Years ago, when I was first teaching myself about wines, there was one lesson that I could not learn. The lesson was, how to sate my curiosity about older wines. When I think back about all the wines that I consumed, give or take a few older wines, I drank wines that should have been in the cellar for at least twenty if not thirty years. Wines were made for cellaring, especially back then. I splurged a few times over the years growing up and an older wine was unique. Today, the majority of the wines, as far as I am concerned, are made for instant gratification and I guess I was part of the generation that actually pushed this trend into focus. Today, wines are written about, stressing the fruit forward nature of the wine, the floral nose and spiciness, even the beautiful length of terroir that some wines convey. Older wines have a maturity, that allows the flavors to mellow, as well as the tannins for a rich, sometimes indescribable flavor, especially for me, who disdains descriptors, but loves mellow wines. Two wines will help this narrative, that we just had in the last week or so with dinners at home.
At one time, I was trying to be a blogger like the “cool kids” and write about all of the international and national wine days. The only problem was that the articles didn’t really sound like me, so I stopped writing about them. Then a few years ago, after some prodding from others, I got an Instagram account and eventually I will get my blog and Instagram on the same page, but that will take at least two years more to achieve. Though Instagram has a “story” page and I think that I will start posting for the “days” there. The other day was International Merlot Day, so I suggested to my Bride that she make something for a red wine, before she pulled out a chicken or fish dish for dinner. She ended up making a Pork Tenderloin in a Portuguese Braising Sauce and it was delicious. Since, I have always been partial to Merlot, it was easy for me to find one in the cellar and I also selected by Durand cork screw, just in case. I selected our oldest Merlot in the cellar and it was a bottle of Lockwood VSR (Very Special Reserve) Estate Grown and Bottled Merlot Monterey 1998 in one of those heavy glass bottles that some writers cry about, because it may cost a little more to ship, but denotes a quality wine from the winery. Any information that I may have had is long gone, as I received it, before I even thought about writing this blog. This wine was produced in San Lucas and I have found a Lockwood Vineyards in Napa Valley, used the same logo and font, but listed nothing as lofty as this wine. I am sure that it came from our club “A Taste of Monterey.” With the aid of the Durand, the cork came out smoothly. The wine had a deep ruby color with a bright ruby at the ring and no browning, and the ullage was still fine. The wine still had a nose offering some dark fruit, but it had softened, and the fruit was just there in the taste like an old Merlot, but it had mellowed along with the tannins and the oaks, into a very velvety rich and mellow wine with a lingering finish that just kept reminding me of the wine. There was even a nice good pour of wine left over that I enjoyed the next day and it did not disappoint.
The other wine that we had also with of all things, a Roasted Pork Tenderloin, was a bottle of Viansa Winery “Sempre Avanti” North Coast Red Wine 2000. We received this wine as a gift, and it was only rediscovered when we had all that free time to rearrange the wine racks last year, when we were all living under a lockdown. Viansa Winery was founded in 1990 by Sam and Vicki Sebastiani and currently under the management of their sons Chris and Jon, and there is almost a hundred years of winemaking by the Sebastiani family in Sonoma, and now all of there wines carry Sonoma and not North Coast appellation. “Sempre Avanti” translates to “Always Forward” and was coined by the grandfather Samuele Sebastiani in his early days. Another wine with no history, but I don’t feel that I would be too far out on a limb to say that the wine was a blend containing some classic Italian grapes (e.g., Primitivo or Zinfandel). Even with the Durand the cork broke and I had to strain and decant the wine using my coffee filter and funnel method. The wine had a pretty ruby color with no browning, and a soft nose. The fruit had blended in with the tannins for another velvety texture, but with a short finish with no terroir. I would never be able to tell you what grapes I tasted, but it was delicious with dinner and very smooth. The old wines are just best to describe them as mellow.