Sunday, September 12, 2010

Do White Wines Age? An '05 and '06 from Rioja

Do dry white wines "age"? The answer is yes, of course - any wine book will tell you that certain whites can improve with some quality time in the cellar.

But who actually gets to taste aged dry whites? Recall your last trip to your favourite resto - how long was the 'vintage white' section? Probably didn't have one. Did the sommelier recommend a five or ten year old white "from their cellar"? Probably not. And chances are that your buddy with that 4000 bottle cellar only has a few sweet German wines in his/her "white" section (if there any white wines at all).

So this mythical wine - the Well-Aged Dry White - became a bit of a quest for me a few years back. Realizing that the wine shops and restaurants would not satisfy this curious corner of my wine mind, I made a concerted effort to squirrel away some whites - Aussie, German and Alsatian Rieslings, some Chablis, some Champagne, and tonight's two bottles of Spanish Viura...

The 2005 Palacios Remondo Placet started all funky, seemingly tired and past its peak, but wow - did this ever open up - dried apricots, dark caramel, butter cream, canned pears and guava, some almonds and floral/soapy notes. The first sip mirrored the first nose - tired, past its prime - but as it opened some tangy citrus and minerality showed up, revealing tremendous finish and persistency for old wine ... wow, she's still got it! Even more impressive, it tasted better on day 2 and day 3.
cork. 13.5% alcohol
Score: 18/20

The 2006 Palacios Remondo Placet barely showed any sign of age - crisp and fresh from the get go, adding funky papaya, soapy floral, citrus peel and quince. Notably minerally on the palate, with tasty bitters, difficult to find a more delicious, smooth, and complex white - with enough acidity and minerality to indicate that it is nowhere near its peak.
cork. 13.5% alcohol
Score: 18/20

There is no doubt that a few years in the JoeCave did not harm these wines, with the '05 gaining nuance and '06 seemingly newborn. And Palcios Remondo has made a tremendous case for Rioja whites from the Viura grape.

But four or five years is not "age" - for that you have to wait for my notes on a 20 year old white Rioja...

(both were impeccably paired with a homemade seafood paella)


2GrandCru said...

Welcome back!

Joe said...

Thanks Chaim! The last straw was when D. McDuff asked me if I had retired...DEFINITELY NOT.