Harvest is 2 months of intense and back breaking work, mostly cleaning and shoveling and tasting grape juice and cloudy, partly fermented wine. After I’ve recovered from harvest (which seems to take a bit longer than it did 25 harvests ago), I like to celebrate by opening an older wine. While the chemistry of wine aging is complex and has been understood to some extent since the days of Pasteur, my interest is purely hedonistic. Older red wines lose some of the fresh fruit characters but compensate by picking up complexity with secondary aromas of leather and dried flowers and the tannins soften and mellow. The wine just seems to meld together and become a whole unit, not just the sum of separate parts. Wines that improve like this are generally wines with good tannin structure and good acidity as these are the elements that hold the wine together. Every year I choose one wine with these attributes that I think will benefit from aging and put aside 100 cases for the wine club to re-release as an cellar aged wine. This year’s version is once again from the Rossi Ranch here in Glen Ellen and it’s the 2013 Syrah.
At first release I recommended having this wine with brawny foods, but it has mellowed with age and is starting to take on some flavors of leather and chocolate to go along with the original red fruits. It is still youthful in many ways so satisfies those that like fruit flavors in their wine, but has the complexity and roundness to appeal to those that appreciate older wines. The best part is I think its going to continue to improve or hold for many years yet. We have been offering 3 vintages of the Rossi Syrah as a set and they have been so well received, and the best part is I’m not sure which one I like the most! Try this with cassoulet or sturdy winter dishes.