Archive

Archive for the ‘Petite Sirah’ Category

WBC16: Overwhelmed Even Before The Day One

August 19, 2016 20 comments

Zinfandel grapesYet another ambitious plan goes nowhere. While attending the Wine Bloggers Conference 2016 in Lodi, I had a great idea of posting a recap of the prior day in the morning. No need to start checking for the missing posts from me – none of it happened. Every day was so packed from dawn to dusk that what seemed to be a great idea didn’t survive the test of the reality. Yes, I probably could muscle a few lines in, but it would come at the expense of the great time talking to the fellow bloggers, which was the trade off I didn’t want to make.

So here we are, the conference is over, so now I will do my best to share my perspective of the events as they took place. Here we go.

I took a flight early morning on Thursday to arrive to San Francisco. After getting the rental car, my first stop was in Napa, at Oxbow Public Market, where I met for lunch Danielle Irwin and her husband Derek. Oxbow Public Market is a very interesting place, conceptually somewhat close to the Chelsea Markets in New York, only built in modern, contemporary style, with lots of small artisan shops and restaurants, offering food and wine, fresh produce, coffee and whatever else your heart desires. Great place to stop by if you are looking for a break during your winery visits.

It was a great pleasure to meet Danielle and Derek face to face. I had been virtually talking to Danielle for a while – she is writing her blog Danielle Dishes The Vineyard Dirt at Naggiar Vineyards in Sierra Foothills, where her husband Derek is the winemaker. Derek is a vigneron who is involved in a lot of vineyard and winery projects, and he also produces his own wines under Irwin Family Wines label. I had a pleasure of tasting his Tempranillo, which was the first California Tempranillo I ever tasted. Conversation with Derek was an excellent introduction into the Lodi wines, as he gave me some ideas for what to expect there.

A hour an a half later, after a ride along route 12 which I wouldn’t call pleasant (lots of stop and go traffic, not a fun ride) I arrived to the Hampton Inn in Lodi, which became home outside of home for the next 3 days.

The first event of the night was the conference opening reception at the Mohr Fry Ranch, sponsored by Lodi Wine. With that reception came my first real encounter with Lodi wines.

LoCA wine glasses

Until coming to Lodi, I only knew it as a source of many Zinfandel wines. And then there was a perception of hot, high alcohol wines, based on the tasting of occasional Cabernet Sauvignon with Lodi regional designation. Yep, that’s all I had on Lodi in my head.

The very first taste of the Lodi wine broke that perception. By the end of the tasting, it was shattered completely and didn’t exist anymore.


I stopped at the table of the Fields Family Wines, and the very first white wine I tasted was 2015 Fields Family Wines Clay Station Vineyard Grenache Blanc Lodi. I never tasted Grenache Blanc from California, let alone the fact that it is coming from one of the hottest regions (yep, sense my fear?) – yet the wine had clean acidity, touch of minerality, restrained fruit – a great start.

You know what – now I’m afraid to bore you away with all this “acidity and restrained fruit”, but this was the trait of literally every Lodi wine I had an opportunity to taste – there were no fruit bombs, there were no hot wines, there were delicious, well made world-class wines, made with love and care. I just have to tell you this, as it was really an overarching impression over the three days of tasting, so now I will [try to] avoid repeating myself all the time.

Have to be honest – the next red wine I approached with trepidation (huh, like the previous one I did not, right). Tempranillo from Lodi? I already told you that I had good experience with Irwin Family Tempranillo from Napa, but it was one particular wine, which doesn’t guarantee anything in a long run. And if you are reading this blog for a while, you know my passion for the Spanish Tempranillo wines – and now in my mind I was facing a clear opportunity to be disappointed. First sip of this 2010 Fields Family Wines Tempranillo Lodi put all my doubts to rest – the wine had a nose of black fruit and spices, and it was dark and brooding on the palate, with those espresso notes so characteristic in the wines of Toro in Spain. An outstanding rendition by all means, and I would love to see it in a blind tasting against the actual Toro wines.

