Not the usual suspects

Working in the wine trade endows an individual with a certain level of geekiness, whether it’s the capacity to retain arcane facts and figures or the desire to collect the esoteric and unusual, it’s particularly hard to resist the appeal of a big bottle. It was during our stay at Château Caronne St-Gemme during Bordeaux primeurs week earlier this year that Ludo casually mentioned to our host, François, that he happened to have an imperial of Caronne that demanded a suitable occasion to be consumed. Spool forward several months and the idea of the unusual format tasting was conceived as the perfect excuse to open some big bottles!

We kicked off proceedings with a magnum of 2009 Dr Loosen Riesling, the tall and elegantly fluted bottle yielded an elixir with an exceedingly pretty nose of apple blossom with the slightest touch of honey… I could have drunk this all evening, but a deliciously refreshing magnum of Aix 2011 Provence Rosé beckoned! Subtle floral notes coupled with crunch red apple fruit and a pleasantly crisp and refreshing palate merely whetted my appetite for the magnum of Bollinger Grande Année 2000. Drinking wonderfully at present, the nose showed the characteristic Bollinger vinosity, with a touch of marzipan and the lightly oxidative style that makes this the Champagne of Champagne lovers. The creamy mousse had excellent persistence carrying the flavours of baked apple, marzipan and brioche to a long and seamless finish.

Next came the imperial, a full 6 litres of 1996 Château Caronne-St-Gemme. It was well worth the wait and was perfectly partnered with quite possibly the best Boeuf Bourguignon ever made by a Frenchman. Mellow and evolved as one would expect, classic Médoc notes of cedar wood and  pencil shavings, dark hedgerow fruit and a little baked earth were framed by tannins and acidity that had mellowed over time but still displayed the characteristic structure of 1996 in the Médoc.

These were just some of the highlights, I have omitted the 187ml bottles of JP Chenet and Blossom Hill Rosé brought along by some joker

A large format not only makes an excellent dining table centrepiece, it also provides the perfect receptacle in which to age wine. Why not try it for yourself?

Will Hepworth

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