Knappstein Enterprise Cabernet Sauvignon 1998

We bought this bottle on holiday at the winery back in October 2002; it was one of the few bottles that wasn’t stolen when our car was broken into in Melbourne a few weeks later. It’s survived two moves – to Washington and back to California – and here it is on a warm Spring afternoon in San Diego. It’s survived and then some.Still somewhat youthfully purple in color with only the faintest hints of aging, the nose is still redolent of warm, dark berries, rich, smooth cedar, and just-cooled vanilla custard. It’s all blackberry jam and custard, served in a Haida bent cedar box (or it could be a Japanese hinoki sake cup, I’m not entirely sure about that).The initial impression is surprise that it hasn’t aged, but then it moves fairly quickly towards a somewhat tannic, disjointed, acidic finish. Hm, strange. Let’s try this again, shall we? The second time around is a winner, with brightly tart cherry fruit straining – and succeeding, to a point – to make itself heard about the maelstrom of decay that’s the base of the wine. The impression is nearly that of a lavender licorice Sweet Tart; it is at fairly complex and mostly still hanging in there just fine, thank you. However, there’s a certain puckery assault on the gums that happens that I’m not a fan of, and the finish is more something I’d expect at a Tijuana dentist’s than a leather-upholstered steakhouse.So: was this wine better when we bought it? Perhaps, but I’m not convinced. Some of the haptics of this wine (if I’m even allowed to use that word!) are disconcerting and unwelcome, but there’s still enough beauty and pleasure here to save it for me. On some level, though, I probably shouldn’t have waited quite so long, dang it.Update: After sitting with this wine for another half an hour, I’m thinking that the problem isn’t age, but cork taint. With some air, it seems more likely that there’s low level TCA contamination here which is causing problems – and that’s a real shame, because I’d guess that a good bottle of this wine would be a wonderful thing indeed 11 years on. Oh well. :( Knappstein
Price: $NA
Closure: Cork

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