Blog: Union Des Grands Crus 2014
Monday’s off-day for most of us marked a federal holiday, extending a long weekend with Martin Luther King Day. For a few hundred guests though, the date marked a stateside wine tasting event filled with notable wines from a single region. The evening dubbed “Union Des Grands Crus” brought a selection of more than 130 different styles of Bordeaux from the highly esteemed 2011 vintage to New York City’s west side Espace, a dimly lit sleek room filled decadently with choice eats and wines for a high end clientele.
Similar to November’s “Around the World in 80 Sips” held in the same venue, the event was expertly hosted by the online community that brings together wine drinkers, Bottlenotes and sponsored by the folks at Sherry-Lehmann Wine & Spirits. Together the pair welcomed a fantastic array of different winemakers for three full hours of tasting and noshing on some small bites like fresh cheeses, charcuterie, vegetables, and sweet BRIX chocolates, created purposefully for pairing. The evening kicked off promptly at 6:30pm with guests grabbing at a massive table of empty wine glasses and heading into Espace’s main room to begin. Upon entering the space, attendees were also handed commemorative 40th Anniversary booklets that described each of the represented wines in detail as well as a small tasting notebook to jot down the characteristics of each wine- certainly a nice touch for tracking each pour.
Admittedly, we are novices relative to Bordeaux wines which in some ways is a good thing because our palates are wide open without any preconception. But the region is the largest wine growing area in all of France and with more than a dozen appelations represented during the event, it was important to bounce around some to distinguish our preferences. We began by heading toward the Pomerol tables, an area that dates as far back as the Roman Era for winemaking. We began with “Chateau Le Bon Pasteur” which we learned was barrel aged for 15-18 months. With an eloquently floral nose, the blend combined 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc grapes, yielding a definitively dry finish and relatively speaking, low acidity. Comparatively, the “Chateau Clinet” similarly from Pomerol, but also utilizes a scant amount of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes yielded hints of licorice and herb scents with a dark cherry flavor with each sip.
The Margaux appelation dates back roughly one thousand years and although winemakers only began appropriately utilizing the land some time in the 18th century. Known for its uber-thin soil, the wines produced here are very temperamental based on the drastic changes in weather that tend to fluctuate during growing. Here was thoroughly enjoyed the “Chateau Lascombes,” a full bodied, bold wine with a spice filled nose and a deep red fruit flavor profile and a dry finish enhanced by its evident tannins. We also enjoyed the “Chateau Kirwin” and perhaps moreso, the “Chateau Malescot Saint-Exupery,” rich and elegant, which specifically paired excellently with our requisite plate of baked brie and salumis.
Opting for a change in styles entirely, we found ourselves in front of the wines from Sauternes, distinctive for their golden color. Unexpectedly we puckered at first the sweet, almost honey infused taste of the “Chateau Bastor-Lamontagne.” With its complex array of flavors though, the certain nutty and rich flavors and solid acidity grew on our palates with each passing taste. Similarly the “Chateau Coutet” brought out an absolute array of citrus fruits with seemingly less sugar and a bit more balance. Despite our preference for the previous, the aroma here was truly something special.
There aren’t too many Monday nights where we can remember having gone out wine tasting, but for Bottlenotes we’re always willing to make an exception. The value that you’re deriving time and time again at an utterly reasonable price point is always evident by the quality of their events, which we can only hope occur at a more frequent clip. Although we didn’t have the opportunity to taste nearly 130 wines, others worth praising included the “Chateau Chasse-Spleen” (Moulis-En-Medoc), the “Chateau Branaire-Ducru” (Saint-Julien), and the “Chateau Ormes De Pez” (Saint-Estephe), which was among the finest spice-filled wines that we sampled all evening. While we might not be able to pronounce half of what was poured, we certainly gained a new found love and respect for a region that we had largely avoided previously. No longer though, as it’s clear from this event, with the Bordeux Region, the French just might be on to something.