Although I can appreciate the great quality in these wines, I don't really have the patience to wait long enough for them to develop. You either pay a small fortune for someone else to have held onto them for years (see the 1970s wine I got him for Christmas here), or you have to try to store them.
In our little apartment with an already over-flowing wine rack, that isn't always easy from a space perspective. Not to mention, temperature control is an issue, when your wine rack is in the kitchen.
Australia's Cabernet Icon is the Coonawarra region, but the Margaret River area has quickly gained an international reputation for high class Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay since the first commercial plantings around 1967.
Arlewood Estate was established in 1988 in the Willyabrup Valley of the Margaret River and with a combination of the right vineyard site, drive and passion is now pushing for a spot in the upper echelon wineries of the region.
The present itself was a bit of a happy accident. We paid a Sunday lunchtime visit to Berner's Tavern with some good friends back in early December. We'd drunk the Arlewood Shiraz, a lucky pick on my part. We all loved it.
I was all for ordering a second bottle, but at £50 a pop our friends were hyperventilating...
Still, they'd enjoyed it greatly when they hadn't seen the price tag.
I set about scouring London for a retail bottle to pop in with the Christmas treats, but to no avail. And then I came upon the Cabernet Sauvignon in Amathus on Wardour Street. At somewhere between £20-30 a bottle, it was a risk, but a calculated one.
For no real reason but Wine Wednesday (Mr Purple Teeth and I both having abandoned separate plans for the evening), I prompted him to pop the cork on this one.
Unsure what to expect, I hoped for the best.
The pronounced bouquet almost leapt from the bottle, and I exhaled. I'd made a good choice.
For me, there was high tannin, yet it was smooth and well integrated, without some of the gripping dryness that so often features in 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Well-structured, with elegance, power and finesse, there was great balance of silky tannin, mouthwatering acidity, 14.5% alcohol and complex layers of flavour. Ripe cassis and rich, over-ripe plum notes, along with good oak and bottle aging giving touches of mocha, chocolate, leather and "cigar box". (That's wine speak for tobacco, spice and leather combined).
With a long finish and a really full-on flavour, it was a wine for sipping and savouring. I'm sure it would have benefitted from a juicy steak. That wasn't part of the evening plan though, so we had to make do with Cornish Cruncher Vintage Cheddar from M&S. This really brought out the savoury and mineral notes in the wine without dulling the dark fruits.
Aside from a rather bizarre reference to floor polish (which I think related to the silky tannin structure and slight waxy viscosity in the body), I could only get a few words out of him.
Bags going on
He definitely liked it. The less he says the more he loves the wine. He enters a little bubble of vinous heaven. and emerges after the last drop has been sipped from his Riedel glass.
"You've made a great choice for your career change," he said, later. I think he's enjoying being secondarily educated by my quest to keep learning and experiencing new wines.
There's just the matter of me earning enough to pay for all this delicious stuff, now.
On that note, if you'd like help selecting a case or a bottle for a special gift, or would like to offer a Purple Teeth fun and educational Tasting Party to your friends, family or work colleagues, please do get in touch.