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Tim York

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WTN:Learning to cope with reduced household wine consumption

by Tim York » Sun Dec 02, 2012 2:14 pm

My TNs over the last few weeks have notable by their paucity. Following an operation and medical advice, Germaine is reducing her consumption and beneficial results already show. Furthermore I don’t think it would do me any harm to consume a bit less.

Until recently we got through a bottle a day unless the wine chosen was particularly uninteresting. Therefore the fact that the average age of wines in my cellar is well over 10 years presented no problems; rather the reverse!

Suddenly, however, reduction of household consumption to roughly a half-bottle per day presents the problem of a lot of potential wastage from unfinished bottles of older wine. Maybe it’s my wartime childhood when I was taught to finish everything on my plate and in my glass, but the thought of wasting half the contents of fine bottles really sticks in my craw.

I see no problem with robust young wines which keep quite nicely in the fridge for a small handful of days when decanted into a half bottle or when re-stopped under Vacu-Vin. In this connection, I was surprised to read a lot of condemnation of Vacu-Vin on the UK Wine Pages but quite frankly I don’t notice a significant difference between the bottles re-stopped that way and those decanted into a half bottle. It is, however, possible that after a longer period, the latter would perform better. There was a lot of advice in favour of simply re-stopping the partly emptied bottle with its original stopper and keeping in the fridge; I find that using this method there is quite a noticeable evolution within 2 days or so but, in one case a Cahors 2010 from Croze de Pys, it was positive but in the other, Pauillac 2005 (see below), the wine became simply bland.

In order to address the real problem of the older wines, I managed to purchase by mail order a canister of WineSave argon gas. I have to confess to disappointment with the results my first two uses of this gas, which I will describe.

Hence most of my consumption has been from young QPR friends which put up with rough handling such as that Cahors Croze de Pys, Touraine Gamay from Marionnet, several Côtes du Rhône, Anjou Chenin from La Roulerie, Mâcon-Villages from Auvigue, etc. and which I have already made subjects of TNs.

Here are my few attempts with older bottles and one or two new wines.

Châteauneuf du Pape 1998 – Château de Beaucastel.
Thankfully my expectations, reduced by critical comments on both WLDG and the UK Wine Pages, were comfortably exceeded as I seem to have chanced upon a good bottle. There was nothing "porty" or oxidised here, as some have complained; indeed the wine was fresher and brighter and the quite sweet fruit more primary than I would have expected even without having read some of the unenthusiastic write-ups. It was full, rich and spicy enough to complement the marcassin beautifully but it managed to remain polished and elegant with some secondary complexity beginning to appear and with smooth tannins (enrobés).

I have had Beaucastel with more depth and structure and I missed the animal/leather notes which I used love in Beau when not dominant but it was highly enjoyable. Some people claim that this wine was better when younger and I see no need to age it further but I do not expect it to disintegrate or fade rapidly; 16.5/20+++
7 days or so later, about 1/3 of the contents stored under WineSave were still enjoyable but bloom and freshness were diminished.

Meursault Les Clous Cuvée Spécial 2002 – Patrick Javillier – Alc.13% - showed no signs of the dreaded pox and was a model 1er cru from the Côte d’Or with medium/full body, fresh white fruit, abundant minerals and lively acidity together with an underlying creamy roundness and cedar touches; 16.5/20+++.
Next day roughly half the contents stored under WineSave had deteriorated badly now showing distinctly oxidative notes and seemingly drier and thinner.

Cornas Cuvée Les Vieilles Fontaines 1998 – Alain Voge – Alc.12.5% was absolutely lovely with medium/full body, savoury complex fruit showing rounder cherry than from further north, grilled meat notes, gentle leather, mineral touches, lively acidity and firm well covered tannins on the long finish. If there is a criticism, it is that this is a quite strongly built but elegant gentleman without “typical” Cornas rusticity; 17/20.
Defying our diets, we finished the bottle at one sitting.

Château Les Landes de Cach cru bourgeois Pauillac 2005 – Henri Musso – Alc.12.5% was a nicely robust bourgeois Médoc with medium/full body, vigorous ripe red fruit, faint noble green edge, earthy touches, lively acidity and firm tannic structure; 15.5/20+++.
1-2 days later roughly half the contents under the original cork had evolved badly and the wine was now somewhat balsamic, bland and boring, if still drinkable.

Barbera Piemonte Coccinella 2011 – Cantine Sansilvestro – Alc.13.5% - (c.€6), made from organic grapes, was pleasant drinking but quite sweet fruited and bland. I preferred the much more acidic and rustic Barbera which I used to get a couple of decades ago; 14/20.
5 days later of so decanted into a half bottle it was still very similar.

Beaumes de Venise 2011 – Château des Applanats – Alc.15% - (€5,50), raised and bottled by Delhaize SA, Brussels, and made from Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah, showed quite full body, rich and dense sweet dark fruit, velvety mouth-feel, ripe structure with a touch of dry molasses towards the finish. There is a tendency to cloy unless served slightly cool and less so than the over opulent 2009; 15/20+++QPR!
2-3 days later both in half-bottle or under Vacu-Vin, the wine remained very similar and I did not notice any aroma scalping which some claim to occur with the Vacu-Vin.

