Tonight I drank a 1994 E&E Black Pepper Shiraz from my cellar - my second last one left. Shared it with my best mate (who else?) Brandon. Had it with dinner in this fantastic gourmet Japanese restaurant called Nine Fine Foods. Your average sushi place is a fast food joint by Japanese standards. This place, in contrast is artisanal. Well presented, tasty dishes, some with a fusion twist to remind you that we're not in Japan. Great, friendly and enthusiastic service, although it can be hard to get someone's attention after you've ordered and all your food has come out. What happens if you're still hungry for more of that delicious goodness? And there's that age-old conundrum. Why is it so hard to get someone's attention when you want to pay the bill. Surely that's one of the most important things to a restaurant? Patrons paying the bill? Anyway, with the excellent food and friendly staff, it was impossible for me to be grumpy about these ancient conundrums that have plagued diners through the ages.
And the best thing? It's BYO. Ahh joy.
At 16 years old, I was half expecting the E&E have been past its prime, but all I could do was say WOW, and stop myself from guzzling the thing quickly.
From the get go, this is an amazing wine. A light bouquet of restrained earthy berry fruits which belies the strength of flavour yet to come. In the palate, it had restrained fruits (a blend of dark berries, and even a hint of cherry), a subtle, lingering vanilla flavour that made me want to keep drinking, and surprisingly (but perhaps not) a good deal of tannins left - almost like this wine still has another 3-5 years before it starts going downhill.
There was simply nothing wrong with this wine, and everything right - it was a wine that made you smile, and want to keep drinking; cherishing that very last drop in your glass as a drop of water to a parched man in the desert.
An interesting contrast to some of the greatest wines in the world that I had the previous Friday night. Maybe I'm just a philistine, but the E&E was like what I'd expected the Grange to be. Then again, the Grange had another 8 years of age on it. Still - a $100 bottle of wine that tastes perfect, compared to a $1,000 bottle of wine that smelt supremely sublime, but ultimately needed a lemon to get rid of the acid tang in the back palate. I know what I'd choose everytime.
Copyright Melvin Yeo 2010