Fantasy Wine List
words | Martin Flageul

Maybe it is not only the wine that brings back memories of what a real “fantasy wine list” might contain. The company you are with, the food served, the location and ambience will all add to the enjoyment of great bottles. I have had the great fortune to share some wonderful experiences with many such people, sadly some no longer with us. So my fantasy wine list would have to include the following wines.

Champagne Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Grand Siecle vintage 1990 was served at lunch at Château Louvois, the home of the late Bernard de Nonancourt, past President of Laurent-Perrier and as host of a party from all corners of the world he had invited to see France compete and win the World Cup Final in great style over Brazil in 1998. This champagne was the first production of Grand Siecle to carry a vintage and subsequently only two more vintages of this fantastic cuvée were produced. Always produced with only wines from the finest Grands Crus vineyards Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Grand Siecle is now always a blend of three top vintages. The single vintage which was produced in 1990 was outstanding with tremendous body, structure and backbone yet retaining elegance from the Chardonnay which is the hallmark of Laurent-Perrier’s style; truly one of the greatest champagnes I have ever tasted.

On a visit to meet one of the outstanding names in the world of wine, I dined with Monsieur Louis Latour at his Beaune offices in 1981. Having been the importer of his Burgundy wines since 1961, this was an invitation by Louis Latour to continue our trading partnership for the future. The company Victor Hugo Wines had just been formed and a group of directors and their wives from Ann Street Brewery Company were invited to meet the Latour family. A very memorable bottle of Corton-Pougets 1947 was served at lunch and the memory of this wine still lingers. The fact that it had only travelled a few kilometres from its time on the vine to the time it was enjoyed in the glass might have had something do with it but the wine was so abundantly fruity, with amazing red-berried flavours and still with some soft tannins making it a truly great Burgundy. Today the vintages offered are more recent but the quality of Louis Latour wines, particularly from his own Château Corton Grancey is unsurpassed.

My longest standing friend in the wine trade is John Salvi, Master of Wine; he became my mentor way back in the early 1960s when he introduced me to slightly chilled glass of St Emilion with grilled fillet of bass; fantastic match! Having had the pleasure to visit Bordeaux on many occasions it was in 1981 that we met at the very first Vinexpo wine exhibition and John invited me to Château Palmer in Margaux to taste a range of vintages. The late Peter Sichel, co-owner of Château Palmer, opened a bottle of the 1961 vintage and the amazing complexity of this wine remains with me today; the powerful aromas of blackcurrant, with hints of vanilla and delicate violet scent following through into the mouth were outstanding. Whilst the soft fruit flavours and gentle floral tones were caressing my taste buds a whole powerful explosion of grape and oak tannins were also apparent… this wine will last forever I thought and it is still youthful in its style today… so maybe it will go on forever!

So my “Fantasy Wine List” will remain very much a fantasy but my great friends in the wine trade and their wines will live on in my memory forever.