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What do we consider to be a great wine?

Par Jim

What do we consider to be a great wine? A delicate question that is often asked and the reason why I will refrain from discussing the cliché and popular topics of ‘individual taste” and “deceiving labels”… There is no doubt that a wine will have a different effect on both you and myself and it is no surprise that we are often enticed by the fancy words written on the bottle.

But now let me share with you my personal experience. My first time. My emotional and gustative breakthrough. It was on the 20th of December 2017, 21:18 to be precise.

A young intern debuting in the world of wine, I had the opportunity to put my inexperienced yet curious palate to the test at the teams christmas dinner. All very exciting. Whilst working at ‘à l’ombre d’un bouchon’ I have been able to uncover the eclectic selection of wine the shop has to offer. From Michel Guigner’s Morgon wines to the Cuvée H by Clos de la Barthassade, or even a fine dry Ratzenberger Riesling; smaller independent producers with easily accessible prices.

Looking around at the endless shelves of Burgundy and Bordeaux, certain labels have me perplexed. ‘Chambertin du Domain Armand Rousseau, Château Figeac’, millésime 1985! I’ve found myself in a universe unbeknown to me. So, on the 20th of December, having closed both shops and the team ready to go, I am beyond excited!

21:18. The first hit! A Meursault 1er Cru les Genevrières de Bouchard 2011 is presented. This is no ordinary bottle of wine. The aromas are charming, elegant and completely new to me. I top up my glass and wait five minutes before taking that all important first sip. My palate relishes the many flavours and the experience just keeps getting better. Hints of dried fruits, smoked and floral aromas, the perfect balance.

Having only just indulged in what was my very first great Burgundy wine, before I know it I find myself in front of an exceptional vintage, a Château Leoville Las Cases 1999. A change in direction. Here we sense the strong expression of the Cabernet Sauvignon balanced with a slight silkiness. The tannins are smooth, the complex aromas have me in awe. A short break, just enough time to recover and dessert is served! Accompanied by a Chateau Sigalas Rabaud 2004. To put it simply, a Premier Cru Classé Sauternes wine. Its colour? A deep golden yellow, aromas of orange marmelade with a subtle and surprising acidity. I’m in heaven.

Even more important than all of these big names are the emotions brought upon by this unique experience, at this wonderfully festive dinner. Over the space of just one meal I was taken aback, surprised, indulged and of course a little drunk. The doors to a whole new world had been opened. It goes without saying, that since that evening I now find myself gawping at the many bottles of the beautiful collection found in the shop. So a big thank you to my boss’s for organising a truly fabulous voyage of discovery, and a thank you in advance to those of you in possession of magnificent bottles, sharing them with friends and family, enjoying rare and special moments. Sharing great wine with great company.