PBF&W Aftertaste: Bold and Beautiful Bordeaux
May 2, 2011
In the perpetual effort to keep the "wow" factor activated, this year the Pebble Beach Food & Wine braintrust deployed no shortage of dramatic party favors to create eye-popping events, like one engagement in particular at the Beach and Tennis Club that I had trouble even imagining.
As I wrote in the run-up, "When is a dinner no longer a dinner?"
*Is it still a "dinner" when it features That ’70s Show alum and Hollywood-DJ-of-the-Moment DJ Mom Jeans (Danny Masterson) on the wheels of steel? Or when there is enough Krug Champagne to drown Prince William’s wedding? (Krug CEO Maggie Henriquez, who will lead the bubbly adventure, calls it “the most elaborate Krug dinner of the decade.”) Or when the kitchen staff is a unprecedented alliance of five of the biggest celeb names on the whole damn domestic circuit in Daniel Boulud (of Daniel), Michael Chiarello (Bottega), Dean Fearing (Fearing’s), Christopher Kostow (Restaurant at Meadowood), Masaharu Morimoto (Morimoto) and Michael Symon (Lola)?
Isn’t that like calling Godzilla a tree lizard? Google a website? Charlie Sheen an outgoing personality?
Shouldn’t this “Remix: A New Spin on Haute Cuisine” merit a new word?*
Weekly photog Nic Coury went to the event to attempt to discern an idea of what shape such unprecedented undertakings would take. Check out his slideshow on Remix here.
For all the new annual bangles, though, PBF&W still knows how to satisfy worldly palates with perennial reserve wine tastings that draw superstars without all the glitter.
Weekly food writer David Schmalz ducked into a perfect example in "The Bold and Beautiful Bordeaux: A Historical Retrospective Of Chateau Lagrange & Chateau D'Issan." Here's a quick glimpse of what he got out of it:
In nearly every instance, tasting Bordeaux feels less like work than play, but when 10 glasses sit in front of you at 10am, it’s time to start spitting.
While the practice came naturally given the time of day (might have been trickier with champagne), but there was something sad about it: Every glass, filled with five different vintages from both Chateau Lagrange and Chateau D’Issan, was a little liquid treasure, and wasting even a few drops felt like sacrilege to the gods of merrymaking.
But alas, one must forge ahead, and with guidance from the winemakers and Wine Americas’ Robin Kelley O’Connor, the tasting was a wonderful introduction to the evolution of a fine red as it ages in the bottle, starting with wines from 2005 and stretching back to '90 for Chateau Lagrange, and '85 for Chateau D’Issan.
The Bordeaux appellation is considered by most to the be standard against which great red wines are judged, and the vineyards that produce it bring centuries of tradition and craft into the bottle.
“Bordeaux is not about power,” says Emmanuel Cruse (right, with Matthieu Bordes of C.Lagrange), winemaker for Chateau D’Issan, “it’s about elegance and finesse.”
The elegance came through in every glass, and as we circled back to older vintages the latent complexity of the wines opened up to produce masterpieces in the mouth. O’Connor recommended not opening the wines anytime soon if one were to own them, even suggesting that the ‘90 could improve with five to 10 more years in the bottle, but all agreed that the ‘85 from Chateau D’Issan was indeed peaking. The wine was almost caramel-colored, and its flavor lived on the palette for a good many minutes after sipping.
“I don’t know,” Cruse says, “Robin might think it’s best to wait a couple of weeks.”