Saturday, February 7, 2009

Time CaPSule II

Eric Asimov recently wrote, about aged wines:
Similarly with petite sirah — I’ve had 25-year-old bottles that taste astonishingly fruity though less tannic than a new bottle, but I don’t see the point of keeping a bottle that long.
Sorry, Eric -- we do! And you would too if you've had some of ours.

3 weeks ago, I met up with some of the other PSychos in Chicago for a tasting of old wines, along with a bunch of the Chicago-area wine.woot crowd. While the was officially on Saturday, and was Cab-centric, we PSychos had some other wines beforehand, on Friday night, which, as one might expect from us, focused on well-aged PS.

But as the saying goes, there are no good old wines, just good old bottles. These were all from winebid, removed from temperature- and humidity-controlled cellars, with base neck fill or better. No bottle went for more than $30 (before winebid's markup). And the results showed that winebid's quality control is impressive indeed.
  • 1982 Stags' Leap Winery Petite Sirah (USA, California, Napa Valley) -- Our (old) wine of the evening, and but for the 2006 Munch PS, would have been the wine of the night. Brilliant, extracted red fruits, vibrant acidity, tannins still gripping firmly through layer upon layer of red velvet. A 27-year old wine that could easily be mistaken for 8, but for the impressive amounts of sediment. The last few drops in the bottle were still kicking the next morning. (I have one of these left, and while it seems like it could last another 5-10 years, I probably won't take any chances))
  • 1983 Inglenook Petite Sirah (USA, California, Napa Valley) -- a bit disappointing at first, but the remaining bit in the bottle had improved by the next morning. Dark fruits, muted, still some gripping tannins, some oxidized aromas, tar. Not bad, but not worth the price (at least, based on the tastes after we opened it). But it may just have been a bad bottle, or something that lacked the structure to age. (1983 being my brother's birth year, I have a few of these left)
  • 1987 Vincent Arroyo Petite Sirah (USA, California, Napa Valley) -- Following the Stags' Leap, the old PS of the night. It's one of Arroyo's earliest wines. Blackberries, caramel, tar, dusty fine tannins everywhere, still great acidity, had the Arroyo "shoepolish" house style, which is always lovely to find. Tasted older than the Stags' Leap, and probably won't be around too much longer. But surprisingly, the last bit in the bottle was still kicking in the morning.
  • 1992 Schuetz Oles Petite Sirah Rattlesnake Acres (USA, California, Napa Valley) -- might have been in its dumb period, but wildly disappointing. No real fruit or structure to speak of. If you see it on winebid, don't be in a hurry.
  • 1999 Fife Petite Sirah Redhead (USA, California, North Coast, Redwood Valley) -- the youngest of the bottles, and, at least to me, still a young PS, albeit on the aged end of that. Very nice round red fruits, medium-bodied, light tannins, gripping acidity. Not a big, tarry PS. What made this wine work was the Brett to balance out the red fruits.

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