By Jason Feulner, Finger Lakes Correspondent
On the morning of Friday, November 13 I left my driveway in Syracuse, New York at 7:30 a.m. and headed west. My goal? To find a bottle of wine vinted before I was born.
This adventure was not so much the product of a whim as procrastination. The 13th of November was my wife's and my 5-year wedding anniversary, and I had decided a few days prior that this yet-to-be-discovered bottle of wine was to be the special treat.
For each anniversary, Kathleen and I do something we've never done before, albeit something cute and simple. On our first anniversary we stayed in a bed and breakfast. For our second we took a cooking class.
The old wine idea had been on a list of possibilities for some time. Kathleen was born in 1981, I in 1980, so a bottle from 1979 or a prior year was in order. The oldest wine I had ever consumed was a 1985 Dr. Frank's riesling.
The challenge: Find a 30-year-old bottle of wine for less than $150.
I had called every Syracuse wine shop with no luck. The Syracuse region is devoid of wine establishments with old collections for sale. I reached out to Evan, the New York Cork Report's purveyor of crazy old wines, and he suggested that I hit up Century Pittsford Wines in Rochester. I called ahead and they assured me that they would have something in stock.
On the morning in question, I burst through the door of Century at 9:07 a.m., seven minutes after they opened, and inquired about their selection of 30-year-old or older wines in my price range. Despite what had to be the unexpected nature of this odd request at such an early hour, Century's wine expert on duty brought me back to the climate-controlled room. He thought there might be at least a wine or two that would match my query.
We found nearly 15 specimens of Bordeaux and Burgundy that were 30 years or older and priced around $150. The selection of older wines at Century is exemplary and I could not recommend the store or its courteous staff enough for those looking for a superior wine shopping experience.
On the advice of the knowledgeable wine expert I settled on a bottle of Burgundy, a 1978 Remoissenet Père et Fils Volnay-Clos des Chênes. The bottle came to $145 with tax. I walked out of the store, stashed the wine in the car, and drove east so I could get to work in Syracuse before noon.
I unveiled the Volnay-Clos des Chênes that evening and it was a delight. The nose of ash and earth brought forth layered flavors of dark cherry, cocoa, tobacco, and dried chili peppers with a brilliant mouthfeel and a long, long finish. I can say without qualification that this Burgundy was one of the best wines I have ever consumed. Kathleen felt very much the same way about this incredible wine.
I cannot afford to drink like this very often, but in this case it was more than worth it. I've been a very lucky man for five years running, and I am grateful that I have a wife who is excited to share these simple pleasures that make life together so much fun.
So, here's a toast to love and wine, a pairing that stands above all others.