Chateau Monbrison Cru Bourgeois 1995 Margaux – corked

It happens. Every once in a while you find a bottle of something old and amazing at a price you can afford. It’s so exciting. Even as you purchase the bottles you know that there’s every chance the wine won’t be in good shape. Maybe it was stored improperly. Perhaps it spent many of its’ days standing upright. You can’t know. But you have to take a chance.

In February I found just such a gem through one of my guests at BiBO. He told me where to find the Ch. Monbrison Cru Bourgeois 1995 at knock down prices. I went to the store, trembling with anticipation and there it was!

I bought a few bottles and gave one to my oldest son for his birthday. It seemed like an extravagant gift, but I had to tell him what a deal it was. Nonetheless, he decided that we should save it for a special occasion, and last night was it.

We had made plans to go out for a slightly belated mother’s day dinner, but discovered that on that night, the restaurant he works for had been planning a staff tasting for their new menu. :{ Luckily, my son’s employers are awesome family people and they offered to have me join the staff for the menu and wine tasting. Who could refuse?

We had so much fun tasting the new menu and savouring some of the more obscure wines on their list. In fact about halfway through the meal I wondered if my stomach was big enough to last through the whole glorious meal. I needn’t have worried. The dishes were so good that I managed to taste everything including the wonderful desserts.

When we got home, my son decided that it was time to open his birthday present. As he carefully withdrew the cork from the bottle, it crumbled into a hundred pieces. With infinite skill, he got the last bit of cork out of the neck and carefully poured out two glasses.

We sniffed the glasses. Our eyes met and at once we said, “corked”. Oh cork! So disappointing. We put our glasses down and spoke awhile. When next we lifted our glasses to our noses, our eyes met in wide open surprise. “NOt corked.” we chimed.

The aroma of the wine was of dried fig and delicate spice. There was an earthiness that wafted across the fruit and the mouthfeel was like the finest silk.

We put down our glasses and the next time we tasted the wine it was clearly corked but because we were having such a magical experience with the wine we kept drinking it and it continued to be corked and then not corked as it threw wild aromas of cocaine and chocolate cake.

“It’s like the wine is telling us a story.” said my son. I was never more proud. Whenever you pull the cork on a good bottle of wine it begins its second life, opening and changing and giving olfactory hints that lead you to understand a little bit about where that wine came from and what it took to get to you.

I am not ashamed to say that we drank the whole bottle together. We shared a little with my youngest son and spent the rest of the night marvelling at the delicate beauty of this fine old gentleman of a wine.

Wine snobs may need to apply smelling salts at this time as no corked wine could ever be enjoyed! But it goes to show that with an open mind not every flaw is absolute and sometimes, just as with people, a little flaw can make some things oddly more attractive and magical.

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