1917 Château de Rayne-Vigneau- France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes (2/25/2013)
Every once in a while, someone shows up at a dinner and pulls out a bottle and you say “, that’s incredible.” It happened last night. I will leave to the person who brought it to identify himself, but there’s one bottle listed in Cellartracker and this might have been it. Color was excellent, I would say comparable to what I’ve seen in a 30 year old Sauterne. This wine had gone through the full morphing of a Sauterne without reaching the over the hill and dead stage. The sugar had converted into whatever and there was just a bit of sweetness. I have trouble with “is that butterscotch or caramel?” so I’m not sure, but I think caramel. Tropical fruit like guava and a bit of pineapple. Pears? Yes, that’s there as well. Smooth, and whatever took away the sugar also removed enough of the acidity that was probably there 90+ years ago so it was still in balance. A real treat. (96 pts.)
1917 is a very difficult year to find. I have drunk only one : Yquem 1917.
Here is what I wrote in French :
Yquem 1917. C’est d’abord une année émouvante, l’année de Verdun et de Douaumont. Ensuite, c’est une année rare que peu de gens ont bue. D’où l’attention qu’il mérite. Très belle bouteille, au bouchon d’origine, avec un niveau un peu bas, mais une couleur merveilleuse, de caramel et de tabac brun. A l’ouverture le bouchon s’est cassé en deux, mais est resté ferme, et de belle odeur. Dans le verre, j’ai eu un peu peur : un nez discret, une attaque sèche, et une longueur un peu faible, même si le charme d’Yquem s’exprime. J’en faisais la remarque, mais les convives autour de moi appréciaient tellement que j’aurais eu mauvaise grâce à critiquer, d’autant que progressivement, ce Yquem devenait grand. Belle consistance de fruit. Peut-être pas éclatant comme certains, mais grand, intense, et un remarquable témoignage.
My grandfather was wounded in Verdun in 1917 and spent two years in an hospital. So, when I drank this wine, I had a thought to my grandfather.
In my cellar I have one bottle of 1917 Haut-Brion. It could be good to open it in 2017 for the anniversary of Verdun.
I had not considered that it was from the middle of WWI. Makes it even more fascinating. I did think about how the bottle was two years older than my father would have been. The bottle was hand blown generally standard shape - there was no mold mark and the very large punt on the bottom was a bit off center. I do not think I have a photo of the bottle, but others may, and I know that the guy who brought it took it back with him, so perhaps he can photograph it. The label had only the word “Rayne” on it, without the word “Vigneau.”
I never noticed the word Vigneau, which was in a different, smaller, lighter type underneath what I thought was the name of the Chateau. You can’t even see it on the first photo posted. I also think the actual color was a bit lighter. Cell phone flashes do not render colors well.
NOTE, by the way, that according to Wikipedia, the chateau is currectly owned by Credit Agricole.