A Wine Soaked Week

003The last week of April was filled with wonderful wine. I kicked off the week at the Wine Media Guild’s monthly luncheon. This Tale of Two Pichons featured a matched, vertical tasting of Chateau Longueville au Baron de Pichon-Longueville (aka Pichon-Baron) and Chateau Pichon Lonagueville Comtesse de Lalande (aka Pichon-Lalande). These highly acclaimed Bordeaux wines were accompanied by a sumptuous meal at Felidia.

Christian Seely, Manager of all AXA-Millseimes properties (which includes Pichon-Baron) was joined by Gildas d’Ollone, Managing Director of Pichon-Lalande, in enlightening us about these two properties and their resulting wines. Much discussion about the cepages (blend) and weather patterns of each year ensued, with both men noting the importance of ripeness and yields.

The Longueville property was initially one large parcel, but upon the marriage of the Baron’s daughter, it was split into two separate properties as part of her dowery. In 1978, Giladas’ aunt purchased the Pichon-Lalande property, which she sold to Roederer in 2007. Pichon-Baron is presently owned by AXA-Millisime.

As usual, the first part of the event featured a walk-around tasting. Given the day’s theme, the luncheon was particularly crowded and included some luminary members and guests that rarely attend. Consequently, I chose not to take detailed notes during the tasting but rather, to simply enjoy the wines. We began with the 2000 vintage, which was lauded as one of the top vintages in Bordeaux, until 2005 arrived. Overall, I found the 2000’s to be quite amazing and felt that the 2005’s needed additional time to mature. I was also surprised that the 2003’s (the hot vintage) were as good as they were. Generally, it was interesting to taste each wine from the same vintage and see how the two differed. Similarly, it was great to see how the same wine changed from vintage to vintage. In some vintages, I preferred Pichon-Baron, while the Pichon-Lalande was my favorite in others. During the actual lunch, the 1985, 1989 and 1975 (the latter in double magnum) Pichon-Lalandes were served as were the 1989 and 1990 Pichon-Barons. The 1975 Pichon-Lalande was incredibly bright and lively for its age.

After lunch, many of the attendees headed over to the Four Seasons restaurant to attend a preview tasting of the recently declared 2007 vintage for Port. Event participants included properties from the Fladgate Partnership, Symington Family Estates and Quinta do Noval. I briefly tasted through a few of the 2007s, noticing their richness, coupled with chocolate and berries. A selection of older Ports was also available to taste, of which I particularly liked the very concentrated Smith Woodhouse 1977, the mellowness of the Graham 1970 and the luscious bramble fruit of the Dow 1980.

The following evening found me at Grape & Grain wine bar in the East Village, meeting up with a friend from out of town. The by-the-glass list was surprisingly heavy on Spanish wines, but also had a selection of others. We weren’t very hungry, so we simply ordered a white bean dip accompanied by spicy pita chips. My initial glass of wine, a white blend of Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Chardonnay, seemed somewhat oxidized, but as many traditional white Spanish wines have this characteristic, I ignored it. However, when my husband arrived later on, he brought it to the server’s attention who expressed surprise, having not encountered it in that wine before. Consequently, he opened a second bottle, which had the same oxidized note and then a third, which didn’t, before pouring me a new glass of wine. The bar also carries a selection of beers in hommage to the “grain” in its name.

My next major interaction with wine didn’t occur until the end of the week, but it was quite major. Grand Cru Classes hosted the Saturday night dinner for TasteCamp East in its Tuscan-inspired tasting classroom. Participants had been asked to bring a bottle of wine, especially one from their home state/local wine region. Many attendees took this a step further and arrived with a full case. Consequently, with 30+ people in the room, there was a sea of wine. The diversity of wines present was quite astounding with fruit-based wines sharing the table with the likes of Duckhorn. All in all, it was an extremely fun evening and we enjoyed meeting and, in some instances, re-acquainting ourselves with, the bloggers.

We woke up Sunday morning with a fair amount of cleaning up to do.  All told, we ended up opening over 30 bottles of wine, with many unopened bottles taken home and a just few left behind. It truly had been a wine-soaked week.

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