Thursday, March 22, 2007

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 1998

A couple of posts ago I shared with you some of the goings-on at a recent dinner at our place. As a group we tasted 6 wines and I talked, in that post, about the St Hugo's 1998.

The other day I noticed the very good Dr Ed (
the Wino-sapien) recently gave his tasting notes on the 1998 Penfolds Bin 389. As this was one of the wines we tasted on that night I thought it would be good to share our (Scott, Robert, Ivan and I) notes and see how they compare.

Ed said:

"Dark, vibrant purple. Dense nose with blackberry, blackcurrant, malt, meat and the faintest hint of dried herbs and lavender. Rich, soft and structured. Lovely weight, length and shape in the mouth. Plush. The tannins are firm, chewy and lingering.Excellent.

18.5/20 (95/100).

Drink now - 2017."

Our notes (of January 2007) said:

14% alcohol. Deep red-purple with strong blackberry on the nose along with other big black fruit aromas. Luscious (it is hard to get all the adjectives that 4 tasters use into one note) and big (but not too bold) but smooth on the palate. Very firm tannins leading to a long dry finish. Well balanced and structured with plenty of time left to go.

Overall rating =92-94/100

Rating the individual components = 18/20

Interestingly enough I have notes of a tasting of this wine before-in July 2006 and I wrote about it.

I said (July 2006):

"The wine had BIG berry and blackfruit aromas (maybe even blackcurrents). I was still very dark, dark red with maybe a touch of purple (but I might have been wishing that into the wine but the lighting is not the best in our dining room at home and I remember doing the tasting notes there).There is no mistaking that this wine is full bodied with big berry taste, plenty of tannins and good acid. It is smooth but powerful and obviously will last another 6-10 years. I hope I am right on this as I still have around 14 bottles left.

I loved this wine but interestingly it doesn't seem to scream 'Barossa', or any other place for that matter. This is something I am only starting to become aware, of in a limited way, recently.On an

overall rating I gave it


and scoring the individual attributes


It is interesting that the latest tasting my rating has slipped back somewhat. Am I a harder marker no? Or, is it just a different bottle? Oh well - only one way to find out - MORE EXPERIMENTATION!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Wine Amateur goes trekking!

Following a recent health scare, the Wine Amateur has been busily getting into some sort of shape (you too could have a body like mine - through sheer neglect!) preparing for the great adventure.

Together with fellow wine buddy
Lynton, his brother Warwick and mutual friend Justin, we have ditched the old girls and are doing the 'blokey' thing in New Zealand. We are going to hike, or if you come from New Zealand, "tramp" the Milford Track. It is 58 kilometres of wilderness with beech forests used in the filming of Lord of the Rings, mountains, rivers, lakes etc (some more photos here).

Who knows? If we enjoy it (and survive) we may do more. The lads are talking about Cradle Mountain, Mt Killimanjaro, part of the Appalachian Trail, or even the Kokoda Track (Trail) which almost seems to have become some sort of spiritual rite of passage for Australian males.

It appears that I am following a few weeks behind Mike from Shirazshiraz blog and I certainly hope to be trying a lot of the wines out while I am over there.

Coming from Queensland we do not see a lot of cold weather but I have had to prepare for the hike as it has been snowing in the Mackinnon Pass (which we will reach on Day 3). It is hard to find weather information for the track but the nearest town (Queenstown) gives us some idea.

Hopefully I will have my own photos and wine reviews to share when I return.

Drink well, live well!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The drought is over!!!

For those not aware, our great State of Queensland has been suffering from a prolonged period of lower than average rainfall. It isn't really a drought because it is still raining and everything is green however, there hasn't been good rain in the catchment areas of the dams servicing SE Queensland for a few years.

I would like to announce that the drought is finally over! Is it raining?? No, but after about a 7 week period, where I was on strict instructions from a host of doctors to drink no alcohol, the really bad, gut-wrenching drought is over. I have celebrated in style this last week.

Over the past 7 weeks my wife, sister and brother-in-law (Rob of the 'up-punt') have continued to consume great quantities of red wine and continually waving their glasses under my nose. I think my appreciation of the various aromas has increased ten-fold.

Just prior to the drought I caught up with a few friends from Corby Street, Ashgrove (near to where I used to live - and one of my favourite streets in Brisbane). Scott, Pauline, Robert, Pru, Ivan and Jennifer came over for dinner and the odd wine or 8. There is an unspoken challenge (but very friendly) with this particular grouping - try to make sure you bring the best bottle of wine and whatever you do don't bring the worst one (you WILL be "paid out" on - sorry Ivan you really didn't stand a chance!).

Robert is a real wine enthusiast with an very good cellar (much better than mine) and he coordinated his wine with mine. Robert also had me call Scott to put the pressure on him by asking me to tell him not to bring his normal rubbish. Rob made a similar comment to Ivan. I prepared Wine Scoring cards in advance so that we could score them in a collaborative effort.

Robert provided a 1996 Orlando St Hugo and a 1996 Penfolds Bin 389, my wines provided a vertical element with the 1998 Orlando St Hugo and a 1998 Penfolds Bin 389. Scott provided a 1998 Penfolds St Henri Shiraz (ba*stard went out and bought it that day - Robert thought that was cheating) and a 1999 D'Arenburg McLaren Vale Coppermine Cab Sav. Ivan brought a couple of wines but unfortunately I can't recall what they were because, at the pleading of Robert and Scott, they were not even scored.

Suffice it to say, Robert, Ivan and I were humbled in the face of Scott and his all-conquering St Henri. We will never hear the end of it!!

If I get time I will share the tasting notes with you over the next little while.

1998 Orlando St Hugo Cabernet Sauvignon
(yeah, I know it is now Jacob's Creek but in 1998 it was still Orlando)

It was still reddish-purple in colour with black currents, pepper and some aniseed/fennel on the nose. The tannins were still quite big and there was reasonable length of finish. It was very enjoyable but came nowhere near the quality of the 1996 - at least in my memory of the 1996. (we tasted the 1998 before the 1996 but I have spoken of the 1996 in an earlier blog).

Collectively, we gave it an overall score of 90/100

and then we scored the components at 17.5/20

It came in 5th position on the night!

I note Ed over at Wino-sapien has tried the 1999 St Hugo recently

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