It didn't pour like fluid, it fell like coiled rope into a well of oil. Something rose from it that was chocolate, or dried figs, or a timber yard on a warm morning after rain. Maybe all of them. Maybe none.
Maybe it just smelled like red wine.
Then I got the chocolate again. I don't even like chocolate that much. Hardly ever eat it. But in here it smelled fantastic, like something you've eaten long ago and have memories that get fonder with time. But what was the chocolate? It wasn't bar chocolate, or soft chocolate made with extra butter, or creamy Easter egg chocolate. It was something else. How specific can you be with the aroma of chocolate in red wine?
Then I tasted it. It tasted like Kiri te Kanawa's voice sounds. The chocolate was still there. I wasn't sure now whether I was tasting it, or smelling it, or both at the same time. I should ask a wine bore how it all works one day, and request he keep the answer to ten words or fewer. Red wine is just red wine. No, it isn't. Some Western Australian red wines taste leafy. I've never tried one I liked. Maybe I've tried all the wrong ones. Some red wines taste like the steel barrel they surely came out of. Some taste like stewed tea and pucker your tongue and spoil your appetite. If some red wines taste thin and reedy, this was fat and soft and forgiving and rich. What was the chocolate?
It was a 2006 Butterfly Crossing Cabernet Shiraz. I found it a year or so ago in a shop in Daylesford during one of our country trips that we don't do any more. It might have been the Harvest Cafe, or the grocer shop on the corner. I don't make notes of these things. I just put it in the car and drove home and flung it in the cellar and forgot about it. The cellar is the spaces in between books on the lowest shelf of my bookcase. Handy. No steps to negotiate in the darkness.
I tried to find more, but the label no longer exists. A little online research appeared to suggest the maker had changed the label's name to Mount Alexander. Not sure why. Maybe the butterflies don't cross any more. Or perhaps the market was confusing it with Angove's supermarket special Butterfly Ridge. I looked at the winery's website. Not much to see there. No online orders taken, but you can ring the winemaker, Bill Blamires. I rang him. "No, website's a bit basic at the moment," he told me. "But you can send me an email and I'll send you a box." If you send an email he calls you back to get your credit card numbers so you dion't have to put them in the email." Service.
Second glass. We were outside. First night of 'daylight saving'. Still light. Warm. A steak - scotch fillet - was exploding on the barbecue. I wait until the grill is white hot, and then I throw the steak onto the hottest part and the little puck of fat goes off like fireworks, basting itself in the process, and then I flip it and the same thing happens on that side and then I take it off and eat it with Greek salad on the side. Food is easy. You cook it and eat it. No fuss. What was that chocolate?
It came to me at four in the morning. Remember those paper straws we had as children in the sixties, that you put into milk and drank and it turned into chocolate milk? That was it.