The final installment of my back reviews is dedicated to the mature, ready to drink wines I've pulled out of my own cellar. There will be no current release wines here.
If you happen to possess any of the wines I review here, this is a good way to check out how they're developing. To be honest though, I'll generally only review wines here which I think are ready to drink.
These wines will be difficult to find at retail stores (and overpriced), but if you're that keen I'm sure your best bet would be sourcing them from a wine auction house such as Langton's or Oddbins.
Reviewed below are Hardys Eileen Hardy Shiraz 1997, Oakridge Chardonnay 2002, Saltram Mamre Brook Shiraz 1998 and Tim Adams Semillon 2002. To my tastes all these wines have hit their peak, but if anyone has a different opinion please let me know. I'll be only too glad to hear your views.
HARDYS EILEEN HARDY SHIRAZ 1997
- Region: McLaren Vale, SA
- Price: $80-$135
Named in honour of the family matriarch; the Eileen Hardy range encompasses the very best red (shiraz) and white (chardonnay) wines produced by Hardys each year. Without a shred of doubt they are among Australia's finest.
Holding its colour well, the 1997 Shiraz reveals a settled nose of blackcurrants, mushroom, polished leather and bitter dark chocolate with great depth. Penetratingly long and dark, its velvety palate contains an even balance of mature, regional flavours working their way towards a persistent and bright, dusty finish amplified by a lasting note of cigar box.
ü Considering 1997 isn't a recognised vintage for McLaren Vale, this is a surprisingly brilliant, reday to drink Eileen Hardy Shiraz. The quality of the exceptional 2004 (95pts) at a similar maturity could be mind blowing. Drink now.
OAKRIDGE CHARDONNAY 2002
- Region: Yarra Valley, VIC
- Price: $20-$34
Following a period of ownership under the rather unproductive Evans and Tate group, Oakridge has rebounded to top form with their excellent chardonnays leading the way.
Quite mature by Australian standards, the golden-yellow Oakridge 2002 opens to a toasty bouquet of honeyed citrus fruits, grapefruit and wheatmeal with undertones of sultana and smoky vanilla oak. Developed and savoury but unquestionably vibrant, the complex palate marries creamy texture with idiosyncratic nuances of lemon tart, yeast and grapefruit. It finishes convincingly long with cheesy, briney notes lingering into the aftertaste.
ü Who says wines sealed under screwcap can't develop evenly in a beautiful fashion? Drink now.
SALTRAM MAMRE BROOK SHIRAZ 1998
- Region: Barossa Valley, SA
- Price: $18-$29
Saltram's Mamre Brook label usually delivers very reliable expressions of the joys of Barossa Valley reds. For their price, they can be exceptional value for the cellar, especially from good years like 1998.
Understated yet complex, the very fresh nose of the 1998 Shiraz reveals characters of porcini mushroom/truffle overlying notes of meaty redcurrants and mint. Smooth, settled and superbly balanced, its palate builds with layers of intensity in an elegant, meaty and savoury fashion. It finishes generously long with vibrancy and lasting impression.
ü+ A truly delicious, mature shiraz, the 1998 Mamre Brook is a standout example of how affordable wines from excellent vintages can grow into exquisite drinks. Drink now.
TIM ADAMS SEMILLON 2002
- Region: Clare Valley, SA
- Price: $19-$27
2002 was named a 'Vintage of the Century year' for Clare by the respected Langton's group. Tim Adams in particular took advantage of the exceptional conditions, delivering some truly memorable shiraz, cabernet, grenache, riesling and semillon that year. Now fully mature, his 2002 is one of the finest Clare Valley semillons I've had.
Vivid gold, with a beautifully developed bouquet of grilled nuts, toasty oak, pungent melons and lime, its aromatic fragrance precedes a driving palate which delves through great length and rare shape. Quite slippery in texture but supported by an oily back palate and dry finish, it penetrates with real authority and brightness, as any indication of 5 months spent in French oak has been well absorbed by varietal citrus/melon fruits and classic bottle aged semillon notes.
ü+ Marvellously long, dry, savoury and complex; Tim Adams' 2002 is a benchmark expression of lightly oaked, Clare Valley semillon. Drink now.