June 21st, 2013

Enjoyed on Sunday December 30, 2012 a birthday celebration by a widowed neighbour held at her home. It was her 70th milestone and really was a lovely party starting at 2 pm and going on past 7 pm including family, relatives, friends and the like. There was a short break for singing Happy Birthday every hour or so but generally the format was socializing and cowering over a very large table with 70 different wines all numbered with stickers chronologically from 1 to 70 inclusive. What a brilliant idea! What a birthday party!
Started with the lower numbers sampling some boutique B.C. white wines of the unique 2011 Figaro (rousanne & marsanne), 2011 Fandango (albarino), and Black Hills vertical of Nota Bene (Bordeaux-style red from the Okanagan) and progressed on a world wine tour with stops including Bordeaux, Burgundy, Austria, Australia, Chile, Argentina, Loire, Chablis, Spain (lovely 2008 Torres Gran Coronas Reserva Cabernet) and ending with a couple of older bottles from her favourite region Chateauneuf-du-Pape (delicious 2001 Le Vieux Donjon & 2000 Domaine Grand Venour). Never done that before! Sure generously put a nice dent in her wine cellar!
Got me thinking of different memorable wine ways to celebrate birthdays (and other memorable anniversarys and occasions). I know many people have tried to drink the wine of their vintage birth year – but this becomes more difficult to follow particularly as you grow older. Also, fine if you were lucky enough to be born in outstanding years 1990, 1982, 1970, 1961, 1945 and others. I know for old off years I am still being asked by friends to consider supplying the odd bottle for their celebration so this tradition obviously continues to be a popular one for some.
Born in a terrible year myself I often hear the suggestion of others to consider using the year earlier when you were in fact conceived – though it could be the same year too or another terrible year in my case.
Thinking back we have often just chosen to try and open a super bottle or two or more depending on the numbers. Certainly Champagne has been the wine most consumed on birthdays in our family. The most memorable one for me with only my wife in a romantic tete-de-tete was a fantastic perfect bottle of complex 1961 Krug Collection Champagne.  However at a milestone birthday for my wife with out of town guests we served many bottles including 8 for a pre dinner blind tasting of the four vineyards (Blagny, Poruzot, Genevrieres, and Charmes) of Francois Jobard in Meursault from 1986 & 1985. Yummy and educational at the same time!

Has anyone else ever opened for a party the same number of wine bottles as their numerical birthday?
Please post your most memorable birthday celebration with wine and what would be your dream birthday wine of choice?

June 21st, 2013

10 Responses

  1. Dave Felton says:

    Birthday wines are a fun concept. We bought birth year wines for our three children to be shared on their 21st birthday (hopefully at a meal that would include the purchaser parents). They all made it and, as the wines were being stored in the buyer’s cellar, they all returned home to share their 21st birthday with their full family. Fortunately for these babies born in California, their birth years best correlated with their home state. We enjoyed superb CA cabs from 1978,1980 and 1984.

    As I’m originally from the the US’ Mid-Atlantic (Pennsylvania) and my wife is from Tokyo, we can’t easily claim lovely wines from our birth homes. My birth year is equally problematic, even if I go searching around the world. My wife’s birth year, on the other hand, is one of the great Bordeaux vintages of the past century. Of course, I won’t give it away (and, no, it wasn’t 1928 or 1929).

    Nice blog topic, Sid.

  2. Yvonne Wallis says:

    I bought a birth year case of Penfolds Grange for each of my nieces and nephews. These kids are pretty savvy you know. They soon realised that those born in 86 were streets ahead of those born in 84, and also worked out that they could do pretty nicely if they sent their bottles to auction. Of course they wouldn’t dare – it is always a major treat sharing these special bottles.

  3. Andrea Warren says:

    I think the idea of doing a tasting of as many bottles as your birth year is a great idea. This is something I will definitely bear in mind for future celebrations – thank you Sid. In addition with ’64 being my birth year I always remember starting my first job in the wine trade and my new boss, who was an MW, said ’64 was sadly not a great year in Bordeaux (we sold a lot of en primeur wines). Impressionable as I was then I wasn’t sure that all bade well in my new job!! I am glad to say I have enjoyed a number of lovely ’64’s since then – but probably not as many as you Sid.

  4. Ian Westcott says:

    Feel your pain Dave. My birth year was not an auspicous one from a wine point of view either. I think birthdays and wines work well together in that great wines make birthdays memorable and birthdays tend to make wines memorable. Was fortunate last year to celebrate a significant birthday with generous friends with the following. We had a birth year wine, one of only two that I have experienced. Which was interesting but not compelling.


