Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Under the Hammer in Saumur

Of course we only went along to the Hotel des Ventes to view the Fine Wine bidding. Didn’t we?
However once armed with paddle number 46 there was to be no stopping us. Viewing of the lots starts in the morning when everyone turns up with their price lists and eyes you suspiciously as you have a look at what is on offer. Then the doors are firmly locked, everyone goes away and lunches for 2 hours whilst slathering over the prospective lots. Doors re-open promptly at 2pm and the bidding commences. I think the man in the red coat must suspect me of espionage!
There were plenty of goodies on offer some of which went at very competitive prices. Including the Mouton Rothschild 1966 with a label by the artist Pierre Alechinsky and the Cos d’Estournel 1934 with a label that looked like it wouldn’t cling to the bottle for much longer.
We should of held out on the 6 Magnums of Chateau Latour 1959 at a reserve of 3,000 - 3,300 per bottle but we had to let them go to an anonymous phone bidder at 3,100 euros per bottle plus 19.6% tax! What a shame my birth year as well but thank goodness Sue took my paddle away.
Carried away with the adrenalin rush of bidding we did however end up with 12 bottles of Chateau Grande Puy Lacoste 1976, (could be a little old but worth a punt at 15 euros a bottle) a Chateau Carbonnieux 1979, a Gevrey Chambertin Le Bel Air 1985, all at what seemed like very reasonable prices until we realised they were without tax! Oh well 2005 was such an excellent year that the case of Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc couldn’t be missed either.
The excitement of opening a case that had been tightly nailed shut for 32 years was too much. Inside we found 73cl bottles with no indication of the percentage alcohol so we just had to try one. Once at room temperature we got out the best Riedel glasses and decanted the wine by candle light.
Our tasting notes go something as follows : Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste St Guirons 1976 5th Cru Bordeaux, 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. Garnet with a brownish tint on rim. Initial nose of stewed fruit and a little woody on the nose. A huge mouthful, fruits of the forest and good length. Cedar, sagebrush and licorice root backed with vanilla but woody......a little old I guess but the complexity and structure was still there.
The cupboards will go bare this Christmas but at least we will have a well stocked cellar and it was brilliant fun to bid for, decant and then taste a little piece of oenophilic history all in one day.

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