Wine of the Week: 2010 Bobby Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay

"We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other." ~ Ernest Hemingway 

If I've heard this once, I've heard it a thousand times, basic quick turns wines cannot benefit from aging, especially Chardonnay; from wannabe self-appointed wine gurus using their smug, I know it all face, puh-leese. Take a look at this quote from an article, entitled 10 Myths About Wine, published in The Independent.

"Most wine is produced to be drunk when it's released, explains Peter Mitchell. "Whilst a small percentage of wine does, and this is often not that enjoyable when it is very young, the vast majority of wine today has been made to be ready to drink on release and will not benefit from aging. Most will keep (if stored properly) for a few years, but few will be as good, let alone have improved."

Sadly, when information like this is tweeted out, by those who should know better, it's a disservice to the wine community. So now, here's the problem I have with what is quoted above as supposed sage advice, while it's true a majority of wines under $20 are meant for the quick quaff, including the wine in the picture above. There are more than a few which are the exception to the rule, a variety of inexpensive wines will actually benefit from bottle aging in the cellar. That does not mean under your bed, or under the stairs behind the closet, where you've buried the bodies.

So, if you have a simple vino temp, like the one I've had for nearly twenty years now, you can safely sock away a few bottles of your favorite garden variety juice, and it will IMPROVE over the years. In this case, in particular, this Chardonnay from Bobby Mondavi's Napa Valley program improved [with aging] significantly, so much so, you'd barely recognize the initial release bottle. I've done this experiment many times with many different types of wine over the years, I'm rarely disappointed.

The bottle in question sells for an SRP of $20, but most retailers sell this wine for $14.99. This wine is also massed produced, typically 60k case production level, meant for rapid consumption, as it's a quick turn bottle. This wine spends part of its early life before entering the bottle, 85% fermentation in 34% new French Oak barrels, 15% stainless steel, aged on its yeast lees [sur lie] and stirred on a regular basis [battonage] to impart complex flavors.

This formula may have been a bit different with the 2010 vintage, but you get the picture.  I've sampled this wine many times over the years, when its young fresh and vibrant still, it's not all that enjoyable to me, but that said, it's always a top seller with at least two facings in most grocery outlets. So for someone in the 'business' to say, [paraphrasing] "it's really not possible, or it's ridiculously impractical to attempt age wines like this" is complete and utter balderdash. So to say it's a myth is a disservice to the wine community at large.

Now that so-called myth has been thoroughly 'debunked' now it's time for everyone's favorite part of the article, the tasting note. But without the wonderfully descriptive note, how could one possibly decide to try this for themselves? So here we go, okay, yes there was a tiny amount of oxidation, maybe two to three percent at the most, nearly unrecognizable. Mrs. Cuvee didn't notice, but she did love the wine, she was ecstatic over the beautiful depth and complexity, and she had the last pour.

The aromas jumping from the glass, baked pear, citrus, lemon curd. The mouthfeel was complex and full. The acid was still jumping through the abundant fruit, ripe apple, and pear, a splash of citrus, faint touch of toast, faint bit of honey from the oxidation, the finish was long and lasting. Seven years since it was harvested, one year later in the bottle and consumed in 2017 with fantastic results. Remember anyone can do this, buy one extra bottle of your favorite, sock it way with a note attached, saying "hands off" and reap the benefits of aging years later. Until next time folks, live long and prosper cheers!
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