an ad in today's paper that reads:-

"WINE STOCK WANTED"
"Demand has returned to the market and we have clients seeking premium wine from strong vintages."