Thursday, October 18, 2007

You Takes Your Chances

Taster B and I were out for a Sunday drive to see the foliage that is starting to develop in our area. We drove by a specialty deli that carries a few select wines. We had not been there for over six months. I couldn’t resist popping in to see what was on the shelves.

Then something caught my eye. In a French bread basket on the floor in the corner was a collection wines labeled as “Past Vintage, good for Cooking $5.00”. Oh, I love a wine bargain. But a bottle of bad wine is just a bottle of bad wine.

What to do? The wine shop is comfortable and cool. The wine shelves are not in a sunny area. The wines in the shop are displayed lying down. The exceptions are the wines on special which were displayed in the cases. Chances are that this past vintage wine had a good life here in the deli. The wines on display are of a varied and interesting selection. The deli owner obviously loves wine too. The fast selling wines upright in the case are fine. They move quickly and will be fine.

This looks like a good chance to pick up a bargain. With all this in mind, I decided to take a chance. In the basket were several white wines and a couple of reds. Now, a 2000 Chardonnay may be way past prime, but we selected a 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon.

We all have heard that wines improve with age. This is not true for all wines. Fruit forward, crisp white wines can go past prime. Even red wines must have good tannins to start with. To age well, a wine needs structure; fuit forwardness and short tannin molecules give way to longer chain molecules as the wine ages and mellows. Cabernets age well, so let’s take the chance. If this wine is indeed past its prime, it will do well in the sauce pot.

But what of our bottle? Did I make a good decision or did I buy next week's stock pot fodder?

Cabernet Sauvignon
Quail Creek

Growing Area: California
Vintage: 2000
Alcohol: 13.5
Price: $5.00 Closeout

Color: Ruby Red
Intensity: Medium
Aromas: Raisin, earth, smoked meet, tobacco, toast
Flavors: Cherry, plum, jam, eucalyptus, anis, black pepper, smoked meat, oak, smoky, cedar, coffee
Body: Medium
Finish: Moderate
Tannin: Suede

Summary: Purchased as a “Past Vintage” wine, this represents what can happen to a wine at home that sits on the shelf. Anyone who builds up a cellar can have this happen. The same thing happens at the wine shop. I’m glad I made this purchase. The tannins were smooth, smoky and suede-like. The finish was pleasant and spicy. The flavors were developing on the palate in layers. Surprisingly nice and was fun to explore.

Pairing with B-B-Q, grilled meats.

Verdict? I’m glad we rescued this bottle. The last third of this bottle will definatly enhance the beef stew.