Tuesday, August 28, 2012

1982 Mumm Champagne; An experience 30 years in the making

At my 21st birthday, I received a bottle of G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge Champagne, 1982 vintage from the Reims region. Having (some) presence of mind, I knew to save this bottle on its side in my parent's fridge, but that was my extent of wine knowledge at the time. The bottle lived there for 5 years until DH and I were at my parent's house one random day day in '08 when he discovered this rare gem. He immediately researched the bottle and insisted we drink it right away for fear it might be passing its prime.
I hesitated. I had already saved it this long, I wanted to wait and have the Champagne for a special occasion. That said though, no one wanted to see it go bad in bottle. Have you ever been faced with this conundrum with a wine? 
To my knowledge, it is a uniquely wine related problem wherein you age, or cellar something but don't always know if you'll get it right.
Anyhow, I digress.
We opted not to drink it upon discovery but DH transported it to his wine fridge for more proper storage. The bottle made the move up north with us and remained safe and sound thru our engagement and wedding, just waiting for the right 'special occasion', DH ever anxious to open it and taste the results. 
On a whim we packed it for the Mendocino weekend. 30 years seemed like long enough. 

DH&I brought the chilled bottle out to the gazebo at the Boonville Hotel and awaited our fate. I did the honors, naturally. The wire cage was brittle and tough. The cork was a bit desicated and unyielding. I coaxed it out and poured the first sip.
The results?!...
Pure gold! Wow! The tiniest bubbles, a goldenrod hue and the slightest bit of fruit on the nose, this Champagne was unlike anything DH or I had ever tasted. For being a 30 year old wine, it still had a remarkable balance of acid and fruit while showing its maturity in its rich color, small bubbles and honeyed taste.
As it turned out this bottle could have probably stood to be aged even a wee bit longer. That said, sitting with my new husband in a gorgeous garden away from any worries or cares, watching the sun go down as I braced a new decade happily, I can imagine no better way I/we could have enjoyed that bottle more.
                      *            *            *
A bottle of wine is best experienced between two people. Certainly it is a wonderful thing to share wine with a group but to truly experience a bottle, two is the magic number. In this way you are able change with the bottle, get to know it at its opening and as it opens up to the world outside. 
...too much? Share a truly great bottle of wine with one other person you love and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

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