The time eventually comes - often not even bidden - for everything. So, yesterday, I put an end to something I had been carrying around with me (figuratively and literally) for decades. The time had arrived to consume my bottle of Récolte 1981, vin des Côtes du Rhône, Girondas, Domaine St. François Xavier.
Now, I had thought that I had purchased this bottle on a trip to Europe. But (showing I had not looked closely at it for years) I found it was purchased through the Opimian Society of Canada. Having never been a member myself, I thus assume it was a gift. The who, when and where are now lost to the years. I won't even speculate why.
I did have the temptation to suck this back on my own, but then decided a better route was to share with someone I have known almost as long as the life of the wine. So, wrapping it safely in a wad of cloth, I trekked across the city to her house. Happily, the gesture was enthusiastically greeted for, although much more of a wine connoisseur than myself, she had not partaken of such an ancient bottle. She whipped up a plate of cheeses and garlic bread, and then commenced to open the bottle.
Now came the moment of truth. I was prepared to sadly find a bottle of rancid vinegar. The cork proved to be moist to just below the rim of the neck. It started to crumble. Regardless of the care taken, it broke three quarters down. Its final extraction had to be done done with the blade of a knife. The sodden pieces of cork on the table gave us pause. However, there was no indication to the nose that anything was amiss.
We decided the best thing to do was decant the bottle over a candle. We watched as the deep red liquid poured. Perhaps a fingernail of wine was left at the bottom of the bottle, along with notable dregs. The wine was indeed a bit cloudy but - to my surprise - the taste was mild with even some distant elements of its Côtes du Rhône flowery youth. Its freshness belied the opaqueness from 30 years of sediment.
As the back yard was still streaked with sunshine and the bower was sheltered, we took glasses, decanter and cheese board outside. Too civilised for words, we let the birds watch and comment as this invigorating wine met such a delightful end to its journey.