Events — 10 April 2014
Bordeaux Barrels to Bottles at Grand Cercle Tasting

Blog: Grand Cercle Des Vins De Bordeaux 2014

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Amid the backdrop of panoramic views of New York City as the sun was setting Wednesday night, a few hundred guests filed into the 17th floor of the Manhattan Penthouse. With great anticipation, attendees would welcome some of Bordeaux France’s finest wines from the Left Bank and Right Bank being showcased by the makers themselves. The “Grand Cercle Des Vins De Bordeaux” would pour close to 200 different wines of differing vintages highlighting reasonably priced and exceptional drinking bottles accompanied by a silent auction with proceeds solely benefiting the Association of Community Employment or ACE, which seeks to empower the homeless with opportunity.

The space at the Manhattan Penthouse more than suited the clientele sipping wines on this night as the elevator doors opened to a sunlit room and a live pianist welcoming guests instrumentally. With almost 40 winemakers occupying the lineup of tables inside of the main space, the Penthouse was already fully buzzing upon our arrival. Grabbing an empty glass, we entered the room noting artwork courtesy of The Road Gallery and artist Gabriela Bravo Clavello displayed around us. We were also treated to some French mini-pastries courtesy of Upper East Side boutique Canele by Celine and a selection of tasty French cheeses to pair with the tasty wines- assuming that you were able to find some space at the table.

Geographically, the Left Bank and the Right Bank sandwich France’s Gironde River which lies in Bordeaux and the climate and location provide unique conditions for grape growing and harvesting. And among the many wines that we sampled as the evening wore on- and as pairs of lips around the room grew more and more purple- the high regard that often surrounds the region by expert enthusiasts became increasingly evident. After enjoying some of the bigger reds of the evening, our palates utterly danced with the first sip of the uber-sweet 2009 “Chateau de Myrat” from Sauternes. The blend of mostly Semillon grapes with a touch of Sauvignon offered a nose replete with honey and a rich, lengthy finish that had us coming back time and again for repeat pours. Just subtle enough to avoid being an outright dessert wine, this one paired excellently with some of the cheeses on hand.

The approachability of the 2010 “Chateau Trianon” from Saint-Emilion Grand Cru was off the charts- more so than the 2011 which was also being shown. Equipped with some pungent cherry from the start, this one was among our earliest tastings of the evening and remained among the most memorable afterwards. Speaking of memorable, the young 2011 “Chateau d’Arsac” from Margaux delivered a delightfully floral nose but also a soft and fruit forward taste profile that made the wine repeatedly drinkable. The 2008 “Chateau La Vielle Cure” from Fronsac meanwhile, was decidedly a different animal altogether as a slightly more complex red blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon bringing out hints of sharp licorice and dark black cherry with each swirl.

Among other standouts, we thoroughly enjoyed the pours of the spice-laden 2009 and 2011 “Chateau Fleur Cardinale” (Grand Cru Classe), the slightly more oaky 2005 “Chateau Ramafort” (Medoc) and the 2009 “Chateau Haut-Bacalan” (Pessac), another easy drinking red blend. As the two hour tasting wore on and the silent auction bids increased exponentially to benefit ACE New York, the sun had finally set and the lights of the skyline shone into the Manhattan Penthouse- a metaphor perhaps for the end of the evening for us. But certainly not before we had gained a new-found respect for the fantastic array of wines from Bordeaux, ones that perhaps the more casual wine drinker could use a lesson in tasting.

- Jane Van Arsdale

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