Mornings With Gina Birch

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Is an older vintage of wine really that different? That’s this week’s Wine Wednesday question.

The answer is not as cut and dry as it would appear. If a wine is mass produced, chances are the differences are not so pronounced initially. Perhaps after five years. The reason is because many wineries put a lot of junk in wines to keep the flavors, colors, texture, etc, consistent.

Other wineries embrace what mother nature gave them in the vineyards. From there, they keep to a particular style of wine, rather than try to make it taste the same from year to year.

The real test comes when a wine sits on a shelf. It might be sealed with a cork, however, the yeast inside keeps it alive. It is always evolving and changing. As a wine ages in the bottle the flavors round out. All the components (fruit, acid, tannins) begin to make friends. Things aren’t always predictable here and that mystery is part of the fun of aging wine. It’s also a time when flaws can start to reveal themselves.

Wine line up

Comparing wine vintages

I was recently organizing my wine room and found several back to back vintages of the same wines. I have a decent collection from Flora Springs. When I was a wine newbie, I visited the winery and had a blast. It has had a place in my heart ever since.

Soliloquy is the winery’s signature white blend. The bulk of the wine comes from a unique clone of sauvignon blanc which is too geeky to get into here. Chardonnay and malvasia are also added to it. The winery is on the 2021 vintage but I opened the 2019 and 2020. White wines are generally best when consumed younger, although the website says this will hold up for another five years. $60

Next up was a pinot noir from Raeburn in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. I have the current vintage (2020) and 2019. Lets see what difference a year can make. $25

And finally, another Flora Springs wine. The Napa Valley Cabernet current release is 2018, but I opened the ’16 and ’17 to see how they are going. $50

So, Is an older vintage of wine really that different?

Let’s find out…

  • Soliloquy 2020

    Soliloquy 2020

    This vintage smelled fresh, bright, with grapefruit.

    It’s fresh on the palate as well, with citrus and enough acid to make you salivate, want more. The finish has a lingering spice and some herbal characteristics.

    I wanted some shrimp in an herb and garlic sauce, or perhaps ceviche.


  • Soliloquy 2019

    Soliloquy 2019The difference here was noticeable from the first smell.

    A year later, this wine had more aroma’s of stone fruits like pear. It was still fresh but not quite as vibrant. Again, there was a balanced, lingering finish. I was thinking grilled vegetables with this one or an Asian Pear salad.

    Both wines were wonderful and perfect for Florida cuisine.

  • Raeburn Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2020

    Raeburn Pinot 2020It smelled like ripe red fruit, raspberry, even a little cherry on finish

    Flavor: Rustic red fruit, bright acidity, a little white pepper. I could see an herb encrusted lamb with this.

  • Raeburn Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2019

    Raeburn Pinot Noir 2019More herbaceous than fruity nose. Touch of cola, red fruit but also a little blackberry.

    I want duck with a berry compote. Both of these wines offer a lot of value for the price.

  • Flora Springs Napa Valley Cabernet 2017

    Flora Springs Cabernet 2017

    This cabernet sauvignon had a lush nose as well as a  lush mouthfeel. I let it open for about 45-minutes and thought it could still use a little more air. So this one has a longer life span, if I had only been patient.

    It had juicy red fruit, minerality, and even a leather characteristic.

  • Flora Springs Napa Valley Cabernet 2016

    Flora Springs Cab 2016This wine also has a lush smell, but then there was a touch of oak must.

    A little slate on the palate, it was more savory. However, the more I tasted it the more I thought this wine had been compromised. It didn’t exactly sit well. It may just need a little more air.

    So, I will let it sit a little longer, try when I get home today and let you know then.

    I stored all of the wines the same, but you never know what it went through when shipping to the heat box we know and love as Florida.

  • Wine is always best when paired with food

    Food And Wine Pairing