The chance to taste any 1982 of the first growth Bordeaux category may be a once in a lifetime opportunity. So when I was asked by my employer to help one of our clients host a private dinner at their home where not only one 1982 was being served but two, I most clearly said yes.
The hosts were of another generation, helping me (the hired help) with my coat was a one of time gesture from any client. I immediately liked them. Their home seemed to be from decades back when formal home entertaining was the norm. A time when martinis and pencil skirts ruled. Everything was in its place with a backdrop of soft aquamarine blue wall to wall carpeting alongside marvelous copper and turquoise marbled fabric drapes (amazingly current now) and duck wood sculptures that looked like they came from a Danish fishing museum filled the rooms.
The home was on the outskirts of Boston, in a colonial little town where our American history is around every corner. From the homes of captains and commanders to Minuteman National Historic Park. It would seem fitting to taste my first taste of such great wines in such a unique setting. Not at some three- star michelin restaurant, but rather at a grandparent's house. It all seemed to be more appropriate for drinking such wine of great among intimate friends in one's home.
The host claimed he was not a "collector" but a "consumer". I think that is what all humble wine collectors say. However, I cannot disprove him since I only had a quick glance at his cellar. The occasion for the wine was for a colleague traveling from Norway who too was a wine "consumer". The evening prior to the dinner I was boasting about the wines I would soon taste and was told by my British friend (and "consumer" of wine too) that the Norwegians sadly do not have the access to wine as we Americans do because of the control on alcohol with the high depression rate. So the visiting guest must have been in paradise, as was I.
The menu composed of local oysters and three other hors d'oeuvres; seared sliced duck on a crostini with onion jam, lobster salad and avocado, and roasted pear with prosciutto and blue cheese. All to go along with Didier Chopin Champagne for cocktail hour. Following that to start the dinner, was Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blancs to go along with butternut squash soup. Then roasted cod with the Margaux and ending with leg of lamb for the Lafite.
As the host ran through the menu and explained the lineup, I saw the already decanted bottles waiting for service on the dining room hutch in two crystal decanters. Mind you, only one bottle of each on the counter. Exactly enough for eight people to taste each one. I thought to myself, "Heavens, when will I be able to taste this wine, will there be enough?". Even after he showed me a sample pour in a glass filled with Tang that would equal exactly eight pours, I thought there will be a way. Or at least he will give me a taste. After all, he must know why I even volunteered to come to his house and how my wine education is a priority as much as his guests' enjoyment.
This is when I learned my optimism ruined me that day. I left after dinner and dessert was served, into a rainy fog. I had only breathed the vapors from the decanters that housed the marvelous and precious juice that only can be defined as true Bordeaux; old ripe fruits that sing freshness so separate and yet so married to earth's aromas. During the cocktail hour, as they lounged in front of the fire would they have noticed me in the dining room? Letting just one drop of 82' touch my tongue... I can only dream about it now.