Just about everywhere we buy our wine, we are presented with the nubile attractions of youth in wine as if there were no alternative. For obvious commercial reasons, both retailers and producers have a vested interest in wine as fmcg (fast moving consumer goods). While 87.46 per cent of all statistics may be made up on the spot, the fact that 92 per cent of all wine purchased is consumed within 48 hours of purchase has been confirmed by research by Fosters, or Treasury Wine Estates as it's now called.
And why not? Everyday high-street reds and whites do benefit from being drunk younger rather than older. One of the lessons we've learnt from the New World is to consume wine as a drink and not to hoard it. Even the mid-20th-century bon viveur Raymond Postgate, brought up to believe that the longer he kept a wine, the better it would be, changed his mind. "Since more wine has been ruined by being drunk too late rather than too soon, when in doubt, it is better to drink a wine than to keep it," said Postgate. All of which makes me one of only 3.27 per cent of unreconstructed wine geeks who get a secret thrill from laying a few wines down.
The number of independent wine merchants that perform the traditional role of sitting on a fine wine for you is diminishing. Supermarkets don't think it's their job to perform the dust-gathering role, so you'll search in vain for good mature stock on the high street. Which is why I welcome the decision by Tesco to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Finest range with a Limited Edition series of wines from the great millennium vintage. Yes, this may well be a cunning shop window gesture to promote its Finest range (and answer criticisms about reducing its fine wine offer), but in most cases, these are genuine fine wines laid down to mature over the past decade.
The one white in the range, a 2000 Tesco Finest Hunter Valley Semillon, £15.99, from McGuigan's Peter Hall, and available in September, is a vivid demonstration of the ageing capacity of Hunter Valley semillon, still youthful, with typical aged Hunter hints of lemongrass and toastiness and a chiffon-light touch of gooseberry and lemon. Best of the reds are the 2000 Tesco Finest Pessac-Léognan, £22.99, a fine mature claret from Château Cantelys in Martillac, with aromatic undertones of coffee and tobacco and supple, savoury fruit, and the 2000 Tesco Finest Viña Mara Rioja Gran Reserva, £9.99, from Baron de Ley. A bargain at under a tenner, it has the leathery undertones of good mature rioja, with a delightfully succulent texture of mildly gamey, red-fruits flavours.
Tawny port and vintage champagne are the epitome of styles made for ageing and in the case of tawny port, 10 years is pretty much a minimum. So it's not surprising that the 2000 Tesco Finest 10 Year Old Grand Tawny 2000, £8.99, half-bottle, is only just coming into its own. What is more surprising is that this is not tawny port at all but a glorious tawny style from Seppeltsfield in South Australia. Nut brown and viscously rich, it has fine, aged butterscotch aromas mingled with raisins and coffee and an underlying nuttiness behind the marmaladey flavours. The 2000 Tesco Finest Champagne Chanoine, £24.99, with its baked apple bouquet and apple and honey flavours, is also worth snapping up.Reuse content