Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The job ain't that bad: More notes on old wines

When I'm not stocking, helping customers, tasting with suppliers, reading email offers, deleting email offers, crafting our very own email offers, or conducting staff tastings, I might be tasting through a line-up of curiosities from vintages past. A sampling of one such recent tasting:

1992 Etienne Sauzet Batard Montrachet

While I would argue that this particular wine does not make the case for long-term cellaring of your big, fancy white Burgundy, I had a tough time finding too much fault with it. It was not maderized or otherwise flawed. The nose was creamy, with ripe grapefruit, a hint of marzipan, maybe some botrytis? The palate also showed a creamy, citric quality, with moderate acidity and most impressively, a wonderful texture. A spicy, bitter honey inflected finish. It would be like an aged Auslese if only there had been more residual sugar, higher acidity and lower alcohol.

1986 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Napa Valley

This was showing terrifically. Red fruits, particularly cherries, with some savory and leafy qualities on the nose, opened up to a lovely palate that semed nearly delicate at this point. Unbeknownst to me, this bottling is not all from valley floor fruit, but rather has a significant chunk of Spring and Howell Mountain grapes in it.

1979 Chateau Palmer Margaux

A favorite from this vintage for many people, many think that the '79 Palmer was the best Bordeaux wine of the vintage, a year which was difficult and which favored the wines of Margaux. Aromatically it did not disappoint, showing a real spicy quality - sort of like a house made chipotle ketchup but more subtle and less sweet. Flavors were savory, with the fruit hanging in and the tannins fully resolved. Subtle, to be sure, but still showing plenty of interest and elegance at over 30 years of age.

1971 Chateau Coutet Sauternes

I don't have that much experience with older Sauternes. Drinking them young, though, holds no appeal for me. The wines conjure up an image of dissolving orange blossom honey and marmelade in sauvignon blanc, and blending by immersion. Climens is always the exception. I don't know why, it just is, I do like that wine. Anyway, this aged sauternes was not quite a revelation, but was really damn tasty. My notes read, "No spit wine." Exotic mango and guava flavors were balanced. The wine reminded me of a very good older Auslese for its texture and sense of balance.