Thursday, September 18, 2008

Lipstick on a Pig

Chateau Greysac is not a good wine. At its best, its a mediocre early drinker that doesn't live up to the "superior" quality implied by the Cru Bourgeois Supérieur classification of its label. Greysac is both ubiquitous in US market and cheap and, therefore, leads generations of young wine drinkers to think of Bordeaux as lean, fruitless and without charm. What if, however, you let this sad excuse for a wine alone for 25 years? Would it get better? Is age a palliative for an insipid wine?

It is with those thoughts in mind that I approached a 1983 Greysac. How does one end up with a 1983 Greysac? Aren't they supposed to have been imbibed within 5 years? I'm glad I asked these rhetorical questions. I picked up this bottle incidentally as a paired ugly stepsister to the wine I really sought at auction, an '81 Haut-Bailly. The 2 bottle lot being less than what I would have paid for the Haut-Bailly itself (Véronique Sanders, the lovely general manager of H-B, had wistfully remarked to me that the '81 was not the type of wine that would be made today), so I thought of the Greysac as a free bottle of wine.

I knew I had to open this bottle, this succubus, eventually and, rather than inflict it on my friends, I decided to try it at home. Alissa had suggested we make lamb and I love Bordeaux with lamb. It seemed as good a time as any. With great trepidation, I removed the foil. Under the capsule, the cork had a think layer of muck on top. I'd opened enough beautiful bottles with worse and the cork came out very well, albeit completely soaked through, so I still held out hope. I poured two glasses and the color was disappointingly light, not a good sign. I tasted a sip and looked left and looked right. I put down my glass and walked away. Many wines need air to right themselves. I went back to it after a little while and the color had darkened. The nose had picked up some mushroom and some licorice, nice additions. It was still lean and charmless in the mouth though. I needed a second opinion. Alissa took a sip, paused, paused, and then scrunched up her nose, rendering an opinion. "I know, I know," I said and went to the cellar to pull out a 2004 Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon. As we ate our lamb, I looked over at Alissa and asked, "Better?" She nodded with a smile.


Mike P said...
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Mike P said...

Ben, interesting story. Funny thing is these wines were never really meant to age, (as you mentioned), and were regarded as the Yellow Tails and Louis Martinis of today are: Just Syrah and Cab, nothing more. Remember, it was a time when 1978 Pichon Lalande was priced at about $15 a bottle. The Greysac was under $5.