20 Sep 2021

Roger Kimball on Wine


World Spectator excerpt #2.

There must be a lot more money in being a prolifically published conservative defender of civilization than I ever realized, since Roger Kimball so clearly consistently drinks a lot higher off the vine than I customarily do.

I commonly get by on Two-Buck-Chuck Shiraz and undistinguished, simple and hearty reds from Spain and Portugal. Meanwhile, Old Roger is evidently routinely quaffing $30 and $50 French Clarets and thinks it worth forking out $120-130 for some 2015 California Cabernet. Harummph!

Roger apparently even, from time to time, gets in on vertical tastings of First Growths which, I must concede, move him to genuine eloquence.

[W]ine is susceptible to other liabilities as well. One is the same liability that, sooner or later, affects us all: age. Wines, like people, have different life spans depending on a number of factors, some intrinsic — the sort of grapes it is made from — some extrinsic — how it has been stored, for example. Most wines, like most people, lose suppleness, vivacity and lusciousness after a certain point. This is generally a gradual process, however, and some wines that are clearly on the way out are still interesting.

Indeed, it is often possible to discern lingering greatness in a wine that is past its prime. Some colleagues and I were once treated to a vertical tasting of Château Lafite Rothschild beginning with a bottle of 1961, a storied vintage of a great wine. I have heard that some bottles of 1961 Bordeaux are still drinking well, but this bottle had had a hard life. You could still discern, just, its nobility, but it was present in outline only, a ghost, something like Achilles encountered by Odysseus in the underworld.

It must be nice!



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