St. Henri 'Claret' 1984 Penfolds
5/98. Received March-98 as present from my dad who lives in Sidney.
This bottle, from the people who bring you the famous Grange, hinted of mystery even before I opened it. My father sent me a bunch of choice Australian wines for my 50th birthday. The old man understands a thing or two about wine. After all, the tree doesn't fall far away from the apple... :)
Anyway, when I called to thank him after the wines arrived, I cited the label of this wine. He said "what do you mean St. Henry Claret? this was supposed to be St. Henry Shiraz!". A couple of days later he called me and said he spoke with Penfolds and the people there told him that 14 years ago, naming conventions in Australia were at the height of the 'wild west' period. 'St. Henry Claret' could be anything from pure Shiraz (Syrah) to pure Cabernet to pure Merlot, or anything in between...
If any of you can shed light on this wine please chime in.
Tonight we opened this mystery bottle to accompany a delicious dish of sauteed veal-brain on apple bed with lemon-whip and baked potatoes.
COLOR: Medium-dark garnet with some ruby hues. Noticeable clearing around the rim. Plenty of sediment at the bottom.
NOSE: This must be Shiraz! The familiar old 'Rhone Nose'... Lovely fruit, exotic spices, complex aromas. The initial stench quickly gave way to a deep, rich and totally captivating mature bouquet. No new-oak felt and certainly none of the oakey-smokey robe wore by so many old Australian wines.
TASTE: Harmonious, velvety, mouthfilling and extremely tasty. Much more to this wine than just fruity. Well, is it Shiraz? Seems so, but it did have some of 'cool' qualities of Cabernet Sauvignon too. Is it some sort of melange? A smooth, sweetish, light-on-the-palate mature wine with solid underlying grip and stature. Super duper!
LENGTH: Very very long and warm aftertaste that kept developing in the mouth long after each sip was downed.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Medium-bodied. Rich and complex but far from blockbuster. Multi-layered, elegant and round. Smooth and voluptuous, but well structured with excellent backbone. Perfectly balanced and perfectly ready.
OVERALL: Superb! Still not sure what it was that I drank, but it was certainly among the very best Australian wines I have tasted (not that I've tasted many).
MARK: 18/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? Yes.
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Jacob "Yak" Shaya.