ON TEXAS WINE: Do They Age? Part 3
Pheasant Ridge 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Texas High Plains (∞)
by Andrew Chalk
The preamble to part one read…
“More people are coming round to the idea that Texas can make good wine as they sample more of it. But the ultimate test of gravitas in, at least red wines, is how they age. How does Texas do in that regard?
To find out, I am doing a series of tastings of Texas wines, all 10+ years old, and assessing how they are doing. I am choosing them based on how their peers in other parts of the world do at the end of their first decade.”
And later added
“Since this vintage is no longer available in the retail market I have helpfully indicated the price as ‘infinity’ in the title, above. ”
Pheasant Ridge, in the 1980s, started the medal trend under innovative winemaker Bobby Cox. The world’s most influential wine critic, Robert Parker, said “For Cabernet Sauvignon Pheasant Ridge Winery is turning out lush, intense wines with plenty of character that can compete in quality with anybody”. Their 1982 Cabernet Sauvignon won a medal and their Sauvignon Blanc won an honorable mention at the San Francisco Wine Competition. A silver medal was awarded to the 1984 Sauvignon Blanc at the San Francisco Wine Competition in 1985. In 1986 the 1983 Cabernet Sauvignon won a gold at the San Francisco Wine Competition. The wines also won several in-state awards during the 1980s. The wine in this tasting was made by a student of Bobby’s, Manuel Leuchuga. It shows two quaint throwbacks to its era. A very light glass bottle (most today require an F-150 to move them across the room) and the 13.4% alcohol level.
This wine blows past our 10-year qualification benchmark. It will soon be twice that age. Despite the age this wine still has a vibrant ruby streak, although it is starting to brown at the edges. The fruit is blackberry, the tannins, far from slinking away to take cover, are out front with a woody, oak-formed character that is more head-on than the velvet tannins prevalent in New World cabernet sauvignon in recent years. Baking spice, cloves, bay leaf and rosemary round out the palate, all contributing to the long, harmonious finish. The star feature, at this point in this wine’s age, is undoubtedly the nose. It’s a powerful, low-lying cloak of cigar box, lavender, and oak barrel more redolent of Bordeaux than Napa. It seals this wine’s character as impressively age-worthy and a real pleasure to sip. I would almost say quaff, but there is a wild hog problem in Texas so jump in the Apache to pick some off for dinner.
Does it age? Hell yeah.