Old Aussie Wines - are they the villains we sometimes make them out to be? (clue: No!)

There was also the Australia Portfolio wines scandal, whuch burnt a lot of buyers of high end Aussie wine, as well as flooding a certain sector of the market with very very cheap bottles of good things (Torbreck and 2 hands in particular). And if you've spent a year paying 35 quid a bottle it sticks in the mind even if the real price should have been higher
Same thing happened with Wynns.
 
Now if that isn't an offline writing itself then frankly I don't know what is.
I have a few bottles of Sparkling Shiraz and am just looking for an excuse to unleash them. Turkey Flat Blend No. 3 disgorged November 2006 the label tells me. Should nominally be sufficiently middle aged to qualify for a W-P offline.

Perhaps we should invite Mark Carrington? He’s had it coming for a while now.
 
A lot of higher end stuff was diverted to the US and then more recently and in larger amounts to China - not sure how the trade war will play out.

There‘s been plenty of stuff “dumped” on the UK market in the past two or three years if you know where to look at so-called bargain prices which whilst less expensive (in some cases much less so) than the original prices is still not “cheap”.

Experiences of these bottles have been mixed to say the least.
 
In 1998 the GBP bought $2.74 AUD, by 2012 it bought $1.47, which pretty much killed the UK for export, especially as the UK was always a very price sensitive market. From 2012 to 2020 we did a major pivot towards a market that was in our timezone, had almost insatiable appetite for red wine, and were willing to pay a premium. That plan hasnt quite worked out, so an oversupply of premium wine in the market should see some keen offers to UK customers.

Interesting the wines discussed overwhelmingly Barossa shiraz. While I enjoy the style when I have it, even I cannot remember the last time I bought a SA red, (riesling however....)
 
Lots to say here.
1) Australian reds from good producers and regions have always been capable of developing over time and the uk market could not understand this. Dead arm 1998 is a glorious thing right now, yet so many were guzzled before it got anywhere near ready. Wynns John riddoch 96 another belter. There are so many others.
2) as Sean and Tom have said, we are no longer the choice for premium Aussie, china is that place
3) ‘price repositioning’ by penfolds was so egregious that it immediately turned consumers off.
4) the general view of new world wines in the uk is high alcohol and quick drinking which is perpetuated by the mass market crap like yellowtail when the there are so many brilliant producers and products
5) Australian portfolio wines. Total bastards. I had to deal with people who’d lost their savings, people who thought they could pass on a huge amount to their children and I had to tell them it was worth 20p in the pound. Those people are beneath contempt. The booked value of the leftover wines in storage according to them was 16 million pounds. The actual value was 2.1 million.
6) the market has now corrected for older Aussie and where they are now is about right
 
I have a few bottles of Sparkling Shiraz and am just looking for an excuse to unleash them. Turkey Flat Blend No. 3 disgorged November 2006 the label tells me. Should nominally be sufficiently middle aged to qualify for a W-P offline.
Perhaps we should invite Mark Carrington? He’s had it coming for a while now
I’m busy. Full stop.
 
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Lots to say here.
1) Australian reds from good producers and regions have always been capable of developing over time and the uk market could not understand this. Dead arm 1998 is a glorious thing right now, yet so many were guzzled before it got anywhere near ready. Wynns John riddoch 96 another belter. There are so many others.
2) as Sean and Tom have said, we are no longer the choice for premium Aussie, china is that place
3) ‘price repositioning’ by penfolds was so egregious that it immediately turned consumers off.

55 posts before the ‘P’ appeared. Light blue touch paper & retreat.
 

Tom Cannavan

Administrator
I have quite a few forgotten odds and sods of 1990s Australian wines kicking about in my cellar - Katnook, Jim Barry, Howard Park, etc.- and during the first part of lockdown did pull a few out, more in hope than expectation. Hit rate of absolutely lovely verses past it was probably 60/40, but same could probably be said of any bunch of miscellaneous 25-year-old bottles.
 
For my own part I have always thought that Australian wines could age - primarily because I read a book about Australian wines written by James Halliday wherein he cited many an example of wines that aged beautifully. The first Australian wine I cellared was the 1982 Chateau Tahbilk, and soon after followed by the 1981 and 1982 Taltarni. I still have a couple of them as well as a few more from the 80's - single bottles of '83 Grange, '86 Pyrus, '88 Bin 707, and an 1988 Lehmann Cabernet. I had a few 1975 Lindeman's Auburn Burgundy but I drank the last on in 2001 and it was unforgettable, so far the second best Australian wine I've had after the gorgeous 1982 Penfold's Bin 820 that was served by the late Spike Maynard who imported Australian wine into the province.
 
