John Hart and I could not help but feel a little bit nostalgic at this past May’s events for the Burgundy auction.
When I first learned Chef Johan Bjorklund of Le Bistro de L’ Hotel de Beaune was coming to Chicago, I was thrilled. His presence at Ada Street (see image right) and throughout the weekend reminded me of his first visit to Chicago 30 years ago. In 1984, Johan traveled to Chicago and he visited John’s home and original offices at 809 Oakdale. That evening, John cooked dinner for a few close friends – including me – during which John and his friends opened and compared a 750ml against an Imperial (6L) of the 1970 Château Palmer. Still today, I cannot remember which tasted better or if there was a difference in quality.
I mentioned this story to John and it triggered some memories of his own. He said he attended a similar event in New Orleans during the mid-1980s, when Lloyd Flatt, the legendary wine collector, hosted Michael Broadbent, Marvin Shanken, Peter Meltzer, several close friends and John. During that tasting, Lloyd organized a tasting of every bottle format of the 1982 Château Mouton Rothschild, from the half bottle to the Imperial (6L). John recalled tasting a significant difference in the wine between the half bottle and the Imperial; he also distinctly remembered experiencing little difference between the Jeroboam and the Imperial.
John proceeded to tell yet another story. He reminisced about a remarkable dinner and a three-day tasting he attended in 1986. According to John, on April 17-19, 1986, Dr. Marvin Overton hosted a dinner party in honor of Philippe duc de Mouchy. Among the dinner guests were Philippe, his wife Joan, Jean Delmas, Sid Cross, Andy Lawlor, other top collectors and John. John stated the wines offered during dinner were simply magnificent:
- 1921 Pol Roger Champagne
- 1911 Château Margaux
- 1922 Château Latour
- 1952 Château Lafite Rothschild (Magnum format)
- 1929 Château Laville Haut-Brion
John said the Laville Haut-Brion was, by far, the group’s favorite. He stated the dinner concluded with a 1922 Château d’Yquem and 6 different 1922 Ports. The following morning other guests arrived and the group spent the day tasting 31 vintages of Château Haut-Brion Blanc from 1919 to 1985. The consensus was that a magnum of 1928 Haut-Brion Blanc was the favorite. On the third day, the group tasted a vertical of Château Haut-Brion from 1899 to 1982. John recalled many of the guests stated the 1899 was the best Château Haut-Brion they had ever tasted.
It is strange how the presence of good company and old friends can evoke such strong memories. John and I cannot imagine if events like these, particularly the dinner hosted by Dr. Overton, will ever be repeated or topped again. But who knows, anything is in the realm of possibility.