Mentholated violets dominate the nose, which is straight out of a heritage candy shoppe of the sort you’d find in the California gold country (or Ballarat, I suppose). There’s a very rich, liquid smoked chocolate, coffee nose as well; it somehow doesn’t smell particularly old. It also strangely reminds me of waterblommetjebredie, a South African stew with a peculiar indigenous plant in it that’s vaguely like weak spinach or strong cress; it’s a watery, slightly meaty, slightly green smell that’s appetizing for sure.
Initially disconcertingly acidic, length isn’t so great at this point in history, tapering off quickly to a sort of stewed prune aftertaste. It’s weirdly like dealcoholized port, not particularly delicious; if I had some inexpensive brandy around, I’d probably add some to the glass in hopes of creating something more palatable. Still, it’s interesting enough for what it is, not entirely dead yet, and oddly flavoursome. Over time, you get used to the shock of it and what you get is almost a lamington sort of deal: bright, rich red fruits, a certain coconut aspect, and the dark toasted chocolate from the barrels as well.
OK, ten minutes later and I’ve changed my mind: this is delicious.
Price: about US$16
Date tasted: December 2008
Fun fact: This was one of the first bottles of wine I ever bought; back in the early days of eVineyard.com (the company that eventually took over Wine.com), they had a ridiculous deal where you could buy bottles of wine for a penny each or something (I really should go find the receipts and scan them), so I lined up a dozen coworkers and we all ordered discount wine. Given a business plan like that, it’s a miracle they’re still in business in 2008!