The Noble Writ: Better to Be Lucky Than Closed
After spending my early wine years pursuing perfection in this regard, I concluded that I really wasn't going to worry too much about it.
|Toni Lozano, Wikimedia Commons|
|Spin the wheel and open that special wine.|
The first point to remember is that virtually all modern wine is made in a manner that provides a large portion of its pleasure throughout its lifespan. Even wines that can be cellared are very often capable of being drunk young as the disadvantages of waiting to all but the most informed and patient wine consumers is obvious.
Certain varieties go through vicious cycles of being closed, lasting years, if not decades. When closed, a wine simply does not show much aromatically, and it tastes largely of its underlying acidic and tannic structure, rather than of its fruit and mineral flavors. Fortunately for most of us, these wines tend to be pricey, or at least somewhat rare, and even for the most notorious of these -- the nebbiolo of Barolo, the syrah of Côte-Rôtie, or the cabernets sauvignon and franc of left bank Bordeaux -- the trends toward vineyard and winemaking practices that help ameliorate these periods of closure are rampant (which isn't to say I think these are a good thing). So unless you've stumbled onto a traditionally-produced wine that is built to be aged for an extended period of time prior to pleasurable consumption, there is some built-in wiggle room.
Other wines can be whimsically (some would say frustratingly) closed for no apparent reason. My favorite example is a 2002 premier cru red Burgundy that I was cellaring. I opened a bottle to check in on it and found it in a gorgeous place: complex, lovely and compelling. Buoyed by this single data point, I toted a bottle to a tasting the following week.