Two years ago I attended a wine dinner that will possibly be the best collections of wines I will ever drink in one sitting. I know I am young but the wines were that good. To host the dinner we choose the Ritz Carlton Fort Lauderdale. They had a perfect private dining room to accommodate our group. We had them customize a menu for our event to pair with the wine flights.
As we were helping organize the dinner we arrived early to help pour the wines. Only the Ritz Carlton could allocate this many Ridel wine glasses to a single table during a dinner service! After pre pouring all the wines we were ready to begin.
With our passed appetizers we had two Dom Perignon Champagnes, both from 1997. The regular vintage and the Oenothèque. Which is champagne that is aged longer on the lees (with the dead yeast and residual sugars that accumulate at the bottom before finishing the bottling process). The Oenothèque tasted like a champagne that was 10 years younger. It was really amazing to taste both of these side by side.
With our first course of foie gras we had a 1975 Chateau d’Yquem which was outstanding. This is one of those wines that keeps on getting better with age and can age over 100 years. Truly and amazing wine and considered the best dessert wine for a very good reason.
Our second course consisted of a Florida Queen Snapper which was really amazing. The wine with this course was a Ermitage from the Rhone Valley in Southern France. It was really good but at this point everyone was itching to get to the main event, the red Bordeaux wines.
We structured the meal by splitting the reds into the sub regions of Bordeaux with one ringer in each flight. All the wine was tasted blind so spotting the ringer was the goal. The first flight was the wines from Pomerol. Pomerol is the most unique sub region within Bordeaux. When someone says Bordeaux blend of wines the main wine is Cabernet Sauvignon, not with Pomerol. The pre-dominant grape with these wines is Merlot. The most legendary producers from Pomerol are Petrus, Lafleur, and Le Pin. And for the ringer we choose a Masseto, which is Italy’s best Merlot (and most expensive wine). In addition all the wines were from 1989 which was one of the most legendary vintages in Pomerol. To pair we had a crispy duck confit.
Next we had a braised beef short rib which was the perfect dish to accompany the following flight if wines. We had 1990 Chateau Margaux, 1989 La Mission Haut Brion, 1989 Chateau Haut Brion, and two ringers. The first was a 1992 Maya and the second a Vega Sicilia Unico. The 1992 Maya is one of the two wines to receive the coveted 100pt rating from the wine critic Robert Parker in the otherwise difficult vintage. In addition 1992 was my birth year which somehow romanticizes the vintage for me.
At this point we were all full but only half way done with the event. So we had decided to have a small sorbet as an intermezzo to clear our palates and just take a break before heading back to ‘work.’
The following course was a herb crusted lamb chop which was to accompany the big wines of the left bank. In this flight we drank a 1982 Chateau Latour, 1986 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, and a 1986 Chateau Lafite Rothschild. And for the ringer we had a 1997, the best vintage ever in Napa, Harlen Estate. Needless to say all the wines were big and bold showing signs of youth even at 30 years old.
To finish our tasting we drank the wines from the Saint-Émilion sub-region. These included Chateau Cheval Blanc, Chateau Ausone, Chateau Angelus, and Chateau Pavie. All of them were from the 2000 vintage. Remember that we were drinking all the wines blind. And in this flight I witnessed one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen. All of these wines are composed of the same grapes in more or less the same percentages, from the same vintage, and from the same geographical area. Yet somehow one of the persons attending the dinner nailed each one of these wines without a second of hesitation.