Tasting A Legend: Going to Head-to-Head with Haut-Brion 1929

Vinted on May 5, 2010 binned in wine appreciation, wine review, 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.

Uh-oh.

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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The Most Beautiful Wine Cellars In The World, Revisited (Now With Drool-Inducing Pics!)

Vinted on May 4, 2010 binned in book reviews

After my review last week of the newly-released book by Astrid Fobelets, Jurgen Lijcops, The Most Beautiful Wine Cellars In The World, I received requests (one in the comments, and a few more via email) for some pictures from that haughty tome.  After all, if you’re gonna drop upwards of $60 on a coffee table book, you want to know a bit about what you’re in for (well, a bit more than me telling you that it’s very pretty, anyway).

I’m happy to report that I received permission from the publisher, VdH Books, to share a few images with you, which I’ve watermarked and reduced in size from the hi-res to reduce the temptation of stealing them (not that any of you would do that, mind you, we’re just protecting the world from those thugs who might come and snatch them up after a Google image search…).

Anyway, five shots are included below, which are (in order of appearance): Château Neercanne (Netherlands), Radisson SAS Wine Tower (London),  Palais Coburg (Vienna), Weingut Brundlmayer (Austria) and the imposing Marques de Riscal (Spain).

Enjoy…

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“A Wine for Any Food”: Master Sommelier Interview with George Miliotes

Vinted on May 3, 2010 binned in interviews

I first met Master Sommelier George Miliotes during  a press dinner at the Cherry Hill, NJ location for Seasons 52 (for whom George holds the beverage director chair).

George is a down-to-earth, affable guy with a clear passion for sharing the joys of our favorite beverage, and he has a wry smile that came out whenever I talked with him about wine; it’s the kind of smile that suggests that he knows some great insider information, the kind of smile that says “yeah, well, just wait until you hear about this…”

During the press dinner, I sat at the far right-hand corner of a table filled with a handful of journalists and “seasoned” Seasons 52 frequent customers.  George, directly on my right at the head of the table, picked up on my intense wine geekiness during the dinner and for a while I more or less monopolized his attention as our serious wine geek antennae came out and we spoke the enthusiastic but often obfuscated language of those for whom wine knowledge has become a borderline obsession.

In other words, it was great, and I instantly liked George.

I thought it would be fun to pick George’s brain about the life of an M.S., what it’s like to put together a wine list that has to pair successfully with a menu that changes frequently and incorporates different local ingredients by location, get his insights on blending wines for Seasons 52 and see what he thinks of important trends in the industry.

Hope you all agree about the fun part – and enjoy!…

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