2010 Fields Family Wines Estate Grown Syrah Lodi was an excellent example of the cold climate Syrah – touch of roasted meat, dark fruit, spicy with clean acidity – great rendition of another one of my favorite grapes. 2011 Fields Family Wines Estate Grown Syrah Lodi added more complexity and more roasted meat, all with perfect balance. 2010 Fields Family Wines Petitte Sirah Lodi was simply outstanding, offering silky smooth, velvety texture, supple ripe black and blue fruit with enough acidity in the core to make the wine perfectly balanced. As you can tell, Fields Family Wines provided a splendid introduction into the wines of Lodi.

Harney Lane Winery

My [now exciting] Lodi wine deep dive continued at the next table. Successful first experience should’ve really put me at ease – and still, an Albariño on the label triggered a subconscious alarm – Lodi doesn’t leave the impression of the Rias Baixas (not that I visited Spain, unfortunately, but just a mental image of coastal region), so “just in case, prepare for the worst”, the concerned brain said. This happened to be really a needless worry. 2015 Harney Lane Albariño Lodi had a a nose of white fruit and excellent acidity on the palate, which is the typical characteristic of the Spanish Albariño. 2013 Harney Lane Tempranillo Lodi was a bit lighter than the Fields Tempranillo version (it was also 3 years younger), but still preserving the core of dark fruit and good acidity. 2013 Harney Lane Lizzy James Vineyard Old Vines Sinfandel Lodi was as classic as Lodi Zinfandel can be – blueberries, blackberries, spices – very tasty.

I could continue tasting Lodi wines as there were many more winemakers present. However, there is something you need to know about Wine Bloggers Conference. In addition to all of the program events, there are always lots and lots of activities taking place somewhere around the WBC space. Call them private tastings or what, but this is something to pay attention to. Thus we left the reception, and after a short drive arrived at a house where Troon Vineyards tasting was taking place.

Troon Vineyards started in Southern Oregon in 1976 (vines were planted in 1972). I’m sure that when you hear “Oregon wine”, your first thought is Pinot Noir – nevertheless, Troon Vineyard doesn’t produce any Pinot Noir wines, and instead focuses on Mediterranean grape varietals (and Zinfandel). Another interesting fact is that many of the Troon wines (especially the whites) are co-fermented, meaning that different varietals are fermented together at the same time, as opposed to fermenting separately and blending afterwards.

I tried a number of Troon wines, with the two favorites been 2015 Troon Blue Label Longue Carabine, Applegate Valley, Southern Oregon (blend of Vermentino, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne) – touch of perfume on the nose, medium to full body with expressive minerality and good acidity. 2013 Troon Black Label M*T Reserve, Applegate Valley, Souther Oregon (blend of Malbec and Tannat) had nose of black fruit with dark core and good structure, medium to full body and good balance.

The last stop of the long day (remember, I left the house at 5 am in the Eastern time zone) was at the Rodney Strong Vineyards party, which was luckily taking place right at the hotel.

Rodney Strong winery had been producing wines in Sonoma for more than 50 years and would well deserve its own post to talk about their long history (the oldest vineyard at Rodney Strong was planted in 1904) and their achievements. But for the sake of this post, let me just talk about few of their wines I had an opportunity to enjoy.

2015 Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Charlotte’s Home, Northern Sonoma was excellent – grassy nose, fresh, crisp and restrained palate, with just a touch of grass and lemon – delicious and very refreshing. 2009 Ramey Platt Vineyard Chardonnay Sonoma Coast was a stand out (no wonder Ramey Chardonnay was one of Decanter magazine’s 10 best Chardonnay wines in the world outside of Burgundy) – classic intense vanilla nose, vanilla apple and pear on the palate, excellent balance and excellent overall. As an extra bonus, the wine was poured from double-magnum (3L) bottle. In case you are wondering about connection here, David Ramey is a consulting winemaker at Rodney Strong.

The reds of Rodney Strong provided an amazing finish to the very long but very exciting day. 2013 Davis Bynum 2013 Jane’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Dijon Clone 115 Russian River Valley was a classic California Pinot Noir – with plums and smoke, soft and round. 2010 Rodney Strong Symmetry Meritage Alexander Valley is one of the very best Bordeaux blends from California – again, classic, classic, classic – cassis, green bell pepper, mint, perfect structure, absolutely delicious wine. The last three reds were flagship single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon wines – 2009 Rodney Strong Alexander’s Crown Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley, 2013 Rodney Strong Rockaway Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley and 2013 Rodney Strong Brothers Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley. Considering the end of a very long day, I’m not going to give you any details on the notes other than that all three were classic Cabernet wines, pure, varietally correct  and delicious – I would love to drink those at any day.

