Archive for the Bennett Traub Category

Exhuming an old Cornas

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I seem to be on an “old wine, off vintages” kick right now. After my favorable experience with the 1986 Serafin Gevrey, I decided to go with an older, “off-vintage” Northern Rhone this time. Going over my inventory, I found a lone, long-forgotten bottle of 1981 Cornas, Auguste Clape just sitting there, waiting to be put out of its misery. There was an old note with the list entry, saying “medium rich, good fruit, slightly short, drink up.” Well, that note was from 1991, so I didn’t exactly take my own advice. 1981 was a mediocre year in the Northern Rhone to be sure, so this probably was best drunk in its robust youth. And yet, I thought, this is Clape—if any Cornas from 1981 was still alive, this would be the one. So, with rather low expectations, I pulled the cork, which broke into two pieces. The level was good and the cork was clean, so I had hope. Read the rest of this entry »

A lovely “off-vintage” Burgundy

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“Off-vintage” wines can surprise you. Back when I was first exploring the wine world, I bought a lot of wines from good producers in vintages that were less than stellar, at least according to the vintage charts. Partly it was a matter of economics, as such vintages provided an opportunity to sample wines from producers that were simply too expensive in the more highly-regarded years. Plus the critics were always going on about how “there are no great wines, only great bottles”, and “vintage charts don’t matter”, etc. etc. So as I was exploring and buying wines from the great wine regions (mainly of France), I occasionally bought wines from vintages like Bordeaux 1979, 1980, 1981, even 1984; Rhone 1980 and 1981; red Burgundy 1979, 1980, 1982. Not all of these were really considered “off vintages” back in the day, but one look at today’s vintage charts would certainly make one think so.

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Northern Rhones, Young and Old

I love Northern Rhônes, particularly the reds made from the great Syrah grape. Although great Syrahs are now made in lots of places, there’s nothing quite like a great Cote Rotie or Hermitage, especially ones that have been given a respectful sleep in a cool cellar for a decade or two. So I was pretty jazzed when my wine group, the X-pensive Winos, dedicated the tasting this month to Northern Rhones, Young and Old.

Now most of our group hasn’t been collecting that long, so getting some interesting youngsters was no problem. Fortunately, a couple of us, ahem, mature members of the group, have been cellaring Rhone wines going back into the early 1980’s and even earlier. My own introduction to Rhones came via Kermit Lynch, and in those day ole’ Kermit had a lock on the top Northern Rhone masters—Chave, Rostaing, Jasmin, Gentaz, Clape, Verset, Champet—the list was endless and was pretty incredible by today’s standards. So we were fortunate to have some interesting (meaning “great”) old and mature Rhones to sample and compare to the young upstarts. Read the rest of this entry »

Tryin' this sucker out with a TN

OK, I really don’t know what I’m doing here, I think I’m posting, but have no idea where it will go or how it will be viewed.  Whatever, I’ll go ahead and blather into the blogosphere anyway.

Came home late from work last night, with some new, high-end premade pasta sauces we sell in the store.  I tried the Tuscan Vodka sauce, and of course I needed a nice Zin to go with it, and what better than a Mr. Ridge?  My technique is just to go into the wine room, where most of my Ridge wines are all grouped together, and just grab one.  I wound up with an older ATP bottling, the 2001 Del Carlo Zin from Dry Creek.  100% Zin, 14.3% alc.  Given the moderate (for zin) alcohol, this was surprisingly ripe, verging on pruney, with some distinct raisiny notes to the fruit.  The fruit lacks a bit of intensity in the middle, and the tannins are poking a bit on the finish.  Surprisingly, this seems a bit dull and perhaps past it’s best, although PD’s note on the bottle (written in 2003) suggests the prime drinking window is 5 to 7 years.  Draper’s usually conservative on his drinking windows, but I think he overshot a bit on this one, which seems like it has seen better days.  Overall a rather lackluster and disappointing ATP from Ridge.

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