To drink or not to drink…?

Wine / Thursday, July 30th, 2020

A big thank you to one of our favourite Jockey Club members (yes, ok… you’re all favourites!), Johnathon for this week’s post inspiration. He asked a very pertinent question a few weeks back…

“Perhaps via the blog we can have reminders of back vintage wines that are due to be consumed? For example, if you have a Somerled Fume Blanc from 2017 should it be consumed in 2020. I only say this because as years go by in membership… so do the vintages! I also have a 2012 Shiraz. Is it better to hold off another couple of years or drink now as it has reached its prime?”

Great question Johnathon! I got the lowdown from Rob and here is what he had to say…



Let’s start with wines that don’t really seem to benefit from cellaring. Or if they do, it’s just marginal…

There are just three Somerled wines in this category. Our Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé and Light Dry Red (LDR). You’ll find out more about that last in the coming weeks.

All of these wines are made for early consumption. A bit along the lines of… drink it all before the next vintage comes around!

Sauvignon Blanc

  2019 (current vintage) Older vintages Notes
Sauvignon Blanc Drink now Potentially past peak Not made for cellaring

Having said that, Rob and Heather drank a 2013 Sauvignon Blanc quite happily not long ago. But they agreed they would have enjoyed it more 6 or 7 years ago. 



  2020 (current vintage) Older vintages Notes
Rosé Drink now Potentially past peak Not made for cellaring

Although… the 2018 Somerled Rosé is still drinking beautifully according to Rob. Even though he would hesitate to say that it has improved over those years.   


Light Dry Red (LDR)

  2020 (current and only vintage) Older vintages Notes
Light Dry Red (LDR) Drink now N/A Not made for cellaring

Our very first LDR has just gone into bottle, so it doesn’t have a track record of cellaring yet. But it has definitely been designed for early and enjoyable drinking.

Keep an eye out on the blog for news of the release of this exciting new wine!



Then there are the “keepers”. Although it is worth mentioning that Rob always intends to release wines when they have reached that “really good drinking” stage.


Chardonnay and Fumé Blanc

  2018  (pre-release) 2017 (current vintage) 2016 2015 Older vintages Notes
Chardonnay Drink now or cellar until 2023 Drink now or cellar until 2022 Drink now or cellar until 2021 Drink now Will not continue to improve with time Maximum cellaring approx. 5 years


  2017 (current vintage) 2016 2015 Older vintages Notes
Fumé Blanc Drink now or cellar until 2023 Drink now or cellar until 2022 Drink now or cellar until 2021 Will not continue to improve with time Maximum cellaring approx. 5 years

The Chardonnay and Fumé Blanc are interesting examples. 

They’re usually about two years old when released and have had plenty of time to settle down after bottling.  At the time of release, they have freshness, but also early signs of bottle maturation. Here Rob is talking about a softening along with the development of complexity and flavour length.  This process goes on with time and the end result is always worthwhile. 

The 2010 Chardonnay made an appearance in a vertical tasting line-up about 4 years ago was absolutely wonderful. That was at 5-6 years of age.  The 2010 Fumé that was tasted the same day was almost as good. 

Rob’s general thoughts are that about 5 years in the cellar is a vague maximum for both of these wines.  After that, the benefits probably are outweighed by the risks in waiting too long.  So, Rob thinks we should be drinking the 2015 Fumé and 2015 Chardonnay (and any older ones) now. That way you won’t have any regrets that maybe they weren’t at their peak.


Pinot Noir

  2019 (pre-release) 2018 (current vintage) 2017 2016 2015 2014 Older vintages Notes
Pinot Noir Drink now or cellar until 2024 Drink now or cellar until 2023 Drink now or cellar until 2022 Drink now or cellar until 2021 Drink now Drink now Will not continue to improve with time Drink with 4-5 years


Pinot Noir is an interesting one. Our Reserve Pinot Noir ages very nicely, but in a different way from our other reds. 

The 2014 Pinot Noir has developed some really nice almost viscous characters on the palate. Although the flavours are quite similar to what they were when the wine was released ages ago.  Rob thinks drinking at 4-5 years is about right for Somerled Reserve Pinot. 


Cabernet Sauvignon

  2017 (current and only vintage) Older vintages Notes
Cabernet Sauvignon Drink now or cellar until 2024-2025 N/A Will benefit from some cellaring

The Somerled Cabernet Sauvignon from Clare is a more classic story regarding the magic of cellaring. 

The 2017 is (so far) a “one-off”. (Although, in his next breath, Rob says that he thinks the idea of another one does sound rather nice!)

Like many cabernet Sauvignons, this wine had a firm palate when released. The tannins were ripe and softish and definitely not green and bitter.  Within a couple of months of release, the wine was already softening. That process is continuing still.  According to Rob the aromas and flavours are developing real complexity and the wine is becoming that much more interesting as a result.  That development will continue for years. He thinks we will see the wine getting to its peak at around 2024-2025.



