Where were you in 1987?

Will Lyons wrote in his article “Why Cork Is Still a Show-Stopper” in The Wall Street Journal recently (24 Jan)…that “In a temperature controlled cellar with little damp, a good cork will be able to protect wine for several decades. The problem arises on those rare occasions when it doesn’t.” He also wrote that screwcaps “…are really only used for wines with a short life-span”. Hmmm.

Personally, I’m not convinced that cork failure is yet a rare enough occasion.

I’d just put down Will Lyon’s article when the latest edition (Feb/Mar) of Gourmet Traveller Wine arrived with an article by James Halliday about Le Club Dinner 2013. What struck me, apart from the mouth-watering array of fine wines, was the number of cork failures. Out of a total of 23 wines, 4 were affected by cork.

And we’re not talking old wines here. According to James the 2010 Bouchard Pere et Fils Chevalier Montrachet, “normally a great wine, but [was] here likely to have been slightly scalped by the cork.” Ditto the 2010 Domaine Coche-Dury Mersault Les Rougeots which “all agreed the bottle was cork-affected (not TCA) which took the shine off it.”

What other industry would tolerate such a failure rate, especially since the problem with cork has been around for such a long, long time? Traditionalists will say “oh, but the problem with cork has been fixed now”. Really? It clearly wasn’t in 2010.

But in my mind, worst of all was that 2 out of 5 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Echezeaux were corked. James writes “…the cork gods were in a particularly foul mood, destroying the ’64 and ’66 courtesy of TCA. The ’64 in particular was slaughtered, the ’66 a shadow of what it should have been.” I’m guessing about $2000 a bottle for those to be poured down the drain because of the use of cork.

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I didn’t know that!

Treasury Wine Estates bottles Accolade’s wines in Australia and Accolade bottles Treasury Wine Estates wines in the UK. More confusingly, Treasury Wine Estates will be “producing Accolade’s stock at its Asti winery from vintage 2014”.  See Wine Business Australia by Jeremy Oliver in the Feb/Mar edition of Gourmet Traveller Wine.

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Can you pick this wine from 1987 vintage? I’m guessing that if you’re over 50, you’ll probably have drunk it.

“Pale yellow in hue, this wine had most interesting tropical fruit aromas on quite a prominent nose. The panel remarked on lantana, but there were also hints of passionfruit and lime. Palate flavours also reflected this mélange of fruits, but its slight sweetness was well-balanced by good acifity. A Germanic-style drinking well now. 3 stars” – Wine & Spirit April 1990

Scroll to the end of the blog for the answer…

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A mixed bag this week. Must be the hangover from CNY.

2011 / Waterfalls Road / The Eddy / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / $23.50 at Underground Wines – I couldn’t find a rating on this one, only for the 2010 which Bob Campbell gave 83 points (“average to good”) so you might have to try a bottle for yourself to decide. 2011 Sauvignon Blancs from Marlborough can be a worry, so another reason to try it before committing to a full container load. Retailed at NZ$20 though so the price is really excellent if the wine’s OK. BBI ♥♥♥

? / Alkoomi / Frankland River / Cabernet / $25 at Fairprice – Possibly 2010 if the photo with it is the same vintage they’re selling. I’ll assume it is. Another one I couldn’t find a rating on it but I could find a retail price and that’s A$23.99 at Dan Murphy’s.  That means pricewise it’s a great deal here at $25. If you know and like the wine, go for it. If you don’t, maybe start with one bottle. BBI ♥♥♥

? / Brown Brothers / Victoria / Moscato / $19.95 at Fairprice – I’m not a Moscato person and my prejudices do show. You won’t find this in our place. But if Moscato ticks the box for you, then pricewise this is pretty good deal, as it sells at Dan Murphy’s in Australia at A$12.99. Best left to others. BBI ♥♥♥

2010 / Carrick / Cairnmuir Terraces EBM / Central Otago / Chardonnay / $49 or $45 x 6 at Wine Exchange Asia – EBM stands for Extended Barrel Maturation and Bob Campbell says it’s “a complex wine that merits a few years in bottle”, and gives it 87 meaning “above average”. When you look at the RRP of NZ$34, the price here is great value. BBI ♥♥♥

2012 / Sandalford / Estate Reserve / Margaret River / Chardonnay / $39.90 at Eve Spirits – This a young drinking wine according to Campbell Mattinson who reckons you should down it by 2017. He gives it 87, so that means “very happy with it”. RRP of A$34 so $39.90 is terrific pricing. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2004 / Majella / The Malleea / Coonawarra / Cabernet Blend / $80 or $75 x 6 at Wine Exchange Asia – There’s a lot of Majella floating around Singapore but I have to admit, I haven’t noticed the 2004 Malleea anywhere near as much as the straight Cab or other vintages. Anyway, no hesitation on this by the raters, Gary Walsh giving it 95, reckons it’ll last until 2024. It retailed at A$66 on release and it’s pulling A$69 at Langton’s, so there’s respect for this wine by the cognoscenti. I reckon the asking price here is spot on. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2010 / III Associates / The Descendant of Squid Ink / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / $42 at winesonline.com.sg – OK, let’s get that big bugbear out of the way first. $42 is without GST so this’ll get no prizes from the IRAS. The real comparative price on this is $44.94, so that’s what I’ve based the comparison on (and it’s a self-collect price to reflect fair comparison with other on-line retailers that quote on that basis).  It’s an unoaked shiraz which is unusual. Campbell Mattinson and James Halliday both rallied 90 points for it and it should be drunk before 2016. RRP of A$34 so nearly $45 is pretty good pricing. BBI ♥♥♥

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THE WAY WE WERE – 1979

A bit presumtive to declare the Morgan the first and last sportscar! Anyway, if you’re from Adelaide, I reckon you’ll recognise this as having been taken at the city’s favourite, er… viewing spot, Windy Point.

1979 Krondorf

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There is about wine this splendid identity. It is one thing and refuses to be another. Ever since it was whelped it has carried the one proud name in many languages; the Greek, which started it, the Latin of our medieval fathers which carried it on; it is universally the same thing. If you try to change wine it becomes not itself but another, a vicious thing. And heed my words, wine will never change. What it was in the beginning it will be at the end. The God of Wine, who gave us this great gift, was jealous of his gift, and only in a very narrow belt in the old world and in small parts of America, South Africa, and Australia in the new, did he allow the grape to flourish.” – The Aesthetics of Wine, March 1946

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The wine? – Black Tower 1987

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Wine quotations

"A good bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world" - Louis Pasteur

“The unexacting palates of the masses…are content to ask no question [on origin] so long as a florin or half-a-crown will purchase a roomy flagon of strong , full-bodied, fruity wine” – CE Hawker writing in 1907

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