Skip to main content

On lunar golfing, Jefferson, Mozart and wine

Dwayne Perreault − It's one of those useless questions, sort of like asking "What is it like to play golf on the moon?" but sometimes when I'm drinking a great wine, like a Hermitage or a Bordeaux grand cru classé, I can't help but wonder, "What did this wine taste like hundreds of years ago?"

M. Chapoutier Hermitage Chante-Alouette
Well, guess what? During the Apollo 14 mission to the moon in 1971, Alan Shephard strapped the head of a six iron to a sampling instrument and purportedly drove a golf ball several kilometers in the direction of a crater, the largest sand trap ever. So that's what it's like to play golf on the moon.

As for how wine tasted in the 1700's, that's a little more difficult to determine. Obviously we can't taste the wines today, so we have no point of reference to compare them to contemporary wines. If wine is to be considered an art, it is like an ice sculpture which melts in the sun: temporary, fleeting, to be enjoyed before it disappears.

There are exceptions. I think of the 1811 Chateau d'Yquem Robert Parker tasted in 1996. He awarded it 100 points, his absolute bench mark. But most wines never live that long, and it is the privileged few indeed who get to taste such specimens.

But there are historical records of great wines which give us an idea of how they tasted. Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, was a fine wine lover and while French ambassador from 1784-9 he travelled extensively throughout France, Germany and Italy noting his impressions of the wines he tasted.

According to James Gabler's book Passions: the wines and travels of Thomas Jefferson, "Jefferson considered white Hermitage and Champagne the two best white wines of France. He held white Hermitage in such high esteem that he called it 'the first wine in the world without a single exception.' During his presidency he purchased 550 bottles of white Hermitage from the House of Jourdan. The Jourdan vineyards were eventually inherited by the Monier family who, because of their ancestry, revived the name Chastaing de la Sizeranne. The Jourdan vineyards presently belong to the house of M. Chapoutier who calls his red Hermitage, La Sizeranne and his white Hermitage, Chante-Alouette (Lark's Song). To drink a white Hermitage from the same vineyard, and made from the same grapes that Jefferson shared with dinner guests at the President's House, one need only buy M. Chapoutier's Chante-Alouette."



So I did (see the picture of the bottle above). For tasting notes, please refer to my posting, Visit to M. Chapoutier.

Meanwhile, at the same time Jefferson was whetting his wine appetite in France, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was in Vienna composing the operas The Marriage of Figaro (1786) and Don Giovanni (1787). Unlike Jefferson, Mozart was not a collector of wines, but he was an avid drinker. It would appear that his favourite wine was the Marzemino from Trentino, for in his opera, Don Giovanni, just before being delivered into hell, sings "Versa il vino! Eccellente Marzemino!"

Eugenio Rosi 'Poeima' 2003 Marzemino
It may be that Marzemino was widely available in nearby Vienna at the time, or it may have to do with the fact that Roverto, the second town in Trentino, hosted Mozart several times; in fact, the thirteen year-old Mozart gave his first public performance there. But today, Marzemino is a relatively obscure varietal wine with just a handful of producers in Trentino.

What does good Marzemino taste like? Well, I happen to sell one: the Eugenio Rosi 'Poeima' 2003. This is an outstanding example of this variety, worthy indeed of some bottle ageing despite possessing medium tannins; this is perhaps due to the good acidity in the wine. Silky in texture, the focus here is on wild berries, plums and dark fruit, a balanced wine that accompanies both white and red meat dishes, or simply drinks itself away. If it tasted like this in the 1780's, I can understand why Mozart enjoyed it.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Bordeaux 2017 aanraders - de grootste wijnen

Evenals vorig jaar geven we met plezier onze volstrekt subjectieve lijst met gaafste rode wijnen van het jaar. We hebben bijna alles geproefd van Bordeaux 2017, maar geen Petrus en Lafleur. Binnenkomen bij Petrus is zo'n gedoe dat we dat na jaren proeven maar laten voor wat het is. Lafleur pakken we volgend jaar graag weer mee. Maar zoals is te zien hebben we toch wel weer ons best gedaan.

19½
Cheval Blanc 2017
Latour 2017
Léoville-las-Cases 2017
Palmer 2017
Vieux Château Certan 2017

19+
Ausone 2017
Canon 2017
Haut-Bailly 2017
Lafite Rothschild 2017
l’Eglise-Clinet 2017
La Conseillante 2017
Le Pin 2017
Léoville Barton 2017
Margaux 2017
Montrose 2017
Pontet-Canet 2017

19
Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarrosse 2017
Clos Fourtet 2017
Cos d’Estournel 2017
Domaine de Chevalier rouge 2017
Grand Puy Lacoste 2017
Haut-Brion 2017
l’Evangile 2017
l’If 2017
La Mission Haut-Brion 2017
Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2017
Lynch Bages 2017
Mouton Rothschild 2017
Pavie Macquin 2017
Rauzan-Ségla 2017

18½+
Calon Ségur 20…

Bordeaux 2017 - het herrezen jaar

We zijn terug van vijf dagen proeven, een dikke 8 uur per dag Bordeaux 2017's proeven. Een ervaring rijker, zeker als je de wijnen meetelt die we in de avonden proefden, en dronken. Het meest bijzonder waren wel de Poujeaux 1928 en de Domaine de Chevalier rouge 1928. Ongelofelijke wijnen en een ongekende tijdreis van 90 jaar. Een bijkans mystieke ervaring.


Of wat te denken van de witte Latour Martillac 1948. Toen we een paar dagen later op het château de 2017's proefden hoorden we van de keldermeester dat er die week 2 van de 6 nog aanwezige flessen Blanc 1948 uit de kelder waren gehaald - zelf had hij deze jaargang nooit geproefd. De avond waar al deze bijzondere flessen werden ontkurkt was het jaarlijkse diner van de Académie du Vin de Bordeaux.

Het thema die avond: wijnen uit jaren eindigend op 8. Dus dronken we bij het eten achtereenvolgens Latour 1978, Mouton 1988, Lafite 1998, Haut-Brion 2008 en Yquem 2008, deels uit magnums en dubbele magnums. Het was een leerzame avond…

Bordeaux 2017 vorst slachtoffers

Het Bordeaux 2017 verslag komt eraan. Er wordt aan gewerkt. In de vorige posting noemde ik al de vorst die eind april 2017 heeft toegeslagen. Bij de volgende domeinen was de schade zo groot dat de wijnen niet en-primeur zullen worden aangeboden.

• Côte de Baleau 2017 • Dassault 2017 • Larmande 2017 • La Tour Figeac 2017 • Montviel 2017 • Siaurac & Plaisir de Siaurac 2017 • Doisy Védrines 2017 • Nairac 2017 • Brun 2017 • Clos du Jaugueyron 2017 • Chantegrive Blanc & Rouge 2017 • Fieuzal Blanc & Rouge 2017 • Fleur de Boüard 2017 • Fugue de Nénin 2017 • La Pointe 2017 • Mauvesin Barton 2017 • Retout Blanc 2017 • Bolaire 2017 • Arsac 2017 • Camensac 2017 • Climens 2017 • Fleur Cardinale 2017 • Fonbel 2017 • Haut Bergey Blanc & Rouge 2017 • Laroze 2017 • Chauvin 2017 • Marjosse Rouge 2017 • Mille Roses 2017 • Arums de Lagrange 2017 • Corbin 2017 • Gironville 2017 • Grand Corbin 2017 • Grand Corbin Despagne 2017 • Chante Alouette 2017 • Des Annereaux 2017
Van sommige wijnen …