Wines Under $20
FoodandWine

In a staff meeting recently, we talked about whether there are clear ways to predict if a wine will be just as good, or even better, on the second day after the bottle's been opened. In general, young wines do better than old wines. But young wines that are meant to be consumed, well, young, lose their freshness quickly. (New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, I’m looking at you.)

Last Thursday, I opened a 2008 Gamay from Clos Roche Blanche (find this wine), a culty natural wine from France's Loire Valley. It’s made from the same grape used in Beaujolais, and it’s a decidedly cerebral version with complex minerality, a great earthy funk and tart berry flavors. Put it this way: If most Beaujolais-Villages is like Vampire Weekend (an immediately likeable band), then Clos Roche Blanche is more like Wilco (a band that initially seems weird, but breeds curiosity and eventually love—or hate).

After a glass or two, I corked the bottle and put it in the fridge…and accidentally forgot about it until Monday night. By then, the wine was softer, more gulpable, with ripe strawberry flavors. It was very much alive. I shouldn’t have been surprised: I’ve heard rumors that this wine can last for over a week in the refrigerator. Extraordinary for a $17 bottle.

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