by Corin Hirsch
Meet the 1982 Château Mouton Rothschild, one of the most sought-after bottles in the world from one of the most historic vintages. Upon its release, the opulent wines sold for about $125 each, an amount that one Burlingtonian who snapped up a few at the time calls "really cheap."
Flash forward thirty years. That collector left the wine-trade job that he held for decades, but still has a cellar filled with incredible bottles. When he found out that Community Health Centers of Burlington — which maintain a center a few blocks from his Old North End home — were having a wine auction to raise funds, he trekked down to his stone-lined cellar and unearthed the '82 Mouton Rothschild. It's a wine that received a rare perfect 100 points from wine critic Robert Parker, and one that sells for more than $1000 now. "It was just too valuable for me to open and appreciate," says the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous.
Kimberly Anderson is thrilled with the donation. As CHCB's development manager, she's been working for months to plan "Salud: A Doctor's Night Out," an auction of dozens of rare and interesting wines that takes place on April 16 at the Old Lantern in Charlotte. "We were so thrilled and humbled that this donor thought of us. I love the fact that someone from our own backyard is helping us to help the whole community," wrote Anderson in an email. She's thankful all around; some of the other bottles in the auction come from the likes of Cakebread Cellars, Opus One and Silver Oak. All of the proceeds benefit a center that serves 17,000 Burlington residents every year.
Château Mouton Rothschild, in Pauillac, is one of five first-growth estates in Bordeaux, producing what is considered the top echelon of clarets from the region. What Anderson has jokingly taken to calling the "fancy-pants wine" is being relegated to its own raffle, with tickets selling for $25.
As for that anonymous donor, he won't be at the raffle, though he's prepared a two-page document full of "caring and feeding and handling instructions," for a wine he calls "still very fleshy and round in the mouth. Very vibrant."
Even though he stored it carefully — it has "top-of-the-shoulder-ullage," meaning very little evaporation — he hopes someone will enjoy it soon. "A cork lasts 25 years, and after that they start to fade. [The bottle] either has to be recorked or drunk. I'm hoping for the latter."
Besides bidding on tantalizing wine, Salud attendees will also get to sample food from Bluebird Tavern, The Essex, One Federal, La Villa Bistro, Leunig's Bistro and the Old Lantern. To buy tickets, visit the CHCB's website here (for the auction) or here (for the raffle).
Photo by Jonathan Couture Photography