Tonight, the 2001 Shotfire Ridge Shiraz from Thorn-Clarke in Australia. Beautiful purple colour, a blackberry liqueur/port like aroma that is fulfilled in the mouth, along with some licorice. Just about over the edge in terms of maturity, but still a beautiful wine (and my last bottle).
Tasting the wine tonight reminded me just how incredible it is the way that wines can change and evolve. When I had my first bottle of this wine three years ago, it was classic Aussie Shiraz — pure blackberry jam, big body, smooth and rich, just gorgeous.
And now, just years later, a completely different wine. Still beautiful, but not at all the same.
It is important to remember that wine is a living thing. Inside the bottle it is changing, impacted by its natural ingredients — the fermented grape juice — and the outside influences of air in the bottle and through the cork.
The joy, as a wine lover, is to follow the evolution of this living thing and enjoy it at its different stages. The challenge, of course, is not to wait to long…because once a wine has tipped over and begun to oxidize, it provides few, if any, pleasures any more.
The lesson for those with wine cellars is actually a simple one. Always buy at least two bottles of a wine for your cellar. Then, take good notes on what the first one tastes like when you open it. Finally, err on the side of caution when you drink your last bottle. It is far better to drink a wine with a few years left in it, than one that is over the hill.