Fete de Bordeaux 2013 – Year Five

This was the year to put the 2010’s to the test.  2009 vs. 2010 – the raging debate – the only thing standing between me and the final verdict was the fact that we couldn’t taste the vintages side by side.

The guests of honor this year were Jean-Charles Cazes of Chateaux Lynch-Bages and Ormes de Pez and Anthony Barton of Chateaux Leoville-Barton and Langoa Barton.  We were sad to miss Nicolas Glumineau, who represented Chateau Montrose in years past, because he had moved on to a roll as head of Roederer’s Bordeaux Properties including Chateau Pichon LaLande.  Herve Berland, now representing Chateau Montrose and Tronquoy Lalande had a last minute conflict and could not make the dinner, we hope to meet him next year.

The wines served were:

  • 2011 Blanc de Lynch-Bages
  • 2010 Chateau Tronquoy Lalande
  • 2010 Chateau Ormes de Pez
  • 2010 Chateau Langoa-Barton
  • 2010 Chateau Lynch-Bages
  • 2010 Chateau Leoville-Barton
  • 2010 Chateau Montrose
  • 2005 Chateau Langoa-Barton
  • 2003 Chateau Lynch-Bages
  • 2000 Chateau Montrose
  • 1999 Chateau Leoville-Barton
  • 1995 Chateau Lynch-Bages
  • 1995 Chateau Montrose
  • 1997 Chateau Suduiraut

So now, the big reveal.  2009, or 2010?  Honestly, I have to be as cagey as the critics and say the proof is in the aging.  I have happily begun putting down both vintages in the anticipation of a future vintage taste-off.  My wife, however, is firmly in the 2010 camp, having declared the 2010 Montrose her Wine of the Night in an unusual twist (normally, the older the better as far as she is concerned).  She described the 2010’s as more round and approachable and having darker fruit than the 2009’s, but to be clear, she’s not saying the ’09’s are any less complex than the ’10’s – it’s just a style she prefers.  They say that the 2009’s are more of an American vintage with a little more plush fruit and the 2010’s are more of a European vintage, being slightly more tannic with blacker fruit.  If that’s the case, I’m definitely okay with her assessment – but only time will tell.

I leaned towards the  Montrose as my top pick of the 2010’s, followed closely by the Leoville-Barton and the Lynch-Bages.  My Wine of the Night was the 2000 Montrose, though I have to agree with my wife – the 2010’s were very compelling that night.

The surprise of the night was the impressive 2011 Blanc de Lynch-Bages, with strong minerality and great acid energy.  Jean-Charles said a customer once described it as a real “porch pounder.”  (He was quite pleased with that description!) It’s not exactly how I would put it, but I admit, I’d happily drink more of it!

Fete de Bordeaux 2012 – Year Four

We were very much looking forward to this year given all of the hype and press around the 2009 Bordeaux vintage and the subsequent 2010 vintage.  The 2009 wines did live up to their reputation, though I do remember wishing we could try the 2009’s and 2010’s side by side at that time.

On hand representing the estates were Jean-Charles Cazes of Chateaux Lynch-Bages and Ormes de Pez; Anthony Barton of Chateaux Leoville-Barton and Langoa Barton; and Nicolas Glumineau of Chateaux Montrose and Tronquoy Lalande.

Here are the 2009’s we tasted:

  • 2009 Blanc de Lynch-Bages
  • 2009 Chateau Tronquoy Lalande
  • 2009 Chateau Ormes de Pez
  • 2009 Chateau Langoa-Barton
  • 2009 Chateau Lynch-Bages
  • 2009 Chateau Leoville-Barton
  • 2009 Chateau Montrose
  • 2001 Chateau Lynch-Bages
  • 2001 Chateau Leoville-Barton
  • 2001 Chateau Montrose
  • 1996 Chateau Langoa-Barton
  • 1996 Chateau Lynch-Bages
  • 1996 Chateau Montrose
  • 2007 Chateau Suduiraut Sauternes

The 2009’s definitely lived up to the hype.  The 2009 Chateau Montrose was my first pick of the ’09’s, followed by the Lynch-Bages.  My Wine of the Night was the 2001 Montrose followed by the 1996 Langoa-Barton – both were both drinking incredibly well.  My wife was very happy to hear that we have some more of the 2001 Montrose in our cellar at home.  I hope she’ll be equally glad to hear that we’ve acquired many of the 2009 vintage releases as well!  I know it’s been said before, but I believe it’s true – the ’09 vintage is a must-purchase for any Bordeaux wine lover. I look forward to seeing how this vintage matures.

