Old Friends and Old Wines

3 Jun

Older wines can be a special treat. They can also be a big disappointment, but that’s for another post!
I recently had the fortune of being invited to visit friends at their beach house on a holiday weekend. Before leaving my home , I sensed an opportunity in the air and grabbed two bottles from my wine cellar that were getting past their prime drinking years. These are friends who both enjoy wine and make wine, and if this wine was still good I knew they’d appreciate it, and if it had turned I knew we’d all have a laugh instead of tears.

When the moment came, I opened the bottle. The cork smelled good, and I sighed with relief. I ventured outside, sat in a beach chair with my feet firmly entrenched in the sand, poured a taste, scrutinized the nose and color, and ventured forth.

Success!

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Chateau Le Gay Pomerol 1994

This wine still has reminiscent fruit hidden behind dusty rose on the nose, and the palate expanded upon that start. Black cassis and a hint of boysenberry wrapped in the same mellow floral bouquet, followed by a medium-long expanse of earth, tobacco, and old wood. We poured small tasting amounts at a time to revel in the nose and remind ourselves to savor the aged fruit, the dark flavors, and appreciate the long, gentle tannins and the depth of this mature pleasure. As the wine aired, it settled to a nice refined state in which even the neophytes who tasted could sense the age, depth and character from a fully mature wine in opposition to a  recent vintage.

You can find the link to Chateau Le Gay  here, but be warned- révisez votre français avant d’entrer, ou vous risquez d’être déçu par vos résultats. For those who don’t speak the language, the site is entirely en français- oh, je m’excuse- I mean, in French. I found this vintage at a wine storage facility for $35/bottle. This chateau has consistently rated in the low 90’s and high 80’s over the last 20 years and at that price, is an interesting point for discussion without being either overpriced or ostentatious.

For the sake of comparison, I opened a more recent vintage that perhaps barely qualifies as old in the wine world: a 2001 Chateau Simard that I picked up on sale from Sherry-Lehman at $27, noting it now lists in the mid-$30’s.

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The ’01 Simard showed a ruby color with a nose of black fruit, on the palate presenting cassis and black plum with licorice, mushroom, chocolate, and a hint of gravel. This bottle plays the fruit against a nice acidic balance and stronger tannins,  demonstrating perfectly the examples of aging when compared to the ’94 Le Gay or a modern blend. You can find the link to Chateau Simard here.

The experience of an older wine can be just as special as a very expensive wine. For me, opening an old bottle with good friends who enjoy wine makes it far more enjoyable an experience. And if you had a group of friends who want to learn about wine, these two wines show just one example of how you could plan an evening with one or two young wines against two older wines to demonstrate the changes as wines mature- just be sure to do some research and use wines that have the ability to age well and note the suggested drinking years. It’s also important to learn how to decant and pour wines so you don’t have friends drinking sediment from their glasses. A little research goes a long way, and I can tell you from experience, it’s no fun at all when you open a bottle thats corked. But an old wine with good friends can make a wonderful night just that much better!

à votre santé!

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2 Responses to “Old Friends and Old Wines”

  1. Whine And Cheers For Wine June 24, 2013 at 8:41 am #

    I have a couple of 83 vintage Bordeaux and St. Emilion calling my name. Hoping they are not gone…..
    Thank you!

    Like

    • jimvanbergen June 25, 2013 at 12:31 am #

      I opened an ’84 with friends last year. It was, in a word, stellar- but very long in the tooth and you could taste the edge. I hope your ’83s are still stunning!

      Like

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