Greetings young scallywags. Last Friday I reached the ripe old age of thirty and decided to drink some wine. A little out of character I know, go figure.

Today we dabble into a few wines I had over the weekend starting celebrations at a long lazy lunch at Bistro Guillaume. Before we get drinking, I just wanted to mention that I have had a recent surge in followers and wanted to say thank you to all of you as well as my other followers who take the time to read my blog. I hope you have been enjoying my stuff and had a bit of fun.

So Friday. A workmate of mine also recently tuned 30 and being fans of la French food, we booked a table at Bistro Guillaume. We were lured by their lunch deal; $45 for two courses, $55 for three which you pick off the menu or specials board and if you check out their menu, you can see it’s a pretty good deal. Naturally there was wine to be had and the first victim to have its cork popped was…

2010 Bass Phillip Crown Prince & 2006 Chateau les Grands Maréchaux

2010 Bass Phillip Crown Prince Pinot Noir

2006 Château Les Grands Maréchaux, Premières Côtes de Blaye

The name Bass Phillip caught my eye straight away. Established by Phillip “Pinot King” Jones in 1979, Bass Phillip became the first commercial vineyard in the region of south Gippsland. It is renowned for producing some of Australia’s best pinot noir and their entry point pinot, the Crown Prince, is super stylish, delicious and impressive.

A very creamy perfume with horseradish, sweet pears, sour cherry and walnut with a light oak influence. It’s fresh whist hearty, bringing up notions of a stew with sweetness of celery and carrots. Attack is both sweet and sour cherries with the mid palate balanced by lovely dry tannins. There is more than a shadow of old world stink, earthy and spicy like a ragu both vegetal and meaty complementing a long and complex finish with peppercorns, bay leaf and star anise. A lovely expression of an old world style wine wether it intended to be or not. Drinking nicely straight out of the bottle, easy and agreeable whist being quite layered. I would gladly by a few of these as would anyone of the table.

After “much” arm twisting, a second bottle arrived at the table straight from the cellar; this time a Bordeaux. This Merlot dominant wine hails from the Premières Côtes de Blaye appellation aka the Côtes de Bordeaux. Known for its “good value” reds, this appellation sits on the right back of the Grionde across from the Medoc and its “Premieres” status means this is classified under the highest quality wine you would find in the Cotes de Blaye.

The wine is very tight upfront, green and overpowering the senses. This definitely needed some time to itself and after some air and warming up, it became much more approachable. A very leafy perfume, deep and green with macerated cherries and a bit of alcohol bringing the rear. The wine gives you a dry mouth feel with dusty tannins and raisins taking the lead in the flavour profile. A little hollow, eventually giving a smooth mouth feel from the mid to the finish adding a touch of sweetness. Not my favourite wine…should have gone for more Bass Phillip! In any case, I considered my birthday lunch a great success and thanks to all the boozy attendees!

Saturday quickly rolled around and it was time to crack the wine of the occasion.

1983 Yarra Yerring Dry Red no2

1983 Yarra Yering Dry Red Wine No 2

Last year at the Yarra Yering Members tasting I stumbled upon two of these bottles and I thought to myself “ wouldn’t it be great to drink my birth year wine on my 30th”. After my wallet got mugged, I stowed them away in a wine fridge for safe keeping until this day, and here we are. 1983 Yarra Yering Dry Red Wine No 2, is a Shiraz based blend inspired from the Rhone Valley and due to its age, I’m assuming this would have been predominately comprised from the 1969 vines still use today.

I opened the first bottle Saturday with my family. I pulled it out of the fridge to let it stand and slowly get to room temperature. I had all my wine toys with me ready and waiting. I had no idea what to expect so I was prepared not let this oxidise for too long and drink this quickly if need be….fingers crossed it hadn’t turned to vinegar!

I cut the wax and popped the cork…looked perfect. I cleaned the bottle and gently poured the wine into a decanter through a filter filling the air with a lovely perfume. Had it survived the years? I poured everyone a glass and took a sniffy sniff. So far, so good. First sip? EEEEEEeeepppppp! It’s jjjuuuuussstttt ok but starting to turn! I was a little dismayed but then a nice thing happened. Over time, the wine warmed up and sprang back to life showed that it’s still alive and kicking.

The wine came off like an old red brick house with subtle complexity; notes of clay, wet grainy dirt, mocha, sweet biscuits and dried fruits. It sweetened up later with green grape skins, olives and strangely, porcelain like fine china. The palate is overly blended together. The years have softened the tannins leaving it tasting more like a pinot rather than a Shiraz. There are still hints that the wine is turning, giving off an acidity which plays with the residual sour cherry fruit nicely, root vegetal flavours and clay brick like tannins. Subtly long finish with balanced flavours representing the integrated nature of the old (or overly aged) wine.

Extremely pleasurable and easy to drink, never waning (actually improving) over the course of the evening and showed it still had strength at 30 years as if the tannins were waking up bringing structure back to the wine. In hindsight, I think this is actually safe to decant for around 30 mins but past its peak.

We had a little bit of fun as well trying the wine in separate glasses. We had three glasses: a small tasting glass you find at wineries, a medium sized Ridel “tasting” glass and a Ridel Shiraz glass. The small tasting glass intensified the nose and the flavours on the palate but came off unbalanced. The tasting Ridel glass gave off the most diverse palate allowing ease of dissecting the flavours and the Ridel Shiraz glass gave off the most seductive nose but softened the flavours.

With this info, I opened the second bottle on Sunday with the in-laws. This time I took the wine out of the fridge way in advance and left it standing much longer than before ensuring that it had warmed up to room temperature. With my wine toys ready for their encore appearance I cut the wax and stared back and the scariest looking cork. Oh crap…this looked bad…mouldy and very very dry. With a heavy heart I popped the cork to greet musty cold damp castle like aromas. Further inspection showed green vegetal notes, freshness and Bordeaux like sweetness. Whew! Palate was welcoming; a general sweetness backed with a wash of acidity and spice like dried cranberries sprinkled with Italian herbs. The tannins are still very soft but tighter than the first bottle, slightly dry and dusty with a quite layer of ragu in the back and finish. Still overly softened but alive and doing ok well with more “umph” than I expected.

Happy to see us oldies surviving the test of time. Have a good day everyone 🙂