Issue: 23 / Sunday 6 May, 2018
Articles from the Archives
Château Mouton Rothschild and its
Demise in Mexico City
Written by Stuart McCloskey
(Wine Editor for Kent Life Magazine), November 2012
There are magnificent wines and then there is 1945 Château Mouton Rothschild. For me this is the greatest wine I have and most probably will ever taste. So, when the call came in to assess, value and potentially purchase an incredibly rare collection of old Moutons containing 1941, 45, 47 and 49 vintages; I packed my bags, booked my flight and headed 11,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to Mexico City.
Extreme? Perhaps. Crazy, some may say and if truth were known, I can’t really argue. However, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I could not decline. Also, we do have an office in the city (closed late 2014) therefore, making the expenditure a little easier to justify to my accountant. I conducted the necessary due diligence regarding the wines provenance and condition prior to my departure and discovered that many bottles remained in the same family for half a century or more. In fact, it is a fascinating story to how these great Bordeaux arrived in Mexico, to keep it brief, the then President of Mexico gifted these wonderful wines to the current owner’s grandfather.
I vividly recall the long flight to Mexico City; my excitement was palpable as I sat there thinking about the events happening when these bottles came to fruition. In 1941, World War 2 was at its peak, the Enigma code was broken, and the Imperial Japanese Navy launched a surprise attack on the US fleet at Pearl Harbour, thus drawing the US into World War 2. Consequently, the US, UK & China officially declare war on the Empire of Japan.1945 saw Benito Mussolini and his mistress, Clara Petacci, executed, the Soviet Union announces the fall of Berlin, V-E Day as Nazi Germany surrender, the horrific Atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Winston Churchill resigns as Prime Minister and September saw World War 2 come to an end.
On arriving at the office where the wine could be assessed I was, to my horror, led to a small cupboard where all the bottles lay; this was nothing more than a broom cupboard, no bigger than a large wine rack.
There were obvious signs of seepage too – a brown stickiness oozed through some of the wine capsules and the vast majority of labels were neatly stored in a shoebox which posed a further problem regarding identifying the various vintages. Nonetheless, I carefully removed each and every bottle and placed them upright in the air-conditioned office. It was such a shame these historical bottles did not receive the same cooling atmosphere as it was clearly evident that each and every bottle was subjected to hot, dry conditions which had slowly destroyed them over many decades.
Prior to my departure I had requested photographs of the bottles – some were sent, and these bottles showed fully intact labels with varying degrees of ullage (referring to the space of air between the wine and bottom of the cork), the vast majority that stood in front of me were not of the same quality. I was asked to open a bottle of the ’41 Mouton, which was a surgical task as the cork was extremely fragile. The nose was attractive and sweet at first but faded quickly once in contact with the atmosphere. I was surprised with the wines structure; firm and medium bodied, there was no sign of fruit. Instead, the ’41 was lean, rustic and offered little if any enjoyment. Years of bad cellaring had taken the wine’s life away and left behind only a shadow of its former self.
Naturally, the owner was keen for my approval and valuation for his prized collection. Simply put, a collection of this historical rarity and size would easily command over one hundred and fifty thousand pounds. However, in this condition, I would not part with five hundred pounds.
I left empty handed, a little numb, but I found solace in a few good bottles of wine at one of Mexico’s top restaurants, Biko (their equivalent to El Buli – very good by the way).
And the moral of this tale is, please store your wine correctly.
Chateau Musar’s first Wine shop in 1933 on the Avenue des Francais in Beirut
1998 & 1999
Our 2010 allocation quickly sold-out, which was foreseen as we only received eighteen cases. Sadly, we are not expecting a second tranche as every wine merchant has snapped-up Musar’s 2010 offerings. Nevertheless, it is our job to turn a negative situation into a positive, which we believe we have achieved admirably. We have purchased two mature vintages (1998 & 1999), which 1. Are drinking beautifully and 2. clearly demonstrates Musar’s ability to age.
Jancis Robinson MW released a great article following her ‘50 years of Château Musar’ tasting dating back to the 1961 (awarded 18.5 points if you were wondering!).
Jancis generously awarded both the ’98 & ’99 points the same 18.5 points (only four vintages received this high score)
As you can imagine, quantities are not in abundance therefore, and to be fair to all, these are available on a first-come-first-served basis.
