Following on from my cat and dog post a few days ago, thought I'd see how couple of New World wines were coping with middle age. Neither was from a particularly warm region, so I thought they stood a fair chance of still being in reasonable nick.
First up was Yarra Yarra Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, from the Yarra Valley in Australia. Came across these wines when Sarah MacLean, daughter of the estate's owner Ian, worked for Armit in the early noughties. Had high hopes for the wine, which were dashed when I first opened it. There was a seam of healthy blackcurrant/berry fruit running through it which was then marred by an almost celery-like edge - nice fruit, bad, bad vegetable. Four hours after opening it, it's still not showing any sign that it's going to behave.
Then came the Steenberg 2001 Nebbiolo from Constantia in South Africa. Nebbiolo is a grape that makes Pinot Noir look positively well-behaved. Anyone who has ever asked their children to perform for an audience that wonderful rendition of 'Feed The Birds'/'Bob The Builder'/'Whatever' at which they excelled the previous evening and been greeted with a veil of stubbornness will recognise the grape's fickle nature. Even in it's native Piedmont, it's a git to get right. Take it outside of its home turf and 99 times out of 100, it just folds its arms and doesn't want to play. But Steenberg seems to be able to get it right - the 2001 was a wine of lightly chewy structure, ethereal fragrance and svelte, plummy allure. Not Barolo, but a nice drink.
PS Another non-Piedmont Nebbiolo worth checking out is Steve Pannell's from the Adelaide Hills - Liberty Wines is the UK importer