Thursday, January 21, 2016

RayLen Vineyards 2007 Eagle’s Select Red Wine, North Carolina

Ray-Len Eagle Select

Looking into the expanse of the night, you can see the shadow of the eagle, but your eye never seems to catch him. He soars above the mundane and flies close to the heavens…

Wine From North Carolina?

We spend a lot of bandwidth here talking about various sub-regions of Napa Valley and Sonoma. Hardly a week goes by without writing an article about a delicious unexplored region in Italy or Spain.

Truth is, there is a lot of wine out there. We’re big supporters of local wines and no matter where you are, you can join the “loco-pour” movement too. There are wineries in all 50 states.

North Carolina has more than 160 wineries – a number that has quadrupled since 2001. Vineyards cover more than 1,800 acres in the state. Yadkin Valley is the epicenter of quality winemaking in North Carolina and has nearly 40 wineries.

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An Opportunity Lost

I’d like to say that I purchased this RayLen Eagle’s Select while paying a visit to the winery’s sun-dappled vineyard – but I didn’t. I picked it up at the Charlotte airport a few years ago. The North Carolina wine industry had opened a wine shop inside the terminal which allowed travelers to purchase wine and carry it on the plane with them since passengers didn’t have to leave the secured airport area.

I had sampled a few wines in the shop and the RayLen impressed me. It is a Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. When I got home I put it on the shelf, having understood that it needed to age.

That’s where I screwed up. I try to keep track of the “drinking windows” for my wine, the time when they taste best and the last year before they peak and start rolling downhill. For the Eagle’s Select, I got it terribly wrong.

The Cabinator Gets A Whiff

Over the weekend I rather belatedly invited tasting team member The Cabinator to stop by as we were sampling some Cabernet. On a whim I pulled the Eagle’s Select from the cellar.

The first whiff from the glass was wildly unpleasant, causing scrunched faces. This is a wine that might have been a treat two years ago, but it had turned the corner to oblivion.

We swirled and smelled and swirled and sipped. After the gas cloud had dissipated, the wine didn’t taste too bad. It was extremely earthy and vegetal in an Old World sort of way.

So, this is a tale of what might have been. RayLen is a very highly regarded winery and Eagle’s Select is their flagship red. It is touted as having aging potential and I think it does – just not nine years. If I opened this two years back, The Cabinator and I would have been exchanging high fives.

I look forward to sampling a more recent vintage of Eagle’s Select. Time waits for no one!

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