Lost cellar wine, not lost completely!

Okay, so I don’t have a traditional ‘cellar’. I have a wine cooler in the garage that I refer to as my cellar (it just sounds better). There’s a couple of problems with this. First, the cooler is double deep. Which means the bottles stack two deep front to back. So, I can’t see what’s behind the first row unless I pull out the front bottle and the back bottle.

The other problem is we park a car in the garage and when it’s in there, I can’t open the cooler doors all the way to reach the wines to the far left and right. So, the wines on the sides rarely get consumed because of the lack of ability to reach them.

I have attempted many times to keep a spreadsheet of wines that are in there and mark off the ones I drink and add the new ones I acquire. Unfortunately, this has always failed. Sometimes letting a wine sit in the cellar (cooler) for an extended period of time is a good thing. Other times not so much.

Tonight I ran across a wine I though I drank a while ago….


This wine is lower – middle tier for Robert Mondavi. Not a wine I would generally age. Even the producer would likely tell you to drink shortly after purchase. If I remember correctly, I bought this bottle back in 2005. It sold for about $17. Now, I’m not saying value-priced wines aren’t age worthy, but generally speaking I wouldn’t set aside a wine like this. It just got lost in the cellar.

To my surprise, the wine has remained true to its character. The rich, ruby color isn’t showing any major signs of age. An oxidized wine would have more of a reddish tint to it. The aromas of bittersweet chocolate and tobacco are inviting. And in my mouth the wine comes alive with flavors of cassis and cinnamon. The structure is decent with the tannins and barrel flavors well integrated. The finish is relatively short, but nothing I would complain about, especially given the price. Overall, it’s a well put together wine.

Note the label says ‘California’. That’s because these grapes come from all over California. They are not specific to one region, rather a blend of grapes from multiple regions. This is a great way to keep costs down. The flip side is that sometimes certain grapes (Cabernet in this instance) only grow really well in some areas. So, you may get a wine of mediocre quality because the areas the grapes were sourced from may not have contained the ideal growing conditions. There’s a lot of factors that can affect grape quality, but this is a great example of how things can come together to produce a great wine.

One last thought. You may also notice that the cork is synthetic. I think that played a big part in why this wine is in the condition that it is. Synthetic corks don’t let any (or at least much, much less) oxygen into the bottle. This means that the wine was well preserved and as a result is showing little signs of aging. For most of the wines that I want to age this wouldn’t be a good thing, but for this wine that was really meant to be consumed much earlier it was the saving grace.


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