Conclusions from the tasting:
With 12 wines, the oldest 1953, half the wines 50 years old, and just over half the wines meriting gold-medal scores, this was a pleasing tasting to present, in a young wine country where keeping wine cellars is becoming less frequent. The scope of the tasting, including matching venerable wines with a younger edition of the same domaine for three of them, appealed to tasters, the tasting being ‘sold out’ within 70 minutes of posting notice. A measure of the enjoyment these wines engendered can be gleaned from the fact that of the 12 wines, no less than 10 were at least one person’s favourite. And on the night, tasters went out of their way to express their delight in the way the wines presented themselves, an unprecedented number commenting further by email afterwards. Delightful.
The top 6 wines, all gold-medal level for several tasters. From the left, 1990 Bollinger Grande Année Brut, illustrating the concept ‘baguette’ autolysis complexity beautifully, tasting like grand cru white burgundy, 19 +; 1970 Ch Ducru-Beaucaillou, remarkably fresh from magnum, classic fragrant claret before so many winestyles became Americanised, 19 +; 2010 Jaboulet la Chapelle, a modern classic, floral and fragrant, dense, great wine, 19 +; 2010 Ch Palmer, amazingly concentrated, oak noticeable and alcohol high for ‘classic’ claret, but clearly a 50-year wine, 19; 1978 Jaboulet Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Cedres, at full stretch but still totally beautiful, and still confirming the majesty of the 1978 vintage in the Southern Rhone Valley, 18.5 +; and 1966 Ch Palmer, also ‘classic’ claret, the bedrock wine in my red wine education, still beautiful from a cool cellar, 18.5 +.
One magical component of the tasting was: not a hint of TCA. Fifty years ago were still the days of pride in artisan work. Another interesting aspect to the tasting was the extent to which several of the wines improved markedly with decanting and air: in fact a number had more to say the following day, than on the night. This rather flies in the face of conventional wisdom, that at 50 years most red wines are fragile, and must be tasted fairly soon after decanting. I vividly recall a tasting of the early McWiliams Cabernet Sauvignons with the late Tom McDonald, where he was adamant that his Cabernets when older needed air, referring to them quite gruffly as having been “locked up” in that bottle for all the intervening years. Further comment in the individual reviews.
Invitation to the tasting:
Having been tasting wines formally for over 50 years now, it is time to cast a look over my shoulder … and both revisit one or two wines that have helped set my palate, and re-taste certain wines that have given me pleasure, or seem particularly good examples of their genre. I hope you might like to join me in this retrospective Library Tasting.
Often the question arises in Library Tastings, but what did this taste like in its youth ? One tangent on answering that question is to open a young bottle of the same wine, from a vintage rated as well as the earlier one. And the better the label, the more likely is the wine to have been consistent over the years. I thought therefore I would like to show people a wine that profoundly influenced me in my early days, 1966 Ch Palmer, now regarded by many as the top bordeaux of that so-classical year, and compare it with the highly praised 2010. Ch Palmer is one of the bordeaux now nudging the First Growths … and its current price reflects that.
Then (corks willing) there will be two older wines delighting for their beauty rather than their size … and maybe frail now … 1970 Ch Ducru-Beaucaillou, and a respectable but not famous Chambertin bottling of the same year. To accompany them, it would be fun to include 1969 McWilliams Cabernet Sauvignon, to reflect on where we have come from, in New Zealand. This famous wine from Tom McDonald and Denis Kasza was the first commercial red wine in the post-Prohibition era to unequivocally demonstrate that New Zealand could make international-calibre red wines. I regret the case of the 1965 (the exact wine to achieve that milestone) is exhausted … sadly … but at the time the 1969 was generally thought to be the next in-line.
We also ‘have’ to have my latter-day favourite district, some Rhone Valley wines. First my introduction to great syrah, the last bottle from a case of 1969 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, teamed again with the 2010, to get a feel for the evolution of syrah wines, over the years. The 2010 is a very highly regarded wine, now that the old Rhone wine firm of Jaboulet is owned by the Frey family, of Ch La Lagune in Bordeaux. Their highly-regarded young winemaker Caroline Frey is also in overall charge of winemaking at Jaboulet.
And in the Southern Rhone Valley, we will have the equally last lonely bottle of 1978 Jaboulet Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Cedres, which completed my introduction to the delights of that district. With it, we must have the 2016. I say ‘must’ because John Livingstone-Learmonth says the 2016 vintage in the Southern Rhone Valley is the successor to 1978 … which (corks willing, again) allows us to contemplate arguably the two greatest post-war years in that district.
And no retrospective tasting of mine would be complete without one of the most beautiful red wines I have ever cellared (and like the 1966 Ch Palmer a constant reference-point in my subsequent wine evaluations, including judging), 1953 Bodegas Bilbainas Pomal Reserva Especial from Rioja.
I have back-up bottles for some but not all (those last single bottles), so here’s hoping, re the corks. TCA was less a problem then, than in some following decades. Two bubblies might be nice to start with. Twelve wines altogether, plus a few in reserve, as listed below.
Layout for the Tasting:
As you will have seen from the Invitation, the underlying thought for this ‘Anniversary’ Tasting is first to look back on wines that have influenced me in a career of wine evaluation, and then also to look at a more contemporary younger (and good) vintage of three of them, and see if we can find the links between young and old. And can we find elements of the young in the old ? Can we see past the warmer climates of today, the riper fruit and higher alcohols some latterday commentators have so heavily endorsed ? Admittedly this evaluation will depend on how the bottles open on the night.
But it would also be good if we could maintain the essential format of these Library Tastings as presented nowadays, and notwithstanding the wide age range, have at least part of the tasting an opportunity to see if we can smell and taste our way to identifying which wines are which. On the face of it, it might seem a straightforward matter to tell burgundy from bordeaux or the Northern Rhone wine … but as the years go by … good wines tend to converge … and become more about the sheer beauty and enjoyment of old wine, and less about their varietal or elevation characters.
Accordingly, the tasting is structured in this way:
# Two champagnes, the lighter Deutz first, the weightier Bollinger second.
# five old and maybe fragile wines presented blind / not in this order: 1970 Ch Ducru-Beaucaillou, 1970 Alexis Lichine Chambertin, 1969 McWilliams Cabernet Sauvignon, 1969 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, 1966 Ch Palmer. I urge you to to:
(a) try and complete all the identification steps on bouquet, tasting just the minimum to confirm your thoughts … and thus conserving a good fraction to check again and then enjoy when we reach the identification stage.
(b) make allowance for anno domini, and the intrinsic delicacy / maybe frailty of the wines at this late stage of their careers. The youngest of these wines is 50 years old and the oldest 54 … do they still display autumnal ripeness, harmony and balance ?
# then the three young and vigorous wines related to some of the older wines, presented blind / not in this order: 2010 Ch Palmer, 2010 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, 2016 Jaboulet Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Cedres. These are wines still in adolescence, but hopefully sufficiently together to show their provenance and intrinsic quality. They have been marked in the range 90 – 97+ in the American media, and up to 18.5 in the sometimes-conservative British wine press. Again, please see if you can sort them out solely on bouquet.
# then finally, the two which I hope will give us a glimpse of the sheer beauty, softness and hedonistic / endearing appeal to be found in old wine (and why I love them), again blind: 1978 Jaboulet Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Cedres, and 1953 Bodegas Bilbainas Pomal Reserva Especial.
The wines I am hoping for, documented (i.e. subject to the corks, and not necessarily in this order):
1996 Champagne Deutz Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut, Ay (+ spare)
1990 Champagne Bollinger Grande Année Brut, Ay
1970 Ch Ducru-Beaucaillou en magnum, Saint Julien (+ spare as 750 ml)
1970 A. Lichine Chambertin en magnum, grower Louis Trapet & Fils, Gevrey-Chambertin
1969 McWilliams Cabernet Sauvignon, Taradale (+ spare)
1969 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, Northern Rhone Valley
1966 Ch Palmer, Margaux (+ spare)
2016 Jaboulet Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Cedres, Southern Rhone Valley (+ spare)
2010 Ch Palmer, Margaux (+ spare)
2010 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, Northern Rhone Valley (+ spare)
1978 Jaboulet Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Cedres, Southern Rhone Valley
1953 Bodegas Bilbainas Pomal Reserva Especial, Rioja (+ spare)
In Reserve, not documented:
1996 Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill Brut, Epernay
1972 A. Guyon Corton, grower Hippolyte Thevenot, Aloxe-Corton
1979 Jaboulet La Chapelle, Northern Rhone Valley
1976 Jaboulet Vacqueyras, Southern Rhone Valley [ this will be frail ]
1991 Ch Tahbilk Shiraz 1860 Vines, Nagambie Lakes, Victoria [ if all else fails, to make 12 ]
Broadbent, Michael 1980: The Great Vintage Wine Book. Mitchell Beazley, 432 p.
Broadbent, Michael 2002: Michael Broadbent’s Vintage Wine. Harcourt / Webster’s International, 560 p.
Broadbent, Michael 2003: Michael Broadbent’s Wine Vintages. Mitchell Beazley, 223 p.
Cooper, Michael 1984: The Wines and Vineyards of New Zealand. Hodder & Stoughton, 203 p. [ Revised and reprinted 1986 (218 p.), 1988 (264 p.), at least.]
Parker, Robert M 1991: Bordeaux. Simon & Schuster, New York, 1026 p.
Parker, Robert M 2003: Bordeaux, Fourth Edition. Simon & Schuster, New York, 1244 p.
Peppercorn, David 1998: Wines of Bordeaux. Mitchell Beazley, 248 p.
Read, Jan 1973: The Wines of Spain and Portugal. Faber & Faber, 280 p.
Read, Jan 1982: The Wines of Spain. Faber & Faber, 267 p.
Spurrier, Steven 1986: Guide to French Wines. Willow Collins, 256 p.
ww.drinkrhone.com = John Livingstone-Learmonth, subscription needed beyond first sample
www.jancisrobinson.com = Jancis Robinson MW and Julia Harding MW, subscription needed for reviews
www.robertparker.com = Robert Parker and successors, vintage chart, subscription needed for reviews
www.winesearcher.com = the starting point for valuing wines – but NB: only a guide for New Zealand
www.winespectator.com = vintage chart, subscription needed for reviews.
THE WINES REVIEWED:
The first ‘price’ given is the current wine-searcher value, if available, per 750ml bottle irrespective of the bottle-size in this tasting. An approximation of the original purchase price is given in the text, if evidence / best recollection is available. In the reviews, I try to contrast a British view with a United States one. Where possible, the cepage data provided are contemporary for the vintage, not current.
1990 Champagne Bollinger Grande Année Brut||
1996 Champagne Deutz Blanc de Blancs Brut|
The 12 wines in the tasting: two champagnes; seven reds in the timespan 1953 to 1970; and three young reds 2010 to 2016, matching three of the old wines. The 1996 Deutz Blanc de Blancs at position 1, front left, clearly fresher than 1990 Bollinger, but both wines eloquent. The 1970 Chambertin at position 3 clearly the lightest red wine, but still lively. The 1969 McWilliams Cabernet Sauvignon at position 5 not much deeper, lacking concentration. Compare it with the 1966 Ch Palmer in glass 6, still a gold-medal wine. Note the remarkable freshness of the 1970 Ducru-Beaucaillou ex magnum, glass 7. The three young wines are glasses 8 – 10, the 2010 Palmer in glass 8 inky-deep. Glass 11 is the very beautiful 1978 Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and glass 12 the 1953 Pomal … both still pleasing mature colours.
