It Was A Wonderful Wine Year

Roberto Viernes
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Wednesday - December 19, 2007
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As the year draws to a close, I began reminiscing about this year and all the wonderful experiences that I had associated with wine. There were so many highlights, and I am surely grateful for each one. I hope by sharing them they will live on in our collective memory. Here they are, in no particular order:

* Tasting a great Burgundy made during World War II in the cellar it was made in, with the son of those who made it. 1942 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits St. Georges “Clos des Porrets.” It will be indelibly seared into my mind and heart.

* Drinking 1990 Domaine de la Romanee Conti La Tache three times in nine days while in France. Each time we drank it, it got better and cheaper the closer we got it to its source.

* Drinking 1971, 1993 and 2003 Domaine de la Romanee Conti La Tache, along with some other stellar wines, with my best drinking buddies over a fantastic meal prepared by Chef Mavro.

* During my most recent visit to Champagne Krug, I became translator for Eric Lebel, the head winemaker at this revered Champagne house. As we tasted the wines, I felt as if I were sharing his thoughts and as if I were part of his team. Maybe some day ...

* A six-vintage vertical tasting of Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne held by one of the most generous collectors I know. I have not tasted any better Corton Charlemagne than from this famed estate.

* Sharing an intimate dinner with Kermit Lynch. It is so rare to be able to pick the brains of the wine world’s foremost palates. His palate is so sharp and his ability to express the complex in simple words is a true gift - one to which I aspire.

* 2004 Domaine Leflaive Le Montrachet bottle #000001. This wine is ineffable, gargantuan in personality and complexity, yet elegant and sophisticated. Despite stiff competition from 1962 Leroy Mazi-Chambertin and 1962 Leroy La Romanee, it was still the wine of the night.

* 1997 Italian Retrospective tasting. This stoked my admiration for Italian wines, which showed their world-class quality and hedonistic pleasure.

* Bordeaux Tasting featuring 60-plus wines going as far back as 1964. I don’t care what anyone says about Bordeaux - they still make great wines and will always be the icon against which all other Cabernet and Merlot will be measured.

* Barrel tasting with Justin Smith at Saxum winery in Paso Robles. Just the two of us tasted through his barrels to taste all the different lots of Syrah, and each one spoke a different story, or terroir, if you will. On top of that, to hear his own honest description and introspection of each wine proved to me that he is one of the best the California has.

* Eating wild strawberries growing in Clos du Mesnil. It made me giggle thinking of how these strawberries were “grand cru” status growing in this vineyard.

* Sharing a bottle of 1990 Coche Dury Meursault Les Perrieres with two of my friends in a small restaurant outside of Beaune. It literally “rocked my world.” It was a heavenly experience that I hope to duplicate.

* Sharing a bottle of 1990 Domaine de la Romanee Conti La Tache paired with Chinese roast duck with only one other person. It rarely gets any better than that.

If you would like to share your highlights this year, please feel free to e-mail them to me.

Merry Christmas, and my best to you in the wonderful new year!

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier. E-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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