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."
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.
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.