An excellent vintage, producing some classic wines with good aroma and structure
Its a funny thing, but given the user-friendly nature of the 1986 Australian vintage, it hasnt left the legacy of terrific red wines one might have hoped for. Too many winemakers were still adjusting their techniques from the technocrat-inspired years of cool fermentations and the introduction of mechanised viticulture around the turn of the 1980s and while the potential of this typically warm, dry Australian season remain unquestioned, its potential was never fully realised. Most regions experienced ideal growing and ripening seasons, although oidium was a problem faced by many Barossa growers.
Even if it lacks the depth of the more recent top vintages, the spread of excellent red wine made in Australia in 1986 was more or less from east to west, north to south. It was a copybook season for Western Australian cabernet sauvignon and also for surprisingly powerful and long-living Hunter shiraz. Virtually every South Australian region made deeply flavoured, concentrated red wines of richness and longevity, those from the Barossa and Coonawarra leading the way. The central Victorian regions made robust, tannic reds, while the Yarra Valley produced excellent sweet flavours in both cabernet blends and pinot noir.
The big-name South Australian reds from Penfolds and Henschke lived up to their reputations with powerfully structured, thickly textured wines. The Grange and Hill of Grace are both exemplary in the shiraz department, while Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon and Bin 389, the trio of Wynns Coonawarra cabernet-based reds and the premium Wolf Blass red labels each had excellent vintages. Other exceptional reds from this vintage include the Mount Mary Pinot Noir and Cabernets Quintet (Yarra Valley), Cullen Cabernet Merlot (Margaret River), Brokenwood Graveyard (Hunter Valley) and Seppelts Show Sparkling Shiraz (Great Western).