Created: Sep 16, 2022 07:46
Michael Robinson ‘strongly recommends’ using a Durand corkscrew to remove corks over ten years old (Photograph provided)
I was sitting at my desk when a messenger arrived to say that all students should report to the meeting room immediately. Once all the boys were seated (no girls at the time), the director took center stage and etched eight words into my memory bank: “The king is dead, long live the queen.”
And then there was 9/11 and our lawyer, whom we met, told us that a plane had just hit one of the twin towers. A few minutes later, now in a furniture store, we were told the same thing – but about a second plane.
Between September 8th and 11th is the most important and happiest day in our house – and the time for good wine. It was on the tenth day of this month that a young woman said goodbye to her mother and father, brothers and sisters, and boarded a plane bound for a small island in the center of Atlantic. She only knew one person there and had only spent nine days with him. “Back home in a month!” his father said. Well, she’s home and last week we celebrated the date together for the forty-fifth time!
Last Tuesday, before knowing the sad news to come, we drained our dinner wine and opened a bottle of 2017 Pine Ridge Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which was just such a treat. We discussed the owner and his wife visiting the winery and arranging a special wine dinner for them in Bermuda. Here are the winemaker’s notes: “Optimal conditions for fermentation and barrel aging produced a dark ruby wine with inviting aromas of cinnamon, blueberry, blackberry, vanilla and cedar. A juicy mid-palate reveals cherry flavors and layers of texture. The natural sweetness of the fruit balances the crisp acidity and continues through to the lingering finish of coffee and vanilla custard.” $76 (stock no. 6036).
And now it’s September 10, and my wife reminds me that her first meal here was a bacon and lettuce salad I made. The one who never forgets anything also remembers that I opened a bottle of Château Margaux to go with it. It is probably from the 1966 vintage. We happen to have stocks of 1995 Château Margaux Premier Grand Cru Classé 1855 who ranked second on the Wido Spectator’s top 100 of 1998 with this review: “97/100. This is still seriously smoldering, with notes of dark plum, cassis and blackberry, interspersed with notes of charcoal, burnt tobacco and cedar, and backed by a serious grip of roasted earth. The beautifully long finish is carried by old school tannins, with a hint of smoke that continues on and on. A brick house of a margaux, with more coal than graphite, more austerity than elegance and more power than refinement. *#2 Top 100 of 1998* (JM) (11/2014) $1,010.25 (Stock No. 9606).
We also have the 2016 vintage of this classic that took its place, along with three other great wines in 1855, as they were judged the best among thousands. Here’s what James Suckling thinks of the Chateau Margaux 2016: “It is very friendly and warm with a nose of flowers, such as rose, and red fruits. But then in the mouth, it shows how serious it is. Full-bodied, yet reserved, extremely tight and well formed with super polished tannins that last for minutes. A solid and typical Margaux with all the personality and beauty in force. Try after 2027. $1,125.00 (Stock #9610). A word to the wise – I wouldn’t suggest serving with a bacon and lettuce salad!
It has now been decided to postpone the ‘big meal’ for a day and I’m off to town to buy wahoo nuggets, fries and coleslaw. We pour side by side, 2020 Drouhin Vaudon Chablis and 2020 J. Lohr Arroyo Seco Riverstone Chardonnay from California. WiWines and Spirits rates the Chablis 91 points and writes floral earth and notes of freshly churned butter. The Omm Newspaper awards California chardonnay 93 points and comments on fresh peach and tangerine, vanilla nougat and a toasty finish. Although we enjoy both, and the Chablis is one of my wife’s favourites, especially the Drouhin, we both decide that the New World wine goes best with the rather spicy wahoo nuggets. Drouhin is $31(Stock #8181); J. Lohr is $25.50 (Stock #7988).
It’s now Sunday and sizzling beef tenderloins are served with creamy mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables. I raid our small cellar and find a bottle of 1996 Shafer Hillside Select, Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon from the heart of Napa Valley. “How can we drink this?” said my wife. “This is the bottle John and Barbara Shafer gave us when they joined us for a wine dinner at our house.” I explain that we just have to keep drinking some of those old wines and live with the memories.
In 2007 Guide for connoisseurs gave it 95 points and wrote, “One of his richest and most luscious performances to date. Currants, dark cherries and sweet oak still abound, and the wine strikes a nice balance between being slightly supple and polished and still having an appropriate backbone of varietal tannins. It surpasses the vintage in richness, range and richness of fruit, and it has the right bits in all the right places to grow for many years to come.
How did we feel after 26 years? Well, it was certainly a treat, but to be completely honest, I feel like it may have peaked at 20 and was just starting to lose a touch of its exuberance. Just great to have though, with memories of standing at that legendary vineyard with John.
I think Hillside Select is one of the most excellent wines in the world and here are the scores of the vintages we have in stock: 2012 98 to 100 points and same for 2013; 2015 98 points; 2016 100 points and 2017 98 points. What other wine in the world can do that? Prices range from $323.65 for the 2012 (Stock #6891) at $370 for the 2017 (Stock #6836).
• This column is an infomercial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at [email protected] Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm