30 July 2007

Seance with Smoking Gun

It wasn’t meant to be a séance, but after I poured Soljans Estate Gisborne 1998 (New Zealand) Pinotage we found ourselves trying to raise the ghost of a wine that was long past it*.

It was a thin pale brown-red colour. There was a faint taste of raspberries and a great deal of acidity with a sour finish. Not pleasant at all, so we turned to another 1998 wine, Groenkloof (now Darling Cellars) made by Abé Beukes, which was a Top 10 winner in 1999. Deeper colour, browning edge, there’s some mintiness with strawberry and Victoria plum fruit flavours but the fruit is fading fast in the glass even as we sip, and the séance can’t bring it back. We can’t face a second glass.

So I grab a wine from the ready rack. To the rescue comes The Wine Society Exhibition Pinotage 2003 (£8.95). This was made by Francois Naudé at L’Avenir Estate from mostly his younger vines (18 & 23 yo) and matured in used barrels to give a lighter fruitier style. This had everything we could want: lots of life and punchy blackberry flavours with tobacco leaf.

With the séance over, the inquest started. Who killed Soljans and Groenkloof? The smoking gun was to hand; I could see the culprit’s face reflected in the glass. It was me. I had kept the wines too long.

I have a temperature controlled cellar,I stick wines away to mature and I sometimes leave them too long. The Soljans was dead – but the Groenkloof was of interest to devotees of mature wines. Problem is my tastes have changed. I used to like old wines but I am finding that they hold less attraction now. As I get older, I prefer more youthful wines.

I’ll be going through my Cellartracker records to find my other oldies that need opening.

*Interesting to note the upward trend in alcohol levels; both the 1998 wines were 13% alcohol by volume while the 2003 wine was 14.5%abv, and to be fair, Soljans back label did say that it was an ideal 'drink young' wine.

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