Posts Filed Under wine tasting
“A bottle of good wine, like a good act, shines ever in the retrospect.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
Stevenson had it right about special wines being eminently memorable, though he forgot to add the part about how wine tasting, like a hot date, owes so much to anticipation.
And as much as I like to think that I am inching ever closer to the Zen mystery, it’s really difficult not to put expectations on a tasting in which magnums of 1995 Champagne and Graham’s Vintage Port (1977), as well as bottles of 1981 Vieux Chateau Certan, take second billing.
Which is exactly what happens when you have a bottle of (genuine) 1929 Haut-Brion in the lineup.
That’s because the 1929 Haut-Brion is one of those extremely rare triple threats: world-class producer, renowned vintage (before every other release was deemed “vintages of the century” in Bordeaux) and rare old wine (in decent condition).
Or so we had hoped, anyway.
As it turns out, that fabled bottle that had me (and several other guests at the Columbia Firehouse restaurant in old town Alexandria, VA) buzzing with anticipation last week had apparently leaked at some point in it’s 81-year history.
We (a group of about 15 people) were assembled as the hand-picked guests of my buddy Jason Whiteside, DWS (Washington Wine Academy instructor, friend of the Dude and frequent guest poster here) to celebrate the achievement of his WSET Diploma in Wine & Spirits (a pre-req for entrance into the Masters of Wine program). It’s a difficult and hard-earned achievement, well-worthy of opening some special bottles. As our generous host put it after inspecting the most special of that night’s bottles, “this wine could be deader than Lincoln”…
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I recently took part in a fun experiment, in which a group of wine bloggers were sent four Austrian Gruner Veltliner wines to face-off against one another in a head-to-head tasting.
The event was billed The Grü V Olympics, the idea being that each blogger scored the wines according to a predefined system with points awarded for color, clarity, aroma, and so on. The culmination of all of the scoring across all of the wine blogger judges would then result in the declaration of a ‘gold medal’ winner.
I dig Gruner Veltliner, because it’s capable of startling complexity in its aromas and often includes spice, citrus and exotic vegetable notes. But I really dig Gruner because it pairs extremely well with the large and complicated salads that so many U.S. restaurants serve as entrees these days. Too bad most of those same establishments almost never carry Gruner on their wine lists…
Anyway, like all gold medal style competitions, the Grü V Olympics results should be taken with a grain of salt, because the field was limited in both the wine and judge selections. I should note that none of the wines in the Grü V Olympics really floated my palate boat, but my fave of the bunch did make ‘gold’ in this case. Having said that, there are definitely better Gruners to be had out there, though the gold medal winner here will treat you well enough and is a good introduction to what the variety has to offer.
You can check out the official Grü V Olympics results here.
We know that I’m not terribly fond of massive tastings. I did thoroughly enjoy myself at Premiere Napa Valley, however, even if I didn’t get to try all 200 of the wines, mostly because the experience, with lots of people in close proximity to wine and to each other, is uber-social. For a gadfly like me, it’s like social crack, only with ultra-premium wines and the opportunity to catch up with friends, chill with industry folk, and ask geeky questions of winemakers.
In other words, it’s like super wine crack for me.
I’ve decided not to rate any of the wines I tasted at PNV, because a) you’re unlikely to find them, and b) we are talking some of the best-of-the-best in CA winemaking here, and the scores on my cheesy A-F scale for are in the A- to A+ range for all of these wines; there’s no real point in sharing those subtle shades of differing scores, now is there? I mean, I’m not getting into a 94 vs 96 points discussion, thankyouverymuch.
Anyway, following are some of my favorites among a field of very, very impeccably made wines (in PNV auction lot order):
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