I went to Old Trafford on Tuesday 12 April knowing that I had to leave the ground at least 10 minutes before the final whistle. I had agreed to meet an important client for dinner in Manchester city centre and could not be late. As Drogba scored for Chelsea, I looked at my watch: I had to leave in three minutes. Fortunately, however, Park Ji-Sung fired in the winner less than 30 seconds later, meaning that I could leave early with a clear conscience.
As I waited in the restaurant for my host and his other guests to arrive, I took the opportunity to review the wine list. Mr Wing is more famous for the quantity of Cristal Champagne that he sells to Premiership footballers and local entrepreneurs than he is for his food, which is distinctly average. Sure enough, the first thing my client ordered was a bottle of Cristal Rose 2002 (£495): salmon pink colour; intense, complex nose full of red fruit, citrus and sweet spices; a crisp, zesty palate layered with concentrated, candied fruits; and a long finish. Each time I returned to the glass something new emerged from it as if to challenge any doubt in my mind as to the wine’s perfection.
Cristal Rose 2002 is a tough act to follow but Lafite Rothschild 2006 (£500) is more than capable of meeting the challenge: deep ruby, purple colour; astonishing nose combining crème de cassis, pencil shavings, cedar and black truffle; a concentrated palate; silky tannins; and an exceptional length. The fact that a wine capable of ageing for more than half a century or more can be drunk now is a testament to the skill of the wine maker and the quality of Lafite Rothschild’s vineyards. I can safely say that this is one of my top ten wines of all time.
There was a short debate about whether the next wine should be another bottle of Lafite Rothschild 2006 or instead Lafite Rothschild 2002 (£500). As it’s not every day that one has the opportunity to taste two vintages of Lafite Rothschild, we opted for the 2002. There was a lot of similarity between the 2002 and 2006 but just as with Manchester United and Chelsea there has to a winner and a loser. By comparison with the 2006, the 2002 seemed to lack structure. I should add, however, that this is about the only criticism I could think of as like its brother the 2002 is one the best wines I have ever tasted. I now understand why Lafite Rothschild is the wine of choice for Chinese billionaires.