Reaping the Rewards of Patience: The Joys of Long Cellared Wine.

3 Nov


            Last night, Jay and I were alone for the evening in our home for the first time in years.  Two of our kids have left the nest and the third was celebrating his first homecoming dance and was out for the entire evening.  We opted to stay in and celebrate this glimpse of the life, senza kids, by opening a bottle from our cellar.  As Jay was really the one who initiated what is now our mutual passion, he has always been the “cellar master” and directs our consumption choices.  Last night, he offered me a choice of a “big” California Cab, or a Bordeaux.  Somehow, with the first hint of fall in the air, “big” sounded perfect.  A few minutes later, I found Jay happily decanting a bottle of 1980 Opus One.

            There were a few issues removing the cork, which had grown quite soft.  And the label was mildewed, a challenge with our high Houston humidity.   But the wine was lovely, even if 1980 was a bad year for California wine.  It was beautifully soft and mellow, with little fruit and a bit of lingering tannin.  Drinking it felt a little like pulling on my favorite sweatshirt on a chilly morning – oh so easy and comfortable.  Was it complex and interesting, no.  But did I enjoy it – oh yes.

            The experience has given me some things to think about.  We started collecting bottles with long-term cellar potential in the mid 1980’s – right after we graduated from college.  Our early income stream wasn’t sufficient to put many higher end bottles away, but every year we selected a half case or so.  The 1980 Opus One was one of our first.

            We’re remiss in the way we handle our cellar.  To date, we haven’t inventoried what we have and our collection habits have grown considerably.  We aren’t knowledgeable about what we should drink when to maximize our enjoyment or investment.  I honestly don’t know if our Opus might have been better a decade ago, or if it might have continued to improve.  It seemed to me that the fruit had all but disappeared, but yet some tannins remained.  I’m still learning about the “life cycle”of wine, but I’m guessing that we missed the wine’s prime. I am excited that my class will provide an opportunity for me to learn more about the aging process and how to optimize our cellar.  And I’m even more excited to have the confidence to pull the cork on more of our older bottles and experience, with greater frequency, the treasure inside.


One Response to “Reaping the Rewards of Patience: The Joys of Long Cellared Wine.”

  1. Samantha November 4, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

    How lovely Pam! Even if the fruit has disappeared! We are just starting out our cellar as newlyweds and know nothing but this gives us excitement for or wine future!

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