Sunday, April 06, 2008

Ready, or not? 2001 D' Arenberg Coppermine Road

Wines that have vastly different scores from different reviewers can become a flashpoint for discussion, but tonight's discrepancy between tasters was not in the scoring but WHEN you should drink this wine. According to the Wine Spectator's Harvey Steiman the 2001 Coppermine Road is "Best from 2004 through 2008". Wait a second, I have six of these! Are they past their prime? But Parker wrote in 2003 "...tremendous upside potential, it requires 5-6 more years of aging, after which it will last for two decades" - it should be barely hitting its stride, with decades ahead of it!

So, what did our intrepid tasters say? Well, after a one hour decant it was drinking very well right now. Definitely not past its prime, and hinting at many more years of pleasure. But it was very hard for anyone to envision this wine keeping for another 20 years. The verdict - both were wrong - it has not yet peaked, it was not too early to drink and can't picture this in 2028.

The nose of the 2001 D'Arenberg Coppermine Road was not overpowering, subtly showing wet forest, pepper, violet and blackberry amongst a host of pleasing aromas. Soft, supple and spicy on the palate with a distant hand of fine tannins, this definitely has a few good years ahead of it. But 20? Not so sure, but with 5 more bottles I am willing to try.
cork. 14.5% alcohol. ~60 min decant
Score: 18/20
Price: C$59 (SAQ)

Oops - almost forgot the 2003 Vasse Felix Cabernet in the picture - see notes here.


Edward said...

But Joe,

If you store your wine in the permafrost won't it last till 2128 :)

Joe said...

Hi Ed - no permafrost here - no penguins, Igloos either :) The dirty snow in this picture says the big melt is on - could be your last snowy wine bottle picture.

Shea said...

Just wanted to weigh in on this one. I've been reading for a while though, and enjoy your blog a lot!

Basically, I've always wondered about Parker's pronouncements as to ageability. In my experience, almost every wine he reviews over 90 gets a proclamation that it will last 'decades'. I guess it all depends on what you want in your wine, but I have serious reservations about aging a simple monastrell for 15 years. What's with that?

Plus, how can anyone make such determinations? What is it based on? Is there some correlation between tastes and ageability? I've had wine that should have aged well not age well and vice versa. Even experts seem to change their opinions on vintages as the years go by. It's all very curious I say!

Joe said...

Hi Shea - thanks for the support. To be fair, all the writers give very WIDE ranges so it is hard for them to be wrong! Mourvedre/monastrell can age quite well, but no experience with the cheapies after a long period in the cellar. It is just a guess, but at least the tasters have tasted every vintage of a vineyard over the past fifty years, including multiple times over the wine's life, so they must get some decent clues. Personally I just say "now", "next few years" or "stick it away for a while" - that is the extent of my ability. I guess the good thing is that they do repeat taste wines and update their views. My view is you buy a couple of bottles, taste one when you think it my be ready, if not leave the rest for a while...A great topic for lengthy discussions and debates!

David McDuff said...

Hey Joe,

I have a bottle of the '97 at home. If I can ever find a reason to open it, I'll try to remember to report back on its progress. Obviously, it's not apples to apples when comparing two different vintages but it still may provide a look at the wine's track record.

Joe said...

Hi David - I'd bet Edward has tried one of those - please do report back, I'd like to hear how it is progressing - while not apples to apples, I am pretty sure they have not had any winemaker changes so probably quite a valid take. I guess I should read the vintage reports for 1997...

Julian said...

The whole ageing thing is really interesting, and it seems to me that, unless a wine is so young it's almost undrinkable, how long one should leave it is almost entirely a matter of personal taste. Riesling's an especially good example, in that some love the taste of fresh, young Riesling, and others savour the honeyed opulence that comes with time -- both quite valid points of view. The same principle would seem to apply to most wines.

I get the impression that there's a perception wines "peak" at a certain point and drinking them on either side of this somewhat mythical event is akin to pouring the wine down the sink. Well, perhaps not quite so extreme, but my point is that what constitutes a wine's "peak" emerges from a dialogue between taster and wine, rather than someone else's idea of perfect maturity.

Joe said...

Hi Julian -I agree with you on the taste thing - aged wines acquire very different characteristics that may not be appreciated by everyone - I have just started to appreciate the flavours and aromas of aged wine. I think you are right about "Peak" - when I think a wine has peaked it doesn't mean it won't cellar, just in my mind it won't get better - the Spanish Gran Reservas from the 80s I recently tasted are great examples - they certainly could "keep", but I doubt they will improve (to my taste). A great topic - I may have to explore this further!