Czech authorities have discovered a 150-year-old wine collection secretly stashed in a medieval Czech monastery after the second world war.
Greg Lambrecht, the creator of Coravin – an instrument which can test aged wines without fully opening them – was invited to taste the bottles, deem them drinkable and validate their quality.
Lambrecht was given 14 bottles to test – some labelled and others a mystery – and described the experience of drinking 150-year-old wine as “extraordinary”, with some bottles “truly life-changing”. In order to make sure he did no damage to the lavish bottles, Lambrecht even designed a special version of his Coravin tool, with an ultra thin needle to pierce the cork.
He said: “These wines were in pristine condition, they were all perfect. From the first glass to the last that I poured my hands were shaking. They are an encapsulation of history; this wine has lived through two world wars, was seized by a communist government from a fascist government from a monarchy before that and are now released in a democracy. And literally, they were the best wines of my life.”
Lambrecht said the wines encapsulated the change in tastes from the 1800s, having discovered that many of the wines were either sweet or fortified, such as port and sherry. Some in the collection are also the only existing bottles left in the world, including the last three bottles of the 1899 Chateau d’Yquem.
He singled out an 1896 Chateau d’Yquem and an unlabelled bottle whose contents tasted “like flowers and sugar and caramel” as particular highlights from this rare collection.
“As soon as we poured it out, you could smell the wine, even from a metre away,” he said. “Most wines from the 1800s, as soon as you pour them, you have just minutes before they die. But this wine, from 1899, was perfect an hour-and-a-half later after we poured it.”
He added: “It had this intensity which was awe-inspiring. And I thought to myself, ‘I have no idea how much they are going to auction these wines for, but if there was any way I could buy a bottle, I would pay everything I have’.”