18.5 Points – Jancis Robinson on 2 Feb 2018
‘An exceptional year’, with a dry winter, fresh spring, good flowering. Mild summer with a cloudy July and August, and a hot, sunny September.
Bright garnet. Pale rim. Broad and rich with a minty note. More mainstream than many in terms of its build and flavours. Still evolving but beautifully balanced. Lots of energy and transparency. No heaviness at all. Rich but lifted. Already gorgeous but there are tannins behind the exotic fruit and brilliant freshness. Still quite youthful.
£31.50 per bottle
18.5 Points – Jancis Robinson on 2 Feb 2018
Cool year, Cinsault dominated. Cold and rainy until June, with a sunny, dry summer. Harvest began on 9 September.
Pale, particularly bright garnet. Light, spicy, particularly well-integrated nose. Already well developed. Sweet start and very nicely mature. Seems just right now. The opposite of heavy. Lifted, jewel-bright. Really lovely wine. Fresh, sweet with some very slight mintiness. Dry finish and it would go beautifully with food. Very long. One of my favourite wines in this collection. Is it the Cinsault I like so much?
£31.95 per bottle
Dog Point Pinot Noir 2015
97+ Stuart McCloskey “What a welcome back after a three-vintage absence (for me, not the wine!). Waves of plums, mulberries, black cherries and hints of blood orange wash effortlessly across your palate. There is an intense core of rich dark fruits perfectly framed by fine tannins which is impossible not to admire. Certainly, an intriguing Pinot Noir which straddles styles and certainly would not be out of place with some of Sonoma’s ‘top’ Pinot Noirs. Utterly joyful and quite honestly soars above many of its New Zealand peers. Served in a Zalto Burgundy glass but I do feel a little unkind with my score – Perhaps another point (98+) if I had the patience to decant which I would highly recommend.”
Comprising six different Pinot Noir clones from vines dating back to 1983. Vines are cropped at 5 tonnes/ha (35hl/ha), hand harvested and hand sorted, prior to de-stemming (15% whole bunch included). The fruit is fermented in small stainless open top fermenters without pumping. Fermentation is conducted by indigenous yeasts over a period of 2-3 weeks prior to pressing into French oak barrels (40% new) for 18 months. Bottled without fining or filtration.
19.0 Raymond Chan “Full, dark ruby-red colour with slight purple hues, lighter edged. This has a firmly concentrated and intense nose of ripe black cherry and dark raspberry fruit with an amalgam of dark plums, violet florals and fresh herbs, and a suggestion of nutty oak. Medium-full bodied, the palate has a deep and concentrated heart with rich, integrated flavours of ripe black cherries, raspberries and plums, melded with nuances of fresh herbs, a suggestion of whole bunch stalk perfumes, violet florals, with nutty and spicy oak. The fruit is supported by fine-grained, flowery and supple tannins providing a velvety structure, with harmonious, balanced acidity. The wine flows to a long, lingering finish of black and dark-red fruits, herbs and florals. This is a rich, finely concentrated, ripe black cherry and raspberry fruited Pinot Noir with subtle, complexing herb, floral and nutty detail on a velvety, but structured palate. Serve with pork, beef, lamb and venison dishes over the next 6-8+ years. A blend of 6 clones from vines dating back to 1983, indigenous yeast fermented with 10-25% whole bunches to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 18 months in 30-40% new oak.
97 Points Bob Campbell MW “Rich, concentrated pinot noir with ripe plum, black cherry, liquorice, spice, anise and nutty oak flavours. A powerful wine that's a pleasure to taste now but has the potential to develop well in bottle”
£27.95 per bottle
Blank Canvas Pinot Noir 2015
is Back in Stock
97 Points - Bob Campbell MW
From a low-yielding vineyard in the Waihopai Valley with clay-based soils and 17 year-old vines. 50% whole-bunches in the fermentation. Evocatively perfumed wine with savoury, fresh herb, violet, red rose, cherry and berry flavours supported by classy spicy oak. Dense and seamless with an impressively lengthy finish. Delicious wine.
£25.50 per bottle
New Exclusive - Standish Wines
Simply put, Dan Standish producers the best Shiraz to come out of the Barossa hence our excitement to be Dan’s UK importer. We will be shipping the following 2016 cuvees; The Standish, The Relic, Lamella and The Schubert Theorem. More details and a full offer will be posted once the wines are en-route.