Five Green Bottles

Episodes

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01The Terroirs of Burgundy2017110320181013 (R4)

Barry Smith heads to Burgundy to profile a 1994 Meo-Camuzet Vosne Romanee, Aux Brulee.

Wine critics offer personal reflections on bygone bottles of wine.

01The Terroirs Of Burgundy2017110320181013 (R4)

Barry Smith heads to Burgundy to profile a 1994 Meo-Camuzet Vosne Romanee, Aux Brulee.

Wine critics offer personal reflections on bygone bottles of wine.

0101The Parker Effect2017103020180915 (R4)

Jancis Robinson profiles a Chateau Pavie and tells the story of wine critic Robert Parker.

Wine critics offer personal reflections on bygone bottles of wine.

Wine has been made by most civilisations throughout history, and in every part of the world. It has inspired artists, thinkers, writers, theologians and poets through the ages, and is deeply connected with the story of recorded human history. In this series, five wine critics offer personal reflections on the personal, political, and historical stories of bygone bottles.

In the first episode, wine critic Jancis Robinson profiles Chateau Pavie 2003. Through this bottle, she tells the story of critic Robert Parker who set out to democratise wine criticism but ended up creating a new elitism based solely on his own palate. Parker shot to fame with his unalloyed approval of this vintage using his unique 100 point system, and his power grew rapidly during the 1980s as producers, importers and collectors all began to take note of his marks and opinions.

Soon the whole professional world of wine was desperate to know what he thought. His views could make or break reputations and wines were increasingly made to please him alone. Over time Parker became the only palate the producers at the top end were desperate to please, as every point of approval on his scale represented the difference of millions of dollars.

Jancis speaks to various critics, wine makers, and vineyard owners and hears how Parker fundamentally changed the way wine is made - riper, fleshier, richer - and also imposed a sense of certainty where none had existed before.

An SPG production for BBC Radio 4.

0102Ancient Steinwein2017103120180922 (R4)

Hugh Johnson profiles a 1540 Steinwein, one of the oldest wines to have ever been tasted.

Wine critics offer personal reflections on bygone bottles of wine.

Wine has been made by most civilisations throughout history, and in every part of the world. It has inspired artists, thinkers, writers, theologians and poets through the ages, and is deeply connected with the story of recorded human history. In this series, five wine critics offer personal reflections on the personal, political, and historical stories of bygone bottles.

In today's episode, the world's best-selling wine writer Hugh Johnson profiles a 1540 Steinwein. Hugh was one of a tiny group of people who gathered in 1961 to share the oldest bottle of wine to have ever been drunk. The wine itself was produced while Michelangelo was still at work in Rome, King Henry VIII had just married his fifth wife, and before Shakespeare had even been born.

Hugh will discover that there are several reasons why the world's oldest bottle of wine is German - the main one being that the early 16th centuries saw a brief interlude in a mini ice age that would cool European climates until the mid 19th century.

Alongside the bottle's natural and social history, he delves into the taste of the wine, saying, "Nothing has ever demonstrated to me so clearly that wine is indeed a living organism, and that this brown, Madeira-liked fluid still held the active principles of the life that had been conceived in it by the sun of that distant summer."

An SPG production for BBC Radio 4.

0103The Rise Of The Super Tuscan2017110120180929 (R4)

Rebecca Gibb travels to the Tuscan coast to profile the Italian red wine Sassicaia.

Wine critics offer personal reflections on bygone bottles of wine.

Wine has been made by most civilisations throughout history, and in every part of the world. It has inspired artists, thinkers, writers, theologians and poets through the ages, and is deeply connected with the story of recorded human history. In this series, five wine critics offer personal reflections on the personal, political, and historical stories of bygone bottles.

In the third episode, Master of Wine Rebecca Gibb travels to the Tuscan coast to the birthplace of Sassicaia, a wine that started out as an experiment and became Italy's Wine of the 20th Century. Created by a family that trained Gold Cup and Arc de Triomphe-winning horses in the 1940s, the Tenuta San Guido estate is still home to race horses, but the demise of Italian racing and the runaway success of this Italian red means that Sassicaia is now the thoroughbred of this stable.

The story of Sassicaia is also the story of the transformation of the Italian wine scene. Sassicaia and a group of other nonconformist wineries nicknamed Super Tuscans shunned the traditional grape of Tuscany - Sangiovese - in favour of Bordeaux-style blends. Operating outside of the local rules meant that some of the finest wines in Italy were labelled as simple table wines. Rebecca visits this famous family to hear their story of fast horses and fine wine, and meet those who have witnessed Sassicaia's rise from homemade wine to Italy's most revered red.

An SPG production for BBC Radio 4.

0104The Choicest Wine2017110220181006 (R4)

Tim Atkin profiles Klein Constantia Vin de Constance, the New World's most historic wine.

Wine critics offer personal reflections on bygone bottles of wine.

Wine has been made by most civilisations throughout history, and in every part of the world. It has inspired artists, thinkers, writers, theologians and poets through the ages, and is deeply connected with the story of recorded human history. In this series, five wine critics offer personal reflections on the personal, political, and historical stories of bygone bottles.

In today's episode, British Master of Wine Tim Atkin profiles 2012 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance. Klein is the New World's most historic wine, made on an estate that was created by Simon Van der Stel, the last Commander and first Governor of the Cape Colony, in 1685. Constantia wine became a favoured tipple of kings and emperors - Napoleon asked for it on his deathbed - and it is immortalised in print from Jane Austen "for its healing powers on a disappointed heart", to Charles Dickens in his final and unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and Charles Baudelaire in his most famous volume of poems Les Fleurs du Mal, in which he compares Constantia wine to his lover's lips.

This bottle is also a great story of resurrection. Following the arrival of the vine louse, phylloxera in the upper foothills of the Constantiaberg, production ceased in 1865. Klein survived only in the poetry and prose of the 19th Century and in the illustrious cellars of Europe's great wine collectors. In 1986 it was relaunched and reclaimed its position as one of the Cape's greatest wines.

An SPG production for BBC Radio 4.

0105The Terroirs Of Burgundy20171103

Barry Smith heads to Burgundy to profile a 1994 Meo-Camuzet Vosne Romanee, Aux Brulee.

Wine has been made by most civilisations throughout history, and in every part of the world. It has inspired artists, thinkers, writers, theologians and poets through the ages, and is deeply connected with the story of recorded human history. In this series, five wine critics offer personal reflections on the personal, political, and historical stories of bygone bottles.

In the final episode, philosopher and wine columnist Barry Smith heads to Burgundy to profile a 1994 Meo-Camuzet Vosne Romanee, Aux Brulee. Having unexpectedly tasted this bottle in Brussels, he researched its roots and unearthed a fascinating cultural story.

This particular bottle comes from the heart of Burgundy, a unique wine region, cultivated by Cistercian monks since the 13th century. As Barry discovered by visiting the region, each village appended its name to a famous vineyard - Gevrey Chambertin, Chambolle Musigny, and Puligny Montrachet. After the French revolution, the vineyards passed from the church and crown to the peasant farmers, whose sons inherited equally following Napoleonic laws. And so the famous vineyards were divided again and again, among many growers, each working their rows of vines.

Even today, individual growers, not corporations, control 67% of the vineyards in the region, and it is through marriages that growers acquire more land to bolster their vineyard territory. This, we will discover, is why so many Burgundian wine producers have two names.

An SPG production for BBC Radio 4.