Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Disappointment to Delight

Old wines can be strange and unpredictable.  That was certainly true of this bottle, a 1998 Hermitage La Chapelle from Paul Jaboulet Aine from the northern Rhone of France. 

There was a small steak from the grill and I was in the mood for a Syrah wine.  I pulled this bottle out of the cellar.  The first mistake was pulling the cork and immediately drinking the wine instead of giving it some time in a decanter to open up.  It was brick red with orange edges and it smelled most of tart red cherries.  There was considerable acid in this wine.  Lots of red fruit tastes but the acid was overpowering here.   Still, it was drinkable with the steak.

The wine was vacuumed overnight and another glass was poured on the second day.  The acid had subsided somewhat and there was more flavor, though still very much on the tart side.  Better than day one but my verdict was that it was a wine past its time.

There was still half a bottle left so it was vacuumed again and opened for the last time two days later to go with a pork chop that was grilled and finished with a sauce of maple syrup and chipotle pepper.  The wine was tremendous.  The acid was back in balance with the fruit and the fruit had darkened in flavor to something more like what I expect from a Syrah based wine.  It was still on the light side but it was mellow, balanced and delicious.  The sweetness in the maple syrup did wonders for the sharp acid in the wine and the slight kick from the chipotle made the wine seem richer.

My last bottle of three of this wine - and by far the strangest.

1998 Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle.  13.5% alcohol and $105.

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