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Monday, May 18, 2015

Act Your Age: Mondavi Pinot, German Riesling and a Lesson on Getting Older

Typically I don’t write about wines that aren’t available – that doesn’t make sense. But in looking through my wines recently I found a 2010 Pinot that had slipped through the cracks, the 2010 Robert Mondavi Reserve Pinot Noir. We here in America are routinely fixated on new wines, wines that have just been released and that don’t have older vintage dates. Something from 2010? Really, that was soooo long ago. But here’s the point: a 2010 Pinot tasted here in 2015 should easily hold up, true? The answer on this baby is yes. Winemaker Genevieve Janssens is a very talented lady and this “older” Pinot might still be on a few shelves somewhere and if you find one the time is now to secure a bottle. This wine possesses a beautiful mélange of raspberry, cherry, cola, cedar and earth, a fine example of what Pinot is supposed to be. My biggest gripe is that wines tend to be rushed to market and not aged properly before being released so that they have time to mature. Of course, wine is one of those few things where in some cases, more time is better (you wouldn’t say that about four year-old beef for example). But some wines shine as they age and this lovely Pinot Noir demonstrates that even five years does not diminish what can be a wonderful, tactile drinking experience. So don’t be afraid of older wines (but do ask someone who knows about wine before plunking down a wad of cash).
Really old bottles
In 2008 I was in Germany visiting, Dr. Fritz Werner Michel of DomdechantWerner. He opened up his current wines, the 2007s and I recall him being hesitant about these wines. Not that they were inferior, but they were young. At the time I wrote this for “Everything today is about the newest and freshest and youngest. This is a loss of culture,” Michel tells me. As proof of this, after we taste the 2007s, he opens a 2005 Riesling Spatlese, then a 2003 Auslese. But it was the 1998 Auslese that showed beautifully. A full ten years have passed and the wines dance across the palette like an aged ballet dancer, hitting all the correct spots, graceful and sublime.” (See the full text HERE).
So the point is to drink young wines when appropriate, and drink older wines when appropriate - and let’s be honest 5 years is really not that big of a deal – but as a wine professional I talk with people all the time who have irrationally glommed onto a bit of information they “read somewhere,” yet said info is wrong. Don’t be wrong. Be right. Seek, and you shall drink. Seek wisely and you shall drink well.

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