The dirt on waiting too long.

A few years ago I attended a tasting at Crestwood Fine Wines for an Oregan winery called Sokol Blosser. I had never heard of them before and was excited to discover the excellent quality represented by their Pinot Noir. As is polite at these things, I bought a bottle or two to bring home.

One of those bottles I drank in the first year enjoying its’ silken mouthfeel and earthy, bright cherry notes. The other bottle I opened the night before last.

Now, many Pinot Noir are made to last. The best of them need about ten years to reach their peak so I felt pretty sure that I was about to taste Eden.

I extracted the cork. It looked good so I poured the wine into my glass and was greeted with a clear brown garnet hue. My little heart sank. I lifted the glass to my nose and was greeted with (what I was expecting) the smell of death.

I can’t tell you how many times I looked at that bottle over the last few years and decided to wait to drink it. I also am unable to tell you when the bottle turned. By the look and smell of it, death was not a recent event. What I can tell you is that waiting on wine is a dangerous game.

Luckily I had another bottle that I’ve been eyeing so I pulled out my 2004 Ethan Santa Ynez Valley Syrah. Aha! I thought, it’s two years older, but a well made California Syrah should have the guts to last at least ten years.

I opened the bottle. Well, I tried to open the bottle. For, although the wine had been stored at an even temperature on its’ side since I got it, one never knows how it was stored before that. The centre of the cork crumbled around the worm and the rest of the cork¬†basically disintegrated. Clearly this was not my night.

In the glass it was dark ruby with garnet highlights. It offered dark black plum fruit laced with baby powder and chalk. It smelled a bit of rich red velvet cake.

The attack was big and silky with stone fruit like red and black plum. The tannins were even and chewy with robust acidity. It was smooth and velvety with a lovely complex finish.

While it was maybe just past its’ prime, it opened wide to chocolate and cinnamon spice on a rich bed of prune fruit.

So that was lucky. Had the Sokol Blosser been in better shape, I would likely have left the Ethan Syrah to languish another six or eight months and then… who knows what it may have been?

So once again I’m going to encourage all you wine geeks out there to open up some bottles from the cellar every once in a while and treat yourself.

In wine, as in life, it doesn’t always pay to wait too long to take action, make a change or speak the truth.

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