VENICE – Woke up this morning to cold and wet weather that resembled winter. What happened to the spring? I am surprised I haven’t caught a cold.
I got back to the apartment I was renting at about 1:30 a.m., soaked in rain as well as 1988 Château Latour. The latter was on the inside, though. Good thing! It kept me warm.
I went to the celebration of the opening of the Palazzo Grassi here on Saturday. Frenchman François Pinault, one of the richest men in the world and the owner of Latour, bought it last year. He also has one of the best modern art collections in the world. And only about 10 percent of it adorned the walls and floors of the Palazzo Grassi for the exhibit – about 200 pieces in all, with paintings, sculptures, videos and other works of art.
Pinault bought the museum last year from the Agnelli family. Some Italians are not very happy about the sale. They say the Agnellis sold the family jewels, and the Palazzo should have stayed in Italian hands. But that’s not really my business. And I spoke to a number of Venetians who said they were more than pleased with Pinault’s arrival. “He brings glamour to our city,” said one.
Pinault originally planned to build a massive art museum in Paris but the local authorities dragged their feet so much that he decided to go elsewhere – even out of his country. And he ended up in Venice.
Anyway, his first exhibit at the Palazzo was superb. It’s called: “Where Are We Going?” Selections from the François Pinault Collection. I went on Saturday afternoon. A wide selection of works from everyone from Jeff Koons to Damien Hirst with a little Rothko and Warhol thrown in for good measure is on display. I loved the underlying refinement to the selection of works. To me, the exhibit had a personal touch that you don’t normally see in curator-selected shows in other modern art museums such as the Tate or the Met. But I am no expert. That’s just a personal observation.
Go to the exhibit and judge it for yourself, if you get to Venice any time soon. I think it’s on for six months.
The dinner in the evening to celebrate the opening of the Grassi was superb – although very French in style for Italy. Pinault even had Paris chef Pierre Gagnaire oversee the menu. It was held in the old Arsenal complex in Venice – an ancient ghost town of a shipyard that is not usually open to the public. About 700 people attended the black-tie dinner. It was like something out of a Vogue magazine shoot, in a huge warehouse with low-voltage lighting and small evergreen trees everywhere.
It was surreal. It felt like I was in Paris and certainly not Venice.
What wasn’t surreal, however, was the 1988 Latour that was served to the guests. It was superb quality. There were also magnums of 1999 Les Forts de Latour (88 points), 2004 Jermann Vintage Tunina (91), and 2004 Robert Weil Kiedrich Grafenberg Auslese Riesling (90) served with various courses. Magnums of Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle La Cuvée (90) were also flowing during the night.
But it was the 1988 Latour that stole the show. Here is the tasting note I scribbled on the back of the menu:
Fabulous aromas of minerals, spices, licorice and light earth. Full body, with super silky tannins and a finish that last for minutes. This is a firm, racy claret with great class and beauty. Totally drinkable now but will improve for years to come. 93 points.
When I tried the wine in 1998 in a blind tasting retrospective of 1988 Bordeaux, I thought it had a little more richness. I gave it 96 points. Of course, a gala dinner is not a blind tasting, but 93 points is outstanding anyway.
What a wonderful juxtaposition of beautiful objects: a great classic claret and fabulous modern art.
It also made me wonder why more isn’t said about the 1988 vintage in Bordeaux. I always appreciated the vintage, but it’s overshadowed by 1990 and 1989. What’s your experience with 1988 Bordeaux?
David Lobe — Toronto, — April 30, 2006 10:33pm ET
Gary Cohn — Cardiff by the Sea, Calif. — May 1, 2006 6:38pm ET
Horacio Campana / Butler Me — Monterrey, Mexico — May 2, 2006 6:51pm ET
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