Château Margaux, 1996 (France)

In 1855, Emperor Napoléon III provided timely support to the great red wines of France by organising the Second Universal Exhibition. It was an auspicious occasion for the Emperor and a chance to internationally promote French products, among which were the prestigious wines of the Médoc.

During the event, Napoléon wanted the best wines to be presented and judged within a formal competition. A blind tasting was organised in Paris, which led to the official classification of 1855. More than 60 Médoc growths, and a single property in the Graves, were graded into five quality levels.

Four growths were classified “Premier Grand Cru Classé” – and of those only Château Margaux scored twenty out of twenty.

 Casanuova di Nittardi Chianti Classico, 1994 (Italy)

In the 16th century, the vast Nittardi Estate belonged to the Renaissance artist, Michelangelo Buonarroti, who, in 1549, while finishing the Sistine Chapel, sent Nittardi wine to Rome as a gift to Pope Paolo III. Today, in honour of that tradition, every year the first bottles of Nectar Dei, the top wine from the Maremma vineyards, are presented to the Pope.

Casanuova di Nittardi Chianti Classico is a pure Sangiovese from the single vineyard "Vigna Doghessa" in the municipality of Castellina in Chianti. It is naturally fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, followed by 14 months in used 500 liter French oak barrels and four month in concrete, before being bottled.

Since 1981, Nittardi has paid annual homage to Michelangelo by having an internationally recognized artists, including Hundertwasser, Horst Janssen, Giuliano Ghelli, Yoko Ono, Mimmo Paladino, Günter Grass, Dario Fo, Karl Otto Götz, Alain Clément and Hsiao Chin create the label and wrapping paper.

 Firesteed Pinot Noir, 1996 (USA)

Firesteed Cellars was founded in 1992 and has its official winery and tasting room off the beaten path in Rickreall, Oregon, where production remains to this day. Since its founding, the mission of Firesteed has been to create wines that represent the finest expression of varietals suited to the distinctive growing regions in Oregon, especially as it relates most notably to Pinot Noir.

The winery's icon is a horse, an archetype which has stood for grace, fire and beauty since ancient times. The "Firesteed" is also a well-suited symbol for the frontier spirit which drew pioneers to the west coast of America to follow their dreams – from homesteading and ranching to viticulture, winemaking and beyond.

The 1996 Firesteed Pinot Noir was light ruby in color with earthy, toasted oak notes on the nose. Bright and lively Bing cherry flavors and silky textures highlight the palate – along with hints of cranberry and eucalyptus, followed by a long, smooth and lingering finish.

 Blue Nun Liebfraumilch, 1978 (Germany)

Blue Nun, one of the world's oldest wine brands, was created in 1921 by H. Sichel Sohne in Germany. After World War II, the brand became widely popular in the United Kingdom and the United States, selling for the same price as a second growth red Bordeaux wine. At its peak of popularity in 1984–1985, annual sales in the U.S. were 1.25 million cases, with another 750,000 cases sold in other markets.

Blue Nun achieved real cult status over decades, and in 1995 the Langguth Family took over the responsibility for this famous wine brand – a brand that now imports Languedoc Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, California Zinfandel, Australian Shiraz, Chilean Chardonnay, and Spanish Rosé, which are all bottled under the Blue Nun brand.

Today, F.W. Langguth Erben GmbH & Co. also represents wines from the heart of Germany and Europe. State-of-the-art cellar technology and eight generations of wine-growing and wine-making experience are their guarantee of consistently-standardized quality.

 Warre’s Otima 10 (Portugal)

Warre’s, founded in 1670, was the first British Port company established in Portugal and therefore its history is synonymous with that of Port itself. Warre’s Ports are distinguished by their structure, elegance and softly perfumed nose, and are sourced from three of the finest estates of the Douro Valley: Quinta da Cavadinha, Quinta do Retiro and Quinta da Telhada.

This 10 Year-Old-Tawny balances the generosity of fresh, youthful fruit with the sophistication and elegance that a decade in seasoned wood brings to the wines.

As the wine matures in seasoned oak casks of 600 litres, they are constantly tasted to check their progress, and when determining the final blend for bottling, the master blender will draw on wines from several harvests, brought together to maintain a consistent house style. The age indicated on the label, in this case 10 years, refers to the average age of the component wines.

