Drama of the WGBH Wine Auction, redux

By Cathy Huyghe

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"You’d think that the drama of a wine auction happens just before the gavel drops, with the flurry of last-second bids and all but one lucky bidder walking away empty-handed.

That’s true enough.

But for me, the more compelling drama happens when you pull the cork on the bottle (or bottles) you’ve won and brought home, especially when the bottles have some age on them. No matter how carefully wines are collected and stored at WGBH, the truth is that we simply cannot always know if the wines (the older wines in particular) were always stored by their original owners in optimal conditions.

Maybe the wines were kept in cellar-like conditions, maybe they weren’t. Maybe they were laid on their sides to keep the corks moist, maybe they weren’t. Maybe they weren’t exposed to extreme heat or sun, maybe they were.

Maybes like that made for some nice-sized drama as I took corkscrew to cork of the 1978 Gevry-Chambertin red Burgundy last night (which I won at WGBH’s Wine Auction last month). The foil released easily. The cork itself was so moist it broke in half as I tried to pull it out. The look and the aroma of the wine in the glass, though, quickly dispelled my concerns and opened the door to a whole other kind of drama.

The kind of drama, that is, that evolves as the wine opens up. This one started with a complex, almost indescribable nose, a very pronounced cherry flavor on the palate, and a finish that was almost port-like in its concentration.

It was also a very tactile kind of drama, the kind that only comes from an aged bottle: the sediment, which has been in the works for some 30 years, settled to the bottom of each of our glasses like phantoms of grapes gone by.

The wine was an historical pleasure, an aesthetic pleasure, and a sensual pleasure. Opening it was a drama well worth the wait.

Cathy Huyghe writes for the WGBH Daily Dish blog. Read new WGBH Daily Dish posts every weekday, where you can explore myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine."

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