Nothing like some good wine and sunshine to get you finally into the mood for summer being on it's way. In this case, it was some mighty fine wine! I think the best of the nights tasting was the Lindemans, Limestone Ridge, Coonawarra, Shiraz-Cabernet 1997. Always a dense, classy wine. Beautiful nose (that initially stank like mushrooms...), with layers on layers of thick rich vanillic tinged fruit on the palate. Wow - outstanding.
The Hardy's, Eileen Hardy, Shiraz 1998 was also much enjoyed - it was more restrained and perhaps more elegant than the Lindemans. I think perhaps we opened it a little too early, it felt a little like the Lindeman's "little brother" at this stage in it's development. A good wine that I predict will get better.
The Vina Pedrosa, Reserva, Ribero del Duero, 2001 kickstarted the red wine portion of the evening. This was a real smooth operator, warm and inviting but with ample mouth coating tannins - very balanced and ripe for drinking. Wow.
The surprise of the night was the Saintsbury, Carneros, Pinot Noir Reserve, 2001. Now, I'm not a big PN fan, but this could very well have been the best PN I've tasted (I admit I don't have a lot to compare it to as I usually shy away from this often badly made variety). This was full bodied, tannic and loooong, but still quite smooth. A "good" wine", but couldn't bump it to "wow" status (the competition was too strong tonight - thanks Joe and Joel!!).
Finally, I threw in an Argentinian dark horse in the quest for the perfect Malbec. This one won a gold medal in a Decanter tasting. Unfortunately, the Chakana, Malbec Reserva, Mendoza, 2004 paled in comparison to the blockbusters served on the same table. This is a good wine, fruit driven, medium bodied but lacks ooomph and complexity. It did OK the next day by itself with lunch after oxygenating a little. It is good value for the money at $18.