Thursday, February 28, 2013

UGC 2010 Vintage Tasting Los Angeles, Saturday, January 19, 2013

by Dan Rhodes

In show business terms, there’s nothing worse than having to come on stage to follow a very successful and popular act. Comparisons are inevitable, expectations are high and the crowd is restless. Such was the uphill task faced recently at the Hyatt Regency in Los Angeles by the annual traveling Bordeaux road show known as the Union des Grands Crus. Everyone queued with great anticipation and commenced to explore Millésime 2010 wondering just how it would compare to the wildly popular 2009 vintage, deemed by the reigning Bordeaux emperor Robert M. Parker to be, “the greatest Bordeaux vintage ever.”

The answer, in a nutshell, is “quite favorably.” For sure, each of these superb vintages will have their proponents within each camp arguing in favor of their preference but the reality, at the end of the day, speaks to a comparison of apples and oranges. If you like, dare I use the word, hedonistic fruit opulence than you will prefer the 2009 vintage and its juxtaposition of myriad ripe fruits, rounded tannins and ripe acidities. If, on the other hand, you prefer a more linear, classically configured wine, with substantial structure and tannic backbone, than 2010 is for you.

Notwithstanding the record-setting en primeur pricing both of these affairs bring to the table, the wise Bordeaux collector would do well to purchase a representative sampling from each of these stellar harvests as they are both monumental, historic vintages that speak to the power of diversity. Both vintages have a long life ahead of them and should age splendidly albeit for different reasons and with a different end-result flavor profile. The conscientious collector should take a look at 2010 on a case-by-case (aka Château by Château) basis to determine tannin tolerance, flavor predilection and style preference knowing full-well that, for the most part, these are being purchased for long-term cellaring and could, very well, be enjoyed ultimately by children or grandchildren.

It’s always a challenge to capture a tasting note for every single wine represented at this monumental event but here are some of my highlights with my scores in parentheses.

Haut Bailly --- Classic, structured wine.  (94-96)
La Louviere --- Value achiever. Possibly best ever from here. (92-94)
Malartic Lagraviere --- Sophisticated minerality. (92-94)
Olivier --- Value achiever. Best from here in years. (91-93)
Pape Clement --- One of the top wines of the show. (98 – 100)
Smith Haut Lafitte --- Superb follow-up to their spectacular 2009. (96-98)

Canon --- Old school. Purist’s delight. (94-96)
Canon la Gaffeliere --- Another outstanding effort from Neipperg. (96-98)
Dassault --- Value achiever. Possibly best ever from here. (93-95)
Figeac --- Rien ne change. (94-96)
Clos Fourtet --- One of the top wines of the show. Off the charts! (98-100)
Pavie Macquin --- Robust wine. Tremendous black fruit presence. (94-96)
Troplong Mondot --- Another regal effort from Christine Valette. (98-100)

Clinet --- Virtually flawless. (98-100)
Gazin --- Value achiever. Best wine ever from Gazin. (94-96+)
La Conseillante --- A more terroir-driven version of Clinet. (97-99)
La Pointe --- Value achiever. Best ever from here. (92-94)

Beaumont --- Bordeaux best-buy. (90-92)
La Tour Carnet --- Renaissance continues under Magrez. (90-92)
La Tour de By --- Wines continue to improve here. Value achiever. (90-92)

Malescot St. Exupery --- Powerful wine. Atypical Margaux but captures the vintage identity. (95-97)
Marquis de Terme --- Value achiever. Best ever from here. (90-92)
Prieure –Lichine --- Best in a long time. (92-94)
Rauzan-Segla --- Prefer their 2010 to 2009. (93-95)
Siran --- Value achiever. Wine much more polished and sophisticated than past. (90-92)

Beychevelle --- Taking things to the next level now. (93-95)
Branaire-Ducru --- Enormous concentration. The thinking man/woman’s St. Julien. (94-96)
Leoville Barton --- Magnificent! One of the show’s top wines. (96-98)
Leoville Poyferré --- Now rivals Las Cases. (95-97)
Talbot --- Value achiever. Old school wine. (90-92)

Croizet- Bages --- Best ever from here. Value achiever. (92-94)
d’Armailhac --- Mini-Mouton (91-93)
Grand Puy Ducasse --- Finally lives up to 4th Growth status. (90-92)
Lynch Bages --- Classic Lynch. (95-97)
Lynch Moussas – Best ever from here. Value achiever. (90-92)
Pichon Baron --- Stunning! One of the top wines of the show. (96-98)
Pichon Lalande --- Powerful, regally feminine. (94-96)

Lafon Rochet --- Value achiever. Classic St. Estephe. (90-92)

Guiraud --- Leaner in style, yet seductive. (92-94)
La Tour Blanche --- Opulent, hedonistic wine. (92-94)
Doisy-Daëne --- One of the better efforts from this estate. (91-93)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Welcome to the Spectrum Wine Auctions Blog!

Château Palmer's rare Blanc de Palmer | Romanée-Conti Vineyard | SWA Château d'Yquem Dinner
SWA's eclectic coterie of connoisseurs wanted to provide a place to learn about and to discuss our auctions, tastings, dinners, musings and ideas, including what we're drinking at the moment, what's going on in the wider wine world, what's the deal with such-and-such producer/varietal/region, plus many other œnological highlights that even we cannot predict.

Chef Wolfgang Puck at an SWA dinner | Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in Spring Mountain | Goldtröpfchen and other vineyards above Piesport | Sylvain Cathiard Vosme-Romanée 2002 

Our team of dedicated wine specialists will furnish articles according to each of our unique voices, styles, and interests.  Enjoy the informative entertainment to come - Cheers!

Enjoying Faiveley's Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Cazetier 1999 by Clos Vougeot