Age-Worthy Wine

10/15/2015

 
Under the right conditions, great wine will only improve with age. How much improvement, how long to age, what will appear, what will disappear, are all mysteries. To some this is infuriating, but to others it is all the more exciting. When everything comes together, it is like an orchestra performing in prefect unison. Aging wine requires old-fashioned values: patience and delayed gratification.

My dream is to buy all the great wines, age them for you, and have a retail shop filled with past vintages long gone from the market. Trouble is, it requires an enormous amount of cash up front, a decade or so with no revenue, and then cross your fingers and hope customers want what you’ve set aside for them.

In the meantime, the best I can do is set a few things aside for a future you, and encourage present day you to set some things aside for yourself. Let’s forget the collector’s angle and the people you read about in the news selling their cellars for millions of dollars. We should be aging wine to drink - to enjoy! I’d like to point out solid wines from great producers with long legacies that will stand the test of time…. And you can afford them!
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This will be an on-going series where we discuss what is required to age wine, what one should expect and of course, many of the great and affordable wines from our inventory. Here is an obvious place to start:

2011 Domaine de Fontsainte Corbiéres Rouge “Réserve la Demoiselle” $17

This Languedoc red comes from an ancient vineyard, quite literally the thoroughbred of the Corbiéres. I first heard about the Demoiselle vineyard in Kermit Lynch’s 1988 memoir Adventures on the Wine Route:

“The twelve-acre Demoiselles vineyard rolls down like a carpet from a hilltop crowned with forest much like Le Corton. It is 80 percent Carignan, 10 percent Grenache noir, 10 percent a mélange of ancient varieties, including Mourvèdre The entire vineyard consists of seventy- to eighty-year-old vines!”

Those eighty-year-old vines in 1988 are now nearly one hundred-years-old. Imagine the extraordinarily low production of such ancient vines, and then imagine the concentration of terroir, the complete expression of a place in the bottle. Demoiselles is rich without being overwhelming, spicy without feeling one bit artificial or over-oaked. Perhaps I’m simply having a craving for a plate of mole negro, but as I write and swirl the Fontsainte in my glass, beautiful aromas of dried red ancho chilies, garden fresh tomatoes and a very real presence of fire-roasted meat, like when the rendered fat drops onto the hot coals and flares up.

It is pure pleasure and I am personally grateful to the stewards of this historic site because of the joy it delivers every vintage, and it is a serious bargain! This wine will age nicely over the next ten years, and you can actually afford to collect a few of them to enjoy in the future.

 


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