Earlier in September I had the opportunity to taste older wines from Oregon, presented by Harry Peterson-Nedry of Chehalem and Rollin Soles of Argyle. I don't have the experience to put Oregon's wines in context with Burgundy's, or California's, especially not when it comes to older vintages. But like most wine lovers, I am fascinated by Pinot Noir, and I jumped at the chance to explore its history in Oregon.
Does it really matter how well wines age? Today, more and more wines are made in a style that permits—and perhaps even encourages—us to drink them young.
Nonetheless, there's a persistent belief among wine lovers that for a wine to be great, or important, it has to prove it can age well. And, I'll admit, in my experience, the best mature wines are more interesting and, yes, better, than the best young wines. So I was happy to be invited recently to a tasting of older wines from Oregon.
Have you ever disagreed sharply with someone over the quality of a wine you were sharing? What would you do if someone were praising a wine you thought was technically flawed to the point of being undrinkable?
That's the situation I found myself in during an otherwise exceedingly pleasant tasting dinner at the Brooklyn Wine Exchange, a new retail store in downtown Brooklyn.
In our Forums, a thread has evolved I'll call "The Palate's Progress." The initial post theorized that wine lovers journey along a predictable path as their palates evolve, from New World reds to Old World reds and, finally, if they're wise, to the great dry whites of the world.
So far, nearly 60 responses have been posted. No real pattern has emerged, however. While some posters followed this pattern, others began their wine journeys with sweeter Rieslings or Old World reds or even blush wines like white Zin. But almost everyone seemed to accept the idea that people's palates do change as they experience different wines and learn more about them.
My wine epiphany came when I was 25.