Orphan Slaughter 101

A friend of a friend happened upon a garage full of wine of reasonable provenance.  The one thing all the wine have in common is very low initial cost.  These were 10 dollar wines at best and the BDX Bourgeois was probably a $5 wine.  So fascinating to open.  Another thing all have in common is: As bad as they might taste, none of their flaws come from poor storage.  The flaws all come from a lack of initial concentration, i.e.: cheap wine stored a long time.  I’m not going to grade them.  It just isn’t fair.  None of these come anywhere even CLOSE to last night’s stunner from the same batch.  So tonight I started at the low end of the quality-scale and eliminated a handful of really sketchy subjects–to predictable results.  There are some treasures in this garage, and several of them will pop up in the forth-coming weeks.  An 85 Krug Cab, a 95 Tempier, a 76 Sebastiani Zin….. But tonight, not too many high points.

Soggy cork all the way through.  Thin thin thin and brownish orange.  Bright briar and toasted spice.  Fruit gone bitter and gamey.  Wet carpet.  Not a horrible wine.  I could probably convince myself to drink this.  This is easily #2 WOTN.  Does Bien Nacido even still HAVE Merlot?!?!

Oh Dear Dog.  THIS is what happens when you take a–probably nearly undrinkable–$5 ‘California’ wine and store it for 30 years.  Tight, tight cork.  Amazing impenetrable almost-ruby.  Burning rubber gloves dipped in ebola on a coal fire.  Old gasoline and varnish.  Really, like you popped the float-chamber on a Mikuni in a barn-find Datsun.  Tastes slightly better.  Like eating a rotten aple dipped in battery-acid.

I had high hopes for this one.  Kind of.  While it is a bit younger and from Briar-and-Tannin Land, it had an almost home-wine look and feel to the label, bottle, cork and capsule.  Dreadfully soaked and deteriorating cork.  Thin and terribly bricked.  Acrid nuances emanate.  Like taking a brand new rain-slicker out of the bag at Kmart.  Round and ripe, but with certain distinct ‘electrical-fire’ notes.  In the mouth, thin and Koolaid-ey.  Bright Vit-C acid but then…. Straight Madeira.

Neck-banner with vintage is gone, and brief internet searching reveals a wine originally released in 1965, but the label I have starts matching about 1975 and continues until about the mid-80’s.  That’s a close as I could get and KWV Wines has been unresponsive to my queries.  Yes, they are still producing.  Still, we definitely have an apartheid wine here.  Completely saturated cork.  Brown brown brown like Fernet.  Smells like Amontillado at best and Cream at worst.  This is a dessert wine, I swear to god!  Tastes like port and sherry blended together, but with air heads definitely in the sherry direction.  Viscous and thick.  In a capillary vinometer, it hits hard at 14 and drifts to 15.  Oh well, who cares.  Interesting.  And entirely drinkable if you put your mindset to Sherry.  But as a dry table wine…. nah.

Full 225 cork saturated to 75% but hard and firm.  A nice thin garnet heavily bricking.  Smells like Bordeaux.  OMG does it smell like Bordeaux.  I really don’t know what else to say.  There’s no other way to describe it.  It rings bells inside you long beaten down with the dull thuds of CA perfect-powerhouses.  It just REEKS of BDX.  Wet concrete and soggy oak and green stems broken with leather straps.  Fortunately I can stop opening wine here.  This is by no means a perfect wine but possibly something I would give a couple diamonds to.  I had a house in Sacramento built in 1976 on the not-so-cool side of the river for $35,000.  A friend directly across the river in Wilhaggin bought a new house in 1976 for the outrageous sum of $75,000.  A Cru Bourgeous at the time would probably run you 7 or 8 dollars ON A WINE LIST AT A NICE RESTY!!!  Fruit is not terribly thin in a sorta dark bitter-cherry sort.  Salt-cured olives and bell pepper.  Opens up nicely.  Thin and astringent in finish with still-gripping tannin.  I could drink this all day.


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