It's a strange feeling when you may have drunk the last bottle on earth. Obviously, I am not taking about the last bottle of wine on earth! Let's hope it never comes to that! But I am talking about what is most likely the last bottle of a particular wine from a certain vintage.
I had that feeling the other night in London during an amazing dinner with some friends. We drank some mindblowing wines. My friends had pulled out some 1989 Pétrus and 1989 Haut-Brion (both officially 100 points from me), so I had to bring something along that was special. I found a bottle of 1927 Niepoort Vintage Port in a tiny collection of wines I keep in London. I believe it is the last bottle of that rare Port left on the planet. Even the Niepoort family doesn't have any left in its cellar in Vila Nova di Gaja or Oporto.
I have drunk other "last bottles on earth" over my three decades of working for Wine Spectator. I remember moldy bottles from an ancient damp cellar in Bernkastel, Germany, with trockenbeerenauslesen from the early 1900s, or bottles of Château Latour from the late 1800s for a pre-auction tasting at the end of the 1990s. My Last Bottle on Earth experiences have been mostly in formal tastings.
It's an eerie feeling knowing that you are drinking something that nobody will ever experience again. It's history. It's extinct, like the dodo or the passenger pigeon. But it's what the wines were made for, and strangely, I didn't really think about it until I had already decanted this ancient Port, readying it to drink with my friends.
The fortified wine was so amazing. It was an amber, brick-red color with amazing aromas of caramel, brown sugar, toffee and prunes. That followed through to a full, very sweet and thick palate. It was almost like syrup. I can still taste it as I write these words. But then, with about two hours of air, it turned to a fresh and fruity palate, with plums, citrus fruits and butterscotch. It lasted for minutes on the palate. I gave it a perfect score, 100 points, non-blind.
But it doesn't really matter what I scored it. As far as I know, nobody is ever going to have it again. At least the last bottle of 1927 Niepoort was shared with friends and thoroughly enjoyed. The real joy of such a bottle is the memory of drinking it, not going down to your cellar and looking at it like some ancient relic in a museum.
Matt Scott — Honolulu HI — February 8, 2010 8:20pm ET
James Suckling — — February 9, 2010 5:34am ET
Lee Goodner — Massachusetts — February 9, 2010 10:45am ET
Matt Scott — Honolulu HI — February 9, 2010 12:03pm ET
Doug Jeffirs — Pluto (the old one) — February 9, 2010 12:11pm ET
David Rossi — Napa, CA, USA — February 9, 2010 12:42pm ET
Anacleto Ludovic — paris france — February 9, 2010 2:50pm ET
Sean Barry — brooklyn, ny — February 9, 2010 3:21pm ET
Johnny Espinoza Esquivel — Wine World — February 9, 2010 4:26pm ET
James Suckling — — February 10, 2010 10:54am ET
Aaron Simon — MA — February 10, 2010 3:48pm ET
Kevin Callahan — Montreal, QC — February 11, 2010 1:03pm ET
J Lawton Turner — KingsFerry, Fl. USA — February 20, 2010 7:32am ET
Jason Adams — Florida — February 27, 2010 1:51pm ET
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