Tawny is one of the few wines that you can literally pass down, hand to hand, through the generations from winemaker to winemaker. While it's popularity waxes and wanes as the 'fashionista' weave their fickle path through vinous pleasure, it does however remain the greatest game of Chinese Whispers I've certainly ever played.
Major Varieties: Shiraz, Dolcetto, Grenache, Pedro.
Overall Blend: base blend started in 1947, Mr Pickwick Particular Port Reserves, Alameda Show Reserves and other bits and pieces over the years. Predominantly wood-aged Pot-still Brandy spirit used.
Deep burnt umber, golden edges, great clarity and brightness.
Huge upfront rancio redolent with lifted grapy brandy spirit. Golden toffee, complex old oak overlaying smoky sharp volatiles.
Initial syrupy silky rich mouth feel is turned into a fiery delight of hot chilli like pepper fire and cleansing spirit. Like an XO cognac the angels dance of pure fire stipples the tongue with heady sweet oak that persists for around the same time that it takes to put the kids through college. The concentrated raisin sweetness fills and caresses the mouth before opening lotus like to layer upon layer of spicy complexity finishing with cigar box memories.
Before he died, Dad has me in on the secret of making truly great Tawny. Come close and I’ll whisper it into your ear… …First you start with some carefully nurtured old Tawny stocks. Next, nestle them into it into a combination of really old Australian brandy, American whiskey and Ex Red casks. Over the years the angels sneak in party on and claim their share. This gentle evaporation and oxidation concentrates and intensifies the wine until you have an incredibly rich truly great old Tawny. -Simple really.
I remember as a kid, climbing over dusty stacks of hogsheads and quarter casks stored in a succession of old tin sheds. Stiflingly hot in summer, freezing in winter these sheds forge the Australian style.
The old Redemption’s pedigree is truly great: In 1947 the blend was begun and when Dad joined Saltrams in 1959 he nurtured and added to the reserves with additions of Shiraz, Dolcetto and Tokay. These stocks then formed the base for the awesome old Tawnys, Alameda Show and Mr Pickwick.
When Dad left Saltram in 1979 he owned a significant portion of these old Tawny Stocks.
In the 1980’s Dad created a new blend, the Old Redemption from these amazing old reserves. The mid 80’s, 90’s and early ‘noughties’ saw a decline in the interest in fortifieds so Dad tucked away the Old Redemption in its barrels for another day.
I must at this point make a clarification, on the label I said that Dad has handed over the Old Redemption to me. He pointed out to me that he bloody well didn’t. I pointed out to him that I was now doing all the bloody work. We’d still be bloody well arguing but we decided to compromise on the following… I am but a custodian of these wonderful old wines and now that Dad has gone to that big Weighbridge in the sky, I’ll eventually pass this onto the next generation... No doubt making a similar fuss to PL!