Last Friday night, I had two wine merchant buddies over for dinner (one was Thomas because his Korean friends left). I grilled some chicken and served a green salad – no big deal. I pulled up a couple bottles of 1997 Barolo from my cellar. They were the normal bottlings of Paolo Scavino and Aldo Conterno.
The weather was cool that night after weeks of really hot weather. You might say that the weather broke. Before, the evening temperatures were in the low 80s Fahrenheit, but now they were in the high 60s and low 70s. I put on a light sweatshirt.
Anyway, the wines tasted sort of flat. They lacked focus and didn’t have the liveliness that I was expecting. Thomas looked really disappointed. “Aren’t we going to be drinking anything serious tonight?” he asked.
I was sort of pissed off. “Excuse me. 1997 Barolo is not chopped liver,” I thought to myself. Thomas can be a bit of a Bordeaux snob since he sells many rare bottles of the stuff in the Far East.
Then I thought to myself, “It’s the weather. Pressure has changed completely due to the drop in temperature, and the wines are not tasting right.”
I told Thomas: “Listen, I will bring up a very good bottle for you, but I think it is a waste of time. The weather is just not right for drinking serious reds tonight. So, if you don’t like it, Thomas, you have to give me two bottles back of the same wine.”
He just laughed, which I assumed to mean he agreed.
I went downstairs to my cellar and thought about what he might like. I grabbed a 1998 Bordeaux – Pape Clement. This is a wine that I rated 90 points in the past. And it showed even better in a recent blind tasting in London.
I poured the wine ... and what a disappointment. It just was not happening. It was an enjoyable wine, but it just wasn’t alive. It was like looking through a large dirty window at a gorgeous sunset.
I served the wine blind, and I can’t remember exactly, but Thomas guessed that it was a good wine from an off vintage of Bordeaux. He never thought it was something like a 1998 Pape. “This isn’t right,” he agreed.
I am still waiting for the two bottles.
Interestingly, I spoke to a number of other people who were in Tuscany that night, including a great collector friend and my girlfriend, and they said they had similar experiences with red wine that night. In fact, both sent bottles back in restaurants because they thought the wines didn’t taste right.
Experiences like this make you remember that wine is a living thing. And that’s what is so great about it. And by the way, I left the half-full decanters of Barolo out, and we tasted them at lunch the following day. They were much better!
Tristan Sjoberg — London — August 9, 2006 11:19am ET
James Suckling — — August 9, 2006 11:59am ET
Jeffrey Ghi — New York — August 9, 2006 12:20pm ET
James Suckling — — August 9, 2006 12:44pm ET
Will Miner — Denver, CO — August 9, 2006 2:03pm ET
William R Spencer — August 9, 2006 4:47pm ET
Bryan Evans — New Orleans, LA — August 9, 2006 8:01pm ET
Noel Bonisch — New Zealand — August 9, 2006 11:47pm ET
James Suckling — — August 10, 2006 3:19am ET
Michael Culley — August 10, 2006 10:44am ET
John Peterson — LA, CA — August 10, 2006 10:56am ET
Bryan So — CA — August 10, 2006 1:48pm ET
Harvey Steiman — San Francisco, CA — August 10, 2006 2:06pm ET
Matthew Weiler — Los Angeles, CA — August 10, 2006 5:47pm ET
Scott Hilderbrand — Casper, WY — August 11, 2006 12:32am ET
Dan Jaworek — Chicago — August 11, 2006 8:36am ET
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