Spending some time with Bordeaux

A few weekends ago I attended the Bordeaux tasting event hosted by Vintages. The event took place at the Four Seasons Hotel here in downtown Toronto. I know, how chic! I couldn't wait to get to the event. I had hoped that there would be not only good wine, but good food. To my delight, there was both! Now, how was I going to do this? 3 hours and over 100 wines to go through. I really had to roll up my sleeves and get to work. I always feel slightly anxious whenever starting a tasting event because I really don't know where to start. Do I start at Table 1 and work my way up? Do I start from the end? Or, do I just bypass everything and hit the dessert wines. :) The great thing about these types of tastings is that for a flat fee, you taste as much as you want (or can). $75 ticket for the event doesn't seem so bad once you realize how expensive the wines are and the quality of food that you're getting. Yum!

Bordeaux has so many wonderful regions, each being so unique from the other. I should do separate blog posts on them in more detail. One thing about Bordeaux wine that should be remembered is that it's almost always a blend of different grape varieties. The blends generally contain Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc as the main grape varieties and sometimes the blends contain smaller percentages of Petit Verdot and/or Malbec as well.

For myself, I divide Bordeaux as such:
Left Bank wines - Cabernet Sauvignon dominant in the blend
Right Bank wines - Merlot dominant in the blend
Sauternes/Barsac - Dessert wines (Sémillon is dominant)
Pessac-Léognan - Mostly Sauvignon Blanc (sometimes blended with Sémillon)

At this event, I really enjoyed the wines of Saint-Emilion.  There were 6 tables devoted to the Grand Crus of this region. Grand Cru means "Great Growth" in French. When speaking about Bordeaux, it applies to a vineyard that is thought to have a good reputation for producing wine.

After the first 20 or so wines (who knows really, I just know it was a lot), I decided to venture out to the food area and fill my belly.  There were stations where men in chef hats shaved off slices of roast beef, lamb kabobs, wild mushrooms, risotto and a giant cheese table mixed with fruit and bread. That should be enough to soak up all that wine!

One thing that did bother me about the evening was the fact that my teeth actually hurt. So many of these wines were really big and quite tannic. I found that as the evening progressed, my teeth were not only a nice purple colour, but sensitive from the acid in the wine.  Could it be that my body actually was actually telling me that it had enough?! I received some tips from Igor Ryjenkov MW (Product Manager, European Wines, Vintages) who said that it's best to not brush your teeth for a couple hours (if not more) after wine tasting because you'll wear out the tooth enamel. To also help minimize the effects of acid on the teeth, you can eat cheese and bread but NO brushing your teeth. I actually waited until the next day to brush. Gross I know.

My top picks of the evening:
Chateau Olivier Blanc 2007 $99 (Sauvignon Blanc from the Pessac-Léognan region)
Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 2007 $114 (Sauvignon Blanc from the Péssac-Léognan region)
Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte 2007$82 (Pessac-Léognan)
Chateau Figeac 2007 $115 (Saint-Emilion Grand Cru)
Chateau La Couspaude 2007 $69.00 (Saint-Emilion Grand Cru)
Chateau La Gaffeliere 2007 $90 (Saint-Emilion Grand Cru)
Chateau La Tour Figeac 2007 $48 (Saint-Emilion Grand Cru)
Chateau Lascombes 2007 $109 (Margaux)
Chateau Chasse-Spleen 2007 $39 (Haut-Médoc/Moulis)
Chateau De Rayne Vigneau 2007 $31.00 (Sauternes/Barsac)

A few pictures from the event are here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/theyummygrape/sets/72157623242172185/

Next wine event held by Vintages will be in March. This event will feature the wines of both Bordeaux and Burgundy. If attending, remember to spit spit spit! Seems a shame to be spitting all these wines but you have to go through quantity to appreciate the different quality. :)