If you are still with me, aren’t you tired reading this post? I’m tired even writing it – but we are done here. My first WBC16 report is over – and more to follow. Cheers!

To be continued…

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Wine Spectotor Top 100, Perfect Holiday Gift Solution, and more

November 20, 2013 4 comments

Duboeuf Beaujolais wines 5Meritage time!

First, let’s start with the answer for the wine quiz #82, grape trivia – Gamay.

In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about red grape called Gamay. Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: Gamay is closely associated with every third Thursday in November. Can you explain why?

A1: Beaujolais Nouveau is coming into town! While Beaujolais Nouveau was always the first wine of the harvest to be delivered to the restaurants and shops in Europe, in 1985 the phenomenon became more organized, settling on the third Thursday of November to make the new release available.

Q2: Carbonic maceration is an important method in production of wines made out of Gamay. Can you briefly explain what is carbonic maceration and how does it helps here?

A2: Carbonic maceration is a process where the grapes in a sealed tank are subjected to the flow of CO2, which start fermenting the juice inside of the whole grapes before they will be crushed. The resulting wine becomes fruity with very low presence of tannins. This process is particularly used inproduction of Beaujolais Nouveau and other Beaujolais wines. For more information, please refer to Wikipedia article.

Q3: Fill in the blanks: In Beaujolais, Fleuri is considered to produce the most ___ wine, and Moulin-à-Vent produces the most ___ wines.

A3: In Beaujolais, Fleuri is considered to produce the most feminine wine, and Moulin-à-Vent produces the most masculine wines. Feminine and Masculine are the descriptors typically used by wine professionals to describe the wines of Fleuri and Moulin-à-Vent wines.

Q4: Which one doesn’t belong and why:

a. Brouilly, b. Côte de Brouilly, c. Côte Chalonnaise, d. Juliénas, e. Régnié

A4: c. Côte Chalonnaise. The other four names are part of Cru de Beaujolais ten villages, but Côte Chalonnaise doesn’t belong there (it is an AOC in Burgundy).

Q5: True or False: Beaujolais Nouveau wines can be aged for a few years before consumption.

A5: False. The whole point of aging the wine is to wait for it to develop further in the bottle and become more enjoyable. Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be enjoyed right away and should be consumed by May of next year – it doesn’t improve in the bottle.

So for the winners, Jeff the drunken cyclist continues his winning streak – he got correctly 5 out of 5, including the difficult question #3. Great job, Jeff – unlimited bragging rights are yours! I would like to also acknowledge Wayward Wine,Whine And Cheers For Wine and Eat with Namie  who all correctly answered 4 questions out of 5. Well done!

Now, to the interesting stuff around the vine and the web!

On Monday, November 18th, Wine Spectator published their Top 100 list of Wines. Yes, I know, many dismiss the whole notion of Wine Spectator ratings and Top lists as closely associated with the advertizement dollars spent with publication. True or not, but I still have a lot of respect to Wine Spectator and definitely curios to see their “top wines” list. As Wine Spectator celebrates 25th anniversary, they whole web site is open to the public (typically it requiressubscription). I would highly recommend that you will take advantage of this opportunity and explore the site which has a great wealth of wine information. Also, here is the link to the WS Top 100 wines of 2013. I have to admit that I’m happy with Wine Spectator’s choice for the wine of the year – 2004 Cune Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva. In general, Cune Imperial makes great wines, and I think it is an excellent choice for the wine of the year.

Thinking about holiday gifts? Does your list include any wine lovers? If yes, you are in luck, but you will need to act quick. On December 2nd, WTSO will conduct a Gift Marathon (full info can be found here). As a traditional WTSO Marathon, there will be no announcements of new wines. But each wine will come gift packaged, with one bottle and two varietally correct Riedel glasses in the box. Most importantly – free shipping on each package (no minimums), and each packaged can be shipped directly to your gift recipient – this is the best part! Prices start from $44.95 per box (free shipping). I think this is a deal not to be missed, so point your browser to WTSO on December 2nd and happy hunting!

