HAVING spent the past few days coming down from the flow of wine that passed through my veins over the weekend, I feel that I am only now in a position to rationally reflect on the fantastic rewards of attending most of the wine sessions at the Hilton’s Mas-terclasses.

The morning began with a look at five vintages of Leeuwin Estate’s chardonnay. Owner Dennis Horgan gave the assembled group an overview of how Leeuwin Estate began, and how he was transformed from a beer drinking surfie in the late 1960s to wine drinking surfie in the 1990s.

The tasting highlighted the fact that Leeuwin Estate chardonnay is regarded by some to be Australia’s finest wine and is internationally recognised as one of the world’s best wines.

The tasting showed the 1998, 1997, 1995, 1993 and 1991 vintages of Leeuwin Estate chardonnay. While the 1995 is joyous and is, in relative terms, still just a developing teenager, my pick was probably the 1997, a ripper wine that I was still tasting at the morning tea break.

After morning tea I rolled up my sleeves and sat back to enjoy a walk through Burgundy with James Halliday.

In all we tasted 12 Burgundian wonders. There were some exquisite examples showing the rewards of pinot noir. It seems a shame that I will probably never taste many of these wines again unless I win lotto or one of my mates becomes a partner in a law firm. While it is hard to single out any of the wines, I found four wines that stood out, and it will be a ‘holy grail’ search from now on to better these wines for this pinot file.

1997 Domaine Leroy Pommard Les Vignot rrp $245.00

Pretty funky wine with ripe red berry fruits, cherries and strawberries, chalky tannins and plenty of complementary acidity, complexity, persistence of fruit and seamless length. Just writing about this and I think: “just one powerball”. Referred to as the truck driver’s wine, it is produced by the remarkable Madame Bize-Leroy. Off low yielding vines.

1997 Domaine de la Romanee Conti Grand-Echezeaux Grand Cru rrp $570.00

This was my wine of the day. Green stalky tomato bush aroma with undertone complex aromas of some funky mushrooms, and primary fruits with fragrance. You just played with the wine in the glass. The palate was plentiful of fruit, raspberries and strawberries and damsons. The tannins were approachable and married with the superb acidity to show some of the traits you will see evolve in this wine over time. When you talk about seamlessness this, like the 1986, showed remarkable qualities. Okay, it was a delight now, but over time this will become art. Certainly worth grabbing a few bottles, even at the price.

1986 Domain de la Romanee Conti La Tache Grand Cru rrp $980.00 (if you can find it)

This really is one of the world’s great wines and it showed that on the day. A wine that has aged very well, it is showing an amazing seamlessness and class. The wine still had structured acidity and dynamic fruit flavours that showed integration seldom found in wine. A quintessential pinot noir that I will remember for many years.

1998 Domain Dujac Clos St Denis Grand Cru rrp $320.00

Fragrant, almost perfume. I wouldn’t mind dabbing a bit of this on my toothbrush each morning. Mulberries, raspberries fruit aroams with a complex layers. The palate was powerful with ripe and rich fruits almost sweet and sweaty in the mouth. Tannins were evident, as was the acidity, but showed an elegance, with a length and character on the finish that left me in awe of the style. Dujac use whole bunch pressing with no destemming, a cold pre-fermentation for three to five days followed by a 16-20 day ferment that never rises above 30 degrees. One hundred per cent new wood is used.

All the Burgundy wines were provided through Negociants Australia, 9350 5544.

It would have been very hard for anyone to follow the array of spectacular burgundies, anyone except Penfolds, which had a collection of wines from the marvellous 1990 vintage. Penfolds winemaker Peter Gago led a captivated audience through a line up that included St Henri, Bin 389, Magill Estate, the export only Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, Bin 707, Special Bin 920, Special Bin 90a, culminating in the Aussie icon, Grange.

My favourite would have been the 1990 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, which was one of the best examples I have tasted. My other selection was the 1990 Bin 920 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz – 65 per cent/35 per cent. It would be remiss not to mention the Grange but what can I say, besides you should have been there.

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