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Closing Time

Closing time“ Yeah the women tear their blouses off
and the men they dance on the polka-dots
and it's partner found, it's partner lost
and it's hell to pay when the fiddler stops:
it's CLOSING TIME” Leonard Cohen

You pay the big bucks on the big wine with the big points, but it doesn't deliver. What’s up?

“It's closed” is the big excuse. You see it on the wine discussion forums all the time. Some whiney writer complains that the pointy Barolo they opened was disappointing because it was closed. This is either a big lie or a huge rationalization made by people that either:

  • don’t understand what they bought
  • read the Wine Spectator
  • actually don’t like the wine they bought (the nebbiolo curse)
  • have to rationalize that they dropped big bucks on something they just don’t like

The fact of the matter is that in over two decades of tasting I have never tasted a great wine that did not show its greatness every day of its life - and I mean every day. Exceptional character is something that cannot hide.

I don’t care how tight-assed that Giacosa (or Colla, Marcarini, Conterno, Mascarello etc.) Barolo was – there was never one day could you not taste its potential greatness. If you have a great wine that you are unimpressed with; you either don’t like it or don’t understand it – and that’s true from the time it’s ready to bottle. There is one exception to this and that is travel or other bottle abuse. Shipping wines across the Atlantic or the continental United States is like putting a wine through a blender and many wines need months of rest to recover – especially Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo.

There is no “hell to pay” from drinking wines that are too young or closed. Certainly there will be better times to drink them, but if a wine is great it will always be great each and every day of its life. “It’s closed” is a crutch used by too many wine drinkers who empty wallets on wines based on fashion instead of what they really like. It’s like buying a shirt that is the hottest thing in fashion that looks ridiculous on you, but justify it by thinking it will look better on you next year: an unlikely event.

There is never a truly great wine that is not always, from the beginning to the end of its voyage, enjoyable and intellectually stimulating. The more complex the wine, the more responsibility the drinker has to participate in that greatness and to appreciate the individual character and development of that wine at that moment.

Enjoying greatness in wine is an interactive, not passive experience.