Hungary Heart | 1964 Tokajis from Monimpex

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These two lovely bottles of 1964 Tokaji came to Arden from a (an even lovelier) Parisienne friend of a friend, whose father had owned them for some years after they were gifted to him. He only bought French wines, of course… 😉

Monimpex was the only Hungarian company with an export licence during the period of “Goulash Communism” that followed the 1956 Revolution.

János Kádár – First Secretary of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party – instigated policies to create good living standards for the people of Hungary.

(Eating goulash and drinking Tokaji – as I did many years ago while travelling in Hungary – is fine by me.)

The colours of these two Tokaji remind me of Tom Waits’ song “Frank’s Wild Years”: “all Halloween / Orange and chimney red”.

The Aszú 3 Puttonyos is the dark amber of an evening sky after a hot day.

It has a darker colour than the Szamorodni because of the much higher sugar content: Probably 60 grams per litre / 6%, compared to the less than 10 grams / 1% of the dry Szamorodni.

We also have a bottle of 1956 Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos from the collection of Dr. Olah László.

  • 1964 Tokaji Aszu
    1964 Tokaji Aszú 3 Puttonyos Monimpex (1 x 50cl)
  • 1964 Tokaji Szamorodni
    1964 Tokaji Szamorodni Monimpex (1 x 50cl)
  • 1956 Tokaji 5 Puttonyos from the collection of Dr. Olah László (1 x 50cl)
    1956 Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos from the collection of Dr. Olah László (1 x 50cl)
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“Hi Stuart,

After last week’s excitement with the book launch it’s back to the day job this Monday afternoon with the attached PFF Summer Newsletter. The annual kit appeal apart, this is a relatively quiet time for the project. This does allow the opportunity, however, to showcase the clubs who benefitted from project clothing and kit in the spring.

To this end, we’ve gone far afield with pictures from Lebanon, Portugal, France, Germany and the UK. In our project rewind we highlight the Dharavi Cricket Academy’s winning end to the 2016/17 season. The newsletter closes with a very project take on the Duke ball fiasco. More than enough then to occupy that next coffee.



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Taylor (not so) Swift | 1948 Taylor’s Vintage Port from Tibberton House

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Only nine shippers declared the 1948 Port vintage, which – with the benefit of 74 years’ hindsight – is surprising, given the quality of the wines that were made. There was no really good Vintage Port again until 1955.

A total of 30,000 pipes – the traditional Douro barrel of 534 litres that was taken as the equivalent of 60-dozen bottles – was made. But the port market was depressed in this post-war period and there was still a lot of Port available from the fecund 1927 vintage (Cockburn’s made 20,000 dozen bottles!). The shippers bought only half of the 1948 crop at vintage time, leaving many farmers with unsold wines.

Arden’s bottle of the renowned 1948 Taylor’s Vintage Port came from the cellar of Tibberton House at Great Malvern in my birth county of Worcestershire.

As far as we can tell, this ’48 was originally retailed – and probably bottled – by Josiah Stallard and Sons of Worcester.

Josiah Stallard was born in 1816 and became Mayor of Worcester in 1857. He was photographed that year by Herbert Watkins; the photo is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery.

The late great Michael Broadbent said that 1948 was “Probably now the best-ever Vintage of Taylor… one of the finest ports ever made.”

We recommend that it’s drunk before 2048… 🍷

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Three Ports | 1985 Dow’s – 1977 Fonseca’s – 1963 Taylor’s

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In the Douro valley in 1985, the weather was magnificent from June onwards. (Actually, when isn’t the summer weather magnificent in the Douro?)

It was the first unanimously declared Port vintage since 1975 and probably the best of the 1980s.

A bottle of 1985 Dow’s was opened at our Mayfair dining room recently and it was outstanding: Rich, concentrated, and with many years ahead of it. 

Prices for 1977 Ports were considered high at the time but now seem very generous. 
Fonseca 1977, for example, was released in London in January 1980 at £48 per dozen bottles, which now equates to about £220.
It was sampled recently with some clients to test our newly-acquired 130-year old glassware. A perfect, mature Vintage Port.
1977 Fonseca Vintage Port at Arden Fine Wines
Our bottle of 1963 Taylor’s has a Wine Society label (and might have been UK-bottled by them too).
This example of a legendary 20th century Port vintage came from a private cellar in deepest south London.
It’s in excellent condition for its age and should be a great glass (or six) of Vintage Port.

1963 Taylor Vintage Port

Remember: A Vintage Port is for life, not just for Christmas… 
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At Her Majesty’s pleasure | 1952 Château Latour

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What to give to somebody celebrating a Platinum Jubilee 👑…?

How about a bottle of 1952 Château Latour?

1952 Chateau Latour

From the year that Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, became monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the British Dominions, this is a tannic vintage of Latour, which is probably why the wine has retained its deep colour.

Arden’s bottle of 1952 Latour came to us from a private cellar via an auctioneer in Lincolnshire.

An ideal bottle for toasting a Platinum Jubilee 🍷.

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“In 1977 I hope I go to heaven…” | 1977 Château Latour

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The Clash was probably not thinking of Bordeaux vintages when they released “1977” as the B-side to “White Riot” (nothing to do with white wine) in March 1977…

It was the first of four unusually late Bordeaux vintages that had wet winters and/or springs.

