We spent Saturday the week past, traveling and visiting friends in the Blue Mountains and beyond. It was a great time and we had some great meals, even though it did make for a very long day. For once, I did not bring the wines and let it up to the hosts to provide the wine to accompany the meals.
During our Saturday lunch, we had some great food starting with three different soups samplers (tomato and carrot, pumpkin, and pea), followed by stir fired veggies and prawns, with a wonderful dessert of chocolate balls and berry ice cream. Each course had a decent wine to go with it from a white to red to sweet dessert wine. And as usual the best part of the meal and experience was sharing it with great friends.
We repeated the performance for dinner, but it was a heavier meal with more meat, including a marinated roast beef side, sausages, and stir fired veggies. Therefore, more red wines were served and the two choices of red were very nice choices. Unfortunately, the first problem was that the wines were drunk too early in their life.
The wine of the evening should have been a very nice 2007 Penfold’s St Henri. This is an excellent wine and has a 96 (out of 100) rating. Usually I would salivate over having a St Henri with dinner, but then we are currently drinking the 1999 vintage (I have about 6 bottle left and need to drink them in the next few years to get maximum enjoyment from them).
But I could tell from the first smell and the first sip of the 2007 that this wine was not ready for drinking! I asked the host how many bottles he had left and he mentioned he had six left. I told him to wait at least two more years if not up to five years before he drinks the next one.
This wine should be drunk between 2015 and 2024 for peak enjoyment and ideally in the 2019 – 2021 time frame. While he decanted and even aerated the wine, it did not have much of an effect as the wine structure was just too tight. And then, the wine was served in a white wine glass used for Riesling or Semillon. This did not allow the wine to breath and forced an already tight wine into a small area to breathe and drink from making it even tighter. There are reasons Riedel makes specific wine glasses for Shiraz and other grapes and drinking a Shiraz from a white wine glass is almost sinful!
This was a great wine, served too early and without giving it any advantage to shine. This was a $75 – $100 bottle of wine wasted. It still had (obviously) fresh fruit, but was too tight and the complexities of this great wine had not become fully integrated. I hope the host takes my advice and does not serve up another bottle for several more years. This will be a great wine over time, but certainly not at its best today when served up in a small glass.