cortot20 wrote:The wine sat in barrels 6.5 years, which is very uncommon in Cali winemaking. What would you say was the reasoning behind that decision? Also, can you speak to this wines dumb phase. I have heard anywhere from 8-10 years from vintage for well made age worthy Cabernet is typical.
Hey, there is no typical in Cali winemaking, least of all with me. The point of WineSmith is to explore Eurocentric possibilities for California fruit. I tasted Dave Stare of Dry Creek on my ten-year-old Chablis-style Chardonnay a asked him what vintage it was – He guessed 2010, a good guess, but it’s actually a 2003. I live for those moments.
It is extremely expensive to hold wines this long, so nobody does it. Novice wine drinkers want obvious wines anyhow, so the popular wines, like popular music, appeal to very simple basic aesthetics. I hang around with wooters because they've been around awhile and have a deeper appreciation of what wine can really offer.
Also hard to speak of what is typical in Cabernet Sauvignon. First of all let’s restrict our conversation to where it grows well: Haut Medoc, Napa Valley, East side Paso Robles, Margaret River, New Jersey Outer Coastal Plain -- places like that. Then we have to rule out all the big tit wines which employ log hangtime to impress rich fools with impact, because those wines don’t age worth a damn.
Okay. Serious regions, serious winemakers, good vintages, classic styles, and conventional methodology. These wines will be released 18 months to 3 years after vinification and will go through a dumb, hard phase until they are 5 to ten years old and last another decade or two in good conditions..
The game changer is oxygenation. This is very counter-intuitive. Most folks think, logically enough, that oxygen is an oxidizing agent. But it turns out that wine acts like a living organism, and if you challenge it with oxygen early in its youth, it responds by becoming more anti-oxidative and ageworthy.
Weird, huh? So this wine was challenged in its first month with about 60 times what a barrel could give it, with the result that its barrel ageing potential was expanded by a factor of three. The result was that at three years, the wine was still closed and simple, with hard tannins and little aromatic development. I bottled it anyhow – I needed the money. But I reserved six barrels and rode it out, finally bottling last August. The result is quite miraculous.