Bristol Bar & Grille Master Sommelier Scott Harper shares a personal story of his dog and a 1966 Bordeaux:
Today is a beautiful spring day, a day in which I wish I had a laptop. I could sit out on my deck and watch the dog’s play, while working on my article. But I am in my home office at the computer asking my self what I should write about? As I am a horrific typist it takes longer then most writers to type out an article so, it is important for me to have a good topic in mind before I proceed. Therefore, I reviewed my previous articles to think about subjects to write about, I realize this is my 26th article, and I needed a topic to celebrate the 25 previous articles on wine. And then it made sense to write about a 1966 Bordeaux..
When I first started learning about wine I was fascinated by the multifaceted aspects of wine. There was geography, topography, culture, language, art, science, history and so on. Learning the basics came slowly but once that was obtained I started to devour as much wine minutia as possible, making flash cards, taking wine test and having a wine library of over a 100 books, reading magazines, and certainly the past few years surfing the internet. The more I got into wine the more I enjoyed it. In the middle of learning about wine I started to meet like minded people. The sharing of wine is convivial. I have met a wide variety of people both locally and in my travels to many wineries and wine regions that were fascinating, creative, rich, and not so rich, down to earth and not so down to earth, very smart, and into certain aspects of wine and not into other aspects of wine. I enjoy sharing my knowledge of wine and enjoy learning from others. Teach me and I am as happy as teaching, of course over a glass of wine. This is why I love wine. The ability to share a bottle and a great conversation about the wine, its sense of place, its creator and everything about it, to agree or disagree with your drin
king partner on its attributes or just enjoy the bottle and talk about a completely unrelated topic. I love that you can remember smells and taste and flavors in your sensory memory, memories of past bottles and past conversations and about stories about particular bottles.
Opening a good friend’s birthday gift a 1966 Chateau Gruaud-Larose from Bordeaux, France, had me recalling the night it was given to me. My wife and I returned home from a wonderful birthday celebration filled with great wine, food and friendship. I sat the precious bottle wrapped in a red velvet gift bag on our kitchen counter. My wife and I went upstairs to get ready for bed, after a few moments we heard a thump! My wife and I are dog lovers and at this time we have 2 dogs, but the one in question is lamentable no longer with us, Caymus. Caymus was a 75 pound high energy, very athletic, hunter of a Black Labrador Retriever. He could lick your face leap over the cocktail table and met a guest at the door in 2 seconds. We spoil our dogs by allowing them to have large bones in the house. When they would drop the large bones we would hear a large thump! So, the large thump we heard that night was not that unusual, but in the back of my head I said, “what if”. Just after the thump I heard Caymus, named for the Mayacaymus mountain range that divides Napa and Sonoma Valleys, sprinting up the stairs. I was only mildly concerned for the bottles safety, but what if this valuable and very thoughtful gift was left smashed on the kitchen floor? What would I tell my dear friend of his thoughtful gift? As Caymus reached the top of the stairs my worst fears were realized. In the Black Labs mouth was my prized birthday gift. I was stifled with shock. Caymus jumped on the bed sat down looking directly at me as if to say look what I have for you. I screamed drop it, praying that the bottle was intake. He obediently dropped the second growth St. Julien. I immediately grabbed the bottle and tore off the red velvet bag, the bottle was indeed unharmed. With a sigh of relief my wife and I looked over the bottle for any damages and sat the bottle out of the reach of our beloved dog. I placed the red velvet bag on our chest of drawers. Caymus immediately went to the chest of drawers and stared at the red velvet bag. Come to find out was memorized that red velvet bag by it.
Some dogs bring their masters newspapers my dog brings me priceless Bordeaux. The bottle and a few others were enthusiastically drunk with some close friends. The wine was absolutely exceptional, a perfect example of world class wine at perfect maturity. While we drank the wine the story of Caymus fetching the wine certainly added to the great pleasure of the evening!
Second Growth St. Julien Bordeaux
Other vintages to currently buy 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2005
The Chateau produces approximately 40,000 cases of wine per year including its second wine Sarget de Gruaud-Larose which can represent about half of the production. While the quantities of the grapes vary from each vintage the vineyard is made up of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec