Tasting, Spitting and Cru Bourgeois[1]

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a wine tasting before.[2] Sure, I’ve had wine flights and been to pairing dinners, but there was always food involved. A true wine tasting with nothing but wine after wine after wine was a new one for me.[3] IMG_6174

But let me back up. A while ago a restaurateur friend had sent along an invite to the Crus Bourgeois du Médoc 2012 Official Selection Grand Tasting at the French Consulate in New York. Sounded swanky. It was for “trade and media only,” so my lawyer wine blogger status got me in.[4]

The big day came and Husband and I made our way down to New York[5] only to find the parking garage I had planned to use was full. So we drove along, navigating our way through the one-way hustle and bustle, randomly pulling onto another street only to find ourselves in front of the Carlyle Hotel.[6] We parked in the overpriced garage and walked over to the French Consulate[7]. The first event of the day, a Master Class with Jay Youmans had started twenty minutes earlier, but lucky for us, they too were running late and we were able to sneak in the back without missing much. Mr. Youmans took us through a brief history of the Crus Bourgeois classification and then tasted us on eight of the wines being featured that day, with a bit of history on each chateau.

This class was my first experience spitting wine.[8] At first, I was horrified it was a bit awkward. I told myself I didn’t need to spit, but it was 11:45 in the morning and I was quickly beginning to feel lightheaded, even with the water and crackers, so I gave it a whirl. Everyone around us was doing it[9], so it couldn’t be that bad. It felt weird, but I did it anyway.[10]

After the class, we crossed an elegant vestibule over to the next salon to find winery owners and representatives from twenty five or so chateaux[11] pouring their 2012 and 2010 vintages.[12] Many of them were in New York visiting from France; their normal, daily lives are spent at their chateaux, running marketing programs, or actually making wine. One pourer’s father was on his wine label, a true family affair.

IMG_6262The 2012 wines were young, and they tasted like it. Not terrible by any means, but they weren’t particularly easy drinkers either[13]. Almost all could benefit from staying in their bottles for a few more years.[14] I made more than one note to buy a bottle or two to keep in my wine cellar basement for a while, though the 2012 vintage is not yet widely available. This is exactly the reason why the chateaux brought a 2010 or 2009 vintage to pour as well. It was an interesting concept, pouring wines that weren’t really ready, with the purpose of showing their beautiful potential. On the whole, there was quite a contrast in terms of drinkability between the two vintages, with the 2009/10s almost all surpassing the 2012s.

Since the 2012s were so young, I thought I’d see how an older bottle had turned out. There is certainly a difference between the 2004 and the 2012, though I’m still not convinced I would drink this regularly.
To:                  Alleged Blog Readers
From:             WineEsquire
Date:               May 21, 2015
Wine:              2004 Chteau Le Crock Bordeaux
IMG_6261The deep purple color on this wine gives way to thick juicy legs that practically take over the glass. This has a deep, rich nose; musty with some notes of deep dark cherries. It goes down smooth but it’s fairly dry; there are definitely some tannins at work here. It’s not harsh, but it’s not a flowery Bordeaux either. I’m not really able to pick out any specific flavors.[15]

I’m doing this without food, which may be a mistake, but I’m not in love with it. The bottle had been open and breathing for about an hour before I started drinking. It’s now been at least two hours since I got home, and it’s still just kind of meh[16].

In comparing this bottle to the 2012 vintage, the 2004 has clearly relaxed and toned itself down in the bottle. Though it wasn’t my favorite, it was far more drinkable than the 2012s. I’ve quite a bit left, so I’ll see how it is tomorrow, and maybe I’ll add some cheese.

I paid $36 for the 2004, which is a bit less than what I can find it for online. I’m probably not going to buy this again, but if you’re a fan of French wines or want to drink what I drink, it can’t hurt to give it a try!

