The mysteries of evolution and a poker game that never happened

Above: the tartrates (in the glass to the left) were the biggest I’d ever seen.

There was no poker game the other night in a Chinese BYOB restaurant in lower Manhattan.

In attendance, there weren’t any top sommeliers nor wine directors of high-end restaurant groups.

No wine writers or editors of prestigious food and wine magazines stopped by. Nor were any seductive bottles opened that night.

Of the many heavy-hitting bottles that weren’t uncorked that night, the most interesting was a bottle of 1994 Vouvray Moelleux by Foreau, one of the top producers of Chenin Blanc, a white grape known for its remarkable aging (when it’s produced in a natural style).

In the case of this bottle, the wine had oxidized (“sherryized”) and its color had turned (see the beautiful amber color above). But the wine hadn’t lost any of its vibrancy. It showed great acidity and fruit, it had a wonderfully musky nose, and it tasted fantastic. (1994 was not a great vintage in Vouvray but it’s unlikely that the evolution of this wine was “vintage-driven.”)

It’s not clear how the wine had been affected and even among the wine professionals (not present at the game that never happened), no one could definitively unravel the mystery.

This going-on-fourteen-year-old Chenin Blanc is a great example of how wine — a living organism — can evolve in unexpected and sometimes delightful ways.

I didn’t snatch the bottle up with the excuse that I was going to photograph it later. Nor did I drink the last drop.