Australia Day Tasting 2024: some amazing pre-2020 Aussie wines

For the third year in a row a group of Aussie-wine-loving folk have met on Australia day to taste great Australian wines. The rule this year was the same as last year: bottles older than 2000 please. It’s great to bring old wines out to check their evolution.

Often wine trade lunches focus on the classics, and no one would feel comfortable to bring something Australian along. But as the wines at this lunch showed, Australia’s fine wine category is an exciting one, and these wines can age beautifully.

Pewsey Vale Riesling 1997 Eden Valley, Barossa
Full orange/gold in colour this was singing. Lovely citrus with rich notes of marmalade and toast, and even a hint of apricot. 94/100

Seppelt Sparkling Shiraz 1996
Still very fruity, but only has the slightest trace of fizziness. Brooding black fruits, a hint of meat, a touch of mulch. Nice intensity and has some minty freshness. 93/100

Casselgrain Reserve Chambourcin 1996 Hastings River
Biodynamic. Meaty and spicy with dense black fruits and lively acidity. Still alive. A little wild and spicy but with nice grip. Surprisingly good. 91/100

Wynns Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 1986
This is brilliant. Fresh and pure with lovely blackcurrant fruit and chalky detail. Fine, mineral, stony, with beautiful fruit. So refined. 96/100

Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 Margaret River
Nice density of sweet blackurrant and red cherry fruit with some supple green hints. Nicely elegant with lovely fruit. This has aged beautifully. 96/100

Seville Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 Yarra Valley
Minty and spicy but still has lovely fruit. So beautiful with fresh red cherry fruit and a touch of blackcurrant. Fine and detailed. 95/100

D’Arenberg Ironstone Pressings 1993 McLaren Vale
This is pale red and cloudy, and alas hasn’t really made the distance. Cherries, strawberries, turned earth. Light. 85/100

D’Arenberg Ironstone Pressings 1996 McLaren Vale
Nice mint, cherry and blackberry fruit. Grainy structured. Sweet fruit, quite resolved, with good development, drinking well now. 93/100

Bests Great Western Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 Great Western
Spice, a hint of malt and some development on the nose. But on the palate elegant red cherries, plums and some black cherry. Fresh and linear with nice elegance. In a really good place. 95/100

Mount Mary Quintet 1996 Yarra Valley
Compact and taut with black cherry and blackcurrant fruit on the nose, and then a powerful, concentrated palate with beautiful weight. Very fine. 96/100

Parker Coonawarra Terra Rossa First Growth 1996
Nice black cherry and blackcurrant fruit with some spicy detail. Grippy, gravelly and dense with nice grip. Has developed beautifully. 94/100

Yalumba Signature 1995 Barossa
Spicy and a bit malty with some development on the nose. In the mouth this is fresh with black cherry and blackcurrant and some sweet red cherry notes too. 94/100

Yalumba Signature 1996 Barossa
Spice and earth but also some freshness. Sweet black cherry and blackberry fruit. Ripe with nice weight. 93/100

Yalumba Octavius 1995 Barossa
Fresh and bright with lovely blackcurrant fruit. Still youthful with nice freshness. Mint, blackcurrant, smooth black fruits. Lovely. 94/100

Noon Reserve Shiraz 1998 Langhorne Creek
Powerful, fine, refined with lovely black cherries and blackberries. Sleek with sweet fruit and nice intensity. There’s some alcoholic warmth but this is also really expressive. 95/100

Wendouree Shiraz 2004 Clare Valley
So fine and fresh with sleek black cherry and blackberry fruit. Supple with a slight gravelly savouriness. Lovely focus to the fruit. 95/100

De Bortoli Noble One 1996
Deep red brown in colour. Lovely flavours of raisin, spice, lime and apricot. This is so fresh despite the colour. Marmalade, honey, rich spices. 94/100