Wine Dossier
Cru Bourgeois is a French classification that has been used since 1932 when the first 444 chateaux were so designated. It was in regular use until 2007 when the Administrative Court of Bordeaux[17] annulled the classification after some alleged hanky-panky and conflicts of interest got in the way of fairly awarding the designation. Producers came together to revive the classification and put in place a judicious system for selecting chateaux worthy of the label. The designation was revived officially in 2010 and they have been rebuilding ever since. The new procedure involves blind taste testing and annual reviews of production methods. In 2014 they released the list of the 267 Chateaux selected to bear the name for the 2012 vintage.

This particular bottle comes from Chateau Le Crock in the Saint-Estephe AOC in Bordeaux, France. The Saint Estephe AOC covers roughly 3,000 acres and is responsible for producing more than 8 million bottles of wine per year.[18] This chateau grows Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Merlot (25%), Cabernet Franc (10%) and Petit Verdot (5%), though the exact blend is not listed on the bottle.[19]

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Warning: Post is on the longer side. I went to a tasting in New York and drank a 2004 Bordeaux. #SorryNotSorry.
[2] That’s weird since I’m such a wino I love wine so much.
[3] Actually, I don’t think I’m a fan. It was a bit overwhelming and at some point (fairly early in the game for me) they all started to taste the same.
[4] My first blogger event. I was pumped.
[5] Running a bit late, obviously.
IMG_6223[6] This was a big deal since my friends from across the pond, Kate and Will, had recently stayed at this hotel during their trip to the Big Apple. I was practically hanging out with them all over again (Sissies and I went to an NBA game with them, Bey and Jay while they were here). We ended up back at the Carlyle’s Bemelman’s Bar for drinks after our wine tasting adventure. That could be a blog post in itself. #swanky #$$
[7] The event was held in the reception salons of the French Consulate, a former private residence overlooking Central Park. A truly idyllic locale and a magical place to taste wine, complete with intricate floors, mammoth tapestries, marble for days, and of course, a Baccarat a chandelier.IMG_6208
[8] I mean, why would you spit out perfectly good wine?
[9] My fellow members of the media were also making really weird noises while the wine was in their mouth. Apparently it helps with tasting the wine. I probably should have read the Dummies Guide to Wine Tasting before I went.
[10] I was very nervous I was going to try and drink my spit glass, but thankfully I made it through unscathed.
[11] The plural of Chateau is Chateaux, not Chateaus.
[12] The people kept spitting as we tasted, some of them very close to me. Way more awkward then when we were sitting down at a respectable distance from our neighbors. I didn’t do any more spitting. After an hour, I needed lunch, stat.
[13] My notes tell me that throughout the day I got notes of coffee, tea, flowers, beef and cheese, wet dog and “dinner”.
[14] Or so I was told.
[15] Warning: this could be the fault of the drinker, not the wine.
[16] The technical for term for “so-so”.
[17] Though it’s a bit confusing because its French, and I’m not making any representations that this is an accurate statement, I did some digging and I believe the Administrative Court is akin to our first level Superior Court (which is what we call courts of first instance where I practice law).
[18] See Wikipedia.
[19] They only make two wines though, so maybe they just blend it all together?

4 thoughts on “Tasting, Spitting and Cru Bourgeois[1]

  1. Sounds fun and intimidating at once! I’m decidedly terrible at naming what I smell and taste and I’m sure I would be overwhelmed. Nonetheless, I’m totally jealous. Are you planning on going to the wine bloggers conference? (August, FLX) I’m curious to hear the goings on.

    1. Just checked out the conference, hadn’t heard of it before. It looks amazing…you going??

  2. Loved this post. I own a copy of The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Wine on my phone for quick reference. Not much help though after a lengthy tasting. I can’t bring myself to spit; watching people spit wine is too much like being at work.

    My sister can taste every nuance, but I still can’t identify anything much beyond pepper, cherries, citrus or berries. Oh, and what a “corked” bottle tastes like.

    But I do love wine. Thanks for giving me a big grin this morning.

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