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Apr 30, 2011 07:55 AM

What went wrong: Cellaring problem?

I keep my wines in a crawl space under my Nor Cal house. Temps there do change with the season but are not as extreme as the rest of the house. It has been a good place for the few wines I cellar. But what besides storage could have flattened a once fruity cabernet sauvignon? It is/was a 2004 Silver Oak Alexander Valley cab purchased in 2008 and stuck in the crawl space. It had been SO's usual up-front style with, as I recall, a pleasantly long finish. Drank a bottle last night with some grilled steak and found it flat--no tannins, no berryish flavors, no finish. The only thing I can imagine going wrong is my storage place. Anyone with more knowledge of such things have an idea as to what might have happened? TIA.

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  1. How are you at detecting TCA? It may have been corked.

    1. It's hard to tell without further info, but it doesn't sound like a cellaring problem to me. SO should be a big juicy wine, loaded with tannins, spicy -with a medium to long finish. It can take some 20 plus years in the bottle. It sounds more like:

      You may have a flawed bottle
      It may have closed up
      It may never be very good (dumb)

      If you have another 2004 SO, you might try it to compare. To see if your wine is dumb or flawed.

      Try another Cab you are familiar with to check for a cellaring problem as the rest of your wines would be affected in some way, so that should be easy to verify. Cellaring problems that are significant enough to ruin a wine- will typically ruin all the wine, not just one bottle.

      Check cellar tracker and see what others are tasting in this wine right now to check for dumb wine or if others reported a TCA problem.

      You can't really check for closed wine all by yourself- you would need to wait it out with another 2004 SO or find others that think it's closed.

      Hope this helps. I have aged many SO wines with great results (I have not found them to be "fragile" agers). Hopefully, this was just a fluke!

      1. Sedimental gave you some concrete advice for finding the root of your problem.

        I feel your pain. SO-AV is among my favorite Cali Cabs. I would hate to have that happen.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ChefJune


          Have you considered the humidity level of your crawl space storage area (vs the temperature)? Excessively dry or excessively wet (more likely) conditions could cause degradation of your corks and negatively effect your wine. How did your cork look, smell and feel?

          Just a hunch.