Veni, Vidi, Vici…
And as we are groping in the dark, still grappling with the mask and now grappilloning with the most important, red wine, vineyard in the world. It`s more of a case of ‘going nowhere’, ‘seeing nothing’ and possibly ‘surrendering’ though I do still have a smidgeon of hope for the best, for all of us.
It just goes to show you how completely mad we seem to have all gone down here & over the last few months, all thanks to this stupid-dam plague thing. But as ever, the show must go on (we are in 181+ days of quarantine) and are looking, or trying our best to look on the brighter side of life, even if it does feel like we are on the deck of HMS Titanic and heading straight towards that big olde iceberg, again!
I have permission to say all this as it all started back in 1979 with my boss, and the only proper-sensible boss that I ever had. Alsace’s Jean ‘Johnny’ Hugel who at his weekly family dinner chez Hugel, of which I was fortunately invited to during my Stagaire year, which meant I ate more than just ham and cheese sandwiches. I remember well, one evening, when he shared with us the story, and there where many, of the family’s disastrous 1939 vintage, forty years previous. Johnny said, “I’d rather have an overripe vintage that I have to pick a little earlier, than an underripe vintage where you just go, ‘OK, too bad, let’s try again next year’.”He went on to tell us, in between puffs on his extra-long Virginias, that before the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), when Alsace was the largest and most renowned wine-producing region in the Germanic Holy Roman Empire, there were more red grapes than white grapes, and that at the end of the First World War Alsace’s ‘noble varieties’ (Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Muscat) represented almost less than 10% of the total vineyard area. You see, things can change for the better if we let things be.
As a family who had pioneered late-harvest wines in Alsace, Vendange Tardive and that delicious Sélection de Grains Nobles, and of course let`s not forget how they also helped draft the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée guidelines for the Alsace AOC, and Alsace Grand Cru AOCs, which layed the foundations for this vinous revival of the region, and one of the world`s most gastronomic.
Well, Le Famille Hugel had already survived the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, and both world wars (1914-18 & 1939-45), so I’m sure C19 (2020) and climate change (forever) will be taken in their stride.
At that dinner, back in ’79, Johnny told us “1939 was a bad year for every possible reason for us, including wine of course” The grapes’ potential alcohol only reached 7% by mid-November. “Those were the best grapes, literally green,” he told us. With the German army on the march and Alsatians advised to abandon their homes, the Hugel family “chaptalized the hell out of the vintage”. He went on to say, before the Eaux-de-Vie Mirabelle came round once more, “that the only good thing that had happened during World War II, was that the Germans drank all of our 1939 vintage.”
Act two of this September 2020 trilogy-blog, is about this one and only single bottle of Grappillons de Château Latour 1989 commercially available in the world today. Have you ever heard of it? Well, either way, let me tell you that this wine was indeed made, unusually, from a second Latour harvest/crop, ripened fully on the vines of the ‘Enclos’ itself, in the heart of the Château Latour vineyard. Grapes were picked right at the end of October 1989. Where were you then? The ‘89 vintage was a big one. Thanks to the above-average temperatures that were the norm during the spring of 1989, flowering took place earlier than usual under ideal conditions, leading to the production of a larger than average grape harvest. The occasional rainfall helped to swell the crop, which otherwise would have just shrivelled in the heat. It was the earliest harvest for nearly a century.
The wine has an evolved dark ruby colour revealing amber at the edge. The nose offers aromas of caramel, coffee, ripe black cherry and currant fruit, cedar, and spice box. It is a very fine and delicious Grappillons de Latour. Buy a bottle if you can find one, and have the `doe-ray-me` ready in the bank to pay for it.
Finally, for now, we are here conquering the Cognac, and a rather good Cognac at that. The other day a client asked me, and not for the first time, if he could order a bottle of Rémy Martin`s famous Cognac Louis XIII. He also ordered some of their Louis XIII glasses, handmade by French crystal manufacturers Baccarat, and a one-off Louis XIII Cognac ‘spear’ to go with it. The spear is also known in the Cognac region as a ‘pipette’.
This one is made by Puiforcat and forged of pure white gold.
The price of the Cognac, as you probably know runs into 4 figures, but did you know that these Baccarat glasses also hit the same kind of number. One thousand dollars for a single glass to enjoy your Cognac in. Well, I nearly fell off my chair. So I needed to do a little research first. I called The House (distillery) in France and they confirmed to me, that it was all in order. Just to double-check, I also did some in-house, grey market research and found this article in the Asian news which I want to share with you now. I will also have it translated into Castellano for my Cognac client to read. He lives in Buenos Aires.
Just what do even Ferrari-owning Singaporeans cannot resist owning as well? (this is how the article began)
The answer is, it would seem Crystal cognac glasses! An email went around from the Ferrari Owners’ Club Singapore (FOCS) to its members seeking the whereabouts of “more than 50…yes fifty Louis XIII Baccarrat glasses”. It was after a Ferrari event and dinner with the Rémy Martin people, that this special Cognac was served, and poured generously into these Louis XIII glasses.
