Age is a funny thing. The more you get the less you want — unless, of course, you’re talking about The Age, which, when you can get it (my newsagent again bemoaned the fact that it was two hours late on Saturday) is a case of more is less, at least in terms of news. But I digress.
Age does, however, become a good thing when it comes to wine and thoughts of indulgence, all near and dear to my heart. Proof? I recall walking into a bottleshop in 1992, the day the 1990 Grange was released. It was $110 a bottle and, given I had the necessaries, I grabbed one, which now sells for about a grand. One day I’ll indulge.
Recently I jumped at the chance to buy another indulgent bottle after my local wine shop manager, Cameron at Randalls, recommended something he said was one of the best I have ever had. It was a Taltarni cabernet sauvignon, circa 1977, just four years younger than my most recent girlfriend and it weighed in at $130 a bottle. Indulgent? Oh yeah.
There was a wonderful sense of anticipation as I removed the foil, eased in the corkscrew and held my breath as I slowly eased it out. Pop. Good noise, that. The cork, a rich ruby red at the bottom, was in good shape and smelled a treat. A careful wipe to remove bits and pieces that had taken up residence at the top of the neck and it was game on.
Slowly, slowly, it was poured into a big-bottomed decanter where the sediment settled nicely.
A good sniff — yep, it was ready to drink. (My nose isn’t all that adept at picking up — insert your own list of wine wanker words here — anything other than tobacco, but that may have been a result of the Champion Ruby rollies on the table.) An hour to breathe; time enough to cook pasta with bolognaise sauce (plenty of vegetable matter too to get up the food group count) and the indulgence began.
It was like smelling and drinking a small part of history; a sensation similar to that first thirsty sip of something on a really hot day: silky smooth yet robust, refreshing, luscious, sensuous, oh and ever-so-indulgent … although I don’t think it had a lot of bottle time left in it.
There were, however, downsides — getting to the bottom of the decanter and the heavy head the morning after. A small price but worth every hard-earned dollar.
There are two more 1977 Taltarnis in my wine cupboard waiting for someone special with whom to share, but it has to be someone who doesn’t mind indulgence occasionally.
The details: Randalls is in Hawthorn, Geelong and Albert Park in Melbourne and sells online. Taltarni is in the Pyrenees wine region of Victoria.