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Opened 2 bottles of rioja for my little bro's b-day last night:
Marques de caceres reserva 1995 (WS 87)
COto De Imaz Grand reserva 1995 (WS 86)
The Marques was fantastic, but the Coto was disapointing. WS suggested "drink now" on the Coto in 2003, and through 2006 on the Marques.
My question is, How do can you tell if a mature bottle is past its prime, or if it was just not good wine to begin with? What charecteristics suggest that a wine is on the decline?
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Mature bottle past its prime = disappointing flavors.

More specifically loss of vibrant color, lacking in fruit flavors, perhaps some bitter or out of balance characteristics, lacking complexity, and lacking in aromas. Order a really old Bordeaux taht is in good cond from for $5 and you'll get a great feel for what happens to a wine that is way past its prime.
Thanx natester,
you just pretty much summed up the Coto De Imaz. The color really threw me off, it looked great in the decanter! The wine had a finish, strong tannins, and great color. However, it had no palate until the finish, no fruit, and odors I dont usually associate with wine (not TCA). Thanks for the help, but this could also just be bad wine, am I right? I have tasted some cheaper wines that were on the slide, but never an ageworthy grand reserve from a great vintage and a solid label at age 10. I may just have to taste some more mature wines to get a better grasp.

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