Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bacchus: Bordeaux Basics & Beyond

I do like Bacchus the wine store on Broadway between 70th and 7st. It's not the cheapest wine store in the world, but it has good lighting, and a beautiful new cellar space that displays wine in tasteful wooden shelves. In the cellar too is the space for wine-tasting events, separated from the rest of the cellar by folding glass doors.

Tonight, Lisa Granik, Master of Wine, led us through a tasting of 7 Bordeaux wines. How does one become a Master of Wine? Four days of testing, on three of which a candidate has to identify wines from different vineyards around the world. The candidate brings her own glass, so that she cannot complain of possible contamination.

Lisa Granik was obviously a connoisseur but she was not a very good teacher. She did not find out the state of wine knowledge of her participants, but talked on, sometimes digressing, rather than informative. She spoke about the merlot from the Left Bank (more clayey) and the cabernet from the Right Bank, but the presentation would have been more useful if she had pointed to a map. She was also snobbish in a peculiarly American way. About people who mistake "legs" for quality when they swirl their wine in glasses, she said that they are judging wine in the way Italian peasants used to do.

Of the seven Bordeaux, I like very much the first one, a Merlot. It was, like Lisa described it, elegant and subtle. I do like Lisa's comparison of drinking wine to having a conversation with a stranger. Let the wine talk to you. Here's the list of wines I tried having a conversation with tonight:

(1) Chateau Magdelaine Grand-cru, Saint-Emilion, 2003: elegant, subtle merlot
(2) Chateau Lafleur-Gazin, Pomerol, 2004: heftier merlot, with some cabernet franc, mushroom, limestone
(3) Chateau La Fon Du Berger, Haut-Medoc, 2005: cabernet, balanced, elegant
(4) Margaux Private Reserve, Schroder Scyler & Cie, 2005: cabernet, charcoal, tar, black tea, raspberry
(5) Chateau Brown, Pessac-Leognan, 2001: cabernet, darker, gravelly, smokier, muscular
(6) Chateau De Pez, Saint-Estephe, 2004: cabernet, brawny, pencil lead, masculine
(7) Moulin de Duhart Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite), Pauillac, 2004: cabernet, power, high alcohol content.

Lisa Granik: "If you are open-minded, you are always open to another bottle of wine."

3 comments:

Harry said...

And after all, what do Italian peasants know about food? [/heavy sarcasm]

monkey said...

Hi Jee Leong,

Your favorite comes from the same commune and vintage featured in this NY Times review.

Jee Leong Koh said...

Thanks, monkey, for the link. Glad to know I have good taste!