Monthly Archives: January 2012
Last night Philippe, the owner and President of SoDivin, invited the SoDivin staff to a fabulous meal at a charming and discerning restaurant in Lunel, France called L’Anguille Sous Cloche. It was the second annual dinner to which Philippe invited SoDivin staff and their spouses to celebrate a successful preceding year. The excellent food would have been the center of attention had it not been for the wine that Philippe brought to accompany the main course.
The restaurant’s aesthetic charm is rustic with old “dame jeanne” (glass wine receptacles in which home winemakers used to use to store many liters of wine) bottles hanging from the ceiling over the 10 or so wooden tables. The Sommelier at L’Anguille Sous Cloche is an acquaintance of Philippe’s and a client of SoDivin and he took care of us throughout the evening. The menu is written on a chalkboard. He carefully explained each dish and the origin of each product. They do not serve any frozen ingredients and are very knowledgeable about how all of the animals were raised and the fish caught. It was his explanation of how the beef from Spain was raised that most impressed us: the cows are fed red wine and listen to classical music.and are raised with absolutely no stress. After his soliloquy half the table ordered the beef.
Our first wine for aperitif and first course was a white Bandol from the reputable Domaine Tempiers. The Sommelier assured Philippe that the wine is fresh, not too woody or heavy. It was quite a surprise. The white Bandol has quite a different style than their red cousins that are quite structured and rich. The white had nice acidity and light fruity aromas. Absolutely delicious. Most of us had perfectly cooked scallops on a bed of celery root purée to start.
The star of the evening was brought to the table once the Bandol and first courses were finished : a 1990 Cheval Blanc. Of course expectations were high (one can’t help it) and the wine did not disappoint. It was one of those wine drinking experiences that transcend dissection because it was near perfection. Generous red fruits, cherry, vanilla, alcohol on the nose. A bit closed but opened up over the course of the dinner. The mouth had a velvety texture, a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity with smooth tannins. This wine still has a long life ahead of it.
What a lovely way to celebrate a successful 2011: cherished colleagues, fun conversation, excellent food and a stellar wine to mark the occasion.
Vintage wines and alcohols carry with them all of the history through which they have lived. To drink a wine or alcohol that has lived through one’s lifetime or historical events is moving in itself, and then to drink the wine is a great discovery with surprises each time. An older wine is like an older person, it is more subtle, less vivacious, but is more complex and if you take the time to listen to what it has to say you will be greatly rewarded.
Drinking a very old wine or alcohol is a very rare experience as it is estimated that only 1% of all wine has the potential to improve after more than 10 years old. This is because not all wines and alcohols are created equally. Many factors contribute to a wine’s ability to last a long time. In the vineyard the soil and grape variety have certain innate qualities that instill the tannins and acid necessary to sustain a wine for many years. In addition, the climate in a given appellation changes year to year which varies the quality of the grapes, which in turn determines whether the finished wine product will have a long life in the bottle or not. There are many decisions during the vinification process that can add the components necessary to lengthen its life as well. And during the aging process, oak barrels further infuse tannins into the wine. When all of the conditions in a given year are ideal to create an excellent vintage and therefore an outstanding wine, the wine will have a very long life. Wines from the best appellations and best chateaux in the world in an exceptional year can last up to 100 years or more. The longer the life of the wine, which can be predicted very early on in the vinification process, the more gradual the arc that leads to its long peak period and equally gradually descends toward the end of its life. It is always ideal to drink a wine during its peak period and concerning these illustrious wines with such a long life, the peak can last decades. The wines will evolve and change and even when they have lived longer than a few human generations and are past their prime, they can still have structure, surprising aromas, and secrets to tell.
So, which wines to choose?
• Red Bordeaux wines are amongst the wines with the greatest potential to live an interesting, long life. I recently tasted a 1926 Montrose that still had very good structure and aromas of jammy red fruit. If you want to taste a very old red Bordeaux it is best to study up on the vintages to know which ones have staying power.
