Category Archives: Victorian Shiraz

Apr 04 2013

Craiglee Shiraz: The Quest to Make another Wine that lasts 100+ years!

Posted on April 04, 2013 | By merrill@cellarit.com

To come across a review by James Halliday of a wine that was 121 years old when it was tasted is pretty unusual. Even more extraordinary was to see that the review wasn’t for a fortified; it was a shiraz and it tasted great!

The wine in question was the Craiglee 1872 Shiraz, which Halliday tried in 1993. Here’s his glowing 95 point review:

Some browning evident, as one would expect; an ethereal, complex bouquet of gum leaf and dry grass with both spice and mint progressively emerging. The palate was remarkably complex with flavours of cardamom, spice and again a touch of dry gum leaf. The structure was superb, the finish good. (James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion, 1 November 1993)

Not surprisingly The Wine Front’s Campbell Mattinson discovered a fascinating story behind this amazing wine. Here’s a brief recap.

The original owners of the winery, the Johnstone Family, decided to keep bottles of the Craiglee Shiraz 1872 aside after it won a prestigious award at an exhibition in Vienna in 1875.  Fortunately the bottles were placed in the winery’s dark, strikingly cold cellar and left undisturbed until the early 1950s.

None other than the late John C Brown of Brown Brothers tasted the remarkably preserved 1872 vintage in the 1970s. According to current owner and winemaker Pat Carmody, Brown told Pat’s father that “any vineyard that could produce a wine that drank that well after 100 years in the cellar had to have something about it.”

Initially not keen on the idea of turning their sheep-grazing property over to vineyards, a disastrous wild dog attack on the sheep forced the Carmody family to reconsider. In 1976 Pat decided to plant some shiraz vines on the Tullarmarine side of the family farm in Sunbury – the closest wine region … Read the rest

Apr 04 2013

Dalwhinnie: A Pinnacle of Excellence in the Pyrenees

Posted on April 04, 2013 | By merrill@cellarit.com

The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW recently remarked that:

Victoria continues to be Australia’s center for innovation and experimentation. Home to some of the country’s brightest young winemaking talents, I am repeatedly impressed not just with the overall quality of wines coming out of this region, but the individual expressions. This vast region has much to offer in terms of incredibly diverse terroirs, including patches capable of producing wines that reach the absolute pinnacles of greatness. But such vineyards can malinger into insignificance unless they are managed by people with real vision. It is this combination of incredible viticultural potential and the dedication of inspired winemakers that continues to make this region Australia’s region to watch. (Australia’s Victoria and Tasmania: Watch this Space by Lisa Perrotti-Brown, eRobertParker.com June 2012)

Perrotti-Brown’s observations resonated when I read Dalwhinnie winemaker’s David Jones refreshingly candid assessment of the dismal 2011 vintage in Victoria’s Pyrenees:

We actually did make a small amount of Moonambel Shiraz and Moonambel Cabernet but when the wines were finally ready to be bottled and tasted on the bench alongside the impressive 2010’s and glorious 2009’s, we just thought No! we would be kidding ourselves and doing our Eagle Eye members and supporters a disservice by releasing these wines. Enough said.  (Vintage Notes, Dalwhinnie Eagle Eye Newsletter)

Integrity is definitely another hallmark characteristic I would add to describe Victoria’s best winemakers! I can’t imagine how difficult and financially painful the decision to throw away an entire vintage of red wines must have been!

Dalwhinnie Eagle ShirazBut fortunately for Dalwhinnie fans the news was not all bad. Dalwhinnie’s wine have a reputation for being quite tannic when young, which makes them great candidates for cellaring. To compensate for the lack of a 2011 vintage of its flagship shiraz and cabernet, Dalwhinnie has released … Read the rest