Friday, July 29, 2016

Wine Views - "Drinking the Old Stuff"

It's a great time to be a wine drinker, especially in the High Country with all the wine and jazz fests. While I enjoy beer, wine, and bourbon, I am developing in the direction of being a Wine Enthusiast, though I still consider myself a novice. A recent wine tasting with a friend led to my current immersion in Rex Pickett's classic wine novel Sideways, as well as the Judgment of Paris, which is known to film goers through the movie Bottleshock. So, I've got wine on the mind this week, and it was a nice bit of education to run across Wine Ink columnist Kelly Hayes' piece in the Summit Daily about drinking older vintages - not something novices like me usually engage in. But it has me intrigued, and I admit I was a bit "jelly" of my friend's new wine fridge where he has selections he drinks and selections he ages. 

The point is that for many of us, the opportunity to taste the wines from the historic vintages of the past is one that should be savored. Old wines — similar to old people — have achieved texture, character and beauty that is a result of having been afforded time to mature. Not all old wines, of course. But there are special wines sourced from grapes born in vintages in which the sun and the seasons smiled softly upon them and were crafted by winemakers whose deft hands gently persuaded them to perfection. These are wines that have been nurtured by owners who kept them in pristine condition for decades — never too warm, nor too cold. Just right, as they awaited the moment when the twisting of the cork and the rush of air through the bottle’s neck would announce that it was time for the wine to be drunk. My greatest old wine experience came from a bottle of Syrah from the Northern Rhone. Hermitage, to be precise. And it was not all that old. But the 1990 Hermitage Cuvee Cathelin, Domaine Jean-Louis Chave was one of those wines that demonstrated why having the patience to cellar and keep a wine for some time — in this case two decades — can be so rewarding. This was a wine from an outstanding vintage in a place that is as regarded as a mecca for lovers of Syrah.
I don't know if I'll ever be in the position to "set a wine aside for a couple decades," but I appreciated Kelly Hayes contributing to my wine education.

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