I'm doing the typical dad thing this Father's day - watching lots of US Open golf on the television while largely sitting on my duff. Or maybe that's sitting on my large duff.
Nevertheless, in the spirit of my own golf "game," I'm going for it by opening a few older, likely questionable wines. And like my normal experience on the golf course, I'm having fun even if most of the shots aren't going to go as planned.
First, a half bottle of 1998 Thevenet "Domaine de la Bongran" Macon-Clesse Tradition. In other words, culty white Burgundy from the Maconnais. It's questionable because I found it cheap at a local shop that's known for the occasional good deal amid some seriously suspect older wines. The trick is to get things that haven't lingered there long, and since this wine is available at other more reputable shops (for lots more money), I thought it was worth a punt. Nope, it's shot. Golden colored and maderized.
Back to the fridge, this time for a full bottle of 2001 Adea Chardonnay Willamette Valley, which I picked up for just $5 on close out. Adea is serious about chardonnay, but this is old for Oregon chard. I've heard it's "nutty," which could be good or really bad depending on who's saying it. After taking off the capsule, I find a yellow plastic "cork" and wonder if it's not going to be the really bad kind. But no. This wine is near the end of its life, but definitely still living and certainly worth drinking. It has a light to medium gold color with a slight green cast. Indeed there's a roasted nut aroma, with hints of baked apple and mint. In the mouth it's vibrant and still knit together despite its age. The texture is incredibly smooth, even a bit oily as the wine fills the mouth and persists, with a browned butted flavor. It's not watery, acidic, stale and sour as truly dead and oxidized wines tend to taste, as if the elements have come apart and individually gone bad (see above). The finish is long and cleanly nutty, not so fruity and fresh as most people would want, but complex and downright impressive. I might not want to drink the whole bottle, but this is nice. And it's getting better, fresher as it warms up from fridge temperature. Good show.
Later on, I opened another recent purchase from Winebid, a simple claret from the Haut Medoc, the 1988 Chateau Beaumont. This is exactly the kind of wine Robert Parker would hate. That is, it's "lost its fruit," meaning it showed only tertiary aromas and flavors of gravel, leather, and old wood spice. To me, there was an echo of the youthful cassis flavors, as if they'd been absorbed by the other earthy elements. Clean smelling, medium bodied with a fine tannic texture, this isn't easy sipping wine at a cocktail party. But with what was, I must admit, a fine homemade dinner of grilled flat iron steak with truffle salt and pepper, garlic roasted potatoes, a tapenade of fresh pesto, and garden greens with local blue cheese and roasted hazelnuts with a light olive oil dressing and sea salt. Oh my god. Sure, another more fancy, richly fruited wine might have been better to most people, perhaps my wife among them. But this old, quiet claret was just right for dinner in the backyard with the family. That is, tonight was dad's choice and this is what I chose.