The Best Wine Experiences Of 2008

Roberto Viernes
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Wednesday - January 07, 2009
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This is the time when I look back and review last year’s highest (and lowest, which I’ll keep out of these pages) wine experiences and share them with you. I hope you had more highs than lows. I hope no one lives vicariously through me. I hope you live your life to its fullest. But may my knowledge help to educate you. May these moments inspire you to make your own. And may you have a safe and Happy New Year!

A visit to Domaine de la Romanee Conti. How can this not be one of the highlights? Tasting these wines out of barrel is such a privilege. It also proved to me that Romanee Conti is more than La Tache. Cellar master Bernard Noblet also shared with me a pearl of wisdom. Wines have four stages as they age much like a vine, but in reverse. The first stage is “fruit,” where the wine is exuberant and full of fruit flavor. Then comes “flower,” where the wine becomes more elegant and floral. Next is the “plant” phase, when the wine starts to take on the characteristic flavors of the vine itself, a more vegetal phase. The final stage is the “earth” stage or “mineraux,” as he says. It becomes the earth from which it came (just like us). I would add that to me, the greatest wines of the world at their highest point combine all of these components together in one singular and magical experience.

Dinner with 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc and other wonderful wines. The ‘47 Cheval Blanc was the star of the show. It is a wine that requires your attention and your intellect. It is unlike any wine I have ever tasted so describing it is difficult. Suffice to say that it is a magical experience and one which I hope to repeat.

1964 Domaine de la Romanee Conti Grands Echezeaux from Magnum at Restaurant Georges Blanc in Vonnas for lunch. This was one of the greatest meals of my life with everything done to perfection. The foie gras terrine was creamy and decadent and the sea bass with proprietary Chardonnay sauce was absolutely exquisite. The wine was still vibrant as one would expect from magnum and awesomely complex.

Lunch with Krug Champagne president Panos Sarantopolous. We drank 1996 and 1995 over a beautifully prepared lunch in what used to be Remi Krug’s apartment around the corner from Champagne Krug. Panos has a giant personality and put together a wonderfully luxurious experience. Drinking Krug at Krug. It just sounds great.

1929 Romanee Conti and 1999 DRC Montrachet with dinner at Chef Mavro surrounded by great friends and other great wines (1964 La Tache, 1971 DRC Grands Echezeaux, 1966 Dom Perignon, 1996 Krug Clos du Mesnil to name a few.) These two wines stole the show. The ‘29 Romanee Conti is a wine unlike any other. It still seemed youthful like in a time warp. The flavors were ineffable and seamless, unlike anything else I’ve ever tasted. The Montrachet was like an infinity pool with no edges and no end, supreme in its expression and haunting. I will hunt like a fiend to try these again.

The Society of Bacchus’ “Mr. Gourmet” induction of a friend of mine was unforgettable!

Three hedonistic nights with super star chefs Suzette Gresham, Michael Tusk and Ron Siegel creating the food with and many great wines to mention. 1983 Margaux from Jeroboam, 2002 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne, 1985 Giacosa Barolo Riserva, 1990 Ponsot Clos de la Roche, 1993 Rousseau Clos St Jacques from Jeroboam, 1985 DRC Richebourg, 1997 Gaja Sori Tildin from Magnums the list goes on ...

First recommendation of the year: Find a wine that you like (no matter what price) and take the time to enjoy it!

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