I enjoy tasting older wines. The youthful exuberance of fruitiness usually gives way to complexity with leather and other secondary flavors and the acid and tannin tames down and integrates into the wine. The problem is having the patience and the right place to keep the wine for later enjoyment. Knowing that soon I’ll be tasting newly fermenting grape juice instead of wine, last week I pulled out a 2001 Peter Lehmann reserve Riesling from Australia and it was superb! It was old enough to legally go to a pub in Australia and had a richness and weight that belied its lower alcohol. Sadly it was my last bottle. Even more fun is to find a bottle from the birth year of a staff member when we have a staff dinner. When my assistant Jeff left in 2011 I managed to find an ’82 Margeaux from his birth year for his dinner and when Rachael left I opened an ’85 Graham’s Port from Portugal (just don’t tell that I mentioned her birth year!). The wines were great, but made more special by the association with the year that was special to them.
I keep a moderate cellar of my own Loxton wines and others from around the world, especially from places that I have been. Tasting these takes me back to the place where they were made, much like smells can take you back to some moment in the past. Years ago I also decided to keep back sufficient quantities to offer a well aged wine to the wine club. Before you write sending in your birth year, I don’t have the space to keep wine for too long! But even 3-4 years can make a difference and this year’s re-release is the 2012 Rossi Ranch Syrah.
This Summer we hosted a tasting of multiple years of Rossi Ranch Syrah from 2011 to the new 2015. I was very pleased some thought the 2012 to be their favorite. It is entering that developed phase, lightening just a little in color, still retaining cherry fruit flavors but starting to show some leather and some brown sugar flavors that might reflect the first year of our drought. This wine has probably reached its peak drinking window, and should remain there for another 5 years or more.