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Agony and the Ecstasy

Posted: Nov 6, 2007 12:35pm ET

The Chateau d’Yquem tasting I blogged about yesterday actually started Saturday night at Chinois on Main, Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant in Santa Monica. There were 13 different vintages of the legendary sweet wine with three French-Chinese fusion dishes for dinner. I passed on the dessert. This was following a late lunch at the same restaurant with 18 vintages of Cheval Blanc and lots of different courses. I don’t think the food was up to much there, but it doesn’t matter. The wines more than made up for it!

Anyway, I felt like I was in pretty good shape physically. I don’t weigh much more than I did in college and I run three or four days each week when I can. But I was pretty hurting by the end of the Yquem tasting that Saturday night. I wasn’t drunk. The combination of intense sugar, high alcohol and searing acidity just sent me off on a sugar high. I felt like a four-year-old on a soft drink high. My joints even hurt. Tasting Sauternes must be one of the toughest tastings in the business.

Nonetheless, there were two gorgeous wines – the 1959 and 1967. I gave the latter 100 points, non-blind. Here are the notes.

1967: A little darker than I remember from having it earlier this year, in Hong Kong. Smells like tawny Port with honey, dried apple, dried apricot, plum sauce and five spices. Full-bodied, very sweet with ginger, spice, vanilla bean, exotic fruit. A fabulous wine. With air, it gets so complex and wonderful. Long, long finish. Will age forever. What a texture with an almost oily, creamy mouth feel. 100 points, non-blind.

1959: Super layered and exciting, with pure honey and sugar coating. Spicy, vanilla, nutmeg and ginger. Full and very sweet, lovely harmony and balance. Long and beautiful. Turns to orange peel, candy and dried fruits. So, so long and beautiful. 97, non-blind.

The next day, with the super rare vintages including 2001, 1997, 1990, 1989, 1988, 1976, 1975, 1949, 1948, 1947, 1945, 1937, 1934, 1921, and 1899, I tried something new. I really paced myself like a marathon runner. Check out my video on the latter two from yesterday's blog. And look at today’s video with Christian Navarro of Wally’s wine shop in Los Angeles, who did the wine service. Gorgeous bottles.

Anyway, I drank lots of water during the Sunday tasting and even tried tepid green tea to cleanse my palate. It worked. And what a tasting. The legend of Yquem lives…boy does it live…

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