‘Getting better with age, like wine’, they say. The magic, of course, lies not so much in the ageing, but in the wine itself. Only fine wines age elegantly. The very best can reveal their pleasures even after a 100 years in the bottle.
At Saha & Buyan Restaurants in Singapore we have the privilege of stocking and displaying a spectacular collection of old vintage wines. This is called the Museum Collection and comes from the private collection of wine connoisseur and collector of Ravi Viswanathan, who also happens to be the investor behind Saha & Buyan.
The Museum Collection is an apt name, for these bottles are treasures, created over centuries. There is the 1811 Juglar Champagne, from cellars that received a gold medal by Napoleon for the beauty and richness of their wines. Divers exploring a shipwreck in the Baltic Sea discovered these bottles in 2010.
More recent vintages of Veuve Clicquot are a popular celebratory pop these days. But imagine a bottle of this Champagne from 1841, made during the time of Madame Clicquot herself. It is widely acknowledged that this house made some of best Champagne under the management of this highly respected winemaker. Naturally, Champagne aficionados were thrilled when 162 vintage bottles – 79 of them drinkable – were discovered in a shipwreck in the Baltic Sea some 170 years after they were bottled.
If you wish to drink what Tsar Nicholas II would have, there’s the Heidsieck Monopole Co 1907. It was found in a shipwreck of a Swedish freighter in the Gulf of Finland. The ship was specially commissioned to deliver wines to the Tsar in 1916, but a German submarine hit the ship and it sank with all the 2000 bottles of wine. They were found in 2000.
For another sip of history there’s the 1821Vin Jaune from the Chateau Chalon, Jura, France. It is known for its nutty flavors and aromas that can develop additional curry notes as the wines ages due to presence of sotolon. The wine’s yellow colour ranges from pale to deep gold and also gives it its name. Probably the oldest aged white wine in the world, it fetches great prices at auctions. The1821 vintage also has sentimental value for it is the year when Napoleon, exiled in the island of St Helena, passed away.
The Museum Collection includes two splendid old vintages from the Chateau Lafite Rothschild. There’s the 1854 and the 1883, the very best examples of old Bordeaux wines. Structured, rich and grand, these last for 100 years and more.
Another great Bordeaux wine in the Museum Collection is the Mouton Rothschild 1874. A magnificent wine, it is guaranteed to transport the drinker into a magical land of flowers and beautiful scenery.
From Chateau Margaux, one of the five 1st Growth wines from the 1855 Classification of Medoc wines, there are 1877 & 1896 vintages. Feminine, elegant and velvety, this one is like the woman with inner beauty, ageing gracefully for over a century.
Although some of these wines are not for sale, there is an excellent collection of vintage wines, ranging from 25 to 75 years old, that you can savour with your next meal at Buyan or Saha.