[caption id="attachment_1418" align="alignright" width="44" caption="Awatea, So Good I took Two Pictures!"]
Pre-Xmas, sat at home, Arroz al Horno de Xativa ( home-cooked) for lunch and I felt I needed to try something different to drink!
So a hunt through the older bottles in the cellar offered up a New Zealand wine with a bit of age and promise and well....you can only open it once!
From memory Hawkes Bay and most of New Zealand shares the equivalent of a Northern European climate. It is for this reason their Sauvignon Blancs like Cloudy Bay have a European feel if being a bit more grassy on the nose.
So, Awatea ( which means `Eye of the Dawn´ in Maori) is a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot with a touch of Cabernet Franc and with almost 20 years of age it raised my interest ....would it be past it? Would it still be alive and with promise or even better still? Where did the bottle come from? Well, from memory I think my youngest brother gave it to me some years ago but whatever, it has been well cellared and today was the day to open it!
The neck level appeared to be normal, no loss there so no expectation of unwanted oxidation. The cork appeared perfect but proved to be shorter than expected... don´t these New Zealanders expect us Brits to keep bottles longer than they might? And, the cork broke in half, despite its lack of length!
Disappointed so far....? Not me, I could smell what the bottle had to offer.....immediately fruit of the forest.....it fairly flowed from the neck!
And when I poured the first glass I could barely believe the colour......no hints of terracotta on the edge despite nearly 20 years, this was a bottle with a deep, dark, black cherry colour with almost a ruby edge! Long legs slowly crept down the glass and that fruit continued to dominate, now the whole room could smell it, I think!
[caption id="attachment_1422" align="aligncenter" width="150" caption="Arroz al Horno."]
On the nose I was amazed! Here we have a wine picked between 21-30 April 1992 ( Southern Hemisphere of course!) The grapes were macerated for 10-15 days and following the malolactic fermentation it was transferred into French oak ( 70% of it new) for 18 months. We are dealing here with a wine that is 92% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% each of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, but we might have been dealing with a very good Chinon or Bourgeuil because on closer attention to me it was the Cabernet Franc that dominated the nose....that lovely raspberry fruit I remember so well from Druet or Lamé-Delille-Boucard wines I drank many bottles of in the 80´s on visits to the area or with friends in London.
Also on the nose was a clear hint of clove.
In the mouth there was no disappointment. What a fine wine! That raspberry fruit had a gravel, mineral undertone, still mature fruit and still very lively....two and a half hours later I am still enjoying the second glass which is full, round, long-lived and extremely well balanced.....oh how I wish my brother had brought me a half-dozen bottles!
[caption id="attachment_1419" align="alignleft" width="43" caption="Worth Another Look!"]
What a pleasure, it stood up very, very well to the fat in the pork ribs, the sweetness of the roasted garlic, saffron and morcilla de cebolla.
This may have been a self-indulgent lunch on a cold, very windy, Valencian Autumn day but one I shall remember for a very long time to come!