Once again I welcome my good friend Lloyd, who shares a "super-sized disappointment". While a corked bottle is a disappointment that all of us have experienced, sometimes it is more heartbreaking than others...
The 1996 Chateau La Gaffeliere, St. Emilion Grand Cru (Magnum) represented many firsts for me. My first magnum; my first wine over $100, and my first Bordeaux bought to age. I didn’t even own a standup cellar in 1999 when I paid a scary C$120 for what I was then told would be a very special wine after 2005. If only.
On an occasion for a group I hosted in November, I finally decided to open it. I stood it up for 48 hrs, brought it gently to room temperature and brought the cork out perfectly. But it never quite went away as the dreaded taint filled my nostrils. I was in denial for the first hour. “It’ll blow off”, I explained patiently to Clarissa as she twisted her nose at her glass, “St. Emilions with 10+ years do this all the time, you know.” But it didn’t, and all the emotions went through my head. I had so much invested in this bottle, which had seen me through 2 wives, 3 homes and 4 cellars (holding prominent places in each one), and that I had considered opening so many times (but always waited for that special occasion).
I’m hardly a cork-taint-virgin. I’ve opened my share of corkers, at home and about. I’ve been somewhat lucky, though, falling way under the 10% of cork-enclosed bottles that’s supposed to be the average. But this was a Magnum, my first. Sorry, am I whining? Well maybe the biggest part of the disappointment was the obviously great wine underneath. Vanilla, nuts (almond?) and red fruit – strawberry and cherry – come blazing through on the palate, which was medium bodied and classically balanced. Nice wood and a bit of mushroom or truffle that was too close the cork to accurately discriminate, but it was there. Such potential.
Many of us have wines tucked away for that special occasion, and memories of great wines that have as much or more to do with the company and the occasion than the wine itself. My Gaffeliere was probably a good reminder of the emotive potential of the juice we love so dearly. Clarissa keeps telling me you need the bad to really appreciate the good…and we know she’s always right…
Price : C$119.95 (SAQ), Magnum