Fete de Bordeaux 2011 – Year Three

In 2011, the dinners moved back to the Columbia Tower Club, where they have been hosted since.  This was also the year we coerced a few friends into coming with us, and they’ve been back every year for more as well.

The guests for this dinner were Jean-Charles Cazes of Chateaux Lynch Bages and Ormes de Pez; Anthony Barton of Chateaux Leoville and Langoa Barton; and Nicolas Glumineau of Chateaux Montrose and Tronquoy Lalande.

The 2008 new release wines served were:

  • 2008 Blanc de Lynch Bages
  • 2008 Chateau Tronquoy Lalande
  • 2008 Chateau Ormes de Pez
  • 2008 Chateau Lynch Bages
  • 2008 Chateau Leoville Barton
  • 2008 Chateau Montrose
  • 1998 Chateau Langoa Barton
  • 1998 Chateau Lynch Bages
  • 1998 Chateau Montrose
  • 1988 Chateau Lynch Bages en Magnum
  • 1988 Chateau Leoville Barton
  • 1988 Chateau Montrose en Magnum
  • 2006 Suduiraut Sauternes

I distinctly remember picking the Chateau Montrose as my favorite of the 2008 Vintage, followed by Leoville Barton, and the Lynch Bages, with the 1988 Lynch Bages from magnum as my Wine of the Night.  I also distinctly remember looking forward to tasting the celebrated 2009’s the following year.

Fete de Bordeaux 2010 – Year Two

In 2010, the Fete dinner moved to the Rainier Club, where we tasted the new 2007 vintage releases.  While I have the list of wines served thanks to our friend Bill Schallert, unfortunately, I do not have anything to actually jog my memory about the wines we drank that night.

I do recall though, that this was the year that Chateau Montrose was substituted for Cos d’Estournel on the tour, and Nicolas Glumineau joined the dinners from Chateau Montrose.  It was the first time I’d literally ever heard anyone sing for his supper – his impromptu Opera singing was very impressive indeed.

In addition to Nicolas, we were joined by Jean-Charles Cazes of Chateau Lynch Bages and Ormes de Pez, as well as Anthony Barton of Chateau Leoville Barton and Langoa Barton.  Here were the wines served:

  • Nicolas Feuillatte Brut en Magnum
  • 2007 Blanc de Lynch Bages
  • 2007 Chateau Tronquoy Lalande
  • 2007 Ormes de Pez
  • 2007 Chateau Langoa Barton
  • 2007 Chateau Montrose
  • 2000 Chateau Langoa Barton
  • 2000 Chateau Lynch Bages
  • 2000 Chateau Montrose
  • 1990 Chateau Lynch Bages
  • 1990 Leoville Barton
  • 1975 Chateau Montrose
  • 1999 Chateau Suduiraut

Fete de Bordeaux 2009 – Year One

In 2008, one of the members of my wine tasting group, Bill Schallert, a fine wine importer/distributor with Youngs Marketplace, alerted me to a new Bordeaux dinner that he was helping to host in Seattle.  It didn’t take much arm twisting for us to join the dinner.

In the first year, January 19, 2009, the dinner was held at Seattle’s Columbia Tower Club, and the guests of honor were Jean Charles Cazes of Chateau Lynch Bages, and Lillian Barton of Chateau Leoville Barton and Langoa Barton.

The focus that year was the new release of the 2006 vintage.  Unfortunately, my memory doesn’t serve well enough to recall my wine of the night or any specifics about the wines, but for the record, these were the wines that were served:

  • 2006 Blanc de Lynch Bages
  • 2006 Chateau Ormes de Pez
  • 2006 Chateau Langoa Barton
  • 2006 Lynch Bages
  • 2006 Chateau Leoville Barton
  • 2006 Chateau Cos d’Estournel
  • 2003 Chateau Lynch Bages
  • 2000 Chateau Cos d’Estournel
  • 1999 Chateau Langoa Barton
  • 1998 Chateau Cos d’Estournel
  • 1996 Chateau Lynch Bages
  • 1995 Chateau Leoville Barton
  • 2002 Suduiraut Sauternes

What I do very specifically remember about that dinner is that as soon as it was over, I was very much ready to do it all over again the next year!

40 With Friends

When my 40th rolled around, we thought Napa sounded like fun, and mentioned it to a few friends.  In the blink of an eye, we had a tripped planned (well, it seemed that way to me – maybe not so much to my wife!).  Fourteen friends made the treck and made my 40th quite memorable.

Me and wife Christina at Etoile.

