I suppose that what follows is something of a follow-up to a short blog I previously submitted on the difficulties attending decisions to keep a bottle of wine for an extended period of time. Therein I noted that whatever you think you know about wine, there is no hard data available about aging any particular kind or bottle of wine; informed guesswork is your best and inescapable solution. What follows here is an illustration.
When my wife and I were up in Sunnyvale visiting one of our sons and his family, we decided to have dinner at his home on a Saturday evening, and his wife had prepared some lovely enchiladas, full of properly assertive flavors but blessedly uninvaded by jalapeños, serranos, and their spicy ilk, which only beer can properly mollify. A rich and flavorful red wine was called for, it seemed to me, and, fortunately, my son had a few on hand. Now understand: he enjoys wine but neither craves nor studies it. In a cupboard on the back porch just above the clothes drier was a shelf with half-a-dozen or so wines, uncritically assembled or gifted from which I was invited to choose. I found among them a bottle of Keenan 2004 “Mernet” (half Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon … get it?). Now Keenan has always been a winery of consequence since its origins in the Napa Valley some time in the mid-1970’s. Still, I had never tasted the Keenan Mernet, and its uncertain history, age, and storage conditions all suggested a perilous outcome. I guess I could have remembered (but I didn’t) that 2004 was a great year for wine in the Napa Valley, particularly conducive to long-lived reds. Anyway, we opened the Keenan and it was nothing short of spectacular! One of the best Bordeaux-style blends I have tasted in many years. The cost of the Keenan Mernet – yes, that blend is still made – will probably keep me from trying much more of it, but I’ll never forget its pleasures and my astonishment.