Thursday, February 10, 2005

Quick Swirl: Beringer Founder’s Estate Shiraz 1999 (PB)

This is a perfect example of why you let red wine breathe. It flies in the face of conventional wisdom a bit but I am sold on it. Now if I had an expensive old wine, that would be a different story, but I am sold on the benefit of giving even very inexpensive wines ½ hour to an hour of “air time.” So I opened this wine looking forward to a cozy evening. We are in the middle of a winter storm that is supposed to dump up to 20 inches of snow. We’re well on our way. So I am whipping up some venison chili, and garlic bread and all I wanted was a nice, straight forward, good tasting wine that would compliment the evening.

On opening, I was struck by the really light ruby color of this wine. Shiraz (that’s the grape type) are normally dark–-like inky dark--to black. I was already disappointed. Yet the air was filled with a lovely, though gentle fragrance of yeast with an underlying wildy, wonderful fruitiness. It was not discernible with my nose in the glass. The first impression on the swirl was dried raspberries like nothing I have tasted yet; a good sign but the nice aroma was offset by a tartness that was overboard and a bitterness with a "meaty" aroma like bologna. The texture was thin–too thin and I swallowed saying to myself, "I’m going down to my cellar to select another wine for the evening." But my experience said give it some time.

This is where the name of the producer/vintner/shipper can be very helpful. Beringer is a reliable vintner. They do not put their name on just anything so before I selected something else I would wait until it had time to breathe. I was not optimistic--silly me...

It opened nicely with good structure and balance that puts this wine at its peak. The tartness and bitterness had folded into one indiscernible unity; the mark of a well made and mature wine. The typical raisiny Shiraz flavors came through although not as powerful as might be typical for this grape. It was light bodied (again atypical) yet with a fairly full flavor and raisiny finish. It stood up to the chili fine and the bottle is empty...That says it all. At $11, all I can say is “Raise a glass!

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