• Sauternes, those sweet whites from Bordeaux that hide so much power and complexity in the pretty golden packaging. Sauternes can age even longer than red Bordeaux, but beware that though they are from the same wine region, the quality of the vintage is not necessarily the same as for reds in a given year. Sauternes need “noble rot” in the vineyard to get their unique complexity and aromas.
• Vintage Champagne can take on interesting qualities thanks to the carbon dioxide bubbles that can add richness over time.
• Fortified wines such as Port and Madeira have very long lives that can last up to a few centuries. In the SoDivin cave we have a few bottles of Madeira from 1745 that may just be good to drink.
It must be said that no matter how favorable the tasting notes of a wine may be, do keep in mind that the older the bottle, the greater the risk that the wine could no longer be good. But the gamble only adds to the excitement and their charm.
SoDivin is a collection of the most revered, sought after wines from the most prestigious chateaux in France:Yquem Petrus Lafite Rothschild Cheval Blanc Haut Brion Romanée Conti Rousseau Roederer (just to name a few).
We are the only wine boutique that specializes exclusively in rare and vintage French wines and alcohols. The depth and bredth of our cellar is impressive: 110 vintages, hundreds of the top chateaux and everything is ready to drink. Our customer service is on par with the product we sell. We understand that such luxururious wines require individual knowledge and individual attention and reactive customer service. We ship all over the world within 24 hours of receiving your order: 19th and 20th century wines with 21st century service.
Champagne incites celebration and pleasure like no other wine in the world. For our greatest moments in life, commemorations, winnings, weddings, milestone birthdays, retirements, and numerous other special moments, we reach for Champagne to mark the occasion with its effervescence that can’t help but lighten our spirits. It is both the symbol of a grand occasion and the grand occasion that calls for such a festive wine.
Behind the celebration and laughter though, Champagne is serious wine and serious business. Champagne is a specific wine from the Champagne region, and not a style of sparkling wine. The soil and the grape varieties grown there produce a sparkling wine with its own distinctive character and method of production. One of the particularities of Champagne gives the producers a great deal of control over the final product that they release: Champagne can be blended not only by grape variety but by vintage as well. A non-vintage Champagne (to which a vintage is not attributed) is a blending of many different years, each having their own characteristics, to make the final Champagne that the blender desires. 75% of Champagnes sold are non-vintage. They can be fun and festive and very good but the best grapes are reserved for the vintage Champagnes; all of the grapes are from one year which is declared on the label.
Vintage Champagnes are serious, complex wines that can be aged for decades. Champagnes are not often thought of as wines that one lies down but just as any quality wine, they do get more interesting with age. One of the greatest wine tasters in the world, Michael Broadbent, is passionate about old Champagnes and has tasted several even from the 19th century, giving some of them his highest rankings, toting their excellent structure and distinct aromas. The carbon dioxide bubbles can add richness over time that is distinctive in older Champagnes. One doesn’t need to go back to the 19th century to experience all that an older Champagne has to offer. Drinking a wine from a year that is important in one’s life (wedding anniversary, birthday, for example) is always moving. Drinking a Champagne, with all of its notions of festivity, from an important year will only add to the poignancy of the grand celebration.
Other vintages can be very good as well. You can find tasting notes for specific wines on the SoDivin website.
Happy New Year from France! We hope you ended 2011 with family, good friends and good wine. We at SoDivin have not slowed down in the new year. Philippe has been buying wine non-stop since we came back to work. We have added at least 100 new wines to the website so far and Philippe just returned from a buying trip with more than 300 wines. I will be adding them to the website as quickly as possible. We have 110 different vintages right now. To prepare for all of the big celebrations that 2012 will bring we have increased our stock of vintages that end with a 2, our oldest being 1922. We have several bottles of 1922 wines and alcohols to celebrate a parent or grandparent’s 90th birthday with a touching gift of a wine from the year he or she was born. 1982 was one of the best vintages of the century. Take advantage of your 30-year anniversaries by drininig the bottle of a lifetime. We have added Bordeaux, Burgundy, Châteauneuf du Pape and Ports. Have fun looking through our cellar and matching exceptional wines to all of your special occasions for 2012.