Six months ago, a good wine friend and I were sampling my 2017 Glenwood Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon that is aging for future release. At that point in time, it was showing very well and I was pleased with how it was aging.
A few weeks back I tasted it again. I discovered it had gone into what is referred to as a “dumb phase” of its development. It had shut down. To explain better, let us step back and discuss two (sort of) similar conditions wines can go through and how to distinguish between the two situations. These conditions are known as the “dumb phase” and the “over-the-hill phase.”
The Dumb Phase
To explain the dumb phase, let us take a look at my 2017 vintage. When I first had some bottles shipped from the warehouse in Napa, I was very excited to pull the cork and sample the wine. When I did that initial taste of the wine, I found it to have a well-rounded nose with lots of fruit aromas. The structure of the wine was full-bodied with a finish that was fairly well balanced.
Flash forward to a few weeks ago. When I tasted the same 2017, it was not expressive, its nose had dampened and the finish had a lot more taste of tannins and acidity. It was clear to me that the wine had gone into a “dumb phase.”
The dumb phase describes the time when a wine is still maturing and it’s not really sure what it wants to be when it grows up. When a wine is in a dumb phase there is nothing we can do to make it go forward or even push it back to what it once was. Only time will allow the wine to open back up and reveal the many flavors, structure and balance it is supposed to have. It’s sort of like waiting for a caterpillar to become a butterfly. We just need to wait for the true beauty of the wine to come forward.
The Over-The-Hill Phase
When a wine is “too old,” dried out and “over the hill,” the wine will still have aromas but they tend to be weaker, less robust. Perhaps the aromas are even becoming nearly flat. The wine’s flavors and structure tend to weaken. We may not like the wine as much as we did the first time we tasted it.
Unfortunately, there is not a calendar that tells you a certain date by which you should drink a wine. Whether a wine is good or not is completely up to the person drinking the wine. In the end, it’s just a matter of taste and what you like at the end of the day.
The “over the hill” wines I have tasted have all seemed to be flat and have a meaty or mushroom taste to them.
As I have mentioned many times in my blog, most wines are made for you to drink within two years after they are released. You have to spend a lot of time researching wine lists, reviews, etc., to find wines that will last a good number of years. By that I mean 10+ years.
As I am writing this, I am currently drinking a Napa Valley 2002 Cabernet. It is very close to being “over the hill.” Its nose has less fruit aromas. The palate is okay, but its structure and finish are fading. It is good that I only have a few bottles left of this Cabernet. I will drink them all in the next 30 to 45 days.
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Upcoming Wine Events For 2021
5/21/21 Wine Talk & Taste Event – $30 per ticket. Buy Your Tickets Here.
6/11/21 Italian Wine Dinner featuring live music by Julia James. Our next LEX 530 Wine Dinner will be held on Friday, June 11, 2021, at the LEX 530 Event Center in Elkhart. This wine dinner will feature premium wines selected by LEX 530 Wine Director, Stan Minden, to pair with Executive Chef Chad Coryn’s delectable four-course dinner. Each course is listed below. The wines have not yet been finalized.
RECEPTION: Passed hors d’oeuvres. Paired with an assortment of different wine options.
1ST COURSE: Heirloom tomato caprese, burrata, pesto, aged balsamic
2ND COURSE: Branzino al cartoccio, zucchini, olives, fregola
3RD COURSE: Beef cheek ragu, creamy polenta, Parmigiano-Reggiano
4TH COURSE: Vanilla bean-mascarpone panna cotta, fresh berries, honeycomb
If you are a LEX 530 Wine Club Member, please contact Courtney at 574-296-1314. Guests must be at least 21 years of age, with a valid ID. Tickets are $100.00 (tax not included). You must purchase your ticket by noon on Friday, June 4, 2021 — either online at the link below or by calling Courtney at 574-296-1314 if you are a Wine Club member.
6/25/21 Wine Talk & Taste Event
7/16/21 July Wine Dinner featuring music by Checkmark Sallie
7/30/21 Wine Talk & Taste Event
8/13/21 August Wine Dinner featuring music by Jesse’s Gurl
8/27/21 Wine Talk & Taste Event
9/10/21 September Wine Dinner featuring music by Julia James
9/24/21 Wine Talk & Taste Event
10/5/21 Oktoberfest Dinner with Iechyd Da Brewing Co. with music by Patti Lightfoot
10/22/21 Wine Talk & Taste Event
11/5/21 November Wine Dinner featuring music by Checkmark Sallie
11/19/21 Wine Talk & Taste Event