Monday, November 14, 2011


Quite an evening last night with good friends, a very good meal and a wine that was impossible to ignore.  The wine in question was a 2003 Clarendon Hills Astralis from the Fleurieu region of South Australia.  Dinner was a grill roasted rack of lamb with a side dish of wild rice, basmati rice, Gruyere cheese and toasted pecans.  Basically it was a "welcome to winter" meal with hearty food and rich wine.

We opened the wine early and poured a couple of very small glasses, then set the bottle aside.  There was oak and dark fruit aromas in the nose, but not much else.  The wine was black and opaque in the glass. The taste was black fruit jam with a lot of of oak.  We poured a couple of good size glasses, then set those aside to breathe while we worked on dinner and a bottle of Crispin cloudy, hard cider and a few snacks.

When the meal was nearly ready we went back to the wine.  During its hour in the glass it decided to bloom.  Great aromas of blackberries, dark cherries and vanilla.  Wonderful fragrances.  The flavors were pure, sweet, blackberry jam and dark, juicy plums.  The tannins were soft and integrated thoroughly into the wine.  For a wine that literally coated the mouth and tongue there was surprisingly good acid.  The flavors continued to linger in the mouth until the next sip. 

With the lamb the wine simply got better.  The sweet, slight gaminess of the meat was an almost perfect match for the fruit flavors and the tannin in the wine.  The pecans in the rice dish brought out a brighter, less dark, fruit flavor in the wine.  There seemed to be more cherry flavors with the pecans.  The interplay between the food and the wine was just remarkable.  Each was better with the other than on its own.  The good acid in the wine kept the taste fresh and kept each of us going back for more.  A rare and appreciated treat.

14.5% alcohol and $245

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