Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Thomas & Vaughan Old Gold – Heritage Series

Let’s end the year on a sweet note by grabbing something out of the cellar and checking on it’s progress. Here’s a blast from the past that I uncovered at the back of my fridge.

Sometime over the last year I took a bottle of wine, put it in the fridge, and forgot about it. Not on purpose mind you. It was a dessert wine, and each time we got to dessert we decided against having it. Soon I had forgotten about it entirely. Now, basically what happened, besides getting really chilled wine, was I stopped the aging process – think of it as cryogenics for wine.

If you are, or have been, a fan of Thomas & Vaughan over the years you know they made a sweet half bottle of wine before it was fashionable to make a quality sweet half bottle of wine. They made it from Catawba grapes and they called it “Old Gold”. Catawba grapes were virtually banned in Canada during the rip out and re-plant back in the 70’s, when Ontario decided to go from the sweet Baby Duck type wines and start making the varietals we all know and love today. The Catawba is widely grown and made into wine down in New York State (believe it or not, the 2nd largest wine producing state in the US next to California). Catawba makes a sweet wine no matter what style you are trying for, though I can’t imagine a dry Catawba wine (I’m sure somebody has tried though).

This Thomas & Vaughan “Old Gold” has been out of production for sometime, and because there is no vintage date on the bottle I can not pinpoint the exact age of the wine, but I’ll hazard a guess at about 7 years … if somebody does know the last time they made this wine, I’d love to know. So how does this approximately 7 year old, slightly illegal, Catawba wine taste? Pretty darn good I must say.

Now, remember, mine has been sitting in the fridge cryogenically chilled for about a year – so if you have a bottle it may have a little more perceptible age on it, but these are my notes from the tasting. Amber in colour, which shows its age, because this wine is usually vinted pale-to-golden yellow (like an icewine). The nose shows signs of apricot, pear, apple, raisins and sweet cinnamon sugar. The taste is just as intriguing – a baked apple with cinnamon and nutmeg at the beginning, changing to a tart, unripened apple in the back palate, finishing off with a rusty (oxidized) apple finish. The medium body and low acidity really adds to the taste making it an exemplary dessert wine in its twilight years.

This wine, although no longer made, nor very popular, aged with great style, grace and complexity – too sweet in it’s youth it really shows something different and more pleasant in its latter days. Kudos to Thomas & Vaughan for taking the chance on this wine. No longer available anywhere – unless you have a bottle hidden somewhere.

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