 Granja União Cabernet, 1977 (Brazil)

In the 70’s the Brazilian wine industry was still communally-oriented and heavily influenced by regional politics and major commercial powers. The Granja União brand, which was founded in Porto Alegre in 1929 by José Moraes Vellinho, under the name Sociedade Vinícola Rio-Grandense Ltda., had the goal of being the commercial arm of the Rio Grande do Sul Viti-Wine Union, created in Caxias do Sul the previous year.

According to its statutes, the Society aimed to defend the interests of winemakers, buy, manufacture and sell wine, and "constitute the capitalist industry in winemaking”.

The company used their associates' canteens in Caxias, Bento Gonçalves, Garibaldi, Farroupilha and surroundings, and rented others, and built several other winemaking stations. About two thirds of the members of the Society were from Caxias do Sul, the area from which this Cabernet originates.

 Dom Pérignon Champagne, 1996 (France)

Moët et Cie (Moët & Co.), which was founded by Claude Moët in Epernay in 1743, owns the Dom Pérignon Champagne House. The brand was originally launched by Robert-Jean de Vogué in 1936 as the first commercially-available brut prestige cuvee.

Prior to 1927, the brand name 'Dom Pérignon' was owned by Champagne Mercier and was given as a gift to Moet when Francine Durant-Mercier married Paul Chandon. That gift paved the way for Moet to market the Dom Pérignon brand.

For many years Dom Pérignon grapes were grown exclusively in the historic vineyards at Hautvillers where the legendary monk lived and sourced his grapes. The holdings have increased over time and now 8 grand cru are used in the blend, along with the one historic premier cru at Hautvillers (the only premier cru allowed in the blend).

Dom Pérignon is always an assemblage of Pinot noir and Chardonnay grapes, although the final composition changes every vintage.

 Cinzano Vermouth (Italy)

Known as the 'Vermouth of Turin' and created in 1757, it is an original concoction made from Italian red wine, alcohol and sugar, infused with a combination of 35 herbs and spices including marjoram, thyme, musk yarrow, nutmeg, coriander, juniper, orange peels, cloves and nutmeg. Its dark red colour is partly due to the addition of caramel.

In Italy, and many other places around the world, Cinzano Vermouth is traditionally served over ice, and sometimes with apple juice and cinnamon. It is also a major component, when paired with whisky, in the famous 'Manhattan' cocktail.

A global Italian icon, Cinzano Vermouth was propelled from the hills of Piedmont to become a world-class brand by the entrepreneurial determination of its founding fathers, the brothers Giovanni Giacomo and Carlo Stefano Cinzano.

By 1776, the Cinzanos were providing their specialities by appointment to the Royal Savoy Court, and their bottega was located on the renowned Via Dora Grossa (or Via Garibaldi as it is named today) in the very heart of Torino.

 Château Lafite Rothschild, 1962 (France)

Château Lafite Rothschild is a famous French vineyard and winery located in Pauillac (in the Médoc region to the north-west of Bordeaux). It has been owned by members of the Rothschild family since the 19th century, and is rated as a 'First Growth' under the 1855 Bordeaux Classification.

Lafite was one of five wine-producing châteaux of Bordeaux originally awarded First Growth status in the Classification. Since then, it has been a consistent producer of one of the world's finest and most expensive red wines. A bottle of 1869 Château Lafite Rothschild holds the world record for the most expensive bottle of wine sold at auction for US$233,973 in 2010.

The 20th century has seen periods of success and difficulty, while coping with post-phylloxera vines, and two world wars. During WW2, the Château was occupied by the German army and suffered heavily from the plunder of its cellars. Following in the steps of his uncle, Élie de Rothschild, the Lafite estate was directed by Éric de Rothschild from 1974 to 2018, until recently succeeded by his daughter, Saskia de Rothschild. She is the youngest woman to ever lead a Premier Grand Cru Bordeaux estate.

 Baby Duck (Canada)

Created at the Andrés Winery in Port Moody, British Columbia in 1971, Sparkling Baby Duck was the best-selling domestic wine in Canada during that decade. Andrés cleverly made Baby Duck with 7% alcohol as the lower alcohol content meant lower taxes and thus a cheaper wine.

Andrés advertised heavily on television, even hiring an animal psychologist to advise how the ducklings should behave in the commercials. Hugely successful, Baby Duck hatched numerous imitators: Canada Duck, Love-A-Duck, Kool Duck, Daddy Duck and Fuddle Duck.

All of these wines, which drove the expansion of the wine trade in the 70's, were concocted from water, sugar and grapes that were judged unsuitable for making good quality wines. Baby Duck peaked in 1973, with sales of over 8,000,000 bottles.

© 2023 All Rights Reserved