The Heartbreak Kid

My cellar is small. It’s filled with gems, gifts from friends and bottles that I’ve saved for various reasons. I only dip into it when I need a boost or feel like I deserve a bit of a treat.

Wednesday night I chose a lovely bottle given to me by my friend Tony. He’s a rep and it was last year’s gift of thanks from him for supporting his sales efforts all year long. It was a 2003 Touriga Nacional from Cortes de Cima.

Cortes de Cima is a Portuguese winery owned by a Danish American family since 1988. I was excited to taste it because  I’d heard really good things about the Cortes de Cima wines.

It came out of the bottle a beautiful, sparkling clear ruby. I swirled it in the glass, lifted it to my nose and sniffed. Crack. I could hear my heart break a little bit. It was corked.

This is the problem with having a cellar like mine. I have one or two bottles of each wine that I’ve saved carefully and waited for just the right moment to open. There is rarely a back-up bottle. It’s also one of the problems with cork finishes. There is no guarantee that the bottle will be in good shape once it’s open.

I left the glass for awhile, hoping the corked-ness would drift away. Some say it can happen. If the wine is only slightly corked the taint can lift and almost disappear. But it didn’t.

My son came home around this time and being braver than I, gave the wine a chance. It was clear that the wine underneath the taint was once lovely. There were juicy notes of evergreen and cassis. He drank a couple of glasses.

I tasted it. There were hints of spice and vanilla riding on a firmly tannic backbone. It reminded me of really good Christmas cake… laced with a hint of cork. So sad.

I left the glass to sit for a bit. I swirled it and swirled it. I smelled it repeatedly and became horribly congested.The congestion gave me a headache. I could still smell the cork.

When I tasted it again I could taste Chinotto and black plum skin and cork.

What can be said? When a wine is corked it’s very difficult for me to enjoy. Perhaps if a person didn’t know what corked wine was they might just think it was a very earthy, dry and astringent wine. Maybe they might even like it. I just don’t.

Being educated in the ways of wine is a blessing and a curse. There are faults one can live with (like a bit of Brett for me) and faults that one can’t look past. For me corked wine is where I draw the line.

Anyway, I thought I’d experiment with what was left in my glass. I shelved the glass with a napkin doubled over on top of it and left it for twenty four hours.

When I got home tonight after a horrible day I checked on my little experiment. The wine showed notes of cinnamon and black plum, persimmon and wild rose. It was firmly tannic with a beautifully balanced mid palate. It was a Christmas miracle!

This is a big deal for me. In the past when people would suggest, when a wine was corked that “it might dissipate” if only we would wait…I would scoff. No more. I concede now that it really may dissipate!

So the next time you find your special wine is corked you may want to decant it, cover it with a doubled over napkin and wait twenty four hours. Do your own experiment. You just never know. It may have a second life.

Also, Tony came by tonight and dropped off this year’s holiday gift of thanks: a bottle of 2003 Cortes de Cima Touriga Nacional!

Stay tuned for the re-taste. I’ll keep you posted!

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