The older wines I have in my modest collection are mostly from vintages that have a personal significance for me, like anniversaries and birth years. These rare bottles are great fun to dust off and enjoy years or decades down the road as we mark these special occasions, relive our earlier lives, and marvel at how quickly time has passed. But even if you’re not celebrating any particular milestone, a well-aged red from Catherine and Pierre Breton is always its own special occasion. The Bourgueil Les Perrières is the Bretons’ finest Cabernet Franc, grown on the slopes of the Bourgueil appellation on silica-rich clay over limestone. There isn’t a spot in the world better suited for Cabernet Franc, and their old vines produce the raw material for one of the best reds in the Loire valley. There’s something about the way Les Perrières smells that just slays me. It’s a magical aroma that for whatever reason—a fluke of genetics or chemistry or fate—thumps the most primal part of my brain like the hammer blows in Mahler’s Seventh Symphony. After a couple of decades in the bottle, a fine, old Les Perrières smells like a hike in the forest after a spring rain, with a campfire burning in the distance; like a wild blackberry patch in summer; like a carpet of newly fallen leaves in the autumn. The aromas evoke a powerful sense of nostalgia, imploring me to slow down, savor, reflect, and above all, inhale deeply. Catherine and Pierre have generously agreed to ship us a few bottles of older vintages directly from their cellar so our clients can experience the magic of mature Les Perrières firsthand. The ’97 and ’95 are part of a trio of excellent, riper vintages, while the ’94 is an earthier expression of Cabernet Franc. And then there’s the ’89, a legendary vintage rightly considered one of the best of the twentieth century. This bottle alone is worth the price of admission. It’s the greatest Cabernet Franc I’ve ever had (and trust me, I’ve had a lot of Cabernet Franc!). Even if you don’t have a major milestone in this group of vintages, you can always toast your good fortune at having a glass of perfectly aged Les Perrières direct from the source. Act quickly, though! Quantities are extremely limited.
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