Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
Decanted 3 hours. Very nice, expressive nose of sweet candy red fruit (like a red candy apple), raspberry and blackberry reduction, and brambly, floral elements of Grenache which make the nose interesting. Extremely concentrated, ripe palate giving intermixed spicy dark red, purple, and black fruits, approaching confectionery in their sweetness. Very powerful up front, but loses intensity from midpalate onward. Well made and probably still has a few years of improvement in it.
Decanted 2 hours, returned to bottle for 6 hours, then decanted 30 minutes. Never quite came around aromatically or on the palate. Some creamy vanilla notions on the nose, dry black licorice/anise, black plum, but overall reticent. Palate is closed down, tart red fruit, spicy edges, not much fruit concentration from midpalate onward. Maybe we killed it with the long treatment; would try it again with just a 2-hour decant.
Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
Decanted 3 hours. Very feminine nose, lifted florals, elegantly sweet and creamy with wild blackberry, and underlying smoke and dark chocolate. Medium- to full-bodied for The Relic, not nearly as rich or as complex as the 2004, but clearly extremely well made and balanced. As promising as the nose was, this was slightly disappointing on the palate as the plum and blackberry flavors don't last long, leaving an open midpalate indicative of the slightly cooler, less ripe vintage in Barossa (vs. 2004 and especially 2005).
Decanted 2 hours, returned to bottle for 6 hours, then decanted 30 minutes. Initial nose was wet gravel, tons of stony mineral. After serving, the gravel element had been supplanted by powerful, sappy shrub leaves, as if it contained freshly-cut overgrowth of green weeds and herbs. Behind this strong note was concentrated cassis and dark red fruit, heavy cream, asphalt, and smoke. Equally concentrated palate, not too heavy, still extremely young but balanced enough to drink now with the decant. 96+
Decanted 7 hours. A more restrained bottle than 8/28/12, perhaps given too long of a decant. Initially dry oak stuck out on the nose, but this blew off after the first hour or so. Nose has blackberry and plum, but the fruit has a mature character to it--mellow, lower acid--with graphite mineral, herbs, and some vanilla edges. Palate follows with blackberry and plum, creamy mouthfeel, mocha, dried green herbs, leading to a solid finish. Next time would limit to a 3-hour decant.
Decanted 7 hours. Typical Pauillac Cabernet nose but a bit restrained, graphite, black currant, roasted game, and earth. Tart red fruit on the palate, red to black cherry up front with leaf tobacco hints, seems very closed with not much midpalate or finish. Still a young wine. 91+
France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
Decanted 7 hours. From opening this had a very expressive nose, plenty of Merlot character, deep red fruit, raspberry, red cherry, with a creamy texture to the nose. The nose carries well to front palate, picking up some herbal aspects, but the fruit concentration closes down in midpalate. Like the 2000 Lynch Bages drank alongside, this is very closed. Showing promise but needs 5+ years. 92+
Decanted 7 hours. Another fantastic showing for this wine. Rich, expressive, meaty nose of black fruits, plum and prune, brown sugar, asphalt, and toasted wood. Full-bodied palate has ripe blackberry, pipe smoke/incense, and woodspice, with lots of black fruit extract that maintains intensity across midpalate and through the finish, finishing with more sweet black and purple fruits. Probably at a plateau of maturity; optimal drinking now and for the next 1-2 years.