Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Doug & Claire's Big Ass Missouri Wine Dump

Yeah, yeah...It's been a long time.  So much time has passed that my pal Kyle over at Sippin' St. Louis called me out on it this past Saturday.  Tonight, inspiration has struck the Uncorked household.

Doug & I have a lot of wine.  Well, we have a lot of wine for what little storage we have, & we had about 10 homeless bottles on top of the bar.  With our penchant for continually buying wine (especially now with my place of employment), this was going to become a problem quickly.  So, I took a good look at one of our wine racks tonight, & saw 9 very dusty bottles of Missouri wine at the bottom.

We decided that it was time to toss it, but not before tasting each one.  We had vintages ranging from 2004 to 2007 in Chambourcin - from a Missouri winery that, in our opinion, makes the best wine in the state - & a Norton/Cynthiana or two from other wineries.  We were told that each of these bottles could handle at least 5 years in the cellar/rack.

They lied.

We opened bottle after bottle, giving each their fair shot.  One wine had turned orange.  One wine had such a sour finish to it that I feared we might have to use Comet to get the taste out of our mouths.  Luckily, we didn't have to resort to such drastic measures - the next wine's lack of anything killed it.  Not one single wine was acceptable, not even the 2007.  Not good, Missouri - not good.

We were now on a mission. Once we'd opened, tasted, & quickly dumped every bottle from Missouri, we grabbed the only one from Illinois.  Again, we were told that this Cynthiana could easily handle 10 or more years. 

I believe you know the outcome.  Poor Truvy was so confused.

We opened up our lone bottle from North Carolina. 


At this point, we just wanted some wine.  We were disheartened yet amused.  I couldn't bring myself to open up our wine from Texas, although after tonight, I don't have high hopes.  We're going to have to open those soon.

So, what are we drinking right now?  A 2005 Hahn Syrah.  We had faith, & we were not disappointed. 

Either that, or our palates were just too roached to know any differently.  Ugh.  I can't bear to think of that possibility.


WineLush said...

I am not shocked. I don't understand why people love MO wines-you can get such better wines-with so much aging potential-from other wineries.
But good for you-now you have some more space for better stuff!!!

Anonymous said...

Ugh. So gross! I almost spit up my own good wine just thinking about just how gross that tasting must have been!

At least you have more room!

-Betsy Guye-Fritz

Claire Uncorked said...

Betsy!!! The Mad Dog we had before you went down the aisle was actually better....if you can even imagine that.

Hope you're well!

Rhonda said...

Wow-- that's quite the kitchen casualty, Claire-bear. But Hahn Syrah-- can't go wrong.

James Fashing said...

Against my better judgment, I am commenting on your post about how dreadful your time was tasting your stash of old MO wine.

My initial reaction was quite negative, I must admit. I was at first going to approach the whole thing like: "I'll answer this smart ass wine-writer wannabe complaining about Midwest wine, when she admits to the wine being old and not stored properly." But that kind of attitude is counter productive and I wasn't looking at it impartially, after all I had just spent literally all weekend picking grapes and toiling in my vineyard, just so my friends at the winery can work the next several months to make inferior Missouri wine.

I decided to, instead, comment on a couple things say challenges my winery-owner friends have and deal with amazingly.

First, they have to make a ready-to-drink sweet and semi-sweet set of wines for the locals and the folks who will consume their product quickly. This is the bread and butter and pays the bills. They always get dinged by wine know-it-all's with, "that sweet wine." In fact, many of the regional wineries make something astonishing like 30 different wines each. They try to and have to please everyone. How many wines does Silver Oak of California make, 3? Yesm they are awesome.

Then what of the stealthy ones armed with a little knowledge of California reds, marketing literature and a recent visit to Napa under her belt? She is gonna need something else. She'll need a wine the quality of dry land Cab, and expect it to be at the same price point. It will have to be a similar taste profile, cause she already knows what she wants.... Did I say, she knows what she wants?

What wine do you make for the guy who doesn't care, but will just put the bottle up on top of the fridge. He'll put it next to a high-tannin Syrah and offer it to a "winey" friend from out of town or just compare the two in a couple years after he has learned so much about wine in the meantime. How will it do then? If it does well, will anyone tell. . . . kind of like a tree in the forest.

These Midwest winemakers work with unique grapes unfamiliar to many. Varieties like Chambourcin, a low-tannin grape that makes a delicate red that will go mushy if not bottled with aging in mind, but it may be harsh if opened too early. Or Norton/Cythiana that can turn to tar in a few years in the bottle or improve in body and have softer tannins. The damn grape is close to impossible to master, I've tried for 15 years. I was telling a California grower the other day that sometimes we even have to pick grapes before a rain and before the grapes are perfect - another challenge winemakers deal with. He said to me catching his breath, "Rain?"

Still it is easier as a grower dealing with mother nature and her temper, than what winemakers have to deal with; the fickle naivete and narrow-mindedness of wine drinkers, especially the few with blogs.

