Wines keep getting released earlier and earlier, and I'm not talking about Beaujolais Nouveau.
Sometimes that’s a good thing, because you get a rare glimpse of fruit flavors that are so pure, vivid and distinctive. I loved the 2005 Villa Creek Garnacha, from Denner Vineyard in Paso Robles ($35). It gushed with boysenberry and huckleberry flavors, which are rare in my tasting experiences. They can occasionally be found in superyoung wines, but with time they tend to evolve and don’t taste like they did earlier on. So it’s kind of like watching the sunset. You have to catch it when it’s going down. Wait too long and you miss it.
In recent weeks I’ve tasted 2006 vintage Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blancs, Pinot Noirs, Syrahs and Zinfandels, which means that these wines are barely a year old (given that many 2007s are still undergoing malolactic fermentations).
Some of the Chardonnays and Pinots were frankly so green and hard that I decided to take another look at them next year.
Yet a couple of 2006 Syrahs were terrific, specifically the Neyers Sonoma Coast Old Lakeville Road 2006 ($30), which is ripe and grapey, with loads of spice and dusty berry flavors.
Ditto for the Relic Syrah Napa Valley Richard Perry Vineyard ($49) which offered wonderful aromas of blackberry, black and white pepper and new leather.
It’s no secret that wineries want and need to get their products into the market and sold as soon as possible, since keeping placements in wine shops and restaurant wine lists is crucial to most wineries. Sales means revenue, and who can live without that?
Occasionally winemakers are so excited that they rush their wines to review. One tale of late: A winemaker took a bottle off the bottling line and brought it to our office within a day (and maybe within hours). The wine was hardly presentable. If you’ve never tried a newly bottled wine you should attempt to. They typically go through what’s called bottle shock and in most instances the fruit tastes muted and closed. And when the bag came off and I found out the wine had been newly bottled, that explained everything.
So there’s a fine line between judging a young wine. In some cases they taste fine, witness the Neyers or Relic. But when they’re too young they’re hardly reflective of what they’ll taste like in few months, which is why I’m waiting on some of the 2006 reds and whites. It’s better for both of us.
Bryan Angley — November 29, 2007 5:37pm ET
Kirk R Grant — Ellsworth, ME — November 29, 2007 5:43pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — November 29, 2007 5:51pm ET
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento,CA — November 29, 2007 8:01pm ET
Sandy Fitzgerald — Centennial, CO — November 30, 2007 12:49pm ET
John B Vlahos — Cupertino Ca. — November 30, 2007 2:11pm ET
Brian Loring — Lompoc, CA — November 30, 2007 2:58pm ET
Hugh L Sutherland Jr-m — miramar beach, fl — November 30, 2007 3:50pm ET
Larry Schaffer — Central Coast — December 2, 2007 12:23pm ET
Brian Loring — Lompoc, CA — December 2, 2007 4:29pm ET
Larry Schaffer — Central Coast — December 3, 2007 10:56am ET
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