Our First Bottle

The wine in our household had a tendency to appear in small batches, as the wait-staff found something of interest, or decided to restock on an old favorite. Our selections would have remained small if this held true, but our little supply became much enlarged after the passing of a wait-staff’s parental unit. It seems this parent had a true wine cellar, and when the house was sold, the wine fell into the care of our crew. Such an impressive number of bottles that appeared! To this day, bottles are still in boxes, waiting for a space in the rack to open up.

And such wonders that appeared that day. Some very fine wines indeed. We five spent many days debating which bottle should be the first to grace our palates. Big Fat found an Haut-Brion that had us drooling at the mere thought. Fuzzums located a California pinot noir from 1995. But Grumpy Old Man won out with a 1990 Margaux from Château Giscours. This seemed like a good wine with which to start our investigations and sooth our frazzled nerves, after all those strangers tromped in and out of our abode, carrying in boxes and furniture and who knows what bits of flotsam and jetsam.

Margaux, we learned, is one of the smallest of the Bordeaux towns, land-wise. It occupies slightly less than three square miles, but it is devoted entirely to the production of wine. (There must be some truly happy cats residing there.) Despite its small size, it’s also one of the most productive areas of the Médoc.

Margaux itself was once swampland, but enterprising winemakers were able to convert the area into more grape-friendly territory. The wines of Margaux follow the typical Médoc blend, with cabernet sauvignon as the primary grape. Yes, a grape that prefers dry, gravelly areas has done remarkably well in an area that once held brackish water. A testament to man’s determination to create more fine wine.

Château Giscours is in the Troisième Crus Class for Margaus, but that’s no reason to offer a sniff of disdain for this wine. Like any excellent red, it just needs a little loving and a nice place to rest for a few years. Tuck it away in a cool and comfortable spot and in a few years, you’ll have something truly amazing.

A few years? Yes, a few years. But they’ll pass quickly. One day, you’ll be looking over your stash of bottles and your eye will fall upon that particular bottle. You’ll realize that time has flown by and the moment’s right to pull the cork. And truly, doesn’t your mouth begin to water at the thought of a grand old vintage rather than some youngster still all elbows and knees and sharp edges.

Our 1990 was living proof of the beauty of aging. Gone were the sharp tannins and dry flavors that younger wines from Giscours tend to display.This was nothing but smooth, with one layer of flavor blending so nicely with the next. It’s the type of wine you hold in your mouth, letting each layer develop at its own pace.

The wine is so full and so luscious that it seems a shame to have to pair it with food. What this wine requires is a comfy chair to curl up in, a setting sun and a quiet moment to just sit and savor.

Alas, not all the wines that were transferred from the wine cellar were equal to the Giscours. White wines rarely fare as well when aged for long periods. Witness the 1977 (yes, 1977) Sauvignon Blanc that had clearly been forgotten about once it was placed in the cellar. Poor, poor sauvignon, just waiting to be drunk but by the time it’s finally pulled from its spot, all is lost.What should have been a brightly colored beverage with a tangy aroma was now a muddy brown and definitely missing that distinctive s.b. aroma – the one that smells a bit like that certain favorite corner in the upstairs bathroom. With no one willing to taste, we can only say that that it was given an appropriate salute before burial at sea. Sauvignon, we barely knew thee.

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