Kukkula Wines

Saturday March 19, 2016

spring 2016

In the tast­ing room we often get ques­tions about aging wines. I usu­al­ly throw out a stat along the lines of More than 90% of all wine pur­chased is con­sumed with­in one week.” (Of course, I’ve also heard that most sta­tis­tics are made up on the spot, and this is no excep­tion). Obvi­ous­ly, I have heard, or per­haps read, at some point that this is the case. So I sat down a few weeks ago and tried to nail down that sta­tis­tic. After an hour of Google search­es, I found only a cou­ple of ref­er­ences. Both seem to val­i­date my from the hip” sta­tis­tic. It’s pret­ty hard to nail the num­ber down since it’s a mov­ing aver­age, and like­ly varies by region, demo­graph­ics, time, respons­es to sur­veys, etc.

Sup­port­ing my the­o­ry, I found that the Wine Cur­mud­geon says, How long does the aver­age Amer­i­can keep a bot­tle of wine? Not very long at all. As much as 90 per­cent of the wine bought in the U.S. is drunk with­in 24 hours, even though the Wine Mag­a­zines make it seem like buy­ing wine to age is quite com­mon. And, depend­ing on the study, some 95 per­cent of all wine pur­chased in the U.S. is con­sumed with­in a week.”

And even one of those wine mag­a­zines” men­tioned by the Cur­mud­geon, Wine Enthu­si­ast, says While most oenophiles are aware of the ben­e­fits of aging cer­tain bot­tles, more than 80 per­cent of wines are con­sumed with­in 48 hours of being pur­chased, while more than 95 per­cent are con­sumed with­in six months, the edi­tors point out.”

Over the last sev­er­al years, as kukku­la has mor­phed from an upstart win­ery rely­ing almost exclu­sive­ly on pur­chased fruit, to entire­ly estate pro­duced wines, I’ve thought a lot about how the wines evolve over time, espe­cial­ly the wines made from my own fruit. I am excit­ed about how each suc­ces­sive vin­tage seems to bring added lay­ers of weight and com­plex­i­ty to the wines and how the aging process enhances this.

I also wait anx­ious­ly for the reviews on our most recent wines from the crit­ics, and although the reviews are real­ly pos­i­tive and the scores are climb­ing, the rate of climb is slow and doesn’t seem to fol­low the qual­i­ty jump that I feel the wines made as we tran­si­tioned to estate fruit. Last year I decid­ed to hold off on sub­mit­ting our 2013 vin­tage wines because I’m con­vinced that they, and all suc­ces­sive vin­tages, would be bet­ter appre­ci­at­ed with an addi­tion­al year of aging before being reviewed. It remains to be seen though, as the reviews of those wines will come out this summer/​fall!

At home, I’m real­ly good about decant­i­ng our young wines, as well as labels oth­er than kukku­la. Usu­al­ly I’ll try to give them at least an hour, per­haps two, of time to breathe. But there are many times when my inten­tions are derailed by oth­er oblig­a­tions, and Paula calls me to din­ner. Then I’m scram­bling for a bot­tle, which is con­sumed with only min­utes of air on it. Usu­al­ly by the last glass, the wines seem to real­ly start open­ing up. And although we’ve most­ly enjoyed the expe­ri­ence, I’m remorse­ful that I didn’t get it opened soon­er. (Of course, I just real­ized din­ner is in an hour, so I broke away to decant some wine!).

In the tast­ing room, we typ­i­cal­ly will pour at least a cou­ple of our ear­li­er vin­tages along with a few of the newest releas­es. We cur­rent­ly dis­trib­ute vir­tu­al­ly none of our wines, and as such we still have some 2010 and 2011 blends. While I would pre­fer that not be the case, and I know that the inven­to­ry, over time, will con­tin­ue to tight­en up, I’ve begun to real­ly appre­ci­ate being able to share wines that have been laid down for a few years with vis­i­tors to the tast­ing room.

At the Jus­si­la din­ner table it’s more typ­i­cal that I’ll be pour­ing a red with per­haps 5 – 10 years of age on it, yet I still feel this need to pour wines that are the lat­est releas­es in the tast­ing room. Con­sumers have been well trained over the last cou­ple of decades to buy that which is the newest. Review­ers of wine gen­er­al­ly dic­tate the most recent vin­tages to review. Dis­trib­u­tors only want to sell the lat­est wines. So, the con­sumer duti­ful­ly con­sumes wines that are tight, too tan­nic, or just not yet prop­er­ly inte­grat­ed. They’re miss­ing out on the expe­ri­ence of savor­ing a wine that has aged for a few to sev­er­al years. It’s these expe­ri­ences that real­ly got me excit­ed about wine and wine­mak­ing a quar­ter cen­tu­ry ago.

Last night I opened a bot­tle of 2005 Château Kir­wan to pair with a beef brisket from our neigh­bors at Ade­lai­da Springs Ranch that Paula slow cooked with onions, car­rots, and mush­rooms. The meal was spec­tac­u­lar! This wine is eleven years old, and prob­a­bly could use anoth­er five years in the bot­tle (Luck­i­ly I have sev­er­al left!). But with 11 years of age, the tan­nins were now quite approach­able. The ten­der­ness of the meat with a touch of mar­bled fat bal­anced beau­ti­ful­ly with the big tan­nins, dark fruit, and dense mouth­feel of the Kir­wan. I wouldn’t have had as enjoy­able an expe­ri­ence if I had opened the wine after only 3 – 4 years.

Bor­deaux wines quite typ­i­cal­ly need to be aged longer than wines from the Paso AVA, but kukkula’s biggest blends like sisu, pas de deux, and noir real­ly should have at least 3 – 5 years of age to be prop­er­ly expe­ri­enced. They would like­ly be in their prime start­ing around 5 – 7 years from now, and could prob­a­bly enjoy at least a decade of cellaring.

I know that many peo­ple don’t have the abil­i­ty to cel­lar a lot of wine. I also hear from a lot of my Gen X buy­ers that they real­ly want to con­sume wines more imme­di­ate­ly, part­ly because they don’t store wines, and part­ly because they just like the imme­di­a­cy of the expe­ri­ence. So, I guess I should feel good about hav­ing the old­er vin­tages, since it allows me to put the brakes on and not release my wines too early.

For our club mem­bers, you’ve already received my email lay­ing out the spring release wines. I think you’ll real­ly enjoy the 10 and 11 sisu and pas de deux. I know I am! For those of you who are not mem­bers, you won’t be able to get the 14 Aat­to at this point, but you can buy the oth­ers when you vis­it. Or, you could order some from our web­site at www​.kukku​law​ine​.com.…. orbet­ter yet, you could become a mem­ber and have no restric­tions on pur­chas­ing the wines we produce!

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