I can hardly have red meat and not pair it with some red wine. Tonight I'll test that because we have some steak but it's the end of a long holiday and a tall glass of sparkling water is probably the more prudent match.
But the other night, with a small piece of beef alongside some pasta, why not pull out a half bottle of one of my homemade wines, the 2006 Vincent Pinot Noir Wahle Vineyard. Readers and garage tasters might recall this wine, made out in the garage, aged in a 5-year old French oak barrel from Domaine Drouhin, then bottled in early 2008.
2006 was a warm vintage and the grapes for this wine were pretty ripe, despite coming from deep-rooted old vines planted in the 1970s outside of the town of Yamhill. Older vines ripen more slowly and resist heat a bit better than shallow-rooted young vines. I was worried the grapes were too ripe to capture the subtlety of Pinot noir, and for a while the wine was indeed more fruity and rich than I like my Pinot. It's not shy but a few years in bottle, especially a smaller bottle that should age more quickly, have tamed the wild exuberance of youth. There is still a bowl of fruit in the aroma, but there is now some sous bois of age, just a hint of maturity that shows itself like a walk in a damp forest. With the simple meal, the wine was delicious, more nuanced than I remember and in a great place for drinking.
People often ask me how long my wines will age. Who knows? But in general I prefer riper vintages on the younger side, so that a few years after bottling the wine should be at its best. 2006 and 2009 are good examples. Wines from cooler years are like less mature cut flowers, needing more time to open and release their perfume. 2008 and, likely, 2010 are examples. And wines from rainy harvests tend to need a little time to show their best, but may not have the density to last as long as the best years. 2007 might be an example, very generally speaking. I find that most 2007s were much better a year or two after release than right after bottling, yet contrary to some wine geeks' opinion, I haven't seen many wines that have the substance to reward longer term cellaring. The best may last and improve over time, but I think most are going to show their best now to a few years from now. So, too, with this generously ripe 2006. It tastes great, I'm happy with how it's turned out. I'm not going to wait too long on most of my remaining bottles.