The Wine Table, founded in 1927, meets every Wednesday in the upstairs Mural Room at Melbourne restaurant institution Grossi Florentino. On 5 December it celebrated it’s 4000th lunch. Putting it into prospective members have consumed more than 37,000 bottles of red wine from all over the world! It is believed to be the longest running wine group in the world spanning 91 years.
The Wine Table was formed in 1927 at Cafe Denat which became Cafe Florintino and then meandered to Luccattini Restaurant, La Maschera, The Kingston Hotel before returning to Grossi Florintino in 2010.
Jed White who is The Table’s historian was the only current member to attend the 3000th meeting in March 1999 recalls a 1982 Chateau La Lagune, 1991 D’Arenberg Ironstone pressings Shiraz, a 1996 Rymill Shiraz and vintage port of course among others. Since 1983 Jed has recorded every wine consumed.
President Graham Alderman meticulously emails the 20 plus members each week with the theme for the following Wednesday based on a pre-determined quarterly list. Members attend with a masked bottle and then over lunch they individually try each others bottle, discuss and assess it’s grape variety, age and origin before its revealed.
Membership is by personal invitation by existing members and I am privileged to have been invited by Jed.
So lets get down to business and look at some of the favorite wines bought by members for this special occasion.
2003 Mt Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon
Deep golden, hints of lemon, aniseed and tropical fruit, still vibrant with hints of toast. beautiful. 95/100
2009 Rockford Basket press Shiraz. Magnum.
Expansive nose, hot sweet red fruit, rich and textured palate but finished dry on back palate, Not sure if decanting would have helped, drink+5 yrs, 90/100,
2010 Mt Mary Cabernet Quintet
Fruit well integrated with cherry and blackberries on the nose. Well balanced with hints of tobacco, fine tannins and good length. 95/100
1992 Mt Mary Cabernet Quintet
Showed age with fading colour, stewed fruit overtones, fruit just hanging in, but short on length and balance. 85/100
2005 Wild Duck Creek Shiraz – magnum
Intense nose of licorice and sweet fruits. Great palate rich, long and sweet almost not unlike port. Would have benefited with decanting though. Outstanding. drink +10. 96/100
2012 Chateau La Fleur-Petrus, Pomerol
Dark and dense chocolate, mint, nose of black cherry, lingers on the palate, I loved this wine with long smooth length and beautiful balance, drink +20, 97/100
2008 Bremerton Old Adam Shiraz
Brick color, big and full lush dark intense fruits, subtle oak leads to sweet long finish. Drink +10. 94/100
1998 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz
Every serious cellar has Bin 389 and this was in an era when it was affordable. Browning colour with residual purple at the core. A ripe nose loaded with dark fruits, blackberry and plum. Beautiful balanced full bodied palate driven from the back palate. The length was fantastic. Kept changing in the glass. Built to last another 10 yrs. 96/100
2000 Cyril Henschke Cabernet/Merlot/Franc
Ruby colour. Nose of blueberry and raspberries. Palate very clean and balanced with soft tannins. Great length. Loved it! Drink + 3 yrs. 96/100
2007 Balnaves The Tally Reserve Cabernet
Deep consistent colour to the rim. Nose dominated by mint and plums. Loads of fruit but a little thin but constant fruit rhythm throughout on the palate. Lovely drinking and still time. Drink + 5 yrs. 96/100
1998 Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvigon
Sensational! This was first made in 1982 by winemaker John Wade. It cost $12 per bottle but bare in mind Black Label was $5.50. Now Black Label sells for $28 and John Riddoch $150!
Classic Coonawarra, with lovely aromas of sweet cassis. tobacco and eucalyptus leaping out. Deep constant colour, full rich fruit with spice, eucalyptus and plums. Lingering finish. and balanced along the palate. Tasting highlight. Try again 2020. 97/100
2012 Houghton C W Ferguson Cabernet Malbec, Swan Valley
Overloaded with blackberry and blackcurrant on the nose which showed through with hints of plum dominating the palate. Lovely balance and quality oak influence. Long and still youthful. Most of you probably do not know this quality Swan Valley blend from Houghton but worth seeking out. Drink to 2022. (96/100.
1976 Redman Cabernet Sauvigon Magnum
Browned off. Stewed stale fruit, well over. Flag job
1974 Grange Hermitage
One of the most difficult vintages in memory for Max Schubert. Rigorous grape selection saw one of the smallest Grange yields on record – only 2300 cases.
I think this example suffered from poor cellaring as the Grange characteristics were sadly missing. Was thin and disjointed slight layer of coffee. Pity for a gem from a difficult year.
1999 Grange Hermitage
As expected one of the highlights of this special day. Colour was dense ruby/purple to the edge, with a bouquet of blackberries, mulberries and floral-like aromas. Medium to full body with plenty of punch, also wonderful dark fruit and rich extract. Elegant and nicely balanced. Yum. Is it worth $800 plus? Connoisseurs will say yes! 98/100
1975 Chateau Coutet Barsac 1st Growth cru Sauternes
A blend of Sémillon (75 5%), Sauvignon Blanc (23%) and Muscadelle (2%). The wine showed aromas of citrus, tropical fruits, and honey. But I found it high in residual sugar. The palate provided orange overtones and grape fruit. Finish was enjoyable and lingering with the citrus overtones. Drink +3yrs. 96/100
It was getting late in the afternoon and as there were two tables of 10 I did not get to try these other gems.
2009 Katnook Estate Prodigy Shiraz
A 2010 Bordeaux Grand Cru
2012 Penfolds St Henri
2001 Jamiesons Run Rothwell Cabernet Sauvignon
2013 Clonakilla Shiraz Voignier
1995 McWilliams Eileen Hardy Shiraz Magnum
So there you are. I will make every effort to make the 5000th tasting!