It would be fun to pretend that pulling the cork and enjoying assorted vintages of Cheval Blanc is one of our regular weekend practices. I fancy it would surprise very few people to reveal that this is far from reality. Indeed this is so far from reality that the truth is that this is the first bottle of Cheval Blanc we have ever drunk and it wouldn’t at all be a surprise that it is the last opportunity. I have tasted nascent Cheval Blanc at the château during the en-primeur week but never previously sat down to enjoy a bottle with dinner.
I have no idea when or where we acquired this bottle of 1971. My guess is that it was in the late 1970s or early 1980s when top wine from Bordeaux and Burgundy were far more affordable and when the gap between ‘everyday’ wine and the ‘classics’ was very much narrower. I doubt if this Cheval Blanc was more than £25-£30 a bottle whereas today the cheapest replacement bottle that I can find on wine-searcher would set me back £572 and is available from WineTip in Milan.
I opened the bottle with some trepidation and managed to get out about 80% of the cork, while the remaining 20% broke into fragments with a small part proving impossible to extract instead it fell into the wine. However, as soon as I poured a small amount into a glass the 1971’s magnificence was immediately apparent. This was one of those magical occasions when you could smell and taste what all the fuss is about. The 1971 had wonderful glass filling aromas along with a soft, sensuous opulent texture with a long finish. It was great with roast roe deer bought from Newtonmore’s excellent game dealer – Simpson’s Game.
Of course using a majority of Cabernet Franc explains the excellence of Cheval Blanc… the Chinon of Saint-Emilion…
In late August we were in Edinburgh for an overnight stay and while we were there we popped into Vino Wines, which was an entirely new shop to us. We were looking for an interesting white and red. We spied this 2019 Menetou-Salon from Joseph Mellot and the shelf talker which stated that it had been awarded a Silver Medal at the 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards piqued our interest. We thought it would be interesting to see whether we agreed with the verdict of these DWWA judges…
Put to the test we decided these DWWA judges had done a good job with this Joseph Mellot 2019 Menetou-Salon, which is attractively ripe and concentrated – properly ripe with no hints of those unripe, unappealing Sauvignon Blanc vegetal notes. Reduced from £16.95 to £14.36 we bought a further two bottles the next day. Confirming that both the judges were in our unbiased opinion right and that Joseph Mellot, although less famous than Alphonse Mellot, making some very attractive wines.