Friday, November 30, 2007

On ageability....


Though it is a hotbed of drama (and some would say fascism), the ebob board is nonetheless capable of some really fascinating posts, such as this one here. Loire/Alsace/Champagne/Burgundy/German/Austrian critic David Schildnecht has a way with the written word, especially as it pertains to the grape and all things wine (no surprise that someone who covers the coolest - climatically and stylistically - regions so well would have something interesting to say about how wine ages. I'll let you read it and check it out for yourselves.

As for what I think will age, I'm still working on it, and as DS says, so much of this sort of forecasting depends on experience, not only with multiple vintages of general regions but of specific producers. I'm only 28, dude. And I did not grow up with a serious wine cellar in the household. So there's lots of learning ahead. Fortunately this year has been a real education for me personally with regards to tasting fully mature, and maturing, wines of high quality. I've been lucky enough this year to have tasted mature wines such as'89 Luneau Papin Muscadet L d'Or, '76 Varoilles Charmes-Chambertin, '79 Karthauserhof Eitelsbacher Auslese, '81 Cronin PN (central coast CA PN that still tasted fresh, spicy and unbelievably good), '70 Latour, '89 Chasse-Spleen, '27 Domaine Bory Muscat de Rivesaltes and others. And I have also tasted excellent young wines that I think will age gracefully for years: '96 Salon, '96 Fleury, '99 Lopez Bosconia Reserva, '04 Langoa Barton, '02 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards PN, '04 de Montille Volnay 'Taillepieds,' '96 Pontet Canet, '04 Conn Valley Cab, '05 Schmitt-Wagner Longuicher Herrenberg Spatlese, and many, many others. So what do I look for? In vague, highly subjective, layman's terms, I look for wines that are already very interesting, highly drinkable and balanced, but seem like they have more to show. So I look for what I view as balance, and then combine it slightly with theory and book smarts, and then go from there. And, I'm guessing, prepare myself to be humbled when I re-visit a wine in 5 years, one that I knew would be a 15yr+ wine, and find it to be over the hill. Most of the fun is in the drinking and experimentation, not in the satisfaction of being right. Though it's always gratifying to be right....

Wouldn't it be interesting to cellar a few 95 pt Spanish, Aussie and Napa wines which are predicted by some to age well for 10+ years and track their progress? If many wine consumers actually were to do this, I would suspect that lots of subscriptions to certain wine publications would be canceled....

4 comments:

manuel said...

It's hard to believe that, at just a few months shy of my fortieth birthday, I've been at this wine thing long enough to have seen wines that I bought at the beginning reach a good point of "readiness". Alas, I've also seen other stuff I bought, often after reading about it on one of those publications that give points and hype, which had not only failed to develop intoanything nice, but was, frankly, quite dead.

What will develop nicely in bottle over twenty, thirty, forty years? Wines of real balance with enough of the right substance needing resolution, as opposed to the overeverythinged bullshit bombs that abound today and get hyped into the stratosphere. I'm often extremely amused by Spanish winemakers who tell me one has to give the ridiculous amounts of new oak they use on their wines "time to integrate". My answer to them is that what they hope for will probably never happen and their wines are usually already shot by drying wood tannins when they hit the market.

And then there's all that manipulation to even out excessive alcohol, or to bring up deficient acidity, or to make wines black instead of red... What will age? Thta's an open question. But there sure is an answer to 'What will not age and can only turn uglier?" That's the spoofulated swill that many are pushing as "fine wine" these days.

How's this for a little Saturday afternoon moment of clarity?:-)

M.

manuel said...

Oh, lest I forget, I wouldn't call '89 L d'Or "mature". It's actually a very young wine, when you think about it... Also, '99 Bosconia is a gorgeous little thing, but I think that it lacks the structure for the really long haul. Of course, "the really long haul" is a mighty long time, when you think of Bosconia, if you take into account how the '47 (a baby), the '34 (a toddler) and the '20 (a precocious teenager) are doing.

Having said this, the '99, though a shorter-term Bosconia, will have a lifespan much longer than most people are willing to wait.

Joe M. said...

Yes, M, testify, TE-STI-FY!!!

One of my least favorite Spanish wines I tasted all year, and certainly my least favorite considering coset: '98 Remirez de Ganuza Rioja Res. Ugh....

Joe M. said...

As I am new to the whole aged Muscadet thing, considering '89 L d'or a young wine is still a bit weird. But I'd need to taste again to re-visit it, the L d'or vertical I tasted through 8 months ago ('89, '95, -04) was my first exposure to the joys of top-notch, maturing muscadet.