Wine, it seems, is still getting more and more alcoholic, a trend to which climate change happily contributes. After all, there is not much that producers can do against rising temperatures. Or is there? Gérard Gauby, a Roussillon winemaker, seems to believe they can. A decade ago he switched to biodynamic winemaking and successfully developed methods to reduce the alcoholic strength of his wines.
I had a 2005 Gauby sitting in my wine rack for a while now, until Julian kicked me into action by commenting on Gauby's 2004: 'Aromatics of overripe plum and dried herbs, but fairly imprecise and unfocused, with sweet and oxidised port notes that didn't work for me. I think very highly of Gauby, but this one doesn't seem to age well. Or maybe a reminder that "natural" wines are at all times capricious, moody fellows?' After reading this it seemed high time to drink up my 2005, in case it had suffered a similar fate. Had it?
The colour is a medium to dark cherry with some brown, a little lighter round the edges. So far, so good, I thought, and put my nose over the glass - only to be hit by baked fruit and marinated cherries, boozy, blurry and somewhat unfocussed. The wine seemed to have suffered from a similar issue as the 2004. I let go of a deep sigh and put the bottle away in disappointment.
A day later I revisited the wine, trying to improve my tasting notes by nailing what had disappointed me. This was a good thing as the Gauby had improved with exposure to air. The nose still had lots of baked fruit and marinated cherries, but it had gained more focus and balance, with the fruit playing nicely with leathery and meaty notes, tobacco, herbs (Herbes de Provence) and light vanilla-y wood.
On the tongue the wine was fairly smooth with noticeable but quite well integrated tannins, good fruit, chalky notes, a certain saltiness and a good dosage of fresh acidity (almost too much). The medium to long finish had a good combination of vanilla, spice and fresh zing.
For me a little imbalance remained, but the positive development after more than a day of air exposure seems to indicate that this may not be an issue of the wine ageing badly. Who knows, it may even be able to improve a little more.