I am experimenting this evening by opening a Shiraz to go with pork fillet, mash, vegetables and gravy. Usually I would play it safe and go with a good Pinot Noir for this meal. It is difficult to find a much better food / wine matching combination than a Pinot Noir with pork!
I have a great deal of respect for James Halliday and subscribe to his wine service. But he missed the mark when evaluating this wine as he gave it an 86/100 and said to drink it by 2008. This wine is still very big, yet elegant, with lively fruit, tasting of blackberry with light overtones of spice and leather. It is well integrated, and nicely balanced with strong tannins. The finish is moderate to long, and you can feel the accumulated tannins on the inside of your cheeks for a long time. This is an excellent wine, regardless of how Halliday and others scored it.
I had this wine as one of my three red wines at my 58th birthday party over two years ago. This was the first red, followed by the 2001 Yalumba Octavius Shiraz and the 1981 Penfolds Grange. All three red wines were spectacular, but the 1998 Tyrrell's Vat 9 got the consensus vote for the best red wine of the evening. It could be that it was the sequencing and by the time we drank the 1981 Penfolds Grange, we were over-satiated. Or it could be that the 1998 Tyrrell's Vat 9 is just that good!
So why is having a Shiraz a risk with pork? It is because a Hunter Valley (and many other) Shiraz' are heavier and spicier than most Pinot Noirs and could overwhelm the pork and side dishes. But the 1998 Tyrrell's Vat 9 is an elegant, more refined Shiraz than many others. I know it will be fine with the pork dinner and wanted to see if it works to provide some variety from always using a Pinot Noir with pork. If not, I will go back to Pinot Noir! But if you don't try, you will never know!
I have also had this wine with spaghetti and it worked very well. My wife, DAZ in the Kitchen, makes a very fine and spicy spaghetti and the 1998 Tyrrell's Vat 9 matched up extremely well with it. This is a versatile Shiraz! Andrew Thomas made this wine while still at Tyrrell's and I remember talking to Andrew about it several years ago and the fond memories he had for this particular vintage.
On its own, this is a great wine (I know as I am on my second glass while writing this) and it should be fine with the meal. I will let you know in a follow-up blog post how it works with the pork. And once I finish off the last of my 1998 Tyrrell's Vat 9, I will move onto the 2007 Tyrrells' Vat 9. In fact, I will probably try my first bottle this weekend or next to see how it goes. Halliday rated the 2007 Vat 9 at 95/100 and drinkable until 2025. Campbell Mattinson rated it 96/100 and as one of the best reds released in 2010/11. This must be an amazing wine! But for now, I am drinking the 1998 and greatly enjoying it.
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