Celebrating 100 years, 1915 in 2015.
1933 Rene Engel
I believe in magic. There is no better way to explain the sensation of life as we pass by.
The taste of the memory enhanced by sharing with the comrades of the moment. Its what we all define ourselves by, as we mature. I have been doubly blessed by the integration of these experiences with images of wine.
Near the end of this year, A moment of magic happened. This luncheon happened first as an idea, and rapidly developed into its own life. It began with the bottle of 1915 that my friend wanted to open when it was 100 years old. We could have put many other wines with it, but decided to try to keep the focus of celebration, not wine tasting. We located two other bottles, one mine, one not, that suddenly made sense. Both from the same vineyard, different decade. The 1933 Rene Engel had all the correct credentials. First, it was the only bottle of this era I had been able to obtain, and second, it was a notable vintage in this cellar. the third, the bottle of 1959 Remoissenet, was coming directly from the cellar in Beaune, a recent release.
We set the date in November, just prior to the trip I would make to the Hospices. We decided on game, since I hunt, and I bagged a pronghorn Antelope in July for the food match. In August, I suddenly was diagnosed with heart damage related to the War,[Vietnam] and required surgery. Late October, and I was given a clean bill of health for my dinner. The event became so important to me, a welcome back with my wife and a few friends.
The ’15, which had come from Seguin-Manuel a decade ago when the winery moved to Beaune under the capable hands of Thibeaut Marion, dispelled our concerns of ‘premature oxidation’! It came out as the full ripe vintage it is, and filled in with time. It showed well for hours.
Grands Echezeaux has a special signature. It is an extension of Musigny, a cap on Clos Vougeot, part of the Echezeaux[es], and it is different than any of them. For me, there is an uplifting quality of fine middle fruit defining Grands Echezeaux. I look for this raciness. To see such signature in a 100 year wine is remarkable. To better see it in the 1933, is life-confirming.
The Rene Engel is a wine that came from the namesakes hands, Rene founding the domaine in 1920. I can recall seeing old bottles in the cellar with the late Phillippe Engel dating from 1933. A stealth vintage in the 1930’s, the most charming of the decade, at the hands of Rene in his prime. This 1933 lived up to the reputation. Obviously old, but complex and intriguing , with the vineyard complexities in full force.
Roland Remossinet lived by his own rules, his wines reflect that. The most youthful of the trio, the powerful alcoholic fruit subduing the location a bit, delivering a punch in the glass. A long lived 1959.
They all showed up to the party. 1915, the War vintage before despair; 1933, the teeth of the economic depression; 1959, the sunny end of the post WW2 reconstruction. I was grateful I showed up too. Pointless rating the wines, instead reflect on the lives that intertwined to bring all together at this moment.
Here’s to the New year, time to reflect but to look forward also. New vintages become old, ready to provide the pleasure of sharing. Enjoy! Bob