The Marquess and Carmen
Decided to contrast a couple of vintages of Carmen Reserve Syrah with a Concha y Toro, Marques de Casa Concha Syrah (don't worry, we didn't eat the gingerbread cookies with the wine!). The 2002 Carmen had a raspberry-cranberry nose and was medium bodied in the mouth, bursting with raspberry fruit. Bright and intense. Relativley long finish. Good wine, but third place. The Marques 2004 was darker in the glass than the Carmen '02 with a more subtle nose of black fruit; on the palate it was more elegant and refined with blackberries mixed with leather. This wine is short-term aging well, smoothing out - I last had it about a year ago. Good for second place. The 2004 Carmen had a meaty nose and the fullest body of these three. Structured and dense with blackberry, iodine and meat. Long finish. Wow wine and my favourite of the three. All three of these wines are bargains at $20 each.
To finish off the night I popped an oddity (at least for Canadians) - true vintage style Australian port. This one has been in the cellar for 12 years. The Angove's, Premium Vintage Port, 1993 is turning into a tawny style in the bottle. It has become almost translucent brick in colour with a thick, luscious, sweet, caramel-toffee-raisin flavour profile. Good stuff - and a bargain alternative to the ever increasingly expensive "real" Port. Try sticking some Aussie "port" away for 10 years to experiment with.