You know Wine-Searcher is a great resource for finding the wines online and comparing the prices. Are you curious what the other people looking for on the wine-searcher? Here is an interesting article, which tells you what the consumers in America are looking for. Based on the article, looks like most of the times people are looking for red Bordeaux blends – which makes sense, as there are a lot more Bordeaux blends produced nowadays. Anyway, for your own analysis and lots more data, take a look at the article.

When you make dinner, how often do you think about what wine should be opened for the food you are serving? Sometimes the pairing can be quite difficult, so I have no problems taking my food and wine separately. But when you hit the mark and the wine and food “work” together, it becomes the whole new level of experience. To help you in this process of pairing food and wine, here is the link to the web site I recently came across – I think it has a lot of good suggestions. Take a look – you might be able to pleasantly surprise yourself and your guests during your next dinner.

That’s all I have for you for today, folks. The glass is empty – but refill is on its way. Until the next time – cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Tempranillo Day, Beaujolais Nouveau Coming Up, The Widow Who Reinvented Champagne, and more

November 13, 2013 8 comments

DSC_0185 Retro Cellars Petite SirahMeritage time!

First, let’s start with the answer for the wine quiz #81, grape trivia – Petite Sirah.

In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about red grape called Petite Sirah. Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: Name the grape: In California, Petite Sirah is a popular blending addition to ___?

A1: Zinfandel. You can find a small percentage of Petite Sirah (5% – 10%) in many Zinfandel bottlings

Q2: When it comes to the wines in the United States, there is an interesting similarity between the Petite Sirah and Primitivo. Can you explain?

A2: The similarity comes from the fact that both Petite Sirah and Primitivo were the part of the same request to the TTB (government organization in charge of labeling), to allow use of Durif interchangeably with Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel with Primitivo. It is interesting to note that contrary to the information in Wikipedia, which says that both requests were never resolved, it appears that Durif is officially recognized as a synonym to Petite Sirah, while Primitivo and Zinfandel are not – you can find the complete list of the approved names through the link to the list of approved grape names in this US government document.

Q3: Which one doesn’t belong and why:

a. Arizona, b. Illinois, c. New Mexico, d. New York, e. Texas

A3: d. New York – there is no Petite Sirah wines produced in New York (at least in the meaningful quantities).

Q4: In the bad, rainy growing season conditions in California, Petite Sirah can be a savior – can you explain why and how does it help?

A4: As the Petite Sirah is mildew resistant and provides supple tannins, color and structure, in the bad years it can be added to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and other wines to improve the quality.

Q5: What love has to do with the Petite Sirah?

A5: “P.S. I Love You” is a consortium dedicated to the promotion of Petite Sirah wines.

Talking about the results, the drunken cyclist continues his winning streak, so he gets ( again) the prize of unlimited bragging rights. Well done!

Now, to the interesting stuff around the vine and the web!

First of all, tomorrow, November 14th, is an International Tempranillo Day! Tempranillo, the noble grape of Spain and Portugal, and rising star of Texas, is a source of many wonderful long-living wines, and it is definitely the grape worth celebrating. TAPAS, the society of producers and advocates of Tempranillo, lists a number of events celebrating the grape. But you don’t even need to go anywhere to celebrate the Tempranillo – just grab a bottle, may be of Magnificent Rioja (but really, any Tempranillo wine will do), pour, smell, sip and enjoy!

Now, the next Thursday, November 21st, is a third Thursday in November. Do you know what it means? Yes, you are right – Beaujolais Nouveau! Every third Thursday in November, the young Beaujolais wine of the same year’s vintage, called Beaujolais Nouveau, is becoming available in all the wine stores around the world. It is not just the wine – Beaujolais Nouveau also means celebration and fun. Don’t forget to get the bottle and join the festivities!

I’m sure you know that classic Champagne with the yellow label on it – Veuve Cliquot, which would literally translate into a “widow Cliquot”. But do you know the role the Barbe-Nicole Cliquot Ponsardin, the actual person behind that label, played in pretty much enabling the whole Champagne industry to exist, and for the mere mortals to be able to afford a bottle of Champagne? Barbe-Nicole’s  perseverance and her invention of the riddling were some of the key elements in making Champagne into what we readily enjoy today. Here is an article for you which is definitely worth reading – it is somewhat long but very fascinating and will be well worth your time.  And you might even complement the reading with the glass of Champagne in your hand – it will be very appropriate.

