I’ll be writing a complete rundown of the Wine Media Guild’s excellent Australian Cabernet lunch next week, but for now, with the weather cold and damp here in the Northeast, I thought I’d post a tasting note for two spectacular older wines I was lucky enough to sip alongside lunch that day: Yalumba’s Cabernet Shiraz ‘The Reserve’ 2002 and 1990. Both of these wines showed just how well Australian wines have the potential to evolve, even if far too many people still don’t give them the credit they so richly deserve in this regard.
The 2002 had a distinctly roasted nose, with hints of ground espresso and a Rhone-like asphalt note. The palate, all silky textured and still quite grippy, was rich with currant, cherry, sage, pepper, and a bit of licorice. It benefited immensely from the meal, as its youth was well-tamed by a bit of fat.
The 1990, on the other hand, was deeper, the nose a well of chocolate-covered black licorice, a whiff of charred meat, and a Bordeaux-like earthiness that headed in the direction of tobacco. The acid of the palate was still surprisingly fresh 20 years on, and what was just a hint of tobacco on the nose manifested itself on the palate in flavors of cigar, humidor cedar, and a really nice nod in the direction of bay leaf and, again, sage. It was, indeed, a wine at its peak, utterly well-crafted and a joy to drink.
I just wish more people realized the aging potential of Australia's top wines...