Making your finest Bordeaux walk the plonk plank

What do you do when you've opened six past-peak bottles within six weeks? Cry a little. Or a lot. And then figure out why good wine has gone bad.

In my case, only three of the six spoiled bottles were from my cave. The other three came from a cellar that had some known maintenance issues. Bye-bye Barolo 1993. Margaux 1990 down the drain. Sad how they had practically turned to vinegar. A bottle of port from 1986 stands trial as I write this.

I myself don't have a real cellar. I have a wine refrigerator. Except it hasn't been delivered yet so I have to hold off on buying any Bordeaux futures or other wine investments of this ilk. I am relieved. I know I am not laying waste to any major purchases as yet another sweltering, humid summer passes through my unairconditioned apartment. Or so I thought, quite glibly, until I started uncorking faded wine after faded wine.

It started just recently. I wanted to create a Waiting To Uncork list (idea provided by Water to Wino) while I waited for friends to get past their alcohol-free fads, their head colds, and their extended vacations out of the country. I knew I had about a half-dozen serious bottles that I had collected, mostly within the year, and which I knew were for special occasions. What I didn't know was how much other everyday wine I had lying around in dark corners gathering dust and not much else of value (especially internally). You see, the provincial liquor board here was on strike at this time last year. It lasted from the end of November until almost spring. "Hoard" mentality took over and I grabbed and stored as many bottles as I could locate. Most were not fancy, some I didn't even particularly like that much, but when your freedom to step out to pick up a bottle is impeded you end up stockpiling a small juke joint in your dining room. Well, at least I did.

A year later I see some straggling bottles are limping along, trying to get to the table. A Paul Jaboulet Aîné from 2002 (not the best of vintages) called Les Traverses eventually succeeded. It was very much on the edge (of its drinking life -- not the edge of the table or else I might've given it a nudge). Though the winemaker's site says you could open in 2012(!), it probably should have been drunk before I even purchased it -- like in 2003 or 2004. Which makes me go hmmm... Unsold wine that is not meant for ageing often gets discounted. I may have been shopping as a bargain-hunter, not a proper wine-enthusiast when I found these Midi vintages -- Les Traverses as well as the two Languedoc bottles that I blogged up and down about, wondering how to describe the particular characteristics best known as simply past-it. It was naive of me to even give these two careful consideration at all. But until this month, I had never really tasted wine that was past its best-before date. Now I know what to look for.

Not that I want to look for that in my wine collection. I want to hide from it. The thought of my cases of wine housing the biggest reserve of vinegar on the block makes me shudder. But that's paranoid. Last night was reassuring. I took one of the stronger candidates for forgotten wine status and found that it was just as good as I remembered it. I likely will still create a list entitled "DEFINITELY NO MORE Waiting To Uncork" and try to drink with greater peace of mind. In the meantime, while I wait my personal wine cellar to arrive, I'm researching some different databases that will better allow me to keep my stock in order. I will report back on this effort once I fully realize how much this wannabe wine captain has lost control of his ship.

1 comment:

Jathan said...

You should have heated them up more and made a tasty salad dressing.