Friday, October 20, 2006

Golden Nugget of a Tasting, Part II

About 30 people showed up at Sotheby's for the pre-auction tasting, as compared to about 100 last time. I went back for seconds and even thirds at some bottles. This time they left the art hanging on the walls, so I swirled and sniffed surrounded by Renoir. After an hour of tasting (and I'm sorry, but when its old fine wine I don't spit, I don't care if its uncouth), I was worried that I might pull a Steve Wynn and shove my elbow through one of the canvases, but I remained in control of myself.

In sum: I tasted some really sick wine last night. Its an incredible learning experience to sample a flight of 2000 Bordeaux and then compare that to another flight of Bordeaux from 1970 to 1990. I felt that I learned something about the evolution in the bottle of wine. The highlight for me though was tasting 6 Burgundies, 3 of them Grand Cru wines. I have never tasted Grand Cru Burgundy before and I'll tell you, it felt great - something I could get used to.

It was not possible for me to keep detailed tasting notes about all of the wines I tasted, but I can share something about the wines that I thought were memorable:

The 1970 Chateau Montrose just didn't excite me much. Lots of green olives on the nose, not much fruit, ion the mouth either. Pronounced lead. The flavors were sort of dull. The Bordeaux of the night was definitely the 1983 Chateau Gruaud Larose. This wine was very dark and smelled of tobacco and black fruit. Very juicy and fresh, still young, with some tar and sappy sweeetness at the finish. The 1996 Chateau Calon Segur (which BrooklynLady favors due to the heart on the label) was very interesting. Unusual smells of herbs and candied orange peel and figs. The younger Bordeaux were not so impressive, but that might be due to having just tasted the more mature wines. The 2000 Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste was the most interesting to me, with blueberries on the nose and cassis flavors.

The first Burgundy we tasted was maybe the best, a 1992 Compte Georges de Vogue Bonnes Mares. There was some rust in the color, but no signs of aging I could detect in the wine. On the contrary, it was full of orange peel and prunes, and some animal smells, with cooked fruit and pine in the mouth. There was not much acidity, but the flavors were clear and pure. I imagine that this wine should be consumed now and not saved any longer. I am happy to help whoever purchases the wine in that endeavor.

I also was fascinated by two wines from Armand Roussseau. The 1997 Rousseau Clos de la Roche is a Grand Cru wine. The color was incredibly light red, verging on rose. But the nose was alive with strawberry and animal, and the flavors were piercing with cooked cherries. Very light and delicate - I imagine it would be wonderful with salmon or wild mushrooms.

The 1997 Armand Rousseau Ruchottes Chambertin, Clos des Ruchottes was in the end my favorite wine. Also a Grand Cru, this wine was all class, style, and grace. A reserved nose of cooked cherries and pine, and lovely and well delineated flavors of cherries, spices, mushrooms, and a lingering cranberry finish. It got better each time I went back too. I am trying to drum up some support among friends to bid on the lot of this wine.

As a side note, there was a bottle of 2002 Cristom Pinot Noir, Jessie Vineyard in the same flight as the red Burgundies. Now that's a bit unfair, right? If it were a 1997, now that might be fair. This wine smelled and tasted like artificial cherry candy compared to the Burgundy wine. No finesse or elegance. The Cristom was like an amateur boxer sparring with Bruce Lee - never really had a chance.

There were lots of other interesting wines - I didn't mention the white Burgundies at all. But thats as much as I could really process. I felt inspired though to organize a tasting at home though, to replicate the experience of flights of wine. Its a great way to learn about a varietal or a set of producers. Any takers?


Anonymous said...

Ha! Just wait until you have your Burgundy Epiphany!

Okay, how many wines did they pour?

Brooklynguy said...

How will I know when I have my Burgundy epiphany?

Dr. Debs said...

Sounds great. Never been to an event like that, but I must say it makes me want to find one in my area. The range of wines seems really extraordinary.

Anonymous said...

For $75 a pop, it is extraordinary. I have been to at least four or five of these tastings, and the number of people in attendance seems to be directly proportional to the number of superstar bordeaux they are pouring (1961, 1982, 1986, etc). When its all 1996 and 1997 Burgundy, you get fewer dilettantes...

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