Last night, I drank a number of excellent red wines with a hearty meat dish.
First up was the 2004 Bonesetter Shiraz by The Willows Vineyard. It was the first time I have tried this wine. I was very impressed by the combination of depth of blackcurrant fruit, the integration of strong tannins, the length of the wine and a structure which delivered quite an elegant feel for such a big wine.
The 2002 Henschke Keyneton Estate is a Shiraz/Cabernet/Merlot blend. Interestingly, it had a very similar profile to the first wine, only the fruit was not as concentrated as a result probably of the cooler vintage and elevated location of the Eden Valley - another good experience.
Finally, the 2004 Old Vine Collection McLaren Vale Grenache by Gibson. Rob Gibson is a keen viticulturist and he has systematically identified very old bush vine Grenache from McLaren Vale in order to produce this wine. He is avoiding an overly fruity expression of Grenache, but while the name is a bit of a mouthful, the wine was a bit less so. Given the excellent conditions in McLaren that year, it didn't quite live up to what it perhaps could have been. The two other wines were difficult to follow, though - and without doubt, this is a wine with authentic character.
Another difference was that the first two wines were decanted. I am a big fan of decanting, even though I don't do it all the time. For older wines, the contact with air refreshes the palate. It is normally not necessary to open the wines a long time beforehand. For young wines, it often helps to decant a wine well before consumption to soften it and make it more harmoneous.