Most wine reviewers write only about wines that have been recently released. I suppose there is a good reason for that. If the purpose of a review is to give advice about purchasing wine, reviewing aged wines would seldom be useful since most retailers sell primarily recently released wines. The task of finding a particular vintage wine in retail shops is at best daunting and usually impossible. Unfortunately that means wine reviewing seldom has the most compelling wines as its subject matter. For among quality wines, age tends to increase quality at least until it reaches senescence. When we write only about young wines we wallow in immaturity, which is like watching minor league baseball or film school seminar projects.
I think the purpose of a wine review is not simply to give purchasing advice but to make wine intelligible, to provide understanding. How a wine ages is the most important feature of a wine although that may be relevant long after the wine is purchased. Of course, I’m the sort who prefers to read film or book reviews after I’ve experienced them, not before. So please forgive the peculiarity of a review about a wine you likely cannot purchase although you might find some incentive to purchase a recent vintage. Epoch wines do age well.
This is big, hot, Paso Robles Syrah. Burgeoning berry notes pour from the glass supported by a figgy undercurrent. Lovely filaments of smoke filter through the vanilla-infused background which is enlivened by surprising, subtle notes of orange zest, unusual in a Syrah. Tobacco and berry persists on the palate but lively cola flavors seem to come in waves leaving the impression of movement and evolution. Full bodied but not heavy, there is sufficient acidity to provide refreshment before ushering in a long finish packed with licorice and bolstered by well-integrated tannins that have begun to soften. There is still some burnt wood on the palate and the alcohol on the nose is distracting but this is aging nicely with plenty of life left. It is not close to fading.
When young, this was a dark, blustery wine; at this stage I would still not call it gentle. The texture is pleasant but not lush, the tannins still sinewy, the overall impression, aggressive but with a roguish poise that is gradually developing refinement. A black heart with a vivacious streak in the midst of developing character—a Jack Sparrow wine.
And what better way is there of celebrating that buccaneer than with a signature riff from his well-aged inspiration—Keith Richards.