Ever since reading Henry Jeffreys’ blog about how to bluff your way in wine-speaking circles, my wife and I have shared the joke that any red wine we haven’t been bothered to decant for long enough seems “a bit closed”. You have to share jokes like this when you almost always drink the wine quietly on your own in a kitchen staring nervously at a baby monitor. We’ve yet to find out if it actually works as a serviceable bluff among winos.
We drink a lot of Pinot Noir, which – at least in my experience – rarely seems to benefit from the decanting at all. You get to appreciate its colour, I suppose, as it swishes round the bottom of the stout glass container; but the taste rarely seems any different than if it had been poured straight from the bottle.
But I know the openness or closedness of a red wine can be a genuine concern with anything weighty – like a Shiraz or a Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s far too often in the past I’ve bemoaned the dullness of a wine and thought “Oh well, better get on with it”, only to plough through half a bottle and find that it finally unfurls its true colours when I’ve only a splash left in my glass.
So it was that I decanted this Tesco-bought bottle of fairly old Bordeaux. Fairly old in both senses – for my rack, anyway, where bottles rarely date back further than the beginning of this decade and even more rarely stay on the rack for a full 24 hours. So it was, alas, that I decanted it only about 10 minutes before we ate.
I’d imagine a full hour would be necessary to let it work its magic – if magic it possessed. But I must confess I’m rather dubious as to the quality of this particular Bordeaux. It’s pretty cheap I guess, retailing by the case at £7.50 per bottle as I write this – although it is on offer, and usually goes for twice that.
We did give it a shot though. The lavender and blackcurrant aroma was almost there, though possibly more of a hint than a suggestion; notes that were just a little off-key. We nursed our glasses for a good hour and a half and I found little noteworthy about the blend other than that it never seemed to finish clearing its (or possibly my) throat. There was no clarity at all to its expression and it came across as a fuddled mess of fruit and wood influences, with no mystery as such – just an indecipherable wineyness that had everyone making excuses for it.
My excuse is that it was “a bit closed”, and we’ve written “TBO 2015” on the second bottle from the case in permanent marker. We’re not quite sure if that’s a joke or not; wines don’t usually last ’round here, as I said. I’d like to think letting it lie for three years will make a world of difference; but a glance around the web – notably at Jancis Robinson’s site – suggests a 2006 Bordeaux, while undoubtedly quite old, is not necessarily something to be getting excited about.
It’s funny: one rarely has a bad wine nowadays, but when one does it’s usually from France – the same place many of my favourite bottles come from. Maybe we’ll just open this when we’ve run out of more exciting bottles. Maybe we’ll stick it in the stew.
I’d suggest you avoid this, and perhaps exercise caution when being tempted by Tesco wine cases offering discounts off their former price.