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Exploring the Metala Museum

 

 

Metala is a venerable old name in Australian wine, and the latest (perhaps not last) chapter is coming to a close. Langton’s has secured the last remaining 48 vintages spanning six decades, starting with the 1961 Stoneyfell Metala Claret Type Cabernet Shiraz, the inaugural Jimmy Watson Trophy winner.

The Metala Museum is open! Explore Now.

Our Head of Domestic Buying Ramon Gunasekara, Senior Buyer Anthony Doubé, and Head of Auctions Michael Anderson sought out these South Australian treasures.

Head of Domestic Buying, Ramon Gunasekara, says, ‘It's not often you get to go over 40 years of wine in one sitting - What an experience this was.

 

Hard work for our team with these museum Metalas

Hard work for our team with these museum Metalas

 

We were invited to Penfolds Magill in South Australia by our friends at Treasury Premium Brands to taste through the museum wines from Metala - their white Label Shiraz Cabernet and the Black Label Shiraz.

 

‘...this experience will live with me forever.’

 

Of the many tastings of my 25 years in the wine industry, this experience will live with me forever. These wines are incredible! When you consider the prices these wines are going to sell at – this is the 'Buy of the Year'. The aromatics, colour, balance and length are amazing, especially when considering the price.

I have tasted wines over 20 times the prices and half the age that couldn't hold a candle to these - I really hope you enjoy the experience of tasting these wines as much as I did.’

Metala isn’t a household name, not anymore. There was a time when the fruit from this vineyard was revered, lauded and laurelled—it won the inaugural Jimmy Watson with the 1961 vintage. Situated close to, and subject to moderating influences of, Lake Alexandria, the Metala vineyard produces fruit with thrumming Langhorne Creek staying power. The opposite of in-built obsolescence, these wines were made for the long haul from fruit that invited such winemaking in an age before quarterly sales reports and the supremacy of the financial year over calendar set by the vineyard. Wines of another age.

 

Museum Metalas

Museum Metalas

 

Head of Auctions, Michael Anderson, ‘There's something quite special about the Metala brand. There always has been. The times the wine (be it the Shiraz or the more famous white label blend) have passed through my glass, I have always been amazed by the quality. A quality that belies the price. Even with that, this tasting took Metala to a whole new level. Little did I know just how long these wines could live.

As we stepped further back through the tasting, it became clear that these wines were made with a meticulousness so often reserved for wines ten times Metala's incredibly humble price. Fruit to the fore, with a healthy dose of structural tannins then a zip of bright acidity that I'm told is found in the very best wines of the Langhorne.

The alcohols were low - uncommon for these eras of winemaking in Australia. Perhaps that's why the wines are so different to anything we find nowadays. As the wines have aged, the fruit has softened while the acid line holds it together with aplomb. There is nothing out of line in the blends - just well-judged winemaking. It was mentioned while we tasted that every wine in the vertical was produced to 'exceed expectations...' - job done (and then some).

 

‘Anyone who understands quality Australian red wine simply must get some of these wines.’

 

This is the single best vertical I have tried in years. The house style is clear. The wines are exceptional. Anyone who understands quality Australian red wine simply must get some of these wines. If not because they will likely never be seen again, then do it for the price. These are a vinous journey through Australia's winemaking past. I am thankful to have tried them. For the record I gave out 7 Gold medals from this group, with many of them for the wines from the 70s’

Our intrepid team of wine buyers pored through a library of back vintage Metala wines in anticipation of the winding up of the brand in its current state. Its future remains unwritten. But our team was concerned with the past. Could those old Jack Kilgour, Bryan and Nigel Dolan wines possibly have any life left in them? You bet your last barrel they did!

From the Jimmy-winning 1961 onwards, these wines show remarkable fortitude. While those from the 60s, 70s and some of the 80s, variously display the full breadth of bottle-aged tertiary development, there are those vintages that show a remarkable vivacity, even youthfulness.

Senior Buyer, Anthony Doubé, ‘Wine is the closest thing to a time machine that the human race has access to. This incredible selection of wine may as well be delivered in the back of a Delorean - because we’re taking you way back.

I’ve long been a lover of Langhorne Creek. For the best part of half a century, the region has granted access to wines of incredible poise, elegance and delicacy at a price point far below what may have seemed reasonable.

The suite of wines now available offers a glimpse into the past and a snapshot of the zeitgeist of ‘modern’ Australian winemaking spanning six decades. This is an incredibly rare opportunity to secure wines directly from the museum cellars of the producer, and a chance to relive the heady glory days of the modernisation of Australian table wine.

 

‘I can only hope you get to experience the same thrill of tasting through a flight of these iconic wines as I did.’

 

If I’ve learned anything the last few years, it’s that nostalgia is an incredibly powerful force in terms of elevating excitement, whimsy and joy. This once in a lifetime opportunity grants you a ticket to travel through time in the comfort of your own home. I can only hope you get to experience the same thrill of tasting through a flight of these iconic wines as I did.’

There is an almost overwhelming sense of nostalgia in these wines. They bring to mind square-shouldered suits and white tablecloths in old hotels serving Chateaubriand and Beef Wellington. ‘Remember, this is what we’re good at’, they seem to say. Of course, we celebrate the various successful directions Australian wine has taken, but we should honour our vinous hinterland.

We know there are wine hoards hidden in cellars and basements across the country; our Auctioneers can attest to that. However, it is rare to have such a complete survey of a storied winery available. And so accessible!

We’ve arranged this sale to make sure anyone can afford these wines because we want these Metalas to be opened, poured and shared. We want you to toast with them, celebrate with them, and learn from them. And, when they’re finally all gone, we want you to remember the Metala that was and when you see a Jimmy Watson winner or a grand old Australia Shiraz Cabernet, understand what this winery meant.

The Metala Museum is open! Explore Now.

 

Further Reading
Interview with Emmanuelle and Toby Bekkers
Interview with Emma and Toby Bekkers
Bekkers - Fine Wine From The Vale
Bekkers - Fine Wine From The Vale
Top Six Barolo Crus
Top Six Barolo Crus - Part 1: The Establishment
ABN: 77 159 767 843. New South Wales: Liquor Act 2007. No Alcohol can be sold or supplied to anyone under 18. It's against the law. License Number: LIQP770010303 Victoria: WARNING - Under the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998, it is an offence: To supply alcohol to a person under the age of 18 years [Penalty exceeds $19,000]; For a person under the age of 18 years to purchase or receive liquor [Penalty exceeds $800]. License Number: 32055289