The headline comes from a dinner we had recently for my birthday; a quiet affair where we had just a couple of wine loving friends to join us and a chance to select some wine cellar specials. Although not planned, it transpired that we seemed to be following an old or old world wine with a new and new world wine and the wine tasting results were enlightening. We started with some homemade pate` and a bottle of 2003 Maison Champy red burgundy from the appellation Savigny le Beaune. Although double decanted the nose was still restrained; some hints of violets and cherries and a little earth and forest floor. The palate is another matter and here the wine begins to sing its beautifully balanced song; cherry, raspberry, a little red current and those violets in the background, all underpinned by superfine tannins and a real acid presence providing solid backbone to the whole package. All agreed it was a sheer delight. We followed this with one of our finest Aussie pinots, a 2005 Diamond Valley Reserve from Yarra Valley. Amazingly it simply did not compete; against the Burgundy it was almost like a fruit bomb, although it was clearly well made and highly rated. Halliday gives it 95 pts and says ‘the bouquet is ripe and sweet with the palate showing abundant plum and black cherry, with years of development’

Then it was onto the main course of roast lamb with red wine jus and vegetables. We commenced here with a wine that had been waiting a long time in the cellar, a 1994 Orlando Lawson’s Padthaway Shiraz. After major cork disintegration problems, this was filtered and double decanted. When we got down to the wine it was nothing short of a dream. The colour was still bright red and the nose a wonderful array of earth, chocolate, cooked plums and super soft spice. On the palate it just got better with all the above plus some silky tannins and a long, complex and lingering finish. Of course the thing that keeps coming through in an older wine like this is the way the oak and tannins move to the background and become so rounded and integrated. We could not resist the temptation to compare this to something more recent, so we opened a 2004 Seppelt St. Peters Shiraz, a wine rated 96 in glowing terms by Halliday. Sure we’d had a few by then, however none of us could rave about its qualities after drinking the 94 Orlando Lawson’s. We left half for me to look at the following night. So tucking into the balance of the bottle next day I could clearly see why Halliday rates it 96 pts and waxes thus; ‘Great colour; elegant and long, with black pepper, spice and blackberry; literally sings on its lovely finish; 40% new oak, wild yeast, etc. screwcap, 13.8% alc, rating 96, to 2016’.

Yep, it is a gorgeous wine, utterly seductive, fine, refined, superb line and length, supple tannins that weld it together superbly, taste stays in the mouth for some time and the finish is sweet and long. The fruit is just there as part of the wonderful mix; the difference amazing when not comparing it to the older wine.

A dessert of flourless chocolate espresso cake with raspberries and vanilla ice cream was matched with my last bottle of 1994 Seppelt Show Sparkling Shiraz. All we could say was ‘Wow what a wine!!’ winemaker notes put it simply ‘The world’s flagship Sparkling Shiraz, beautifully balanced, showing great finesse, multiple layers of fruit and abundant flavour.’ In the 2007 Aus Wine Companion Halliday rated it 95 and noted ‘A complex array of spicy, savoury, blackberry and liquorice aromas and flavours; best balanced and driest for some time; will continue to develop in bottle’. Ours was not a crown seal but the wine was pristine and a wonderful match for the dessert; probably the wine of the night.

A wonderful night of lovely food and wonderful wines from the cellar; the way the new world and new wines compared so unfavouably with their matches was a fascinating insight. Perhaps next time we will do it all in reverse order.