Saturday, February 12, 2011

Collecting and Aging Wine - Buy the Case

Collecting and aging wine - case lot periodic tasting over time

There are two risks to buying a full case of a wine... that you drink it too young, or, that you hang on it too long. (Some might say that you get it home and don't like it. As my teenager used to say, "Duh, Dad." You try it before you buy it. If and when you can't - the wine market has become incredibly 'liquid' with auctions to market and sell your wine. Worst case (you make the call whether pun intended ;>) ) you give it away as gifts, serve it, or hold it and one day find out its really really good after all!) The point is, if you don't taste a wine multiple times at various stages of its life - how will you know? Part of the fun and experience of tasting wine is to witness a wine's maturation and transformation over time. I have heard that the Italian's drink their wine too young, and the French drink it too old. Alas, its all in the eye's of the beholder. I purchased a case of Dominus Napa Proprietary Red Wine 1986 back upon release in the mid-eighties. I dutifully put it aside but succumbed to temptation to open a bottle every couple of years ... Invariably I was disappointed and underwhelmed by a rather flat uninspiring 'closed' wine. Finally, a couple of years ago in 2007 - I noted in my tasting notes (published on - "The Dominus now 20 years old continues to reveal its character through floral bouquet and flavors of violet and rose petals reminding me again that I drank most of this case way too young - year after year waiting for it to open and reveal itself." (The previous tasting note posted in 2002 should have been an indicator - "Dominus took three hours to open but when it did, it exploded with floral fruit.") 

Indeed, having purchased a lot of Bordeaux wines during their magnificent run in the eighties, I eventually learned, like the Dominus, I drank them too early. C'est la vie. I am now more patient with such wines. That's how or why you end up with a thousand (s) plus bottles in your cellar!    

Diverse Cabernet - Bordeaux Blend Comparison Tasting - Aging Wine

Son Alec's brief visit home from university - spur-of-the-moment (yes, my bride is amazing) celebratory dinner - serving favorite surf & turf - poses wine opportunity/challenge. Go with it and have fun... three diverse aged vintage Cabernet - Cabernet blends to compliment the beef tenderloin and Riesling Spatlese highlights the broiled lobster. 

Paradigm Napa Valley Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - - Bought a case of this big Napa Oakville Estate Cabernet Sauvignon following a winery visit during our 1999 Napa Wine Experience.   This is one of the joys of a wine cellar - to conduct periodic comparison tastings over the years to see how a wine ages. (More on that in another unwindwine blogpost). My last tasting notes were three years ago but are totally consistent with this time. Needed an hour to open and shed an initial slight tart cherry edge, which it did. Dark inky color - medium to full bodied. Full forward black cherry and black raspberry fruit flavors starting to show its age a bit with earth and leather emerging over the subtle currant, ripe plum, cedar and a hint of anise on a full firm finish. Earlier notes talk of a milk chocolate layer which was very subtle. I would say the aging of this bottle seemed no more-so than the previous tasting as it is holding its fruit quite well. RM 91 - WS 92. 

Chateau Calon-Ségur Grand Cru Classe St. Estephe Bordeaux 1995 - Had to pull out this Valentine wine - noted as such due to the heart on the label (below) since this turns out to double as our Valentine's dinner too. Once again we have a case of this wine and look forward to periodic tastings in the years to come. Notably reflecting the age-worthiness of this wine (compared to the Napa Cab above), we're only a couple bottles in to this case while only a few bottles remain of the Napa. No signs of age whatsoever here with a long life ahead - Classic Bordeaux with earthy, leathery black berry and black raspberry fruits accented by a long smooth floral finish - this exhibited a bit more fruit and floral the next day at the expense of the firm full but smooth tannin structure.  RM 90; WS 96; RP 92

Matthews Cellars Yakima Valley Red Wine 1999 - A Bordeaux mix blend 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot and 11% Cabernet Franc. Dark inky color - medium - full bodied - spice from the Cab Franc comes through, firm black berry and black raspberry fruits are giving way to a tar, leather, cassis and hint of tobacco as this wine is passing its prime. RM 88.
Dr Heidemanns-Bergweiler Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Spatlese 2006 - Paired with the broiled lobster.

Guenoc, Guenoc Valley Vintage Port 2000 - Paired with cheese cake, fresh strawberry and chocolate fondue dessert. Full bodied - black and deep purple color - taste of brandy, black berry, black raspberry, deep blueberry, dark chocolate, cassis and black cherry, sweetness a nice complement to the dessert - would be great with a stilton cheese - nice close to a great meal. RM 88