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 2016 grootste aanraders

Tips Bordeaux 2016 - Evenals vorige jaar presenteer ik weer de hitparade, de hall of fame. Subjectief, en mag best tot verhitte discussies leiden, allemaal goed. Dit is wat we dit jaar vonden. Op deze apenrots alleen de rode wijnen.

De meer betaalbare wijnen, de kleinere châteaux, komen in een volgende posting aan bod. Evenals de witte wijnen. Per cijfer staan de wijnen alfabetisch. En de Top Tweede Wijnen Bordeaux 2016 staat onderaan.

Omissie: Gruaud Larose 2016 hebben we niet geproefd. Op de proeftafel stond een lege fles. Ook gemist helaas: Haut Batailley 2016. Meestal gaaf, maar François-Xavier Borie had 'm er dit jaar niet bij staan - tot nu toe werd deze wijn steevast samen gepresenteerd met de Grand Puy Lacoste.

20
Ausone 2016
Lafite Rothschild 2016
Margaux 2016
Petrus 2016

19½
Canon 2016
l’Eglise-Clinet 2016
Haut-Bailly 2016
Haut-Brion 2016
Latour 2016
Montrose 2016
Palmer 2016
Le Pin 2016
Pontet-Canet 2016
Vieux Château Certan 2016

19+
La Conseillante 2016
Domaine de Chevali…

Bordeaux 2016 kooptips linkeroever

Kooptips Bordeaux 2016 - de value-for-money killer 2016's ter linkerzijde van Gironde en Garonne - Leuk natuurlijk al die dure jongens (uit de vorige posting), maar wat zijn nou de wijnen die je straks makkelijk opentrekt, en waar je misschien extra van geniet omdat het ook nog eens zo'n leuk koopje was? We hebben de grootste aanraders op rij gezet. We volgen min of meer de volgorde van de lijst met ons aanbod.

Mauvesin Barton 2016 Moulis
Eigenlijk is dit geen killer wine. Geen tot nederigheid stemmend zwaargewicht die proevers besmuikt naar elkaar laat knikken, daarbij sjonge jonge mompelend of iets dergelijks. Nee, als hier iets of iemand bescheidenheid aan de dag legt dan is het de wijn zelf. Dit is een eerlijke, ingetogen Médoc met fijne klassieke trekken. Voornaam zonder gedoe. Mooi puur fruit, heel goed in balans. Elegant en sappig. En en bouche uitgesproken energiek. Kleine Barton waar je blij van wordt. Mauvesin Barton 2016.

Potensac 2016 Médoc
Uit de stal van Léoville l…

Bordeaux 2016 kooptips rechteroever

Kooptips Bordeaux 2016 - de value-for-money killer 2016's ter rechterzijde van Gironde en Garonne - Het heeft even geduurd, maar hier is dan de laatste posting met tips, de leukste betaalbare primeurs uit Saint-Emilion en Pomerol en omstreken. We volgen weer min of meer de volgorde van de lijst met ons aanbod.

Fonroque 2016 St-Emilion
Deze wijn hoort hier eigenlijk niet thuis. Als 'Grand Vin', deze biodynamische Grand Cru Classé van mooi terroir nabij de heuvel van St-Emilion (het dorp). Wél een wijn die ongehoord goed is én zeer betaalbaar. Mijn proefnotitie schudt Pavlov wakker, en dat midden op de dag. Expressief, rood fruitig en soepel. Intens, evenwichtig en met levendige zuren. Veel precisie en frisheid. En dan eindigt de notitie met het woord 'top'. Says it all. Klasse en evenwicht, zie daar deze jonge pure Fonroque 2016.

Grand Corbin Despagne 2016 St-Emilion
Nog zo'n geweldige verstekeling. Eveneens een heuse Grand Cru Classé, maar belangrijker: ook een b…