Much to my delight, a couple of nights ago, I had the opportunity to partake in tasting some amazing wines for a friends birthday. Wine is usually always a guest at any party I attend, but it is not often that the featured wines are over thirty years old. Needless to say, my husband and I were pretty excited.
My initial experience with older/aged wines, was not so good. I think back and remember my friends and I gingerly opening the vintage finds with pure excitement, however much to our dismay the wine had gone bad - this is always a very sad moment in life, but you keep calm and move on -- to the next bottle. Until that one day, you taste the most amazing aged wine, commence the ‘Ah-Hah’ moment when you begin to appreciate and understand older wines and what they have to offer compared to their younger counterparts.
My first moment was with a 1968 Clos de la Roche. We were barely able to remove the disintegrating cork out of the bottle, however we succeeded, then carefully poured it into the decanter, and waited ever so patiently. Now it was time to transfer into the glass, and what happened next was nothing short of AMAZING! I was shocked! Not only were the aromas there, but the fresh fruit flavors were stunning, and I have never forgotten that moment. We savored every last drop, and my opinion of old wines was forever changed.
In the same way that I now cherish antiques, I also cherish aged wines. While I love fresh young vintages, it is always a treat to sample something from a different era, and revel in the experience of something new.
So back to the party...all of the wines were lovely, but there were two that really stood out. A 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild (photographed above)-- I seriously get goosebumps just typing this, not too mention how lucky I am to have a friend that will share this -- Thanks Drake! The second wine was a 1982 Dunn Vineyards Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. They were both beautiful wines, albeit very different. The Mouton was tasting fantastic, and the Dunn could easily age for ten or more years. Each one had the stunning subtleties that an aged wine can posses, luring you in, asking for more. Thankfully, we tasted these beauties out of Zalto stemware, which really enhanced the experience - see my Zalto post here.
So, does a wine get better with age? Well, probably not as many as one might think. There are many factors that play into whether a wine has aging potential. The reactions involving a wine’s acid, sugar, and tannins can alter the color, aroma, and taste of a wine. These factors, along with grape variety, vintage, farming practices, wine region and winemaking style can all have an affect on a wines ability to age. Then, after considering all of the aforementioned components, you must then review the outside factors, such as proper storage i.e. temperature, humidity, darkness, etc. It is sort of like a perfectly designed room, all the pieces must come together to create a cohesive feel, look, and taste, and when they do, it can be an unforgettable experience.