In case anyone is wondering what to get me for Presidents’ Day, I’d be interested in a nice bottle of 1947 Cheval Blanc. Not necessarily a whole case, or even a magnum; an ordinary bottle would be fine. In Slate, Mike Steinberger explains:
[T]he ’47 Cheval I drank that night now ranks as the greatest wine of my life, a title I doubt it will relinquish. The moment I lifted the glass to my nose and took in that sweet, spicy, arresting perfume, my notion of excellence in wine, and my understanding of what wine was capable of, was instantly transformed—I could almost hear the scales recalibrating in my head. The ’47 was the warmest, richest, most decadent wine I’d ever encountered. Even more striking than its opulence was its freshness. The flavors were redolent of stewed fruits and dead flowers, yet the wine tasted alive; it bristled with energy and purpose. The ’47s signature flaws—the residual sugar and volatile acidity—were readily apparent, but it was just as Lurton had said: In this wine, the flaws inexplicably became virtues….
I realized that it was silly even to try to place the ’47 in the context of other wines; it defied comparison, a point underscored when I tasted another legend, the 1945 Château Latour, later that night (yeah, it was a nice evening). The Latour was stunning—probably the second-best wine I’ve ever had—but it at least fell within my frame of reference: It was a classically proportioned Bordeaux that just happened to be achingly good. The ’47 Cheval, by contrast, was an otherworldly wine—a claret from another planet. And it was amazing.
What is the sound of scales recalibrating? I’d like to find out.