Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pass the Pickle Juice: Notes on a 1983 Napa Cabernet

I was born in 1983, and I have enjoyed  several wines from that year. The best, by far, was a 1983 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet from Napa: subtle yet complex, mature yet still vibrant. Considering my luck with that wine, this week I figured I’d try my luck by popping a 1983 Inglenook Napa Cabernet “Reunion Reserve Cask.” 

This bottle was belligerent from the start. My friend Bob tried to get the cork out with a waiter’s friend screw, only to destroy half of the cork in the process. I tried my hand at it, and managed to mangle a bit more of the wet, crumbly cork. We didn’t have an ah-so opener, so I used a grilling fork and tried to finagle it out of there. It didn't work and I almost stabbed myself. We ended up having to filter the wine out before we could get it in our glasses.

After all that work, the wine ended up the way I fear I may end up some day: tired, old and weird.

It was a cherry-auburn color in the glass. Initially it had a strange combination of sage, mushroom and white raisin aromas. A hint of nighttime cough medicine came out as well. The palate showed faded tannins, tired fruit and a mélange of bizarre flavors: sour cherries, pickle juice (seriously, dead ringer for pickle juice, like straight from the jar), leather and animal musk. There’s a hint of sweetness on the finish, like someone added sugar to that pickle juice.

Bob “liked” it, and I admit that I did too, but I feel the need to add this disclaimer: we’re both strange dudes. We finished maybe half of the bottle between us. (We’re strange, not insane.) I’d say this wine was at least 10-15 years past its peak, but then again I have no idea how good it was back in the day. Hell, I was drinking boobie juice at the time.  

Having said all of this, I can never get too furious when an older wine like this shows poorly. It’s all part of the wine game. You win some, you lose some. And sometimes you end up stinking of leather and pickle juice.

Score? Beats me.


  1. i have a bottle that has been in my cellar since release.

    if you want to take another shot, look me up at the forum. my handle is bacchus

  2. Hey bacchus, I added you as a "favorite author" on cellartracker. I see you've got a bottle of this in your cellar (along with some pretty cool Napa wines in general). I hope it does better for you than it did for me.