Friday, 4 March 2011
c. £10 for recent vintages
If genetics are to be believed I am indubitably fated to become a hoarder of cheap wine.
Brief inspections of my grandmother's wine rack reveals it to be full old and dusty bottles of non-vintage champagne allegedly from the 1960s and '80s Pinot Gris. My father does a good line in oxidised-looking white Burgundy from average early '90s vintages, and Bordeaux from never-before-heard-of Chateaux.
A recent raid on his cellar turned up a bottle of 1987 Chilean red, laid down no doubt when I was still a mewler and a puker, and obstinately silent on the grapes that may have made it.
On the basis that we had nothing to celebrate Friday seemed as good a day as any to crack it open...
Cork was in good condition, and once double decanted it poured a deep garnet, not too brickish, and rather appealing. No taint whatsoever.
The nose gives this one away in a flash. All blackcurrant, nothing else, a lone Ribena-y dimension. Subsequent research confirmed this- 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Fruit is definitely still there on the palate, with a touch of woodiness, some cherry and blackberry flavours, but it's probably on its way out. Tannins are exceptionally light, and after half an hour have gone completely. The structure now is all bright acidity, which makes it remarkably fresh.
This is wine on the borderland of good and very good, and for me puts paid to those suggestions that Chilean wine is in its infancy. If they were making reasonably priced varietals with the legs for 23 years of bottle age back in the late '80s I suspect they're doing some properly clever stuff now.
Perhaps I shouldn't rail against the science. Perhaps the old people are wise. Perhaps the only way forward is buying up as much Concha y Toro as I can find before embracing the fuzzy slide toward mere oblivion. Perhaps...