Wine to me is passion. It's family and friends. It's warmth of heart and generosity of spirit.
Robert Mondavi

Friday, September 4, 2009

There's nothing like an older bottle of wine

1991, Simi Reserve, Alexander Valley, California

The Simi Reserve was still alive and well, although it is in that last quarter of its life. This was somewhat of a surprise based on what I had read prior to opening it and the conditions in which it was stored. In 1995, Wine Spectator's most discerning palate, James Laube, said it was supple and harmonious, with well-focused cherry, currant, mineral and spice notes that lead to firm tannins and an excellent, long finish. This ample California Cabernet needs to age into 1998 or 1999 to show its best. This would put its peak from 1998-2001 before starting to fade.

After tasting this last evening I would say that this is just past its peak (by 3-4 years). The 1991 Simi Reserve offered the color and body that would not reflect the fact that this wine is old enough to vote. The meniscus (outer ring) was of garnet but overall the wine still radiated a dark plum hue.

It had a medium to full-bodied feel, which still offered a nice dose of fruit on the nose and palate. The aroma jumped of prunes that folded nicely into saddle leather. At the very end, the nose put forth a nice amount of wet peat moss. The palate was of matured blackberry and cherry that evolved into plum, seemingly with traces of menthol (?). The tannins were completely mellowed out by this point.

This wine still has a good amount to offer and should drink pretty well for at least 3 more years. The original Laube tasting in 1992 was scored an 88, with the 1995 tasting scoring a 92. I would put this in the 90-91 range, because this wine still has some terrific qualities.

Although this wine will be extremely hard to come by, I feel that it is important to try older wines if wine is a passion of yours. It gives you a completely different experience and appreciation. Also, older wines make terrific birthday and anniversary gifts. Imagine opening a wine from your birth year, wow!

Note – when looking at projected time in wine ratings, the rule of thumb is as follows:

Let's use this wine as an example:
1995 (date published) – 1998 (date of peak) = 3 (years) + 1998 (date of peak) = 1998-2001 (peak drinking time)

This just goes to show you that estimating a peak drinking time is not an exact science. These expert palates are simply using what the wine is showing at the time and trying to put some practical advice forward.

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