  2016 (current vintage) 2015 2014 2013 2012 2010 Older vintages Notes
Shiraz Drink now or cellar until 2024-2026 Drink now or cellar until 2023-2025 Drink now or cellar until 2022-2024 Drink now or cellar until 2021-2023 Drink soon Drink now Will not benefit from further cellaring Will reach its peak with 8-10 years of cellaring

It’s a similar story for the Somerled Shiraz. Rob comments that he hadn’t drunk a 2014 Shiraz for quite a while but was delighted to see just how far this wine has come in the last 12 months. The effect of bottle ageing has been terrific.  The 2015 is definitely heading in the same direction.  He thinks that 8-10 years of ageing is going to show this wine to its best advantage.



  2018 (current vintage) 2015 2014 2012 Older vintages Notes
Tempranillo Drink now or cellar until 2024-2025 Drink now or cellar until 2022-2023 Drink now Drink now or cellar until 2022-2023 N/A Not straight forward – Different vintages have come from different locations

Our Somerled Tempranillos are a little less straightforward.  There have been gaps between vintages and two of the first three were from McLaren Vale, rather than Adelaide Hills. 

Our first vintage (2012) and 2015 were both from McLaren Vale. They were well-structured, firm wines that needed quite a long time in barrel.  They developed lovely complex aromas and flavours that are still improving in Rob’s opinion.  He thinks they’ll both reach their peaks at around the same time (2-3 years from now).

The 2014 (which was from the Adelaide Hills) is already so rounded and soft that it’s hard to see it getting much better than this. 

The latest one out is our 2018, also from the Adelaide Hills. Rob thinks it will get to its peak in four to five years from now. It is already showing the benefit of having two years in barrel. 



A huge advantage in predicting cellaring potential has been our use of screw caps rather than cork. For some reason this seems more apparent with white rather than red wines.  I asked and no, he doesn’t know why…!!


Sparkling Pinot Noir and Sparkling Shiraz

And this brings me to our Sparkling Pinot Noir and Sparkling Shiraz.  Neither of these wines are closed with a cork, but with a crown seal. We’re seeing the benefit of this with wines that keep on improving for years. Particularly the Shiraz. 

  2015 (current vintage) Older vintages Notes
Sparkling Pinot Noir Drink now or cellar for 10 years+ Drink now or cellar for 10 years+ Will slowly improve with time


  2016 (current vintage) Older vintages Notes
Sparkling Shiraz Drink now or cellar for 10 years+ Drink now or cellar for 10 years+ Will slowly improve with time



While we’re on the topic…

I’ve got some terribly sad news for you.

For those of you paying VERY close attention, you may have noticed that in my Shiraz table up there I’ve listed the 2016 Shiraz as our current vintage. 

That’s right folks… our 2015 is heading to the Museum.

This one snuck up on is a bit and we literally only have a handful of boxes left! Eeeek!

If you’d like to secure a few bottles, then THIS is your one and only chance.

Only available as part of a mixed six-pack of 3 x 2015 Shiraz + 3 x 2016 Shiraz @ $43 per bottle for Jockey Club members.

Limited to one box per person.

And we’ll have to be very strict with the “first in, best dressed” policy. Sadly we can not guarantee we’ll be able to supply your order if we’ve sold out by the time we hear from you.

Additional bottles will be available from the Museum later in the year.

Secure yours now by emailing me at

10 Replies to “To drink or not to drink…?”

  1. Haha! Thanks Maree!

    I saw this title and was immediately drawn to it given that I posed the very same question to myself about 18 months ago.

    But, it turns out, I completely misread the intent of the question as you will understand. I enjoyed reading the good advice in the post all the same.


  2. Good article! and a good guide. I had the 2012 Shiraz the other night which i might add been cellared very well and it would have to be one of the best Shiraz I have had this year. Cant wait to have the reserve 2102

  3. Ha haa! I would consider adding that post to my list, but I’m afraid it might not be so good for business!

    Good on your for sticking to it though. I admire you. Me? I’m just happy today is the last day of “Dry July”!!

  4. Thanks for the feedback Richard. Will definitely pass that onto Rob!
    And let us know how the Reserve goes (although we can both probably guess that it will be just as good).

  5. I asked a similar question of Rob about a 2007, 2010 and 2012 Shiraz early this year. The 2007 was superb when consumed in March and although it seemed to me to have much more life in it, I doubted it would have gotten any better. Its hard to top perfection. The 2010 is slated for consumption on my 70th in November and 2012 on Christmas Day and I can’t wait.
    Now off to check all Somerled stock against Rob’s recommendations and expect to be drinking a lot more Somerled in the coming months. Some of my friends are about to get very lucky!

  6. What an excellent question and good feedback from Rob. I have often wondered if the bottles I have squirrelled away have past their peak. Must drink those 2007 and 2010 Shiraz!

  7. If you’re looking for more friends Steve… I’d be happy to put my hand up! Very lucky indeed.
    We look forward to hearing about the 2010 and 2012 when you open them.

  8. Glad this one has come in handy Lindsay! And yes, no more “waiting for a special occasion” for those. Every day is a special occasion!

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