On the Trail

Bringing the Deux Rives to San Francisco

David Driscoll

Yesterday was a double-whammy of serious Bordeaux opportunity for our claret-coveting K&L customers: a monster tasting of top Mèdoc properties from both sides of the river, followed by a sit-down dinner event featuring the heads of the chateaux themselves. This wasn't some rinky-dink little dégustation either, but rather a small room along the Embarcadero featuring some very big guns. Château Palmer was in the house. Ducru-Beaucaillou as well. Even heralded first-growth Mouton Rothschild had a table in the action. I was very excited to work the room. Considering tickets were only $50, there was a lot to be excited about.

K&L co-owner and Bordeaux fanatic Clyde Beffa was there in good spirits. You right remember him from the ten days of torture I posted a few weeks ago; all that eating and drinking at the 2015 en primeur he put us through. It's like food and alcohol don't get processed through his liver the same way they do through other meer mortals. He's back at it again each time with just as much vigor as the previous occasion. 

Château Haut-Bailly head honcho Véronique Sanders was also on hand to share her lovely wines. She was assisted by Jeff Garneau and myself as hoards of fans took her attention away from pouring duties. The 2010 Le Parde de Haut Bailly was the sure-fire winner of the night with our customers. In a room full of trophy bottles, her $40 star of a second wine shone even brighter on that colossal stage. I checked the queue this morning and saw customers had been placing orders on their phones while at the tasting. I'm always one to launch into a tirade about the virtue and value of Bordeaux's second wines and last night was no exception. Apparently it worked!

While we were holding down the fort during the tasting, Clyde made sure the wines for dinner were decanted and of good stock. The menu was absolute insanity; a veritable feast of fortune. Seven courses of pure decadence, paired with a vertical coupling of wines. Thinly-sliced pata negra alongside 2000/2008 Haut-Bailly. Gemelli pasta with bacon and morels alongside 1995/2006 Palmer. Pancetta-wrapped sturgeon paired with 1996/2004 Pichon-Lalande. Roasted guinea hen with 2000/2005 Hosanna. Grilled lamb loin with 1996/2005 Mouton-Rothschild. A cheese course paired with 1995/2005 Ducru-Beaucaillou, and finally a torte with a glass of port! Can you spell gout? 

One Market has a private dining room in the back that is really the perfect place to do this kind of event. There's plenty of room, it's easy to access, and it's close to all kinds of public transportation. When you're drinking twelve glasses of high-end Bordeaux after a marathon tasting and dinner event, walking to a nearby BART station is a welcomed luxury. 

Kerri did a great job with the seating arrangements as well. I ended up sitting next to a couple from Modesto—my hometown! We had a lot to talk about as we exchanged Central Valley stories in between sips and bites. Perhaps the most interesting part of the evening was how well the younger wines showed. Jeff, Alex, and I all thought the 2008 Haut-Bailly outshone the 2000, and that the 2004 Pichon-Lalande smoked the 1996. Conventional wisdom would tell you that, given the quality of the 2000 and 1996 vintages, those wines would be the clear winners. Not the case, however. 

That's why every once and a while you need to sit down, open a bunch of bottles, and figure things out for yourself!

-David Driscoll