07.26.19 | Laying of the Reds
The only aging I want to talk about this week is the aging of red wine. Around 95% of the wine we drink are not worthy of aging. A wine must have four key components that are all balanced: tannins, sugar, acidity, and alcohol. If these four things are in balance then it is worth laying the bottle down.
A wine will lose acidity over time, so it is important to choose a wine that has moderately high acid. The polyphenols (that’s the fancy name for tannins) stabilize color and flavor. Wines with moderate tannins have a better aging forecast. Think of sugar as a preservative, just like jam. A dessert wine, a Sauterne for instance, has a lot of sugar and ages well. Alcohol is one of the reasons wine breaks down, yet it can act as a stabilizer in high amounts. There is a very fine line to walk with alcohol levels in wine. Most importantly, look at the producer. If the producer has a record of winemaking for at least 15 vintages it is a mark in the plus category.
What wines age best? Cabernet Sauvignon (up to 20 years), Merlot (especially right bank Bordeaux - 20 years), Mourvedre (15-20 years), Tempranillo (up to 25 years), and the big Italian grapes, eg, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo (25-30 years).
John Duval Plexus GSM – $43
Only the Aussies call it GSM – Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre blend. It is my favorite of favorites, think Bonny Doon’s Le Cigare and all the beauty in that bottle. John Duval, however, also produces a beautiful GSM. John Duval was a Chief Winemaker with Penfold’s for 29 years, we can thank this man for the Grange. Bless him. The Plexus has ripe red and black fruits on the nose with a savory, spicy character. The palate embodies all that is wonderful about GSMs: soft tannins, plums, leather, herbs, blackberries, lavender, etc. This could sit another eight years.
Terrabianca Campaccio Sangiovese – $45
The first mention of Terrabianca is dated 1085, an entire two centuries before Dante. About 30 miles from Florence towards Siena, in the middle of Chianti Classico, is a countryside that is reminiscent of how it was in the Middle Ages. This is a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet, and Merlot. Powerful aromas of black cherry and chocolate, and that hint of green pepper. There is a zesty and acidic freshness of the Sangiovese while the Merlot softens the wine. Berry fruit, cocoa, toasted almonds, and leather await the palate.
White Rock Cabernet Sauvignon – $88
In 1960 Henri Vandendriessche, who came from Northern France, came to America to study Economics at UC Berkeley. In 1967, he met Claire who was raised in Napa and the rest is history. This is estate grown, produced, and bottled one mile off Silverado Trail on the south end of the Stag’s Leap Range. This has a gorgeous nose of cassis and blackberry, wet earth, and clean spiciness. This masculine wine is alive with black cherry, plum, graphite, smoke, leather, and licorice. You could lay this down until 2034 (and I would).