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'A TASTE FOR LIFE' HOSTED BY WINECOMMUNE - San Francisco, CA (10/16/2004)

Last night I attended “A Taste for Life,” a benefit tasting and dinner hosted by WineCommune on behalf of the American Diabetes Association. (You can read more about the event here.) This was a terrfic event for a great cause!

Each attendee had pre-purchased a seat at one of the 12 tables, and a sommelier led each table through a 60 minute tasting. My table of choice was a fantastic horizontal of 1982 and 1990 Bordeaux, and Kim Beto capably led us through the wines.
The concensus favorites of the table were the 1990 Cheval Blanc, 1990 Margaux, and 1982 Pichon Lalande with the 1990 Beausejour not far behind. For me, the Pichon and the Margaux were head and shoulders above the rest, utterly stunning showings for great wines!
  • 1982 Château La Conseillante - Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
    The nose shows cedar with a very clear and attractive note of menthol and some barnyard in the background. On the palate this showed initial notes of soy before ultimately revealing itself as a very well resolved, mature claret that is drinking quite nicely right now. This was the least spectacular of all the wines in our horizontal, yet it was a charming wine. (93 pts.)
  • 1982 Château Lafleur - Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
    Sadly this was corked, and along with a corked 1970 Lafleur the day before this was one of the biggest disappointments of the night. Despite the fact that this was clearly corked (strong notes of TCA and brackish sea-water) the nose also showed ripe, ripe layers of fruit with roasted plums and some cocoa. I normally never put corked wine in my mouth, but I made an exception for this one and tried it after tasting through the others. The wine showed unreal structure with noble, dusty tannins hanging around for minutes. Sadly, the fruit was indeed stripped by the TCA as all that could really be found was a huge mouthful of structure with very little fruit. Bummer!
  • 1982 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande - Pauillac, Médoc, Bordeaux, France
    Smoky and earthy with deep notes of cassis, charcoal, tobacco and roasted espresso coming through. Wow, there is so much ripe cassis still on display in this lavish wine! On the palate this is like a silk blanket, just unreal texturally. The finish screams of tobacco with a very dark personality, very reminiscent of a bottle I enjoyed on my birthday 11/8/2003. This wine and this particular bottle deliver everything I want in a Bordeaux. (100 pts.)
  • 1982 Château Trotanoy - Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
    The very attractive nose shows charcoal and cedar with smoky layers of roasted meat. The palate is gorgeously layered with sweet, sweet fruit and terrific purity, surprisingly powerful. The finish is a bit short though, and while lovely this wine had a hard time standing up to the other wines in its company. (93 pts.)
  • 1990 Château Beausejour (Duffau Lagarrosse) - St. Emilion, Libournais, Bordeaux, France
    This had a intriguing nose that even smelled dense and thick. Somewhat pruney at first, this revealed black fruit, flowers, with tarry notes. The longer this sat in the glass the more exotic the nose became, and it was clear this was a wine to spend many hours with. The palate was huge and gripping with pine resin and endlessly sweet fruit. The finish on this was absolutely huge. The longer I spent with this wine the more I liked it, although it never really unfolded like the others. (96 pts.)
  • 1990 Château Cheval Blanc - St. Emilion, Libournais, Bordeaux, France
    This had many people gasping, and I can see the charm. The nose was spicy and exotic, very different from every other wine with notes of cream and vanilla wafting amidst a sea of spice. The palate followed the nose with an intriguing combination of spicy and sweet fruit. This really came together very nicely in the glass after an initially slow start. (96 pts.)
  • 1990 Château Margaux - Margaux, Médoc, Bordeaux, France
    At first this was the tightest and least forgiving of the wines, offering up lots of minerality and notes of white flowers. However, after 60 minutes it absolutely spread its wings showing cassis with meaty/smoky aromas and lavish floral notes. The wine was crazily smooth, enveloping and broad with an insanely long and wonderful finish. Oh my, the balance here is nearly surreal with so much power and exotic nuance. Absolutely stunning wine! (100 pts.)

After the formal tasting concluded, there was a chaotic and frenzied 15 minute period where attendees could sample the delights at the other tables. I didn’t take any formal notes at this point, just pausing briefly to write down the names of the wines I sample. The sketchy notes here are from memory. Wines that left a particularly strong impression included the 2001 SQN Midnight Oil, 1994 Dominus, and 1870 Lafite. No, 1870 is not a typo...

I am still marveling at the insanity of these and the other wines I had a chance to taste.

2001 Sine Qua Non Syrah Midnight Oil, black as night, stunning palate.
2001 Chave Hermitage. Very meaty and fresh, painfully young.
2001 Kongsgaard Syrah. Beautiful.
2002 Amon-Ra Barossa. Oh baby, this is a serious Shiraz!
2001 Integrity. Sweet, perfumed, coming together very well,
1998 Dead Arm. Where is the controversy? Awesome wine.

2001 Pride Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. As always this just rocks.
2001 Screaming Eagle. My first taste, what a plush and silky young beauty.
2001 Lokoya Mt. Veeder. Oaky.
2001 Colgin. Oaky,

1994 Dominus. Leather, brett, never would guess California in 100 years. Awesome blackness, depth and power to this wine.
1994 Araujo. Quintesential cal cab with mint and cassis.

1970 Trotanoy. Smoky but somewhat astringent.
1966 Latour. Awesome depth to this one.
1959 Canon. No note.
1986 Mouton Rothschild. Awfully closed right now.

1947 Cheval Blanc, both the Estate and ‘Family’ bottlings. Port-like nose that belied the surprisingly lively palates on both of these. I preferred the estate to the family bottling.
1870 Latour. Prunes and figs.
1870 Lafite. I mostly got sediment, but I was stunned at the fresh cassis and sweet fruit on display. No oxidation. Surreal and haunting wine!
1975 Lafleur. Ahh, finally, a non-corked Lafleur!

Finally we wandered upstairs for a surprisingly delicious dinner with yet more wine.

1999 Archery Summit Arcus Estate. Forgettable. Cherry juice.
1997 Aldo Conterno Barolo Riserva. Pretty unforgiving right now.
1994 DeLille Chaleur Estate. Quite a bit younger than I would expect, tart with red fruit.
1996 Leoville Poyferre. Tobacco and leather, awfully tight even a few hours later.
1999 Jim Barry Shiraz “The Armagh” (Clare Valley, Australia). Very nice!
2000 Rayas CnDP Reserve, WOW! This really stood out from the rest of the dinner wines. Gorgeous!
1993 Royal Tokaji Aszu Essencia. Mmm, a nice way to finish.

What a blast!

(As an aside, the event ended on a somewhat weird note for me. I had a chance to meet Shaun Bishop from WineCommune, and I mentioned I had heard they were looking at getting into the cellar management space. He claimed familiarity with CellarTracker and I think his words were "it is a very admirable" effort, said in a way that sounded like he was getting ready to squash me under his heel. It actually got my blood up quite a bit. I guess it's David and Goliath time...)

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Eric- sounds like a great event, thanks for the notes.

Don't worry about Winecommune taking away your business. Your site has amazing versatility and a great database. The site's so good that I even coughed up a few bucks to support it even though I could use it free. Maybe they'll buy you out? I hope not, but you never know.


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