I've been drinking a fairly old wine this evening--middle-aged would be a better description, as it is but 14 years old, in its prime, and not likely to improve further: the Château de Beaucastel 1996 Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It is really quite beautiful, and as this wine is unlike most Chateauneuf-du-Pape anyway (it is mostly Mourvèdre while the preponderance of Chateauneuf is principally Grenache), its silken expression is not entirely a surprise. It has a lovely and much lighter texture than it did when it was young, but that is not uncommon with mature wine. The aromas and flavors have clarified themselves over the years, simplifying the experience of the wine while showcasing and magnifying its complexities. It has become an open transmitter of the growing season and the efforts of the people making the wine. This wine has entered a fascinating phase: there are some notions that swirl in and out of the overall picture of the wine, while other elements--expressly the gossamer luxury of its red fruit qualities--are constants. Its character is volatile (though not scary volatile) and exuberant, yet mature and graceful. Think Cuba Gooding Jr. as he ages--that'd be this wine.
Matching for Dinner
So I've got an unusual food pairing here, one I chose based on having tasted the wine first. I made grilled butterflied chicken alla Diavola, which was an even better match than I had hoped. That might give you some indication of the "weight" of this wine--it feels like (but does not remotely taste like) a fine Pinot Noir at its peak, and this opened the door to the pairing with the grilled chicken. The essence of lemons inherent to Chicken alla Diavola united the flavors with such succulence that dinner seemed to fly by. It was like a ray of sun through the experience, lifting our spirits, which we needed because...
Matching with Entertainment
...as we ate our late dinner, we watched Children of Men, which isn't necessarily (if you knew nothing about the film) the feel-good movie that the title might imply. I had seen it before, but my wife had not, so I soldiered on. It turns out this wine was an excellent pairing for the movie, too!
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