Mid-September 1990, I was looking for a bottle of wine at the Wine Barrel on Home Avenue in Akron, to save for a special occasion. I never collected wine before and I was hesitant in making my choice; until I spotted a wrapped bottle tucked behind some California Cabernets. I proceeded to move two or three bottles out of the way so I could remove the bottle from it's chamber. I carefully peeled back the cocoon hiding the wine. After all, I was not sure I wanted it and I may have to re-wrap it and put it back. It was a 1986 Beringer Reserve Cabernet.
Now this 25 year old did not know much about wine at the time, just taking baby steps back then. But I was enthralled by the shape of the bottle; it had wide shoulders, a hefty weight in the glass, and the label was quit sophisticated. The price of the Beringer was $29. I thought this is cool, I think I'll get it. When I approached the sales counter the clerk assured me that I picked a "really nice bottle." "Thanks," I said "I think I will keep it awhile."
Well, as we all know that bottle put Beringer on the world stage. Ed Sbragia, the man behind the wine became quite famous and his wines are sought out all over the globe. The 1986 Reserve Cab he made took the #1 spot on Wine Spectator's Top 100 list that year. Once I got news of that, I told myself I would never drink it, for sentimental reasons. It was then that my love for wine really started and my collecting of finer wines began.
Years went by and the millennium was approaching. We all thought the world was coming to an end as we knew it. So, after 14 years I decided it was time to savor the secret essence inside my fabled 1986 bottle.
I must say, I was disappointed. The bottle had experienced three moves and hadn't been stored properly the whole time. The wine showed signs of greatness. But like an old man who can tell many stories about his past, there are parts that he can not remember. From that day on I made sure my storage facility was less compromising.
The other day I was at a friends home. We were deciding what to imbibe when my buddy pulled out a 1997 Beringer Reserve Cabernet. Wow, I told him my story and the decision was made to open the 1997. I was anxious to discover how this newer version, which had been stored correctly, had developed over the past 15 years.
I pulled the faultless cork from its prison; only to reveal a dark burgundy stain on the bottom of its foot. Two short pours, a couple rigorous swirls and a deep sniff of intoxicating aromas revealed an exceptional wine. A wine that could not be dissected into multiple layers of aromatic attributes. Rather, a wine that developed into something unique that could only be described as a 1997 Beringer Reserve Cabernet. Outstanding, we both agreed.
It was a fine moment, as we finished the bottle along side our $5 Little Caesar pizza. We told each other...next time we are grilling fillet Mignon!