I've collected special bottlings from a few different producers of wine since the 1980s.
l now have decided to create more space in my cellar by depleting these inventories. What better way than to hold vertical tastings. Last night was the first of these parties, with seven friends and thirteen out of fourteen consecutive vintages of the Hess Collection, from 1986-1999.
This was always a solid CA Cab producer know for taking great fruit on Mount Veeder (the old Christian Brothers vineyard) before Daniel Hess bought it in 1986, and making long lived Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah as well. I was an early fan of the Cab style and saved one bottle from every vintage which I purchased, so that someday, I could hold a vertical tasting. The bottles were in pristine condition, all purchased on release and in the lineup, looked great. I opened all of them and one seemed to show the possibility of some TCA, which hours later proved to be the case. So, I was left with a dozen bottles and we were going to have a "pot luck."
The guests arrived, around 6 p.m. including Stewart Todd, Chris Henderson and Eric LeVine (the 3 FTLOP members) and four others. We began outside with three whites from my cellar, a fine 2001 German Spatlese Riesling, a 2005 Niepoort Tiara and a 2003 William Fevre "Les Clos" Chablis. These were all served blind, with a wide assortment of cheese, baguettes, bruschetta with EVO/heirloom tomatoes/sauteed onions and bacon, along with a variety of various salami etc. Then came a great taglietelle with Morels and other wild mushrooms which was perfect with the Chablis. We moved inside to do 3 flights (4,5,4) of the Cabernets and in the middle we took time out for some salad and a great course of grilled rib cap and rib eyes. Dessert was simple, a fine bottle of 1978 Broadbent Bual matched with a Caramel Turtle cake.
The evening continued for six hours and was a ton of fun. I can't think of a better way to share wines like this and with good friends and folks from my tasting group.