The monthly tasting gave us a look at some new and not so new warming reds from the Barossa, complemented by a good tasting meal from James Hill, assisted by Dubbo friend and winemaker Stuart Olsen

To kick things off, Paul Ferman gave us a single aperitif wine (plus a Lustau manzanilla sherry, always welcome). It was the 1998 Tyrrells Stevens Semillon, under cork but still in the main showing fresh chalky lemon notes with some sweet fruit starting to come through. It was well matched with white anchovies on a bed of shaved fennel on a baguette slice, and a scallop on a sweet corn puree with a dash of chili, served on porcelain spoons.

The lineup for the tasting was, all Barossa and all shiraz: 2009 Charles Melton; 2008 Kaesler Old Vines; 2008 John Duval Entity; 2006 Glaetzer The Bishop; 2005 Tuesner Albert; and 2002 Torbreck The Struie. An interesting mix of views emerged, some (including our visiting winemaker who had worked in several of the wineries represented)favouring the lighter, more tart Tuesner, while others found it a bit volatile. Popular opinion was divided between the Torbreck, big and sweet from a top year, and the younger Duval and Glaetzer wines, still developing, but nearly all had their supporters. The food was a tender and juicy sliced pork neck, slow-cooked with a basting of mustard and brown sugar and a hit of flamed cognac and served with a sauce made from the pan juices,prunes and a bit more cognac on a bed of garlic mash with sweated silver beet for greens

The cheese stumped everyone, turning out to be a semi-hard goat's milk cheese from Wisconsin USA, cloth-matured for 15 months and showing a fine soft granular texture with little lactic character and a little bland on the palate. A green salad with a generous amount of vinaigrette completed the course.

The coffee came from Guatemala, and was full in the mouth, with a slightly short finish. No such problem with a superb 1980 Crofts vintage port provided by birthday boy Hilton Chapman; light in colour but with a lovely sweet rancio character from the brandy spirit, and a taste that went on for miles.