Today’s lunch was one of the most instructive experiments I’ve had about food and wine. I’ve never been a fan of Bordeaux wines. I started buying them in 1985 (because they were supposed to be the best), but I have had very few pleasurable experiences with them over the years. Part of it is due to the fact that their principal grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, neither of which has been among my favorite varieties.
As a result of this avoidance, I tend to give away most of the Bordeaux wines in my cellar, and I never really miss them. Today was a bit different. I chose one of the bottles in my original purchase from Cynthia and Bob Hurley 34 years ago — a bottle of 1985 Leoville-Barton St.-Julien, and I decided to try it at lunch with a rich vegetable stew I had made a few days earlier.
I already had a bottle of Portuguese wine open for nearly a week (Serra Oca 2019) and it was still holding up nicely, so I decided to do compare and contrast with the two wines.
For the first 45 minutes after I opened the Leoville Barton, I found the Serra Oca much more to my taste. Fortunately, I could linger over the meal, and very soon, the Bordeaux took over as the favorite. What I found was that the fruit from that wine was astonishingly fresh and young, even though it was made 37 years ago. I imagine that this is the quality that Bordeaux lovers cherish in their wines.
The Mediterranean has a special fascination to me, and this meal underscored that issue. Generally, I prefer food and wines from the coastal regions of France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece. My vegetable stew (Soufiko) was Greek, my olive oil for the dish was Portuguese (made from Greek olives, Koroneiki), and the one spice I added for interest was Maras Pepper, from Turkey. The Serra Oca Castelão was Portuguese, but the French wine was from Bordeaux — on the Atlantic Coast. In any case it was a superb lunch and an education in the subtleties of wine.