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FROM THE CELLAR | Great Wine: 2009 Chateau Figeac

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Does wine have a soul?

 

 

Some say that a living thing which isn’t human only forms a soul once it establishes a deep connection with a human soul. Compare, say, a pet dog or cat versus an animal that wanders isolatedly in the wild. When the wild animal is killed by prey—does its spirit linger beyond death? Meanwhile, with the passing of a beloved pet, there are many who believe their soul arrives at the Rainbow Bridge, where they await the arrival of their owner… the two souls are to be reunited, one day, in the eternal realm of the afterlife. 

We know that wine does not live in stasis—wine evolves. Wine is a product of the most powerful creative force in the universe—Mother Nature. Every aspect of wine is subject to the four seasons, and no two wines are ever exactly the same from vintage to vintage. The greatest wines, when released from the confines of a bottle, are vividly alive—ready to form a connection with the human soul who opened the bottle and possibly with others who, too, will form a connection with the same wine from the same bottle. 

I believe that life decides for you when to open the special bottles. The 2009 CHATEAU-FIGEAC Saint-Emilion, for me, is one of those special bottles. I knew I had to have it in my possession after first tasting it in early 2012, before it was to arrive to U.S. shores later in the year.  While it layed sideways under ideal conditions over the years, I pondered often when the right occasion might arise to open my ‘09 Figeac. I had felt upon my first tasting that it was one of the greatest wines of one of the greatest vintages ever for Bordeaux. I was tempted several times to pull the cork, but something in my gut always withheld the action. One always finds a reason to wait longer to open a great $300 bottle of wine. 

That right moment finally arrived, and life decided it for me. It was, indeed, the death of my cat that compelled me to open the bottle. She was a rescue, pulled out of a dumpster at only a week old. The rest of her litter didn’t make it, but she did. I consider it one of the great miracles of my life that, somehow, I was the one to have the privilege of welcoming a creature of such pure joy and love into my home. Make no mistake, she was the one to rescue me in the 6 years she was in my life. 

Torn apart and broken by grief at the sudden loss of a loved one with whom I had made a profound connection, I felt that my most prized bottle of wine had to be the one with which to make a toast—in honor of the blessing and the gift of a most special companion. 

The 2009 Figeac, at a relatively mild 13.5% ABV, is comprised of 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Cabernet Franc and 30% Merlot—a highly atypical blend for a Right Bank Bordeaux estate, which is usually mostly Merlot or Cab Franc. The Figeac begins with a super gentle yet piquantly expressive aroma of blackberry, dark plum, blueberry and violets, as well as subtle undertones of young sandalwood. You know this is going to be a finely-tuned, finely-sculpted masterpiece. 

The wine’s texture is thrillingly silky and ethereal while flavor is robust and statuesque, endowed with super-fine tannins that usher in a finish that lingers in the memory, inviting and stirring emotion. This is Michelangelo’s statue of David—unsurpassing beauty derived from a perfection of proportion, strength, sensitivity and elegance. It contains a profound inner power able to defeat a Goliath but with a balance of supreme expressiveness and gentle masculinity. 

I wish I possessed, these days, the qualities of Michelangelo’s David. Perhaps that’s why the ‘09 Figeac was the perfect wine for the occasion—to fill the areas of my soul that have become depleted. And a wine to match the miraculous beauty of a creature that touched my soul like no other. I raise my glass… a toast! 

Does wine have a soul? Most likely not. But the great wines have the power to make you believe that they do. Because, in a great wine, you can see your own soul reflected back at you—or that soul of one who is dearly beloved.  –J.M.

 

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April 1, 2018

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