Whenever I read comments from wine lovers yearning for the grand old wines of yesteryear, two thoughts immediately cross my mind.
One is that the complaint is coming from (pardon me) but an aging white male. (Having turned 59 this past week, I can certainly understand those who might include me in that demographic pool.) I've never, ever heard one of my female wine-drinking buddies stray off in that direction. Maybe they're too smart.
The second thought is: They can't be serious.
There's nothing wrong with nostalgia. But it has its limits and it's important to keep things in perspective when straying on trips down memory lane.
Consider this: Those who actually drank the 1974 Mayacamas (which initially sold for $9.50 a bottle, not a glass), or 1968 BV Private Reserve (a big $6 way back when) or 1962 Stony Hill Chardonnay ($3.50) on release, or near their prime, are in or near their 60s. I've met many wine lovers who were introduced to these wines by their parents when they were teenagers. But they're creeping up in age too.
The last time I drank a 1974 Mayacamas Cabernet was during a lunch with Craig Williams. It was a fantastic bottle. However, much of the joy experienced that day had to do with Williams and me talking about wines from that era and some of our folk heroes. We marveled at how beautifully this wine had aged, but also recognized its shortcomings.
As much as that wine excited us that day, we both agreed: It was a great experience, but we wouldn't like to drink this wine every day. We both prefer younger, fruitier wines. And that for all the glorious 1974 Mayacamas bottles that wine lovers have enjoyed, most of the wines from that era were most exciting in their youth. Precious few have survived in the same shape as the Mayacamas.
Wines like BV, Stony Hill or Hanzell defined their era. But that time has long since passed. Today's wines are not only far better, but there are far more to enjoy.
We all have our moments of longing for precious moments and ties to the past. Just this past week I had a wistful moment thinking about my first typewriter, my first 10-speed and my first car, a 1969 Bug.
Many old things like books, music and some movies, hold their value. I even smoked a 1955 Cuban cigar this summer, a thrilling experience both for the fantastic aromatics, but also the delicacy of the flavors. But I'm not even a cigar smoker and things like wine and cigars are perishables, unlike books or music.
It's fine to remember old wines in their prime. But be careful of what you wish for. Don't fool yourself into believing all the wines from that era were ever that good, and that the few that somehow survived aren't anomalies.
Hoyt Hill Jr — Nashville, TN — September 14, 2010 3:06pm ET
Jeffrey Ghi — New York — September 14, 2010 4:24pm ET
Sandy Fitzgerald — Centennial, CO — September 14, 2010 4:25pm ET
Brian Loring — Lompoc, CA — September 14, 2010 4:43pm ET
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento, CA — September 14, 2010 5:06pm ET
Brian Loring — Lompoc, CA — September 14, 2010 5:25pm ET
Matthew Segura — San Francisco, California, USA — September 14, 2010 5:59pm ET
Sandy Fitzgerald — Centennial, CO — September 14, 2010 6:23pm ET
Craig Mason — X — September 14, 2010 6:26pm ET
Jamie Sherman — Sacramento — September 14, 2010 11:15pm ET
Kevin Harvey — Santa Cruz, CA, USA — September 15, 2010 12:09am ET
Paul Manchester — Santa Cruz, CA — September 15, 2010 1:04pm ET
Harvey Steiman — San Francisco, CA — September 15, 2010 1:43pm ET
Thomas Matthews — New York City — September 15, 2010 4:01pm ET
Paul Manchester — Santa Cruz, CA — September 15, 2010 5:20pm ET
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento, CA — September 15, 2010 6:12pm ET
Alex Bernardo — Millbrae, CA — September 15, 2010 7:22pm ET
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