In addition to a day of wine tasting, she arranged dinner the Domaine Chandon restaurant Etoile on the night we arrived.  I shipped wine out for the occasion, and it turned out to be an amazing dinner:

Bob 40th Menu0001

We began the evening with three different champagnes, and then we paired dinner with a magnum of 1990 Chateau La Louviere, a magnum of 1998 Sorella, a magnum of 1998 L’Ecole 41 (Seven Hills Cabernet), and a magnum of 2003 Pichon Baron.  With the Foie Gras course we enjoyed a 1989 Rieussec.  For dessert – a 1977 Porto Rocha Port.

Somewhere along the way to dinner, two of our friends, Laurie and Heidi, decided that drastic measures must be taken in order to “preserve our palates” (prevent massive hangovers) for wine tasting the next day.  The two enterprising ladies purchased a kitchen timer in the shape of a ladybug, which they set to go off at intervals during the evening.  Every time the ladybug rang, everyone reached for their water glasses.  Hilarity ensued, along with a good bit of hydration.

In so many ways it was an unforgettable evening – and we all managed to survive the evening – thanks in no small part to Heidi and Laurie and their ladybugs!

For the Love of Krug

For our 10 year wedding anniversary, we went to Napa.  Things were busy at home, and a long weekend was all we had time for, but we wanted to do something we loved – so we headed to Napa for some wine tasting.

Generally, that implies that you don’t bring wine with you, but my wife has gotten used to the idea that I’ll bring wine just about anywhere we travel, tucked into my luggage.

For this occasion, I brought along a bottle of 1990 Krug.  We had an amazing dinner at Farm, the restaurant at The Carneros Inn, starting with oysters on the half shell and this fabulous bottle of bubbly.

Christina Birthday 099

I’ll never forget a moment 10 years prior, after a year plus of intense wedding planning, just after our ceremony, when we were in the car on the way from the church to the reception. My glowing new wife turned to me, sighed with a mixture of relief and – anxiety? – and said, “So, what now?”

I told her not to worry, the best was yet to come.  Truly, it really does just keep getting better.  This year we’re celebrating 12 years with a trip to Bordeaux – not sure how we’ll top that one though!

Carry-On Wine

Pre-September 11,2001, there were all sorts of things being taken on planes that we know better than to take now.  Safety concerns aside, the one thing I do miss being able to do is carry wine onto a plane.

We honeymooned in Bali in August of 2001, and I packed up a few essentials for the trip.  My new wife of just days picked up my carry-on at one point and jokingly said, “Good grief that’s heavy.  What’ve you got in there – bottles of wine??”

Little did she know.  I not only had a bottle of 1990 Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill, I also had over 150 tealights, and a big Bic lighter – the kind you use to start a fireplace fire.  While she slept one late afternoon, I set it all up.  When she awoke, magic.  (Okay, so I had to wake her up before the candles burned out.)


It was more than worth the extra effort, believe me!  Alas, I won’t be repeating that trick anytime soon…can’t imagine the field day TSA would have with that now!

Champagne Party Year Sixteen

  16th Annual Champagne Party
Champagne Vintage Rank Cost
Tattinger – Brut Prestige Rose NV 9th 65
Lucien Albrecht – Rose Cremant NV 12th 20
Pol Roger – Rose 2002 7th 115
Nicolas Feuillatte – Brut Rose NV 13th 55
Aspasie – Brut Rose NV 1st 45
Dom Perignon – Rose 2000 8th 350
Roederer Cristal – Rose 2004 2nd 475+
Vilmart & Cie – Cuvee Rubis Rose 2006 3rd 145
Egly Ouriet – Gran Cru Rose NV 6th 125
Fleury – Brut Rose NV – 2004 10th 65
Bollinger – Grand Annee Rose 2002 4th 230
Charles Heidsieck – Brut Rose NV 5th 85
Costco – Brut Rose NV 11th 28

Champagne Party Year Fifteen

 15th Annual Champagne Party
Champagne Vintage Rank Cost
Billecart Salmon – Brut Reserve NV 6th 60
Ariston Aspasie NV 9th 40
Roederer – Cristal 2004 5th 230
Michel Arnould – Brut Reserve NV 7th 40
Armand de Brignac-Ace of Spades NV 2nd 300+
Krug 1998 3rd 250+
Frank Bonville – Belles Voyes NV-2004 8th 80
Bollinger – Grand Annee 2002 4th 125
Taittinger – Domaine Coneros NV 10th 25
Vilmart – Cuvee Grand Cellier d’Or 2004 1st 95