Last week I went along to my regular Monday night WSET Diploma wine tasting. It was my turn to bring along three wines. One of the wines I brought was a bottle of Domaine Huet Vouvray Sec 1988. No, that’s not a typo. This wine was 25 years old.
Why bring this wine ? Well, it was sitting in my rack for a couple of years. It was a wine that I was unsure of. Would it be gone ? Past it. Dead ? So why open it now. Well the people I meet up with at our Diploma tastings are real wine lovers. We are all united in the simple love of wine. Learning about it, talking about it and of course tasting it. So I knew, whatever way the wine was, my fellow wine nuts would at least get a kick out of the fact that this was interesting.
I got this wine from a great wine lover and great wine maker. Pat Neville of Domaine Aonghusa in Cordieres in South West France. I visited Pat with my family in his home town of Fontjoncouse a few years ago and it was a special day. In fact, one of the great wine days of my life. We went to see his vineyards in his charming beat up French van, had a glass of Petite Arvine in one of his vineyards with a stunning view of the surrounding mountains and sat down to a home cooked meal of local specialities that Pat cooked himself. You could not meet a nicer man nor a most generous host. His hospitality and great company are reflected in the warmth and quality and generosity of his own wines. We planned to visit for an hour and ended up staying for nearly ten hours (driving back to our base through an electrical storm as it happens !) But my children still talk about their visit with Pat Neville to this day and it has set the bar for all visits to vineyards ever since for them (and me too). When I was leaving, Pat gave me the bottle to take away and said to open it with some people who might get a kick out of something old and different. He also gave me a very special copy of Dionysus: A Social History of the Wine Vine, to add to my collection of wine books.
As for the wine itself, I was amazed. Still fresh as a daisy with plenty of life and zest. Of course, it had signs of aging but it still showed a freshness and citris / lime flavour that was really interesting. The best thing was that it got everyone around the table talking about the wine for a long time. In fact, all normal discipline for the timing of tastings went out the window and people sat back and opinions ricoched back and forth about the wine (we were tasting blind as always). And that for me summed up one of the best things about wine. We forgot about time. Everyone had a different opinon and something different to say about the wine. I was totally happy. I don’t think I could have opened it in a better place.
25 years is a long time. When I think back to when this bottle was released, I was still only a garsun in college (with little interest in wine !). Yet here we both are. Now I’m wine obsessed and this wine is still showing such class and charm and complexity. If only I could be like that in 25 years !