Magic Happens!

In SH there are few opportunities for the budget minded wine collector. This week a dream came true; so far, at least.

Man in a wine shopYears ago, I remember searching high and low through an inordinate number of UK and NZ wine outlets in my quest for older Bin Ends of merit, vintages or oddities. Opportunities were out there, like in the many dusty second hand vinyl record stores which saw far much too much of me.

Walking recently into a deli near to my location I was confronted by a clearout sale of some of their older wines, generally stored in their main private dining room. Initially I was sceptical. It didn’t appeal. I know how the Shanghai climate isn’t forgiving of poor storage methods. And I know retailers do not look after wines here; how little effort retailers place on such things, and what product knowledge they have is generally hidden under a more than copious blanket of disinterest. Such pickings have been less frequent here in SH.

However, it’s not everyday one finds a 2005 Crozes-Hermitage by Guigal for ¥115, male aromaand that’s what I was holding. My interest peaked, I set about a closer inspection. There are a few tricks of the trade in these circumstances; checks to make to ensure your not buying a lemon, or more likely, some expensive vinegar….

question Mark wineKnowing the background, I knew the bottles wouldn’t be counterfeit. But it was essential to look for signs of spoilage. Overheating can often lead to expansion, where seepage out then enables air to enter into the bottle to oxidise the wine: so that’s the first evidence to seek. After conducting my other visual checks I was happy to start making a few selections.

I have had the pleasure the last few days to taste some nice wines courtesy of a local deli offloading wines they didn’t understand they had and just wanted rid of. I tend to taste over a few days with Vacuum resealing to look for in glass development.

large male hands cristal ballShanghai prices for imported wines are pretty high compared to most places I have lived worldwide, but here I managed to bag them all around ¥110-115. Time will tell as I work my way through the bottles. I am certainly opening each one with a mixture of excitement and nerves.

The final selection included a Guigal, 2005 Crozes-Hermitage, from the northern long line of wines unfocussedRhone which turned out to be especially awesome on day 2 (after an overnight vacuum reseal).

The next day I opened a Rubrato Aglianico Dei Feudi di San Gregorio 2005 from Campagna (I guess) which was pretty heavy going initially, but then peaked beautifully after reopening for an hour or so on day 2, before quickly disappearing downhill in an oxidised mess on day 3; still wondering about contamination there….

At the same time, an oddity I have not seen before was de-corked and instantly kicked off interest; a Sonoma 2004 Cab Shiraz brand named ‘Collage’ by Kendall Jackson which went down gorgeously without trace in one sitting. Time had been kind to that bottle. That was a star for very different reasons to the Crozes, which had bucket-loads of sheer complex class.

Day 4 of the odyssey saw opened a bottle of 2005 Cotes Du Rhone Villages by Gabrielle Meffre, but it hadn’t the spice I was looking for and seemed rather uninteresting; over the hill.Still waiting in the wings is an Oregon Pinot Noir 2007 from Erath wine storage oblique(unknown to me) which I am particularly looking forward to despite my self confessed dbockage with Pinot, as Oregon is where Pinot Noir gets really exciting in the US.

And then there’s an Eden Valley Riesling from Peter Lehman which was the only white I dared select; most whites on offer looking terribly oxidised and too old to even contemplate trying. But Rieslings age well and there was a steel cap very much securely in place (improving its chances of life). Also, there’s  a further G. Meffre Cotes du Rhone 2009 (this time) with hopefully some pizzaz lacking in the first 2005 bottle.So far, apart from the Aglianico its all been a great look at older wines via a nervous lottery, some sleuthing and a fumble.


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