Monday, February 18, 2008

Magic in Every Bottle

Mike Steinberger has an interesting post on about his experience with the 1947 Cheval Blanc, seen by many as one of the greatest wines ever made.

I asked my father, an industry vet with 40 years of Bordeaux-drinking experience, if he had ever had this wine, and he recounts this story:

In 1969, my first trip to France with Dick Buck, Tom Keating and Sid Canal, Sid and I ended out trip in Bordeaux where he had set up some tours. We spent most of the day with Michael Broadbent at Mouton tasting 27 vintages of Mouton from the '29 on up. We left about 3PM starving, and drove to St Emilion. We were sitting outside at this little restaurant on the top of this knoll and tried to get something to eat. The restaurant was not yet open for dinner but the proprietor agreed to get us some cheese and meats. We asked for the wine list and there was a '47 Cheval. It was, however, $20 a bottle and we were on a very strict budget. After agonizing we decided , what the hell, at that setting we had to order it. In hind sight I doubt that there could have been a better time or place to have the first '47. The day, for a wine drinker, could not have been better and the '47 was very interesting. A big giant wine much like today's Cabs. but not seen back then. It was very controversial back then for it's difference.
It was never my favorite as I grew up with standards like the '45 Mouton but it was fascinating. We had the wine maybe a dozen times since that day. it was always extremely interesting, delicious and unique but never my favorite, except for that one day in St Emilion.

My dad's story of that first bottle confirms one wine-related truth (perhaps the only one!) It's rarely ever really about the wine. It's about the experience...the people you are with, the setting, the moment in time seen through a prism of green, bottle-shaped glass.

Wine has the power to evoke; like Proust's madeleine, to bring back the past. There is potential magic in every bottle of wine, then. Not just a Cheval Blanc, but the most ordinary of village wines, too.

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