TNs: Coonawarra big guns from 1990 & 1991

1990 and 1991 were lauded at the time of release for being outstanding vintages. Peter Douglas, then winemaker at Wynns Coonawarra proclaimed 1990 as “the vintage of the century”. The wines were powerful, ripe and supple, despite very generous yields and caused a stampede at bottle shops, rarely seen before. The year was hotter than average with a long Indian summer. The 1991s slipped under the radar on release, but with time many pundits began to recognise that these were special wines too. Another perfect growing season, very even and again an unhurried vintage prevailed.

So last night we thought it time to check on tehir development. the result was an embarrassment of riches, without a dud and sustained highs.
1991 Wynns Michael "Hermitage"
Dripping with ripe sweet fruits, some spice and wonderful texture. Delicious now.

1990 & 1991 Parker 1st Growth Cabernet Sauvignon
The 1990 was rounder, more voluptuous and a little more developed than teh more structured 1991. I recall the 91 on release was as tough as old boots but has grown into itself wonderfully. A nod to teh 91 for mine.

1990 and 1991 Bowen Cabernet Sauvignon
Contrary to the trend of the day for reds at more condervative alcohol levels, these both nudged 15%.
Both delicious, round and perfumed wines with many years ahead of them, the 1991 again looked fresher, with more acid influence whilst the 91 showed ground coffee notes in a broader framework. None of the Coonawarra mint that might be expected. A nod to teh 1991 here as preferred wine.
1990 and 1991 Redman Cabernet Sauvignon
Very different stylistically from the Bowens, weighing at 12 to 12.5%. Different style to the above wines, more restrained, fine boned but remarkable fresh. Perhaps a nod to the 1990.
1990 Penfolds Bin 920 Cab Shiraz and 1990 Lindemans Limestone Ridge Shiraz Cab
The Penfolds showed the house style - big voluptuous, well oaked style, beautiful wine. The Limestone ridge a bit leaner with lifted spicy red fruits, the Shiraz notes dominating. Very different styles buta nice contrast. The Penfolds stole the bracket.

1990 Wynns John Riddoch “Winemakers Selection” Magnum and 1990 Wynns John Riddoch
The Winemakers Selection was the best barrel of 90 Riddoch selected by the winemakers and never commercially released. Big, brooding, satsuma plums and mulberries, firmish, tannin imbued palate buttressing the teeth staining fruits. needs another 15yrs. Theregular John Riddoch still looked very youthful with a classic mint and eucalypt nose. Still needs time to come together.

Don’t be ridiculous Kent, we all know Aussie wines don’t age.

Thanks for the notes Kent. Not a Coonawarra, but I had a 1991 Tahbilk Museum Release Cabernet Sauvignon over the weekend and thought it was terrific, although still really young. One of the best, juicy, mouthwatering finishes I’ve had this year

Thanks Kent,

Nice notes.

Personally, I have been a long time fan of the '91’s (lovely structure), and have always said that many will end up better than their '90 counterparts, but I do like the '90 Riddoch…


Thanks for the notes. When I visited Coonawarra last year, I was lucky enough to try the '91 Wynns Black Label and '91 Katnook. Both were still very very good.

Who says Australian wines don’t age? Only folks whose experience is limited to a certain genre of over-the-top Shiraz.


Thanks for the interesting notes on these. While I tend not to be a Shiraz guy, I have had a couple of the older John Riddochs and thought they were serious.