While we are still riding high on the clouds of the new year, a bunch of us vino lovers are taking the time to put together our "Bucket List" of wines to try this year. I know—generally the term bucket list refers to doing something before that great final personal apocalyptic day occurs, but most wine drinkers are not that dramatic. The List here rather contains those wines that we’ve dreamed about enjoying, that are world famous and absolutely delicious, and either too expensive, rare, unobtainable, or all of the above.
And just maybe, we’ll get to savor one this year. When these great wines from great vintages are experienced, the world stops—if only for that moment or so, while liquid art and history in a bottle gives its all
After considering the world’s best wines, a better overview would be to divide the historical wines & vineyards of Europe from the more modern wine producers elsewhere in the world. In wine lingo you’ll often hear them categorized as “Old World Wines” and “New World Wines”. Dear readers: it looks as though this is going to be a two or three parter!-- which will be covered on both this Wine Examiner column and on our sister Wine Bars column, http://www.examiner.com/topic/rick-riozza/articles so check them out!
OLD WORLD WINES
Just when we divided our approach—a sub-topic appears: French Wine.
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti:
There is one wine in the world that every collector wants, or at least wants to try; this wine, often called simply DRC, arguably—is the one. DRC’s most famous vineyard is a 4.4 acre in the Cote de Nuits sub-region of Burgundy, France. This small site only produces around 450 cases of wine each year, made exclusively from the Pinot Noir grape. The average age of the vines on this small site is over 50-years-old.
It is considered the perfect Pinot Noir wine with finesse, penetrating richness that’s not too profound, velvety warmth combined with leather, flowers, spice and reserves of complex fruit flavors.
DRC's 2005 Romanée-Conti was released (in 2008) at around $4000 a bottle retail. Today if you tried to buy their 2005 at auction you’d be paying between $8000-$16,000, depending on the condition. Forget investing in gold or the stock market. Drink and invest in DRC!
For a lot of wine novices who have entered the wine ethos through enjoying the very appealing Merlot, it’s news to them that one of the most sought-after wines of the world is a Merlot. From the right-bank region in Bordeaux.
This Merlot was one of the favorite wines at the White House during the Kennedy years. It was served at Le Pavillon in the days when Onassis sat at a corner table. After that, Château Petrus became a status symbol, the sort of name dropped by people who wish to imply not only that they know wine but that they are in wine.
There’s really no “castle” on the ground (rather a two story stone farmhouse) and even its label refers to it as simply “Pétrus." [Pay-Trews—not PET-tress]. Extremely fruity, suggestions of berries, vanilla, mocha, and oak emanate from its rich purple robe. The finish is something to wait for as it caresses the palate.
The Antique Wine Company has a 2000 Pétrus for just over $5,000. Check these notes out: “Chocolate, black raspberry, assorted fresh flowers, herbs, spices, truffles, earth, plums and black cherry could have been enjoyed from across the room; powerful, concentrated, deep wine and long length to fill every nook and cranny of your taste receptors with endless waves of decadent, flawlessly ripe fruit.” Wine Spectator gave it 100 points! The world’s perfect Merlot!
Chef Hubert Keller at Mandalay Bay sells his gourmet Kobe beef, sautéed foie gras & truffle burger and a recent bottle of Petrus for around five thousand bucks as well.
The left bank Bordeaux carries those great chateaux names you’ve heard of for years. Usually and predominately made with Cabernet Sauvignon blended with portions of Merlot, then Cabernet Franc, then Petite Verdot, maybe remnants of Malbec, and back in the day, Carmenère. (Of course these days Malbec is doing stellar in Argentina and Carmenère is beginning to reign in Chile).
Chateau Latour is one of the most reliable vineyards in France and produces one of the best Bordeaux on the market. Draws its power from the rich soil on which the grapes grow.
Among the raciest wines of the Medoc region, Wine Spectator often selects Latour as the single best wine of the year; they and Robert Parker bestowed a perfect “100 points” score on the 2009. “An astonishing length—an everlasting finale is the masterstroke of this vintage, which favors caramel, chocolate, licorice, dark cherry, and roasted fruits. The mouth is opulent and wholly composed.” Currently sells for around $2000.
Chateau Lafite Rothschild . "Talk about being at the right place at the right time. In the mid-18th century, a French politician was about to be shipped off overseas, but not before visiting a physician. The doctor prescribed him some Lafite wine as a tonic. This politician enjoyed it so much that he offered some bottles to King Louis XV, and before long this wine became the star of Versailles and was dubbed "the King's wine”. Lafite's reputation was assured and even Thomas Jefferson visited the estate and became a lifelong customer. Remarkably dark, it sports mineral aromas of mint and black currant. Flavorful, its texture is silky and lingers in the mouth." Wikipedia.
In early November 2012, police in Wenzhou Province China seized nearly 10,000 bottles of Chateau Lafite Rothschild they suspected as counterfeit. Lafite is very popular among China's nouveau-riche, but it is believed that up to 70% of Chateau Lafite in China is fake! If genuine, though, this particular collection could be worth up to $16 million.
Next week, among others, we’ll discuss the best dessert wine in the world. Sweet Dreams!