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Wine of the week

Published March 23, 2005

Tahbilk Shiraz, Australia, 1999

This rich red is no come-lately copycat of southern France. It delivers a rare taste of Australian history and its potential. Big oak vats at the winery and some of its shiraz vines date to 1860, old vines by anyone's standards.

Swiss immigrants planted those Rhone grapes and old European traditions in the lake district 90 miles north of Melbourne. Long aging in barrel and cellaring in bottle still works and makes most Tahbilk reds live 25 years or more.

You can drink in that tradition without popping for the reserve or the rarer 1860 vines (more than $50 and $100 respectively). The main-run shiraz is plummy rich and a syrup as happy as gravy, full of blackberries, cinnamon and a smooth earthiness even when young. It will still go a decade or two. Buy the '98 or '99 if you see them, but both older and younger are worth tucking away.

Availability: $15 to $18 at better wine stores.

[Last modified March 22, 2005, 09:44:18]

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