Some wines demand bottle aging. Barolo and Chateauneuf de Pape are famous reds that can be undrinkable in their early years. They are too tannic, unevolved, they simply dry out your mouth and offer little flavour.
Some whites, sweet ones like Sauternes and many German Rieslings, can be consumed in youth but it’s a waste as they develop so much complexity in the bottle.
Many top Bordeaux wines are for “laying down” for years before drinking. You want a few of those for special occasion meals, roast of lamb or beef with all the trimmings. Occasionally they’ll be deeply discounted by the NLC when they are overstocked or have decided to delist a product and you have to consider buying a few to salt away in a cool, dampish, dark corner. A lot of people say they haven’t the patience or worry they’ll run out of booze some dinner party and, half-in-the-bag, go downstairs to grab any bottle in reach.
How long do you have to wait? It varies from vintage to vintage, the Brits like to call lighter vintages “for drinking ” as opposed to “cellaring,” merchants call them “classic,” a marketing term for “regular.”
2005 was an extraordinary vintage in Bordeaux, a perfect growing season produced rich wines with buckets of flavour. It was never too hot and dry too long so the wines aren’t raisiny or burnt. Though concentrated they aren’t overblown.
Chasse-Spleen is not one of Bordeaux’s superstars but has a deserved reputation for being very good, always a bargain. We got a few of the 2005s when they were going. The 2010, another exceptional year for Bordeaux, was recently offered by the NLC at their clearance for $30, a great price for such a wine.
The 2005 was decanted and left for two hours before we tasted. It was true to form, delicious, polished succulent red wine. The fruit was more to the red side, raspberries and such, than the blackcurrent you get from Cabernet Sauvignon and the plums you get from Merlot.
It was “ready,” perfectly drinkable but had yet to develop the tertiary flavours, the mushrooms, earth, horse tack and undergrowth it will show at its peak. In other words it would benefit from longer keeping.
Your tastes will change. You might eat less bloody red flesh fifteen years from now so will have less want of a bottle of mature Bordeaux. You might have moved, even several times, and disturbed the wine’s slumber. The new place might not have a suitable place to store it. Weigh all that. Maybe you want two bottles of ready-to-drink Côtes du Rhônes instead.
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