From the tasting team

The Tasting Team on the wines that got away

By The Tasting Team

11 Jun, 2024

The Halliday Tasting Team reflect on the heartbreaking wines of their lives – the wines that got away.

The Halliday Tasting Team tell us about the wines that slipped away from them.

Campbell Mattinson

In 2005 I placed an auto-bid of $150 per bottle at auction on a three-bottle lot of 2001 Domaine Armand Rousseau Clos St-Jacques. Back then this was a lot of money for me to bid on a bottle of wine, and indeed it still is. I was aware at the time that this bottle was worth closer to $200+ per bottle, but I was wine auction crazy at the time and so I placed the bid and left it there. In a freak accident the auction site went ‘down’ for the final 10 minutes of the auction, which meant that all the crucial last-minute bids weren’t taken. I landed these three bottles for $147 each. I drank the first bottle on my birthday at a tiny French restaurant in Bright. The wine did not sing. I sat on the other two for a while and then decided, because of the lacklustre first bottle, to sell them. This wine is now valued at over $1900 per bottle, eight times what I sold them for. The sting is that I had the opportunity to drink these wines, knowing full well how lucky I was, and now will never be able to afford that opportunity again. I looked away and took the profit. I regret that.

Mike Bennie

Domaine Macle Cotes du Jura Blanc, 1978. It’s a pretty amazing statement to utter about a wine from 1978, but I drank this wine when it was 40 years old – too young. Domaine Macle is one of Jura’s most formidable producers, and is famed for their Château-Chalon: oxidative, flor-matured wines that seem impervious to ageing. While this was the ‘Blanc’ cuvee, some of the nous must be applied to have a wine that was so crystalline, crackling with energy, dosed with fino sherry-like nuttiness, crunchy with green apple and steely with flint and brine-like minerality. It felt five years old, if that. I wonder where this wine would be in my twilight years. 

Shanteh WaleShanteh Wale.

Shanteh Wale

I never regret opening a bottle of wine. I believe in full commitment to the cause, even if that means a few questionable decisions in the wee smalls. However, I will say I have had a few experiences of wishing I had purchased a few more bottles to follow the journey and evolution of the wine. Barolo always fits that bill. It’s a variety, I admit, I think I am drinking in its sweet spot and low and behold I have underestimated its longevity. Also, any Champagne from the 2008 vintage. Why OH why didn’t I buy more?

Toni Paterson MW

Amid the December rush, a bottle of red was in order after a particularly trying day. I wanted something medium weight, satisfying and complex, so I grabbed a 2015 Shiraz By Farr. But this was no Thursday night wine! It was a mesmerising, beguiling, multilayered shiraz with the perfect mix of savouriness and fruit density. Star anise, dried sage and pink peppercorn accents encircled the mulberry and dark cherry core. It was one of the greatest wines I had ever had, befitting a grand occasion rather than a simple weeknight meal for two.

Toni Paterson MWToni Paterson MW.

Jeni Port

Regrets about good wines gone early? You bet. My biggest regret is reserved for the exceptional, seminal ‘Rhine’ rieslings made in the 1970s and 1980s by the greatest riesling maker of his – and any – time, the late John Vickery. Visits to Leo Buring would see bottles of his reserve rieslings made with fruit from the Clare Florita vineyard and Eden and Barossa valleys loaded into the car. They were unloaded and enjoyed too soon. This became all too clear at a 1997 Leo Buring retrospective tasting led by John Vickery, which revealed the error of my ways. His rieslings were not only still in tune, but marching magnificently forward.

Jane Faulkner

If I had a dollar for every bottle I wish that I could, or rather should, have cellared, I’d be retired on my own island drinking them. Yet, I have no qualms enjoying a wine young if there is no other option. Maybe I could only score one bottle, it still gives an insight into the wine regardless of age. Besides, what to do? Recently I enjoyed a 2019 E Pira e Figli Chiara Boschis Cannubi Barolo. Unbelievably approachable and plush now and Chiara Boschis’ finest to date, but gee, I wish I could stash a case away for another decade or more.

Philip RichPhilip Rich.

Philip Rich

While I’ll go to my grave saying that I’d rather drink a wine too young than too old, there is one particular bottle that I wish I’d waited a tad longer to open. In 1994, I managed to snaffle one bottle of a tiny production of merlot-based Pomerol, 1990 Château Le Pin, for not very much. A fraction of the 5k a current vintage would set you back. Not being all that patient, I opened it with friends shortly afterwards and it really needed another decade to unfurl. It was still pretty tasty!

Marcus Ellis

The wine that stands out was a 1995 Sylvain Cathiard Vosne-Romanée ‘Aux Malconsorts’ 1er Cru. A good though not great vintage, but a perfect bottle drunk at 15 years of age that looked a pup in 2011. It felt wrong drinking it, such was the promise of that perfectly sealed bottle. They’re the ones you hope to pluck from the cellar last of all, but often don’t. It would still be lovely now. And having it might make me feel like I can still afford Burgundy! It’s also a good reminder of how much the screw cap has reduced cellaring stress.

Dave Brookes

Regrets. I have a few. One that plays on my mind from the mid-90s was smuggling a 1991 Rene Rostaing La Landonne Côte-Rôtie into a pub bistro with my French workmate Thierry after a shift at a Sydney wine store. There is no doubt that the wine went down very well with a medium-rare steak after a day at work, but there is a constant gnawing that vinous infanticide was probably not the preferred course of action with such a profound wine. It ranks right up there with making a spaghetti bolognese with a 1968 Grange after a boisterous afternoon pub session with some mates. That was just silly.