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An inspired wedding gift


Mixed cases are not something we really like to do – for several very good practical reasons. However, for our best clients we can and will make the odd exception.

I was asked last week to put together a wedding gift – one spectacular bottle for the first five years of a marriage to be drunk on each wedding anniversary.

I loved the idea, but hesitated before I said yes. We simply can’t start splitting open £600 cases of wine to include a single bottle in a mixed case and there are some pretty hefty charges involved in pulling bottles out of cases in the cellars at Octavian. However, we do always have a few open cases and some pretty special bottles in both Octavian and our small London warehouse.


My client knew that I had to have complete control over the contents and I think was delighted with the end result. Here is what I came up with:

A Case of Wine for the First Five Years of your Marriage

Drink now:
Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé NV

Billecart-Salmon is one of my favorite Champagne houses, and their non-vintage Rose is a consistent winner. A delicate pink color is accompanied by gorgeous sweet cherry, strawberry, and mineral-like scents, assertive medium-bodied flavors, a delicate, crisp personality, and surprising depth as well as persistence. A beautiful berry character in the finish adds to this impeccable rose’s captivating style. Robert Parker, Score: 94

1st Wedding Anniversary:
Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses Billaud-Simon 2007

As it almost always is, here the nose is more elegant and refined with lemon, spice and saline notes, all of which are reflected by the pure, detailed and impressively delineated flavors brimming with that oyster shell character that makes Chablis unique, all wrapped into a long, cool and energetic finish brimming with minerality. Terrific. Burghound, Score: 91-94

2nd Wedding Anniversary:
Ch Haut Batailley 5ème Cru Pauillac 2000

One of the finest Haut-Batailleys ever made (it certainly rivals the 1996), this deep ruby/purple-colored wine is a beauty. Notes of raspberries, liquified minerals, cassis, and tobacco jump from the glass of this attractive, velvety-textured wine. Some tannin is there, but it is abundantly fruity, low in acidity, and is a quintessentially elegant style of Bordeaux. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2015. Robert Parker. Score: 90 points.

3rd Wedding Anniversary:
Vosne Romanée 1er Cru Les Rouges Etienne Grivot 2001

One of the most famous names in Vosne Romanée, Domaine Grivot dates back to the 19th century. Etienne, now the 5th generation of the family to run the estate, and has created his own style of wine. They are powerful and rich – true “˜vins de garde’ which usually need several years of cellaring to soften and develop. But they are also fleshy and like excellent Burgundy embody their unique terroir and personality. This Vosne Romanée has a lovely silky texture, with good ripe redcurrant flavours and extraordinary length. Elegant, pretty and very well balanced. Drink: 2009-2020. Goedhuis & Co.

4th Wedding Anniversary:
Ch Montrose 2ème Cru St Estèphe 1998

A classic effort, the 1998 Montrose exhibits a dense purple color in addition to a sweet nose of jammy cassis, licorice, earth, and smoke. It is a powerful and full-bodied wine with well-integrated tannin. Given Montrose’s tendency to shut down, it is performing better out of bottle than I expected. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2030. Robert Parker Score: 90

5th Wedding Anniversary:
Brunello di Montalcino Castello di Argiano Sesti 2004

Smoke, tar, licorice, grilled herbs and wild cherries flow from Sesti’s 2004 Brunello di Montalcino. This is an especially dense, full-bodied wine that shows off remarkable depth and richness in its endless layers of fruit. The finish is sweet and long. This, too, is another wine that will require patience, but it is a gem. Biodynamic farming and traditional winemaking – with all operations undertaken according the lunar calendar – are at the heart of proprietor Giuseppe Sesti’s approach. Based on the beautiful wines I have tasted in recent years, I can only say the results are striking. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2024. Wine Advocate. Score: 93