Neither the odd clocks as pictured every week in the old Rod Serling television series, Night Gallery; nor Dali’s melted versions of timepieces have anything on the wacky world of adult beverages. Wines and spirits, if you will.
Time is important in wine because it (wine) is always in the past. You can’t talk about a great wine project that will be happening in 2014. Who knows what the hell is going to happen even next week?
Spirits are the same way, or at least the better ones are. Maybe you are fan of old Scotch, or aged bourbon, or the almost unfathomable vintages blended in Cognac. 80 years old? Do you know when that was? The Great Depression was still in full force and we were still more than a decade from World War II. The guys who picked those grapes are probably gone, and likely so are the vines.
Over the years, the styles of adult beverages have changed. Tastes change so those types of wines or spirits that were enjoyed by our grandparents morphed into something that excites today’s consumers. Many of us now seek out heavier liquids with more gravity and viscosity. Oh, and more alcohol and much more fruit.
Where this discussion is heading (and you are probably thinking, “Well, it’s about time”) is that several high-end producers of wonderful libations are right now releasing throw-back wines and spirits from times we thought were in the mists of history.
Moët & Chandon is bringing back that wonderful year, 2002. Champagnes are magical friends. Opening a bottle changes everything, or takes the festivities to the next level. Rejoicing with an almost-10-year-old wine will absolutely send you to new heights.
Champagne, as you all know, can only come from the region named Champagne in northeast France. Sparkling wine from anywhere else, including other areas of France, cannot be legally called Champagne. And not every year in Champagne is not a vintage year. Only in those years when the winegrowers/winemakers and the governing body of the region feel the quality is high and indicative of the best that can be produced in the area is a vintage declared.
Many people are also not aware of two very important facts: 1) Champagne is an excellent accompaniment to most cuisines. When you are stumped as to what to pair with any dish, default to Champagne. You almost can never go wrong. 2) Champagnes have incredible abilities to age. I guess it’s the visual perception of fragility in this wine that makes people think you had better drink it right now. But aged Champagnes are lovely things, to be savored and sipped and appreciated.
Of course, when a Champagne is released by a winery, known as “houses” in France, it is indeed ready to drink. That does not mean it will not age, it just means you have a choice as to whether to tuck it away or remove the cork today. Decisions, decisions.
The Grand Vintage 2002 from Moët & Chandon is really quite special. It is more than half chardonnay, and about 25% each pinot Nnoir and pinot meunier, the only three grapes allowed by law to be used in Champagne. The toasty, yeasty, slightly nutty flavors are full and rich, with secondary notes of grain and malt, adjoining some white peach and citrus flavors. Champagne is a most complicated beverage.
This wine sat in its bottle from early 2003 until it was disgorged (opened to clear the wine of dead yeasts and other organic matter) in late 2009. This wine is not going to be cheap, but it really is a stunning and marvelous Champagne.
Accompanying this release is the Moët & Chandon 2002 Grand Vintage Rosé. Wow! There are elegant cherry and plum flavors blending with strawberries and blackberries to create a delicate but powerful statement. Go ahead, drink this wine and try not to shut your eyes with pleasure and make yummy sounds.
Don’t be embarrassed. Let it all out.
Besides being one of the prettiest wines you will ever see, this is one of the best wines you will ever sip. It’s not cheap, but it is worth the money for every beautiful bubble.