Quinta Ferriera’s Syrah is a minor legend in the south Okanagan. It has won awards. It is sought out by people who know. It is prized by people who actually manage to get their hands on it. It is becoming an institution in its own right. And here’s why.
It’s like tasting a fortress. This wine is an impenetrable, fortified, armour-plated, bunker that will not let you in unless you know the correct password combination.
The secret to getting in is to wait it out. Let the fortress-dwellers think that you really don’t have an interest in getting inside, or that it matters that much. Play it cool. Don’t jump at the first taste. There’s plenty of time, why hurry?
Waiting this wine out a little pays dividends. I will see how a wine will age by keeping an open bottle in my little bar sealed only with a silicone stopper. No gas. No pump. No fridge. Nothing to protect it at all. Hefty wines can usually make it about a week this way if they have enough tannins and acidity to backstop it. It won’t taste the same as it did when it was first opened and I never expect it to. What I’m looking for is how long it takes to get dismantled. When will the oxygen finally rip into the wine, making it taste off and send it on its way down the path towards salad dressing?
This is where a wine’s quality will shine. Generally, in my own completely un-scientific tests, any wine under $10 that is mass-produced will get turfed within a couple of days and have noticeable off-tastes very quickly, sometimes within hours. Wines that have been ‘handled’ less will be much more resistant to this kind of thing.
It is important to mention the use of the silicone stopper. If you missed that part a couple of paragraphs ago, I suggest going back to it. The stopper must be airtight. Resealing a bottle with the cork won’t do it. The vacuum pumps, which I used for years, actualy seem to suck out some of the aromatics. The gas canisters do the same thing although did a better job of keeping the wine fresh. It was a famous wine writer who convinced me that a simple airtight stopper worked the best for resealing quality wines.
Meanwhile, back on the Quinta, I tasted the Syrah without food as part of a set of wines that I had decided to taste that night. I rarely do that kind of tasting for this blog because I don’t think that most people generally drink their wines with such clinical evaluations in mind. In this case, I wanted to get a proper starting point established and see where it went from there. Here are some of my thoughts on the first glass poured from this Syrah:
Dark purple color. Very dark. Can’t see through the wine kind of dark.
Initially the nose wasn’t offering very much. Some serious swirling brought out hints of its potential: dark, smoky cherries and plums. Similar flavors were found on the palate but were hidden by a “brick wall of alcohol”. I noted that it was incredibly focused, but that it was focused on some point in the future.
So I left it alone for a while with only a short glass of wine missing from it and topped with a silicone stopper. 4 days later, a dinner seemed entirely appropriate for Syrah so I brought it out and poured out 2 glasses. Same thing happened a few days after that. Going on around 8 days opened there was only a single glass left in the bottom. I decided to try it but didn’t get around to until a couple of days after that. 10 days out from the initial opening and it was still good to go. I ran out of wine before it could get to that ‘off’ stage.
So how did it change? For me, the fruit really opened up. At that first dinner after 4 days, the fruit became much more apparent. Big dark plums and and dark cherries came out to play. At the second dinner, the smoke and peppery notes started to show up. The final tasting brought out the meaty characteristics. It was a very interesting journey in how flavors change over time and I’m sad that the wine ran out.
Of course, I probably could have poured less each time. But then where would the fun have been?
So give that a try with a red wine of your choice. See how it progresses over time and let it go for a week or more. See how long your favourite wines can go before they turn into salad dressing. Let me know what you think. Until then…
Cheers from wine country!