By Lenn Thompson, Editor-in-Chief

We only have two contributions to What We Drank this week, but they teach us two important lessons: don't ignore wines from poor vintages and don't give up on a wine too quickly if its corked.

From Lenn Thompson: Roanoke Vineyards 2003 Blend 2

Roanoke_03b2I have a confession to make — as much wine as I drink, I tend to be a hoarder of special bottles. My cellar is filled with "last bottles" of many wines that I've enjoyed and purchased over the years. It's terrible, especially considering many of them aren't going to get much better than they are today and are only going to go downhill.

But, on Friday night, Nena requested "Something GOOD, maybe from Paumanok or Roanoke." And, being the loving (and smart) husband that I am I obliged, reaching into the Roanoke Vineyards corner of my cellar. I had two of these bottles and I could have very easily ended the weekend without any.

This blend of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and merlot was one of the best local wines we've had in a while. And it's no where near done developing in-bottle either.

The black plum, blackberry and black cherry fruit core is still there, still bright and deep, is accented beautifully by layers of coffee bean, dark chocolate, exotic spices and an intriguing herb-marinated olive note. The tannins are round and mouth-filling, but smooth and supple. 

I was curious to see how this wine would taste the day after opening. But the bottle didn't even make it until the end of that first night, serving as a strong reminder that you can't write off "lesser" vintages in any region. Look to the best growers and winemakers and you can find great wines even in challenging years like 2003 on the North Fork.

 From Evan Dawson:
Produttori del Barbaresco 2005 Barbaresco

an interesting lesson in corked wine. It was immediately obvious that
this wine was corked, but it was not immediately obvious how badly the
cork taint had affected it. I poured a glass and let it rest for about
10 minutes before smelling the wine. The initial burst, before
swirling, was musty cardboard. But with some swirling this Nebbiolo
gave away many of its most classic characteristics: roses, tar,
strawberries and cream, along with a tangy metal streak.

first night, we followed the same routine: let the glass rest, notice
the cork taint building up, swirl to get past it. I thought of the TCA
in visual terms like a pudding that develops a hard skin that can
easily be broken through.

On the second night the
musty cardboard was gone. A vibrant Nebbiolo nose remained. We've been
fortunate to avoid corked bottles for a while, and perhaps more
fortunate that this wine was only partially impacted.

Hey, Mr. Mansell,
how commonly do you find partially corked bottles?