Saturday, November 22, 2008

1980 Caymus Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon **

We dined at
Henry's End in Brooklyn Heights last night, which was very good. Henry's End has an extensive wine list, with an emphasis on American wine, and they have a number of cellar selections from the 1980s, featuring Shafer, Caymus, Mondavi, etc. I ordered a bottle of the 1988 Dominus, which unfortunately was funked.

This raises the question of corkiness in wines and the cork v. screw cap debate. Most people, as soon as they hear a wine has turned, probably think that it was the cork that caused the wine to go bad. It was not the cork ... the wine had simply gone bad. It was probably stored improperly by whoever owned it before Henry's End bought it. In my experience, I have tasted more wines that have gone bad due to improper storage than due to bad cork. Take that for what you will. As I have stated before, I am a cork conservative. I do not buy or cellar wines with screw-caps, and I encourage others to follow suit. (A later post on the so-called "trend" towards screw-caps, especially from distributors I admire, will tackle this issue in greater depth.)

After sniffing and tasting the 1988 Dominus at Henry's End, I realized I had to send my first bottle of wine back, ever. I looked up at the maitre d' and said simply, "Do you want to try it?" As it turns out this was the second bottle of 1988 Dominus from the same cellar that had gone bad. The maitre d' opined that the wine was "matterized." I had never heard the expression before and unless you have tasted a wine that is "matterized" I wouldn't know how to explain it, but that is exactly what it was.

The maitre d' brought over a bottle of 1980 Caymus Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ** The primary note in the glass was a honeyed balsamic reduction. The wine was a cloudy dark cherry color, with oaky barrel notes throughout, with a silky texture and a tart strawberry and mildly sweet and sour cherry finish. At 28 years, the wine is probably past its prime, but the cork was still solid, and it was delicious.

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