What would you most like a friend to bring around for a luncheon wine? We cannot, nor would we want to, drink Richebourg every day; but that does not mean we should miss out on quality, which of course exists at every level.
As well as quality it is nice if one can drink something very familiar. Peter’s bottle brought back memories. Wonderful, hilarious, stylish memories of a vintage twenty-one years older than this. They both had refinement, class and complexity well beyond most examples of this traditionally simple AC.
And what class and complexity it was. Svelte tannins, a lovely savoury character and perfect acidity to give this a energetic, vigorous structure. The fruit is also full of life. Pulsing, dark, almost brambly fruit that yielded itself up for enjoyment with no need to coax or fight.
Its peppery, spicy warmth was far from being over-blown, but subtly enhanced and coloured the structure with a hue of desirable pleasure that stopped me and me friends from cellaring all those 1991s that Oddbins charged a tenner for.
I am sure this one cost a lot more than that, but it remains the standard-bearer for an appellation which is somewhat more in demand these days than it was in the heady days as an Oxford undergraduate.
The wine is Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage La Giraude 2012. Thank you, Peter, it is as good as I remember it.