Last night we had a classic showdown between Old World class and New World attitude. A couple of very good Champagnes from the incredibly good 2008 vintage, faced off against some famous Aussie reds.

T70 brought in a bottle of 2008 Veuve Clicquot Brut, which set the early pace. The 2008 vintage was a stunner in Champagne, producing long-lived wines with great acid line and length. The Veuve house style puts flesh on just about any bones, but you still get the sense of elegant structure from the vintage.

But later on, last week’s winners Ranesh and Bambi Markus on T3 produced a 2008 Bollinger ‘La Grande Année’ – which left the Veuve in it’s wake! Could they be looking for two in a row? Big, rich and bready on the nose, really complex and layered. Then that beautiful palate, again the 2008 line and length that’s already carried it for thirteen years – and will no doubt do another thirteen to come. Hope you’ve got a few more in your cellar!

Meanwhile on T40, Dean Taylor and company were trotting out the Strayan (and Kiwi) reds. Beginning with a 2015 Main Ridge ‘Half Acre’ Pinot Noir, and following up with a 2010 Craggy Range ‘Sophia’ Merlot-Cabernets blend from the Gimblett Gravels in Hawkes Bay, NZ – plus a 2001 Yarra Yering ‘Underhill’ Shiraz from the Yarra. Lurking in the background was the youngster, a bottle of 2018 Penfold’s ‘Bin 389’ Cabernet-Shiraz, “just in case”. Game on!

The Sophia was in good nick. Very right bank Bordeaux in style (as intended), with some lush fruit over firm tannins and considerable length. Still quite primary, I felt that while excellent it hadn’t quite grown into itself yet. Maybe another five years to be at its best?

On the other hand, the Underhill was in the prime of its life! Super elegant, with most of the tannin left in the bottom of the bottle, having done its work over the last eighteen years. Beautiful red fruit and earthy complexity, with interplay from the remaining oak and grape tannins. Classy, elegant, and long. A fitting tribute to the master winemaker responsible, the late, great Bailey Carrodus.

A very tough decision to decide between two excellent – but very different – wines. I love both Bollinger and Underhill Shiraz, having followed the wines for many years. I went back over my notes, and recalled the nose and palate impressions of both. Still couldn’t quite decide… should I toss a coin?

No! Time to get off the fence and make a decision. And the winner is… the Bollinger ‘Grande Année’ 2008! Well done Anesh and Bambi, the first of our customers to wine two weeks in a row.

Can they do a third?