Straw with a gold undertone, appreciably deeper than the Deutz: this bottle less CO2 pressure and bubble than expected. A bigger, softer, deeper and more mealy bouquet than the Deutz, clear baguette-crust autolysis plus cashew and even a hint of hazelnuts, with a subtle but clear note of oak complexity from the barrel fermentation. In mouth the wine is totally different in style to the Deutz, being ample, rich, long, the autolysis and baguette-crust grading to stonefruit, cashew and hazelnut, much more body, still good acid but more in balance than the Deutz. It is totally grand cru white burgundy in weight, with subtle oak lengthening the flavour appreciably. A great champagne in its style, at the peak of maturity or maybe a little old for the more fastidious, the oak perhaps to a maximum. Will hold in this style for some years on the pleasing acid balance, for those who treasure older champagne styles. One vote for top wine of the night (in the 12), one second place. GK 03/20
Lightest gold with a wash of lemon, fine bubble. Bouquet shows beautiful citrussy white stonefruit and clean brioche autolysis complexity, with a hint of cashew. After the volume of bouquet, the initial impression on palate is of some austerity, with high acid. With further sips the flavour expands, wonderfully pure autolysis, considerable length of citrussy chardonnay and brioche … but still acid. Dosage hard to judge, against the acid, but perhaps nearer 8. Will hold this form for some years, but as the fruit recedes the acid will become more apparent. No votes as to place. On the night I thought the wine a little disappointing relative to its promise at purchase, not quite the body to cellar well – but it still looked pretty good against nv Lanson Black Label the next day. Rob Bishop thought the Deutz typified the firm 1996 vintage, particularly liking the 'white flowers' on bouquet. No votes in either direction. GK 03/20
Ruby and garnet, astonishingly youthful for its age, in the middle for depth. Bouquet is equally astonishing, nearly primary aromatic cassisy berry, subtlest brown tobacco and cedary oak, unlike the modern ‘spirity’ wines so favoured by American reviewers, no alcohol apparent on bouquet, lovely. Palate is the same, all the elegance and pin-point flavour saturation of a wine not dominated by alcohol, the quality of browning cassis remarkable for its age, the oak in equally perfect balance. It is simply remarkable how youthful this wine is ex magnum, relative to the 750 my last review reflects. Classic west bank claret at the pinnacle of maturity, delicate yet amazingly long and sustained, very beautiful. Parker sums this wine up perfectly. Three votes as top wine, five for second-favourite, one of the three top wines. Rob Bishop, avowedly a pinot noir man, thought it well-nigh perfect – particularly pleasing. Nine tasters correctly identified this wine as old bordeaux, with six favouring the Northern Rhone Valley. In magnums, has some years ahead of it: in 750s in a temperate climate, probably au point or agreeably fading a little now. GK 03/20
Rich ruby and velvet, a little lighter and older than the 2010 Palmer, but still clearly the second deepest red wine. A wonderfully floral, fragrant and aromatic berry bouquet, more floral and less spirity than the 2010 Ch Palmer, cassis predominant, dark fruits, astute tasters detecting some sweet black pepper, subtle new oak. Sensational purity. Palate is immensely focussed, intense aromatic cassis-led and dark plum berry shaped by cedary oak, a lovely soft spicy lift from black pepper, and the oak not dominating unduly. Livingstone-Learmonth's concern that the wine is too Bordeaux-influenced in its styling will be solved with time in cellar. The alcohol is at a maximum for delicacy, but well contained. This is going to make a very beautiful bottle, in maturity. Two votes for favourite wine, two as second-favourite, but in a curious result not explored on the night, three as least wine. In a conclusion which would please the spirits of chateaux proprietors past, nine tasters thought this wine from Bordeaux, and five Northern Rhone. This is a glorious wine, which will cellar 20 – 40 + years. GK 03/20
Ruby, carmine and velvet, a remarkably deep colour, by far the deepest in the set. The bouquet is spirity for Bordeaux, sadly in the modern idiom, but one can still detect floral hints of violets and dark roses, on darkest plum and cassisy berry, with new oak more noticeable than for the La Chapelle. In mouth the wine is still almost painfully youthful and not together, almost 'too powerful' for Ch Palmer, but (alcohol aside) you can also see considerable potential for elegance and harmony, in this velvety richness of berry and oak. It is just let down a little by the alcohol. I would love a dry extract for this remarkably rich wine: this is still the key dimension in red wine viticulture and elevation that New Zealand winemakers refuse to pay attention to – well, too many of them. 2010 Ch Palmer was the most obvious ‘favourite’ wine of the night, five first-places, and one second-place, but interestingly, seven tasters thought it Northern Rhone in origin, versus six Bordeaux. The 1966 Palmer just managed to be a 50-year-old wine: this 2010 will undoubtedly achieve that goal in cellar … and easily. Cellar 25 – 50 + years. Sadly however (in that context), in catering to the modern generation, the corks now are 50 mm, vs 54 for the 1966. And how much more subtle and fine the wine would be with a degree less alcohol. GK 03/20
Glowing ruby and garnet, tip-toeing towards full rosé in weight, clearly below midway in depth of colour, but beautiful. Bouquet is soft, sweet, nearly floral, totally burgundian, wonderful fruit and subtlest oak, equally beautiful. Its immediate stylistic partner in the tasting was Le Chambertin, Les Cedres being of similar weight but not quite as old, fading savoury red cherry and raspberry fruit in better ratio now to the very light pure oak, the wine supple in style, and amazingly long and pure for its present richness. And unlike the Southern Rhones of today, the alcohol is invisible. Contrary to the views of New Zealand winemakers still bottling under cork in burgundy-shaped bottles, the result of using 54 mm corks was that after 42 years, the ullage in this bottle was 7 mm, the least of all the bottles, truly amazing. Like the Chambertin, this wine is fully mature to being on the brink of fading, but in a bottle in as good condition as this one, more sweetly-fruited and sustained than the Chambertin (even ex magnum). The wine was even better the next day. 1978 was certainly an elegant year in Burgundy and the Southern Rhone Valley. Eleven tasters correctly located this wine in the Southern Rhone Valley, seven thinking it Rioja. Absolute treasure, but sadly the last bottle in the case. One first place vote, but three second-places. GK 03/20
My liking for 1966 Ch Palmer is not all the romanticism of fuzzy memory. The wine is now rated (in Parker's 2003 edition of his definitive text Bordeaux) as: a great Palmer, one of the three or four best wines of the vintage. Elsewhere he says: When Palmer has a great vintage, no other left bank growth is as aromatically seductive to the nose and palate ... Palmer consistently made the best wine of the Margaux appellation between 1961 and 1977, but with the resurgence of Ch Margaux in 1978 … it is now often runner-up. The style of Palmer’s wine is characterised by a sensational fragrance … the richness of great Pomerol but the complexity of a Margaux; Peppercorn: The reputation of Palmer has soared in the last 30 years … one of the first ‘super-seconds’. The wine is characterised by an opulence and richness that are almost burgundian in the best years, combined with real finesse and breed. Coates, 1999: Magical fruit here. Very ripe and lush. Soft yet full. Impeccably balanced. Fullish, intense, silky-smooth. Almost sweet. Marvellous concentrated, quality fruit. Totally brilliant, 19; By 2002 Broadbent had tasted the wine 22 times (lucky man), and had upgraded it to: *****, not quite the ’61, but superbly balanced. Latterly: a fabulous – no other word – bouquet, sweet, lovely flavour, balance, and finish, *****; www.chateau-palmer.com ]
Ruby and garnet, above midway in depth, three times the depth of the 1969 McWilliams Cabernet Sauvignon. The bouquet on this wine expanded remarkably with air, still nearly floral in an autumnal way, browning cassis, elegant pure brown pipe-tobacco complexity and cedary trace oak, no alcohol apparent, great purity. Once breathed, the palate has an exquisite harmony of cassisy berry browning now, integrated with cedary oak. There are those who aver that old wines collapse soon after opening, but this wine expanded dramatically. Freshly opened it tasted ‘austere’ my notes say: 24 hours later it is supple and very harmonious, beautiful browning berry fading now, but the whole wine smaller, subtler and finer than the loud and often non-floral wines favoured by Austro-American reviewers today. Three first-places, but seven second-place votes, 12 correctly locating it in Bordeaux, versus five in the Northern Rhone Valley. The third of the very highly-rated wines. Lovely old claret, once breathed just hanging on to its peak, from 750s. GK 03/20
Limpid rosy garnet and ruby, full rosé in depth, the lightest of the reds. Bouquet is strikingly floral in an autumnal way, extraordinarily so for its age, on red cherry fruit naturally browning now, intensely fragrant. And total purity. Flavour is a little shorter than the bouquet promises, the berry clearly browning, and fading / drying a little, sweet new very subtle oak just noticeable to the tail. Twenty-four hours later the wine was magnificent, expanded somehow, seemingly sweeter but not richer than the Pomal Especial, neither quite as harmonious as the exquisite 1978 Les Cedres. It would still be wonderful in a light main course setting. One vote for wine of the night, one second, but also one least, and clearly burgundy to nearly all tasters. The wine starting to retreat in magnum – 750s would be lesser, now. Simply a joy to drink. GK 03/20
Garnet and ruby, a hint of amber to the rim, yet remarkably rich. Like the 1970 Ducru, in the middle for depth. This old Pomal freshened wonderfully with air, the berry expanding to overtake vanillin oak, which initially dominated. The wine clearly shows the characteristic citrussy complexity factor for tempranillo raised in old American oak, reminiscent of the days when Jamaican grapefruit were shipped in slatted wooden bushel boxes. Once one of the grapefruit developed blue-mould, there was this very distinctive, slightly piquant yet sweet, citrussy smell through the whole box, utterly characteristic of traditional Rioja. As with blue cheeses, this aroma is far from unpleasant. The quality and purity of fragrant, supple, red-fruited berry on bouquet and palate is amazing, even though the fruit is browning now, a hint of raisins, at 67 years of age. Once breathed, the fruit / oak balance is good, the wine a little richer but drier than the Chambertin. Two first-place votes, one second. Twelve tasters correctly located this wine in the Rioja, while five thought it Southern Rhone Valley. Remarkable wine, in remarkable condition, just starting to dry, but will hold for some years yet … if the 47mm corks hang on. This wine was much better 24 hours later. GK 03/20
Maturing ruby and garnet, just above midway in depth. A little bottle stink initially, breathing up to slightly phenolic / leathery and browning cassisy berry, subtlest oak, a little brett. Palate is in a similar vein, clearly a lesser bottle than the one in our La Chapelle vertical (in 2014 – not yet published). The still-cassisy berry is surprisingly rich, given the bouquet, but as can be expected of wines at this age with trace brett, it is also faintly medicinal. The ratio of savoury fruit to oak is admirable, and alcohol modest by today's standards. It would still be good with food, noting there are better bottles than this one. Surprisingly to me, three first-place votes, no seconds. Eleven tasters located this wine in Bordeaux, rather than the Northern Rhone, which will please the spirits of those nineteenth-century proprietors then freshening their bordeaux blends with Hermitage. The unusual thing about this bottle, from Jaboulet of that era, was the 45 mm cork (as was the previous bottle). The wine fully mature now / some bottles fading. I cannot pin-point when Jaboulet standardised on their admirable 54 mm corks for their top bottlings. GK 03/20
Ruby, carmine and velvet, the third-deepest wine. A fragrant, very primary wine, looking out of place in the set. A pure alcohol lift on slightly cinnamony raspberry and boysenberry fruit makes the wine seem a bit one-dimensional. Light oak. Palate confirms the lack of complexity, surprisingly little contribution from elevation, as if a significant part of the wine has been raised in concrete. Fruit weight and dry extract are reasonable, but the wine seems simple in its berry flavours, and all made aggressive by alcohol. In the remarkable 2016 vintage in the Southern Rhone Valley, there are better Cotes du Rhone-Villages wines than this. In complexity and ‘magic’ terms, I do not think this will ever come close to the 1978, in maturity, even though it is very pure / high-tech. Cellar 10 – 25 years. Two first-place votes on the night, and three second, over half the group correctly locating it in the Southern Rhone Valley. GK 03/20
Ruby and garnet, light, but clearly deeper than Le Chambertin, and redder, the second-lightest red. Initially the wine shows a soft, warm, lightly cassisy and clear mulberry note, on vanillin oak. With air a slightly stalky undertone crept in, but the wine is still pure and vinifera. In mouth, the first thing that jumps out at you, in this tasting of international wines framing the main red wine styles, is that the wine tastes dilute: there is just not the body / dry extract to be internationally competitive, and keep the wine ‘sweet’ over the years. This was long before the 1983 amendments to the 1980 New Zealand Food & Drug regulations, as they apply to winemaking, which finally required that New Zealand wine must be made from at least 95% grape-juice. [ See the section 'Water in Wine', page 67, also page 29, in the original edition of Cooper, 1984. Pagination varies in later editions. I am grateful to Michael Cooper, with his prodigious knowledge of the New Zealand wine industry, for correcting my earlier statement.] But the berry that is there tastes surprisingly good, fresh and refreshing, still an interesting bottle of very light and now too oaky claret-styled wine, with just a hint of stalk on bouquet and palate. Acid balance is just acceptable, for its old-fashioned style. You get the impression this 1969 was either more heavily cropped, or watered a little, relative to the benchmark 1965 McWilliams Cabernet Sauvignon. Certainly after the 1971, the ‘70s examples of this label were dilute. Not competitive in this company, 13 votes as least wine of the night, and clearly the New Zealand wine for everybody. Fading now, but as a wine on its own, still quite acceptable with food, for those who are interested in old wine. GK 03/20