Wed 05 Sep 2012

Cellar Surprises

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Friends in France were indirectly responsible for my decision, back in the 80s, to join the wine trade. Showing a little interest opened the door to some wonderful learning experiences and enjoyable bottles.

Modest wines tended to be bought direct, or mail order, from the producer, or sometimes from travelling salesmen, and some were even home-bottled. They would then be cellared for a number of years until deemed ready for a family Sunday lunch or celebration.

Having a cellar seemed an essential part of life in rural France, including one half-dug into a cow pasture, with separate areas for a few bottles laid down as starter cellars for when each daughter set up home and would need their own (though in those days both girls usually added water to it!).

French friends have continued to serve such wines, often producing some real surprises, including on our latest whistle stop in Lyon, a 2002 AC Bordeaux, which had stood the course remarkably well, and a 2005 Vouvray Brut from a co-op. The latter, from a good, healthy vintage, was delicious, and was the result of a private standing order going back three generations.

All of which added to the enjoyment of a nicely matured bottle among friends. It is always safer to try before you buy from a source you do not already know and trust, but this latest experience was certainly a further reminder to me that you don’t have to spend a fortune to benefit from laying wines down for a few years.

Jo Locke MW
Society Buyer

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