To the point; I believe listing the offending wineries would have taken more guts and had the most potential to do most good. If you had real stones, you'd bring your empty bottles in to the offending wineries and let them make it right, or let them tell you why you might be wrong. Go ahead and test their wine knowledge. At least someone would learn something from the encounter.

Any way you look at it, sloshing the names of all wineries of Middle earth over a few bottles of poorly aged wine just smells like vinegar to me.

James, a Missouri grape grower

Anonymous said...

@James Fashing - what a misguided thing to write. She said nothing about the wine being stored improperly, nor did she say a thing about sweet wine. Her point, I believe, was that the UNNAMED winery/wineries told her that the wine would handle a few years in the rack, & that it didn't. You don't know this person, & nothing was directed at you, as I'm sure she doesn't know you. I've been a reader of this blog for a while, & she has written many good things about MO wine. So, calm down, cowboy.

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My Husband's Watching TV... said...

Glad to see you're back and your last post was on my birthday! Boo to bad wine! Hope you find a good one and enjoy it!

About Engagement Rings said...

very good work done!!

TNWT said...

218 Norton wineries today in 23 states, and yes most need to be aged four or so years. Out of the 104 Norton wines we have tasted, we have come across only 3 that could be considered "drink now" wines. Unlike Norton wines, we have found that Chambourcin should be opened now rather than later. All Norton wines should breathe no less than 40 minutes before consuming to cut down on the malic acid taste. Though I'm not from Missouri, I differ in your opinion of their grapes. I feel Napa is to auto parts as Missouri is to wine. After years in the vineyards of California, we've developed a particular fondness of many Missouri wines (Norton, Chardonel, etc.).

Claire Uncorked said...

Clearly, some of you haven't read my other entries. I've always been a big supporter of MO wine - I simply didn't like that these particular wineries said one thing & their wine didn't deliver. It's not like I keep my wine above the stove - the wine was simply not well made, or I just happened to get a whole bunch of bad bottles.

But hey, thanks for your opinion.

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Makati Directory said...

i had a similar experience myself on a winery road trip through the south. Virginia has some great ones, though

John said...

Hello! you got a nice articles in here, i just read some of it including this one and find them very interesting... All i can say that this kind of thing really was happening and not only have experience it. =)

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Wine in Thyme said...

Claire - this is my first stop on your blog. The last time I was in Missouri I stopped at the St. James winery and thoroughly enjoyed a wine tasting there. Brought some home, but sadly, it didn't last 5 years... not even one year. We enjoyed it shortly after we bought it.
James F - I hope you will re-read the original post and soften your response.

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UGA Wino said...

Claire - Thanks for the chuckle. It's always sad to dump wine (and $$$) down the drain. But maybe you can take some solace in the fact that you made a few of us out in cyberspace laugh a bit.

James - I think anyone who has worked in the wine industry (I've worked as a cellar rat in Georgia and Texas) appreciates how difficult it is to try an make (and market!) wines from anywhere except for the left coast.

I've helped to make wines from Chambourcin, Ruby Cabernet, Muscadine, Seyval Blanc, Niagra, Vidal and plenty of other hybrids. And it's not easy to pour them when some wannabe wine geek is talking about his visit to Silver Joke. (I personally find their wines to be undrinkable.)

But the bottom line is this: Wines from the Midwest and Deep South don't campare to their left coast California, Washington and Oregon compatriots; especially when price is on the line. I could list a hundred $10 wines from California that would blow away the best $20 Chambourcin from Georgia or Ruby Cabernet from Texas. And I'm not even going to touch the subject of ageworthiness.

As a former cellar rat I applaud your efforts. I really do. But if you aren't making wine from vitis vinifera you're always going to be fighting for survival in a niche market of locals, tourists and people who buy a bottle of sweet MO wine as a novelty gift.

Bill Rosich

NHwineman said...

Claire Uncorked, your writing is very interesting (Book maybe?), as a blog surfer, I find that you get quite a few comments, but it has been what, almost a year since your last post?
If you don't mind, will you be posting again?
I just bought three bottles of NH wine Marechal Foch wines (pronounced "mar-esh-shall-fosh"), and you have me wondering if I should just get at them before they go "bad"?
Also, I notice in the grocery stores many wines, standing straight up, that are 2004 let's say, and the store temperature has to be at least 70 degrees: how's that for storage!
Well, I hope to see your new postings.
Sincerely NHwineman

Allen said...

Why do Missouri wines suck? So badly they suck. It pains me that my home state, with a climate and terrane like southern France, cannot produce wine. We have the soil, the climate, the karst, it has to be the vinters. Can we steal some people from UC Davis?

Claire Uncorked said...

Allen, beware of the feller above that just might wreak havoc on you for saying such things. Heh.

Comparing MO/Midwest wine to those from the West is like comparing apples to oranges. The varietals are so completely different. UGAWine said it better, so just read his comment.

Actually, I do think we have some folks from UC-Davis. Not sure who.