There are certain nights where every wine at the table turns out to be an amazing experience. It is rare, but when it happens it is a thing of beauty, regardless of the appellation involved. But when the tide turns in the other direction, even a lineup of fine wines can wind up a huge disappointment.
Look at the list of wines below and you'll see we brought a nice assortment of mostly well-respected Napa Cabernets. Unfortunately, after the Chablis was gone, not a single bottle of wine showed properly, or particularly well. I think some of it had to do with not enough decant time, but there were other forces playing against us and I don't mean to sound paranoid.
I wanted to understand why these wines were not drinking beautifully. In all honesty, there is not a single wine that I tasted, that I would have consumed a whole glass of on that particular eve. None that I really enjoyed sipping, with the scant exception being the Heitz' Martha's. Even that was only good, as in about 88 points. So I decided to take one of my two bottles (that I had brought to my friend's home for our monthly tasting group) and bring it home to try the next night.
I had decanted my bottle of 1999 Insignia, three hours before arriving at the tasting and there was probably another two hours in closed bottle before we got around to it. It was showing nothing like this "can and should have" and was a major flop as was its older sibling, a 1997 Insignia. Then again this was the same for all reds, all night, as mentioned.
Last night, I opened the bottle and there was about 8 ounces remaining. It almost knocked me off my chair. It was an entirely different wine and was showing beautifully. I brought it up to my wife who was sipping a 2005 Bordeaux which I had popped for her and she blindly sipped the Insignia and said, "that's great" and smiled.
Wine never ceases to humble and amaze me; this dynamic has raised it's ugly head on a handful of occasions at tastings with fabulous lineups. I can think of a Dominus vertical, a Magnum night with fantastic big names from Bordeaux and CA, a full vertical of Clos du Val and other examples, where nothing appeared with typicity. I can only shake my head and be happy this doesn't happen more often than it does!
- 2002 William Fevre "Les Clos" Chablis
- 2007 Doubleback - a new WA red wine
- 2005 Leonetti Cab Reserve
- 1999 Phelp's Insignia
- 1997 Togni
- 1997 Heitz "Martha's Vineyard"
- 1997 Chateau Montelena
- 1997 Phelp's Insignia
- 1994 Beringer Private Reserve
- 1987 Ridge Montebello
- 1985 Mount Veeder
- 1976 Ridge "Jimsomare"
- Leacock's Velho Verdelho (circa 1895) - this wine, clearly held the greatest intrigue for me as even the bottle shape was something I had never seen before, no less a 1 liter bottle of Madeira which is pretty rare, in the scheme of things. However, this bottle was opened at the beginning of our evening and it needed several more days. Lots of bottle sickness and hopefully by tonight, it will show much better as it has had lots of time to open up. Tasting note to follow!