The Joys of Aging

It is the last weekend in May, which is Memorial Day Weekend, and also Gord’s birthday. We will not go into how old he has become, but it was a good excuse for getting together multiple times to drink wine with the Swines. Plus there was a tasting scheduled for May 27th, with the wines selected by Todd, so there was yet another excuse to party!

The day started with the 2nd Annual Gordon’s Metric Century Ride. This year Phil turned it into the Secret Vineyard Mystery Ride, as we spent some of the ride cycling through the Borden Ranch Vineyards northeast of Lodi. Truly a spectacular site.

Selfie in the Secret Vineyard

Part way through the ride, we needed a “pick me up”. What better than a stop at Bokisch!

Thirsty Riders Fueling Up at Bokisch!

Anyway, on to the topic of this post, the May 27 Wine Swines tasting. 13 brave tasters gathered at Wine Crest. The theme of the tasting, which is never revealed until the end when Mr. T does the tasting, turned out to be one of the following, depending on your point of view: 1) how do different varietals age?, or 2) Todd cleans some wine out his cellar. Or maybe it was a reminder that we are all getting older, and not always better. Ouch!

The tasting, as is usual for Swines tastings, was double blind – meaning that the wines were decanted into numbered decanters, and there was no information given about the varietal, origin, vintage, etc (brief segue – Todd would no doubt say that the tasting was triple blind, as the lighting in the Wine Crest dining/tasting room is not exactly operating room level bright – mood lighting we like to call it. Helps to obscure the effects of ……aging). Finally, we were told that there were four different varietals or blends, and that the wines were from the same year, but the actual year (turned out to be 2004) was not revealed until the end.

So here’s what happened:

Wine 1

Gord’s notes: this wine was dark ruby with a ruby rim. Did not look particularly old (remember at this point we do not know the vintage). Nice dark currant/berry fruit nose, with raisin characteristics, and hints of dry wood. There is apparently some oak in this fella! In the mouth, low to low medium acid, integrated low plus tannins, raisiny dark fruit attack that carries to a dark chocolate mocha raisin finish. This is quite a mouthful, and is very reminiscent of ruby port without the sweetness. Finish is hot. 14.5 points, my 4th ranked wine of the 6 wine tasting.

Steph: Jammy fruit, slight licorice and a hint of floral detected on the nose and the jammy cherry fruit is evident in the mouth, tasting somewhat medicinal. The wine finishes with stringent tannins, strong black pepper and alcohol/heat. Seems as though this wine was held for too long. This was my least favorite of the wines, other than the corked wine mentioned below.

Turns out wine 1 was a 2004 Rosenblum Cellars Rockpile Zinfandel. Release price was $34. Rosenblum Cellars is located in Alameda, and the source of the fruit is the Rockpile Vineyard in Sonoma County. This wine was outstanding when it was younger, full of gushing fruit. The years have not been kind.

Wine 1 – 2004 Rosenblum Rockpile Zinfandel

Wine 2

Gord’s notes: this wine was dark ruby with a ruby rim. The nose was tight, with a slight woody note. The palate had low medium acid, low to low medium tannin, a ripe red cherry attack, medium to full body. This wine is OK. Nothing to write home about. 14 points. My 6th ranked wine of the tasting.

From Steph’s notes: This wine had a slight chemical essence, barnyard, floral and red berry aromas. It tasted of red berry and leather, finished with softer tannins than the first wine. It wasn’t one of my favs and it also seemed to be too long in the cellar.

Turns out wine 2 was a 2004 Schild Estate Shiraz, from the Barossa Valley which is down under in Australia, mate. Release price was $25. This is another wine that was outstanding when it was 5 or so years old. It has definitely faded, heading towards wine oblivion…….

Wine 2 – 2004 Schild Estate Shiraz

Wine 3

Gord’s notes: this wine was dark ruby, with a slight garnet tinge. The nose started out tight, with some green olive notes developing along with vague hints of fruit. The palate had low medium acid, low to low medium tannins, medium plus body, and red currant fruit. Really a lovely flavor and texture. This wine is drinking beautifully right now, with mature fruit and integrated structure. This has to be a cabernet based product. 16 points. My favorite wine of the tasting.

Steph:  Ranking # 2 from me in this tasting, the earthy, barnyard nose was a pleasant start. I tasted berry and leather in the mouth with good tannins, black pepper and some heat on the finish.  Since so many of these wines have seen better days, I would not, however, recommend this wine of this vintage.

Turns out wine 3 was the 2004 Tudal Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley (St. Helena). Release price was $30.

