As I was looking for some wines to use for decanting lessons, I ran across this bottle amid many others that I knew would be full of sediment and most likely turned to vinegar over the years of possible improper storage. As I removed the capsule, my surety of its acetic acid transposition were surprisingly quelled. Not only was the capsule still tightly secure, the cork was in perfect condition, It hadn’t sunk into the bottle and there were no signs of seepage anywhere. Perfectly intact. Rather than reach for a Durand or even a Ah-So, I continued with my trusty corkscrew.
The worm found solidity in the cork, it still squeaked with every turn of the screw. As I slowly pulled the cork from the neck, I was anticipating for the smell of TCA(corked), sauerkraut, or vinegar. Instead, I was met with cigar box, leather and an easy hint of cooked black fruits; plums, black berries and slight hint of volatile acidity. I was blown away.
I reached for the candle and decanter, I had to find out what was going to happen once oxygen found its way into the picture. I stared through the shoulders of the bottle into the candle as I slowly poured the wine into the decanter, waiting for the first wisps of smoke from the sediment. The smoke trail came only at the end of the bottle, never really pouring off any large sediment particles from the bottom of the bottle. Again, I smiled in amazement.
I poured a couple of ounces into my wine glass and gave it a swirl. There were no off aromas as I had expected, just the smell of a delicious older wine, muted fruits, hints of volatile acidity. Slight spices from barrel aging still lingered. The age of the wine was showing, cooked fruits, tobacco, leather, but an acidity that amazed me. Monterey County wines are known for acidity and this was no exception. The brick-red wine with hints of ruby hue, body that held well, it was truly a work of art. While this was past it’s true prime and on the way toward the Dark Side of the Force, I was blown away by it. 1974 was 2 years before the famed Judgment of Paris that put American wines on the map. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to drink this in its heyday.
Still…what a find and testament to fine wine making. This is one for the books.