November 2, 2008

Southbrook Winery 1997 Triomphe Cabernet / Merlot

Found November 2008

Years ago, when Southbrook was a young winery, and still resided in Maple / Richmond Hill (just north of Toronto), a buddy and I used to hang out there quite a bit. It was actually he and his wife who found the place, and knowing my love for wine started taking me there. I remember quite a few Sunday afternoons sitting in the tasting room talking with Nick or bumping into Derek Barnett, the winemaker, who talked passionately about his "hobby" or even Bill Redelmeier, owner, who could speak for hours on the history of the area. That was many moons ago for me and what seems like a lifetime for other principals of this story. Today, Southbrook finds themselves in the heart of Niagara, with a newfangled winery, an acclaimed winemaker and plenty of press about their new digs ... but they can't escape their past - which in truth is pretty good.

That brings me to this bottle of wine - seems I have a few older vintage Southbrook wines from the days of sitting in the old tasting room; those who manned it said the wines were meant for aging and it seems that I took that to heart. On a quiet evening in November I pulled out one of these elderly bottles with the burgundy label, popped the cork and gave it a try.

I tried a number of things with this wine: straight from the bottle, decanting and big glassware. Upon popping the cork I poured the wine directly into a Bordeaux Spiegelau glass and got dried fruit, wet grass, green pepper and dried cherry on the nose. The palate had wet leaves, and an earthy quality complete with a leatheryness and ... a metallic finish that changes into a Vick's cherry cough drop linger, but that metal is still there. I then decanted and let it sit - the nose improved and became a beautiful spiced dried cherry, but the palate did not seem to change, and over the next 30 minutes the wine completely collapsed, turning smoky and cedary, retaining the greeness and metallic finish. After 11 years this wine had become old and tired. Lost & Found rating: Treasure to find an 11 year old wine - became trash pretty quickly.

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