When All Else Fails

20 Feb

I’ve been harboring an old-vine, classic burgundy and waiting for a good pairing. Finally the night arrives, I prepare a meal that will pair beautifully and I open the wine and let it breathe. Color is great, nose has promise. First taste… needs air. After air, it’s improved, but slightly. There’s fruit, acidity, tannin- yet the wine is still decidedly closed and not yet ready for prime time. This is a wine I know- I have tasted and adored two years ago, and I’m shocked. Is this bottle going through a ‘dumb’ or ‘closed’ phase? Or have a opened an off bottle? 

off bottle

Really, the problem is more with me than anything else. I had high expectations, a previous experience of quality and it could be an off bottle, TCA, or a plethora of other things. The best thing to do would be to open another bottle of something else, and move along. But the meal is under way, the wine is doing a job- cleansing the palate, just without joy, class, or sustain. It’s so meh I could just scream.

I live to drink for another day.  Not every day is a WOW, a stunner. It happens more often than we might admit- but usually I have the time to find something else that rocks my palate that I can champion and send off to the readers of JvB UnCorked.

For today, we settle for a bottle of C+ mediocrity, and high hopes for next time. Whether this 2007 burgundy failed me or whether I should have waited three more years, we’ll never know.

Every bottle is a gift, but not all bottles are ones you want, or ones that should be opened. 

There’s a quote from Argentinian poet Antonio Porchia that can easily be adapted to a wine analogy: “I know what I have given you.  I do not know what you have received.” Comforting words in this moment.

I take a breath, stand up, and do what I sometimes do when all else fails: I pull a 375ml bottle of sauternes from the stash and pour a half ounce. I inhale, savor, and sip until the smile has returned to my face. This moment is bliss, and tomorrow is another day. 

à votre santé!


3 Responses to “When All Else Fails”

  1. d d b April 23, 2015 at 6:28 am #

    Too true


  2. jimvanbergen February 21, 2015 at 1:41 am #

    Indeed Anatoli, I have read and heard that some wines have “dumb” phases in the 6-10 or 7-10 year range of aging. While the bottle in question did improve some after two days, it was still nothing like the bottle of the same vintage I enjoyed two years ago. Sauternes to the rescue, and moving forward my friend. Cheers! Now when are we having this tasting in NYC…


  3. talkavino February 21, 2015 at 12:28 am #

    Well, that happens. This actually might be a bottle asleep – did you try to put it aside for a day or two? If you had a bottle from the same vintage and the same producer which was good two years ago, I think it is just in a strange state… But then you fixed situation with the Sauternes, so all is good 🙂


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