Thursday, November 25, 2010

Can't teach Old Wines New Tricks (France x2)

I do some teaching for the Toronto District School Board on the subject of wine and last night, for the last class, some of my students brought in some old wines to try.  One was a bottle of 1999 Croft Late Bottled Vintage Port, that had been left open for 3 years - this one I did not touch, though the smell was no longer Port but of Sherry.

One of my more adventurous students, we'll call him "G" for the sake of passing out monikers and to protect the innocent for what I am about to say, had brought in some old stuff before, with poor results.  Again G brought in a bottle that was from his father's basement (I think that is what he said), a 1978 Michel Couvreur Cote du Rhone Chateau de Fonsalette Rouge ... a red blend from the South of France.  He had two bottles of this elixir with him and both were very pale in colour.  The first bottle had no cork, it had fallen into the bottle.  The wine was brownish red in colour and smelled and tasted like Sherry with a Fino finish ... the second bottle did not fair any better, although it still had its cork in the neck ... in fact, I believe it was worse.

The jewel in this impromptu tasting crown was a bottle of Moet & Chandon 1983 Dom Perignon ... somethng we were all looking forward to trying.  It was brought in by "M", who has two other bottles, one from 1990 and another from 1996.  There was no pop as the cork was removed, barely even a whisper from the cork as it was wiggled out of the bottle and when poured there was little in the way of bubbles in the glass - but there were a few.  The smells were burnt: burnt toast, burnt caramel, burnt almonds.  The taste was not much better, burnt to a crisp nuts and caramel and an absolutely foul aftertaste.  This had clearly gone from a toasty aromas and flavours in its youth to completely burnt in its old age.  When I asked M about the wine there was an admission that the wine was not stored under optimal conditions: in a cabinet on the main floor of her house maybe near some sunlight and no air conditioning back in 86,87 or 88 when it was received as a gift and locked away into its hidey-hole cubby.  Oh well, nothing ventured nothing gained.  I am told M might break open the other two bottles for Christmas and New Year's respectively - if she is reading, might I suggest having a couple of back up bottles on hand, just in case - I suspect you'll need them.

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