Friday, July 18, 2008

Steltzner Vineyards Claret 2005

Napa Valley
14.2 alcohol

Are you puzzled about the difference from one vintage to another? Have you read the advice 'in France buy vintage, in America buy maker'? Try the 2004 and this 2005 together and you will reach a different conclusion. You will react like the little guy in the picture, pushing the '05 away.

Blackberries and vegetation, plus a touch of vanilla, were the only aromas a faint nose would surrender. The palate was not quite as stingy, opening with chocolate-covered cherries, some strawberry, then raspberry and vanilla. This was fruit and little else, lacking balance. The tannins were gritty and the finish a bit sour. The 2005 lacked the elegance or balance of the 2004.

Maybe it will be better tomorrow night.

Another second-night turn-around, and a good one.

The nose was far more open, happily sending up waves of fresh aromas, starting with strong prune just as the Vacuu-Vin was opened, plus some pine. Soon the stronger prune gave way to blackcurrant and a background of menthol and mint. What a difference from the night before, just huge.

The palate, too, was completely different. It opened with a big mouthfull of fruit- prune, blackcurrant and blackberries, then the menthol and pine from the nose appeared. The finish was smooth, tart with black fruit. The gritty tannins from the night before had simply disappeared, leaving smooth slightly drying tannins to offer a supporting backbone.

The little guy in the picture was wrong. He should not have pushed it away. He should just have given it a year or two in the cellar.

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