January 2006
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Day January 27, 2006

Quilceda Creek vertical tasting (1/21/06)

Sorry I haven’t written much lately. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had a friend visiting for part of the time and I’ve been super-busy with the new job for the rest of the time. My upcoming post on Fukuyama and stage-schemes of historical progress is coming along slowly — somehow I allowed myself to fall for the oldest excuse in the book: “I’ll just read a couple more references before writing the next section and it’ll be better.”

For now, I’ll have to content myself with writing up our vertical tasting of Quilceda Creek cabernet. Last Saturday, we held a long-planned tasting of these cabernets — the best in Washington State, in my opinion. Between my friend Wayland Wasserman and I, we had QC in the cellar from 1987 through 1997 (except 1994 for some reason), and a bottle of 2000. Harriet Wasserman hosted the event, cooked a terrific dinner of beef braised in port, wild rice, bread pudding, and others brought salads and side dishes. I kicked things off with my first olive tapenade of 2006 and James and Kate brought an extensive cheese selection.

The wines were in great condition. One wine, the 1991, was probably very slightly corked. Not enough to destroy the palate, but enough that you’d occasionally get a whiff of cardboard. The 2000 was simply too young to evaluate, except that it seemed a bit overripe for my tastes. Overall, I don’t think any of these wines are mature yet. Even the 1987 was still fairly “adolescent,” with only a hint of old-wine spice. The 1988 and 1989 were still quite unevolved and tannic, though the 1988 had a hint of tobacco after about half an hour in the glass.

Among the 17 of us at dinner, the 1993 was the unanimous favorite — a dead ringer for an adolescent Graves. Pipe tobacco, herbal notes, graphite, and sweet juicy fruit. For me, the 1990 was next, with incredible balance but still very youthful (the next day, during the Seahawks playoff game, a different group retasted this alongside the 1990 Reserve and there’s no contest — the Reserve is a phenomenal wine and the regular merely very good). Finally, the 1996 and 1995 both terrific wines as well. The 1996 in particular, with its high proportion of cabernet franc, has a very different nose but will be a beautiful wine. Probably the least favorite wine of the night was 1992, which seemed thin and plummy, but without a lot of complexity.

A few of these wines (1991, 1993, the younger ones) I’ll have more chances to taste out of the cellar, but sadly this was the last of my 1980’s vintages. Probably should have held them another 5 years before drinking, which is what I’d recommend for anyone who has well-stored bottles.