George Benson once sang "Never give up on a good thing".
I don't know what he was singing about. It probably wasn't wine. But I think his point holds for wine on this occasion.
I bought a case of Domaine Raspail Ay's 2007 Gigondas en primeur, back when it was released. Probably early 2009.
A wine from the Southern Rhone region of France, Gigondas is a village within a few miles of the more famous village of Chateauneuf Du Pape. The two wines are generally made from the same grape varieties and Gigondas is often described as Chateauneuf Du Pape's little brother.
The important point to note is that Gigondas does not carry the hefty price tag that good Chateuneuf Du Pape does.
Rome for a quid.
I bought the Raspail Ay on the back of enjoying a case of the 2006 vintage, most of which I had already skulled by the time the 2007 was released. It also got great reviews in Decanter magazine (a wine magazine I generally trust) on release.
It wasn't expensive. I think it was £108 per case in bond (i.e. before duty and VAT), which works out at about £13-14 per bottle.
Alright, not quite Rome for a quid, but for a wine of this pedigree I think that's pretty good value.
Since taking delivery of the 2007s sometime late in 2009, I have probably had about 4 or 5 bottles.
Each bottle so far has disappointed. It always seemed to lack balance and the alcohol (all 15% of it to be fair) was too prominent.
Each time I tasted it I pushed the case to the back of the cellar and decided to give it more time. But at the back of my mind I couldn't help thinking it was a dud. Could the high alcohol ever subside to produce an enjoyable, balanced glass of wine?
I always had my doubts.
But I was wrong. The one I had tonight was a peach. The wine is finally starting to sing.
Everything seems to have just come together. The sweet fruit and spice is delicious and the wine is starting to show some interesting savoury notes, which seem to tame the sweetness. There is good acidity on the very long and lingering finish. The high alcohol so prominent on earlier bottles I had tasted seems to have evaporated, leaving behind only balance and finesse.
I look forward to drinking the rest of the case over the next decade.
And the lesson of the story?
Never give up on a good wine.