Nights like the one of December 29 2014, back down in the cellar of Grande Bretagne hotel in downtown Athens, not only stay in your memory for a lifetime, but moreover they act as a bond that ties you with the precious few, the ones who were there to share with you this moment of happiness in your journey to discover the ultimate experience.
A vertical tasting of 9 vintages is an apogee of everyone's dream who has heard these two magic words: Chateau Margaux !!!
Chateau Margaux is undoubtedly an epic wine, yet a Margaux from a perfect vintage, offers an experience that you can hardly describe it with words. And among us, we had at least three such vintages; 1990, 1996 and 2005! You simply drink and dream! All that you can think is how an entire universe actually conspired to bring to your glass perfection!
Just before we were about to start our event, we had the pleasure to share with our guests Paul Pontallier's, the technical director of Margaux, statement, saluting the very first Secret Wine Dinner:
''Each of these vintages shows a slightly different aspect of the complex personality of Chateau Margaux as well as the wonderful influence of aging. Great wines behave like great people, they constantly improve in wisdom while accepting to lose some freshness''. Wise words indeed from a person that joined Margaux at the age of 27!
But how did the participants experience the tasting? Many comments were heard; "Chateau Margaux is the epitome of elegance, grace and refinement", or for someone else "even if you try, you cannot demystify Margaux as the tasting strengthens furthermore the legend of the wine". For others the tasting of nine vintages highlighted the diversity and significance of the vintage. Nonetheless, always behind every vintage you could trace the common denominator of the charm of authenticity and sophistication of this great wine.
Far and beyond all doubts, for each one of us this was one of the leading wine-gastronomic experiences of our lives. The great wines were accompanied with the service of the certified sommelier of Grande Bretagne Evangelos Psofidis and his team and the cuisine of its executive chef Sotiris Evangellou and the chef de cuisine Asterios Koustoudis.
As for the cellar of Great Britain Hotel, it is the best kept secret of the city ... Well, not for long!
The nine wines were tasted in three flights:
Chateau Margaux 2007
Even when the vintage is far away from what someone will call as a "dream vintage" Margaux can always stand out worthy of its fame. After a rigorous selection the Grand Vin has bright red fruit on the nose with nuances of violets and vibrant new oak. Supple with sweet fruit on the palate it is ready to be enjoyed now. (91/100)
Chateau Margaux 2004
Like watching a ballerina from the Bolshoi dancing with incredible precision, balance and elegance. Beautiful fresh fruit on the nose, with pungent spices and the unique vegetal character of Cabernet, in its minty version with notes of liquorice and coffee. Very fresh and solid with a firm tannic structure showing elegance and strength in perfect balance. Already approachable but will evolve further in the next five years. (93/100)
Chateau Margaux 1996
An ethereal nose in an once in a lifetime experience, with masses of red and black fruits as if they were bottled just yesterday, flowers like lavender, cedar, mint and eucalyptus and in the background a hint of animal scents. On the palate tannins are in full strength, but beautifully polished and matured, caressing your palate like silk. The duration, intensity and persistence of flavors make up a real concert of feelings, in the most perfectly orchestrated interpretation of a great wine. (98/100)
The first vintage of Andre Mentzelopoulos -who bought Margaux back in 1977- and a shockingly expressive wine after 37 years of life. Earthy and gamey with fading fruit yet full of character and personality. Supple on palate with slightly dry tannins. Classic and stylish wine! (90/100)
Like flirting with the woman of your dreams and she indulges! Sensual nose with great fruit purity and a floral dimension reminiscent of rose petals that amazes you. If you find the strength to peel off and proceed to the first sip you will understand what the word perfection means. Juicy and savoury on the palate with incredible depth of fruit, mature with tremendous concentration and tannins for a seminar. Still kicking and more youthful compared to 96. (99/100)
Chateau Margaux 2001
In the 2001 fruit is very ripe on the nose together with evident new oak and hints of coffee and chocolate, in conjunction with hints of exotic spices such as Asian ones. On the palate it is slightly austere, firm with solid tannins. Long, complex and flavorful aftertaste. A classic wine in the style of 2004 (91/100)
Chateau Margaux 2008
Very youthful with caramel, toffee and concentrated black fruit, cassis and sweet spices like licorice, while in the background the floral dimension of Margaux is reminiscent of blue flowers. On the palate the wine lacks a bit in concentration, being more lightweight (next to the 2005 one it seemed very light) with crisp red fruit, silky texture and finesse. An attractive, airy dimension of Chateau Margaux. (90/100)
Chateau Margaux 2005
This is a Margaux on steroids or a beast locked in the cage, you choose! Amazingly powerful without losing nothing from its elegance. A real '' infanticide '' of a wine which will certainly endure for quite a long time. The nose is still tight, despite the double decanting, the fruit is ripe and concentrated, wonderful aromas of mocha, bitter chocolate and cassis. Tannins give you a real kick, reaching the highest levels of the evening but again with an unimaginable quality and velvety texture. A monumental aftertaste. At his best after 10-15 years. (98/100)
Chateau Margaux 1999
Graceful development in a wine that is now at an optimium drinking window. Bouquet has opened up, giving out next to the fruit aromas generous vegetal hints of green pepper, flower nuances and some earthy and raw meat aromas. On the palate is what you will expect from a Margaux; elegance, balance, masterful integration of the fruit with softened tannins, making it simply irresistible. (94/100)