February's tasting was a repeat format of last January, where we were presented with 3 pairs of wines, with each pair being the same bottling but separated by 10 vintage years. Our goal was to detect which was the older bottle.

This turned out to be a relatively easy task, with all of the older wines showing slightly lighter color at the rim, more subdued fruit, and more overall integration and harmony. In fact, we uniformly enjoyed the older bottle compared to their younger siblings.

Two of the pairs were big Shiraz bottlings from Australia, while the other pair was from a classic Barolo producer.

All bottles came from David's cellar.

Photos this month by Andy.

First Pair:

1A. Mollydooker Shiraz The Boxer 2015 (South Australia). A color that Kristin described as "the kind of red that's leaning toward blue". Tasters found complex scents of cinnamon, pomegranate, cherry, eucalyptus, Sharpie, iodine, and blueberries. The alcohol stood out too much for David's liking. Josephine found scents of "forest floor". Tons of fruit on the palate, with a burn on the finish, but also a peat note. Other tasters found flavors of red meat, blackberries, and coffee. Ali was reminded of "dried blueberries and granola". Showed some complexity and generosity, and mellowed with air. 16.5% alcohol. About $22.

1B. Mollydooker Shiraz The Boxer 2005 (South Australia). More of an amber halo, almost brown edge. Aromas of basement, mushrooms, cardamom, moss, caramel, and pipe tobacco. David felt that it "smells autumnal", while Suzanne was reminded of a "basement in a castle". Tasted like caramel, with a clear dairy component, plus meat, cherries, cola, and cherry ice cream. Rich and effortless, though Ali wished it had more fruit. Josephine felt that "it has nothing to prove", with Suzanne summing up with "more adult" than the 2015. Lack of burn on the finish. 16% alcohol. About $20.

Second Pair:

2A. Pio Cesare Barolo 2001. Slightly more of a brown halo, with a nose that was a touch fecal, plus burnt leaves, mushrooms, almond biscotti, tobacco, hint of tar, slight petroleum, and red roses. Tastes like classic Barolo, with more roses on the palate, then toasted nuts. Josephine found "hazelnut shells that have been roasted" and a "refined earthiness". Very balanced, with still some delicious tannin. David described it a "a pleasure to drink". About $60.

2B. Pio Cesare Barolo 2011. Scents of eucalyptus, mint, caramel, spun sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and peaches. Josephine found "violet leaf". More primary fruit in the mouth, like cherries, blueberries, and stone fruits. Ripe tannins, balanced and delicious. About $65.

Third Pair:

3A. d'Arenberg Shiraz The Dead Arm 2001 (McLaren Vale). Slightly more brown on the edge. Tasters detected aromas of cigarette smoke, something green, licorice, something fecal, some alcohol, fennel, prune, blackberries, oak, vanilla, fresh coffee, and black pepper. Lots of cherries in the mouth, plus maple syrup, dark spices, and dark chocolate. David exclaimed, "Wow, that's delicious", and called it a "gorgeous, effortless wine". Stunning. Ali felt that is was "a tantric wine, not tannic, but tantric". Josephine decided that it was "kind of like spring to me", and "effortlessly great". Very, very long finish. About $60.

3B. d'Arenberg Shiraz The Dead Arm 2011 (McLaren Vale). Very funky nose. David described it as "like roadkill", which Josephine refined as "more like rotting flesh". Andy was reminded of "well-used plunger in the sun". Other scents of cleanser, flowers, and dark wet soil. More tannic, and having flavors of hearty coffee, wild grass, and red meat. Doesn't linger as much. About $65.
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