Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A favorite?

Someone asked me the other day what my favorite wine was. I was stumped, way too many choices. Observing my incoherence, she switched and asked me what was the cheapest really good wine in town, to which the answer, for me, was a no-brainer. La Vielle Ferme, for six dollars at Big Red, is a rich and satisfying blast of black fruit. I’ve been thinking about her question, though. I don’t know about my favorite wine but the one I’ve been obsessed with lately is Chateau d’Yquem. This was the last bottle of wine I shared with my father, sometime about 1980. I was thus tempted by the 2001, despite a price tag around $500 a bottle, as it is a serious contender for the greatest ever. I was only egged on by another, lesser but still marvelous, 2001 Sauternes, the Ch. Myrat from Big Red for about $25 the half-bottle. I shared it with a friend who thought he didn’t like sweet wine and said he would just have a taste. Ha! A man of refined manners he is, but that didn’t stop him from actually licking the glass (his second) when he thought I wasn’t looking.
One problem with the 2001 Yquem is that it may not be drinking prime until about 2050 – when I doubt that I will be. One of the surprises of the wine I had with Dad was this: a 1967, it had been badly scorched in a fire, the cork pushed out half an inch, and the wine turned from lemon-colored to caramel. So we drank it on an impulse, expecting nothing, when it was a dozen years old. The heat had aged it prematurely, bringing it close to perfection. Anyway, this memory sent me looking for some older Yquem after the 2001's were released this past September. The result was that I recently spent my birthday at a Hart Davis Hart wine auction in Chicago, where I did buy some bargains and, not in the bargain category, a few half-bottles of the 1990 Yquem, another revered vintage – and one which is perhaps ready to drink now and, indeed, probably needs to be all drunk up by 2065 or so. I am a little afraid to share a bottle with any of my own children, however, in light of the family history. On the other hand, this was the very last bottle from my father’s cellar so perhaps always having one undrunk is the key. In any case, if the final act opens with Yquem, it’ll sure beat Two-Buck Chuck.