For my own part I have always thought that Australian wines could age - primarily because I read a book about Australian wines written by James Halliday wherein he cited many an example of wines that aged beautifully. The first Australian wine I cellared was the 1982 Chateau Tahbilk, and soon after followed by the 1981 and 1982 Taltarni. I still have a couple of them as well as a few more from the 80's - single bottles of '83 Grange, '86 Pyrus, '88 Bin 707, and an 1988 Lehmann Cabernet. I had a few 1975 Lindeman's Auburn Burgundy but I drank the last on in 2001 and it was unforgettable, so far the second best Australian wine I've had after the gorgeous 1982 Penfold's Bin 820 that was served by the late Spike Maynard who imported Australian wine into the province.
I started my wine drinking experience on Tahbilk and Taltarni Mahmoud. I just checked the Tahbilk Cab Sav 1986 that I still possess, just waiting for the right moment: 12.5% alc. I own a couple of Amon Ra, 04 or 05, from when I was going through my Parker period. They weren't really expected to age for too long, so good to see they are still hanging in there. The older Aussies I have tried recently have all been hanging in there well. Mostly screw caps of course, makes so much difference. The interesting one I still have is an 89 Armagh. Tried a 19 (I think) Armagh recently: lovely wine, but well out of my price range these days.

I hardly drink Aussies any more, but probably my favourite style is WA Cabernet. WA chard as well of course, but I was thinking more red as the theme of this thread.
 
Just as the UK market has no real idea of the top tier Aussie reds, there is also virtually zero appreciation of the top wines coming out of NZ. It is quite amazing how little of the really good stuff is exported to the UK. I have just been to the Hawkes Bay and the top 2019 reds are just staggeringly good (I know I have said this before), but hardly any will go to the UK. I suspect the UK importers for some of the big names are happy to take their lower tier wines but are too scared to have a go at the $NZ100 reds. Even the $NZ40 reds would compete very favourably with the Rhone and Bordeaux.
 
I take Sarah Ahmed's work as a pointer on Aussie wines these days. So the recent Distant Noises offer from Swig appealed to me.

By the way, the Dead Arm pair were really very nice indeed - and, unlike the Amon Ra, the beauty lasted a bit longer with them. Just a shame that was the last of the 1997 - a very very good wine IMHO.
 
Ok I’ll bite… as a Brit who has spent the last 7 years living in Oz I think my opinion of Australian wine has definitely “developed”… I think that, despite some initial enthusiasm, my opinion of the reds has come somewhat full circle; that is to say that the wines are fine, indeed the wine-making skill is exemplary, but ultimately the wines are victims of an overly hot climate ( this is a gross generalisation - and Margaret River Cabernet in particular deserves an honourable mention ) and rarely age in the manner that we often hope for, or indeed expect, from European wine.
The whites can be truely world class/excellent- which went completely against my preconceived ideas. They age well too.
It’s also worth noting that the UK receives hardly any of the “good” wines made here…. So to form an opinion of Australian wine on the basis of the wines available in the UK ( both currently and historically ) is somewhat misleading
 
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Ok I’ll bite… as a Brit who has spent the last 7 years living in Oz I think my opinion of Australian wine has definitely “developed”… I think that, despite some initial enthusiasm, my opinion of the reds has come somewhat full circle; that is to say that the wines are fine, indeed the wine-making skill is exemplary, but ultimately the wines are victims of an overly hot climate ( this is a gross generalisation - and Margaret River Cabernet in particular deserves an honourable mention ) and rarely age in the manner that we often hope for, or indeed expect, from European wine.
The whites can be truely world class/excellent- which went completely against my preconceived ideas. They age well too.
It’s also worth noting that the UK receives hardly any of the “good” wines made here…. So to form an opinion of Australian wine on the basis of the wines available in the UK ( both currently and historically ) is somewhat misleading
Max, some of us go as far back as AWC on The Strand. Effectively, almost everything of merit used to arrive here.
Now, so much of the good stuff is kept at home, in Oz. I call it selfish. :mad:;)
 
A sizable chunk of my stepfather's cellar - his consumption rate declined decades back - consists of AWC purchases. As a youth, they were the first merchant I was aware of, and supplied all the reds for our Sunday lunches.

Oddly, the rest of his cellar is German Riesling. The combination still feels natural to me.
 
Now, so much of the good stuff is kept at home, in Oz. I call it selfish. :mad:;)
I know you say this in jest - but to be frank so many of the better producers here are actually relatively small and ( as has been implied previously in this thread ) have little to no motivation to sell to a market such as the UK when they can sell all their produce to the local market many times over, or a market such as Asia ( which will happily pay a fair price ).
 
Is that an issue specifically with Australian wines (i.e. Brits aren't prepared to pay the premium that they do for e.g. big names from France) or are Brits generally regarded as tighter than consumers from other countries?

I remember seeing the Amon-Ra at Oddbins under Holborn Viaduct along with things like Dead Arm in the late 1990s when I was starting to take an interest in wine, and thinking they were the coolest, most desirable things in the shop with all those Parker points and the brooding black packaging...
Ben had only just graduated in late '90s (We were in the same class).
I think the first Amon Ra is 2003
 
Everyone hated drinking those old Oz wines... even back in the summer of 2008!!! No wonder everyone (except me) drinks burgs these days ;)
Clockwise from top left - IanR, RayA, NayanG, AnthonyT, GarethW, KeithP, MarkC, DonR, RichardS, LionalN, RichardL with me taking the photo. What a lunch!!!

View attachment 22225

Funny how some people look so much younger, while others hardly changed - as if to prove Eric's point of the other day
 
I lived in Melbourne in the noughties and worked in wine retail there, so did end up with a sizeable cellar of Australian wines when I returned to NZ. The US market was lapping up the big Aussie Shiraz styles then and that was reflected in a great deal of the wines on the market. Prior to heading for Australia, I had been collecting Aussie wines and my cellar was stored at a friend's place for a few years. When I got home and started drinking them, I often found the acidity in the Shiraz to be shrill and disjointed...I surmised that the acid additions just hadn't really properly integrated into the wine. Between that, and my beginning to find some of the wines just so big and almost tiring to drink, my fondness for Aussie reds began to wane.

Things are certainly changing there now with a renewed interest in Grenache (whilst not available in NZ, look out for S.C Pannell McDonald Grenache), and what looks to be a desire to dial things back from the ooze monsters of the past. I recently tried the John Duval Entity Barossa Shiraz and that managed to beautifully balance that Barossan richness with lovely freshness and really did demand another glass. That said there, is still clearly a place in the market for 'big and cuddly'. A very popular wine in the marketplace here is Grant Burge Barossa Ink Shiraz. It retails at around the NZ$17-18 price point. It's big, sweet, very soft and plush and quite rich for the money. I find it much too sweet and soft for me but the public absolutely adore it and it has become a huge seller.

I still have a fondness for Rockford, but my favourite Australian Shiraz remains Craiglee from Sunbury in Victoria (just a few kms north of Melbourne airport). Not available in NZ, so I bring some back whenever I'm in Australia, but that cool climate (by Australian standards) style has far more appeal for me.
 
I lived in Melbourne in the noughties and worked in wine retail there, so did end up with a sizeable cellar of Australian wines when I returned to NZ. The US market was lapping up the big Aussie Shiraz styles then and that was reflected in a great deal of the wines on the market. Prior to heading for Australia, I had been collecting Aussie wines and my cellar was stored at a friend's place for a few years. When I got home and started drinking them, I often found the acidity in the Shiraz to be shrill and disjointed...I surmised that the acid additions just hadn't really properly integrated into the wine. Between that, and my beginning to find some of the wines just so big and almost tiring to drink, my fondness for Aussie reds began to wane.

Things are certainly changing there now with a renewed interest in Grenache (whilst not available in NZ, look out for S.C Pannell McDonald Grenache), and what looks to be a desire to dial things back from the ooze monsters of the past. I recently tried the John Duval Entity Barossa Shiraz and that managed to beautifully balance that Barossan richness with lovely freshness and really did demand another glass. That said there, is still clearly a place in the market for 'big and cuddly'. A very popular wine in the marketplace here is Grant Burge Barossa Ink Shiraz. It retails at around the NZ$17-18 price point. It's big, sweet, very soft and plush and quite rich for the money. I find it much too sweet and soft for me but the public absolutely adore it and it has become a huge seller.

I still have a fondness for Rockford, but my favourite Australian Shiraz remains Craiglee from Sunbury in Victoria (just a few kms north of Melbourne airport). Not available in NZ, so I bring some back whenever I'm in Australia, but that cool climate (by Australian standards) style has far more appeal for me.
syrah.jpg
 
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