Best of 2005

Max Crus
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Enjoy wine from the many vineyards in Victoria [©Visions of Victoria]

Don’tcha love the new year, when the media with nothing better to write about, resort to streams and reams of ‘best of’ material to fill their quota? How cheap is that?

Sure, it looks good, it’s fun to recap on the funny things, sad to reflect on the sad things, and a great opportunity to look back on what you’ve drunk, er, I mean learnt, but undeniably it is cheap journalism.

It is also a marvellous opportunity to sprout some statistical nonsense without the editor noticing, thus allowing a smooth transition into 2006 in the fog of an indulgent January first, without any of the stresses of the usual work day. Hardly Pullitzer stuff.

So here we go, the best of Grape Expectations for 2005.

Family, friends and foes (sometimes one and the same), managed to swill and review 500 wines in 2005. We spilled a bit too. From a slosh of $6 cheapies (not including cask stuff) to a knob of $85 ones, the average ended up at a shade under $22.

The top scoring wine was RL Buller’s Rare Tokay, $75 for 375mls, 9.7/10. That’s pretty flash and indeed the flashest score for nearly three years, although when we approached the remains a few days later it was less spectacular, so drink it all in one go.

The lowest scoring wines (without being spoiled) were a bottle of Penfolds Rawsons shiraz and a Yellowtail shiraz, 6/10, and a couple of viogniers from Munari and Yalumba, at 6.5/10. But that’s just viognier, can’t stand it usually.

The top shiraz was from Mitolo, their Savitar 2003, 9.5/10, mind you at $73, it’d want to be good. The top cab was from Elderton, the Ashmead, also 9.5/10 and also pretty steep at $85. (They might give you thirteen to the dozen if you ask nicely). Mitolo’s Cab sav also scored 9.5 so they’ve hit the spot.

Coldstream Hills Reserve Chardonnay 2003, topped that category with 9.3/10, a steal at only $40. Talk about spoiled, this and the red we had for dinner cost more than the entire meal by the margin of a cheap dessert.

Brown Brothers Patricia bubbly ($40) also scored 9.3/10 in taking the sparkling gong, while an ancient Mitchelton Blackwood Park Riesling 1997 almost did as well on 9.2/10.

Many currently available rieslings scored in the high ‘eights’ but only one tall bottle, the Jim Barry Florita, $40, stood tall enough to get 9/10.

Of other grapes, Peter Lehmann’s Mentor 2001, $50, came out on top of the blends division with 9/10, a score achieved by quite a few others including a Munari cab sav 2002, $32, thus rescuing them from the doldrums over my anti-viognier campaign.

The top pinot, from the unlikely McLaren Vale, the Feral Fox 2004, $30, by d’Arenberg, also 9/10.

Interestingly, more gewurztraminers made the 9/10 bracket than sav blancs. Plunkett’s and Delatite’s shone through as did Murdoch Hill’s sav blanc and believe it or not, a couple of beers in Cascade’s Amber Ale and Little Creatures Pale Ale.

There you have it, stand by for more cheap journalism next week and the announcement of the Max Crus trophy winner for 2005.

Wines reviewed:
Feral Fox 2004, $30, by d’Arenberg
Plunkett’s and Delatite’s gewurztraminers
Murdoch Hill’s sav blanc
Peter Lehmann’s Mentor 2001, $50
Jim Barry Florita, riesling
Brown Brothers Patricia bubbly ($40
Coldstream Hills Reserve Chardonnay 2003
Mitolo, Savitar 2003, 9.5/10, $73,
Elderton, the Ashmead, 9.5/10 $85
RL Buller’s Rare Tokay, $75
Penfolds Rawsons shiraz
Yellowtail shiraz, 6/10

© Max Crus

Column featuring the best of wines reviewed throughout 2005 published week beginning December 28th 2005.

Published in Cairns Post/Rockhampton Morning Bulletin/Northern Star Lismore)/Daily Examiner (Grafton)/Wagga Daily Advertiser/Geelong Advertiser.

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