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Old red wines

I enjoyed two great old vintage wines last night with old friend Chongwoo and his kin. A 1976 Wolf Blass Black Label Cabernet-Shiraz for a pre-dinner warm-up was, I thought, in excellent condition – Chongwoo thought it a bit faded. These very old wines are a matter of taste – they don’t appeal to all.

Wolf Blass took out three consecutive Jimmy Watson Trophies more than 30 years from 1974-1976 so this wine, though not a winner itself, has great pedigree. Good colour, brisk acidity – a gentle aged wine from the Barossa Valley and Langhorne Creek. I’ve said cruel things about Wolf Blass wines over the years – all is retracted!

Then some Italian tucker with a 1986 Chateau Tahbilk Shiraz. This wine has been a source of inspiration for me for over a decade as I have chewed my way through 2 dozen of the beasties all bought for an absolute song – a myopic restaurant owner decided his cellar was taking up too much space so he had a fire-sale. I remember filling the trunk of my car and congratulating myself for my far-sighted wisdom!

Now the CT-shiraz is definitely an old wine with cigar box bouquets and sweet fruit – an absolute classic. This vintage was one of the greatest of the Tahbilk shiraz wines though now it is getting scarce. It was an enormous wine when I bought it in the late 1980s and remained so for a decade. It is now (like me) maturing gracefully.

Recent Chateau Tahbilk wines (shiraz, cabernet, marsanne, chardonnay) have been uninspired in my view – they improve with breathing for several hours. Its a sad development.

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