Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Old Bubbly from my Parent's Hall Closet

For a few years I was in the habit of giving my parents a case of wine for Hanukkah. They enjoy wine and drink a bit on most days, but this wine, they wouldn't drink - it sat in their hall closet indefinitely. "Why don't you OPEN this," I would ask. And my mom would say "Oh, those are special bottles."

I appreciate her vote of confidence, that I would pick special bottles for them (and I did - all were great wines from Chambers Street at $15 and under), but I bought the wine precisely so that at least once a month, they would have something delicious to drink, something extravagant by their standards. I got the wine so my parents could drink it, not save it in case they need to bribe the Gestapo.

We went to my parents apartment recently, and extended family from New Jersey and Pennsylvania came up to see the little daughters. My mom and dad were puttering around, putting together plates of lox and sliced onions, making coffee, doing the things you do when you're having 15 people over for brunch. I wandered over to the hall closet to see whether or not there were any stragglers from years past. Sitting there amidst some Trader Joe's plonk were several bottles of sparkling wine that I gave them at least two years ago, perhaps three years ago in one case. At that very moment I relived my mother of her beverage command, and put those three bottles in the freezer.

The closet is not exactly cellar temperature and we're not talking about vin de garde, here. I'm talking about the 2005 Bisol Prosecco Crede, (current vintage is 2007) the 2006 Bisson Prosecco Colli Trevigiani (current vintage is 2008), and a NV Zucchi Lambrusco Rosato. How could these wines be any good, at this point?

They were great. Not good, great! I opened the Bisson first and it was full of fresh purple grapey fruit, not too sweet but not entirely dry either. A little herbal edge on the finish gave a touch of complexity, but it wasn't even necesssary - the fragrance was so lovely and the wine so clean and fresh. It vanished quickly, so I opened the Lambrusco. I remember not loving this wine a few years ago, but this bottle was fantastic. Also super clean and fresh with spicy red berry fruit and an interesting medicinal finish. My older aunt found it too tart, but I loved it, and so did most people. It also vanished quickly. So I opened the Bisol. It was tragically and most vehemently corked. But think about it - two out of three of these old Italian sparklers, wines that were not properly cared for, nor were they meant to be cellared in the first place, they were fantastic. And the Bisol might have been too, who knows?

Perhaps I need to get more wine for my parents. Their hall closet clearly offers some sort of beneficial micro-climate.


Do Bianchi said...

I would have been really curious to see if the Bisol was good after all that time. Fyi, btw, I love the Holocaust humor...

Electra said...

What a charming story!

It's obvious, for you, that wine is not just a taste experience but is also connected to cherished family memories.

Speaking of charming, there's a new v-blog out there by a guy named Chris Riccobono, who reviews wine as you watch. I just stumbled across it today; he's on pardonthatvine.com. You should check him out because he's so relaxed and easy-going...no stuffiness about him.

Keep blogging!

Jeb said...

Ahh, your post brings up two hotly debated aspects of the grape: the importance of proper storage and the aging prospects of wines not meant to be cellared.

Vino Mythbusters?

Great post!

peter said...

In my own highly unscientific weavings through the world, I have found that inexpensive sparklers can improve remarkably with a little age. And 3 years isn't too much to ask for a $15 bottle of anything, is it, if it's well-made?

I'll likely be showing the ground floor in the coming weeks; we should figure out a time for you to come by and have a drink.

Jim said...


I checked out the new v-blog, www.pardonthatvine.com, and I really enjoyed Chris Riccobono's reviews. A real treat to have someone use everyday language and explain wine to us mortals.

Best, Jim