Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Recently my wine-appraiser father, William H. Edgerton, and I were invited to a cocktail hour hosted by the Napa-based Benchmark Wine Group, an organization we occasionally work with which pairs up buyers and sellers of fine wines. It was an opportunity to meet some people face-to-face for the first time and to sample some outrageously wonderful wines. (I had not originally intended to write about this event, but after tasting a few of the bottles they had open at the bar, I couldn't help but grab my father's phone, snap some photos, and make some mental notes!)

I started with a white Burgundy, the 2006 Bouchard Meursault Perrieres, which had a lovely viscosity and complexity with heady, intoxicating aromatics, and a long finish. (~$100) Right up my alley! I could have indulged in a second pour, but there were many other bottles calling my name.

So I hopped over to Bordeaux for some classic wines from a classic vintage: the 1982 Château Calon-Segur from St. Estèphe showed abundant earthy notes, yet was very elegant and charming. (~$220) The 1982 Château Leoville Barton was aging well, with pleasant floral and mineral notes. (~$175) And the 1982 Château La Mission Haut Brion from the Pessac-Léognan region had nice tertiary aromatics, and yet the fruit was still supple and bright. (~$850)

The only First Growth at the tasting was the 1979 Château Mouton Rothschild. 1979 was not a particularly good vintage, and I had never yet seen a bottle of this wine. The label was beautiful; Mouton has long commissioned label artwork for each vintage, and this was the first label ever commissioned by a Japanese artist, Hisao Domoto. However, the aging of this vintage, even from a top producer, resulted in a wine with an overly meaty nose and a complete lack of fruit in the mouth. My father agreed, saying, "It unfortunately doesn't have the character or pedigree of a First Growth wine." (~$300)

There were some offerings from California as well—a 1987 Dunn Vineyards Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, which had a great deal of personality and still felt quite youthful. (~$70) This was not even the Howell Mountain-designated bottling, which is perhaps more highly esteemed and may be aging even better! I tugged at my father's sleeve to point out the 1986 Dominus Estate, of which we had a few bottles in our cellar. It had incredible aromatics of cedar—just a lovely nose—and there was eucalyptus and light fruit on the palate. We nodded to each other as if to say, "Let's hold on to this baby a bit longer."

There were more bottles clamoring for attention: an Opus One, a Château d'Yquem... but dad was ready to head home for dinner so we began saying our goodbyes. I had to grab one more taste, however, and was soooo glad I did. The 2000 La Spinetta Barolo Vigneto Campe Vürsù had robust red and black fruits with soft oak on the finish. It was a huge yet elegantly crafted wine, and was showing absolutely beautifully. When I jotted down notes on the car ride home, with the flavors still lingering on my palate, I wrote, "Wowee wow wow, I want more!!" (~$150) I don't think I've ever met a La Spinetta offering that didn't impress.

Frankly, it was a joy to taste all of these prestigious wines, as opportunities to do so are few and far-between. Thank you to the folks at Benchmark for trotting out so many exceptional bottles for us to sample! Not only do I look forward to further collaboration, but I hope they may come back to the East Coast again soon... hopefully with some more treasures in hand.


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