Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Really Big Housewarming

I recently wrote that Skipper had hosted a Grenache/Garnacha edition of Wine Boyz. For the night, he'd invited the other boyz from our curling team last year. It was their first sip at Wine Boyz and it kind of revealed to them our gang's enthusiasm for the grape.

The next day or so, Brady e-mailed me to see if I'd be interested in a 3-Litre bottle of Washington Merlot that he'd been lugging around with him for the last decade or more. He'd received the Jereboam at a charitable fundraiser for Seattle's Chicken Soup Brigade all those years ago and he figured it was time to think about opening it. At first, Brady wondered if anyone might want to buy it from him - not that he knew what it'd be worth.

He didn't get off the hook that easily.

1174. 1997 Hogue Cellars - Hogue Springs Eternal Barrel Select Merlot (Columbia Valley - Washington)

Although this was an irreplaceable bottle that none of us would likely ever come across before, Brady's enquiry started with "1. Any idea if this is any good? 2. Any idea if this is still any good?" and we were left with a big question mark. I told him that the big bottle format would likely help slow down any negative effects of ageing but that the big factor was going to be how he'd been storing it.

His answer wasn't very inspiring. He basically admitted that he had no cellar of any sort and that, since he'd liked the design of the carved glass bottle and label, he'd had it standing upright in his living room through all his moves over the last decade. Summer, winter, no matter, the cork hadn't seen a lot of contact with the wine for many a year. I told him I wouldn't hold my breath for too long if he was expecting a vibrant sip o'wine.

That just piqued his interest and he decided to bring it along to a small gathering for Kaz's housewarming on the weekend. Kaz, the newest member of our team last year, had just moved into his new apartment and had invited everyone over for a look see. If the wine was still drinkable, that three litres would go a fair way in whetting our whistles.

Things didn't look all that optimistic when the cork broke as we tried to open the bottle but, lo and behold, the wine was totally drinkable. The first sips were tentative to say the least, but we were still greeted with a good shock of dark fruit. I'm sure that the tannins and acidity would have been a lot more prominent when the wine was bottled, but it really did have a nice balance. There was certainly no problem in finishing off that first glass and refilling it a number of times.

Hogue had a reserve line back in the 1997; so, this might have been one of their premium wines at the time - allowing for a little more leeway for lasting those 15 years - but it was still a surprise given Brady's shady storage facilities.

To tell the truth, we'd actually finished off the bottle long before the evening was done. It was a good thing that a many of the guests were drinking beer or cocktails; otherwise, those refills would have been mighty limited.

I don't think there were any limitations on Brady's refills though - after all it was his bottle - but I'm happy to say that the accompanying pic was staged and that he didn't really pass out after finishing that monster. I believe the picture made a few rounds on Facebook where the story of Brady's overindulgence was promoted however.

The night called for a big shout out - like in 3-Litres big - to Brady. It was an exciting bottle to open. And, unfortunately, after getting the whole bottle-opening affair started with his Wine Boyz round, Skipper wasn't even able to make it to the party to try the wine. Nasty Boyz that we are, we didn't save him any. In our defence though, at least we waited until it was clear that he wasn't going to drop by.

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