Like turning over a new leaf, pre-season training gives supporters an opportunity to wonder ‘will this be the year? Will this be a Premiership year, where you’ll be able to purchase a vintage release to commemorate the event and place something in the cellar.
For many supporters, they have never tasted a cellaring worthy vintage, given most early production turns into a blend of tears and vinegar.
So, what will it be this year, cooking wine or one with cellaring potential?
From the AFL Cellars pre-season catalogue :
Adelaide Crow Pinot Noir:
Vintages: 1997, 1998.
Blending old vines from various Clubs with the water of the Torrens River has met with mixed success. Not since the high quality 97-98 vintage have recent offerings moved off the shelves. An ill-fated pre-season variety was released, the detritus from that experiment leaving a sour taste in the more recent vintages.
A new experimental Chief Winemaker was introduced in 2020, with first production not expected until 2026.
Stockists: Torrens River Cellars.
Lions Cabernet Sauvignon:
Vintages : 1898, 1899, 1904, 1905,1913, 1916, 1922, 1944.
The old Roys cabernet grapevines were propagated and a new commercial venture was born, blending the old Lions with the Carrara Bears. Trouble is, the old vines were propagated with eucalyptus, and the resultant blend was a commercial disaster. Not even the collaboration of a corrupt 80’s businessman in Christopher Skase, and an iconic soap star in Paul Cronin could devise a marketing strategy to move this from the then VFL Cellars discount bin. The entire stock was later sold as weed-killer through Cronins Hardware stores.
It would be decade on before a new blend developed by a legendary Master winemaker, produced a succession of vintages that surpassed all before it.
Recent harvests suggest another vintage release, rivalling 2001-003 mightn’t be far away.
Current stockist: Woolloongabba Cellars.
Carlton ‘Blue’ Nun:
Vintages : 1906, 1907, 1908, 1914, 1915, 1938, 1945, 1947, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1987, 1995.
Hugely popular through the ’70’s and ’80s and a fleeting period in the ’90s but since then none, nada, nun.
This decline in popularity saw their supporters switch to other brands – namely the World Game varietals.
Usually served at dinner parties where the supporting host believes this years release offers long-term cellaring potential, but again makes the mistake of opening the current release too early, before once again revisiting stories of past vintages in an attempt to join in the conversation.
Despite being well-aged, along with the host regaling its past virtues, serving the Carlton Blue Nun sees dinner guests wince at the very thought of tasting this sickly brew once again.
Despite the fact no one else likes it, it’s still consumed by a loyal base.
Stockist: Pigs Arse Park Cellars.
Magpie Pinot Gris:
Vintages : 1902, 1903, 1910, 1917, 1919, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1935, 1936, 1953, 1958, 1990, 2010.
Not to everyone’s taste, this long-established brand underwent a change of image and Chief winemaker.
People were suspicious at first, but over season 2022, this crisp and fresh new varietal has found its way onto the palate of even the most objective buyers.
Cellaring potential at this stage unknown.
Current stockist: Victoria Park Cellars.
Windy Hill Kool Aide:
Vintages: 1897, 1901, 1911, 1912, 1923, 1924, 1942, 1946, 1949, 1950, 1962, 1965, 1984, 1985, 1993, 2000.
After being a hit in the ’80s and ’90s, success has since been sporadic, before an external blend of consultants was introduced to re-invigorate the flagging brand.
Despite AFL Cellars hearing the rumours of their new product being tainted, it allowed it to be put on the shelves, before an external investigation found this cocktail to contain more banned substances than a toolie’s backpack.
Stockist: This product has since been removed.
Vintages: Yet to release a vintage.
One for the hipsters or those wanting something different, craft beer suits the ‘Freo’ lifestyle.
While it hasn’t been a commercial success, the introduction of a new Chief brewer in 2020 offers the prospect of success in the dominant Victorian market.
Stockists: Not available in Eastern States.
Geelong Grandfather Port:
Vintages: 1925, 1931, 1937, 1951,1952, 1963, 2007, 2009,2011, 2022.
People rarely get the opportunity to visit the cellar door, as much of the supply is bought out by a loyal band of locals.
Many have questioned its long-term cellaring potential, but it consistently receives awards year after year. While you’d never own up to buying it, you’d love to have a few of their vintages in the cellar.
Stockists: Cellar door sales to locals only.
Glenferrie ‘Hawks’ Grange:
Vintages: 1961, 1971, 1976, 1978, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 2008, 2013, 2014, 2015.
