Monday 13 August 2007


WAY back in 1880 Ferdinand de Lesseps started his ill-fated attempt on the Panama Canal, Wabash Indiana became America’s first city to be lit solely by electricity, Canada allowed women to practice medicine for the first time, and Ned Kelly was hanged in Melbourne.

The same year the King family planted the Old Hill Vineyard in the foothills of the Hunter Valley’s Brokenback Range – and 120-odd years later fruit from those gnarled old vines is still used to make one of Australia’s most legendary wines, that honours its most legendary winemaker, the late Maurice O’Shea.

O’Shea bought the vineyard in 1921 and at the same time planted the Old Paddock Vineyard and established the esteemed Mount Pleasant estate; today McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Maurice O’Shea Shiraz honouring him and Mount Pleasant is the company’s flagship red.

The just-released super-premium 2004 made predominantly from Old Hill fruit with a small proportion from Old Paddock, lives up to the label’s outstanding reputation, coupled now with the advantage of being the first vintage to be bottled under a screwcap to ensure a good five or so years further cellaring.

This is a wine with a generous nose of plums, raisins and raspberries, hints of paprika, pepper and smoky chocolate oak, and on the palate dense sweet fruits, ripe fruit tannin, vanillin oak and a touch of spicy paprika.

Pay $65 and serve with roast duck, red currant jus and seasonal vegetables.

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