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tasting question

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Jennifer R

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tasting question

by Jennifer R » Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:35 am

Hello, a bit of a newbie question. We tasted a 2003 Columbia Crest Sauvignon Blanc recently. Opinions varied as to whether it had gone bad or not. It was my very first wine out of Washington State, (not widely available in NS) so in some way there was no point of reference. There was nothing in the aromas to suggest it was off. The mouthfeel was full, with zesty life on the sides of the mouth, but just before the swallow, it seemed a little.....flat. There seemed to be a little bit of sweetness in the back of the tongue. It was reminscent of a French Viognier that I've had before, again mabey that was off or overaged too.
Is the flatness an indicator of a white passing it's peak?
Any ideas?
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Robin Garr

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Re: tasting question

by Robin Garr » Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:42 am

Jennifer R wrote:Is the flatness an indicator of a white passing it's peak?
Any ideas?

Jennifer, did the wine have a natural cork, or a screwcap or synthetic (plastic) stopper? If natural cork, this sounds like a classic case of a wine that has suffered from a slightly "tainted" cork, not enough to bring on that typical musty, moldy stench but just enough to mute the flavors. Another possibility is that it was "cooked," suffering excessive heat at some point during storage.

Alternatively, it might be that this is just a modest wine without huge potential, and it's giving you all that it has.

Short answer, though, while Sauvignon Blanc is usually a wine to drink up young, a 2003 shouldn't be dead yet. And when a white does go around the bend, it most often shows that by darkening in color and taking on a nutty, Sherry-like odor.
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Re: tasting question

by Jenise » Fri Jan 25, 2008 1:16 pm

Robin Garr wrote:Short answer, though, while Sauvignon Blanc is usually a wine to drink up young, a 2003 shouldn't be dead yet. And when a white does go around the bend, it most often shows that by darkening in color and taking on a nutty, Sherry-like odor.


Robin, one fact you're overlooking in your assessment: 2003 was a torid vintage producing low-acid wines that don't have the stuffing of typical northwest cool climate vintages. Based on an 03 WA gewurz a friend served me recently and a lousy bottle of something else I purchased because I wasn't paying attention--the flat spot (where the acid would have been in a better year) and the sweet impression in the finish that Jennifer describes are instead classic symptoms of just what she supposes. An overaged, long in the tooth wine--that wasn't that great in the first place.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: tasting question

by Robin Garr » Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:57 pm

Jenise wrote:Robin, one fact you're overlooking in your assessment: 2003 was a torid vintage producing low-acid wines that don't have the stuffing of typical northwest cool climate vintages.

Whoa! I knew that about 2003 in Europe, of course, but didn't realize it was that bad on the West Coast. My recollection of '03 in Northern California was different - some hot spells but not a scorcher. I didn't realize Washington State was different, d'oh!

Normally, though, I wouldn't expect a domestic Sauvignon Blanc from a major producer to die in four years, although certainly it wouldn't be surprising for it to lose some of its freshness.
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Re: tasting question

by Mark Willstatter » Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:46 pm

Jenise wrote:Robin, one fact you're overlooking in your assessment: 2003 was a torid vintage producing low-acid wines that don't have the stuffing of typical northwest cool climate vintages.


Jenise, I don't know if I would use the words "cool climate" to describe a typical summer in eastern Washington!
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Re: tasting question

by Bill Hooper » Sat Jan 26, 2008 1:48 am

Jenise wrote: 2003 was a torid vintage producing low-acid wines that don't have the stuffing of typical northwest cool climate vintages.


I could be off-base here, but wouldn't a formulaic, big-ass producer like Columbia Crest acidify in a vintage like that?
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Re: tasting question

by Joe Cz » Sat Jan 26, 2008 2:15 am

Robin Garr wrote:Normally, though, I wouldn't expect a domestic Sauvignon Blanc from a major producer to die in four years, although certainly it wouldn't be surprising for it to lose some of its freshness.


I would. These are the sorts of wines (commercial, early-drinking whites) best drunk before the next vintage becomes available, IMO.

Born on date (vintage) +1 = Best By date
Born on date + 2 = Only Cook With date

After that, forget it. These wines just don't have enough substance to them to last.

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Robin Garr

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Re: tasting question

by Robin Garr » Sat Jan 26, 2008 9:55 am

Joe Cz wrote:I would. These are the sorts of wines (commercial, early-drinking whites) best drunk before the next vintage becomes available, IMO.

Born on date (vintage) +1 = Best By date
Born on date + 2 = Only Cook With date

After that, forget it. These wines just don't have enough substance to them to last.

I'm not sure we're on parallel tracks here, Joe. Frankly, I think a lot of those wines don't have enough substance to drink in the first place. But that being said, industrial wines are like industrial apples, it seems to me. They may not offer anything special, but they won't turn funky for a surprisingly long time.

This would be a good issue to put to a simple test. I'll look around for some date + 2 mass-market wine around here - it shouldn't be hard to find - and do a little blind tasting.
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Re: tasting question

by Jennifer R » Sun Jan 27, 2008 2:30 pm

Thanks everyone, the cork was cork, there were no aromas that indicated any must or oxidization. Even the colour was pale straw. I'll chalk it up to being cooked, and now I will have a point of reference of a cooked wine.
I just had high expectations of a washington state wine, I was so excited to try it.....ah well. There will always be another wine to discover. Thanks again. Jennifer
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Re: tasting question

by Jenise » Sun Jan 27, 2008 2:42 pm

Mark Willstatter wrote:
Jenise wrote:Robin, one fact you're overlooking in your assessment: 2003 was a torid vintage producing low-acid wines that don't have the stuffing of typical northwest cool climate vintages.


Jenise, I don't know if I would use the words "cool climate" to describe a typical summer in eastern Washington!


I hear you--but I was told, perhaps wrongly, that the shorter duration of the summer here actually qualified it as a cool climate--or at least cooler than northern California!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: tasting question

by ClarkDGigHbr » Sun Jan 27, 2008 3:55 pm

Jennifer R wrote:I just had high expectations of a washington state wine, I was so excited to try it.....ah well. There will always be another wine to discover.


Jennifer, There are LOTS of great Washington State wines to discover. The one you tried is a mass-produced wine that should deliver decent quality, but really nothing more distinctive than that. I love Sauvignon Blanc and found that my two local favorites last year came from Chinook (Yakima Valley) and Dry Hollow (Columbia Valley). In fact, these were the only two I liked enough to bring into my collection last year. They both cost more than Columbia Crest, but the quality difference is quite amazing.

-- Clark
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Re: tasting question

by Jennifer R » Mon Jan 28, 2008 10:54 pm

I forget sometimes the differences in cost of wine. In Nova Scotia the Columbia Crest is a 15$ bottle. Even with the Canadian $ at par with the US. It never occured to me that it is only a 10$ bottle of wine at home. Perspective is everything.
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