At a time of world-wide challenges and changing situations for which we seek to provide solutions, those of us who love wine have found it a constant companion and a source of great joy. Internationally, it has been fascinating to see wine lovers embracing the hedonistic pleasure and, I mean this, intellectual stimulation of opening great bottles and exploring all their potential in terms of bouquet and flavour, while assessing their state of maturity and refining our own judgements. It is a long journey, but one that is infinitely rewarding.
In order to carry out this noble task, suitable material has to be found and this prestigious collection provides a perfect opportunity to acquire wines that teach and inform. They are also some of the most exciting vinous experiences on this planet. Decades of DRC and serried ranks of Bordeaux First Growths are, it is safe to say, firmly installed at the top echelon of the wine world. In sadder vein, it has to be said that it is an ineluctable truth that supply is often limited at this level, especially with impeccable provenance and ideal storage. However, we strive to find and bring on to the market wines that fulfil all these criteria and this collection is a classic example of what man and nature can create from the grape.
It is not strictly accurate to describe a line-up like this as the battle of the First Growths, because their owners would point out that they are the best of friends with their peers! However, wine lovers would agree that drinking these riveting liquids illustrates all the differences and mutations of such treasured crus, juxtaposing scents and tastes and contrasting complexities and characteristics. As it happens, within the last months (the rigours of lockdown have to be assuaged), we have ‘looked at’ Mouton and Lafite 1989, side by side, and then repeated the process with Mouton and Lafite 1986 – a splendid, powerful vintage that has now come into its own in glorious fashion. The other evening, we pulled the corks of Cos d’Estournel and Lynch Bages 1996 – and the next day we felt obliged to open Cos 1986 to see what ten years can do to a Bordeaux Super Second.
Possessing a range of top Bordeaux such as this also enables the fortunate owner to look again at vintages where we might have held prejudiced opinions, but now have to ‘drink our words’ - perhaps we thought 2003 was that ‘hot year’, but they are luscious bottles now. Or we can rediscover, and realise, that the 2000s represent one of those wondrous vintages that are always up-front, fruity and just exhilarating, whatever their age. We need to check on the progress of the splendid 2005s – in a very good place, as it happens. However, no one ‘needs’ reminding of the fact that the 1982s, at this exalted altitude of quality, are endlessly enchanting – but we like to do it all the same. Then, throw magnums into the mix, together with the odd Imperial, and the scene is set for adventure.
Domaine de la Romanée Conti is here in all its majesty – and diversity. Decade after decade unfurls, enabling the connoisseur to see how each of these extraordinary vineyards adapts to the years that pass. Rarely does one come across such depth of vintages in wines of such limited quantity – La Tâche alone is astonishing. And the Assortment cases are the route to heaven. Although older vintages of DRC are, rightly, venerated, it has to be confessed that these revered Grands Crus also taste sublime at 15-20 years old, the living liquid example of how Pinot Noir in perfect plots of land is as close as most of us will get to the state of nirvana.
Please do not miss the handy halves of Yquem 1996, a mouthwateringly delicious vintage for Sauternes. And please do not miss this prestigious sale in its entirety!