Monday, June 1, 2009

Putting whites through the deep (refrigerator) sleep

Amongst the wine geek cognoscenti, it is common knowledge that white wine, once opened and refrigerated, will often times improve after 2, 3, 5, 10+ days in the fridge. I was reminded of this fact when another wine blogger commented on her facebook page that she had a terrific bottle of - yikes! - '04 Smith Haut Lafite Blanc. Upon inquiring how she could bear such oaky, manipulated wine, she replied that the bottle had been opened and refrigerated for 10 days. SHL is known for using some (ok, lots of) new oak in their white and red wines, though they are also known for having some of the best terroir in Pessac-Leognan. Two possible lessons here: 1.) it takes a whole lot of intervention to fuck up great terroir and 2.) If you don't like a white wine initially, and have a tough time drinking it, why not forget about it for at least 5 days or more in the fridge?

Recently, I have had two wines which I opened nearly two weeks ago show marked improvement in the fridge. The first was a bottle of '04 Chateau Brown Pessac-Leognan. In fact, this is what drew my attention to that SHL facebook post. Initially oaky, superficial and a bit hot on the finish, this wine improved into a somewhat balanced, fruity, but more subdued starfruit-y type wine with oak nicely in the background. Not a favorite, but certainly drinkable, unlike its opening state. Bottle number two was a 2006 Domaine Ostertag Riesling Fronzholz which I had unenthusiastically reference a few weeks ago. More dramatic changes here. Though the aromas still remained clumsy, the wine showed a whole lot more nuance and complexity. Creamy lemon, white flowers, that ancient marine fossil minerality which you can only get in French whites, as well as a slighty bitter, botrytised, chestnut honey flavor to the finish. Huge improvement over the last tasting, to be sure.

Next wine up for the deep sleep would be an '07 Schafer-Frolich Schlossbockelheimer Riesling Trocken, which just hasn't been doing it for me over the last few days I've been tasting it. Surely a producer this highly regarded should be producing something in the terrific '07 German vintage which makes me take notice?

Well, I guess we'll find out when I unearth this bottle from the refrigerator in another week.


e said...

Granted that SHL can be extremely oaky, what do you mean by highly manipulated and what is your evidence?

Joe Manekin said...

Good question...I don't have evidence, I just have my palate, and the similarity between SHL Blanc and most of the new world, oaked white wine which I dislike is notable. Flavors that go beyond ripe phenolics and oak, but into cultured yeast territory.

That having been said, I have not had aged SHL Blanc, so maybe with 5-7 years bottle age plus a week in the fridge the wine is good?