Monday, November 17, 2008

Unexpected wine moments

Do you ever have those random unexpected wine moments? Ones that are either fantastic or slightly disappointing, but either way you learn something along the way? I’ve had a few in the past year. I’ve gotten to taste some wines I’d never buy but were curious about, such as Cristal (good but overrated), along with wines that were so good I wish I never knew about them because I’ll covet them forever (such as Viader and Stag’s Leap Cask 23), a bottle that the sulfur aroma was so strong decanting just made it worse, a box of 20+ year old Riesling that was suddenly offered to us, which was akin to apple juice at that point but interesting to taste, and one more this past weekend.

We were over at a friend’s house who doesn’t really drink much, particularly not wine, and he says “Hey, I’m glad you guys are here. I’ve some old red wine and want to know if its still good.” Now, Mr. Lush and I are weary of old wine owned by non-wine drinkers after the Reisling, but we say its red, so its got a shot. He opens a cabinet and shows us 4 bottles of French wine his dad gave him shortly before his death. At this point I’m more than just lightly curious. Of course, French wines can age and I’ve never had any old Bordeaux so I really want to taste them, but am sad that they are being stored in not optimal conditions (room temp now and no idea about the past), so its fairly likely they are bad, or on their way. There was a 1977 lower end “red grape wine” and a 1959 Grand Cru (I don’t remember the other two). He said lets open them. Well, ok, but we caution him that its unlikely they are in good condition, although the Grand Cru is probably the best shot, but does he want to open them with us? On a random Friday night? He states he just wants to open them, and if they are good, have someone who likes wine to enjoy them with. We oblige.

First up is the 1977: we peel off the label and see the top of the cork is basically soaked through and is sugary-looking. Not a good sign. Sure enough, we put the corkscrew in it and the cork falls right through. The wine has spoiled. Sadness sets over all of us. But he doesn’t give up, opening the 1959 Chateau Bouscaut Grand Cru. Well, the cork (which was really long) was fairly soaked all the way the way through, but was holding tight in the bottle and kept intact, so are hopeful when we smell-it smells like wine, not like funk or dirty feet or anything like that. We pour a glass. Sip. Hmm. Tastes….surprisingly ok. A real possibility. So, we pour a few glasses and let them sit for a bit. About an hour plus later, we drink. It was fairly good and the finish went on forever, although I’m sad to say we thought it was a bit past its prime. It hadn’t gone bad yet, but it was heading in that direction.

Yesterday I looked up information and there isn’t a ton of info except that that vintage was the last of the original Chateau because of a fire, but it was rebuilt. However, its clear based on pricing that the rest of the world agrees its past it prime. (Not readily available and recently $250+, it was reduced to $170.) So, even if it had been stored in optimal conditions, this particular wine wasn’t meant to last quite this many years. Either way it was an interesting experience because if a 49 year old Bordeaux that’s been stored in less than optimal conditions can still be drinkable, I have hopes and reasons to buy quite a few bottles on our trip next year and put them out of sight and out of mind for the next 25 years.

Cheers to unexpected wine moments- keep 'em coming, wine gods.

1 comment:

LucyinStLou said...

How fun! Although I am sorry to hear it was past it's prime. Imagine how good it would have been 10 years ago.