I had dinner the other night in L.A. again with my collector buddy from Hong Kong, Hendra Anwar. We went for some pasta at Angelini Osteria restaurant, which is always good. Hendra brought a couple of Burgundies: 2002 Fontaine-Gagnard Bâtard-Montrachet and 1991 Armand Rousseau Ruchottes-Chambertin Clos des Ruchottes. I brought a bottle of 1997 Antinori Bolgheri Superiore Guado al Tasso Tenuta Belvedere.
But the most interesting part of the evening for our vinous endeavors was Hendra's insistence that the wine merchant who sold him two cases of bogus 1978 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle was still responsible for the sale after 15 years. (For more on that, check out my April 23 blog.) Yes, he bought the wine 15 years ago and he wants it to be replaced, or get a refund.
Vegas is Vegas. I can't think of a more fun place to hang out for a weekend and taste more than 200 outstanding wines from all over the world. I am still thinking today about all the wonderful wines I tasted on Saturday night during the Grand Tour at the Venetian Hotel.
Some of the super wines that come to mind include 2001 Palmer, 1999 Haut-Brion, 2004 Lafite Rothschild, 2004 Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino Madonna del Piano Riserva, 2007 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano di Neive, 2007 Bibi Graetz Testamatta, 2004 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Cerretalto.
My friend was really pissed off. Hendra Anwar, who lives in Los Angeles and Hong Kong, invited me for dinner last night at Cut in Beverly Hills and brought some amazing bottles to drink, including a 1989 Louis Latour Montrachet, 1993 Emmanuel Rouget Echézeaux, and 1978 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle. What almost ruined his night was that the last wine was a rotten fake.
My two children were supposed to fly out on Friday to Manchester, England, from Florence, Italy, but their flight was canceled like hundreds of others in Europe due to the live volcano in Iceland. We were sitting around the small airport in a daze and I thought let's go up and check out the winery of Bibi Graetz in the hills of Fiesole just about the renaissance city. They didn't mind. They were happy not to go back to gray England. So we drove up and checked it out.
Bibi, 43, makes one of Tuscany's true cult wines, Testamatta. It's a pure Sangiovese that has the race and breed of a grand cru Burgundy. Think of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti's La Tâche. I like to go up and talk wine with Bibi every once in a while. He is a freak for old vines in Tuscany.
A little-known estate in St.-Estèphe called Petit Bocq was the first to offer its 2009 Bordeaux to the world as futures, but it attracted little interest, according to the wine merchants in Bordeaux I spoke to today. Most said they were waiting for next week's offerings from more prominent properties, although none of the big-name wines are expected to be sold as futures, or en primeur, until early June.
Yesterday, the cru bourgeois supérieur estate offered about 3,000 cases at 8.50 euros to négociants. This is a 1 euro increase from Petit Bocq's 2008 price, or about 14 percent. If only the blue-chip châteaus would follow suit when they release their 2009s! I am sure that is not going to happen. But we can always hope.
Anyway, I made a list of my dozen favorite wines to buy in 2009. These are not necessarily the very best, but the wines that come to mind that I would buy myself.
It seems everyone wants to know about prices for 2009 Bordeaux, but they haven't been released yet, and I'd like to bring the conversation back to the vintage's exceptional quality. I love the way the wines have such opulent fruit backed by powerful tannins. Yet the tannins are round and polished with the top wines. In addition, the reds are fresh and vibrant. A lot of people make comparisons to 1982, which I have to agree with to some extent but, honestly, I think they are better.
I was chatting with Patrick Maroteaux, the head of St.-Julien's classified-growth Château Branaire-Ducru, about 2009 Bordeaux pricing. While I think there will be hundreds of good value wines from the 2009 vintage, the top names, including the first-growths, will have no need to lower prices despite the global economic downturn.
Today I conducted an experiment in which I not only tasted the wines blind, but also blindfolded myself in an attempt to rid myself of all the visual influences in my tastings in St.-Emilion at the house of Jean-Luc Thunevin
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