Villa Maria Syrah Viognier blend some time ago from Cambridge Wine Merchants when it was offered at a discounted price and liked it so much I bought a couple of cases.
Drinking a bottle every month or so, I found it improving with further age and decided to hold a couple back to see how it developed.
It's now about a year since my previous bottle and it felt about the right time to open up the very final bottle.
It was pretty much the first wine I reviewed individually (see here), so I thought it would be a fitting statement to review the last bottle individually as well.
At six years old now, and two since purchase, it is beginning to show some aged characteristics and in the glass the original inky purple colour is starting to take on a brick-red hue at the rim.
There are prunes, vanilla and clove spice on nose, and some hints of earthiness and pencil shavings. The palate shows initially sweet, rounded prune fruit and black cherries, some toastiness and I sense a hint of soft, peachy Viognier sweetness.
Tannins are well-integrated - smooth and harmonious, with a gentle grip on finish.
I recently had a Twitter discussion with @Winethe Gap about the relevance of small amounts of Viognier in the blend and reckoned I could learn to spot a Syrah-Viognier blend if I really concentrated.
It may be merely the power of suggestion, but I do also sense a slight touch of peachiness in the texture which I also attribute to the Viognier.
The acidity feels slightly tired initially, but actually seems to liven up with a bit of air and becomes more focused and prominent.
Overall, it feels slightly less precise and less well-defined, but more harmonious and integrated than the early bottles.
I decide to leave some for the next day to see how it develops - the clove spice, black cherry and prune fruit become more prominent and the texture becomes softer, almost slippery.
When first purchased, it had lots of primary, up-front bramble fruit and inky pencil-shaving aromas which have now eased harmoniously into a less direct, more middle aged mellowness.
No longer a pup that wants to chase cats and chew your slippers, it has become an old friend, half-dozing but still ready to wake up and go for a run-around when you call.
Match with slow-roast leg or shoulder of lamb with rosemary and garlic and roasted carrots and celery.
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Syrah Viognier Hawkes Bay 2005 - purchased for £72 per case (£6 per bottle) from Cambridge Wine Merchants.
Cambridge Wine Merchants - http://www.cambridgewine.com/
Villa Maria - http://www.villamaria.co.nz/