Fete du Bordeaux 2014 – Year Six

Authored by Christina

As previously noted, this was the first year I attended the annual Bordeaux dinner in Seattle alone, as my husband had to be out of town. Alas, I wasn’t entirely left to fend for myself, as good friend Bill Schallert from Young’s Market Company made a great stand-in date (thanks Bill!).

Bill Schallert from Young's Market Co., Nancy Rugus, representing Chateau Suidaraut, Jean-Charles Cazes from Chateau Lynch Bages, Christina Watt, and Damien Barton Sartorius with Chateau Leoville Barton.
Bill Schallert from Young’s Market Co., Nancy Rugus, representing Chateau Suduiraut, Jean-Charles Cazes from Chateau Lynch-Bages, Christina Watt, and Damien Barton Sartorius with Chateau Leoville-Barton.

One of the highlights of the evening is always hearing from the representatives from the various estates whose wines we’re tasting – we appreciate their efforts to be here. We were pleased to welcome Jean-Charles Cazes again from Chateau Lynch-Bages and Chateau Ormes de Pez, as well as Damien Barton Satorius, from Chateau Leoville-Baron and Chateau Langoa-Barton. The dinner was held on the day of the Seahawks Victory Parade that brought out over 700,000 fans into the streets of Seattle. Ever mischievous, Jean-Charles had a little fun with the theme, bringing Seahawks “Lynch: Beast Mode” jerseys to describe the Lynch-Bages wines.

Damien is the grandson of Anthony Barton, who has visited for dinners in the past. Damien’s mother Lillian has also joined us on a few occasions. Damien is currently finishing up his Masters Degree in International Business, and this was his first trip to the United States and second wine dinner in which he was asked to provide remarks on behalf of the estate, which he did very well. You can certainly see the resemblance to his very gracious grandfather, and we look forward to hearing more from Damien in the future.

Chateau Montrose was notably absent in representation again this year, citing ongoing construction work that kept them from attending. Here’s hoping they get that construction done soon – it’s always nice to hear from the Chateaux themselves at these events. Nancy Rugus did a nice job explaining their wines, however, and also those of the venerable Chateau Suduiraut, whom she represents and who makes exceptional Sauternes.

Just a few things to taste through...
Just a few glasses to taste through…

This was the year we tasted the 2011’s, coming off of the major hype of the ’09’s and 10’s, and even the very good year of the ’08’s.

Here was the line-up:

  • 2012 Blanc de Lynch Bages
  • 2011 Chateau Tronquoy Lalande
  • 2011 Chateau Ormes de Pez
  • 2011 Chateau Langoa-Barton
  • 2011 Chateau Lynch-Bages
  • 2011 Chateau Leoville-Barton
  • 2011 Chateau Montrose
  • 2000 Chateau Langoa-Barton
  • 2005 Chateau Lynch-Bages
  • 2005 Chateau Montrose
  • 1990 Chateau Lynch-Bages
  • 1990 Chateau Leoville-Barton
  • 1998 Chateau Montrose
  • 2003 Chateau Suduiraut

Now let me preface my remarks by saying that in general, my wine of the night has typically always been one of the older vintages, which makes perfect sense, right? Well, in 2010, I actually prefered the 2010 Chateau Montrose as my wine of the night – there was so much potential there, but you could still get an immediate sense of the power and complexity. (I tend to prefer the 10’s to the ’09’s, though I wouldn’t turn any of them down!)

Which is my long-winded way of saying that while the 2011’s are admittedly young, honestly, I struggled to differentiate between them in any meaningful way, and to my taste, they seem to be wines to drink sooner, rather than aging for later. This was the general opinion of my tablemates as well, though we all admitted to not having a crystal ball! At the end of the day, we decided it’s not a bad idea to have a few bottles of good Bordeaux to drink now rather than later anyway. I will say that the 2011 Chateau Lynch Bages had a nice earthy nose and seemed to have some good potential, and the 2011 Chateau Montrose, though very tight, had some of the characteristic earthiness and complexity I’ve come to associate with these wines – it would be interesting to come back and taste this wine again once it gets a little age on it, as it appears to have some good structure behind it.

Chateau Leoville Barton.
1990 Chateau Leoville Barton. Was a crowd favorite.

To that end, I struggled a little with the older wines to pick a definitive wine of the night – there were some nice wines there. The 2000 Langoa-Barton particularly stood out, but perhaps especially because of the shift to a significantly older wine after the 11’s! It was a good, round, earthy wine with a great nose, and a nice pairing for the roasted loin of Ostrich we had for that course.

Chateau Lynch-Bages.
Chateau Lynch-Bages.

The final three wines of the night, the 1998 Montrose, 1990 Chateau Leoville-Barton and 1990 Chateau Lynch-Bages were all drinking well. The 1990 Lynch-Bages was probably my favorite of the evening – it was still a little tight, but the nose was dreamy – green bell pepper and barnyard – one of those that I could just sit and smell and not even drink and be happy! The 1990 Ch. Leoville-Barton was also very good – I heard several of my tablemates claim it as their favorite. Really, I wouldn’t turn any of those wines away.

The chef also did a masterful job of pairing the 2012 Blanc de Lynch Bages with a seared sea scallop dish – the wine and the briny flavors of the scallops worked really well together. Of course, I’m a huge fan of this white, and I know from this summer that it also pairs well with charcuterie and just about anything else you can think to nibble on. They’ve done a nice job with the consistency of the profile year over year, peachy, earthy, grassy – just green enough, but still a round, full wine with a crisp finish and good minerality – it’s one of my favorite whites these days. (That’s typically code for, okay, honey, you can buy more if you can find it!)

Which, at the end of the day, is always the fun of these dinners – tasting things you may have in your cellar to see how they are drinking now, and deciding what to add and age for later. Me? I’m happy that I usually have help making these decisions, but no matter, the discussion and company is always fun while you’re forming an opinion!

Looking forward to next year…

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