Of the various occasional dilemmas faced by the wine critic, not many are as discombobulating as returning to a series of wines only to find almost the entire series vastly different than at a recent tasting. That is precisely what happened to me today when I attended a press tasting of the wines of Tzuba winery.
I had tasted each of these wines these wines on at least one and sometimes even three other occasions (see the references below), most recently a mere 40 days ago and had written in very positive terms about this still young winery. What I found today with all but the dessert wines of Tzuba were "wines without fault". Those not familiar with this term should realize that this is not a compliment, a wine without fault describing a wine that although technically well made and without obvious flaws fails to catch our attention as it has nothing that makes it stand out as above the norm. At least in one sense, a wine without fault is a wine without interest.
As a good critic should, throughout the tasting I made notes and, as I did, memory had me scratching my head as the wines were nowhere near their earlier status. And then, towards the end of the tasting, the proverbial penny fell.
My hypothesis – the wines were transported today from the winery to the restaurant at which the tasting took place – a mere hour or so by auto but in temperatures that exceeded 31 degrees Celsius (90 Fahrenheit) and in the luggage compartment of a car probably well over 45 degrees Celsius (112 Fahrenheit). If that isn't enough to reduce most wines (and most winemakers) to tears, nothing is.
My decision – for the moment I'll let my earlier notes hold. I will, however, contact the winemaker and arrange for a tasting bottle of each (not all of the wines have been released yet), give those an appropriate chance to rest in my own cellar and then do a re-tasting. I will, of course, post again immediately after that tasting.
My earlier tasting notes:
18 June 2008: http://stratsplace.zeroforum.com/zerothread?id=17257
13 June 2008: http://stratsplace.zeroforum.com/zerothread?id=15311
7 June 2007: http://stratsplace.zeroforum.com/zerothread?id=14306