What age can do for/to wine? – September 2017

The late Richard Gooch
The late Richard Gooch

Well our tasting for September was certainly different and a great learning experience. It’s not often you get to taste 11 wines from the period 1974 to 1996. And to help judge these wines, Wayne had organised a novel rating system that required each table to come up with a ratings that were [4] Superb -aged perfectly, [3] Still enjoyable or has interest, [2] Drinkable but dying, [1] Dead – nothing to commend it to lastly, [0] In decay – not even going to taste this.

He had also arranged for John Saker to attend the tasting and he proved to be a valuable contributor to our discussions, using his knowledge and wine judging skills to highlight things that many of us might not have considered. He particularly liked the Aussie 1990 McWilliams Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon which still had some structure, fruit flavour and mouth feel.

However, it was on the decline from its probable peak 7 or 8 years ago. But still, it did show how a white wine such as a great Hunter Valley Semillon could last. Of the other 10 wines tasted, there were two 1994 wines that attracted the most support, a Leconfield Coonawara Cabernet Merlot Cabernet Franc blend and a French Cordier Sauternes. Sadly 4 of the wines were rated as a 1 or zero. Whilst the oldest of these was from 1975, there were others from the 1994-1996 period that did not measure up. The 1975 had suffered from a leaking cork and had oxidised badly whilst two of the others were white wines that in all honestly , should never had been cellared that long [because of their grape and style].

Wayne’s biggest disappointment of the night, however, was the wine that had been stored in a very large bottle dating back to 1893. The providence of this wine actually dated back to the period 1980 to 1995 and had been stored in this old bottle for later tasting. Wayne had tried to find out more about this wine from CJ Pask who was reputed to have taken it from a barrel and stored it in the bottle for Richard Gooch to taste at a later date, but Chris couldn’t recall the occasion. In any event, this wine was one to be rated a zero, having unfortunately deteriorated to such an extent that no one was prepared to suggest what it might have included, even if the suspicion was that it was once a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and maybe some Cabernet Franc, all from young vines on the Gimblett Gravels.

In conclusion, whilst this evening may have lacked a standout wine that would make the tasting memorable, it did serve to be both educational and to serve as a warning. I think most members will have gone home and looked for those forgotten wines at the back of their cupboards or cellars in order to drink them before they start their inevitable decline into mediocrity.

A special thanks to Linda Caradus, partner to the late Richard Gooch. It was her wish to give the club these very old wines so that we could use them as a learning experience and they certainly did that. It was just a shame that overseas business prevented her attending the tasting and seeing the interest that the 11 wines provided.

Related news