The Corner

Revenge of The Metro-Cons.

Thank you, Rob. If, as Socrates asserted, knowledge is intrinsically good, then I am a better person now than I was when I posted my wine bleg. At any rate, I know more about wine.

A sample of two emails from many, many, all helpful, and surprisingly–I mean, it’s surprising to those of us who sometimes suspect that wine knowledge is totally bogus–in agreement with each other.

“Derb:–Nice to combine two of my favorite diversions, wine and browsing the Corner. The best of your bottles by far is the 1995 Troplong-Mondot — it’s both the better property and the better vintage, about a $75 bottle FWIW. The current vintage of these wines on sale is either 2002 or 2003, depending on where you’re shopping. That means they’re about six or seven years past release, which is either good news or bad news. It could be bad news because it’s very important that the bottles have been stored well during that time. If they’ve been at room temperature they’ll taste flat, dry, and maybe a little oxidized. The good news is that the ’96s should be very nice to drink now — mellower with age and smooth down the pipe. Expect the Pessac to taste a little smokier/earthier but otherwise it’s hard to call. ‘96 as a vintage was better in Pessac, but Clos de l’Oratoire is more famous and well-regarded than Poumey. Either would probably taste their best with “bistro food” — think hanger steaks, escargots… The Troplong-Mondot should not be opened yet. Bordeaux from top properties from top years goes through an aging curve where they’re very good for a year or two after release, and very good about 15 years after the vintage, but in between that time they’re in an unpleasant state called “closed” or “dumb” where the youthful pleasures have receded but the characteristics of maturity have not developed. Almost all the ’95s are there right now and Troplong in particular can be ferociously dry and tannic if it doesn’t get enough time. People are enjoying the ‘89 and ‘90 now, so I’d throw it in the coldest (but not freezable) corner of your basement and have it with grilled steaks around 2010. Bordeaux as a general category doesn’t work at all well with spicy or ethnic food, but if you’re in the mood to indulge your sinophilia a lot of French wines (Bordeaux included but especially Burgundy) do surprisingly well with Peking duck. The classic Bordeaux match, however, is lamb. As an afterthought, I’m very surprised by how many conservatives (even the Brits!) don’t much care for wine and sip martinis or such instead.”

And this from Noah Millman, revealing a new (well, new to me) side of his many-sided knowledge (and who, by the way, I noticed at last week’s NR fundraiser, is a dead ringer for the late Peter Sellers in profile):

“Derb:–Just going by prices, the first of your 3 wines is significantly less distinguished than the other two. Here are prices I got from a quick web search, to give you an idea of what you won: —Chateau Poumey Pessac-Leognan 1996, $30: —Chateau Troplong Mondot Saint-Emilion 1995, $180: —Clos de l’Oratoire Saint-Emilion 1996, $151. All of these are Bordeaux wines: big, red, complicated. They should all be drinkable now, and the more expensive ones should get better if properly stored for the next decade. I would definitely drink them within the next ten years, though, because if they haven’t been properly cellared to date, then their longevity will be less than expected. These are wines to serve with red meat and with rich foods. I would not serve with dishes that are especially sour ( e.g., tomato sauces) or spicy. I would not serve with Chinese or other Asian styles of food. I would not serve with fish or lighter cuisine. Steaks, butter-based sauces: these are old fashioned French wines for old fashioned French cooking. Enjoy!”

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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