I have a ridiculously exciting wine experience to tell you about that happened last night!!! I have had a bottle of….get this, 1928 Grand Vin de Chateau Latour lying around for a few years now. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not the kind of person or collector who happens to have First Growth Bordeaux just “hanging out” in my cellar and especially not with that kind of history. But this was a gift from a friend from about 10 years ago, and when it was given to my husband and me as a housewarming gift, I never really thought that it was drinkable, considering its age and considering the way in which it was presented….rather nonchalantly.
I don’t mean to sound as though I wasn’t appreciative. But had these friends really believed that this wine could still taste pretty damn good was very questionable and probably wouldn’t have led them to “gift” the bottle, ever.
So, in that same spirit of nonchalance, I made a casual comment to my husband yesterday that it might be fun to actually open the bottle and see if it was worth drinking. Any other bottle of wine in the world, honestly, I would never have really believed could be drunk after 87 years of aging, expect maybe a fine Champagne, but a Left Bank Bordeaux, especially made so long ago when wines were made to age, let’s just say I was hopeful! Once I suggested it to my husband, he immediately checked online to see the current value of such a bottle and found it to be around $6700. Once again, I know I seem crazy to just say, “oh, what the hell!” but my argument was that trying to get anyone to actually spend that kind of money on a bottle the provenance of which they (or I, frankly) knew nothing about would be next to impossible. So, once we got to the “there’s no way in hell” discussion about trying to sell the bottle, we turned back to the idea of enjoying it ourselves.
Once I was able to get the cork out of the way, and believe me, it wasn’t a graceful removal….I decanted the wine into my glass, swirled and took a whiff, I wasn’t surprised by the oxidized fruit. But, after a few more swirls and sniffs and sips, the wine opened up and really started to taste interesting. In fact, it was a fascinating wine! I had prepared a fish dish (Oh my God, you say?!….with a First Growth Bordeaux??)….but I made a sauce of shallots and sherry vinegar to which I added stewed tomatoes and olive oil and toasted almonds on top. That wine was a spectacular match!!
The wine was super soft and had some fantastic notes of toasted nuts, dried fruit, dried tea leaves and caramelized oak. My husband was giving descriptions like fatty smoked sopressata, cigar box and then, finally, towards the end, in a rather dreamy, swoony state, he was recalling a raven-haired virgin strolling through the forest dressed in a long, silky dark ruby-studded gown. I looked at him and commented, rather snarkily, “wow, I guess you’ve had your first aha wine moment!”
We laughed and kept sipping until the last drop was gone. This is why I’m in the wine business and such an obsessed wine lover. You don’t have moments like these very often and you certainly don’t drink wines like this, really ever. But this is what wine can do for us all. It gives you pause and allows you to stop, appreciate, dream a little….ok, maybe fantasize a bit too…..for my husband and me, we’ve come away with a spectacular memory.