Twenty Years On: The 2001 Vintage
Venturing into the deepest and darkest corners of any cellar can be a dangerous activity. Back in the 1970s I heard that so many people had been lost in the far reaches of Hugh Johnson’s labyrinthine cellar that his butler had taken to tying string to the door handle, taking a leaf out of Theseus’ book. Once he had located the required double magnum of 1947 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen – or whichever suitably grand old bottle had been requested – he could be sure, by following the string, of finding his way out again. Of course, it might have just been a rumour, but it sounds plausible, doesn’t it?
There is little likelihood of anyone getting lost in my cellar, given that its size more closely matches that of the box bedroom I inhabited as a teenager rather than a subterranean maze inhabited by a bull-headed cryptid. No, the real risk here is that I might suffer an unanticipated mountaineering accident. Every square inch of floor space has long disappeared beneath cases of wine, so gaining access to the bottles in the rack at the back of the cellar involves clambering over a Snowdonia of Sancerre, a mound so high the last time I ventured over it I encountered snow at the summit. And, if frostbite does not bother you, there is also the possibility of rock fall. Or should that be bottle fall? Whatever you call it, there is a slim possibility I could be buried beneath an Anjou avalanche, never to be seen again.
Now that you understand the process, I hope you appreciate the fact that I have risked life and limb to pull from my cellar these 26 bottles from the 2001 vintage. Indeed, having then returned to pull a couple of replacement bottles, I have twice risked life and limb. But there’s nothing I won’t do for my subscribers; neither minotaurs nor marauding mountain goats can stop me.