Modern maturity

Wines mature in different ways—sometimes gracefully, sometimes not. The best wines are certainly not the oldest, but it is important to have a basic understanding of how different wines mature and what glorious pleasure can be derived from popping the cork on that perfectly mellowed bottle of grape juice. Before you go out and spend your hard-earned moolah on the next allocation of Hurly-Burly this or Screaming Mountaintop that, pick an evening, a special occasion, whatever, to visit one of our finest restaurants and rob the cellar of its sleeping occupants. It has been two years since Wine Spectator awarded Canlis its highest honor, the Grand Award, and I can report with confidence that the list is grander than ever. Canlis's sommelier, Rob Bigelow, can help you select an '86 Dunn ($230), an '82 Heitz "Martha's Vineyard" ($275), or a '61 Mouton-Rothschild ($1,600), served in the proper glassware. The sommelier of the Four Seasons Olympic Hotel's Georgian Room, Dorian Woodson, would gladly start you off with a '75 Bollinger RD ($285), the "RD" denoting "recently disgorged." Then you might as well jump right into the '49 Chateau Lafite ($1,400), from a great classic vintage and certainly, from what I have seen, stored in flawless conditions. At the small but monumental Rover's, you might wish to try a '66 Rausan-Segla ($500) or a delightful '70 Haut Batailley ($275). Sommelier Cyril Fr飨ier will best assess the condition of a '59 Vosne-Romanee, or, given enough notice, find you that special vintage and have it waiting for you.

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