The older I get, the better they taste
Earlier this month we celebrated the day long ago when I came into this world. It was a grand affair with a dinner table set for thirty members of the Robinson Clan along with close friends and neighbours. There was no lack of wine to fill the 150 glasses, and, in fact, if advice was sought, then it had been hinted by the “organiser” that wine would be an excellent and much appreciated gift to bring to our home.
A magnum of Hospice de Beaune 2002 Cuvee Maurice Drouhin, that we sell for $90.75 showed great balance, good bottle age, and complexity from this iconic Domaine in Beaune, the birthplace of Pinot Noir. It partnered with a magnum of Mt. Difficulty Pipeclay Terrace 2009 Pinot Noir from Central Otago in New Zealand, one of the best in the land. Cherries, blackberries, and lovely light violet florals, wafted from the glass. One review awarded it 96/100. We do not have any magnums left, but a bottle will cost you $76.90.
Tuscany was represented by a magnum of Cignale 2007 that is a tiny production (we get about 25 percent of it), Super Tuscan blend of 90 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 10 percent Merlot.
Robert Parker writes: “This extract-loaded wine expresses the power, concentration and longevity of its terroir to the full. Spicy bouquet of cedar-wood, black cherry, wild strawberry, black currant and subtle new oak 94/100.”
We have magnums for $118.95, and bottles for $59.50. We also opened the very last magnum of the St Emilion Grand Cru “La Confession” 2003 and were rewarded with coffee, black cherry, leather, cherry, smoke and graphite. This new property is so consistent, and we have bottles of the classic 2005 for $93.40 (95/100 Parker) and 2009 for $64.10 (94/100).
One friend bought a magnum of 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, and another, a magnum of 2009, both considered “First Growths” and both a very special treat indeed, but both from a company that shall remain anonymous.
To try and pick a winner is rather like trying to answer the question “which do you prefer, blondes or brunettes?”
I do wish to mention two in particular, and the first is a magnum of Virginie de Valandraud St. Emilion Grand Cru 1999. When Jean-Luc Thunevin, and his wife Murielle, moved from Algeria to France in the 1980s and they literally made their first wine in their garage, he became the first “Garagiste” winemaker and shot to fame with “Valandraud” that rated with the historic greats of the area.
We have the 1999 for $431.95 a bottle. Virginie de Valandraud is not a “second wine” but one that is named for their daughter. One recent review says it has “attractive liquorice, floral, blackberry jam, coffee scented perfume, supple, chocolate and lots of charm”.
I say that it defies description, as I cannot think of words for the nose that this wine displayed a few nights ago. Imagine that you are an artist standing in front of the Mona Lisa, or a music lover in a grand concert hall listening to Beethoven's Fifth, and you may get a reference point. It was profound at the very least. Magnums are $185.50, and bottles $91.50, and we have good stocks as we bought about 10 percent of his total production.
The New World did not let us down as we uncorked a three litre double magnum of Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1997, from Napa Valley. The bottle is etched to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the founding of Beringer. This was a gift from wine trade folks in the USA that heard of our dinner plans, and insisted that they buy this for us to share with friends and family.
The price is $994.30 and we have a few in stock. 1997 was a near perfect year in Napa, and the wonderful plum, blackberry, cedar, spice, espresso, white chocolate and classic aged Cabernet nose showed so well the talent of winemaker Ed Sbragia, who has enjoyed good wine and conversation in our home. We have many vintages in stock of this great wine, but in bottle size.
I am sorry but there is no room this time around to mention the other beauties.
As an aside, I am often asked if wines improve with age, and I can assure you that they do. The older I get, the better they taste.
Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows, Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on 295-0176. Burrows, Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George's (York Street, 297-0409). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits are available online at www.wineonline.bm