Last piece I want to bring to your attention is Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wines of 2013 list, gradually exposed at the rate of a few wines per day at the Wine Spectator web site. There are various contests taking place right now to predict the Wine Spectator Wine of the Year 2013, including the one which Wine Spectator runs by itself. So far the Wines #10 – #7 had been revealed, and more wines will be announced every day finishing with the Wine of the Year on Friday, November 15th. The full top 100 list will be published on Monday, November 18th. Looking at the 4 of the top 10 announced so far, I can only say that I’m a bit surprised. One of the selection criteria for the Top 10 is affordability – with the wines #10 and #9 priced at $135, and wines #8 and #7 priced at $120, I feel like I missed the memo about substantial increase in my salary, as those prices are definitely outside of the “affordable” realm, at least in my book. Also, as “availability” is another factor, highly allocated Quilceida Creek (wine #10) makes it also an interesting choice. I plan to come back to this subject next week, when the full Top 100 list will be announced – but any of your comments meanwhile will be most welcome. 

That’s all I have for you for today, folks. The glass is empty – but refill is on its way. Until the next time – cheers!

Weekly Wine Quiz #81: Grape Trivia – Petite Sirah

November 9, 2013 13 comments
Petite Sirah in Bloom. Source: Wikipedia

Petite Sirah in Bloom. Source: Wikipedia

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to the weekend and your new wine quiz!

We are continuing our grape trivia series, with the focus again on the red grapes, and today’s subject is Petite Sirah.

Petite Sirah was created by the French botanist François Durif as a result of accidental cross-pollination between Syrah and little known Rhône varietal called Peloursin. To honor its creator, the grape was originally known under the name of Durif, but Petite Sirah happened to stick as a name, so it is a rarity to the see the name Durif on the bottle. While discovered in France, the grape is literally non-existent there, and it is growing primarily in United States, Australia and Israel, with the number of other countries starting to experiment with it.

Petite Sirah came to the United States at the end of the 19th century, but it is only recent that its popularity started to increase rapidly. Just to give you some numbers, in 2002 in California there were about 2,000 acres of Petite Sirah planted, and 62 producers made wine from it. In 2013, the plantings increased more than 4 times, to more than 9,000 acres, and about 1,000 producers joined the suite, bringing the total number of Petite Sirah producers in California to more than 1,060. At the same time, most of the Petite Sirah production is small, typically a few hundred cases, which explains why you see only a very limited number of Petite Sirah wines in the stores.

Petite Sirah (and the name Petite here relates to the size of the grapes) produces small dark-skinned berries, with very high skin to juice ratio, thus bringing a lot of tannins to the resulting wines. But it is not only tannins – Petite Sirah often shows quite an exuberant fruit, with blueberries and raspberries being in the forefront. One important feature of the Petite Sirah grapes is resistance to the mildew, which definitely helps, especially when it rains during the harvest. Petite Sirah is used both for blending and, increasingly, on its own, where it makes very concentrated, powerful and long-living wines, capable of ageing for a few decades or more.

And now, to the quiz!

Q1: Name the grape: In California, Petite Sirah is a popular blending addition to ___?

Q2: When it comes to the wines in the United States, there is an interesting similarity between the Petite Sirah and Primitivo. Can you explain?

Q3: Which one doesn’t belong and why:

a. Arizona

b. Illinois

c. New Mexico

d. New York

e. Texas

Q4: In the bad, rainy growing season conditions in California, Petite Sirah can be a savior – can you explain why and how does it help?

Q5: What love has to do with the Petite Sirah?

Good luck, enjoy the quiz and your weekend! Cheers!

Wine. That. Transforms.

April 23, 2013 9 comments

If you followed this blog for a while, you know that I have a tendency to get excited around wines. May be “overly excited” is even better way to put it. Especially when I come across the wines which wow. Like this time.

Field Recordings wines are no strangers in this blog (2010 Fiction by Field Recordings was my 2011 wine of the year). Produced by Andrew Jones, grape-grower-turned-wine-maker, these wines are his personal accounts of people and places – every label on his wines will tell you where exactly the grapes came from, and who grew them – you can see an example above. And his wines have tremendous personality associated with them. What these wines do the best – they don’t leave you indifferent. Like this 2010 Field Recordings Petite Sirah Crockett Hill Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley (15.9% ABV, $22).

