Notebook

Tasting story

Dating around the 1989 vintage

Calon Ségur was wearing a smile on its face during this dazzling, sweet-scented late spring. In their smart suits and brightly-coloured silk stoles, the guests gathered excitedly at the doors of the newly-renovated Chartreuse. It was a time for celebration, the titanic renovation works had been completed, and all were eager to see the face of a property displaying all its splendour. On long white tables, just as in an art gallery, the vintages of the last three decades were standing, waiting to be poured. 

It had been exactly thirty years since they’d last seen each other. The young reporter with the velvety eyes and the trainee œnologist with the candid smile. She, a globetrotting New Yorker; he, a local guy, Médocain through and through, both of them crazy about great wines.

They had met in the cellars of Calon during a tasting. Scribbling down, out of habit, a few tannin-stained tasting comments and smiling more and more with each new glass they had been handed, they had ended up agreeing on what in their opinion gave a wine its soul, on how these moments had a special flavour, and how power was beautiful when allied to tenderness, something that sent a shiver down their spines, before they turned and departed their separate ways. 

Today, thirty years later, in the shimmering splendour of a re-discovered Calon, their paths crossed once again. As they met, they looked long into each other’s eyes, for a second; perhaps for eternity. He advanced, as he had done all that time ago. His smile radiated. Pleasantries were exchanged, and the first tentative words were uttered. Their complicity soon returned. Suddenly, it felt like only yesterday, as if each year that had passed only counted as a second.  As the sun began to set over a wide gilded horizon, and the crowds started to wend their way towards the gardens, they exchanged a complicit glance and lingered at the tasting table.

1989

“Shall we pick up where we left off?” he asked examining the line-up of bottles.

“You mean back in 1989? Now that would definitely be a pleasant way of getting reacquainted”.

“I remember an incredibly dark colour. Look, its tones are brown now, but its colour has stayed so dense. And I’m getting lovely notes of roses, oriental spices and Bergamot tea. There’s still that light, and succulent smoothness. It’s old, but it’s standing up well to age, a bit like me perhaps!”

“Hey you’ve got to be kidding! Well, I love this very fine style. How could I describe it? It’s almost outdated. You no longer make them like that, do you? I wonder how wines like this would be rated en primeur nowadays.”

“I suppose they’re what you’d call “old school” but “good school”.

“Which shows that it’s the ripeness of the grapes rather than the extraction of tannins that enables it to go on ageing well for so long.”

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