It's always good to have friends who call and say, "I want to open a good bottle, what are you doing?" The answer in this case was, "I'm on my way."
The 1999 Penfold's Grange was the star of the evening. It was decanted for a little more than an hour. The color was inky dark, almost black. Initially the nose was totally closed but with some time in the decanter blueberries, blackberries, warm spice and damp earth peeked out. When dinner was nearly ready we poured the first glass from the decanter. One could smell the wine from a considerable distance and it literally filled the room with its aromas..
The taste was massively fruity up front with blueberries and cherries, fully ripe. It stayed that way through the mid palate with some earth and tannin kicking in along the sides of the tongue. The finish was sweet without being over the top and ended with some cedar and leather kicking in to match the fruit. Neither the acid nor the tannin stood out, but for a huge wine it still left the mouth refreshed and wanting more. Completely balanced and a total pleasure.
This was really a comparative tasting, and not designed around the wine. There were two cuts of lamb for dinner, a rib rack and a loin rack, and each was prepared simply and identically. It was interesting that even though the wine was magnificent with both, the extra gaminess of the rib rack made the wine jump a little more.
As an additional comparison there was a second wine, a 2003 Stag's Leap Artemis Cabernet from Napa Valley. This was a good wine in it's own right with dark cherries, cassis and earth, but it was certainly overshadowed. It was interesting that I actually preferred the Stag's Leap with the loin rather than the rib rack.
The bottom line, I've had some extremely good wines this year but I suspect that the search for my own "Wine of the Year" is probably over. This wine was a rare treat.
The photo was compliments of my friend and was taken with a cell phone camera. I was so excited about the wine I forgot to take my camera to document things.