And now two bottles with left-overs still undrunk –

Taurasi dei Feudi San Gregorio 2000 – Alc.14%, made from the Aglianico grape, was quite full bodied and had integrated the oak, which often spoils FSG’s wines when young, and there only remained a polished patina encasing some deep and complex dark fruit laced with touches of rose petal, tar, rubber, smooth acidity and leather and leading to a firm finish with ripe tannins. Aglianico in the right terroirs can make impressively brooding and classy wines; 16.5/20. (About one-quarter of the contents are waiting in the cellar under WineSave gas)

Rosso Conero San Giorgio 2009 – Umani Ronchi – Alc.13.5% - (c.€7), made from the Montepulciano grape, was a “fun” robust wine like a lot from Montepulciano with full/medium body, lively red and dark fruit, tangy acidity and firm structure with a nice honestly rustic touch; 15.5/20+ QPR. (About half a bottle is waiting under VacuVin in the fridge.)


So I am gradually learning to cope with our new pattern of consumption but it means a lot of unfinished bottles hanging around (in addition to the above two a Chablis 1er cru from Brocard and a Cahors Croze-de-Pys right now) and an increased reluctance to pull out older bottles (but I have a Rioja Gran Reserva 1998 from Peciña brothers waiting for dinner this evening.)
Last edited by Tim York on Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Brian Gilp

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Re: WTN:Learning to cope with reduced household wine consumption

by Brian Gilp » Sun Dec 02, 2012 3:19 pm

I have not found any method that I like for saving reds for more than one day. Whites seems to hold up a little better and I have had fair results going two days. I stopped trying other methods and just put a stopper in the bottle and put it in the fridge. More than effective than anything else, I try to cook meals that ensure that we drink any remaining wine on day two. I have not found a better alternative to avoid dumping wine.
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Re: WTN:Learning to cope with reduced household wine consumption

by Rahsaan » Sun Dec 02, 2012 3:30 pm

I guess the rub is that you prefer to drink some wine everyday?

My alternative has always been drinking wine on fewer days so the weekly consumption might remain the same, but with no wasted wine. Although everyone has his/her own issues. And in my case I prefer to go several days without alcohol for clarity/sleep's sake.
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Re: WTN:Learning to cope with reduced household wine consumption

by Jim Grow » Sun Dec 02, 2012 4:15 pm

After my heart cath in early Jan. and heart meds. taken every day, I dropped from 1 full bottle to 1/2 bottle each day but the way I save my remaining half is a little different. I pour half the new bottle into an empty 1/2 bottle with a screw cap and fill to the very top using a small funnel. These are mostly red wines so I do not store in the fridge but on our cool countertop. I may have 3 or 4 half bottles in the rotation so I try to remember to label them so I know which is which. No problems yet.
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Re: WTN:Learning to cope with reduced household wine consumption

by Tim York » Sun Dec 02, 2012 4:29 pm

I have just drunk the remains of the Taurasi 2000 which had been under Argon gas for about a week. Germaine first said she wanted no wine so I put away the Rioja Gran Reserva. In fact when allowing for sediment, I only got one glass of Taurasi out of the bottle. It was still very good but different with herbal and spice notes dominant and a darker complexion than I remembered.

Germaine then changed her mind about wanting no wine :wink: so, looking for something which could stand up to the Taurasi, I opened one of Elian Da Ros' Clos Bacqey 06 from Côtes du Marmandais and stand up it did; but that's another story which leaves me with a new 35cl or so under Argon for another day.
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Re: WTN:Learning to cope with reduced household wine consumption

by Harry Cantrell » Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:49 pm

I have had relatively good luck with freezing the bottle after half consumed. Thaw a while before finishing.
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Re: WTN:Learning to cope with reduced household wine consumption

by Doug Surplus » Sun Dec 02, 2012 8:58 pm

Although my daughter drinks wine she doesn't always want any when I open a bottle for dinner. I would lose a lot of wine to the sink since so many wouldn't be very good the next day (I just can't do a bottle a day every day any more). I purchased this last March and am quite pleased:

http://www.vintagecellars.com/productview.asp?productsid=59&prodcategoryid=24

I've had some reds last a few days with this (even some softer Italian reds that normally would turn to crap overnight.

I've not done a cost analysis to see if it saves me any money (amortizing the basic system plus using up a canister every few months vs the cost of wine dumped down the drain) but that wasn't the point. I just didn't like seeing good wine go to waste.
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Re: WTN:Learning to cope with reduced household wine consumption

by Tim York » Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:33 am

Thanks all for the advice.

Rahsaan - The method of several days without wine coupled with emptying the bottle on wine days has a lot going for it. My problem is that I find main meals one dimensional and a bit boring without wine.

Jim - "I pour half the new bottle into an empty 1/2 bottle with a screw cap and fill to the very top using a small funnel." That is one of the techniques which I am using with young wines without the funnel. So far I have had no spillage and It works well over a few days.

Doug - Your Keeper Wine Preservation System (Nitrogen) system seems like a more sophisticatedly engineered application of similar principles to the WineSave's. I'll enquire whether it is available here. I've had bad experiences of ordering directly from the US; Belgian customs sometimes open the package and charge handling fees + Value Added Tax + duty, if applicable :evil: .
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