My brother Jim is a wine aficionado of some repute, though he hangs out in much more rarefied wine circles than I do. His thoughts on E. Guigal's 1994 and 1996 La Turque, two Cote-Roties from a venerable producer. It's part of a feature that appears occasionally — Wine my brother drinks. Jim writes:
"I probably paid a bit too much for these single bottles in the late 90's, $150 a piece, but my logic at the time was that Guigal is a quality house, these were one of their premier offerings, and I'm a big Rhone fan. Which is exactly counter intuitive as to why I like Rhones in the first place, which is value. So I was behind the eight ball from the get-go. And so, like most of us, I decided that I would wait for a "special occasion" to bust these out. The problem with that is that there are always other "special occasion" bottles in the cellar, so the tendency is to let the bottles sit. Bad move."
More, after the jump:
"The '94 was thin as Kate Moss — color was pale, slightly acrid and not especially drinkable, though I'm sure the Curmudgeon would have finished the bottle had there not been other wine at the table. The '96, on the other hand, was very drinkable. Good color, first whiff was a bit musky, but as the wine began to open up, it took on significantly deeper flavor. Consensus was somewhere between dried cherries and grapefruit. All in all a pleasant experience, though certainly not worth the initial $150. If only they had been drunk 10 years ago. …
"Moral of the story — drink your wine. Though some wines certainly benefit from cellaring, I would make the argument that for the vast majority of wine produced, drinking right away is the best course of action. The benefit from waiting versus the risk of the bottle going bad is, for the most part, not worth it. Drink up. To wit, I once had a European friend over and showed him the cellar. He was aghast at the number of wines I was saving for later, commenting that the only reason he would stockpile wine was to ensure that he had enough for when friends came over. Life is too short, he told me, so drink while you can. Sage advice, indeed.
"Second moral — established, highly regarded vineyards produce consistent wines. Had the wines been from another producer, I don't know that they would have lasted as long as they did. Who makes the wine does make a difference. This fits the Curmudgeon's business model of buying lesser costing wines from quality producers.
"Third moral — Use your decanters. This can make a marginal wine taste so much better, as we found with the '96 La Turque."