Sunday, May 06, 2007

Yquem Embalmed

The past couple of weeks I've been working on a magazine for the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, and one of the articles is on how the Hôtel won, at auction, a stunning collection of Yquem - a collection of every single vintage produced (apparently, a few were never vinified because the weather was so rotten) from 1860 to 2003.

These, purchased for something like a $1.5 million, are housed in a "sumptuous" wooden case made by a royal woodworker (which is obviously cooler than being a woodworker to the stars). But the case itself is not temperature controlled. Who cares! The Grand-Hôtel, being both, well, grand and a hotel, has store rooms - cellars - vast enough to house all that in full air conditioning.

That's not the question. What is is this: is it morally right to store those bottles in toto like so many mortared bricks? Once the wall's made - a full collection, all those 135 years, which not even, I've read, the actual Château d'Yquem possesses in its own cellars - how on earth could you chisel out and remove a brick, or two, or three, and leave a grinning death's head, missing a few teeth?

I don't think wine is meant to be collected in this way. It's wine. It should be drunk, not embalmed.

Still... I like the neatness of it. The purity. The hosanna-singing-angel, golden-light-shining-from-the-vents kind of wholeness of having that unified whole of 1860 to 2003.

So bravo, Grand-Hôtel.

Besides, I don't like stickies.

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