Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Monday, July 24, 2023

 Should I OR Should I Not?  
Aging Wine
Believe it or not, there has been a controversy about letting wine age. Many believe that aside from the major (and very expensive) domains most wines do not or should not be aged any further. I had one friend whose opinion I respected loved his wine "young"--- including major wine chateaux! He basically believed in drinking wine that had all the vitality and power of  "youth".  One cannot argue with personal taste and in fact, many wines are consumed well after their prime! 
However, my "take" on this subject is that wine----especially a powerhouse, full of tannin and fruit among many descriptors should be enjoyed at various stages of existence. Many a youthful wine can be quite hard on the palate with time to soften. The other point is that many a wine does take on different evolutions as it develops through time. A Latour can be even harsh and tough in its youth only to mold with one's tongue---wrapping itself like velvet as it ages.
Certain foods also have an amenity for a particular style of grape. Turkey or Duck but would taste superb with a young pinot noir but would go better with an older Bordeaux.
I have aged a number of "minor" wines and found them, while great when young, to develop nicely as they age. This does not mean that every wine needs aging or that aged wine is better. It just means that for those who want to see how some wine develop, putting a bottle or two away may reek surprises.
Raiding My Cellar 
Cellar contains a host of red and white wines that go as far back as the 1960's and 1970's. For example, My German wines go back to 1971 while my Burgundies go back to 1969. Every so often I raid my Bordeaux section. Last night was such an event. I chose a 1989 Chateau Latour Martillac.
Latour-Martillac: History      
Anyone who knows me realizes that tasting is just one aspect of wine that I enjoy. I love the science behind wine. History is what attracted me to it! Geography is what solidified it and of course People is what rounded it out. Chateau Latour Martillac is steeped in history---going back to the 12 Century as a small fortress. The fortress was destroyed in the French Revolution but left a Tower from which the chateau gets its name. 
Charles the Second of Montesquieu acquired the land, located just five kilometres from the town of Leognan, via his marriage in 1715. He later added the land to his estate called Chateau de la Brede.
The land was later acquired by lawyer Monsieur Charropin in 1853. Merchant Edouard Kressman began distribution of the wine in 1871 and took charge of the vines by 1884. 
The estate came under the ownership of a Pierre Langlois until 1929 when Alfred Kressman, son of Edouard, purchased the chateau and later gave it the name of Chateau Latour-Martillac! The property has been in Kressman hands ever since.
 Many vines were planted by the senior Kressman in and around 1884.  Through various purchases the vineyards were extended to now hold about 42 hectares which comes out as 100 acres. The breakdown is about 80% red to 20% white grapes. 
Chateau Latour-Martillac 1989  Pessac-Leognan (Graves)  93.5/100 points 
Grape Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon 60%, Merlot 35%, Petit Verdot 5%
Colour: Red
Nose: Floral, Tobacco, Red Fruit, Earth, Mushroom, Hint of Chocolate, 
Palate: Medium Body,  Dry, Berry Fruit, Smooth finish, Pleasant
Pairing: Roast Turkey, Roast Beef, Pork Loin, Duck
Comments: Classified in the 1953 Graves Classification. High reputation for aging ability and from an area that has produced some highly reputed wines such as Chateau Haut Brion  and Chateau Pape Clement. 
When To Open That Special Bottle 
I guess that this whole exercise has been to discuss the fact that ageing a wine to see how it evolves is not a bad thing. In the ideal world, one can obtain at least six bottles of a certain bottle of wine and have one every so often. In that case, tasting the wine initially as a young interest item  is not a bat idea. 
However, if only one bottle is available and the obtaining of a second one is out of the question, one is left with the temptation to either drink the wine to enjoy it as a young wine or give it time to further develop. What does one do.        
I was given a superb Bodegas Benegas Lynch 2019 which probably is drinking well now but I know that it will develop well over the next two years. Unfortunately there, is no other available to experiment with a la ageing!  Hmmm! I will keep you posted.