Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Couple Of d'Arenbergs (Jan. 10, 2008)

What a drag it is to get old...

The evening started out with the Custodian, 2001, which is a moderately priced Grenache. I was rather fond of this wine in my early wine years, just four or five years ago. But in retrospect, one of the turning points in my the path my tastes have taken was when I stopped enjoying this wine. The first bottle of the 2001 managed to interest, if not entirely please, my palate, seeming to pull in contradictory directions, jammy and savoury almost at once - but the next two bottles were awful, hot and alcoholic. They were still drinkable but today, I couldn't even finish a half glass of my last bottle, which I found devoid of structure and overcome by an alcoholic, band-aid funk on the nose.

As the saying goes, life is too short to drink bad wines, so I put the Custodian away and opened the Laughing Magpie, 2001. This Shiraz-Viognier blend has been dubbed by Robert Parker the Australian Cote-Rotie, or words to that effect.


This also is perceived by my palate as too alcoholic. I say perceived because the Montecastro 2004 I tasted a couple of weeks ago has marginally less abv% but is balanced by fine tannins and an almost electrifying acidity, which just goes to the show the number on the label isn't everything. The Magpie has fine tannins too (as do many d'Arenberg wines with the same price tag) but the acidity isn't as fine as the Montecastro's, and the overall impression is sweet and glycerine-y, even though the savoury tannins assert themselves on the finish. I have to take under consideration the possibility that this may be bottle variation or a final surge of the Viognier element before the wine settles into its full maturity but most likely this is yet another drinking alternative shutting down on me.

Anyone interested in buying a well aged Magpie, 2002?


Anonymous said...

Try using them for wine based dishes. Goes well with beef.

Ido said...

I like the opening the, reminds me the stones song: mother's little helper :)

2GrandCru said...

It should, Ido, I was quoting. :)

Ido said...

Oh, I love the stones alot :)

Anyway, I must missed you at the Montecastro 2004 taste, but I have to agree with what you said. even thought I haven't taste all the d'Arenbergs range.

T. said...

Chaim, we should have a "wines-I-used-to-like-but-don't-care-for- anymore" tasting sometime.

2GrandCru said...


Guess I'll never be a pro. How the hell can you calibrate your palate so it's consistent with the changes it goes through? Or must all wine reviewers go through a ten year apprenticeship until their palate has stabilized?

The problem with that is, once your palate is that stable, your capacity for approaching new styles of wines is probably impaired.

Anonymous said...

Always in motion is the future.

I think the sensory aspects improve the more you taste. I have't been tasting enough lately and am getting rusty. It's taste that really changes, and perceptions.

So, if it's taste that shifts, the important question is, is it (still) your taste?

And may the force be with you.