I have a great sister called Stella (Google “Stella Woods” for more info). Sadly, she’s on her way back home to Melbourne after a month or so of our wonderful weather, and tonight, it’s our last evening en famille. If I can’t pull out some nice bottles at such a time, why bother keeping them? So we’re on 1985 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle and 1985 Penfolds Grange Hermitage – OK pedants, it’s labelled simply Grange, but still says Grange Hermitage (as it was long known) on the cork. Just decanted them, and of course had a sip. The Jaboulet is in its confident middle age, sleek, juicy, full of stories, grey round the temples, but still fit to party. The Grange is still growing up, and retains some of its youthful swagger – it greets you with a firm oaky handshake, and doesn’t let go. Both taste great now, and should be even better later – will report back….
Later… A family split. Both wines wonderfully tasty. I was among those who sided with the more fragrant feral charms of the Jaboulet, while Stella led the Grange camp. For me, the Grange was just a little too obvious, full of character, packed with flavour but loud rather than passionate. The Jaboulet just kept giving more on each sniff. Reminded me of tasting, no, drinking the hallowed 1961 from magnum (thank you, David Dugdale). My ungenerous side would describe it as one of those wines that I would have preferred to share with fewer people. But a fitting end to Stella’s visit.