Rome Burned While Nero Fiddled: My 96 Lafite Rothschild Experience
That’s exactly how I felt the night I had the opportunity to try my first 1996 Chateau Lafite Rothschild. We had plans for great sushi at Shinsei and planned to catch up with some friends that we hadn’t seen most of the Summer. Because our friend’s husband was playing basketball, the rest of us planned to meet at the bar and wait for him to join us. We had just settled in for a good glass of wine when my friend – the other Melanie O – got the phone call. Louis had torn his calf muscle and she needed to hightail it home to help him.
You may remember when my husband tore his Achilles and three days later I dragged him to Napa and Sonoma for a wine tasting trip that had long been on the books. He was a trouper, but it involved surgery, recovery and driving Miss Daisy all over town. We knew it would be tough – he is a bad patient and I am a worse nurse.
We had taken Lyft to the restaurant because we knew lots of wine would be involved. We also knew that Louis would need two urgent things that couldn’t be immediately acquired that evening – crutches and pain pills (previously left over from my husband’s accident). My brother dropped both of those at the restaurant, we ordered dinner for our now infirmed friend and we cruised over to their casa.
The other Melanie O told me to go down to the cellar and pick something out. I walked into the cellar and about had a stroke – bottles of 1996 Lafite Rothschild and 1999 Les Forts de Latour filled the shelf, among other bottles you only dream about. I politely declined and asked to look at some more affordable bottles. Melanie refused. Clearly I couldn’t be a rude guest and well, I went for it…
It was gorgeous – deep purple with notes of graphite, minerality and black currant. It was majestic, it was elegant and it was a life experience. As I looked around experiencing one of my top wines ever, I looked at poor Louis drugged up on the couch. Nero fiddled while Rome burned, I spose’. But OMG, it was wonderful ….