I was a little disappointed when I picked up the recent issue of Wine Spectator and saw that Matt Kramer had basically written what I was going to write (nobody likes getting scooped), but it’s not like the first time anyone’s suggested it, and it’s worth repeating:
Let the wine be the special occasion.
The flaw in pairing a special bottle with a special day is that they get lost in each other. The greater the number of people at the event, the greater the chance the wine is going to get overshadowed. After all, the best things in our lives are the special people. What wine isn’t going to get lost at Mom and Dad’s 50th Anniversary or Junior’s College Graduation? Sure, drink something good, but save that bottle that you’ve been saving for when you can pay attention to it.
The other side of the coin is waiting too long for the right time to drink something. We all have noteworthy bottles in our collections—one off gifts, or single bottles that we splurged on, or even just that case of Bordeaux that we laid down a decade (or more) ago. If you wait for some magical confluence of events, you’re going to end up waiting too long, not to mention that nearly no wine is going to live up to the hype of the moment. Just drink it.
The Rocket Scientist and I are believers in drinking noteworthy bottles when nothing else is going to distract us (okay, I confess that she always distracts me, but that’s a different story). We’ll be sitting around on a lazy Sunday afternoon and decide to pop open an old Bordeaux or drink that last bottle of expensive Australian Shiraz while we’re watching Big Bang Theory. The only plan I have for the “great” bottles in the cellar is a general idea of when we’re going to drink them, and that window is usually about a year wide. Sure, you have to let your age-worthy stuff age, but once it’s crossed the drinkability threshold, find a reason to drink it.
Here are a few bottles that we’re looking forward to opening (some of them sooner, some of them later), and aren’t going to wait for the stars to align to do so:
2003 and 2004 Château Angélus
This is more of a case of who gave us the wine than the wine itself. They were both gifts from our friends Beverly and Matt, one of which for my 50th birthday. I’m pretty sure we’re going to open them both side-by-side, just to have a comparison of the vintages, and probably with the folks who gave them to us. That sounds like occasion enough.
2009 Mollydooker Shiraz Velvet Glove
I’m a subscriber to WTSO (“Wine ‘Til Sold Out), a site that sends multiple daily offers of things in all price ranges at a sharp discount. Over the two years I’ve subscribed, we’ve picked up maybe 30-40 bottles, mostly of mid-range ($40-60) bottles at more than 50% off. When the offer for a bottle of Velvet Glove came, my first plan was to buy it and flip it, but once it got here, I knew we were going to drink it. Mollydooker’s Two Left Feet is one of our favorite wines, so drinking their luxury cuvee is going to be a treat.
2006 Bodega Numanthia Termes Toro Termanthia
Another 50th birthday present, this is the final piece of the Numanthia trilogy which I haven’t had. Both of their other wines, one at about $25 (the Termes) and one at about $50 (the Numanthia), are outstanding, especially for the price point. This is one that’s going to wait for a while, not for an occasion, but to get some age on it. That said, I doubt it lasts until my 60th birthday.
2002, 2006-2008 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon
I got some of the ’02s wine a wine nerd friend offered me part of his allocation. We then got on the mailing list (after a wait) in time for the ‘06s. These are giant American Cabs, and will definitely benefit from several more years in the cellar, although now that the ‘02s are ten years old, I’m tempted. That temptation was tempered some when read a few of the tasting notes on Cellar Tracker, which all have the common theme of “decanted for 3-4 hours” and “this will be even greater down the road.” I think in the end, curiosity will get the best of us and we’ll crack open one sometime this year.
1995 Château Léoville Las Cases and 1995 Château Montrose
While there’s some coolness factor to waiting until these are 20 years old, it’s a temptation we’re going to avoid. We’ve already had the Montrose (on a lazy Sunday, in fact), and it was spectacular. There’s no reason to think it’s going to be significantly better a few more years from now, so I doubt either of them lasts long.
While these aren’t the only cellar gems that we’re looking forward to, they represent a good spread of the kinds of things I think should just be enjoyed for their own sakes. Don’t wait to have your special wines. Let them be what’s special.
Finally, this is for friend (and friend of the blog) poker star David Williams, who insists that I need to include more photos of food porn. I give you Oxtail Poutine from Mise en Place. It’s even more decadent than it looks.