“If I had a pound for every time I have been asked that question…” This old saying, as it related to every wine merchant, is always directed at the question: “What is the best wine you have tasted?” Normally, if I want to impress, I would arrogantly answer, “Oh, that’s easy: it’s the ’82 Mouton Rothschild I had in Bordeaux.”
But was it really the best? No. It was a bit…meh, really. Good, but not amazing.
So, I hear you asking, “Michael, what wines do stick in your memory as being flat out brilliant?” Well, I’m pleased you asked. Here are my top five.
2007 Erial Tradicional Familia from the Ribera del Duero, with an amazing steak accompanied by an old client. The wine was big, bold, and with so much power – and the steak was not far behind. We devoured both in minutes, then greedily asked for another bottle. Sadly, the restaurant had no more, leaving us with a sense of an experience never to be repeated.
2009 Gevrey Chambertin ‘Mes en Favorite’ by Alain Burguet. At a lunchtime “tasting” with a client and our talented buyers. We were chatting away, tasting, when the main courses arrived. I poured the Gevrey amongst the ongoing chat. Then, suddenly, silence…and a shared look. Our buyer turn to the supplier, accounting, “I will take every bottle you have.” Stunning food, wine and company.
1996 Krug at Maison Krug. This wine was very THE defining wine. But, it is no longer. I tasted this just before 9am UK time on 7th July 2005. It was ethereal and simply diving; both boxer and ballet dancer, with power and grace. Truly stunning. My mobile begins to ring and the news of terrible events unfolding in London is relayed to me and our group in the safety of Reims. I have tasted since and what was stunning has since turned sour. Memory is a powerful ally.
1991 Meursault drunk in October 1999. I had been in the London wine trade just 18 months since arriving back from winemaking in the New World. While watching the New Zealand rugby team hammer a traditionally mercurial French team, I decided to cultivate my knowledge of Burgundy in light of the presence of a large slab of Brie in my fridge. The wine was a recently purchased bin end of 1991 Meursault Clos du Cromin by Domaine Javillier which, with a gentle oxaditive air, matched perfectly with the buttery cheese. I was so enveloped in this heavenly match that I missed an all-time classic match…France has won 43-31!
1990 La Tache. Ok…this is a seriously impressive wine. It was Boxing Day 1997, with my father, and the memory of this magnificent wine – laden with autumnal fruit, herbs and spice – reverberates around my palate to this day. Spine tingling. Enjoyed with cold ham and a simple salad, this moment is a memory I will always treasure.
So there you have it. Are these objectively the outright best wines? No. But, they are my best wines because wine is personal and these elicit strong memories of great people, great food and great, but also powerful, moments in my life.
Michael Robins, Wholesale Director, Jeroboams Trade