By Ted Loos, Epicurious.com
The more you get into wine, the more alluring older bottles become. Like young people, young wines are feisty, fun, full of life--and somewhat predictable. Older wines (at least the best of them) are capable of huge surprises and shocking twists. You get to see how an epic book or movie turns out in the end, not just the extra-loud trailer for the movie.
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Most commercial wines, of course, are not made for the long haul. You buy them on Friday and consume them on Saturday. Done and done. But there is a whole class of wine that rewards patience--generally these bottles are made with traditional methods that have been honed over centuries, and they are pricier because of the work that goes into them. To name but a few examples: select Cabernet Sauvignons from California, super sweet German Rieslings, and top Barolos from Piedmont.
A couple of nights ago, I opened two rare, long-haul beauties at my house with friends and experienced the frisson of drinking wine that hasn't been rushed.
My pal Tom contributed Château Pichon-Longueville-Lalande 1978, a top Bordeaux estate from a very good year. The nose on this wine smelled like curry powder, celery seed, and strawberries in balsamic vinegar; on the palate it was fading, but it had haunting red fruit and earthy notes. It was exotic, and unmistakably Bordeaux. And it needed to be consumed soon, before all its charms faded completely.
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From my own cellar, I contributed Bruno Clair Chambertin Clos de Bèze 1990. Going into the evening, I had been worried that I may have waited too long to drink this great example of grand cru Burgundy. Nope. Turns out it was at the height of its powers, its alcoholic kick softened somewhat (which happens to all wine as it ages), the better to highlight its amazingly rich, pure black cherry character, with complexity offered by hints of smoke, licorice of plum. It was supple, sophisticated, beguiling. And I wish I had a whole case of it tucked away somewhere, since it's not that the end of its delicious journey.
As for the dinner I served alongside those bottles, I roasted a chicken and some fingerlings in the oven and pan-roasted some Brussels sprouts. Simpler is always better when it comes to serious wine with some age, and fowl is usually a sure-fire match.
How about you: When's the last time you had a wine more than 10 year old? How was it? What older wine are you dying to try? Drop me a comment here or hit me up @LoosLips on Twitter.
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