On Friday, January 28, the Unions des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, an organization of top Chateaux, is passing through NYC and popping bottles from the 2008 vintage for trade and consumers. The UGCB is a group that comes to New York and California each year to personally to showcase the upcoming releases. Over 95 different Chateaux will open 150 Bordeaux to taste, and you will have the chance to meet their owners and winemakers. Forget those “Intro to Wine” courses that you may think are required: Here is your moment to experience benchmark wines in an enjoyable setting without the pressure to buy as would be expected when the wines offered for tasting through a retailer.
Instead, what you can enjoy is an informative and expansive tasting. It is a rare opportunity to compare the stylistic differences between wines that hail from Haut Medoc communes such as Pommerol, St. Emillion, Paulliac, St. Estephe and Margaux. Depending on the commune of origin, the wines can be blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec in varying degrees. Also available will be several Chateaux producing Sauternes, a renowned botrytis-affected dessert wine made famous by Chateau Y’quem.
A confirmed list of estates that will be showing their wines include Angelus, Beychevelle, Brane Cantenac, Camensac,Chasse Spleen,Chateau de Pez, Haut Bages Liberal, La Conseillante Langoa Barton, Haut Brion, Leoville Barton, Ormes de Pez, Phelan Segur, Pichon Longeville Baron, Pichon Longeville, Comtesse de la Lalande, Rauzan Segla, Suduiraut, Talbot, Lynch Bages, and Haut Bailly. These are names that you may have seen on wine lists at prohibitive cost and wondered, “how good can they be…?”
Even more impressive than the breadth of selection will be the stunning low price of this opportunity to imbibe and do good. Tickets are offered at $45 per person and all proceeds from the event are to will benefit the Hemophilia Association of New York (HANY).
Compare this value to a lesser tasting to be held on Thursday, January 27, La Soiree des Grands Crus de Bordeaux in Soho. It will have only 23 of the same UGCB houses, and 29 wines for $175 per person! Why the extra cost? Simply because the La Soiree event is being promoted and marketed as a luxury goods event, with name Breitling watches raffled and round-trip airfare to Paris as prizes. I prefer the more altruistic opportunity, and it will leave Verona families with spare change to cover parking and the babysitter!
With very strong overall vintage scores per each commune from Robert Parker, 2008 may be a vintage that avid collectors and drinkers alike may want to seek out and taste as prices for 2008 are about 20% below 2005 and 2009 vintages.
As I recommend to students, when tasting this many wines there are a few techniques to preserve your palate. Try to hydrate and drink water between tastes. Drink whites before reds, young vintages before older and try not to swallow. You can gather enough data from observation, sniffing and rolling the wine in your mouth. The only evaluation that you gather from swallowing is length of finish and you should save that privilege for your favorite wine, at the end of the evening.
The Grand Crus Bordeaux Wine Tasting, will be held Friday January 28, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Metropolitan Pavillon, 110 West 19th Street (between 6th &7th). For more information contact Gemma Oliviero of Zachys at [email protected] or call 914.874.8035 to purchase your tickets.
Dawn M. DuBois is a Verona resident who represents a California winery in Metro NY and is an adjunct associate professor at St. John’s University in NYC. She’ll be writing a regular column on wine for MyVeronaNJ.com.