How to open a vintage wine

28 November 2013

Follow Laithwaite’s Wine special video about how to uncork a vintage wine.

Château La Tour du Roche Milon 1962, Pauillac AOC was made the year Sean Connery landed the iconic role as Bond, the year we said a sad goodbye to Marilyn Monroe, and the year Decca records turned down the Beatles. It was in 1962, when Elvis’s Return to Sender was number one at Christmas, Lawrence of Arabia was on the big screen and Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister.

A memorable year for many reasons but, for the family-owned Château Fonbadet in Pauillac, nestled between Mouton Rothschild and Château Pontet Canet, one of the most famed ‘terroirs’ in Bordeaux, another star was born.

Wine merchant Laithwaite’s Wine, has scooped the only 2,000 bottles. This wine is the perfect gift, especially for those hard-to-buy-for loved ones who share the same birth year.

The vintage revelation was made by Laithwaite’s Bordeaux wine buyer and wine-maker, Jean-Marc Sauboua (himself a ’62 vintage) on a visit to the popular wine region earlier this month.  On a regular buying trip to seek out the best new wines for Laithwaite’s customers, Jean-Marc stopped to try some recent vintage wines at Château Fonbadet and, just before leaving, he asked the owner, Pascale Peyronie, if she had any ‘older’ Bordeaux. Pascale retrieved the 1962 vintage from the cellar, sealed in traditional wooden boxes, and the wine set everyone’s taste buds tingling.

Jean-Marc commented on the Château La Tour du Roche Milon 1962, Pauillac AOC: “What a wonderful discovery! It is rare to find a wine of this age that is so fruity in flavour, with a great palate, still fresh due to a nice balance between tannins and acidity – still well alive, like me! You don’t have to be a wine expert to enjoy this sensational vintage. This delicious 51-year-old would make a remarkable centrepiece for the festive table or gift for a wine lover.

What’s also impressive is that as the wine was cellared in wooden boxes at the château, the labels are naturally showing age, but the level and flavour of the wine is excellent.”
Gentleness is required when uncorking, so Laithwaite’s Wine has created a special video of Jean-Marc showing customers how to open one of the bottles. The wine has been lying flat, with the cork in contact with the wine, for more than 50yrs, so it needs to be handled carefull

What to serve alongside a wine like this?

Laithwaite’s experts recommend a veritable woodland feast. Dishes such as truffle risotto or roasted woodcock with Jerusalem artichoke veloutée, fondant potato and wilted spinach will complement the weight and intensity of the wine, providing a marriage of flavours with neither too dominant.

As wines age, the 'fruitiness' decreases, to be replaced by wonderfully evocative, complex, earthy smells. It is usually a good rule in wine and food matching to look for like-for-like flavours, and both truffles and game will complement the subtle sweetness in the wine, while bringing out the sweetness in meat such as pigeon, grouse or partridge. This wine shouldn’t be paired with cheese as it would be too rich in texture and overpower the delicate flavours of this wine.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.