Anyone with a cellar stocked full of wine probably has several special bottles tucked away that have such
prestigious pedigree that they couldn’t possibly think of actually opening and enjoying a bottle.
I had a small bottle of aged single malt scotch that sat on a shelf for years because I couldn’t bring myself to open that special bottle, my father has several cases of the good stuff just lying around untouched and dusty and my in laws have a great collection that heaven forbid they open.
But this Thanksgiving my wife and her sister were able to convince their parents to open a few of those special bottles. Because, as my wife says, every bottle has a story and when it’s opened the wine and its story come alive, or perhaps are revived as good wine never dies.
On the Friday after Thanksgiving I gathered with my wife’s family to have a second Thanksgiving because my wife and I celebrated with mine on Thursday. Two Thanksgivings ain’t a bad deal, especially as we’d be enjoying the meal with a ’59 Bordeaux and a magnum of ’87 Napa cabernet. The Bordeaux was Chateau les Conseillans where my father in law worked a harvest after studying at the Bordeaux wine university. Our discussion with that bottle touched on harvests in France, the wonderful aging potential of Bordeaux and the winemaker at the chateau who was my father in law’s mentor and one of the top wine researchers in France.
The magnum of Napa wine was a Pahlmeyer that was very different compared to the French wine. Of course, the two are of such different ages one couldn’t make a fair comparison but it’s always interesting to taste a Napa wine with a French. As my father in law said, “it’s like football compared to soccer.”
The French wine had a light body and restrained flavors but with a rich mid palate and a smooth finish. As expected, the Pahlmeyer had “more” of everything from more fruit flavors to more oak and a little more alcohol heat even though both wines had less than 13 percent alcohol. As we remarked on the differences of the two wine, the conversation turned to a winemaker friend of the MacLeans who worked with Christine’s mother and went on to find great success in the industry. It was an interesting conversation of family recollections and wine industry gossip.
My favorite wine of the night was indeed a special treat. Christine’s father pulled out a 1969 French brandy. This particular brandy was Domaine du Castagnet, an armagnac that had been aged in oak for two years. I never have tasted anything so rich, intense and lovely. The brandy had an dark amber color and it was a bit much for the rest of the MacLean ladies but I thought it was delicious and the perfect ending to a Thanksgiving feast.
Every year you can read through dozens of the same article on what to pair with the Thanksgiving, or any holiday, meal. Each expert has their own opinion that seems to change every year. In my opinion, a large meal with all your family gathered is the perfect time to open some of those old, special bottles.
Now I just need to start working on a cellar collection and having the patience to allow some bottles to age.