Here's a photo from our 1982 harvest, the first from our vineyard and quite the home winemaker setup. The bathtub on the right was not actually used but worth consideration in a pinch (for red wines, anyways).
The title of this post refers to something that happened from our winery shindig last weekend. At our annual library tasting, I lined up a bunch of wines from our vineyard from the 80's (professional versions) and 1990's. We poured a lineup of Merlot in magnums and, at one point, I had to go open some more bottles since we ran out. We opened the first bottles about 3 hours before the event to let them open up a bit before the tasting.
I hadn't actually tasted the wines in the first round since I put my dad in charge of quality control as I readied for the event. When it came time to open the second magnums, I had the pleasure of this task and that of checking the bottles to make sure the wine was sound before setting them out. the 1988 Merlot had always had a slightly pungent aroma that blew off in short order and, sure enough, there it was. I set the wine out and at the end there was some left which I took home.
I had a glass with dinner and there it was again, that 1988 slightly pungent yet still fairly vibrant Farella-Park merlot. In the glass, the pungent note blew off quickly revealing the supple blueberry and cassis fruit that was a hallmark of the vintage. With age, the beautiful cigar-box and strawberry jam notes really came out as well. Another glass, another moment of pungency, and then the zone. I then decided to decant the remainder into a small bottle and see how it would be the next day. I really had intended to decant all the wines at the tasting but instead opted for the far simpler open-a-few-hours-before approach.
Guess what? Now 2 days later, the wine was spot-on, no pungency, perfect balance and delicious. How can that be? A 19 year-old wine, open for 2 days and then it really hits the zone? I am constantly amazed at how some wines have this ability and some don't. Generalizations are only moderately useful for wine serving situations. It really shows how experience and judicious note-taking can really help optimize wine appreciation. With older wines, the plot thickens further because, say, a Burgundy may disappear altogether after half a glass. I was surprised, once again, at a wines resilience and depth after it's 2 day journey. Next year, I think I will take the long road as planned.