The Event
The Styles of Wines V
(Big and Bold Red Wines)
© by Sheral Schowe
Full-bodied red wines, with sufficient tannins, pack a powerful and assertive punch when young. These are the wines meant for aging, but some are immensely enjoyable while young as well. Some grape varieties are capable of producing wines on every level of body, complexity, and structure. This depends on the terroir in which it is grown, the winemaker's style, and the vintage. The key to successful aging is finding a full-bodied, rich, tannic, delicious wine to begin with. The saying, "you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" holds true when selecting wines to age in your cellar. If a wine is bad to start out with, it's not going to get any better, even though you may have a "cool" cellar.

When selecting full-bodied wines capable of aging, there are a few that you can typically count on for your newborn's twenty-first birthday. My favorites come from California, Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Rioja. In California, look for Zinfandels, Cabernet Sauvignons and Bordeaux-style blends from top producers. In Burgundy, the Premier and Grand Crus from excellent vintages can produce wines capable of aging for well over twenty years. I had the opportunity of tasting a 1940 Grand Cru several months ago and couldn't believe how perfectly sound and gorgeous it was. There are some real treasures to be found in Burgundy as well as in the New World, if you have a treasure to spend.

In Bordeaux, not all wines are created equal. As in California, the same grape varieties are capable of producing both medium-bodied, approachable wines as well as the ones responsible for Bordeaux fame. Look for Premiers Crus and Deuxiemes Crus, and Crus Classe, for starters, but checking reliable wine journals and periodicals on current recommendations is advisable for serious purchases. More affordable, yet extremely high in quality, are Crus Grands Bourgeois, and Crus Bourgeois Exceptionnels.

The Spanish wine most capable of aging, full of complexity and tannins, is Rioja Reserva and Rioja Gran Reserva. Ribera del Duero has recently become a close runner-up for excellent quality Tempranillo as well with plenty of tannin and body to age for years. We are fortunate to see an increasing supply of these wines available in the United States, and yes, even in Utah.

Italy produces some robust, lusty wines that only improve with aging. In fact, many of them are unapproachable if opened too young. Some Italian recommendations include Nebbiolo, Barbaresco, Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti Classico Reserva, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

Full-bodied, tannic red wines are best enjoyed with food, and of course, good company. Simple preparations of grilled meats, hard and blue-veined cheeses will enhance and accentuate the flavors in the wine.

July 4, 2000

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