Wine 3 – 2004 Tudal Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine 4

Gord’s notes: this wine was dark ruby, with a ruby rim. The nose is fairly light, with hints of dark cherry. In the mouth this wine had low plus acid, low medium minus tannins, nice red currant and cherry, with a bit of grip developing in the mid palate, and a mocha licorice finish. An enjoyable wine that also has cabernet characteristics. 15 points. My 2nd ranked wine of the tasting.

Steph:  The nose had hints of floral and distinctively jammy berry fruit. I detected oak, as vanilla was very present, with the overripe taste of fruit and a mustiness, finishing with gauzy tannins. I ranked this wine third in this tasting.

Turns out wine 4 was the 2004 Dominus Estate Napanook Cabernet blend. From the Napa Valley (duh). Release price was $40.

Wine 4 – 2004 Dominus Estate Napanook

Wine 5

Gord’s notes: this wine was very dark ruby, with a ruby rim. The nose was menthol, with a “high” note. Not VA, but close. Also seemed ever so slightly corked. The palate had low to low medium acid, low medium tannins, dark currant fruit, lots of alcohol on the finish. 14.5 points. My 5th ranked wine of the tasting.

Steph comments:   I get jam on the nose with a backdrop of anise. The jammy berry fruit continues in the mouth, along with leather, spice and black pepper.  There are grippy tannins with jammy fruit that shows up in the finish. Again, this wine might have been good in it’s day, but that day has come and gone.

Turns out wine 5 was the 2004 Dancing Fox Cabernet Sauvignon, from Lodi (although there was some debate regarding the source of the fruit). Release price was $25. This wine is on the down side from where it was 5 years ago. So not all cabernet ages for ever!

Wine 5 – 2004 Dancing Fox Cabernet

Wine 6

Gord’s notes: the first wine 6 was corked, definitely in my opinion, and banished from the table. The replacement wine 6 was dark ruby, with a ruby rim. The nose was light, with dry wood notes. The palate had low medium acid, low medium minus tannins, red currant fruit, with an astringent finish. Seems cab like as well. 14.5 points. My 3rd ranked wine of the tasting.

And Steph on wine # 6:  Unfortunately, wine six was summarily dispatched from the tasting due to a general feeling that it was corked, though this opinion was not exactly unanimous. The wine was replaced by, ironically, my favorite of the evening. I actually might drink this wine. The nose had an unusual toasty sesame seed aroma. The mature berry fruit was a little jammy, which is not my favorite, but with the spice and pepper in the mouth, it was an interesting, flavorful wine. The tannins were light and there was fruit present throughout the finish.

Turns out this wine was the 2004 Terra Valentine Cabernet Sauvignon from Spring Mountain in Napa. Release price was $30.

Wine 6 – 2004 Terra Valentine Cabernet









The Full Lineup in the dimly lit Wine Crest Dining/Tasting Room

The group vote was as follows (the math nerds among you will note that some tasters abstained):

Wine 1 – no first place votes, 2 second place votes, 7 last place votes

Wine 2 – 1 first place vote, 2 second place votes, 3 last place votes

Wine 3 – 3 first place votes, 4 second place votes, no last place votes

Wine 4 – 3 first place votes, 3 second place votes, 1 last place vote

Wine 5 – 1 first place vote, no second place votes, no last place votes

Wine 6 – 4 first place votes, no second place votes, 1 last place vote

So the winner seemed to be wine 6, with wines 3 and 4 close behind. Wine 1 was the overwhelming least favorite wine.

The weekend closed with a Sunday night bbq (May 28, the actual birthday for Gord) at Wine Crest with copious amounts of wine and food. As usual, Gord worked the grill cooking ribs, pork tenderloin, beef tenderloin, Lockeford sausages, shrimp and salmon (plus an artichoke thing that was really good!).

The Gang (minus those who had not arrived yet, and those that are hiding from the authorities)

A few of the wines tasted were:

2013 Egan Cellars Las Lomas Vineyard Vermentino

2016 Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses Languedoc Rose

2013 McCay Cellars Jupiter Zinfandel

2009 Mokelumne Glen Vineyards Late Harvest Dreirebe

2003 Chateau de Myrat Sauternes

2011 Porter Creek Timbervine Ranch Syrah

2010 Ponzi Vineyards Arneis

“Locations” TX – Dave Phinney’s brand, the Texas version. Actually pretty good.

The Birthday Boy (“I did not select the hat”)

Steph says “I brought the hat and I appreciate Gord indulging me for the photo op!”