Tuesday, April 22, 2008

1990 Cronin "Joe's Cuvee"

If somebody handed you a glass of wine and told you it was 18 years old and they'd picked it up for under $15 you'd probably be thinking "where can I dump this politely". You'd be well within your rights too, because when you look at the amount of wine that's made, the number that can age gracefully for nearly two decades is actually remarkably small in percentage terms, and as a rule they cost a damn sight more than $15. But as we've previously established, the wines that Duane Cronin made fall very much into that small percentage, and this one is no exception.

Now 1990 was a very unusual vintage, in that it was good everywhere. That's very unusual; typically each vintage will be good somewhere, but not others. California did well in 1997, but in much of France and Australia it was a poor vintage. The following year it was the other way round, as El Nino brought stormy weather that played merry hell with the local crops. Even in Bordeaux 2000 was a great year for reds, but 2001 was a much better year for Sauternes. And yet somehow in 1990 it was a good vintage pretty much everywhere.

Anyway, enough with the history lesson. What's the wine like?

I had my concerns when I peeled off the foil and saw signs of seepage. The cork was soaked half way through too. But I needn't have worried as the wine was still perfectly sound. The colour is fairly light with just a hint of bricking around the rim, certainly less than I'd expect. The nose is interesting; it's like candied fruit and flowers in an old wardrobe. I know that sounds like the sort of pretentious bull$#!t you'd expect from a wine critic, but that's the way it is; there's a sort of cedar and mustiness to it, but in a good way.

Taste it and the first thing that hits you (or at least what hits me) is the acidity. As your mouth gets used to it the fruit starts to show; raspberry, cranberry, redcurrant - that sort of fruit. The finish is a little quick but clean, helped by the acidity. Although it's a Cabernet blend, this is clearly a Pinot lover's wine. It would probably go nicely with pork or chicken; nothing too heavy. There's no alcohol content listed, it just says "California Red Table Wine" (which means anything from 11% to 14%).

If you're interested, K&L still have plenty in stock; according to their web site they have over 10 cases, but at that price it's a terrific value that isn't going to last long.