Saturday, January 26, 2013

Over The Moon - Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

I recently turned 29. To celebrate this momentous occasion, I chose to open the first wine I ever laid down - my very last bottle of Moon Mountain 2002 Estate Reserve Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. It had 11 years in the bottle, and even though the winemaker said at the time of release (2005) that it could go for 20, I was starting to get nervous. 20 years in a proper cellar, perhaps, but since owning this bottle I've lived in two different top floor apartments and never had anywhere better to put it than the bottom of an occasionally moved wine rack as close to the inside walls as I could get it.

First, if you don't understand why this made me nervous, allow me to explain.

No, there is too much, let me sum up.

The myriad delicate chemical reactions that cause certain wines to develop and/or improve with age rely on several factors being balanced in just the right way. Furthermore, there is a rather broad spectrum of "acceptable" on either side of "perfect," and since every bottle is different and you usually have no way to confirm its treatment before it came into your possession, people like me who just "do their best" with limited conditions end up doing an awful lot of guesswork and finger-crossing.

I see that my fears were unfounded. Upon tasting this wine I was equal parts glad I had waited so long and regretful that I hadn't waited longer - it clearly hadn't peaked yet, as was my main concern. If only I could go back in time and buy an entire case instead of four bottles, but I remember feeling at the time that I would if I could, so c'est la vie. The results I did achieve were glorious. Actually, I misspoke. My joy far overwhelms my regret, they are not equal.

Moon Mountain Vineyard
2002 Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Sonoma Valley, CA 13.9%
Cabernet Sauvignon 76% Cabernet Franc 10% Petit Verdot 6% Merlot 5% Malbec 3%

I did a casual decant, uncorking the bottle about an hour before tasting and allowing it to gently breathe sitting on a table, away from any lamps so as not to heat it up while it waited. The saturation of the cork and the layer of dark purple sediment were both exceedingly encouraging sights.

Behold, the cork of glory! In the background, you can see my husband chopping the world's most enormous golden beet.
After letting it breathe for an hour, I poured a bit into my glass. I was greeted by the sight of a beautiful, deep, rich cherry red. Like a fresh, clear brick. A little darker in the center, but fading uniformly to the edges. This was another good sign, and my fears had all but disappeared.

It had a richly intoxicating nose of deep, sultry spices. Spiced chutney, blackberry, cassis, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, and a faint whiff of barnyard. A bit of sexy musk, ylang ylang, neroli, vanilla, saffron, and Cavendish all declared themselves as well. I could have sat there and sniffed this complex beauty for hours.

On the palate, the exposition was light at first followed up by HUGE monster tannins. It actually got BIGGER than it was when I'd last tasted it about 7 years ago, which was pleasantly surprising, 'cause I do like a nice brawny red. Unbelievably dry with enormous, mouth-filling flavors of chewy Cavendish, cassis, blueberry, and pepper. Slight touch of leather and graham cracker on the finish, fading into herbal mint and pine.

My friends, this is one of the best favors I have ever done myself. When you are presented with the opportunity, buy some nice wines and lay them down for a long long time. This was an amazing experience, and makes me so much more excited for the other bottles I'm waiting on. I am definitely glad I got  to put this in my face.

Also, the label is really pretty.

1 comment:

  1. why, WHY, must you make wine I can't buy sound so desirable?