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12 November 2005

Pretty Young Thing

Pretty Young Thing

SparklygloveI Want To Love You (P.Y.T.)
Pretty Young Thing
You Need Some Lovin' (T.L.C.)
Tender Lovin' Care
And I'll Take You There
I Want To Love You (P.Y.T.)
Pretty Young Thing
You Need Some Lovin' (T.L.C.)
Tender Lovin' Care
I'll Shake You There

Remember this tune? Hint:  It’s pre-creepy/trying-to-look-like-Diana Ross-through-plastic surgery Michael Jackson. Granted, in light of recent Jackson-revelations, the lyrics seem somewhat troubling.  Let’s put all that aside and apply the sentiment of this song to pretty young wine.

When looking for a nice bottle of vino how do you react upon seeing wine from a very recent vintage (i.e. 2004 or 2003)?  Perhaps you have no age bias, and you freely grab young bottles.  Or maybe you’re like me - you are a subconscious wine snob.  Sure, I talk a great game, “wine is for drinking,” “it’s no big deal,” “blah blah blah.”  But underneath all of this, I often avoid wines less than one or two years of age.  Why?  Somewhere in the blackness of my soul lives a wine snob who thinks that there is no such thing as a “serious” young wine.

That’s simply baloney.  Much of the wine sold in shops across the land is under three years old.  And the vast majority of wine purchased is consumed within 48 hours.  Most of us don’t have wine cellars. Heck, we don’t even have the space to store more than a few bottles of wine.  And who has the patience to hold onto multiple bottles for years?  So in all reality, nearly all wine drinkers aren’t aging their wine, “until its time.”  We buy wine and drink it - end of story.

Now the question becomes:  Is young wine somehow inherently inferior?  The answer is a resounding no.  In fact, there is much to be said for fresh wine.  Contrary to popular belief the average wine does not improve with age.  That ten-dollar bottle of Chardonnay on your kitchen counter was made to drink today (so get cracking).  Young white wine can be a thing of beauty.  One of my recent pretty young discoveries is Elk Cove Pinot Gris, 2004 ($16) from Oregon. Take a sniff.  This wine is full of fresh pear, blossom, and nectar-like scents.  A sip of this youngin’ is terrific:  tangy citrus and apricot flavors followed by a pleasant, honeyed finish.  I believe aging this wine might take away from its refreshing, zesty character. It is indeed a pretty young wine that works wonders with roast chicken, goat cheese shmeared on a slice of baguette, or a simple BLT sandwich.

Perhaps you’d like to give a pretty young Aussie a try?  Primo Estate La Biondina, '04 ($14) is a blend of grapes that normally have no business being in the same bottle together.  But hey, that's what the Aussies do.  And I like it. La Biondina contains Colombard (from somewhere in Australia, I presume), Riesling (from the Eden Valley), and Sauvignon Blanc (from the Adelaide Hills). This wine is replete with scents of lemongrass, grapefruit, and pineapple.  It's also got a surprising amount of zing. This young thing makes a great companion to sashimi & seaweed salad.

In my embarrassingly limited experience with young wine, I’ve discovered that I am partial to young white wine.  So far the red wine I’ve sampled from recent vintages has tasted more like Hawaiian Punch rather than wine.  However, some reds from the ’03 vintage have been swell.  One of my recent favorites is Azienda Agricola Cottanera “Barbazzale” 2003 ($15).  A couple other pretty young red things to try: Renwood Barbera "Sierra Series" 2003 [$10] and Michele Chiarlo Barbera d'Asti, 2003 [$14].

Now that you have PYT (PYT!) playing on a loop in your head, search the sock drawer for your sequined glove (admit it, you’ve got one).  Slide it on, pop open one of these pretty young wines, play a little Thriller, and moonwalk around the kitchen. Cheers (na na na na).


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I have only a slight bias, in that it depends on the varietal. I'll drink any of the wines you mention - whites that aren't usually all that "deep" in the first place: pinot gris, et al. (for the record, when I say they're not "deep", I don't mean that they don't have plenty to offer for what they are).

But I did see a 2004 pinot noir at a wine shop yesterday - and no, I don't think I'd buy it unless someone I knew and trusted had consumed that specific wine and told me it was good. My bias jumps in and asks (not entirely unreasonably,) "how could a 2004 pinot noir be good in 2005?"


Good point. I've yet to really enjoy a 'fresh' Cabernet Sauv. However, as per Pinot - coincidentally, I purchased an '04 NZ Pinot yesterday. I'm curious to see how this young version of Pinot plays to my palate.

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