What is the most memorable wine you've ever had?

For me it’s a 1962 Vega Sicilia Unico.

I can’t remember

(No joke…it was some older Barolo somebody brought to a tasting)

la Romanee. Don’t know the vintage but it would have to have been the early to mid 1960s. It was my first great Burgundy. My father opened this in like 1976 or 1977. We had drunk an Haut Brion first and I could not understand how something could be so much better than an Haut Brion.

Second would be a weekend where a bunch of us in DC tasted with John Gilman for what became an article on Jacky Truchot in issue two of his newsletter (he brought a bunch of these and everyone else contributed a bunch). We had around 40 wines over 2 nights. Unbelievable.

Nice. Mine is probably the 1968 Vega Sicilia Unico. Had on my 25th b-day in 1993 with my new bride. Perfect storm.


Of all the amazing wines I’ve tried, probably the one with the best memories is the 1961 Antoniolio Gattinara that the proprietor gave to me in 1993 on my first trip to Europe. I was traveling by myself, and couldn’t for the life of me find my way around Piemonte. And I’m actually great with directions. But I don’t speak Italian, and couldn’t follow verbal instructions. I did stumble upon Gattinara, and Antoniolio welcomed me without an appointment. The owner and I had such a nice tour/tasting, then she gave me the '61 upon my departure. I drank the bottle with my parents around 1996. It was spectacular.

1982 Pichon Lalande at the millennium New Year’s Eve. Really got me going on this whole crazy hobby as I had never had a wine with that many layers of complex deliciousness.

I’ve had lots of memorable bottles, but these two stick out more than any others -

'59 Petrus.

'41 Latour (in a blue bottle)

1995 Clos Roche Blanche Côt, the wine that changed the way I thought about wine, and still the most perfect example of purity and precision I’ve ever experienced.

perhaps ’68 Castillo de Ygay Gran Reserva
perhaps de Vogüé ’55 Musigny
perhaps Ridge '70 Jimsomare Zinfandel
perhaps ’53 Krug Extra Sec

…and perhaps ‘79 Château Palmer, because it embarrassed a number of ’82 premiers crus when i once put it in a blind tasting

I could probably think of a handful of bottles, each associated with some meaningful memory.

However, at this exact moment, I recall the weeks prior to when my brother and his fiancée moved to Lake Havasu from Louisiana.

He had a case of 1990 Château Haut-Brion Pessac-Leognan, and he gently handed an immaculate bottle to me as a parting gift. As he spoke of the wisdom of reserving it for a special occasion, I grabbed the waiter’s key from my pocket and popped the bottle on the spot!

In my mind, this was a rare, memorable moment. I did not know when I would see him again. The wine, needless to say, was beautiful!

A 1947 Gevrey Chambertin from a producer I can’t remember. It was the first wine that showed me what can happen to a wine when it ages properly.

A 1982 Contino Gran Reserva which was part of a blind tasting of top wines from Spain and Bordeaux from the same vintage - it was brilliant.

A 1947 Marques de Riscal GR which I sat and drank one afternoon with the owner of a wonderful Spanish restaurant, now closed.

2001 Markus Molitor Kabinett which made me realize that I had been making a big mistake in not drinking any white wines for many years.

1999 Szepsy 6 Puttonyos, which was the definition of what a sweet wine should be.

1994 Pahlmeyer Merlot, which I had at a dinner with Maria Jose and four other people at the 15 year mark, and we all agreed that it was a brilliant example of an aged Napa wine, outclassing the 1994 Proprietary Red that we had next to it.

1995 Ridge Lytton Springs that I had with my new wife and new in-laws.

Greg: not fair. Pick one. No cheating.

About a dozen or so years ago, we went to Venice in October. We had been invited by some of our friends to stay with their friend David, who had an apartment in Venice. We had met David a couple times at big parties, but hadn’t really gotten to know him. Well, he was in Venice for 6 months doing research at the various historical archives there – he was a doctoral student in medieval history. After a couple months there, he was a bit homesick and really wanted some Americans to come and hang out with him. He conveniently had a small two bedroom apartment. We felt a bit awkward, but our joint friends strongly encouraged us to contact him about making a visit. We were a bit apprehensive before the trip, but ended up having a fabulous time. I think we spent 8 or 9 days there, enjoying Venice in the low season, with a rather unique part-time tour guide.

One of the last couple days we were there, we decided we needed to stop at the fish market and cook, rather than dining out. Lunch was charcuterie, cheese, bread, etc. To accompany this, we opened three different bottlings from Jermann (IIRC, Chardonnay, Ribolla Gialla, Vintage Tunina). They were nice but not special. We left the open half-full bottles on the balcony until dinner. Dinner was the best seafood I’ve ever cooked, highlighted by the little soft shell crabs from the lagoon – served with the remains of the bottles from lunch. The wines blew us away. I’m sure that some of what made them so great was the company, the setting, and the food. But I still love Jermann every time I taste one. And David is now an old friend who lives far away, a tenured professor with two little ones who we don’t get to see nearly often enough.

Many years ago but will always remember the 1985 Château L’Arrosée. We were a small group but had a flight of six if I remember correctly.

Probably 1947 Loyau Vouvray Moelleux on Christmas Eve sometime in the late 80s or early 90s. Magical.

Chateau Chalon.

Memorable most certainly. Interesting in a way and certainly striking, but not really enjoyable.

1970 Petrus

It’s really tough…there have been some amazing bottles. I’m going to cheat and share one from each type
Red: 1984 Muser (Memories of a 17 vintage vertical with some of the most generous wine folks I know)
White: 2004 Keller G-Max (thanks to the kindness and generosity of one of my best friends)
Bubbles: 1996 Pol Roger SWC (NYE with two of the nicest people I know…and a surprise as this wine became a benchmark for what Champagne can achieve)

the wine that started me on this crazy journey: 1975 Beaulieu Georges de Latour Reserve. Friend brought it to a restaurant in 1984, shocked me to think someone would bring a wine to a restaurant, thought wine was just wine. Thought we’d be kicked out. Restaurant owner cooed over the bottle to my surprise and, when it was opened, the most amazing smells filled the booth we sat in. What could possibly smell and taste that good? Spent the evening talking wine, borrowed Alexis Bespaloff’s Taste of Wine from my friend, stayed up all night reading it, have never looked back.

1990 Drouhin Bonnes Mares - my first Burgundy grand cru and the one that converted me to Burgundy

White with rs
1989 Trimbach Clos Ste Hune Hors Choix - I dreamed about this wine…

Dry white
1998 Clos Roche Blanche Sauvignon Blanc - my first CRB. it set me off to locate other wines by this producer and it became the producer I’ve probably drunk the most of in my life

1979 Taittinger Comte de Champagne - changed me from someone who liked Champagne to someone who loved it and actively started aging it