The very first smell of this wine just takes you away. Away from the day that passed. Away from all the little things which (of course you knew it), in essence, are not important at all. It is clean. It is powerful, It is beautiful. You can imagine any happy picture you want – the smell will support and carry it. Yes, it is pure fruit forward California wine – but it presents itself in such a bright and uplifting fashion, that this might be the way to spell “happiness” with wine.

The wine appears almost black in the glass. It is dense, it is concentrated, it is powerful. Blueberries, blueberry jam and blueberry pie all together – but without sweetness, all in very balanced, round form. You can have food with this wine – but what you really want is just this wine by itself. From the smell, the happiness continues in the glass.

Then your glass becomes empty. But you sit there, still smiling. Still carried away. To the happy place.

Is this an overly emotional account? You bet. But I invite you to find this wine and experience happy journey in the glass. Of course your personal happy wine might be different. I hope you will discover it. And I will drink to that. Cheers!

Daily Glass: Before Its Time…

October 14, 2012 3 comments

It’s been awhile since I posted in the Daily Glass category, and by design of this blog the plan was actually to have the posts exactly as it said – daily. Well, we all have plans, and then we have the reality – whether we like it or not.

A couple of months back, I got an email from Benchmark Wine Company with an offer to buy the wine. It was about Petite Sirah, and the way it was written, it was hard to resist (besides, Petite Sirah is one of my favorite wines in general) – so I got  a few bottles of Retro Cellars Howell Mountain Petite Sirah. To be more precise, I got one bottle of 2004 and 2 bottles of 2007.

I was visiting a good friend and decided that today would be a good day to open the 2004 Retro Cellars Howell Mountain Petite Sirah (14.2% ABV, $35). From the moment the wine went into the glass, it was very clear – the wine was opened way before its time. In one of the wine classes I learned a simple way to find out if wine is ready to drink – you pour the wine in the glass, and hold the glass tilted above some text written on the white paper – if you can read through that glass, the wine is ready to drink. This Petite Sirah was practically black – very concentrated very dark garnet color, without any possibility of reading through. On the palate, the wine had lots of sour cherries, ink and a touch of very dark chocolate – almost a baking chocolate level, the one which practically has no sweetness. Firm tannins. structure and perfect acidity were completing a very balanced package. This definitely was a great wine – drinkable now, but in reality, needing probably another 20 years to shine fully. Drinkability: 9-

That sentiment (needs time!) was also confirmed when I turned the bottle over – it was made by Mike Dunn, the son of Randy Dunn, one of the best winemakers in the Napa Valley. known for making Cabernet Sauvignon wines which require a very long aging period (some stories about Randy Dunn were mentioned in the last issue of Wednesday’s Meritage).

I definitely enjoyed the wine – but when it comes to the 2007 which I still have, patience ( and a lot of it) will be my best friend. Cheers!

Wine, Aged Beautifully

July 12, 2011 4 comments

Let’s talk about aging. No, that’s not what you think – not people aging and not the world problems with the aging populations. Let’s talk about aging of the wine. By the way, it appears that second time in the row I’m taking upon popular subject – in previous post we were comparing the wine glasses (post can be found here), and now the wine aging.

With all due respect (based on this phrase, my friend Kfir would tell you right away that I’m about to blast something), I completely disagree with majority of the popular opinion on the subject of wine aging. Open a wine book, read a wine blog, or ask a question on Quora, and for the most part you will get an answer that 95% of the wines are not supposed to be aged and should be consumed within a year or two from the release date.

Based on my personal experience, I disagree with this viewpoint. I can’t put a percentage or a quantity on it, but I believe that well in excess of half of the wines produced in the world (not by the volume, but by the variety of the actual wines) can age very well for 5 to 10 years – and “age well”  means “to improve with age”. My biggest problem with aging of the wines is … space. If you want to drink aged wine, you either need a lot of space, or you need [typically] lots of money, as most of the aged wines increase in price. If you have cool and dark area with constant humidity, you can buy wines as they are released.  store them and enjoy them later as they evolve and mature. Otherwise, you need to have money and reputable source of the aged wines (improper storage conditions will ruin any wine in no time). Once you solved your space problem, the rest is easy.

