Rockford Black Shiraz (disgorged 1998)

I was excited to find this wine; I’ve been eagerly anticipating opening the bottle all week. From what I’ve read over the last decade, I was wondering: would it be a leaky bottle? Would the cork be too small? What would be wrong with it? And thankfully I was not disappointed: I’m now bleeding on the knuckle of my right hand as opening the bottle turned out to be a major production number: the too-small cork was firmly wedged in the bottle, and attempting to remove it using the standard methods resulted in failure along with a broken cork. Skittishly attempting to remove the final inch of it with a regular corkscrew resulted in a sudden burst of pressure and an accidental stabbing. Ouch. So how’s the wine?Thankfully, the wine isn’t dead. I bought this sight unseen, not knowing how old it is: turns out it’s a fairly old bottle. The bead is fairly anemic, but at least it’s still there. The color is an awful lot like American root beer mixed with cranberry juice: alternately nearly brown and occasionally surprisingly translucently black cherry red. It’s pretty, but could also be mistaken for Dr. Pepper.The nose is distinctly old earth, dusty loam with hints of prune, chocolate, and an intriguing mentholated eucalyptus mint note hovers over the glass. On the palate, this isn’t like any red sparkling wine I’ve had before: it’s extremely dramatic, the vinous equivalent of Norma Desmond, beautifully lit from all sides, a wine from another era. At times, it reminds me of extremely old balsamic vinegar or shoyu, with almost caramelized, umami notes. At other times, there’s a refreshing mintiness not unlike some Aussie sparkling chambourcin. The most amazing thing about the wine, however, is how long the finish lasts: minutes. Minutes, I say. Thinking about the wine long after I’ve swallowed it, I find myself thinking of hunting cabins in high meadows, cedar-smoked fire raising smoke in a starry sky, soft Spring flowers withholding the perfume for the morning.This really is a beautiful, profound, satisfying wine in a way few wines ever truly are. More than anything, I can’t think of anything else like it. This has got to be one of the most distinctive Australian wines there is – shame it’s so damn difficult to find. At this rate, I reckon I’ll next taste some shortly after retiring. Ah well!Rockford
Price: $40
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

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