My legs are aching, my brain is full of porridge, and I feel like I’ve had several kilos of London crud forcibly inserted up each nostril. Yes, it’s that happy ‘post London Wine Trade Fair’ feeling.
As usual, I didn’t seem to spend that much time tasting, with more energy spent on yacking and queuing for stale baguettes than actually sampling, but there were a couple of definite highlights: Concha y Toro’s new Quebrada Seca (a brilliant wannabe Burgundy from Limari) and the Riesling Masterclass hosted by Pewsey Vale and Jim Barry.
It wasn’t just that the wines were good, fascinating and varied at the latter that whetted my appetite. It’s that I had yet another chance to try a wine from my birth year: something that gets harder and harder every year as the wines of this particular vintage get rarer and rarer!
There’s only one problem with trying wines from 1967: most of them are crap. In fact, after 15 years in the trade, I’ve still yet to have a good one. It might have been the summer of love, but, as I was gleefully informed by Dom Perignon’s Richard Geoffroy once, it was also a dreadful year for every big-name wine region in Europe. Though he finally grudgingly admitted that ‘I might find a good Sauternes.’
A sommelier has since confirmed that 1967 Chateau d’Yquem is, indeed, ‘sublime’. Sadly, my chances of ever trying it are roughly on a par with being selected for the next moon mission so i’ll just have to take him at his word.
The sad thing is about coming from an inferior vintage is that you feel almost inferior yourself; as though you don’t belong in this trade full of grey-maned 1947s and thrusting young 1982s. As though you should have joined some other industry. 1967 was, I’m sure, a very good year for paper-clips, for instance...
Anyway, there I was at the Riesling Masterclass, the 1967 Pewsey Vale sitting in front of me. I wasn’t greatly reassured by the deep yellow colour, and within seconds Robert Hill-Smith had pretty much poured cold water on my foolish optimism, admitting that it was only really there for ‘academic interest’.
A quick sniff, swirl and spit later revealed that he was right. The wine was as out of condition as Johnny Vegas. Particularly when compared to some of the wines from the 1980s it looked as tired as, well, the 42-year-old who was tasting it.
A key factor in the tautness of all the vintages after (I think) the mid-1970s was that they were bottled under screwcap, and are looking much better for it. Peter Barry gave a convincing scientific explanation as to why this would be so, but I wasn’t really listening.
I was already dreaming how to get my hands on some 1967 Chateau d’Yquem...