Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Worthy of a New Carafe

As a bit of a Christmas present (splurge) for ourselves, Boo and I picked up a decanter that I've loved since I first saw it at the Riedel exhibit at last year's Playhouse Wine Festival. Hand-blown, with a black stripe running along one side, it's more a piece of art than a carafe. The niggling, little problem that prevented us from buying it earlier was always the cost. Then, lo and behold, of all places, we found it at Costco - with a substantially reduced ticket on it.

I wanted to wait until we were going to open a big wine that would be "worthy" of decanting in it. Since it was time to make a small extra payment on our mortgage, I figured we deserved a bit of treat.

323. 1999 Tahbilk Reserve Shiraz (Nagambie Lakes - Australia)

We've had this bottle for a couple of years and I didn't really know what to expect. Tahbilk is neither a winery that I commonly see up here, nor one that I particularly know anything about. I do recall that we originally bought the wine after having a bottle of Tahbilk Marsanne when dining out with Beamer and The Divine Miss M. At the time, none of knew what Marsanne was, but we liked it and I figured that the winery was worth an extra shot.

Having surprised myself - after the fact - with a couple of recent bottles, I actually looked up this bottle before popping the cork. I almost didn't open it because of what I read - primarily that both the winery and Aussie writer, James Halliday, said that the bottle likely has another decade, or more, of good years to go. I took a chance anyhow.

It was completely worthy of the Riedel! It was everything that I love in Australian Shiraz - great dark fruit, well-balanced tannins and acid and a brilliant nose - but it was nicely refined and far from over the top. This bottle had a bonus kick to it - a wonderful finish just went on and on. I don't know how much more it would have improved with more years, but I couldn't get enough. Unfortunately, it'll have to be enough for some time. At $65, it will have to remain a special occasion night.

However, beyond serving up a delightful bottle, the winery is really interesting as well. It's located in the Nagambie Lakes district in central Victoria state, about 120 km North of Melbourne. Not a district that I think I've heard of before and I certainly don't generally think of Victoria winemaking when it comes to Shiraz.

The winery dates back to 1860 and it still produces a flagship Shiraz that is made exclusively from vines that were planted back in that initial year. This Reserve is made from fruit grown in blocks where the vines were planting in 1927, 1933 and 1936. Old Vines by any standard, but a relative youngster compared to the 1860 wine.

Tahbilk is known for its distinct wines and the winery posits that part of the reason is that Nagambie Lakes is the only winemaking region in Australia where its climate is "dramatically influenced by inland water mass." The vineyard features river flats, permanent backwaters and creeks. In 2005, the winery also introduced a Wetlands & Wildlife Preserve and has been noted with an Australian National Trust classification.

There were a number of other informative facts about the winery, but I think I'll leave it on the note that Tahbilk is also one of Australia's First Families of Wine - a group of "twelve iconic, family-owned wineries that came together with a strong commitment to promote Australian wine both at home and abroad.

I hope to run across a lot more Tahbilk in the days and years to come. In fact, should we ever get another chance to visit Merlot Boy down under, I'd like to check into a little side trip.

No comments:

Post a Comment