Big Time Aussie Night
Getting psyched for three-plus weeks Down Under, I thought I would open a half dozen of the blockbuster Australian Shirazes. I also wanted to do something I like to do with young wine, re-cork the bottle and go back to it over the course of a subsequent four or five days to see to what extent there is oxidation and/or a positive development. The wines were chosen on a night where I kept the meal very simple — grilled sirloin steaks with sauteed spinach and a gratin of potatoes.
The ratings that are listed are cumulative, as the wines were actually better (with the exception of the Grange) 24 and 48 hours later than they were initially. When young, these wines tend to exhibit a bit too much aggressive oak and are overwhelmingly thick and rich, but amazingly, with 24-28 hours of aeration (remember, they are in a corked bottle), the oak becomes toned down, the fruit seems to expand, and there is some development. These are one-of-a -kind wines, and I think they are exceptional, but they are a totally different animals from the more elegant wines of Europe and even richer than California's biggest blockbusters. All of these wines, I think, are spectacular, and have probably 20-35 years of evolution. I don't understand the school of thought that says that Grange is great, but that other Aussie wineries dealing with old vines, tiny yields, and impeccable vinification are to be scoffed at. One of my neighbors, who is a well-known orthopedic surgeon, has spent a lot of time in Australia, and always comes back with 30 to 40-year-old single-bin Shiraz wines from Lindemans. These wines are mind-blowing for their complexity and richness. I just think that if you like over-the-top wines, then these wines can be drunk young, but by and large, most of these wines need many years to become civilized and drinkable. All in all, it was a spectacular tasting, but I was more impressed with all of the wines except the Grange two days later rather than the night I opened them.
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