Advice on opening a 30+ year old Aussie Cabernet

Saturday looks to be quite a big one as I’m catching up with my mate Cos to look at some wines. Everything we’ve slated to open is well within our wheelhouse from a aeration/decanting/service perspective bar one. I’m taking a 1986 Lake’s Folly Cabernet that I’m honestly completely unsure of with regards to service. Should I slow ox? If so how long? Or decant? Maybe pop and pour? Any advice would be appreciated as I’ve only ever had one 1986 (or as I like to call it the Challenger vintage) Australian Cabernet before.

If it’s any assistance here’s a tasting note from the Lake’s Folly website.

1986 Cabernet | Score: 85 | Drink: Now/some past best
Season – Very good.

Colour – Medium red, brown hue.

Nose – Sweet oak lift, though more dominated by cedary, earthy, leather tones, touch musty.

Palate – Some fruit sweetness, but mostly an elegant wine with nice balance and complexity. There appears to be an issue with some bottles of this wine with a musty, earthy, dank character. Whether a high incidence of poor corks from the batch is the issue, I am unsure. Good bottles drink very well – structured and holding up well.

Alcohol – 12.2 %

Fingers cross we dodge the what appears to be significant TCA issues with this vintage!

Calling George Chadwick…

Andrew, I would PM Dave English in Sydney. I reckon he would know best.

Personally I have always found that older Aussies need decanting. They tend to throw a lot of sediment and need to have this to be removed prior to drinking. The only question for me would be how long of a decant. Lakes Folly tends to be at the lighter end of the Aussie Cab Sav spectrum so may not need a long decant - perhaps 1 hr? 1986 was a pretty decent Hunter vintage if I remember correctly.

Good luck


Cheers for that Brodie, I’ve just pmed Dave. And if I don’t hear otherwise I’ll throw it in a decanter for sediment removal and track it from there. I appreciate your advice.

Keep upright for a week or so before if possible.

Open 4 hours before, check the wine with a small pour, if Ok keep wine cellar cool, then decant just before service.

I agree with Paul. The only caveat would be if it is throwing a lot of sediment maybe filter through some muslin when decanting just before serving as this can really change texture of the wine and the Follies are very textural IMHO.

Most of the Follies I’ve had are just starting to hit their straps at the 20year mark, so the extra 10 years will give it a bit more Tertiary development on a trend downwards so as Paul said no need for a long decant or anything.

Thanks Dave and Paul! I’ll open it on arrival as it’ll most likely find its way into the last bracket alongside a '61 Monfortino. [cheers.gif]

Stand it upright now. Two weeks ago actually. I wouldn’t decant. Use a Durand or a waiters corkscrew plus a two prong. I wouldn’t worry about slow ox, this isn’t Burgundy and it’s not that old. PM Dave English. Worry about it being cooked, not corked.

If you decant, then make darned certain that there are ZERO soap stains in the decanter.

If the wine isn’t corked already, then soap stains in the decanter are guaranteed to cork it for you.

When you hold that decanter up to a light, it had better be so clear that it’s as though it isn’t even there.