A bewildering season which has never really lived up to its much-touted potential
Bewildering season, 1984, and one which has never really lived up to its much-touted potential. Theres little doubt that the winemaking techniques fashionable in Australia at the time had much to do with the wines lack of richness and longevity. Most of south-eastern Australia was still on the road to recovery from the drought it had experienced over the previous year and beyond. Despite good rains in late winter and spring and a slightly dry growing season which ultimately became warm to hot by February, it was a typical year that produced reds of quality and some elegance. Although the reds from the traditional warmer areas tended to lack their customary structure, those from the cooler regions both east and west enjoyed a long, even ripening in close to ideal conditions. The Hunter experienced light rains late in the season.
The wine regions of South Australia and Victoria tended to top the list in 1984. Although many have failed to live up to their early potential, Coonawarra did produce some very fine and tight-knit cabernets. Although they are more restrained and reserved than expected from a typically warm vintage, the better Barossa and Eden Valleys reds have tightness and balance, although there arent too many still awaiting their peak. Even thought its production was still tiny in 1984, the Yarra Valley released a memorable clutch of reds based around both shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. Some of the finer and more restrained Hunter reds from 1984 are still holding together with typically rustic charm.
Bowen Estate (Coonawarra) and Henschke (Eden Valley) under its Cyril Henschke label released perhaps the two finest Australian cabernet sauvignons from 1984, narrowly heading off superb wines from Mount Mary and Yarra Yering (both Yarra Valley). Some fine Barossa cabernets were made by Peter Lehmann and Seppelt (from the Dorrien vineyard), while Mamre Brooks Cabernet Shiraz was unusually fine, but long-living. Taltarni (Pyrenees) and Chateau Tahbilk (Goulburn Valley) both released robust and long-term central Victorian cabernets. Moss Wood and Cullen made spectacular cabernets. One of the earliest red wines from the celebrated Heathcote winery of Jasper Hill was the spectacular 1984 Emilys Paddock Shiraz, while Yarra Yerings dusty, ripe and plummy Dry Red No. 2 still reveals piercing fruit sweetness and vitality.