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Kitchen Cabinet

Posted: Mar 28, 2006 1:39am ET

I am leaving the hotel this moment to taste the heavy hitters in Pomerol and St. Emilion – Pétrus, Le Pin, Ausone, Cheval Blanc…you get the idea. The word is that the wines are amazing. Can’t wait to dip my nose into them!

Yesterday was a solid day of tasting Right Bankers, not to mention a detour to Haut-Brion. The American first growth was extraordinary. It reminds me of the 100-point 1989. The 2005 is a wine with fabulous exotic aromas and rich, yet subtle flavors. It shows layers of gorgeous, caressing tannins. It is one of the wines of the vintage.

The wines I taste blind in my hotel continue to please. They have the hallmark of the vintage – rich and opulent fruit and tannins, with bright and lively acidity. Stephan de Neipperg, the owner of Canon-La Gaffelière and Clos de l’Oratoire, stopped in and dropped off some samples. His wines showed fabulously, with silky tannins and wonderful length. I am going to taste them today again at the château. Silvio Denz, the new owner of St.-Emilion’s Faugères, also stopped in, and I tasted his samples for a second time. The wines are very good to excellent. Denz is going to do good things at Faugères.

Following the day of tasting, I had dinner in the kitchen of the hotel with the chef, some wine merchants and Denz and Neipperg. Chef Frank Salin of Les Sources de Caudalie is excellent. His food is precise and simple. What a nice change from all the foamy pretentious stuff that is so prevalent in France and the rest of the world now in gastronomic temples. You have to try it. The main course of roasted steak with mushroom soufflé was succulent and buttery. It was the perfect match with two California wines Denz had brought – 1997 Bryant and 1997 Abreu. I preferred the the latter to the former.

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