Max Lake, Pirramimma and the overturned truck.
Sometime in the '90s, in a period that was definitely not early, a tad after mid and way before late, I was at a Trade wine tasting. I've been to many tastings in all the other periods, heaps in the '80s and the trend has continued through the current decade but this was the only tasting I'd ever encountered Max Lake. Max, of course, is the medico who created his eponymous Folly in the lower Hunter Valley well before most of us had any interest in wine.
About 3 minutes after I tasted the Pirramimma 1995 Stocks Hill Shiraz, so did Max. And started waxing lyrical about the wine that I'd just bought every last bottle of. I was pretty chuffed. A small crowd gathered and listened to Max continue waxing. I wondered how many had tasted a relatively unfashionable label and been blind to the quality of the wine.
But Pirramimma, to their credit, honoured my order and we were all glad they did. Half way up the Hume HIghway the truck overturned and there was a sad loss of many bottles of a very fine red. The phone call came - "Do you want us to take it back?"
"No way", I replied. So Pirramimma were grateful and after we spent days sifting through the debris we managed to salvage far more than we expected. Obviously the labels were stained and scratched but that all became part of the heroic fame of the outstanding red that survived the truck crash.
So when a new distributor showed me a bottle of the 2004 Stocks Hill Cabernet Sauvignon and their wholesale special I couldn't wait to twist the top. They might have changed the labels but thankfully, not the winemaking style. This is good old fashioned McLaren Vale cabernet. The 14% alcohol is fairly overt on the nose while the tannins and wood front up the palate. But the real charm is the fruit which kicks in half way through and goes on and on. We road tested it over 3 days and I suggest this is perfect for medium term cellaring. Not a huge saving off cellar door price but it's fantastic value at anything under $20.
RRP: $15 cellar door
Our Price: $14 per bottle