The third wine in The Great Decanting Experiment is one that I have not tasted before. It’s a Pinot Noir from Carneros. Produced by the Robert Stemmler Winery, the wine is a blend of grapes from six different sites separately fermented in small open-top tanks, hand plunged and aged in 40% new French oak.
Wine #3 2003 Robert Stemmler Carneros Pinot Noir, Estate Grown, Napa, USA ($11.99USD, 375ml), 14.5% alcohol.
One bottle was splash decanted and the other left unopen. After 2 hours the second bottle was opened and the two wines poured randomly into three marked opaque glasses while I was out of the room.
Glass A: Very distinctive note of molasses, almost rancio. Underlying aromas of ripe plums and licorice. A big, ripe Pinot. No subtly here. Full bodied with nice carry of flavors onto the palate. Soft tannins and very bright acidity. Nice length but ends with a slight bitter note.
Glass B: Closed, almost nothing coming from the glass. Faintest Pinot Noir spice, forest floor and a trace of rich toffee. Full bodied, a little more astringent than glass A. Nice juicy acidity but little flavor carry.
Glass C: As for glass B, very closed. Perhaps a hint of forest floor. On the palate this is the same as glass B.
My Opinion: Glass A is the wine from the bottle and glasses B and C are from the decanter.
Reality: Glass A is the wine from the bottle. The other two are from the decanter.
Conclusion: Well I had to get one right eventually! The difference between glass A and the other two was quite obvious, the only question was is glass A decanted or undecanted? Remember my bias? I do not believe that decanting affects wine in a positive way. So the decision was easy, and in this case (at least) the hypothesis holds up.
One point about this wine is that the initial tasting showed it was not endowed with overt Pinot Noir character. But as I swirled and sniffed from the three glasses there was a tendency for some of the spiciness that I associate with Pinot Noir to rise up and assert itself. Perhaps this is a wine that might benefit from an extended decant? Well I did splash decant it. And during its two hours in the decanter I did swirl it several times. Still if I can source a few more bottles I will try a longer decant, perhaps four hours? This may not be a bet to put too much on because as I type I am drinking some of the remaining wine and after almost 24 hours it has developed the caramel character of an oxidized wine. Rancio was a good descriptor after all!
Score: Wines tested 3, Decanters 0, Non-decanters 1.