• …Every time I go back to LA to visit my friends that prank gets mentioned (of which I am the butt of the joke,) but it taught me to always listen to what your senses are telling you about a wine. It also re-emphasized the impact age has upon a wine. Which leads me to my third wine and one of my greatest loves.

    On one of the trips to Gainey I asked to see their library selection (wines that either didn’t sell out from previous years or are held back to improve and then sell at a higher price.) They had quite a few old whites that no one had purchased. I was intrigued by a ‘91 and a ‘92 dry Riesling they had. At this point I was really enjoying dry Rieslings as opposed to the slightly sweet Rieslings that the majority of Californians were imbibing at the time. The lady behind the counter tried desperately to convince me to avoid old whites because “they don’t taste as good,” but I was dead set on trying them.

    We ended up opening a bottle of each promptly upon returning (after chilling that is.) The ‘91 was still bright and zingy, but the body was a bit weak. The ‘92 on the other hand was glorious. Refreshing tart acidity kept it alive even after seven years of age the fruit was pronounced, but not overwhelming and the finish lasted for thirty seconds easy. Everyone was flabbergasted. Seven years had brought down the fruit in the body, added a more pronounced petrol to the nose. Overall the character of the wine was more subtle, elegant and breathtaking. How do I know this when I hadn’t tasted the wine prior? Years and years of tasting Rieslings from the region as well as seeing what the effects of age on said Rieslings. Only an incredibly well made white wine can improve with age. It needs structure, a great amount of acidity to keep it fresh, a decent amount of body and fruit (which diminish with the flow of time) and complexity. To accomplish this you need a cool climate, an amazing wine maker, good terroir and great vine stock.

    We were so impressed with the wine that we immediately called up Gainey and ordered the remaining three bottles to be shipped. Our curiosity peaked we also researched who the wine maker was. With a simple “who made this” we found the culprit, Rick Longoria. Well he had moved on to make his own wine label. The now highly acclaimed Longoria line is made up of almost entirely sourced fruit (aside from his Fe Ciega vineyard which he owns. “Fe Ciega” means blind faith referring to Eric Clapton’s band of the same name. He got mad props from me for that.) Well once we discovered who the wine maker was we felt obligated to check out his little tasting room in Los Olivos near Solvang. As if we were Sherlock Holmes on the trail of the hounds of Baskerville we entered the room with the gleam of discovery. It just so happened that he showed up while we were tasting (evidently a rare occurrence.) I immediately brought up the fact that I purchased his ‘92 Riesling. With a distant look in his eyes he reminisced and said “yeah that’d be tasting perfect about now. Man it totally bummed me out how much I loved that wine, but California just wasn’t ready for it.” I could not have agreed more. He was at least 15 years ahead of the times.

    So with three bottles in my inventory we opened one for dinner when we got back from our trip. On the double blue moon in March of 1999 I had a bottle, and then swore I wouldn’t open the last until the world came to an end. Well everyone had the Y2K scare so I used that as an excuse to enjoy the last bottle on New Years of 2000. It was good, but had passed its prime.

    Ever since then I’ve held a new respect for aged whites which are big in northern Italy, Rioja Spain and Germany. In Alto-Adige, Italy Pinot Bianco is the grape of choice for aging (I had a fab-o 1983 from Terlano the other day. It was crisp, clean and had a lengthy finish with lovely minerality.) In Germany the Rieslings are heavy in Petrol and can age for-ever. In Rioja, Spain they age the whites (typically Malvasia and Viura blends) in barrel for a flavor profile that is out of this world. They’re very hit or miss, but when you find one you love its the most complex unique amazing experience. In fact tonight at dinner I shared a bottle of Viura by Lopez de Heredia Viña de Tondonias “Gravonia” that was according to a fellow wine lover “too oxidized and chemical on the nose”, and although true I thoroughly enjoyed the hint of petrol and cinnamon on the nose with refreshing acidity and body for a wine of its age.

    Ah so the point I’m getting at with these ramblings of a wine freak is—don’t discount aged white wine. Its more difficult to achieve a white that stands the test of time, but well worth the wait!