I am sitting in McCarran airport in Las Vegas on my way home from a trip to West Palm Beach for the annual The Great Wine Seminar which I’ve attended for the past 11 years. It was a shock getting off the plane and not only seeing the sun, but having an 84 degree temperature which is exactly opposite the digits I left behind in the Seattle area.
Due to a late departure, my connecting flight in Orlando left no time for my baggage to make the transition and no longer a surprise, there was no luggage upon arriving at my final destination. Almost funny, especially for those who have followed some of my travel exploits over the past couple of years.
The pain quickly dissipated on Friday evening though, as our first of 5 incredible vertical tastings was Domaine Romanee Conti. I’ve had my share of DRC wines over the years and on rare occasions two or three in a particular tasting. But I never have had the opportunity to try 20 of them in one sitting. All in all, it was quite a spectacle with multiple bottles of each; quite the sight when entering the room.
We enjoyed Echezeaux, Grand Echezeaux, Romanee St. Vivant, Richebourg and La Tache from 1990, 1996, 1999 and the 2001 vintage. Personally, I’d rather have tried the 1993 vs. the 1996 and 2005 instead of 2001, but I do feel very fortunate to taste the great selection I did. There were some thrilling wines in the lineup and a few of the more spectacular Burgs I have ever set my lips upon.
Clive Coates led us through the lineup and was very informative. It would have been great if he had been able to get more participation from the audience, but that is just not his style. Some highlights of the DRC diagonal were:
Roy’s 93-95 point DRC’s – best listed last
· 2001 La Tache
· 1999 Grand Echezeaux
· 1996 Grand Echezeaux
· 1990 Echezeaux
· 1996 Romanee St. Vivant
· 1999 Richebourg
· 1996 La Tache
· 1990 Grand Echezeaux
Roy’s 97+ point DRC’s – best listed last
· 1990 Richebourg
· 1999 La Tache
· 1990 La Tache
Saturday was a trio of seminars all accompanied by … wine.
My breakfast had not yet hit my intestines by the time I was drinking the savvy Chenin of Domain des Baumard and the sultry Savennieres although tooth cleansing dry came from the vineyards of Clos St. Yves (1995), Clos du Papillon (1995) and also from the same vintage the Trie Speciale. Afterwards, we completed a Clos de Paillon vertical spanning seven vintages back to 1975, the ultra-rare “once-in-a-lifetime-cuvee” Coteaux du Layon Cuvee Ancienne de Jean Baumard (n/v) which was a compilation of 20 vintages from 1998 back to 1966, in which the average age was 30 years old. It was a captivating wine to say the least. Then a few more Coteaux de Layon single vintage beauties from 1990 and then the ultimate expression which came from the 1945 vintage, an honor to taste such a glorious and profound dessert wine. If that was not enough Baumard and it certainly wasn’t yet … we enjoyed a vertical of 10 Quarts de Chaume back to 1959 (OMG!) and a crazy Vendage Tardive version from 1976 which would be illegal to even produce today. I realize that my Port loving friends just won’t understand this.
A quick break in the action after those 25 wines allowed time for a quick lunch and then it was back to work with a vertical tasting of 13 glasses of Domaine Meo-Camuzet Corton Clos Rognet Burgundy back to 1990.
That was closely followed by a really wild and wooly tasting of M. Chapoutier “Le Pavillon” Ermitage (No. Rhone) vintages back to 1989 and a unique opportunity to try a 2006 cask sample.
A bottle of H.M. Borges was enjoyed at a poolside party in which my brother and I enjoyed this beautiful bottle of Madeira with 12 year old aged Hoyo de Monterey stogies.
The weekend was quickly coming to a grand finale with a Chateau Angelus vertical held first thing on Sunday morning. What better way to keep things righteous, with the stellar troika of 1988, 1989 and 1990 along with more than a dozen others from the property including the 2005 which was just a massive and delicious young slurpy Pommerol. Then again, I also was charmed by the infant 2003. Clive went on about how those of us (like me) that preferred the 1989 to 1990 were wrong. I like being wrong and loving the 1989, which I had opened as recently as mid-March; both of which were astounding examples of the greatness that Hubert Bouard is able to extract from his grapes and soil at Angelus.
I can’t wait to see what rabbits Arlette and Bob Cataldo can pull out of the hat in 2009!
Do you like decadent wine experiences like this? Feel free to join us in West Palm Beach, Florida next April for The Great Wine Seminar.