Bringing Out a Moldy Oldy

Whenever I feel nostalgic, I pull out an old wine. More often than not, it's a bit of a disappointment as I seem to have lost my taste for older red wines as I age myself. They're usually pretty tired, with little of the fruit characteristics associated with the varietal and an aroma of barnyards and blue cheese basking in the sun. (How's that for a description!)

I proved myself wrong last week and took a bit of a risk at a major industry schmooze fest.  Wine Spectator's annual Big Bottle party was held last Tuesday at the acclaimed Dry Creek Kitchen. This is a “must attend” event for any self respecting brown nosing vintner as it's a great opportunity to visit with the folks from WS in addition to hanging out with all your winery friends and colleagues. And besides, Marvin Shanken knows how to put on a helluva good party.

As a fun twist to all the rare and special wines, we decided to bring a moldy oldy from our wine library. We chose a 1974 Zinfandel. (I was 11 when it was made and it was my father's second red wine vintage.) While we weren't quite sure what to expect, we figured few in the industry can do this and besides, it's fun to test the knowledge and palates of so many noted winemakers.

We covered up the vintage and the varietal and set up a guessing game. At least a dozen people put down their guesses, but not one person got it right. Until the very end, when the much respected, often controversial Jim Laube himself guessed it correctly. I must admit, we were very impressed. So, while many in our industry like to complain that his palate is biased, or his judgment not fair, clearly the guy knows his stuff.

More power to ya, Jim!
| | Comments (7)


Jack Everitt said:
June 9, 2009 8:09 PM left out the Important Part: How was the wine?

Kim (aka Wilma) Author Profile Page said:
June 10, 2009 11:14 PM

Good point. Well, it was holding up remarkably well. The color was still deep garnet with little of the browning that occurs with really old wines. The nose was a combination of dark blackberry, coffee, and cigars, meaning it still showed some fruit characters without being competely over the hill. To quote Jim Laube's blog: "it could have easily passed for a 30-year-old Barbaresco or Barbera. What's always worth considering when you taste a mature wine that's still complex, vibrant and aging gracefully is that the only way a wine can last that long is that it has to begin its life in perfect balance. It also needs a great cork and proper storage. But this wine demonstrated that despite all the new fandangled vineyard and winemaking techniques, whether it be new clones, trellising systems, crop thinning, sorting tables or new French oak barrels, there's something to be said for just letting the grapes do their thing." I guess that about sums it up!

Jack Everitt said:
June 12, 2009 7:05 PM

"Jim Laube's blog: "it could have easily passed for a 30-year-old Barbaresco or Barbera."

Hmmm...I've had a bunch of old Zins and a few old Barbaresco's, and I can't say that one has ever reminded me of the other. Hmmm, hmmm.

Very cool it's alive and shining at such an age! You guys must be proud!!!

CHUCK JOHNSON Author Profile Page said:
June 12, 2009 10:32 PM

Hey Kim,

This is Chuck at the Donatello. Great story on your 1974 Zinfandel. I participated in a "Guest the Varietal Contest" by Allan Green, winemaker at Greenwood Ridge Vineyards in Mendocino in 2007. It was a lot fun. In fact, I took second place in the couples competition. One of the wine varietals I selected in the contest was a 2000 Dry Creek Vineyard Zinfandel. The crowd watching the event went wild when they had learned I had guested the year of your wine and the varietal. One of the contestants said to me, "what are you doing in the novice competition?." The event was a lot of fun. I took away a case of Allen's wines as a reward for my placement in the contest.

I believe those kinds of events really enhances wine connoisseurs experiences in Wine Country.


Kim (aka Wilma) Author Profile Page said:
June 13, 2009 11:48 PM

I remember doing a "guess the varietal" contest years ago too. It's a great way to test one's knowledge, but more importantly-it's a whole lot of fun. I've never been all that good at the "guess the vintage" part--now that's tricky.

Brian said:
July 27, 2009 10:56 AM

I'm getting ready to pop a 1979 Dry Creek Cabernet for my 30th. Any ideas how this vintage is holding up?

Kim (aka Wilma) Author Profile Page said:
July 27, 2009 5:29 PM

Lucky you! Unfortunately, I'm not sure what to tell you as I haven't had this wine in a very long time. The 1979 vintage as a whole is not considered a great year, nor is it considered a bad one...kind of average I'd say. But, so much depends on the storage conditions and whether the wine has been consistently stored over the years. You'll probably notice some slight browning around the edges with a dusty earthy quality along with soft tannins and subtle dried cherry Cabernet fruit characters. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you...
Happy Birthday!

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Kim published on June 9, 2009 12:06 PM.

The Endless Business Dinner was the previous entry in this blog.

The Meritage Alliance Comes of Age is the next entry in this blog.

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