How easy is that? How can we know if that bottle of wine will age well – read: improve with age? There are way too many factors affecting aging of the wine, and being able to predict age-worthiness of the wine (age-worthiness means that wine will evolve and taste better in the future) is more art than science. As an example, Matt Kramer, one of my favorite wine writers identifies age worthy wines using characteristic of the mouth-feel, a mid-palate weight of wine in the mouth. Here is my take on the subject. First, yes, of course, some of the wines are meant to be aged – for instance, Beaujolais Noveau is released in November and should be consumed by May of next year. Outside of the wines which are designated by winemakers as “do not age”, majority has some aging potential. I believe the biggest dependecy here is on the winemaker and what she or he want to acheieve with particular wine – if wine is well made,  there is a good chance that it will also age well.

Some wines are helped by their “DNA” – under which I mean from what grape and where in the world the wine is made (of course good/bad year matters too). California Cabernet Sauvignon expected to [typically] reach maturity at around 13 years. Bordeaux easily age for 30-50 years. Syrah-based wines, whether from Australia or France, can live for 50 years. Many 50-years old Riojas are fresh and vibrant as being just made. But “DNA” alone is not enough – wine should be well made in order to age well.

If you are still reading this post, I guess you might be tired by now by this prolonged escapade into the wine aging, and you might be wondering why, why is all that wine aging might be important? Well, I can’t answer this question. At least not before you will find the wine with a little age on it, which will blow you away. Yes, it is an acquired taste. But once you will actually acquire that “mature wine”taste, this is what you are going to crave, I guarantee you.

Let me share some recent and exciting discoveries. Let’s start with 1995 Flora Springs Chardonnay Napa Valley. This wine is made out of 100% Chardonnay. While nose was not very expressive, the level of complexity of this wine is unimaginable. Yes, considering dark golden color, this wine might well be past prime, and without that “acquired taste” for the aged white wine, you might be even upset after the first sip. This wine was exhibiting notes of vanilla which almost moved up to some sort of the almond paste, still showing some acidity. Next are savory notes, almost to the level of saltiness, which was increasing the complexity even further. The wine was in a very stable shape as it tasted the same on the second day as well. Will this wine evolve further? Who knows – but I would be very happy to taste this wine again in five or may be ten years. Drinkability: 8

Next wine is 1992 Domaine de Thalabert Crozes Hermitage from France. Crozes Hermitage wines are made primarily out of Syrah, typically with very small addition of Marsanne and Rousanne grapes. As we mentioned before, Syrah wines age quite well, and this was an excellent example of the well aged Syrah wine. This wine was very playful and soft, with lots of red fruit on the nose and on the palate, very good acidity and good level of tannins. This wine probably will continue evolving for the next five to ten years, and again I will be glad to help you share the bottle later on – if you will have one. Drinkability: 8-

 

Going back to California, 2001 Lolonis Petite Sirah Redwood Valley. In short – outstanding. This 10 years old wine was completely fresh and beautiful. It is made from organically grown Petite Sirah grape. The wine showed perfect dark fruit, good acidity, full body, excellent tannins and perfect overall balance. This wine might be evolving for the next 10-20 years – again, the trick will be to find it.

Drinkability: 8+.

 

Last, but not least, 1991 Justin Cabernet Franc, San Luis Obispo County. This was the “wow” wine, that exact mind-blowing one. First, while I like Cabernet Franc wines, I had no idea they can age so well. I can literally guarantee that in the blind tasting format, very very few people would be able to guess the age of this wine. Deep garnet color, not a hint of age (no brownish overtones at all). Perfect fresh fruit, soft and luscious, perfect balance of tannins and acidity. This wine was the oldest in the tasting, and it was definitely best of tasting. Considering how good is was now, I can’t even guess how much time it has left – but I would be very glad to find a few more bottles to be “wowed” again in the future. Drinkability: 9-

One note before we conclude – this was a rare case of someone doing all the hard work, and me enjoying the results – I got all wines from Benchmark Wine Company and each one of them had been less that $20.

Don’t know if got the desire to seek well aged wines – I hope you will one day. For now, I can only wish upon myself, my family, all my friends and all of you, my readers, to age as beautifully as this Justin Cabernet Franc does. Cheers!

 

%d bloggers like this: