The start of anything is exciting; the first day of school, the opening of a concert or the first time you see your child smile at you… all exciting, all moments of beauty.
|snow falling in May at the Post|
So how much more exciting could my first Post Hotel Wine Summit (http://www.posthotel.com/ ) be? There are no words that can explain how I felt when I arrived (ok, just a few words then)! A list of top-level winemakers from around the globe that would make any serious wine-geek truly delirious (Louis Jadot, Ornellaia, Lewis Cellars and more, more, more) was just the start of a true experience.
An experience that starts and ends with the Relais and Chateaux rated resort itself (http://www.relaischateaux.com/ ), it's gifted staff of sommeliers, servers, housekeepers, cooks… you get the idea. But then again, perhaps you don’t. Myself, I’ve had a long career in this industry and have seen many claim to be devoted to quality… rarely have I had the pleasure of working beside people who genuinely cared so much. It is, refreshing.
But what about the wines you ask …. Ah the wines.
Day 1: Thursday
We started with a bang! Almost literally!
A traditional cowboy barbeque feast with a live band and plenty of high-quality, easy drinking wines. Ok, maybe not a traditional Albertan barbeque with that much wine instead of beer kegs, but everyone had a blast and we the sommeliers got to taste some brilliantly fresh vino.
2009 Le Volte, Ornellaia
• Bright fresh berry bouquet with light savory fungal undercurrent
• Medium+ to Full acidity, cranberry and raspberry notes open the palate, fully intense chewy tannins… already approachable in its youth this wine will evolve gracefully for several years
2009 Serre Nouve, Ornellaia
• incredibly bright and fresh blueberry notes burst from the glass, deeper savory earthy characteristics found lurking beneath
• medium+ red raspberry acids, fully intense chewy and grippy tannins, rich savory earthy notes from the nose very evident in the palate (driven by Cab Sauv). Excellent concentration and balance but still very young and deserving of more time
2002 Louis Jadot Domaine de Heritiers, Les Boucherottes, 1er Cru
• primal earthy, savory, gamey, musky aromas… full and intense, developed but still lots of life left in it
• palate was marked by a decidedly well balanced and integrated crisp red currant acidity, moderate+ tannin structure which was firm and meaty, layered flavors of red and black berries/leathery earthy notes/red meat and wild game. A very masculine wine that was in its element paired with Alberta bbq
2010 Ornellaia “Poggio alle Gazze”
• lively little Sauv-Blanc, the nose is soft and inviting with warm hay notes, perky grapefruit and a subtle minerality
• much the same on the palate; the moderate acids are balanced, the concentration is medium+, the flavors much the same as the nose… a good summer wine, there is enough in the glass to balance against seafood dishes but cheerful enough to enjoy solo
2006 Louis Jadot Domaine Gagey, Savigny Les Beaunes, 1er Cru
• super bright, fresh red cherry/raspberry/strawberry notes with a gentle mineral undertone… incredibly approachable
• medium+ red raspberry acids, medium chewy tannins, an easy wine to enjoy on its own I think this wine really would come into its element paired with a simple afternoon of cured meats and cheeses and perhaps some fresh bread. Good concentration this is still evolving and will for several years
2009 Louis Jadot Santenay, Clos de Malte
• approachably fresh! medium+ intensity with a strong undertone of minerality (wet slate) with more young stonefruit and a wealth of summer floral hidden behind… the floral notes really start to open when the wine comes to cellar temp
• bright and fresh! Medium+ lemon acids, medium concentration, good cohesion or balance this wine is easy to drink and is undemanding
Day 2: Friday
This is a marathon, not a sprint! The sommelier staff started our morning at 7am down in the cellar, surrounded by 30,000+ bottles of world class wine and more than a few dozen for the five of us to open, sniff, swirl and spit. Or, in the case of the Grand Cru from Burgundy, spitting was optional (and I declined the option).
Granted it may not be right for everyone’s lifestyle, but I actually thoroughly enjoy the process, the cerebral art-form of analyzing a wine from bottle to glass to mouth. But then, I love wine (too much?). On today’s list was:
2001 Louis Jadot, Domaine Gagey, 1er Cru, “Les Boudots”, Nuits-Saint-Georges
• medium+ to fully intense bouquet of primal earthy tones, meaty, gamey/wild, musky… fruit tones are very secondary (red and black berries)
• crisp and slightly brittle medium cranberry acids, medium- soft velvety tannins, medium+ intense red berry flavors still developing with savory musky/gamey notes being secondary. Very good concentration, great balance
2003 Louis Jadot, Domaine des Heritiers Louis Jadot, Grand Cru, “Corton-Pougets”
• very deep plum core with slightest bricking in rim
• medium+ intense aromas starting with a pronounced dry, dusty mineral core followed briskly by worn leather, cigar box and then a secondary wave of darker berry aromas
• on the palate the acidity is moderate+ raspberry with fully intense chalky, grippy tannins incredibly well integrated… fruit flavors burst with moderate+ to fully intense developing characteristics of layers of a variety of raspberries, different cherries and even wild strawberries and currants… minerality is felt most keenly as a strong undercurrent. In summation this wine is a contemplative wine and most worthy of one’s utmost attention
|Anthony Gismondi and Randy Lewis|
Lewis Cellars, “Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, 2008
• worthy of note that this wine has 2% Petit Verdot
• color is deep, dark and delicious with no bricking, solid garnet core and generous sediment (fining and filtering is not done)
• moderate+ developing fresh red berry bouquet with light red floral and a lovely spicy/peppery finish
• medium black raspberry acids, fully intense chewy tannins (delightfully approachable in its youth), fully intense and developing fresh red berry flavors taking charge with excellent balance and structure… a truly Huge Wine, its achieves complexity even in its enormity.
