In 1990 my then wife and I bought a house in France. We bought it from
Enrike, a Portuguese gentleman who had been an acrobat and a wrestler but
was now a 'travel agent'. We suspected he was involved in other
activities. He had a sidekick who drove his black Mercedes, cooked a
magret du canard on the fire when he was showing us over the house, and
paid all the bills when we were taken on a thank you tour of some Paris
night clubs after buying the house. Bills such as for a bouquet of red
roses Enrike bought for my wife from an itinerant red roses seller, and
the tip given to the guitar player who played the songs requested by my
wife. Enrike was a charming man. We later heard that on one New Years
Eve while Enrike owned the house girls from the Paris Lido came to
visit. (If you don't know of the Paris Lido, enjoy a search on google
images) We also heard that on another time 6 police cars arrived,
looking for Enrike. This was before we bought the house of course.
Previous to Enrike, the house had been owned by the Compte de Maurier,
who had sold it in around 1978 to pay his taxes, and had since died.
For both it was a weekend house. We, though, had the intention of
living in it permanently, eventually.
Before he sold the house the Compte converted one of the huge
barns to a house - the living room was a mere 800 sq ft - and abandoned
the little old farmhouse on the property. When we bought it there was
about 1" of dirt on the floors of the old farmhouse, it was in an
unbelievable bad state, water pipes all burst, electric wires all
shorted out, etc. No one ever went in there except to turn the mains
switch for the electricity in the big house. There was a big old ugly
cupboard in the old bathroom of the little house. Locked with no key.
About a couple of years after we bought the house my wife was in need of a
big cupboard and thought about the one in the little house. Next trip
there - or maybe next trip but one - no hurry - I brought a crow bar.
It was only our holiday house at the time, I was still working in the UK.
I prised open the door. There were some old tools, a few drill bits, some
wire and some string AND SIX CASES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! 5 cases, 6 bottles
each, 30 bottles in all, Piper Heidseck pink champagne, and one case, 6
bottles, of Piper Heideseck Rare Champagne, with a very special narrow
neck, dated 1976......... Now, champagne is not not normally dated, it
is non vintage, but this was marked 1976............
We tasted the champagne, the pink was superb, the Rare was delicious. We
checked prices. The pink champagne, at the time, would have cost about
£25 per bottle. We had 30. We asked a French friend, who owned a
restaurant in the UK, to find out about the Rare. It would cost about
£250 per bottle he said. We had 6.
Personally, on price, I would prefer 10 bottles of the pink to just one
of the Rare, but that Rare was good! Nectar for the Gods!
We had made a deal when we bought the house and bought all the contents with
the house so we were content with the find. After passing nearly a
year of almost unbroken drunken state while we were there (it was only
our holiday home at the time) we heard that the now deceased de Maurier
had held his daughter's wedding at the house and realised the champagne
must have been a remnant from that wedding.
The family came round one time to see the place they were married in, they
were a very pleasant group, but we didn't mention the champagne we had
found, especially since the it had nearly all been drunk.
I was divorced in 2003. We had one bottle of Rare left. The pink was
long gone. What should we do? We drank that last bottle, to celebrate
the divorce. And you know what? Just like the marriage, the Rare
champagne had lost it's vibrant sparkle. It was drinkable, but no
longer special. The champagne after 27 years, the marriage after only
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