In September 1986, I turned 14 and the Communards' Don't Leave Me This Way was top of the UK singles charts, knocking off August's number one, Chris de Burgh's Lady in Red. This was good news for an Australian teenager struggling with de Burgh's strange pronunciation of "dance" and "romance".
Times were less jolly in south west France. There angry gods rained fire and brimstone on the city of Bordeaux, causing havoc in the vineyards of Graves, Pomerol and St Emilion. Pauillac and Margaux were spared.
Towards the middle of the October 1986, Bon Jovi released Livin' On A Prayer. The world knocked back a swift pint, raised its hands in the air and joined JBJ in song, voicing the tragic optimism of Tommy (used to work on the docks, down on his luck) and Gina (works the diner all day, working for her man she brings home the pay) who had each other and that's a lot... for love.... Meanwhile, Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Chateau Margaux started picking their Cabernet grapes and commenced production of Bordeaux's best two wines of the vintage and possibly two of Bordeaux's best ever wines.
Fast forward about 22 years. If, against all odds, Bon Jovi's idealistic lovers have wine habits and are still holding hands, they'd need to be livin' on much more than a prayer to buy bottles of 86 Mouton and 86 Margaux. At the Sampler in Islington, one of the few wine shops in London where it's possible to buy old vintages of Bordeaux, one bottle of 86 Mouton will set Tommy back £580. One bottle of the more elegant 86 Margaux will set Gina back £470. If things are still a bit tight, Tommy and Gina could head to the Sampler and sample 25ml of the 86 Mouton for £25 and 25ml of the 86 Margaux for £20.
The 86 Mouton soars from the glass. It looks, smells and tastes like a young wine and is only just ready to drink. Exquisite liquid minerals, toast and smoke overlay extraordinarily pure cassis. The finish goes on and on and you're left nosing an empty glass in blissful disbelief. Being Americans, Tommy and Gina might be interested in knowing Parker awarded this wine 100 points and thinks it has the potential to last for 100 years. I don't disagree.
The 86 Margaux is more subtle and less obvious than the Mouton but completely extraordinary in its own way. Perfectly balanced violets, cassis and minerals wash about the palate and linger for an eternity. 98 Parker points for this beauty, which in his words, "should prove nearly immortal in terms of its aging potential".
Sure, £45 is an awful lot to spend on two sips of wine. But these are very special wines. Wines of uncommon richness and power. Wines that Tommy, Gina and every wine-lover should try at least once.