By early September the grapes were so unripe that there were warnings of an abysmal vintage to come – even worse than 1972!

But the sun came out in September – there were more hours of sunshine and the lowest rainfall for a hundred years – and the year was saved.

Château Latour’s grapes were harvested 3-17 October. As a point of comparison, the 1982 was harvested 16-30 September.

It might be the best wine of this difficult vintage, which is often the case with Latour in challenging years: The deep gravel soil (with its drainage) and the vineyards’ proximity to the Gironde estuary – only 300 metres away – mitigate against rainfall and frost.

Arden’s bottle of 1977 Latour came from an Oxfordshire auctioneer, who supplied us with the previous owner’s purchase receipt – impeccable provenance.

As 45-year-olds go, it’s a good ’un…

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Don’t Diss Me | Three litre-bottles of DRC La Tâche 1986 & Richebourg 1976 from Norfolk

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Arden Fine Wines retains an extensive “library” of empty bottles of fine wines.

Most of them were consumed by Arden staff (purely for professional purposes, of course…) and they evoke happy memories of great wines enjoyed with friends. But the empty bottles also represent authentic examples of rare wines against which we can compare future purchases.

(And prevents less scrupulous people from refilling them and offering them for sale.)

Recently we acquired two empty Domaine de la Romanée-Conti jeroboams – La Tâche 1986 and Richebourg 1976 – from an auctioneer in Diss, Norfolk.

DRC bottles Diss

It was a very hot summer in 1976 and the sunbaked Pinot Noir grapes of the 18-acre Richebourg vineyard in Vosne-Romanée (of which DRC owns just under nine acres) were turned into deep-coloured, tannic wines.

It was also the year that the A6 “Autoroute du Soleil” from Paris to Beaune was opened, so all those nice Parisians could now visit the wineries of the Côte d’Or very easily.

The La Tâche 1986 is of a good mid-80s vintage and still has most of its wax capsule intact (apart from the bit that was removed when the bottle was opened, of course).

The “Percy Fox & Co Limited” slip label represents the then sole UK distributors of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Percy Fox became part of Diageo and then Treasury Wine Estates, offering Blossom Hill rather than DRC.

These two big beauties are sadly empty but we do have 75cl bottles of 1975 La Tâche and Romanée-St-Vivant – which are not empty promises…

  • 1975 DRC Romanée-Conti Saint Vivant
    1975 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti | Romanée-St-Vivant (1x75cl)
  • 1975 La Tache
    1975 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti | La Tâche (1 x 75cl)
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From my friend Vic Mills:

“Hi Stuart,

Greetings from Berlin. Hope this finds you fit and well.

A busy quarter for the project culminated in our three-day hack around western Europe earlier in the month delivering kit to clubs and refugee cricketers in France and Germany. Hence this Road Trip Special.

Of other news, I can confirm that Rogue Cricketer (p17) … or what I did during lockdown … is set for publication on 4 July. Much to do on several fronts in the interim, including the planning for several weeks in Canada May/June. Enjoy the attached and stay well.



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Wor vintage: 1943 Château Margaux from a Newcastle cellar

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The great English city of Newcastle is 280 miles north of London.

It’s a long way to go for a bottle of wine – unless it’s something special.

As they say in Newcastle: Noo tha yoor heor at the toon yee might want te knaa a bit more aboot aad Margaux an stuff…

This beautiful bottle of 1943 Château Margaux was acquired by Arden from a Newcastle auctioneer.

There was a wartime shortage of chromium, which gives glass a deeper green colour. Chromium was used – with iron – to make stainless steel rather than wine bottles. So wartime bottles like this Margaux are a pale green-blue.

From 1935 – when AOC was established – until 1952 Château Margaux had (unexpectedly, to modern eyes)“APPELLATION HAUT-MÉDOC CONTROLÉE” on the label.

I don’t know why this was so but it’s correct and evidence of veracity – unlike the 1949 bottle that I called-out last year

The Tyne Bridge was opened in 1928. Arden also has available a half-bottle of Château Margaux 1928 to commemorate this important event.

In the meantime: Hev a canny weekend!

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She Sells Sichels on the Seashore: 1937 Sichel & Cie Volnay

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Volnay was served at the royal table for the coronation of Louis XV in 1722.

(Louis was only 12 years old so probably did not drink it himself.)

His father the “Sun King” Louis XIV is said to have preferred Volnay to all other wines.

We could do with some sunshine and Volnay in Mayfair…

(It was snowing when Elior and I were photographed!)

This bottle of 1937 Sichel & Cie Volnay was made the year before Allan Sichel (with three other parties) bought the then extremely dilapidated Château Palmer in Bordeaux.

Coming only two years after appellation d’origine contrôlée had been established in France as a certification of authenticity granted to certain geographical indications for wines, cheeses, butters, and other agricultural products, 1937 was the best Burgundy vintage of a difficult decade of economic depression and then war.

Ripened by a hot, dry summer, the Pinot Noir grapes were made into tannic wines that were built to last.

Now 85 years old, this 1937 Volnay still retains a deep colour.

It might be just the thing to warm you up while it snows in April…

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