Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sotheby's Pre Sale Tasting Report; Part 2

And what of the white wines? The lineup of white Burgundies certainly was impressive on paper, with notable wines at various stages of maturity. I was not so impressed, though, overall. None of them really hit me where it counts. Some were out of balance, others just plain strange. The exception was a younger wine, a Chablis - my favorite of the flight.

1991 Remoissenet Pere et Fils Batard Montrachet Grand Cru - Smells of wood and banana, some barnyard elements. Not altogether pleasing nose, but interesting. Lovely palate of rich yellow fruit, honey, some vanilla, a bit of spice. My favorite wine, other than the Chablis.

1997 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet, Les Caillerets 1er Cru - incredible (as in odd, not as in amazing) nose of marzipan, cake, and toast. Almondy marzipan palate. I have never encountered anything like this before - tasted as if someone doctored this one with almond extract. Not to my liking at all.

1998 Domaine Etienne Sauzet Montrachet - Icy petrol aroma, some vanilla. Flabby palate, unfocused.

1998 Louis Jadot Criots Batard Montrachet Grand Cru - Smells of bananas and vanilla, same on the palate with some spices too. Pleasant.

2000 Domaine Tollot Beaut Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru - Oaky vanilla aromas. Full bodied, heavy palate of banana and rich dark yellow fruit - almost over-ripe.

2002 William Fevre Chablis Les Clos Grand Cru - Aromas of white flowers, wet stones, and lime. Lovely light zippy palate, light-medium body, white fruits, citrus, and minerals. Beautiful! My favorite of the white wines by a long shot. Others must have agreed, because Sotheby's estimated the lot price at between $550-750 for 9 bottles of this juice, but the final price was over $950. So now I have to look into trying some more Chablis. Maybe Marcus in Montreal, who seems to love the stuff, can help...

Now, back to the reds. The California flight in this tasting surprised me, in that I found myself enjoying the wines more than I enjoyed their counterparts from Bordeaux.

1992 Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon - Cedar on the nose, medicinal, herbal quality too. Interesting paalte of Cassis and herbs, with significant grip to it. Still young, this wine was medium bodied but powerful and complex.

1992 Dominus - Dark fruit on the nose, balckberries and mint on the palate. Fine, but I just don't understand all the hype...

1994 Caymus Vineyards Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon - Complex nose of menthol and dark fruits. Soft and silky palate of plums and herbs, some leathery earth. Tannic on the finish. My favorite of the flight.

1995 Stags Leap Merlot, Napa Valley - Opulent nose of plums and spices. Rich plums and choclate, some earth on the palate. This is a decadent wine, a very classy merlot. I thought it was delicious, and I found myself thinking "I bet this will go cheap - who is buying Merlot anyway?" And I was right. The lot of 24 bottles sold for $540 including buyers premium. We're talking about $23 bucks a bottle for mature and delicious wine, wine that would be great with food. I should have bid...

1997 Peter Michael Les Pavots - Reserved nose, some cedar, some flowers. Palate of bright red fruit, some pine. Very nice.

Next time I go to a Sotheby's pre-auction tasting I plan on focusing my attention on one, maybe two flights, and tasting the wines more thoughtfully. I think something is lost in trying to taste everything. This is really fun stuff though - if you're in the area you should come. Too much good wine to miss out.


Marcus said...

Heh! I went to Sotheby's my first time in New York. Don't know why. Just to look around. It's great -- a huge art gallery (free admission) with none of the crowds. I suppose there were crowds for the event you went to though. Sounds like you also had to pay, dearly.

I'll try to help but I'm drawing on the advice of others -- my Chablis budget is modest and you seem to be dabbling with the giants.

So here are some quick and dirty Chablis notes for you for the moment. (Come on back for more!)

First, a list featuring all quite major Chablis, perhaps carrying a $100/750mL rate similar to Sotheby's. These 2005s were given top grades on Jancis Robinson's site:

Dom Billaud-Simon, Vaudésir Grand Cru 2005 Chablis 18
Dom Jean-Marc Brocard, Bougros Grand Cru 2005 Chablis 18
Dom William Fèvre, Vaudésir Grand Cru 2005 Chablis 18
Dom William Fèvre, Valmur Grand Cru 2005 Chablis
Dom William Fèvre, Les Clos Grand Cru 2005 Chablis 18

I buy the cheaper versions of Fèvre et al, mostly those without a cru classification.

Other recent favourites I'd recommend to drink tout suite are from the great 2002 vintage: Domaine Laroche (, Moreau et fils (see my review) and Bouchard.

Brooklynguy said...

Thanks so much for this info. I cannot afford those wines either, and I wasn't meaning to play around with the Giants. That's just what they were pouring. It did BLOW me away though, I must say. I will definitely watch your blog for more Chablis tips (hopefully the $40 and under kind)...

Anonymous said...

I think you should continue to taste every at this kind of event rather than focusing on, say, two flights. Frankly, the pours aren't usually big enough and you can't keep the wine in your glass long enough to see change; usually there's a couple of older wines that do fade significantly by the end of such tastings, though. Retasting your favorites to see if your thoughts on them changed is important, too.

Some thoughts to give to all of the wines is Where might they be in their wine life? Still young, in the middle or declining; has the wine come together at its current age; too much oak or tannins still; how much longer will the wine be in its prime, etc.

Yes, this takes experience to figure out (or Guess Well), but starting to have a clue as to what a wine will become is what makes these tastings so useful.

Brooklynguy said...

Thanks for your very thoughtful and insightful comments Jack. Makes perfect sense to me. You clearly have some experience in massive tastings. I will use some of these ideas next time.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.