We raised a glass last night to Mount Mary founder Dr. John Middleton by opening a '96 Arthur's Creek Cabernet from Australia's Yarra Valley.
I first became acquainted with Arthur's Creek when I was gifted a bottle of the 96 by an importer friend. I posted on WLDG at the time asking what I had, and Ric Einstein and Murray Almond were both impressed that I had gotten my hands on such a relative and coveted little boutique rarity. Murray had never even seen a bottle. Fast forward to late last year when a case of this showed up at auction here in the States. American buyers, unfamiliar with the producer, passed over it and so I ended up with a case of nicely aged Australian cabernet for around $3 a bottle.
The bottles have varied, much of which I think is simply getting over it's journey. More and more, my experience is that yes it CAN take that long. (Even though I wait a min two months before opening a first bottle of anything, every wine I bought then--it was a "buying bulge"--that I've retasted recently has gained significant weight and character. Sometimes to the good but not always, I might add, since I tend to prefer wines more taut than not.) This bottle was certainly deeper and fleshier than the two I've opened before. More Australian-ish: where the fruit had been plum-black cherry in character before, now it shows an almost jammy black currant. Some mint has shown up as well, and there's a hint of maderization on the horizon of the finish that says this bottle has peaked. But what I liked best was the juxtaposition of the sweet nose against the dry fruit of the mid-palate. Which typified the wine, especially having prior bottles--I kept expecting one thing, then got another. It held our attention to the last drop, and it was an excellent match for our Vietnamese-style steak and herb salad with lemongrass vinaigrette.