© Linden Wilkie, 5th June 2020
Don’t tell Mike I told you this. It’s just between us. Now, he’s a generous fellow, happy to open great bottles for the right occasion, but there is one area where he becomes particularly reticent – last bottles. This is particularly the case when the wine is hard to replace. It puts pressure on the owner to think – is this the right occasion? And in Mike and my case – mightn’t I need this bottle for some themed dinner or vertical tasting sometime?
When you think, as I do, that a bottle of wine is not just 750ml of liquid, but an experience trapped behind a cork, waiting to happen, last bottles gain the weight of added responsibility.
Acquiring them can take on an equal and opposite sort of urgency. Scanning the list, a last bottle can shine like a diamond. Last chance – buy now and decide later what to do with it. Sometimes I look at these bottles and think of them – you once lay in a case of 12, somewhere, at some time, in someone’s care. You’re a last glimpse, a last reference to something that will become extinguished once I’ve sipped the last sip from the bottle.
But don’t let this make you wait forever, either. As Maya says to Miles in the movie Sideways as he frets about the occasion worthy of opening his cherished single bottle of 1961 Château Cheval Blanc, “the day you open a ’61 Cheval Blanc, that’s the special occasion.” Since hearing that line in 2004 I have at times opened a special bottle simply apropos opening a special bottle. In some ways anything else is a distraction. (Of course I share!) But if you are paying attention to this bottle, you are doing it justice.
So, what last glimpses lie on the list, awaiting their swan song? I went through the entire list line by line in search of these gems. In every case these are each the last bottle on our list, rare, and quite possibly irreplaceable. (Burger and plastic cup optional).