This past weekend I attended a tasting entitled “Meeting God”. The promised divinity was the 2003 Cheval Blanc, arguably the top Chateau of St. Emilion on Bordeaux’s right bank. Some people who know Bordeaux well claim the 1947 Cheval Blanc is the best wine every made; a 6 litre bottle recently sold at auction for $304,375. 2003, on the other hand, was a scorching, hot vintage that produced wines of uneven quality at best which tempered my expectations a bit. But, you know, God even in a bad vintage ought to be really impressive.
The first impression was impressive indeed. The most opulent, exotic nose I’ve experienced on a Bordeaux showing explosive, delineated blackberry, leather, cocoa, and wet leaves. The palate however didn’t quite deliver. It was crisp, energetic and full of dried fruit but the stiff, dry tannins seemed to dominate the fruit. Over time gravel notes emerged and the midpalate softened as the nose gained a floral aspect but within an hour of aeration it was rapidly fading. A lovely wine but the basis for only a negative theology.
In the wine world I suspect monotheism is not the best ontotheology anyway. Hinduism as practiced in India where every clan, village and occupation has its own deity to worship is more representative of wine deities.
And I did find Enlightenment at this tasting. The elusive, seldom revealed Barolo demiurge made an appearance in the guise of the Poderi Luigi Einaudi “Cannubi” bottling. This 2004 was stunning with a midpalate richness and polished decadence rarely found in Barolo.
But the most divine revelation was how well a Southern California upstart showed amongst these Gods of the wine world. I slipped a Syrah from Ramona (San Diego) into the mix, the Edwards Cellars “mature oak” 2012. It completely stumped the blind tasters including yours truly. We all thought it was Italian with its energy, bright acidity and supple mouthfeel. Jaws dropped when its origin was revealed; it was among the best wines of the evening.
It was probably best that God remained hidden. Nothing good can come of the uninitiated discovering the truth that God is fermented grape juice