Sunday, October 4, 2009

Chateau Beaucastel 1996

This was delicious!

This wine rested in the cellar for ten years. It was never forgotten, it's just that it was never foremost in my mind until earlier in the week when I was pulling out the 1997 Zind Humbrecht discussed below. I pulled this bottle at the same time and waited for the weekend to open it.

Years ago on American TV Orson Wells did a commercial for Paul Masson Wines where he proclaimed, "We will sell no wine before its time." You Tube is kind enough to have this in their archives here. In this case we weren't concerned about selling the wine, only with drinking it, but the commercial popped into my mind because it was "time" to drink this wine.

I pulled the cork and there was a room full of dry earth and spices. The wine in the glass was light and clear, more like a Burgundy in color. There was just a hint of brick at the edges. The interior of the bottle was crusted with sediment on the side on which it had rested. With a little swirling it released some wonderful aromas of dry, dusty earth, cardamon, cinnamon, squeaky clean leather and dried orange peel. There was only a suggestion of fruit, but that only added to the appeal of this wine to me.

The taste was the same earthiness and just a hint of herbs. The wine was not shy and it filled the mouth with flavor. There was some great acidity and the proper amount of tannin. On the finish some fruit finally popped out of the wine. There were ripe, red cherries and just a suggestion of fully ripe strawberries. The finish was long and more than pleasant.

There was a dry aged rib steak from the grill for dinner and some potatoes cooked in duck fat and some carrots with fresh tarragon. The wine stood up to all of it and the food brought out more fruit in the wine and also played up on the gamy aspect of the wine.

After two hours there was more fruit and a little less spice.

Even though this is not considered a 'great' vintage for Beaucastel, it was a remarkably delicious and mature wine and perfect for a cool autumn evening.

I wish there were more of it.

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