Saturday, December 17, 2016

An Antique Wine for Christmas 2016

Soon we’ll celebrate another Christmas. And as our new tradition continues, we will enjoy another antique wine during the holidays. One I will tell you about when the season is over and that last drinkable sip has been drained leaving behind a little residue from the bottle’s years of resting in its cellar.

If you recall, it was an antique 1947 vintage of Chateau Cheval Blanc that was a central character in my book The Claret Murders. The ‘47 Cheval Blanc is considered by many to be the greatest wine every made.  I did have the great fortune of tasting a small share of this extraordinary wine at a tasting dinner several years ago.

In the animated hit Ratatouille, feared critic Anton Ego visits Gusteau's, the restaurant in which the movie is set, and orders a bottle of 1947 Ch√Ęteau Cheval Blanc to go with his meal. The wine critic, Mike Steinberger, noted that the film which is full of delicious insider moments for foodies did so as wink to the wine lovers. He explained,
 “That's because the '47 Cheval is probably the most celebrated wine of the 20th century. It is the wine every grape nut wants to experience before he dies.”

Today, seventy years later, a single surviving bottle of the 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc purchased, rather than retrieved from one’s cellar, can cost as much or more than $12,000.

Last year’s antique treasure got close but miss this greatest of all wine by just one year. We celebrated that Christmas with a 1948 Cheval Blanc.

Our 1948 bottle was very much alive—wonderful, but no longer a characteristic Claret. It smelled of plums and raisins with the taste of an exceptionally smooth port. We paired the wine with cheese and rich fat hamburgers that brought back the richness of the wine and showed its nobility as a great Claret from the house of the white horse.

What makes the experience of an antique wine so exceptional is the realization that you are one of the last people on earth to have the opportunity to taste the wine—through the experience you time travel back in to its birth. It is the product of soil, weather, and the light hand of the wine maker at that precise place and time in history. Like a snowflake—it is unique and can never be repeated.

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and
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