Awesome, & I use that word judiciously…vertical tastings, Australia’s First Families of Wine

Attending a tasting is a guerilla attack-like affair – it’s all about focus, prioritising, what to cover so you can get back to your desk to actually produce the fruits of your labour – research, writing, prepare for a tasting etc….

Today did not go according to plan.  I’d booked into the Australia’s First Families of Wine (AFFW) masterclass at 11am and expected to follow up with the free pour tasting and show a clean(ish) pair of heels by 2pm.

Well I’d not figured on some cracking verticals (the oldest vintage for each shown in brackets): Tahbilk Marsanne (1992), McWiliam’s Mount Pleasant Lovedale Semillon (2001), Tyrell’s Vat 1 Semillon (1998), Howard Park Cabernet Sauvignon (2001), Wakefeld St Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon (2001), Henschke Cyril Henscke Cabernet Sauvignon (1986), Yalumba The Signature Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz (1975), Brown Brothers Shiraz Mondeuse Cabernet Sauvignon (1974 ), Jim Barry The Armagh Shiraz (1995), d’Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz (2002), Campbells Barky Durif 1992 and De Bortoli Noble One (1984), though I didn’t make this last one having recently attended their 25th anniversary event and tasted older wines (back to 1982)  – see here.  Anyway, I didn’t leave until 4.30pm!

I’ll post my notes, including comments from the winemakers soon, but here I just wanted to say that the tasting absolutely reinforced for me how important it is that Australia tells its fine wine story.  Fine wine is about provenance, track record, vintage variation etc etc – traditionally the preserve of the Old World.  It’s a double edged sword for Australia (and other New World countries) that even flagship wines are relatively approachable early on.  We’re more inclined to drink them sooner before they start to gain in complexity and reveal their full potential.  And, when we’re talking about a country with some of the world’s oldest vine stock –  take Tahbilk’s Marsanne, planted in 1927 – there’s good reason to show patience.

Verticals also present a great opportunity to assess progress and let me tell you, wow, d’Arenberg’s The Deadarm 2007, Howard Park Abercrombie Cabenet Sauvignon 2008 and De Bortoli Estate Chardonnay 2008 are watersheds for each producer in terms of marking a shift towards greater elegance, lift and minerality.  I look forward to writing up my tasting notes and sharing them with you.

You can find out more about Australia’s First Families of Wine – their philosophy and a link to their website here.

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