There was much trepidation on opening this bottle as I had found it in a box where a black stain on the bottom front edge demanded investigation. This bottle of Stonecroft Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 1990 was the culprit. The top of the capsule, while dry, looked gross and pulling the bottle out carefully revealed the wine had ullaged to shoulder level. I wasn’t going to write it off on this evidence alone, however…
I took it into the kitchen and wiped the bottle and the lead capsule clean. The capsule peeled off in several pieces. I had difficulty getting the cork out because it was so wet and even with the Ah So the cork wanted to go in, not out, but patience was a virtue and I managed to extract in one piece. These Ah So cork removers, sometimes called the two-pronged cork pullers, are magic, and anyone with old wines should have at least one in their possession.
The Colour: Raisin with orange-brown edges. Signs of fine sediment in suspension.
The Bouquet: Surprisingly concentrated. Surprisingly intense. Surprisingly not any hint of oxidation and thankfully no cork taint. It offers up aromas of bramble berries, bramble leaf and dried fruit cake mix with preserved lemon peel.
The Taste: It has a meaty richness with a vanillin oak note, a fine texture and lifted acidity — it seems much more youthful than I thought a 26-year-old wine would be — very much fruit driven still, with blackcurrant, bramble berries, herbs, smoke, earth and forest floor. It’s like a big, rich, meaty jus with a berry infusion.
Alive and kickin’. Absolutely.
To sum it up: Remarkable!