Over the years many wines have moved me, but there’s one story that’s about falling in love twice. The year was 1990 and I was living in Paris in order to study cooking at the Cordon Bleu. I had begun in the restaurant business at the age of 17 working as a busboy, and I enjoyed the respite from the working world to study in Paris. I hungrily devoured every course (excuse the metaphor), and one of the optional courses was a wine class. The wine class was to lead in two different directions destined to change my life forever.
The students of the wine course, eager for more knowledge, had formed a wine club that would meet once per week after school. Everyone would bring a bottle of wine with a regional theme, with the host for the evening supplying typical food. We would begin very seriously, tasting the wine and trying to say clever things. Intellects exhausted, we would fall in to drinking the rest of the bottles. Usually we would end up on the floor playing Monopoly and feeling homesick for the States.
Of course, the expats had to stay together. It was through the wine class at school that I met my girlfriend, and I managed somehow to convince her of this. Apparently she was susceptible to my blandishments, for she is now my wife of 22 years. Little did we know that it all started with the wine course. There was one evening where we drank a wine that has still stuck in my mind, and not only for sentimental reasons.
The wine is 1982 Chateau Figeac. Normally we didn’t drink wine of that caliber at Wine Club. There was one peripheral member, however, and he showed up with a bottle. How could wine taste so good? It didn’t seem fair! Oh, what I had been missing. I felt a keen regret for all of the time (and meals) spent drinking wine that was not up to this exalted level. I knew, or at least I hoped, that one day I would drink wine like this much more often.
Indeed, today I do. That particular bottle has been a leitmotif – Carol and I drank it the night we got engaged, and we have had it many other times as well. It is one of those reliable bottles that serve as a touchstone for gastronomic pleasure. I had it most recently earlier this year. Here are my notes:
A delicious wine, the ’82 Figeac showed a sweet cherry fruit at first and with time a figgy richness. The nose still has a bit of the bell pepper / Chinese tea note on the nose and a pronounced mineral element. On the palate the wine is rich, dense and long, with a supple, mouth-filling texture and very good length. Starting to open up now, this has at least another 20 years in a good cellar.
Charles Curtis MW is the founder of CurtisMW, a fine wine advisory serving private, trade and institutional clients with an interest in the market for fine and rare wine. Former Head of Wine for Christie’s in both Asia and the Americas and a Certified Member of the Appraiser’s Association of America, Mr. Curtis has a wealth of experience with the world’s most luxurious wine. He writes a regular column for the Chinese version of La Revue du Vin de France, and has been a contributing editor to trade and consumer works on wine. Curtis has worked as a wine consultant, wine and spirits judge, and featured speaker at dozens of wine and food festivals over the years. His latest book, The Original Grand Crus of Burgundy will be released in November, 2014.