Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Great Decanting Experiment – Wine #7

Its not proving easy to find wines that benefit from a few hours in a decanter. OK, so only six wines have been tested so far and there would be serious debate as to whether some of them are true contenders for the title of “A wine that benefits from decanting”. So with the next wine let’s go BIG! The dogma is that young, big wines, with plenty of tannin, need some time in a decanter to calm down their belligerent tendencies; I don’t know why but that brought to mind an image of Paris Hilton after 45 days in jail!

Let’s go back to Napa, to the Robert Biale Vineyards, and taste their 2005 Napa Ranches Zinfandel. Biale is a highly regarded Zinfandel producer, and with hardly any time at all in the bottle, and almost 16% alcohol, the Napa Ranches is young and hot - a Paris Hilton wine? It should really be confined to a cold, dark place for years but let’s see if a little air might temper it.

Wine #7 2005 Robert Biale Vineyards Napa Ranches Zinfandel ($19.99USD, 375ml), 15.9% alcohol.
One bottle was splash decanted and the other left unopen; both in the cellar at 56 degree F. 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 aromatic. Smoky oak, blackberry and an aroma approaching violets. Very attractive. Entry is very soft, almost silky with good balance and carry of flavors. Finish is carried by firm tannins. The alcohol is hidden extremely well

Glass B: Less open, with burnt, tarry notes. In the mouth the wine is very similar to glass A, but has a little more astringency.

Glass C: Aromas are as for glass A. In the mouth the wine is the same as glass B

My opinion: Glass B is from the decanter and glasses A and C from the bottle.
Reality: A and B are from the decanter, and C is from the bottle.

Conclusion: Can I change my hypothesis? No, we haven’t even gone through a dozen wines. I could turn this around. After all Paris won’t be spending 45 days in jail, so anything is possible. But decanting, at least for 2 hours, has had little effect on most of the wines tested so far, and the outlook is for more of the same. The next wine is another Aussie Shiraz and I’m tempted to double decant it and then leave it for 24 hours. Why? Well that’s what one wine retailer does with Aussie Shiraz, so why not? On second thought, no. We will stick with the current format for a few more wines.

Score: Wines tested 7, Decanters 0, Non-decanters 1.

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