40 Years Young Charly

A few weeks ago the ‘beau-monde’ from the wineworld gathered to celebrate the 40 years existence of Young Charly. It was 40 years ago that the Mortlmans family or better father Mortelmans opened his small wineshop in Merksem. Back then they only sold French wine. First of all because that was the wine country father Mortelmans loved, but also at that time in Belgium 95% of the wines drunk in Belgium were French. It was only upon arrival of son Mortelmans aka William that they broadened their selection with Italian, Spanish, Portuguese (to name a few) wines. In 40years Young Charly grew out into one of the biggest wine importers and sellers in Belgium, representing some of the most renowned wine estates around like Ornelaia, Gaja, Col d’orcia, Masi, etc…

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I have known Young Charly whole my life, not always as a drinker though 🙂 At young age I remember always driving by the Young Charly shop in Merksem with my dad when going to a big supermarket further down the street or to look for Porcini mushrooms. As a wine drinker, I have to be honest I only started visiting their shop more often after a friend of mine started working there 🙂 So basically I have to thank this friend as thanks to Young Charly I discovered lots of wines that until then I only knew by name. To me what is important for a wineshop, is being guided before you do a purchase. I mean I usually buy wine according to a dish/meal I’ll be preparing and it is with that menu I go to the wine shop with the hope they’ll be able to help me finding a perfect match… With Young Charly I’ve always found that match!!

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When I was asked to join this ‘beau-monde’ to celebrate the 40 years of Young Charly I didn’t need too much convincing after the mentioned it was at restaurant ‘t Fornuis (in Antwerp 1* since 80’s and an institute in Belgium) and that 4 top wine estates would be present. Basically a combo of top sommeliers, journalists, amazing food and unforgettable wines…

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The 4 wine estates that were present were Niepoort, Col d’orcia, Artadi and Michel Chapoutier and they brought their best stuff 🙂 A sommelier’s meal wouldn’t be the same if they weren’t asked to taste everything blind and respond to some questions. From the wines of Artadi, Niepoort and Col d’orcia we had to guess the vintage, for Michel Chapoutier we knew the vintage, but we had to guess the ‘terroir’ 🙂 Could it become more difficult? In my case I have to admit that it was mostly guessing I did. I did always now which was the oldest and the youngest wines… but to really tell which vintage or even crazier the piece of land they come from was a bridge to far for me as I’m not a top sommelier like the others present 🙂

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The wines we ended up tasting:

Although all the wines were good, there is always that wine you prefer over the others. Which in my case were the Batuta 2013; the Ermitage Le Méal; Viña el Pison 2007 and the Col d’orcia 1995 🙂 .Strange enough you also immediately find out the people sharing the same taste pallet as you. The funniest tasting or revealing of the wines we tasted was without any doubt the one from Niepoort. I like Dirk Niepoort a lot, I have never met a wine enthusiast as big as him. Besides making lots of different types of official wines, he also has countless projects running besides that and on top of that he supports lots of new young wine markers trying to find their way through the world of winery. His comments of this wines were basically that he didn’t like any of the wines he brought 🙂 🙂 but said that even though some of the wines were bad, they matched perfectly with the food they were served with :-). Again, he’s a wonderful person who love wine and has it running through his vanes like no other :-).

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The fact that this celebration was at restaurant ‘t Fornuis was special to me as the restaurant has been on my list for a loooooooong long time, but never managed to get there. The restaurant serves classic Belgian/French cuisine from the highest level using the best ingredients available!! The might seem simple to the eye, but I can say for a fact that never to judge a book by its cover as sometimes the simple things are the most difficult to make.

We started with a ‘crab salad’, followed by surf and turf 🙂 leek with sweetbread, langoustine and truffle sausage. The main course was a fancy chicken (I forgot which one it was :-)) with Morel mushrooms and chicken kidneys. We finished our meal with crema catalana and a lemon meringue. If there is a heaven I hope they serve all of this (including the wines 😉 )!! It all tasted heavenly. I always love dishes with deep flavors in it!!

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The only thing I don’t like about meals/events like this with winemakers? I end up liking the wines very much, buying them and in the end going on a wine trip to visit the wineries 🙂 eeeeeeeeeevery time again… I need more holiday to visit all of them and more room to store the wines 😉 😉

It was again amazing to be part of something this wonderful!! I can’t wait for Young Charly to celebrate its 50 years anniversary 🙂

Website Young Charly:  http://www.young-charly.com/

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