Three bottles: Jasper Morris MW

Happy New Year.  And bring on 2015.  And it’s Burgundy time.  So a timely three bottles.

Limited smoke blowing here: there is a handful of guys from whom I have learnt much of what I know and, more importantly, from whom I have learnt how to learn more.  Mr Morris is close to the top here.

And, yes, there is a handful of gents in the UK wine trade that can match Mr Morris for knowledge, etc.  But none of them have written a book.  If you have a serious interest in the wines of Burgundy and you do not already own “Inside Burgundy” then you should buy it immediately.

Mr Morris: thank you.

What was the first wine/bottle that got you into the whole wine thing?

I got into wine by stages, but it was largely at University where I followed my sister Arabella into tasting and drinking wine. Certainly an early memorable bottle was Cos d’Estournel 1966, then available (1978) for £2.50 from the college buttery.I have enjoyed the firm fruit character of St Estèphe wines ever since. I bought several cases from the college but was down to the last one when Arabella came round with a new man in tow. I said I wasn’t going to open up one of my last few bottles of the Cos, but when she told me that she and Richard had just got engaged I reached for the corkscrew….. Once I had started in the wine business then it was my first trip to Burgundy and my first tasting in Meursault with René and Dominique Lafon that really took the whole thing to another level – call this a staging post between bottle one and bottle two.

What was the first wine/bottle that took you closer to your maker?

Bordeaux again: this time Latour 1961. It was at a memorable lunch at the Boot & Flogger wine bar near London Bridge. Harry Waugh, most perfect of English wine-merchants and very much a mentor for me, was our host and alongside some smoked salmon and a plate of rare roast beef with new potatoes, followed by cheese, we drank Latour 1961, 1952 and 1928 (the idea being to show a great young vintage, a great old vintage and a decent vintage that was about ready to drink). We had great champagne and white burgundy too, but it was the trio of Latours that stood out. We all liked the ’52, the wise old heads were in awe of the 1928, finding the ’61 altogether too youthful; whereas I did not have the depth of understanding to be able to make real sense of the ’28 but was completely floored by the majesty of the 1961. I never expected to have such an experience again but in fact, on the eve of the Lords Test match about five years ago, at the capital Hotel and in the company of some cricketing greats, a generous host served exactly those three same vintages (and a few more, though the subsequent green chartreuse was definitely a mistake)

What was the best wine/bottle you have had this year? – OK, the past twelve months.

Best this year would be tricky as I am writing this on January 2nd, so lets make it the 2014 ‘Wine of the Year’. Shall I go with Bordeaux again, to your consternation, Josh? Not this time. The obvious candidate would be La Romanée Conti 1966, the stand-out wine in a dinner comparing this wine with La Tâche over several vintages. But actually I am going for a white Burgundy instead because this bottle, offered by a friend in Hong Kong over a casual supper, did exactly what great white burgundy ought to do and has failed to do in recent years. It was a wine of considerable pedigree, Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet from Domaine Leflaive, but of a minor vintage (albeit rather better in white than red), 1984, thirty years old. Yet the colour still had green tints, the bouquet was fresh and floral, and the palate was joyful and nuanced – it wasn’t a wine that demanded endless adjectives but it was a bottle that drank itself in no time at all, a moment of pure happiness.

Jasper: thank you again.