First brought to the market in 1925, their very patient supporters tasted the first release in 1961, and since then have been able to cellar another 12 classic vintages.
Stockists: AFL Cellars across the Eastern suburbs.
Kangaroo Duck Flat Sparkling:
Vintages: 1975, 1977, 1996, 1999.
This offering delivered plenty of fizz in the ’90s, but off-field events saw the labels having to be changed, and what was left of that fizz has been sitting in the discount bins ever since.
Stockists: Lube Mobile.
Melbourne Covid Bordeaux:
Vintages: 1900, 1926, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1948, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1964, 2021.
Since the 1964 release, many had heard of this legendary vintage, but few had tasted it.
Year after year, loyal supporters expected to stock their cellar with subsequent releases.
Their loyal band of young supporters had heard about this legendary vintage from their Grandmothers, Fathers and Au Pairs, but following a succession of Chief winemakers, 2021 finally saw the release of a new vintage.
Some suggest another release is imminent, others question if AFL Cellars should have stocked the 2021 Covid Bordeaux at all.
Stockists: Mount Hotham Cellars.
Port Power Brandivino:
Rarely cellared, this brown paper bag bus shelter classic is consumed throughout the boroughs of Outer Harbour, West Field Lakes and Woodville.
A generational brew that you started on as a teen, and maintain brand loyalty to the end.
If seen consumed by supporters in the wild, opposition supporters are recommended to treat them like lions in a safari park, lock the doors and drive on.
Stockists: Adelaide Metro bus shelters.
Richmond Tigers Goon:
Vintages: 1920, 1921, 1932, 1934, 1943, 1967, 1969, 1973, 1974, 1980, 2017, 2019, 2020.
For a long, long time, the Punt Road handbag was sold out by August, and the pillow used to rest their heads while sleeping it off during September. But following a change in Chief Goonmaker, this new offering became en vogue, and cask wine made a comeback for 3 years, where Tigers supporters could continue to day drink or serve to guests in their Good Room.
Stockists: Punt Road Cellars.
St.Kilda Bin’66 Hermitage:
Everyone has heard of this legendary vintage, but finding someone that has tasted it is like finding a Tasmanian Tiger.
This perennial cellar dweller has aged longer than any in the cellar, and hope springs eternal that like this legendary vintage, another would be produced. They’ve replaced 17 Chief winemakers since the 1966 release, before returning once again to a former maker whom once had the best grapes in the country but couldn’t deliver a vintage.
Stockists: Moorabbin cellars.
Sydney Swan Cola:
Vintages: 1909, 1918, 1933, 2005, 2012.
Local brew that has been subsidised since their relocation from Lakeside Oval.
Like Pepsi cola in the ’70s, this hybridised version took a long time to be accepted as a viable alternative to the original, but Sydney siders have never really understood the rules.
Stockists: Sin City Cellars.
West Coast Cooler:
Vintages: 1992, 1994, 2006, 2018.
Developed in the ’80s, it like the Eagles were all about the marketing. It made most people spew, but following an unprecedented promotional budget by AFL Cellars, it made it big in the ’90s.
Despite numerous attempts of remarketing the same product by AFL Cellars, it lost appeal, before becoming every non-Collingwood AFL supporter’s drink of choice in 2018.
It hasn’t been seen on the shelves since, and there is no indication of when it will be restocked.
Stockists: Swan River Party Supplies.
Western Oval Rice Wine:
Vintages: 1954, 2016.
Traditionally consumed throughout Asia, this variety hasn’t really pushed into any real commercial success, despite breaking through in 2016.
Stockists: the 2016 release available via exclusive distribution at Footscray Markets.
Gold Coast Suns Sauvignon Blanc:
Vintages: Yet to release a vintage.
The old Carrara vines never yielded fruit and have since been ploughed back into the ground and covered in lime.
The new varietals offer something fresh and cheeky to the palate. Sauvignon Blanc is characterised by a wide range of flavours that can change depending on the climate, and reflects their supporters that adapted since moving to Gold Coast and changing teams.
Stockists: The 2027 vintage has already been released by AFL Cellars across the Gold Coast and car boot suppliers to those “in the know”.
Greater Western Sydney Arak:
Vintages: Yet to release a vintage.
The big big sound from the West of the Town and hopes of first production were stalled in 2019, and following change of personnel and Chief winemaker, a release date remains unclear. Still unproven in the expanded market.
Stockists: Yet to released.