Can Australian wines age well? Many worry that they may not age as well as European wines with a long track record for cellaring (except for the really high end stuff like Penfold's Grange). I had some mid priced Aussie juice from the same vineyard from three different years - 1998, 2002 and 2007 - so I rousted up 3 other tasters and we gave the wines a whirl.
The producer is Richard Hamilton and the wines are made from Cabernet Sauvignon from the "Hut Block", so called because the vines grow around a long-standing grape pickers hut. These wines had a remarkably similar style despite the vintage differences, but 3 of the 4 tasters were able to correctly identify them. The 1998 still had a nice blackcurrant nose leading to a medium full bodied wine with nice fruit still evident. This is aging well and still has a few years left in it, although it is a lot mellower than it was in 2000 (it was a "big" wine back then). The 2002 is a little earthier as well as having more intense fruit, and adding some crisp green pepper flavours. The 2007 is much like the 2002, just "fresher". All in all, hats off to the producer for keeping the wine true to style, and making it age-worthy for at least the medium term. Good wines, worth the $19 (interestingly, the retail price has stayed the same through the years as well...). I just wonder why they keep redesigning the labels...I think the oldest one is the classiest. This wine now comes with a screwtop.
Speaking of closures, the next wine we tried has an interesting "cork". It's soft plastic that you "peel" off (see the picture), leaving a rubber like re-useable stopper. Very neat, I like the simplicity (easier to open than a screwtop, and easily re-sealable). Too bad the wine was not very good. The Leese-Fitch, California Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007 looks classy - but it is wine without terroir - reading the label, there's no clue as to what part of California the grapes came from (there are allusions to both Sonoma and NAPA on it, but I doubt the wine actually comes from either of these appelations). Stewed plums on the nose. On the palate, a lean style, here come the fermenting plum flavours (the kind you would spit out if you bit into one). Then the wine just dies off. No complexity here. No hint of time spent in a barrel. "OK" wine, way overpriced at $18.