A Christmas bottle

Sunset on Christmas Day 2020 from our London flat

Three consolations for the ban on socialising on Christmas Day: a special bottle, a distant glimpse of all four (very excited) grandchildren, and views of this sunset. Pic by Nick.

I'm not a great one for sharing every drop I drink but in my Friday email sent out on Christmas Day I made the point that for this severely locked-down Christmas 2020 in London I felt Nick and I deserved a pretty special bottle with our turkey for two. Since then I've receive quite a few queries as to what we chose so I thought I'd give you a pictorial answer.

First off, one view of the cork, next to the nice, wide base on one of my glasses.

Rousseau cork Christmas Day 2020

Then another view of the cork…

Chambertin cork Christmas Day 2020

It's still being rather coy about the vintage … but it's a bit clearer on the label of this bottle still in its plastic bag to guard it from the moisture created by the water that invaded the base of the Spiral Cellar in our old house a dozen or so years ago. I can't remember why it has lost its foil.

Christmas 2020 bottle in a bag

And here is the bottle in all its glory with Chef Lander checking the turkey in the background.

Rousseau Chambertin 1989 with Chef Nick in background

I opened it about an hour before we started to drink it and the perfume really blossomed in that time, and has continued to do so right through to the next day. It was no disappointment though we certainly weren't drinking it too soon. See my tasting note. I see that in our tasting-notes database there are also notes on the 1949, 1976, 1983, 1985 and every vintage from 1989 to 2019 inclusive except for 1992 53 tasting notes in all, 50 of them by me. Lucky me! (Since the word Chambertin pops up in all Rousseau wines, the best way to search for reviews of Rousseau's Chambertin specifically is to use this link to a more precise search rather than the general search box across the top of the page.)

In his magisterial Vintage Wine the late Michael Broadbent has no note on the Chambertin 1989 but says of its stablemate Rousseau's Chambertin-Clos de Bèze 1989 tasted in 1994 that 'after 90 minutes [the nose] reminded me of milk chocolate; sweet, very firm, good wine, needed time. ****(*)'

This is the colour, pretty good for a 31-year-old wine.

Colour of Christmas 2020 bottle, Rousseau Chambertin 1989

And here's the 1993 Farr Vintners invoice showing that it was £540 a dozen even then. This was the last of my dozen bottles. I remember giving one to my brother-in-law and another to Oxford wine-loving academic Hanneke Wirtjes to thank her for her contributions to the first edition of The Oxford Companion to Wine.

In the 1990s Rousseau Chambertin did not seem like the crown jewel of the fine-wine market that it is today. According to Wine-Searcher.com, bottles sell for more than £3,000 each but, as my Financial Times predecessor always used to say, 'you should never think about the price when opening a bottle'.

1993 invoice for Christmas 2020 bottle, Rousseau Chambertin 1989

By the way, you can sign up for the email I send out every Friday at the top of the home page. I provide links to what we published in the previous seven days but I also try to include some news and views too.

Compliments of the season to you. And I would just add, 'what exactly are you saving that special bottle for?'