Last Thursday night I tasted 52 Bordeaux Cru Classé wines from 2010 at a tasting hosted by Spec’s in Houston. I tasted them all back to back to back to back… Well, you get the picture. That was a lot of delicious wine to taste almost all at once!
I went into it knowing nothing about the specific wineries represented. I thought about doing some homework to educate myself a bit, but then I decided to just jump in and taste. I knew about the region in general, but I didn’t have any biases toward any particular winery or wine. Even though I saw the labels and spoke with the delightful representatives from each winery and swooned at their beautiful French accents, I might as well have been tasting blind. And I loved it that way.
Of course now Bear Dalton, Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer who was gracious enough to invite me and offer me a media comp, might be thinking he wasted it on such a neophyte palate. I do hope (if he’s reading) he’ll reconsider that because I absolutely enjoyed every minute and my tastebuds were singing in delight. If that doesn’t do it, then I could also explain that, after looking at my notes, my very kind husband has instructed me to do some shopping and add to our collection with some of the gems I found.
Let me tell you how it went.
The event ran from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., and I had to be at a dinner at 7, so I arrived ready to taste as soon as the doors were opened. I was given a sheet of paper listing all of the wines, along with their prices, should I decide to purchase any of them at a Spec’s location. I was also given a larger paper folded in half listing all of the wines in the order they were positioned around the room.
I tucked the price sheet away and got right down to the business of tasting without knowing the prices. I wanted to get my impressions of the wines without any bias.
I smiled to myself as I remembered Jeremy Parzen’s post in the Houston Press about wine tastings being singles scenes. Most of the attendees didn’t strike me as those looking for dates. The first person I tasted with and chatted with about the event said she was there with the Shell retiree group. Most of those tasting were there with someone who appeared to be a spouse, but not all. Hmm.
So maybe Jeremy was referring the wines. I guess in dating you could also choose to educate yourself on potential dates or just see what you think as the experience unwinds. Back in my days of being single, I also just jumped in and relied on my impressions of dates rather than educating myself first.
But back to the wine…
I scribbled a few notes on many of the wines as I tasted and I, unlike most of those tasting, swirled, sipped, savored (or at least soaked in) as much as I could and then spit. I had a lot of wines to taste and needed to stay crisp, so spitting was required. I know that I would have enjoyed lingering over many of those wines, really savoring them, but I had to do what I had to do. So I felt very unladylike and spit. Gorgeous wines. For about 2 hours.
My favorites (in the order I tasted them) were:
- Ch. Cantemerl, Haut Medoc
- Ch. Cantenac Brown, Margaux,
- Ch. Clerc Milon, Pauillac
- Ch. Ferriere, Margaux
- Ch. Pichon Baron, Pauillac
- Ch. Croix St. Georges, Pomerol
- Ch. La Confession, St. Emilion
- Ch. Croix Mouton, Bordeaux
- Ch. Angelus, St. Emilion
- Ch Leoville Poyferre, St. Julien
Those are the ones that called out to me, and the ones I might like to get to know a little better sometime. And perhaps as I do, and I can really take them in. I’ll keep you posted.
Throughout the wine tasting, I’d chat with a few of the other tasters and often someone would comment on a particular wine’s price (highs and lows) or some of their reputations. I tried to close my ears and just keep tasting the wine for what I was experiencing.
After dinner, I showed my husband, who wasn’t with me at the tasting, my notes and we compared it to the price list.
Both the least expensive wine on the list, the Ch. Croix Mouton, Bordeaux at $12.46, and the most expensive, the Ch. Angelus, St. Emilion at $369.20, were on my favorites list. That definitely made me laugh. I also picked the second most expensive, the Ch. Pichon Baron, Pauillac at $230.35, and several wines in between.
I loved tasting the wines and being told their composition by those intimately familiar with the wines and vineyards… what the blend of grapes was and also a bit about the soil. Tasting the wines back to back and hearing that information helped me distinguish more about the flavors I was experiencing. In some wines, I preferred a higher Merlot to Cabernet Sauvignon ratio and in others I preferred it the other way around. I guess I can’t say there is one particular grape I prefer, but perhaps certain characteristics. It was all fascinating to me.
What was also interesting was that finally, by the time I left at 6:30, Jeremy’s prediction started to become true. The younger, after-work and potentially single crowd began to arrive and the scene shifted a bit. Perhaps wine tastings ARE more like singles scenes than I had first observed. Unfortunately, I couldn’t wait to see.
I had to take my observations, make my way to a dinner and then head home to my husband.
I can only imagine what that later crowd decided they might want to take home…