Monday, September 20, 2010

What a Difference a Year Makes

Cellar space is at a premium in NYC. I can't save all of the different wines I would like to age. There are many different wines in my "cellar" (read: wine fridge), things that most anyone would agree should be left alone for years before drinking. It's the little wines that I never seem to make room for, and we drink them up when they're young.

There's nothing at all wrong with that - if a wine is expressive and delicious young, why not drink it? Some humble little wines, though, can improve dramatically with even short-term cellaring, and I wish that I had more space/self control to give them that extra year or two in the bottle.

A couple examples. I never manage to hold any Coudert Fleurie. The old vines Cuvée Tardive I'm good about, but the regular much as I'd like to sock a few bottles away, the wine is always delicious young, and so we drink it. Another example - all Bandol rosés. As committed as I am to holding a bottle or two, I seem to find excuses to open them.

This is all too common with me. There are so many wines that I'd love to put away, but don't. Such is life - there are choices to make and one cannot cellar every interesting bottle of wine. I drank a few things recently that reminded me of the rewards of storing the humble wines even for just a year or two.

2006 Bernard Baudry Chinon Cuvée Domaine, $18, Louis/Dressner Selections. I've always enjoyed this wine but I never managed to store any until the 2006 vintage. It's just so good, even right out of the gates. Some folk, like the Vulgar Little Monkey, figured out long ago that there are several Baudry wines worth cellaring, the humble Cuvée Domaine included. It's not Baudry's top wine and it will never be earth shattering, but Cuvée Domaine is a great wine that in most vintages is even better with a few years in the cellar. The tannins have rounded a bit in the 2006 and the wine flows freely across the palate. The fruit is rich and the body lean and muscular, the sensibilities of gravel and flower coexisting harmoniously. You will be proud of me when I tell you that I still have another bottle of this. And a few of the 2007's too. I need an underground cave.

2006 Jacques Puffeney Arbois Trousseau Cuvée les Bérangères, $30, Imported by Neal Rosenthal Wine Merchant. Again, this was always an attractive wine. But I managed to hold this last bottle for merely one year and the payoff was huge. The slight astringency that I was always happy to work with is gone now, and so is whatever else that is not essential to the purest of cool red currant and leafy raspberry, the gamy undercurrent, and the stony finish. So agile and energetic, such a compelling example of cool climate mountain wine from the Jura. I hereby renew my commitment to the 2007's.

2007 Domaine de Terrebrune Bandol Rosé, $25, Kermit Lynch Imports. I won't lie to you - I didn't cellar this wine. I drank all mine last summer and loved all of it. But Chambers Street came across a small bit recently and I bought a bottle from them. Wow - the wine is even better. It takes a while to open up, but when it does it really sings. Peach juice, spices, metal, and stone, pure as can be and perfectly balanced. The gamy streak that was there in its youth was not here a year later, but I loved how there is a new dimension to the texture. There are layers on the palate now, and there is a tactile sense to each flavor. I bet that this is just the beginning for this wine, actually. Bert Celce of Wine Terroirs has written about the aging potential of Bandol rosé, Terrebrune's in particular.


Bryan said...

I too am in search of a cave. Those of the Euro-variety have been outgrown and their larger versions are inconvenient. I'd be open to lending a hand and a shovel if you have a good site in mind.

Was thinking the same thing about Baudry's wine last night. Opened an 08 Les Granges and got excited to put some of all his cuvees away. I'm always pleasantly surprised of the quality that Baudry continues to put out at such a modest price.

Puffeney Trousseau makes me swoon. I have 2 07s and have sworn to be hands-off.


Cliff said...

Yeah, for whatever reason, I've never been able to purchase enough Baudry Domaine to keep hands off. I'm always vintage to vintage, much as I love it. With Puffeney, though, I've been much better for the past few years. The 2004 is doing very well.

the vlm said...


As you point out, I'm particularly fond of Baudry and the 2006 is fantastic right now. Personally, I still have a few 2006s and 2004s but a case and a half or so of the 2005 which I am just tucking in to.

I've got plenty of space, so it's easy for me to lay down a case or more every year. For me, the purpose of having a cellar isn't hoarding treasure, but being able to drink wine with dinner on Teusday night that is á point.

The Cuvée Domaine will change to different vineyard sources in 2008, but without any drop in quality, in fact, it may be a bit higher.

This is such a versatile wine at the table that everyone should be buying it.

Brooklynguy said...

bryan - i'm thinking of a special spot in the park in that nature walk area, beyond the fences.

cliff - what's the general sense you have about how long it takes for the trousseau to be at its best?

VLM - i'm surprised to hear that. where will the domaine be sourced from now? i love it the way it is...