We recently tasted an array of older vintages pulled out of our cellars at random, kicking and screaming. It has to be said that most red burgundies from 2005-2007 could do with a visit from you, your corkscrew and a few like-minded friends in the near future!
Sometimes wine can confound preconceptions. For example, a humble Côtes du Rhône would normally get all the ageing it requires on its journey from supermarket shelf to home. It is renowned for being a soft, easy drinking style of wine. Here is the Bouchard’s take on this at Domaine de Grands Devers. Quite a surprise when one considers it’s a 12-year-old wine from a distinctly average Rhône vintage where it rained a lot!
Côtes du Rhône-Villages rouge 2002, Domaine des Grands Devers
‘Medium ruby/garnet. Complex nose – fresh, minty, thyme and clove with a touch of earth and truffle. Good acidity in the mouth, slightly drying, savoury blackberry fruit, pepper and Christmas cake spices. Long leathery finish with furry tannins. Remarkably fresh, complex and vivacious considering the age and difficult vintage. Drink now, ideally with truffle-stuffed guinea fowl.’
A couple of years back I had a query from a Partner about our Vacqueyras from Montirius, namely from the 2006 vintage. He told me it smelt and tasted of very little but alcohol. I had some of the 2006 in my cellar so duly tasted a few bottles. It was indeed very ‘dumb’, showing little aromatics or taste. When I recently revisited a bottle of the Vacqueyras 2006 from my cellar I was pleasantly surprised at what I tasted!
A brace of Cabernet Francs from the Loire Valley showed just how well this lovely grape variety can age.
Saumur-Champigny 2003, Domaine de la Cune
‘An excellent Loire vintage which was of course very hot indeed! A brooding nose of autumnal fruits, gravel and minerals. Sweet fruit in the mouth, quite rich blackberry and plum, nice freshness, a touch of leather and pepper spice over velvety tannins. Long herbaceous finish. Drink over the next 12-18 months with peppered lamb steaks.’
St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil Cuvée Carine 2007, La Jarnoterie
‘Textbook aromas of herbs, blackberry and blackcurrant with a touch of crushed rock and graphite. Sweet blackberry fruit in the mouth, quite rich, with a touch of maturity showing in the leathery finish. Smooth and supple textures. Drink over the next couple of years with spicy sausage casserole.’
Claret has the reputation for ageing well, especially in great vintages. They don’t have to be first growths, however, as this lovely wine illustrates!
Blaye 2005, Château Monconseil-Gazin
‘A superb Bordeaux vintage, rated as one of the very best! Opaque purple black in colour. An alluring ‘new world’ nose of sweet black fruits, slightly floral, tobacco, menthol and eucalyptus. Delightful! Good weight of ripe, supple fruit in the mouth, mulberry and blackcurrant leading to a long supple finish of liquorice and exotic spices. No hurry to drink. Try this with Sunday lamb or peppered steak.’
The moral of the story here is that wine, as a living, breathing entity, can continually surprise. Some wines do shut down and can be rather ‘dumb’ for a while. Their evolution is not necessarily linear. They can be like children in fact. The secret is to try a bottle at reasonably regular intervals and catch the moment when they are, in your opinion, à point.