Primum Familiae Vini lunch
Remarkable wines from the 'leading wine families'

9 February 2012

The Primum Familiae Vini (Latin for ‘leading wine families) is a club of 11 elite family-owned European wine producers who have banded together to help promote their wines. I attended a wonderful lunch at The Square, during which each family showed two of their wines: one younger, one older.

‘We make fabulous products,’ says Baroness Philippine de Rothschild (above). ‘We don’t have to be here: we are here because we want to be.’ She added a bit of flattery: ‘The English press are the best in the world. They are the best connoisseurs in the world for Bordeaux wines.’

Robert and Paul Symington

The PFV members seem to enjoy their association and lunches like this, as well as the marketing utility they offer. They also help sell each others’ wines in different markets. ‘To sell each others’ wines is a huge privilege,’ says Paul Symington.

Charlotte Hugel

I was sitting between two PFV members, both of the younger generation. To my left was Charlotte Hugel, vintage 1991. She was born at the same time as the PFV, so she has grown up with this extended family. She’s currently studying law and economics at Strasbourg University, and will work outside the family firm, before perhaps returning to work in it. To my right was Philippe Sereys de Rothschild (vintage 1963), who runs a private equity firm as well as working in the family wine business. He got three words into his particular speech before he was heckled by his mother.

Philippe Sereys de Rothschild

The wines were fabulous, as was the food. It was a succession of great wines. Peaks and no valleys. Between them, the PFV can put on a bit of a show.


Champagne Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs 2000
Concentrated, toasty and intense with real precision. Taut, fine and precise showing lovely weight of citrus fruit and good acidity, with some structure and plenty of finesse. 94/100

Champagne Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs 1988
Complex, taut and toasty, with fine citrus fruits and some apricot richness. Still quite youthful. The palate is fine and fresh yet complex and full with powerful flavours and real vitality. Fabulous wine. 96/100

Hubert de Billy of Pol Roger

Joseph Drouhin Montrachet Grand Cru Marquis de Laguiche 2008 Burgundy
Concentrated, fine and toasty with freshness and intensity. Complex with well integrated oak and lovely fruit: some peach, some pear and a hint of cabbagey complexity. Precise and elegant. 96/100

Joseph Drouhin Montrachet Grand Cru Marquis de Laguiche 1990 Burgundy
Complex, rich and roasty. Broad flavours encompassing honey, spice and white peach. Fine and toasty with nice depth of fruit and some subtle nuttiness. This has evolved really nicely, and still has some freshness. 94/100

Robert Drouhin (above); Frederic Drouhin (below)

Château de Beaucastel Roussanne Vieilles Vignes 2009 Châteauneuf du Pape
Rich and toasty with notes of peach, honey and pear. Sweet fruit here, but fine with it, and showing some exotic more tropical fruit notes. The palate is rich and powerful with a rounded texture and sweet fruit, but there’s some seriousness too. Just delicious. 95/100

Château de Beaucastel 1990 Châteauneuf du Pape
Wild, crazy aromatics of cherries, herbs, spice, animals and leather. Wonderfully elegant, expressive palate showing delicate sweet fruit alongside more savoury spicy, animally, meaty notes. Not at all heavy or rustic, despite the wildness of the aromatics. 96/100

Francois Perrin of Beaucastel

Torres Mas La Plana 2007 Penedes, Spain
Lovely dense, expressive blackcurrant fruit with richness and sweetness, but also nice spicy structure. There’s a hint of earthiness and some mint right in the background. Lovely fruit and real finesss here. 94/100

Torres Mas La Plana Gran Coronas Gran Reserva 1982 Penedes, Spain
Elegant, refined, evolved, earthy, spicy nose has delicate, leafy berry fruits. The palate is fresh and elegant with subtle herbs and linear fruit. Beautifully focused, this is so fine and expressive. 97/100

