I was at a friends house for Friday night dinner last Shabbos. The food was great and the wine and drinks were flowing. Out of the blue, my host produce a bottle of the Gan Eden Late Harvest Gewurztraminer 2000.
He had mentioned it to me a couple of months back, said it was a gift 10 years ago and they had simply never got around to cracking it open. He's not a wine guy generally, and so the bottle sat in his liquor cabinet all this time -- shielded from direct sunlight, but basically just upright at normal room temperature. I told him back then that he shouldn't delay any longer and should simply open it, but that he might want to have a back-up bottle just in case (given its age and storage conditions). I thought nothing more of it.
Jumping forward to last Friday night, he brought the bottle to the table. I got very excited, though my brain kept trying to tell me that I should seriously lower my expectations -- the color was, as expected, noticeably darker, but without signs of obvious extreme oxidation or maderisation. While the acidity which had once been in perfect balance had receded substantially, the wine was really lovely. The complexity suffered a bit, but not the flavors. Aromatically, the grapefruit, pear and apricot notes remained, though much of the spicy floral Gewurztraminer character had dissipated -- but not wholly, there was still a slight tingle on the nose, and even more so on the palate. Indeed, on the palate the fruit and floral aspects held up, following nicely from the nose, accompanied by honey; the sweetness was more pronounced than I recall and the acidity, as I said, had substantially receded into the background; the wine seemed more firmly a dessert wine than in its heyday, but still not cloying. Those at the table who had never tasted it before, thought it delightful. Makes me wish I had kept a few bottles in my cellar...