Friday, July 11, 2008

A Grand Wine

Two weeks ago, on a Saturday, I had one of the great wine experiences that I'll keep looking back fondly on. We cooked a big dinner, lots of fresh local produce, and of course, I opened a very grand wine.

For dinner, a 1991 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, AC Pauillac. Now, I understand 1991 was a horrifically awful year for Bordeaux. But there really aren't many times that I have the opportunity to drink mature claret, much less a Premier Cru, so this is a blessing.

This bottle was a gift from a dear family friend, and quite frankly, my idol. I really respect and look up to him, so you can imagine how excited I was when he presented me with my first Mouton. The bottle was in great shape, which is a testament to his great cellar, and how he cares for his wines.

The cork was fine for its age. Didn't break at all, coming out cleanly. The print was still legible, no rot, nothing. The wine looked remarkably young in the glass. Still a ruby red in the center, with just the slightest brownish orange tint at the outer rim. Just a slight variation in colour saturation.

It was the nose that threw me off. It smelled...oaky, with hints of cabernet character. Just hints. And in the mouth - this overwhelming acidity, no doubt an indication of climate conditions in 1991. Thin, insipid. But it was after an hour that it really started to show why this wasn't just an ordinary claret.

The wine developed this spicy, mocha character that was so warm and inviting. It really gained weight in the mouth, and richness. And the sweetness! My goodness, it became just so sweet and so delicious. The acidity was there, making the finish a bit disjointed. But what a glorious experience. This is truly a Grand Wine - there simply aren't many wines that can develop and change character so dramatically in the glass. And it kept developing throughout the night. When I finished the bottle about 7 hours later, it left this deep, warm, earthy aroma that filled the room and filled, sincerely, my soul.

You really get the character of Mouton in these wines. The warmth and mocha aromas from the soil. The high acidity from the vintage conditions. Such a transcendant experience. I'll be lucky if I ever experience something like this again. Definitely one of my top wine memories.

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