We recently had a little celebration to wet the heads of my twin boys. Lunch turned into dinner. Dinner turned into 2am.
At some point between dinner and rum o'clock, we dived into my cellar in search of something to wash down a plate of blue cheese and melty brie.
I surfaced with The King - the type of wine no longer allowed to be called a port. Now, I've got no issue with that since port is generally only poured into those tiny, miserly glasses that hide at the back of your mum's crystal cabinet. The King deserves a much larger pour. I like to call it a Suitcase.
The eponymous Mr Lehmann makes The King only when the grapes are good and the mood takes him. The 1987 is the year of its birth. The AD 2008 is its recommended coming of age. I was a couple of years late to the coronation, but the celebrations were still in full swing.
To be honest, it wasn’t a great start though. The cork disintegrated so badly that all we could do in the end was push the crumbly mess inwards. It worked, but it also left us with the dilemma of then having to separate the debris from the liquid within.
It was sink or swim. A situation calling for desperate measures and Churchillian sacrifice. And so, in a one-off fit of genius, I reached for one of my newborns' (unused) muslin wraps and a decanter. It worked a treat, although, predictably, his mother was unimpressed. I was quick to point out the crimson lining. That what was previously a very plain white shroud was now a fashionable, tie-dyed maroon... That the imbued alcoholic perfume would serve as an incentive to the little tackers and remind them of the type of wine they should aspire to over the next 18 years. You can guess where that got me.
But, in the end, at least we had the wine. Suitably strained, filtered and refined. And well worth the effort.
In the glass, it’s the glowing deep red of desert sand. Fumes rise like a heat haze carrying the delicious smell of an old Chesterfield lounge and pipe smoke. Long, sticky legs slowly wind their way back to the bottom of the glass in mesmerising fashion.
There’s a hefty amount of alcohol (20%), but it starts nicely smooth and mellow with lovely soft, ripe fruit. You’re always aware though that it’s made of sterner stuff, and each sip finishes pleasingly on a thick, dry, tannic high.
And so, after a couple of rounds of Suitcases had been poured, the bottle was drained. The King is dead. Long live The King.
At only $15, it's exceptionally good value for a drop that's a little bit special. It also makes a refreshing change once in a while as an alternative to the plethora of botrytis stickies that have become as common as muck in recent years.
Go on. Do something unfashionable and get back into a bit of fortified after a meal. The 1987 King might be a bit hard to find. But there's a 1996 or 1997 out there with your name written all over it.
Worth sacrificing your children's clothing for.
Drink with: Good blue cheese and a slice of pear
Price: $15 (http://www.peterlehmannwines.com/experience/the-wines/barossa-wines-of-excellence/the-king-ad-2018)
Image courtesy of www.peterlehmannwines.com