A few weeks ago, several of us got together to share some wines: the *theme* of which was NOT super-blingy cellar-treasures, but mid-to-upper-tier curiosities that need to be dranken BAD. There were about a dozen wines present, and while I did not write notes on all of them, a couple surprises surfaced. The point of this preamble is: in SELECTING wines to bring to THAT tasting, my hands grazed over multiple OTHER bottles in the cellar which needed visiting bad, but didn’t quite have the pedigree for the occasion. Also I suspected many of them FAR past prime. So last night I dug into them. It wasn’t pretty. But it was just me, so there wasn’t the need for any apologies.

Caveat: NONE of these wines are on any shelves anywhere, at least one of them was never for sale, ALL of the wineries are out of business, and of the 10,000 or so people reading this, I’m guessing *maybe* 10 of you have one of these 6 bottles. So if you’re here looking for wine-recommendations, you can stop reading now. These are merely curiosities. And it all went pretty badly. As usual with these sort of experimental evenings, I started off with something I *thought* would be exemplary, and started opening bottles with the goal of “stopping when something good happens”. It never did and I finally just moved on to Fernet. In order of opening:

1997 YORK CREEK Meritage ME/Cab Spring Mt. Napa Valley 14.1 Far past prime, absolutely gone. Closed-in and awkward, nutty burnt rubber and caramel nose, taste a washed-out fruitless mash of briar long since gone bitter and un-resolved tannin. This I fear is the legacy of “VINTAGES OF THE DECADE”. Big, lush and beautiful wines from a growing-season garnering hi-90’s scores do NOT age well. (lookin at YOU 7, 10 & 13) There’s a bunch of these floatin around on the clearance rack these days, DO NOT let their rumors of gorgeousness from bargain-vultures sway you.

2010 SPENCER VINEYARD PS Paso Robles 16.0 A garage-find I can’t find any info on, and even asked around. Straight-up port. Nose… palate… everything. Thick heady syrupy berry and the alcoholic burn to back it up. The youngest of the whole group and probably the longest-lived: it will taste exactly the same in 10 years. Probably tasted like this 10 years AGO.

2007 SAWYER CELLARS Bradford Meritage ME/cab Napa Valley 14.1 Those in the back rows will know this is the boring but not irrelevant Rutherford property Foley bought for his wife and kid which became Foley-Johnson. Naturally, I bought these at deep discount after the sale. This wine has ABSOLUTELY NO NOSE. Not unpleasant to drink, tired and all vague tertiary, at least 5 years past prime.

2002 BLACKFORD Cab Napa Valley 14.5 Heavy sed and a nose all weedy-port and rotting fruit. Rather rich and round on the palate, a well-balanced, interesting wine I ended up re-visiting throughout the night. Not-overpowering tannin with generous fruit.

2008 CLOS MIMI Cab McGinley Vyd Happy Canyon Santa Barbara Co. This was a gorgeous wine I am glad is my last bottle. Again: great big hi-scoring wine that peaked 5 years ago. SOOOO ripe, STILL. Fruit headed for the compost-bin, awkward nuances surfacing, portiness taking grip, tannin has nothing to play with but acid.

2007 HEAVENLY HILLS PN/Barb Arroyo Grande SLO Def the oddball in the group, burnt smoky nose stemmy and dank, dog poop and flatulence. Still actually fruity–while dark and grainy, and one of the more enjoyable wines of the night. But odd. Very, very odd.


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