One decadent night … look what escaped the cellar!
No wine horror stories here…. Just two clarets and a Jimmy…
and a night spent with good friends…
This year has been our year for letting wine escape from our cellar. We have found that we were squirrelling away our wines and not appreciating them as we intended when we purchased them a decade or so ago. And so, we are beginning to rectify this and here are some we shared with friends this month. Friends, incidentally, that we also have not appreciated enough lately.
Yarra Yering Dry Red No. 1 1999
This is Yarra Yering’s Claret blend – a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot from Australia’s Yarra Valley. Everytime I pull one of these wines out of the cellar, I think of Dr Carrodus and his pioneering spirit on the slopes of the Yarra. For who else four or five decades ago would plant some of the varieties, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Amarela included, that you find in his vineyards? And he planted them for table wine?
This 1999 is drinking beautifully. I have opened an Underhill Shiraz 1999 recently that I have not enjoyed as much as this wine. It has a few more years to go to be sure but now the blackcurrant fruit still has freshness, perhaps in part due to the mint overlaying the cigar and nutmeg spice. As elegantly bodied as ever with some earthy forest floor creeping into the palate.
If you have a bottle and are deciding whether to drink it yet – I would say drink in the next few years to enjoy that fruit. We enjoyed it with a hunk of manchego cheese sitting around a fire, but it had the wherewithal to go just as well with a thick cut steak.
Wolf Blass Black Label 1998
One of the Jimmy Watson vintages made by John Glaetzer and Caroline Dunn. This vintage is a blend of Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Langhorne Creek Shiraz and McLaren Vale Merlot. It is a wine that packed a lot of fruit into the bottle back then and it was a moderate alcohol under 14% according to the tasting note (the alcohols have crept up to 15% now on the vintages since). I really liked the balance of this vintage and the fruit felt fresh and vivacious.
As it opened in the glass, the berry fruit melded with sweet cloves and vanilla pastry with a sprinkle of herbs that are hinted at on the nose, but more obvious on the palate. It is full and plush in the mouth with silky smooth and powdery fine tannins. The intensity lasts long in the mouth finishing on a light peppery note.
An impressive wine even though this particular bottle has crossed the equator twice and perhaps not been stored all that well. Of course, these wines are built for long cellaring and that last bottle I have can wait some long years yet to see the light of day as I think that the 1998 is just hitting its stride.
Chateau Poujeaux 1998
I remember when I was working with Oddbins in London, they had a claret tasting and this was one of those more ‘affordable’ ones that I could buy with my £5.50 per hour wage plus discount. I can’t remember how much I paid, but I think it might have been getting close to a days wage at the time.
And it is one of the first bottles that we have pulled out to enjoy from the box of clarets that I purchased that day. I did think that perhaps it was going to be past its peak so it was with some trepidation that we opened it. Well, I know now why the Oddbins buyer at the time recommended it. It is a good value Bordeaux that delivers plenty of enjoyment for the money.
A rich amalgam of cassis, cedar, tobacco, cinnamon and graphite greet the those with patience to wait for it to open up. The tannins are classic Bordeaux and fine and powdery in maturity. It is long, medium bodied and gracefully ageing.
Enjoy it now or very soon.
The blog post has also appeared on www.harpers.co.uk.