I just read a wonderful CNN story by the son of a North Carolina wine lover who died unexpectedly. The son, Douglas Heye, said that his father, Bruce Heye, “was a fixture back home, especially in the wine community. The Winston-Salem Journal editorialized that he ‘touched thousands of people through his wine articles, wine-appreciation classes, and countless wine tastings.'” Today, we’ll look at Bruce’s life, which included a bottle of Chateau Latour!
Bruce’s Wine Cellar
Bruce left behind 300+ bottles of wine. Douglas and others enjoyed a number of bottles as they were sorting through all of Bruce’s belongings, including his wine. Douglas said, “Each time I’d open one, the sentence ‘This was one of Dad’s’ told friends and loved ones something special was in the offing.”
But there was one bottle that everybody knew was the cat’s meow: 1990 Château Latour. Latour is one of the five famed Bordeaux First Growths, the highest classification of Bordeaux wines, It dates back to 1331.
Chateau Latour describes its wines beautifully:
The Origines: Château Latour’s Grand Vin is made exclusively from “vieilles vignes”, an average of 60 years-old, in the Enclos. Gravettes, Sarmentier, Pièce de Château… these are the names of some of the finest plots that express the character of the terroir and forge the wine’s identity every year.
The Terroir: The heart of the Enclos is the only terroir that, every year, can produce the depth, elegance and concentration that we expect of the Grand Vin. It is here that the Cabernet Sauvignon (accounting for more than 90% of the blend) can achieve optimal expression in terms of colour, richness and freshness. These wines need time – often a decade- before they begin to be ready for drinking.
The Style: In great vintages, the power and energy of Château Latour’s wines enable them to continue to develop for several decades with ease. The bouquet and impressions on tasting gradually evolve, becoming increasingly complex, ultimately reaching a peak, after which the tannins soften and then the wine slowly declines. Beyond the pleasure of drinking them, these wines can produce powerful feelings and unforgettable moments.
Château Latour is also known for having the ability to produce fine wines even in difficult years.
According to Douglas, “Professional reviews all raved about the Latour, ranging from ‘one of my favorite wines ever’ by Wine Spectator, to Jancis Robinson declaring it ‘a dream wine.’ Steven Tanzer praised the ‘incredible unfolding peacock tail of a finish.’ Vinous called the 1990 Latour ‘like running into a long-lost friend.’
OMG. Give me a bottle, PLEASE! For $1,350? Well, maybe not.
An Important Lesson
Bruce had bought the 1990 bottle on a 1993 trip to Bordeaux and left it untouched for 23 years. He had a green yarn tied around its neck. Douglas said, “Dad joked, would make it easy to find if he felt ‘the big one’ coming and he thought the end was near.”
They drank the bottle on what would have been Dad’s 80th birthday, and the wine lived up to its expectations.
Douglas ends his piece with the following: “For anyone who has that one bottle from a loved one ‘too special’ to uncork — open it! If it’s bad, that comes with the territory. But if it’s good, as the Latour was, it’s a glorious tribute. So this Father’s Day, I’ll raise a glass of…something, thankful of gifts received and challenges passed.”
Do You Adhere to This Lesson?
I have to say that I don’t adhere very well to the lesson of drinking something special NOW. But this is why my Open That Bottle nights are so much fun. I’d love to hear from you about whether you drink now or save for later.