February 12

On Wine: Experiment before investing in a long-term relationship

Here are suggestions for wines that are worth putting aside for some delayed gratification.


Last week, I nodded toward Valentine’s Day and wrote about relationships: toward wine drinking, loving and time itself. It was mostly theory. This week I offer practice: a list of reasonably priced wines that are enjoyable now but will amply reward a little more time with the corks in place, on their sides, in as dark and cool a location as you can find.

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Couly-Dutheil ‘Les Chanteaux’ 2012 Chinon Blanc is an example of a wine well worth enjoying now and forever.

Courtesy photo

I mean it about enjoyable now, and hope that soon you’ll pick up a bottle or two to try. The project – let’s call it “Now and Forever” – will only reach its true potential, though, if you follow up by buying another couple of bottles of the same wine and not drinking them yet.

This will cost $30 to $40, with no immediate reward. A lot of folks can’t swing that, and that’s of course totally fine; I apologize, but this particular project is not for you.

For those of you who can swing the investment, perhaps downgrading your cable television plan in order to do so, here’s the idea: Take a leisurely week or few to taste some wines from the list below and find one or more that you like. Buy two bottles of one of these, and store them for at least a full year before opening another. Wait two years after that before you open the third.

If after Year One you have found value in the experience, see if the wine in that vintage is still available, and buy a few more to store even longer.

Don’t take notes, hoping to compare your assessments over time, unless you take notes on successive dates with your romantic partner. This is about love, not science, so don’t ruin it by getting all wine-critic-y. Just keep up your commitment, and see what happens.

Storing wine is an exercise in self-discipline and delayed gratification, which I know is antithetical to the spirit of Valentine’s Day (!). But the purpose in all this is to find even deeper value in something you have already come to cherish. Keep that as your aim and it won’t seem so hard.

In compiling the list, I have considered the upcoming holiday. These wines have something to do with romantic interludes, expressing a richness, volume and lusciousness, and in some cases a fineness and darling quality, that many of us crave when it’s cold outside and we’re opening a bottle in order to generate lasting warmth with just one other treasured human companion in our sights.

This is a starter list, and hopelessly brief. Since in one sense the story of wines over time is the original Story of Wine, I hope to return to the subject many times in the near future. For now, try these. Then let’s keep in touch, and see how everyone’s doing in 2015 …

Start with white wines, whose capacity for developing over time surprises many. Especially at prices under $25, though, it is more often whites that provide the best access to the secondary and tertiary characteristics, in both flavors and textures, that time in bottle delivers.

Domaine Castera Jurancon Sec 2010 ($16, Wicked). The Jurancon in southwest France produces immensely structured wines from manseng grapes. This 100 percent gros manseng is intensely mineral and dry, though when young it has flavors of ripe apple and honeycomb. Over time its muscular profile will sustain the development of nutty and cooked-cream aromas, and lay down a voluptuous cloak on the palate.

Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin Blanc 2012 ($15, Easterly). Weighty, serious wine, along the textural lines of barrel-aged Burgundy. This already comes at you with brown butter, toasted bread, hazelnuts – typical taste analogues for heavily new-oaked wine, though only a portion of this is fermented in used French barrels. But the flint and orange-rind notes give way to a denser, dried-floral presentation over time.

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