Thursday, April 16, 2009


I came across a list of tasting notes of Chateau Lafite, mostly written by Michael Broadbent. What made this list special was that it featured very, very old vintages of Lafite stretching from the late 18th century up to the early 21st. An amazing list, all the more remarkable because Broadbent notes how many times he's tasted each vintage - often, it's half a dozen or more.

The list, Great Antique Lafite Collection.

Just remarkable. I really would like to know more about the original owners. Was it intentional, to just buy these wines and not drink? Was it meant to pass on to their offspring? Or were these wines just forgotten? It's sad, to think that people would buy these fantastic clarets and just let them sit there for a hundred years. I refuse to believe that wines with more than a century of age on them, however reputable the estate, are any more than interesting curiosities. Can a 150 year old wine still be profound? Can it even resemble wine, beyond a common liquid state?

This goes back to the issue of collecting. I don't want to be a collector - I simply don't have the deep pockets required, but even if I did, it's such a depressing thought that you're amassing wines simply for that fact. Like Bill Koch, who made a $550M sale of his stocks and proceeded to snatch up all the fine wine he laid eyes on. Is he going to drink it all? Let's put it this way - if he drank, conservatively speaking, 2 bottles a day on weekdays and 3 on weekends for the rest of his life (assuming he lives above the average male life expectancy), he would barely go through 5% of his current cellar.

Is that a source of pride? Announcing to everyone how big of a cellar you have? As if having thousands of bottles amounts to an insinuation of connoisseurship, or taste. I would rather have the opposite. I want to be a connoisseur with a small cellar (<500 bottles), with a plan for drinking each and every bottle with friends and family. Simple, really.

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