In the email, FOCS president Leong Kah Wah alleged that “some members and their guests took home” the glasses after the dinner and “because of the high value involved, one thousand U$D dollars a piece, an investigation had to be done, including the review of CCTV footage”.
So what exactly are these fine chalices for brandy? We would have to begin with the Louis XIII cognac itself. Each bottle is made up of up to 1,200 Eaux-de-Vie from vineyards in Grande Champagne, the district in France famous for Cognac. The limestone soil composition there is considered ideal for the grapes used for cognac. The final product can be over 100 years old, which, as you can imagine, requires four generations of cellar masters to tend to. In 1874, owner Paul-Emile Rémy Martin decided to bottle his beverage in glass, which eventually became crystal. Today, Louis XIII cognac comes with crystal glasses made by French crystal manufacturers Baccarat in Saint-Louis. If that is not lavish enough for you, Rémy Martin collaborated with French designer Christophe Pillet in 2008 for new glasses that resemble ridged columns of cathedrals and bear the Fleur-de-Lis of the Louis XIII cognac.
Twitter: Got money to buy Ferrari, but still cheapskate and steal Remy Martin Louis XIII crystal glasses. FOCS is stand for Ferrari Owners’ Club Singapore or Ferrari Oso Cheapskate Society?
Finalmente, por ahora, estamos aquí conquistando el Cognac, y un Cognac bastante bueno en eso. El otro día un cliente me preguntó, y no por primera vez, si podía pedir una botella del famoso Cognac Louis XIII de Rémy Martin. También encargó algunas de sus copas Luis XIII, hechas a mano por los fabricantes de cristal franceses Baccarat. Y una lanza de coñac Louis XIII para acompañarlo. Esto también se conoce en la región de Cognac como una “pipeta” y está hecho por un artesano en Rémy Martin utilizando 100% acero inoxidable.
El precio del Cognac, como probablemente sepa, asciende a 4 cifras, pero ¿sabía que estas gafas de Baccarat también alcanzan el mismo tipo de número? Mil dólares por un solo vaso para disfrutar de su coñac. Bueno, casi me caigo de la silla. Así que primero necesitaba investigar un poco. Llamé a The House (destilería) en Francia y me confirmaron todo. Solo para verificar, también hice una investigación interna del mercado gris y encontré este artículo en las noticias asiáticas que quiero compartir con ustedes ahora. También lo haré traducir al castellano para que mi cliente de Cognac lo lea. Vive en Buenos Aires.
¿Qué es lo que incluso los singapurenses propietarios de Ferrari no pueden resistirse a poseer también? (así empezó el artículo)
La respuesta es, ¡parecerían vasos de coñac de cristal! Se envió un correo electrónico desde el Ferrari Owners ‘Club Singapore (FOCS) a sus miembros buscando el paradero de “más de 50 … sí, cincuenta gafas Louis XIII Baccarrat”.
Fue después de un evento de Ferrari y una cena con la gente de Rémy Martin, que se sirvió este coñac especial, que se vertió generosamente en estas copas Luis XIII. Sábado (17 de noviembre)
En el correo electrónico, el presidente de FOCS, Leong Kah Wah, alegó que “algunos miembros y sus invitados se llevaron a casa” los vasos después de la cena y “debido al alto valor involucrado, mil U $ D dólares la pieza, se tuvo que hacer una investigación”. incluida la revisión de las imágenes de CCTV “.
Entonces, ¿qué son exactamente estos finos cálices para brandy? Tendríamos que empezar por el coñac Luis XIII en sí. Cada botella se compone de hasta 1200 aguardientes de viñedos en Grande Champagne, el distrito de Francia famoso por el coñac, por supuesto. La composición del suelo de piedra caliza se considera ideal para las uvas utilizadas para el coñac. El producto final puede tener más de 100 años, lo que, como puedes imaginar, requiere cuatro generaciones de maestros bodegueros para atenderlo. En 1874, el propietario Paul-Emile Rémy Martin decidió embotellar su bebida en un vaso, que finalmente se convirtió en cristal. Hoy en día, el coñac Luis XIII viene con copas de cristal fabricadas por los fabricantes de cristal franceses Baccarat en Saint-Louis. Si eso no es lo suficientemente lujoso para usted, Rémy Martin colaboró con el diseñador francés Christophe Pillet en 2008 para obtener nuevas gafas que se asemejan a las columnas estriadas de las catedrales y llevan la flor de lis del coñac Luis XIII.
Twitter: Conseguí dinero para comprar Ferrari, pero aún así tacañer y robar gafas de cristal Remy Martin Louis XIII. ¿FOCS significa Ferrari Owners ‘Club Singapore o Ferrari Oso Cheapskate Society?
This is not the end, it’s just the beginning!
‘Every single glass of wine you drink helps to spread a little love. Love for nature, love for people & a whole cup of love for you too’
Thanks for this one Pukka!