My friend Greg invited me over to his house yesterday for a little geek fest over some old vintage Virginia wines. He was opening a ‘97, ’99 and ’02 Barboursville Cabernet Sauvignon with the ’99 being a Reserve. In the spirit of opening old Virginia wine, I took over a recent discovery in my cellar, a 1984 Rapidan River Riesling.
We started with the Riesling, which was tasting better than I thought it would, but still not that great and definitely past it’s prime. The cool part about this Riesling, besides the fact that it’s an ’84 from VA, but it was also made about 10 miles from where I grew up, 7 years after I was born. The cork showed some seepage and was really loose when I pulled it out, and although old, I think the darker golden color of the wine was due to an influx of air over time. All that being said, this was a textbook example of gasoline, diesel fuel aromas on an aged Riesling with hints of burnt sugar (caramel). Unfortunately most of the fruit was gone on the palate, hints of apricot and honey did show up for a second, but were quickly dissipated by the watery finish. All in all, better than I expected for an old wine made from a grape that doesn’t thrive here in the state.
On to the Cabernets….
We started with the ’97 which was tasting good but unfortunately seems a bit past it’s peak. Not a whole lot of fruit left, the nose showed aromas of cedar, anise, cocoa and a hint of funk. The palate had a nice dose of cranberry, baking spice, tobacco leaf and leather accompanied by a smooth medium body. The finish was really short, faded away soon after swallowing. Impressive for a 13 year old Cab from Virginia.
More impressive was the ’99 Reserve, still showing notes of dark fruit both on the nose and palate. Specifically, heavy doses of black cherry interlaced with leather shop aromas. The taste buds were picking up flavors of blackberry, spice box, cedar, pine and red clay. Tannins were still present in this guy, showing a nice velvety texture. I think the ’99 isn’t past it’s prime but it’s definitely on the downhill slope.
The 2002 had a great nose of red currant, and raspberry with a bit of sweet cedar and eucalyptus. Sounding great right? Well on the palate I got cork taint, boo! It was subtle at first but for me it definitely built up over the course of the glass and by the end of it, all I could taste was musty newspapers. The group didn’t agree with me completely but thought something might have been a bit off. Oh well, you can’t win ’em all.
I think the ’99 Reserve was the winner for me, as well as everybody else. It was definitely a fun time – tasting some old Virginia wine. Some good, some bad, as is the case when opening older vintages, you never know what you’re going to get.
We also opened an ’81 Richter Riesling that I’ll review on a separate post.