Saturday, September 10, 2011

The evolution of a bottle

The evolution of a bottle of wine is something that we must sometimes wait decades for. There is this way of thinking, that if you want to watch a bottle evolve, you should buy a case and check in on it every few years. It's a very affluent way of thinking. I know that I can't afford to buy a case of every wine I'd like to keep in my cellar. And so, I usually end up with three or four bottles. This is one of the reasons why the tasting notes of other trusted collectors are so important to me, so that I can read about their experiences and try to properly plan for each of my own bottles to be opened.

Honestly, this may be more effort than the average wine lover is willing expel.

However, there is a way to cheat a little, and that's to open a bottle early in the day and check in on it throughout the day. Why? Because wine ages through the slow exposure to oxygen. Basically, what I'm doing is speeding up the clock, but not as fast as a decanter would do it. By opening a bottle and simply pouring a small glass each hour, you are given a glimpse into the wine's possible evolution.

This weekend, I decided to open a 2000 Mastroberardino Taurasi Radici Riserva. A bottle with 11 years of age on it, and yet when I looked at other tasting notes, I see that many are still calling it young. I thought this was a perfect bottle to follow throughout the day.

Taurasi zone in Campania, Italy
For those that don’t know, Taurasi is made mostly from Aglianico, an ancient varietal that was cultivated as early as Roman times and was used in Falernian wine. Today, it produces big wines with a capability to age, often referred to as the “Barolo of the south.”

On to the notes:

2000 Mastroberardino Taurasi Radici Riserva

At 12pm – On the nose, this wine showed bright strawberry and floral notes with a hint of moist earth. The palate was strict with acid and drying tannin, yet showed black fruits and a chewy, rustic sweetness. The finish was dry with blackberry fruit lingering to the close.

At 3pm - The nose showed beautifully with ripe strawberry and potpourri; yet as the wine sat in the glass, it turned darker and fuller with notes of candle wax, earth, mushrooms and moist fall leaves. On the palate, this wine was eloquent and soft at first but turned more tannic into the finish. The senses were wrapped with penetrating black fruit, followed by minerals and a taste of older wood, which gave it a bit of a rustic feel. The finish was laden with intense cranberry fruit, giving it a really nice sendoff. This wine is just starting to show its age, yet still has many more years to go before its structure truly softens.

At 6pm - The aromas remained very much the same, which certainly isn't a bad thing. However, by this time, the palate really came together. The tannins in the wine softened to reveal richer fruit with dark chocolate accents. The older wood note seemed more like herbal tea and woodland than before, as well as, less rustic. It came across now as a glimpse into this wine’s maturity at peak, with a gorgeous opulence and beautiful balance. This is what I love about Italian wine; I only paid a little over $50 for this bottle.

I'm happy to score this bottle 95 points. This bottle was sourced from: Grapes: The Wine Company


  1. Did you just open the bottle or did you put the wine on a decanter as well?

  2. I typically do the double-decant, out of bottle and then back in. I then let the wine breath in bottle. I feel like open decanting forces too much air onto the wine, while breathing in bottle gives he wine a steady pace to bloom at.