Wine – 1996 Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz

02112007.jpgOnce in a while I have a wine that is completely unlike anything I’ve previosuly tasted. My buddy, David MacMillan brought this over a few weeks ago for a boys’ night in (lots of wine). When we opened it and I took a big sniff, my first (strong) impression was that I was suddenly sitting on a beach smelling the salt air and that the tide had gone out, exposing the seaweed… with an edge of dill pickle (yes, I said “pickle”). It had that briny, kinda’ stinky thing going on. “Uh-oh”, I thought.

Thankfully, my fears were short-lived. With 2 hours (or so) in the decanter, it started to open up. It had left the seaside and was now in a dark leather bar – it was sultry and smoky with black cherry and an edge of leather and even tar. It had so many layers of flavour and a finish that seemed like it would last a week. This, folks, was an eye-opening and very good bottle of wine.

The folks at Penfolds select the grapes for the St. Henri for their elegance instead of intensity and they mature the wine in old, rather than new oak casks. They definitely do something different with this, and it works. Phenomenal.

This vintage is unavailable unless you can hunt one down somewhere – new vintages sell for $50 here in BC.

4 1/2 stars

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