Drink by dates – a fantasy

1998 Touraine Gamay from the much missed Clos Roche Blanche. 1998 was a difficult vintage but this Gamay is still quite youthful and delicious to drink. Furthermore surely good for another few years.

I continue to be impressed and pleasantly surprised by how resilient wine very often tends to be even when it is stored in less than ideal conditions for decades as well as being way beyond their recommended drink by dates. Also wine is able to survive and remain drinkable even if the level has dropped through slow leakage through the cork. As wine critics we frequently give advice on how wine should be stored, which is fine if you have ideal conditions. It is reassuring that wine can support higher temperatures than is usually recommended.

Recently we have enjoyed wines dating back to 1970, which may have been past their best but remained drinkable and in some cases very enjoyable. From time to time commissions require that I include dates when wines are ready to drink and until when. It is also common, of course, for back labels to give drink by dates. Because of my frequent experience of finding wines that many might think would not still be drinkable I am always dubious about giving precise dates. Equally do you give what you consider to be a possible drink by date indicating, for instance, that a recent Cru Communaux Muscadet could well be still enjoyable in 2055? Would this advice be taken seriously or might the reader think that this is a misprint. Of course if someone does leave their recently purchased bottle of Muscadet and follows my advice that it will still be drinkable in 2055 and it proves to be fit only to pour down the sink it is highly unlikely that I will be around to field their complaint…

I wonder what advice the local supermarket in Bourgueil gave when the 1893 Bourgueil from Lamé Delisle Boucard, which Les 5 famously enjoyed in June 2012, went on sale? Good for at least the next 118 years…!!

Some recently consumed bottles of a certain age…

1970 Château Loyat, Haut-Médoc. Level down a little, bricky colour,
a little faded and clearly past its best but had sweet fruit. Best drunk up which we duly did.
1979 Gigondas Domaine Les Pallières – still showing brilliantly after all these years complex with a
very fine balance of fruit, acidity and alcohol.

In the early to mid 1980s we used to stay during our summer holidays in a campsite at Faucon just to the north of Vaison-la-Romaine. As we were both had teaching holidays at the time we had plenty of time to visit a number of the domaines in the area. Domaine les Pallières, then owned by the Roux brothers, was one of our favourites. Their wines from the late 70s and early 80s have kept very well.

1985 Graves Pessac, Château Pape Clément
This was a real treat – a lovely complex wine that went
very well with a roast chicken with an Indian glaze.

Not really a surprise that a top Graves has lasted some 36 years.
Interesting that this Graves Pessac predates the Pessac Leognan
by a couple of years as the new appellation came into force in 1987.
Jim’s views from an e-mountain bike

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