FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO LOVE WINE, BUT DON'T KNOW HOW
Cheers! Wine Consultants
By Dan & Krista Stockman
Recently, we made our long-awaited pilgrimage to Oregon Wine Country, and we can't wait to tell you all about it. But first, we want to tell you about a bottle that was – and wasn't – part of that trip.
The trip to Oregon's Willamette Valley had been planned for years to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. For much of the last few months before we left, however, we weren't sure whether we'd be able to go at all, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. But by late spring, things had begun to open up, the numbers were looking better, the airlines seemed to take the health threat seriously, and the wineries we wanted to visit all had safety protocols in place. We were sure virus numbers would be even lower by July, so we went for it.
Our romantic trip to Oregon wine country wasn't the only anniversary celebration we were planning. For many years we had been saving a special bottle to drink on our 20th anniversary: Rosemount Estate Show Reserve Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon from 2000, the year we were married.
We've said it many times, but it bears repeating: Most wine is not meant to age. The vast majority of wines you see on the shelf are ready to drink and should be consumed within six months of purchase. They won't get better with age, they'll get worse.
However, there are bottles out there that are meant to age, wines that will get better with time. That was the case with the Rosemount Cabernet and its brother, a Rosemount Estate Show Reserve McLaren Vale Shiraz that we bought at the same time. We're not sure when we got them, but it was probably between 2003 and 2005, as Scott's grocery stores not only still existed in Fort Wayne, but they had their expanded Wine Cellars, which is where we found them.
In this case, the labels specifically said they would improve with age, and Dan went on the winery's website to see just what kind of aging they meant – two years? Ten years? Twenty? He found that they should continue to improve for 12 to 15 years.
So we carefully laid them down in our cellar, and waited. And waited. And waited.
Obviously, life went on around them: We had children, changed jobs, started and ended a wine column, started a wine business, watched our children grow. All those years, those wines rested, slowly evolving in the bottle.
Finally, in 2016, we opened the Shiraz for our anniversary. To our amazement – and relief – it was not only still good, it was wonderful. Usually, as a wine ages, its structure begins to break down; though it had definitely softened around the edges, this was still a big-shouldered wine. Older wines can often lose their fruit, but not this one. And, of course, it had that certain grace that only comes with years in the cellar.
Which brings us to 2020 and our 20th anniversary. We knew we wanted to open the Cabernet, but packing a 20-year-old bottle of wine in our suitcase to fly to Oregon didn't seem like a wise move. So on our actual anniversary date in Oregon, we celebrated with Oregon wine, and a week after we got back, Dan grilled some steaks, and we popped the cork on the Cab.
The cork was pristine and the wine smelled heavenly. In the glass, it wasn't quite heavenly, but it was very good. To be honest, it was probably a year or two past its prime – remember, the winery had only said 15 years, not 20 – but it was still great. Of course, we had opened the Shiraz years before this one because usually Cabernet ages better. Usually. There was no way to know, but we should have opened them the other way around.
The structure of the Cab had broken down some, but there was still plenty of fruit and a long, long finish. And, more importantly, it did what wine is supposed to do: It made us slow down and think about the flavors and the occasion and just what 20 years means.
Like that wine, we may have broken down a little, but there's still plenty of life in us. Maybe we're a bit – or a lot – more relaxed than we were 20 years ago, but we like to think we also now have a certain confidence or grace we didn't have then.
Yes, we do have other bottles from 2000 for later anniversaries, bottles that are meant to age even longer. But if you're wondering what they are, well, you'll have to stick around a few years until we open them to find out.
Uncorking 20 years of love and memories