Tuesday, June 20, 2006


My better-half made slow cooked lemon and thyme lamb shanks for dinner the other Friday night. I thought I had better let her into the kitchen for once! Not really – our arrangement, which seems to work quite well, is that she is responsible for all the meals during the week and I am responsible for all the meals on a weekend (The reason for this arrangement is that it takes me about a week to work out what we are going to have for dinner the next weekend).

As I was still on vacation I thought we could get through two bottles of wine, if we started early enough. Whilst dinner was cooking I opened a bottle from one of the first case buys I ever made. When I was reorganizing my wine I found that I still had two bottles of 1998 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon left. I couldn’t believe it!! This wine cost me $10 per bottle back in 1999. It was a huge wine for a guzzler back then and there seemed to be an endless supply of it. I thought it would be totally wasted by now and therefore thought I had better drink it straight away.

To my surprise it was still OK – an oldie but a goodie! The tannins were still very solid and there were definite hints of blackcurrents and berries. Some of the intensity and length were gone but it was still enjoyable even thought the tannins remain long after the taste has gone. Not a fantastic wine, by any stretch, but still enjoyable especially knowing what I paid for it and having cellared it for almost 7 years. I think I will keep the second bottle for another year, just for a lark, and see how it is at that time.

The second bottle we drank was a 1998 Tatachilla Cabernet Sauvignon (from McLaren Vale) that was also found during the great wine cleanup. This wine was purchased in 1999 or 2000 for around $15-18 (from memory). There were intense berry aromas and still a hint of smokiness about it. The tannins were still very strong and the flavours followed the smell, however the intense fruit flavours fell away quickly and, like the Koonunga Hill, it seems that the tanniny(?) dryness lasted a lot longer than the flavours. Does this mean there are problems with ‘balance’? I am not sure but it was still an enjoyable wine and quite big, but falls down a little on the intensity and longevity of the flavour. The recommended drinking (per the bottle) was from 2000 to 2005 and maybe it has past its prime.



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