    KRUG 1988 en MAGNUM ( Y Wallis)



    1978 Bize –Leroy MONTRACHET(Anthony)


    Bracket 1


    2002 ANNE GROS RICHEBOURG, (ian)



    Bracket 2



    1999 MUGNIER MUSIGNY (ian)

    2000 DRC GRANDS ECHEZAUX (pfs)

    Bracket 3

    1990 RESERVE PIGNAN (ch. Neuf du Pape) (rob)

    1990 RESERVE RAYAS (ch. Neuf du Pape)(wayne)

    1952 COUTET (barsac)(darren)

    1958 CH. D’YQUEM (Sauternes)(rob)

    2000 FONSECA (Oporto)(ian)

  5. Faye Bowyer says:

    I am lucky to have been born in one of the auspicious years (61) although have not enjoyed a lot of them. My most recent significant birthday was pretty special with some friends with whom I share a monthly table. We did not drink the same amount of bottles as my birthday but we drank very well. The only request I had was for some Chambolle…..
    Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle
    2008 Bouchard Corton Charlemagne
    2007 Domaine Leflaive Batard Montrachet
    2000 Vincent Girardin Chevalier Montrachet
    2002 Vincent Girardin 1er Chambolle Musigny Les Amoureuses
    1995 Robert Groffier 1er Chambolle Musigny Les Amoureuses
    2005 Mugnier Bonne Mares
    1961 Faiveley Chambolle Musigny
    1985 Francois Gros Richebourg
    1989 Monnsesin Charmes Chambertin
    1997 Sylvain Cathiard Romanee St Vivant
    1961 Clos de l’Oratoire des papes
    1961 Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou
    1995 Vouvray Cuvee Constance
    1983 Chateau Guiraud Sauternes
    1991 Ferreira Vintage Port
    On my actual birthday I had the 1996 Salon which is amazing and 2002 JF Mugnier 1er Les Amoureuses. It was a special birthday after all!!

  6. John Kuczwanski says:

    I love birth year wine…’45…OK, now you know my age. Last year, Bob brought a Talbot en magnum…GREAT.

    Very memorable was a Valentine party at Peter’s & Kate”s. Several of the gang helped Peter reduce his cellar by grabbing birth years. After the flurry, I told Peter I didn’t get one. He felt bad…asked if I would like birth year -100. I enjoyed an 1845 Madeira with a Romeo & Julietta Churchill…what a phenomenal pairing!

  7. John Danza says:

    I too have the advantage of being born in a great wine year, 1959. While many try to ignore turning 50, I was really into it so that I could plan a special party with special friends and special wines. Instead of serving all wines from 1959, I decided to serve some from ’59 and others from either milestone years or years where my age hit another “0”. It was a fun evening of 12 special people, black tie for the guys as well. The rundown of the wines is below. The best thing – not a bad or corked bottle in the 22 we opened that night.

    2001 VIEUX TELEGRAPHE “LA CRAU” (Magnum)
    1977 GRAHAM’S PORT (Magnum)

  8. Peter Joyce says:

    Like Yvonne my grand-children have Penfolds Grange of their birth years stored away. But the wine is in my cellar, not theirs. It is Willed to them; but if I live long enough I will open them on each of the 4 children’s special occassions. Barb and I tend to open a wine of our birth year on our birthdays; but we are nearly out of stock: living too long? But we do have a lot of our wedding anniversary year as I bought up big on Bordeaux for that purpose. Thank goodness we decided to get married in 1961.
    Peter C Joyce

  9. James Garard says:

    This is a fun topic as I have both wines for both my children’s birth years ’89 and ’90. My wife and I were born in ’55 and for our 55th we served out of magnum the following and raised money for a dear and near charity of ours. The attendance was 20 and a luncheon served at Charlie Trotter’s here in Chicago. Veuve Cliquot, Vouvrey, Ausone, Latour, Remonsett Clos Vougouet, DRC and finally two bottles of d’Yquem. Very special lunch. By the way, 60 is in 2 more years and yes, we have more magnums to drink!
    Jamie Garard

  10. Tom Murnan says:

    If you are born in a poor year, as am I (1951), sometimes you have to think beyond the usual red wines from France or America. Think Madeira or Port. Just because growing conditions aren’t good in France or Napa, it might have been a good year elsewhere. I haven’t found a 1951 Madeira, but I do have a 1950 and a 1952, close enough if you are as old as me! Plus, these two types of wine have the added benefit of being long agers. For Madeira especially, it is just a baby if it is only 100 years old! Plus, they are a lot cheaper than some big named Bordeaux, and less susceptible to poor storage conditions.

    And there are always the 30 and 40 year old Tawny Ports. Take a 40 year old Tawny. Unless your friends are really knowledgeable about Tawny Port (it is a blend of many years that comes close to 40 years, not a mathematical average) it will probably work if you are young enough. You might also luck out and find a Colheita (vintage dated Tawny) with your birth year.

    Tom Murnan

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