Updated: Apr 14, 2019
“An old lesson timely renewed”
I have long advocated, and practiced, decanting many young red wines. While not a substitute for aging, aeration can release some volatile oils which contribute to a broader range of aromatics and flavors and may soften some of the harsher tannic grip.
A recent experience served as a reminder of how beneficial this practice can be for wines “of an age”. I joined a couple of wine savvy friends for a wonderful meal_ a perfect occasion to bring out something special and older from my cellar.
My choice was a 1997 Barbaresco; an excellent vintage from a “pedigreed” producer. (At 21 years old it was ready to go out in public.) Showing some sediment, I decanted the wine to clear it of residue. The bottle displayed a pretty aged patina and sleekness, but did seem a bit stiff and dried and perhaps a bit past its peak. (One never knows with older wines.) After tasting a few other wines on the evening’s docket I returned a half hour/hour later to the Barbaresco_ WHAT A PLEASANT SURPRISE! The wine had blossomed into a dazzling panoply of exotic floral expressions, fruits, spices and minerals; everything great Piedmont nebbiolos are fabled to become.
Lesson: decanting can help a young wine open up, but don’t give-up on the oldsters; a little airing may benefit them too.