This is how I imagine many top-tier Bordeaux Chateaux owners end their day:
They put down their small glasses of aged Sauturnes (which have been chilled by Winter fairies blowing ice crystals at them), and are lifted out of their easy chairs on large red ribbons made of the finest silk, held aloft by cherubs singing a lullaby from the music of the spheres, and on the way through their marble hallways to their lavish canopy beds they are heralded by smiling, talking statues who repeatedly exclaim how blessed those owners are to be themselves, and how lucky the world’s mortal wine drinkers are to have their glasses graced by even the tiniest drops from the nectar aging in their chai’s barrels.
I imagine this because living in a fantasy land is one of the few logical explanations for how the 2009 Bordeaux wine prices are shaping up. At least, that’s the conclusion I reached after attending the recent Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux 2009 vintage tasting in NYC.
For sure there were some amazing wines being poured (more on my faves after the jump), but a higher density under one roof of “pretty good” to “errr… uhmmm… not-so-great” wines for $50 and up you are not likely to find anywhere else on the planet. I interviewed Robert Parker a couple of years ago, and in that conversation he told me that Bordeaux wines were dramatically overpriced – the situation appears to have gotten a sight worse since then. As one salesman I met at the NYC tasting told me, when it comes to 2009 Bordeaux prices, “whatever you think it is, add… A LOT!” (that same person hinted that a recent vintage of one of the First Growths was rumored to be $22,000 a case).
But before you start shouting foul play on the part of the Asian wine market being responsible for putting Bordeaux prices out of reach of non-cherub-owning humans, bear in mind that it takes a certain amount of avarice (and probably arrogance) to charge a ton of money for a product that cannot be said be at all a rarity…
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This week, I’m in the historic-but-tourist-friendly French wine region of the Loire, on a press trip attending the the 2012 Salon des Vines de Loire. This annual vinous showcase in Angers features about as many Loire wines as the Loire river is measured in miles (over 600). So, I’m expecting to spit… a lot (and not just at the stuff the French people say to me).
The travel could mean some slightly interrupted service here on 1WD, most likely the week after I return while I’m catching up on the three-to-four thousand things to which I will need to attend when I get back (such as hitting the treadmill overtime after indulging in what the French consider a relatively normal volume of dietary fats). I’m hitting Napa very soon after my return from France (for a ton of producer visits and my annual coverage of the madness that is Premiere Napa Valley), and the space in between those trips will largely be occupied by, I hope, sleeping. All of which is a (very) long way of saying that your patience, as always, is most appreciated!
I’d tell you more about the Salon, except I don’t actually know too much about it because their website is, putting it mildly, in the running for the least useful Internet destination in the history of the known Universe. So I thought that I’d offer up a few interesting facts about the region instead, embellished slightly 1WineDude style for your edu-tainment…
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It’s not often that a wine guy avoids a wine region by choice.
Yet that’s more-or-less where I’ve found myself when it comes to France’s Burgundy, home of both ethereally-exquisite, mind-blowingly-good wines and overpriced, cabbage-in-the-bathwater bad swill, with little to guide the consumer from choosing one over the other apart from painstakingly acquired detailed knowledge of the region’s négociants… and we’ve all go those guys’ details committed firmly to memory, right?!??
And so, when you get invited to a vintage tasting in NYC for a Burgundian producer with whom you have no prior experience, even as a critic-of-sorts you steel yourself for what is surely to be the inevitable dropping of the other shoe; as in, having to taste wines that smell like the other shoe dipped in someone’s droppings.
And then, when you’re not only pleasantly surprised by the outcome – as I was at Blue Fin last week, after going through the 2009 lineup from Père & Fils’ Domaine Chanson – you’re practically blown away… Well, then you have to endure the odd-paired painful pleasure of watching your personal assessment of both that producer’s abilities and your own douchebag rating simultaneously skyrocket. [ Editor's note: This pain was salved slightly by the fact that Père & Fils’ was pouring bubbly from Champagne producer Bollinger, which they also own, and which I can now tell you from personal experience washes down the taste of crow with elegant, floral appeal. ]
Much of Domaine Chanson’s rise to within-spitting-distance of Burgundy’s upper-echelon (and therefore arguably the wine world’s upper-echelon) can be attributed to the hard work of its President, Gilles de Courcel – an amicable guy with thinning brown hair, a quick smile and eyes that light up when he gets a chance to exercise his borderline-obsessive passion for describing the tiny geography from which Chanson’s top-tier, tiny production Grand Cru wines originate…
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By some minor miracle, I may actually be able to attend the New York Wine Expo in March.
For the last few years, I’ve had to miss this vinous shin-dig held at the ginormous Jacob K. Javits Convention Center because I’ve been roughly 2,898 miles away from it when it’s been held. But this year, I’ll be just getting back from the Left Coast when the NYC Wine Expo gets going… so there’s a good chance that I might see YOU there, since 1WineDude.com readers get a $15 discount on the Friday March 2nd grand tasting event, now through March 1st!
Why? Because you’re all totally bad-ass, that’s why!
The expo will be taking place March 2 – 4, 2012 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center (trust me, it’s big enough that if you get reasonable close, you can’t miss it). Over 700 wines (dang!) will be poured from nearly 200 wineries, and there will be a few wine-related seminars outside of the tastings.
From now until March 1st, 2012 when you purchase NYC Wine Expo event tickets on-line you can get your $15 discount off the Friday night grand tasting event by clicking “Enter promotional code” at the bottom of the event form (directly above the “Order Now” button), and using the code “WINEDUDE” (without the quotation marks, of course).
If you’re going (and you should, if you want to give your wine tasting IQ a serious – and quick – boost), check out my mini survival guide for getting through these big tasting events alive (Hint: Spit. A lot).