The genius of BORDEAUX is FRESHNESS.
Freshness is the most important, defining quality of the greatest wine region in the world. Other wines also have fruit and tannins but no other great red wine – of as many different chateaux and of as many vintages – possesses the same vivacity, lift, and freshness than Bordeaux of 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, even a hundred years old. And beyond.
I have had the great fortune – because of my work – to taste some twenty 19th Century Bordeaux. And more 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 and a hundred year olds.
Old and ancient Bordeaux become lighter and more sublime with age. And, just as with the best people, wiser too, except wines do not communicate in a human language. But it’s all there for us to taste, the poise, personality, quirks, harmony (in the best of them), and delicious freshness.
Chateau Beychevelle Managing Director & Chief Winemaker Philippe Blanc served 1961 and 1921 blind in that order over dinner. There were already two flights totally about a dozen wines – also served blind – before this double finale.
Beychevelle 1961 is just 10.6% in alcohol. Sandalwood, leather, evolved fruit and very fresh. The chateau does not have a record of the alcohol level of the centenarian 1921 but Philippe Blanc is certain it is below 12%. A heatwave vintage like 1959 (Chateau Margaux is brilliant), Beychevelle 1921 is richer, fruitier, and more intense than its younger sibling. Twice as deep in colour, you can detect the extra sunshine even on the nose. The dried Chinese prune fruit is dense, long, and incredibly lively!