At an Oddbins tasting at the North British Hotel (now the Balmoral) Edinburgh. It was held on a Sunday morning and cost £5 for a ticket. A 5* sandwich lunch was also available at £4 which included tea or coffee. We got there as it opened, about 10.30 a.m. and it was devoid of attendees, the Marie Celeste, no less!
I headed straight for the Bollinger table, my pal who is a terrific golfer struck up a conversation with the Bolly guy who also “goffed, LoL”, and we were off and running. The Bolly NV they served tasted far, far better than any other NV that I had tasted to date, maybe they keep their best stuff for this type of event.
I wandered off and tasted some top Burgundy, but then I spotted the Jaboulet stand. Even then, I had read up and tasted some great wine from the Rhône Valley and was able to successfully engage the stand holder. And then, heart-stoppingly I spotted the La Chapelle on the table AND it WAS the 1990! I will not bore you with regard to the rest of the tasting, the Chapelle although a baby was utterly phenomenal, almost purple in colour, the fabulous depth of fruit, the amazing concentration, the sublime balance, the promise of complexity in such a young wine but most of all, the quite extraordinary drinkability. It felt like you could drink a gallon of it, with no ill effect. This was wine the like that I had read about but was totally unprepared for the reality!! Amusing to record as I was so moved, my pal said that it was “nice”, he really liked the Bolly and was consuming it in industrial quantity, so he was all set!!??!! I was lost in the moment and mentally vowed to own a case of this magnificent nectar. I got to taste the entire 1990 range that had been released, which was such a privilege.
Around 13.30 my pals wife arrived to drive us back and it has to be admitted, we were slightly worse for wear! By then the queue of ticket holders was out of the front door, and heading down Princes Street. I vaguely remember someone waiting asked me what the tasting was like? I replied that the lunch was really good, the Bolly fab but the Chapelle was off the wall!!
Unfortunately for them, the Hermitage was history and we had drunk at least half a bottle each but I got the lions share, only a dribble of that lovely Bolly remained, and they had stopped their lunch service.
The wisdom of the “early worm” or in truth being incredibly fortunate, a never to be forgotten educational and emotional experience.
That morning, in some respects changed my life, to those in that particular iteration of Oddbins I offer my heartfelt thanks and doff my “chapeau” for the memory of a tasting of a lifetime!!
As a fellow Welshman Max Boyce might say, “I was there!!” and I really was!!