A lot is said and written about high-alcohol wines and how they don't age, and how they are not great quality, and blah, blah, blah. But I think it really comes down to the balance of a wine. The quality and ageability of a great wine never comes down to one single figure such as the alcohol content, or anything else for that matter.
Greatness is when all the components in a wine are in perfect harmony. It's sort of like a great man. He's not judged on pure intellect, or brute strength, or any one characteristic. Instead, it's a great combination of all things that make him special.
I had a discussion a few months back in La La Land with wine collector Bipin Desai during a Cheval-Blanc tasting, and he lamented how the high-alcohol wines of today could not possibly age as well as those lower-alcohol wines of yesterday. He pointed out how the wines from the 1940s and 1950s of Cheval-Blanc were seldom above 12 percent alcohol, and they are still all very high quality today. He certainly has a point. And I appreciate and respect his opinion.
The tasting was amazing, and it proved his point to some extent. I wrote two blogs about it: one on Nov. 9 and another on Nov. 12. So many of the old wines showed wonderfully in the tasting, and they were fresh and balanced.
And, yes, most were 12 percent alcohol or less.
We even drank one of the greatest wines ever, the 1947 Cheval-Blanc. But that was the case in point. If I remember correctly, it's 14.7 percent alcohol with six grams of residual sugar and a volatile acidity of almost 1.2 grams. The wine is in balance despite such extraordinary figures.
But the Cheval 1947 was the wine of the tasting for many of us there. And many other people how have been lucky enough to drink it in the past. In the end, it's all a question of harmony.
Sandy Fitzgerald — Centennial, CO — March 11, 2008 3:33pm ET
Scott Oneil — UT — March 11, 2008 4:12pm ET
Alex Bernardo — Millbrae, CA — March 11, 2008 4:32pm ET
Karl Mark — Geneva, IL. — March 11, 2008 5:56pm ET
Daniel Grotto — March 11, 2008 6:02pm ET
Thomas Bohrer — Hong Kong — March 11, 2008 10:52pm ET
Dominic Passanisi — Los — March 12, 2008 2:05am ET
James Suckling — — March 12, 2008 10:52am ET
Sandy Fitzgerald — Centennial, CO — March 12, 2008 12:07pm ET
Brandon Redman — Seattle, WA — March 12, 2008 1:09pm ET
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento,CA — March 12, 2008 2:07pm ET
John B Vlahos — Cupertino Ca. — March 12, 2008 5:51pm ET
Sandy Fitzgerald — Centennial, CO — March 12, 2008 7:28pm ET
Thomas Bohrer — Hong Kong — March 12, 2008 10:17pm ET
Roy Piper — March 14, 2008 5:11am ET
Michael Naessens — Philadelphia, PA — March 15, 2008 8:57am ET
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions