Every so often you drink a wine that is so enjoyable that you wish it would last forever. It does, of course, but only in the memory – this was one of those wines. The maker was Emile Champet and the wine pre-dated the requirement to put alcohol levels on the label. There was no grape mix on the label either.
The cork was extracted rather carefully and it was poured into broad bottomed Burgundy balloons. Brick red in colour, the wine was slightly cloudy with sediment so fine it never settled. There was still some medium deep red showing in the centre of the liquid. The aroma was, initially, smoky and even spirity with very little fruit – but how that changed over the next hour. The palate had slight sweetness and still some length but is was a light wine with a soft mouth feel.
About an hour later the wine had developed through light cherry flavours into a delicate, well balanced, sweet drink that had a distinctive taste which Richard and I had difficulty in naming. So, unashamedly, I hunted through the books to place it. ‘Violets’ the critic wrote – and it was. (I assumed he meant those parma violets we had as children) The wine could have been between 80 to 100% Syrah, any balance being made up by Viognier. Whatever the grape variety it made for a wonderful bottle of wine that we could sip without food. We were surprised that wine of this age could still improve so much when opened for a while. That is a testament to its quality but sadly there is no more.
[Richard, yes all gone – at least at Yapp, where I purchased it from, for a bargain £19. A very poor year in the Rhone which perhaps explains the price. Another of their ‘archived’ series. The development in the glass was unexpected and a reminder not to give up on old wines too soon.]