Plantagenet had to make a tough decision about the choice of wines to present with the Celebration. Given the extremely compressed timeframe, the absolute number of wines presented during the Masterclass session had to be limited. Should the tasting cover all of the five principle varieties (riesling, chardonnay, pinot noir, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon), and, if so, what vintages should be featured? For each of the shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, four decades were covered, the wines standing proud.
I may well have been in the minority, and, in any event, am hard to please when it comes to pinot noir made in marginally warm regions. So much so it serves little purpose to comment further on the pinot noirs.
The chardonnays simply serve to show that screwcaps are essential once the chardonnay is more than five years old, and absolutely so when it is 10 or more years old; thus the ’93 and ’00 Chardonnays were proof positive that cork is an unfriendly closure.
Which leaves the rieslings, the shirazs and the cabernets, the three best varieties of Plantagenet, and which, in the wisdom of hindsight, should have been the only three presented in the Masterclass, the compensation being an additional eight vintages to be split between the big three.
Here follow my tasting notes using a 5-star system, and if you think the allocation overly generous, let me simply say that the chardonnays and pinot noirs racked up everything from 1, 2 and 3 stars.
Full gold colour, with a faint touch of copper; there is a distinct honeyed edge to the bouquet, with a hint of toast in the background; still lively thanks in part to crisp acidity, but is fractionally past its best, and no two bottles will be even remotely similar to each other. Cork
Bright, full gold; some oxidation/cork issues on the bouquet of the first bottle, led to a second, and then a third, and it was with the last that we saw the wine as it should be, with honey and lemon zest flavours on a quite firm palate, which grew and grew in the glass. Cork
Gleaming gold-green; the fragrant, citrus-driven bouquet has great varietal expression, and appears at its peak; the palate lives up the promise of the bouquet, having entered into what will be a long plateau of perfection. A tasting note in March ’07 (94 points) suggested the wine would live to 2016, and that now seems conservative. Screwcap
Served at a great dinner at the end of the day, and I have nothing to add to the tasting note ex the 2014 Wine Companion. Simply, a great wine. Bright straw-green; one whiff and one sip will tell you why this wine should have won trophies, including that for Best Wine of Show in the Qantas Wine Show of WA ’12. The colour and bouquet promise much, but the sheer quality of the lime-filled palate, with bursts of crunch acidity and green apple takes it out of the ordinary. The drink to date will prove to be conservative, but reflects the pleasure the wine gives right now. Screwcap
The wine is predominantly sourced from the Wyjup Vineyard, and its 43-year-old vines, fleshed out with lesser amounts from two local vineyards which add complexity to the profile. The wine is a little bit behind the all-conquering '12 Riesling, but is seriously good, with a fragrant, flowery, lime blossom-filled bouquet, a long palate gaining strength and energy on the finish, with touches of slate and talc forming part of the impact of acidity. Screwcap
Here the decision was to go back even further in time, and struck a rich seam of gold.
Deep, healthy colour; rich black fruits, pepper, spice and licorice on the bouquet, then a layered, rich palate. A great Australian dry red, and, if the corks are sound (or the wine is given a new cork with a prayer for no TCA), has years left in front of it. Cork
Lighter colour than the ’77, but the hue is vibrant; a fragrant bouquet of red and black fruits is an entrancing introduction, followed by a supple, medium-bodied palate, and there are savoury/spicy nuances to give complexity to the red fruit core. Cork; the same comments apply as for the ’77.
A re-release from the cellar, marking the start of a policy of holding back wines for later release exclusively from cellar door and restaurants. When first tasted in March '08, I gave the wine 96 points, and it has fulfilled all of the promise it then held. It has a super-complex black cherry, blackberry, licorice and spice bouquet, the palate with more of the same, augmented by tannins of the quality rare in shiraz; all-in-all, strongly reminiscent of the wines from Hermitage in the northern end of the Rhone Valley. Screwcap
Not bottled at the time of the tasting, but already blended for bottling. Vivid colour; the fragrance is similar to that of the ’90, with red and black fruits; the beautiful, medium-bodied palate is supple and long, oak merely a bystander. Screwcap.
Here the master plan of one wine from each of four decades came to fruition.
Still has good colour; the bouquet has a vibrant display of varietal aromas, the palate fleshing these out with flavours of cassis, redcurrant, and touches of mint/leaf; fine tannins underwrite a gently savoury finish. When tasted in October 1994, the wine was awarded four stars and rated as somewhat past its best. The only reconciliation is the dreaded cork. Cork
Good hue; a very fragrant, elegant and almost perfumed bouquet, which, together with the palate, had an astonishing amount in common with the ’89; finished with silky, fine-grained tannins. When first tasted (October 1997) damned by faint praise. Cork
Outstanding colour for an eight-year-old wine, still purple-crimson; the palate currently presents something of a tug-of-war between the fruit, oak and tannins, but is balanced, and has years left in front of it. Screwcap
Not yet bottled but, like the Shiraz, fully blended for bottling. Vivid colour; has exceptional texture, structure and balance to an intense, layered palate. Screwcap