Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Chateau Petrus 1982

c. £4,000

As you would expect, my recent arrival in the United States was met with great fanfare, rejoicing and brouhaha.

The timeless pairing of good strong beer and Xanax had seen away an overnight train ride with ease, and I arrived in Camden ready to take on the South. The Americans were going to have to pull some pretty peculiar stuff out of the bag if they were going to surprise or unsettle me this time.

I was off to visit the US contingent of the Russian's large and complicated family, who had recently relocated from California and were in the process of spreading themselves thinly amongst a number of indistinct towns in South Carolina.

An early victory in the campaign saw us locate the single shop in town that hadn't closed down and procure from them an excellent pirate hat, as a gift for the Russian's little sister. And buoyed by this, we headed for home and the bright beacon of his father-in-law's superlative wine cellar...

A cursory inspection revealed a large number of bottles, mostly Bordeaux and Burgundy, and largely adorned with labels saying things like Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Lafite and 1947.

"This ought to go well with the steaks," opined the father-in-law, breaking my reverie. 1982 Chateau Petrus. Well, yes- I imagine it might. Food and wine pairings rarely a problem for the man one suspects.

Flame-grilled steaks and one of the most expensive wines ever produced - staggering generosity - the Americans evidently were really very pleased to see me.

The wine, as you would expect, but probably can't imagine, was sublime. The nose was heady, almost Bugundian, but with a little more spirit. Tannins were hitting a luscious integrated peak after 18 years, the palate beautifully balanced with complex with red fruit, lead, leather, tobacco, earth... I could go on, but trying to describe this wine is somewhat moot; as a university lecturer once told me the only apposite response to sublimity is "FUCK ME!" By some distance the best I have ever and probably ever will drink.

Not, of course, several thousand pounds a bottle better, but that's wine people for you- mad as snakes.

As I finished my last few drops I was hit by an overwhelming sense of personal failure. I knew they had done it again- gone and surprised me.

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