Most of you might have heard of Les Gouttes de Dieu, a Japanese manga about wine. Inspired by one of the episodes where two protégés of a famous wine critic search for the fifth apostle (part of a wine puzzle) up in a snowy mountain, we decided to bring a bottle of white burgundy to our 2-week trip up in the Himalayas.
Hoping to experience the same epiphany as in the manga, we toiled our way from 2800m to 4880m above sea level, passing yaks, crushing stones, step by step under our mountain boots. We sweated, swore, and admired the spectacular scenery whenever we had residual energy. Reaching the highest point on our trip to Gokyo, it was time to claim our trophy.
In the famed manga, the plot reveals that the mineral quality in a Montrachet is akin to the brutal winds one faces atop the summit. Witnessing the splendor of Gokyo and its dreamlike moonscape, we celebrated with our Chassagne Montrachet brought from Hong Kong (the sale was tempting and we couldn’t afford a grand cru Montrachet). The wine was light yellow hue, chilled au naturel ,from the cold sting of the biting Himalayan winds. Once we pulled our noses towards the rim of the glass, we had a blow of defeat. We could not smell anything. Our senses and noses had been frozen stiff and we just could not smell a thing. What despair!
After some time of warming our faces indoors and clearing our noses, the wine at once greeted us with loads of citrus, floral and peaches. I don’t know if it was from the fire glowing in the dining area, but the wine was sweet and smoky like a charring marshmallow. So acidic was the wine that one winces on the first sip, but the oily length of pineapple and mineral coated my mouth with warm succulence. Being deprived from sensory pleasures for so long, the taste of wine was luxuriating and forgiving. We longed to polish off the bottle in one sitting by the crackling flames, but alas, nothing is quite perfect. We found out first hand, that one must not consume alcohol in high places. After 2 sips, I felt that my head was expanding near explosion, and I was in a drunken fervor. Torn between finishing the wine and getting up early for our journey the next morning, we plugged the cork back in the bottle. We had experienced the brutal winds of the summit without the aid of our wine, and this memory will linger for years to come.
Olivier Leflaive Chassagne Montrachet
2006 1er Cru, Clos Saint Marc $776 Mayfair Fine Wines