When I am able to find some time away from the Le Bernardin kitchen, I love to visit wineries, meet with winemakers, and taste great wines. One of the challenges for me during these visits is not to get drunk, since I never spit what I taste. It's obviously an impossible goal, but I’m OK with that.
I was in Los Angeles a few years ago with Jim Clendenen from Au Bon Climat, who opened a magnum of what I recall was his 1988 Pinot Noir. At the time, I thought it to be the best Pinot Noir I had tasted in America. I also have a very strong and happy memory of visiting the Iron Horse Vineyards with my friend and mentor Jean-Louis Palladin. A few months later I returned to California to visit the Robert Mondavi Winery, where I was impressed not only by the wines, but also by the beauty of the property and the very warm welcome from Margrit and Robert Mondavi.
In 2000, I went back to Napa with my wife, and we had one of the most incredible weeks of our lives, visiting the vineyards of Cakebread and Shafer. They really produce unbelievable wines. I found them very passionate and dedicated to the craft. Subsequently, we added a number of these selections to the Le Bernardin wine list. That week we also visited Opus One, Araujo and Dominus. More recently, I visited Flowers, on the Sonoma Coast. I did an extensive barrel tasting, and again, Le Bernardin’s wine list soon benefited from the experience. And last year, while traveling in Oregon, I visited Brick House Vineyard and participated in the blending of their Pinot.
From a lifetime of drinking wine, the one that most impressed me was a Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Montrachet 1970. I'm a guy who usually drinks a lot of red, but I was blown away. I had never before and have never since tasted anything more perfect. I've had the opportunity to drink a number of 1982 first-growth and second growth Bordeaux lately, but the most recent and impressive Bordeaux I have tasted was Château Clarke 1982. The bouquet was incredible. It opened very fast and had a lot of staying power. I've also found myself transported by the notes of apricot marmalade, butterscotch and orange blossom in the 1948 Château d’Yquem Sauternes. And in the summer, memorable moments come in the form of rosé, specifically roses from Wölffer Estate on Long Island, Domaines Ott in Provence, where long ago they ground the limestone in the hills until it was possible to cultivate vines there.
What have been some of your most memorable wine-drinking or wine-tasting moments?
Mark Francone — CA — March 15, 2007 2:24pm ET
Dan Jaworek — Chicago — March 15, 2007 3:08pm ET
Thomas J Manzo — Brielle, NJ — March 15, 2007 8:23pm ET
Richard Robertson — Charleston, SC — March 15, 2007 11:22pm ET
Paul M Hummel — Chicago, — March 16, 2007 2:41pm ET
James Lizon — March 16, 2007 9:25pm ET
James Peterson — San Antonio, Texas — March 17, 2007 4:05am ET
Douglas A Smith — Palo — March 18, 2007 9:17pm ET
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