Vega Sicilia Unico 2004 Ribera del Duero, Spain
Rich, sweet, powerful and intense with lovely sweet berry fruits and notes of herbs, vanilla and coconut. The palate is structured, dominated by ripe sweet fruit, as well as some vanilla and caramel. Very sweet fruit profile with some wood apparent. A really distinctive style. 94/100

Vega Sicilia Unico 1953 Ribera del Duero, Spain
Bottled in 1963. 80% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% others. Elegant and slightly Porty on the nose with lovely sweet spicy notes and some minerality. Really complex on the palate with sweet cherry and plum fruit, real freshness still, and a warm spiciness. Amazing stuff. 97/100 

Château Mouton Rothschild 2000 Pauillac, Bordeaux
Warm , spicy, meaty nose with some savoury earthy notes and hints of iodine. The palate is dry and spicy with some meatiness, as well as earthy notes. Quite angular, lacking fruit, and with a savoury, drying finish. Still, a nice drink, but not as good as it should be. 91/100

Château Mouton Rothschild 1961 Pauillac, Bordeaux
Dense notes of spice, earthy, smoke and meat here give this wine a savoury complexion. It’s evolved yet still quite fresh tasting, with iodine, meat and spice notes, as well as some berry fruit character still lurking around. Some sternness here, but it is complex and beguiling. 96/100

Antinori Solaia 2008 Tuscany
Rich, vivid and quite intense with bold raspberry and blackberry fruit, with some spiciness. The palate is concentrated and quite pure with good tannic structure. Youthful and polished, this a sophicticated, correct wine but lacks just a little in the personality stakes. 93/100

Antinori Solaia 2001 Tuscany
Notes of meat and bovril on the nose. Evolved, spicy, earth and with a dry meaty character. Earthy and drying on the finish. This hasn’t aged as well as you’d have expected, but it’s still a nice drink. 91/100

Piero Antinori

Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia 2006 Tuscany
Spicy, minty and savoury with a slightly animal nose. Savoury and phenolic. Structured, spicy, savoury palate is quite rustic and spicy, with meaty, animal overtones. Angular, with a drying finish. 91/100

Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia 1996 Tuscany
Fresh, dense and spicy with some earthy notes. Savoury yet quite elegant with some dense spicy character and fresh berry fruits. This is ageing really nicely, and shows good elegance. 94/100

Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta of Tenuta San Guido

Hugel Gewürztraminer Sélection de Grains Nobiles ‘S’ 2007 Alsace
Golden colour. Amazingly intense and sweet with a soft texture. Marmalade, apricot and cream notes. Powerful and intense with low acidity, making it seem incredibly sweet and luscious, with a long spicy finish. 94/100

Hugel Gewürztraminer Sélection de Grains Nobiles 1976 Alsace
Minty nose is really distinctive, with some sweet fruity notes, although the mint dominates. The palate is fresh and not too sweet with really distinctive mint and herb notes, as well as subtle apricot fruit. Very distinctive wine. 94/100

Etienne Hugel

Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Auslese Goldkapsel 2010 Mosel, Germany
Wonderful nose: sweet apricot, melon and peach notes. Concentrated and powerful palate with spicy crystalline fruits and citrus character. Textured and very sweet with incredible depth and length. Stunning wine. 96/100

Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Trockenbeerenauslese 1990 Mosel, Germany
Quite a deep orange/brown colour, but as fresh as a daisy. Sweet and intense with rich apricot and citrus notes. Powerful, richly textured, spicy palate with a long finish. Great concentration and complexity. Notes of marmalade, spice and apricot. Remarkable. 97/100

Egon Mueller

Graham’s Vintage Port 2007
This is just beginning to close down a little now. It’s rich with powerful sweet black fruits and good structure. Lovely fruit quality. This has bags of potential, but cellar it and come back in 15 years. 95/100

Graham’s Vintage Port 1963
Supremely fine elegant nose of pure, sweet cherry fruit. Sweet and silky. The palate is pure and smooth with lovely texture and elegance to the sweet red cherry fruit. So pure and elegant, and probably drinking at its peak now. 97/100

Wines tasted 02/12  
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