I think it goes without saying that my genre is not wines in the over-a-hundred dollar category. In fact, you rarely will find me talking about or reviewing wines over fifty bones. However, this fact does not stop individuals from asking me to put on a tasting of high-end wines. I have one individual who has been persistent about this matter over the last couple of years.
Luck would have it for him that a distributor approached me and asked if I would be interested in putting on a high-end wine tasting event. There you have it! The planets aligned, and a luxury wine tasting event was born. The distributor and I put all the details together, I sent an invitation out to my wine group and I soon had all the spots filled up for the event. As it turned out, it was a fun night with some terrific wines that were far too expensive for my budget.
The line-up included…
’11 Bolinger Grand Arnee Champagne (Champagne, France) … $155.99
Aromas of yeast and bread dough with minerals and apples. Very apple driven on the palate with that wonderful nutty component that I love in sparkling wine. The yeast and marzipan elements come through on the palate leading into a long, dry finish. I haven’t had a champers this good since Dionysus shared his stash with many of us at his 2011/12 New Years party.
’04 BV Geoges De Latour Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, California) … $149.99
This was the oldest vintage cab we had at the tasting. It still had some youth to it with notes of menthol, currants and cherries. Nice old school chalky tannins and a core of acidity. We were offering this one at $99 bucks and no one took advantage of this great price. I will!
2008 Groth Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, California) … $142.99
This is a beauty! My personal favorite of the night, it had everything sans minerals that I love in a red wine. Big and bold without getting goopy in any way. Good structure and acidity with a load of spice that penetrated the palate from mid to finish. Nice balance and a long ass finish. If I win the lottery some time soon, I will be loading up my cellar with this gem.
2009 Opus One Red (Napa Valley, California) … $207.99
Mostly cab, this red from Napa is blended in a Bordeaux style. Originally a collaboration between Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de RothsChild it is now controlled by Philippe’s daughter. This is one of the best vintages I have tried (which is only a few). Very polished on the palate with notes of currants and cherries that are silky smooth, backed by tiny hits of herbs. As it opened up it got better and better. I can remember buying a bottle about twenty years ago for seventy bucks. Times have changed my friend. At 200 + bones this wine is over-priced compared to some of the other cabs we tried, but certainly worth it if you have the cash. (I hope that makes sense)
2009 Joseph Phelps Insignia Red Blend (Napa Valley, California) … $199.99
Again, it doesn’t seem all that long ago that I bought a bottle of this for $70. Oh well, I still love this wine and it has been a long time since I’ve tasted it. A blend of cab, petit verdot and a splash of malbec, this wine exhibits notes of raspberry and currants backed by a vibrant acidity and sturdy tannins. There is a bit of a leather component that comes through. I would say, that this wine needs about 5-8 years before it starts showing its fullest potential. I guess I need to buy another Powerball ticket.
2009 Hundred Acre Cabernet Sauvignon Ark Vineyard (Napa Valley, California) … $307.99
The most popular wine at this event…Period. We sold more bottles of this wine then any other, which was hard for me to believe considering the price. However it must be said, that this cab was absolutely stellar. Did it stand head and shoulders above the rest? In my opinion, no. In the opinion of the tasters…A resounding YES! I have to admit that it was very good. Deep flavors on the palate with notes of currants and dark cherries with a hint of mocha and chocolate coming through on the mid-palate. The finish was incredibly long and delicious. The tannins were there, but they were so nicely integrated with the fruit, they did not stand out at all. You can easily drink this baby now, but it will age nicely over the next 5-10 years.
2010 Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, California) … $162.99
This cab came in second place to the Hundred Acre as far as wines ordered goes. This was by far the most intriguing wine of the line-up. It was very fruit forward up front with big notes of Bing cherries and currants with a dash of pencil lead/shavings. However, when it hit the mid-palate it flexed it’s muscles with some serious tannins showing up. They were well integrated with the fruit but were none-the-less present. Easy to drink, but serious enough to let you know that if you lay it down for a few years, you are in for a much better experience. This cab was layered and interesting with its Yin & Yang personality.
That was the line-up and I have to say that it was very well received and I enjoyed the experience immensely. Would I do it again? I am already toying with the idea of putting on an event featuring wines between fifty and a hundred bucks. Still premium, but a little more reachable financially for most of us. The positive thing about that price range is the incredible amount of unbelievable wines you can find.
I want to thank Vinny’s for doing a fantastic job with the service and the appetizers, they were spot on.
I know that the next premium wine event we do will be at that venue. The feedback I got from all those who attended was very positive and there were some nice suggestions and input.
I would like to remind my readers that although all these wines showed very well, price does not always indicate quality. I use a term that many other wine writers use, QPR or quality-to-price ratio. Many high end wines are over-priced, it is as simple as that. However, there are many lower priced wines that are exceptional for the money. I will continue to search high and low for the best wines for the money and pass the info on to you. Cheers! Stan The Wine Man