I have a small collection of magnums, mostly Bordeaux, lofty labels. I never know when to open them. Years ago I bought this Cotes du Rhone made by Delas, a négociant in the Rhone area.
It was a hum-drum label, cheap, unworthy of a spot in my wine cabinet with august company. So I kept it out.
The bottle sat atop our kitchen counter for nearly a decade. It was there for so long that it became a fixture, like the electrical sockets nearby. We saw it every day, yet we didn’t.
Every once in a while I wondered when to open the bottle. It was too much wine for my wife and I. We needed to share it with others. But would it be any good? The longer the wine stood in the kitchen, exposed to the elements, the more reluctant I became to open it. It was not that age worthy and I surely was NOT aging it well. Why, I kept asking myself, did I ever buy this?
Yet, I could not muster the will to discard the wine. The bottle became an orphan and sat there, in limbo.
Recently a major kitchen remodel caused us to move everything elsewhere and the magnum made its rounds through various spots in the garage. When a new, more elegant kitchen arose, the bottle came back to its old spot
It was obvious that it no longer belonged there. That’s when Julie issued an ultimatum: you take the bottle to wine group or else I’m dumping it.
And so, with much trepidation, I had Larry at Wine Wizard’s open it for a meal of lamb chops with couscous and vegetables. I eyed him with apprehension as Larry uncorked and tasted it. I figured it was too late. There was no hope for the wine.
Then, a surprise. Larry nodded with approval and brought the magnum to our table for ten of us to share with the lamb. It was soft, smooth and elegant, with vibrant fruit and that certain smokiness that I love about Southern Rhone wines. We drank every drop of it.
I was speechless about this wine, amazed that it had survived so long in harsh conditions. My friend Todd made a sensible remark. Just goes to show you, he said, how well magnums do.
He was referring to a well known rule of wine storage: the higher the volume, the longer the survival time. Large format wines, magnums, Jeroboams etc, age better than regulars.
Yes, but on my kitchen counter? For ten plus years?
I don’t recommend that you so what I did with a bottle you value. It’s still safer to keep long term bottles in dry, temperature controlled settings and, in particular, away from sunlight.
Still, stunners like this Delas are what makes wine journey so much fun.