Louis Jadot, Chambolle-Musigny “Les Baudes”, Premier Cru, Cote des Nuits, 2007
• color is deep, dark, rich and vibrant
• nose is lush with fruit but also lovely floral quality followed by savory “sous-bois” or vegetal undergrowth
• palate is very focused! Medium+ raspberry/currant acids, medium+ grippy tannins, light body but almost full concentration with savory/earthy/mineral qualities with the sous-bois coming to play near the end… stunning balance and length.
• A truly excellent find for Premier Cru!
Louis Jadot, Pulligny-Montrachet Clos de la Garenne “Domaine Duc de Magenta”, (white) 2009
• Pale straw color
• Aroma is rich in hay notes, ripening orchard fruit with clean slate minerality underneath
• Palate is clean, bright and refreshing!
Day 3: Saturday
This is the big day that I drove about 800 kilometres for; today I will be attending the Maison Louis Jadot Technical Tasting which will prove to be even more intense then I could have anticipated. That lecture will be a forthcoming article unto itself. Let me just say that it was a privilege.
I was also lucky enough to be at the Berncasteler Doctor tasting… one of the most prestigious wineries in Germany (and some would say even the world), we tasted Rieslings young and old but this one certainly stuck out for me!
Dr. H. Thanisch, “Berncasteler Doctor”, Auslese, Riesling, Mosel 1959
• Beautiful rich and luxurious, soft floral notes with lifted acids… the fresh fruit is starting to recede leaving the minerality behind; elegant in its simplicity. A hint of smokiness, a herbal side and even a touch of sea salt in the after taste
• Absolutely no oxidization
• We were told that 1959 was one of the “perfect” vintages, and worthy of note is that these vines are grown on original rootstock, Phylloxera-free
Then after a quick lunch with chef extraordinaire Umberto Menghi came the vast Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Estate Tasting. This was an incredible event for everyone, but as much as my wife is from an Italian family, I really haven’t experienced that many Italian wines. Oh sure, I know a Barolo from a Nero D’Avola but considering there are more varietals cultivated in Italy than anywhere else in the world (over 2000 varietals) I really don’t know jack. That was about to change.
Unfortunately there is only so much room in an article, and so I will conclude with two wines from our Gala Dinner. I started on familiar ground with a Barolo (thank god) and what a lovely expression of the style of wine it was as well;
Michele Chiarlo, “Tortoniano” Barolo, Piedmonte 2001
• Light rose petal/garnet core with substantially bricked rim
• Medium+ developed nose (with room for growth) of dried rose petals, red and black raspberries, black strawberries… very focused
• On the palate medium+ red and black currant acids, full chalky grippy youthful tannins, medium concentration of developed flavors with the dark raspberry note singing high, with more dark berries singing harmony and a crescendo of fading fresh red berries which descends to savory and earthy qualities
• This wine is certainly moving to the mature part of its life, but still has lots of life left. Good concentration and excellent structure, this is a wine worth keeping and/or seeking out
Then, I was then fortunate enough to open, decant and taste 18 bottles of the following;
Maison Louis Jadot, Domaine Louis Jadot, Grand Cru, “Chambertin-Clos de Beze” 1990
• Light garnet core with slightly brickish rim, slight amount of fine sediment present
• Medium+ and obviously developed aromas starting with a bouquet of dried floral, savory earth, meaty gamey venison steak, stewed dark berries akin to raspberry chutney
• On the palate medium+ black raspberry acids, medium+ firm yet elegant tannin structure, medium+ concentration of developed flavors with a great deal of concentration left! Red and black berries, leathery savory herbs, strong herbal presence, almost a baked earthy undercurrent
• Delightful wine with lots of life left still, don’t feel you need to drink this wine now if you have some! Will not develop further but drinking 2012-2018 and potentially beyond
And that, as some would say, was that… I came, I drank (more then I should), I spit (less then I should). About 40 hours of work in 3 days which was less than the General Manager worked, less than the owners, less than the Head Sommelier (a trouper). Really, we sommeliers had it easy!
It was an exercise in diligence, a crash-course in humility. The owners of the Post Hotel are supposed millionaires in their own right, with secluded get-aways on the west coast of Vancouver Island and yet they were up and at work before I arrived in the wine cellar at 7am, and they were always on-hand long after I went to bed at midnight.
Perhaps that is why they are millionaires, and perhaps that is why the Post Hotel and it's Wine Summit draw visitors and wine-makers from around the world. No, no perhaps about it... George and Andre haven't created the Post Hotel as an "Ode to Money", they have created a bastion-like refuge devoted to quality in wine, in food, and in the most real way; in people.
Dr. H. Thanisch
Maison Louis Jadot
|the Post Hotel welcome wagon|
Next years Wine Summit is only months away, you’d best reserve your room now! See you there!