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