Fête de Bordeaux
This past Sunday, K&L held its 30th Fête de Bordeaux. What first began in 1989 (originally promoting 1986 Bordeaux), has developed into a perennial tradition featuring representatives from some of Bordeaux’s finest estates. This year, we hosted Châteaux Léoville and Langoa Barton from Saint Julien, Château Lynch Bages and Château Ormes de Pez from Pauillac, and Château Figeac and Petit Figeac from Saint Émilion. The event began with a tasting of the 2016 wines, followed by a four-course meal featuring older vintages.
What a way to kick off your vintage notes. If you’re going to get a preview of 2016, this lineup of outstanding estates is a good place to start. During the tasting, there were three tables pouring a total of seven different wines from both the Left Bank and Right Bank. I started with the 2016 Petit Figeac and 2016 Figeac. From St. Emilion, these wines tend to be more open, with supple depth of dark fruit. Right away, the bar was set quite high for the evening. The Figeac was concentrated and rich, with layers of ripe cassis, blackcurrant, tobacco and spices, framed by ripe tannins. In this vein, the 2016 Langoa Barton, was also stunning. With a more open structure for earlier consumption, it showed seductive layers of dark fruit and spice, with a broad, deep palate that offered both power and balance. The biggest buzz from the crowd was for the 2016 Lynch Bages, which almost never disappoints. Showing its youth, it had a lively tension and bold tannins that balanced the concentrated fruit, graphite, and toast. This is a wine that will only get finer over time.
The dinner started strong, pairing 2017 Blanc Lynch Bages with a Kampachi Crudo. The wine complemented the dish perfectly, matching the delicacy and depth of the fleshy white fish, grapefruit and mint. The wine, which has a significant amount of Semillon in this vintage, opened with vibrant, intriguing aromatics. The palate was long and broad, rich and bright, full of stone fruit and citrus.
For the second course, a hearty serving of braised beef cheeks was paired with three wines, the 2011 Figeac, the 2007 Langoa Barton and the 2006 Lynch-Bages. Each of these wines, in their various stages of life, offered a voluptuous and bold pairing to the earthy, meaty flavors of the dish. Of the three wines, the Figeac stood out, with deep, dark fruit and supple tannins.
The next set was a series of older vintages paired with a plate of aged Gouda, roasted grapes and Marcona almonds. The 2002 Figeac, in magnum format, showed as much (if not more) structure and intensity as the 2011 in the first set. Immediately apparent on the nose, this wine opened with a hit of peppery spice over dark fruit core. The cooler temperatures of this vintage imparted a tight weave of bright fruit and acids that has held up well over time. The 2001 Lynch-Bages, likewise, was still holding onto its big, muscular frame. This sleeper vintage is showing great balance and depth. The 2004 Léoville Barton flaunted bold aromas that developed into a refined palate of subtle, brambly fruit and cocoa spices.
Dessert was a self-contained apple pie. Rich, sweet apples were wrapped in buttery, flakey crust, drizzled with a cider sauce, and topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and a lace of caramel. The 2010 Suduiraut, Sauternes was the perfect pairing, matching the dish’s decadent richness with its opulent texture, balanced sweetness and layers of botrytized fruit and marmalade.
Beyond the amazing wines and delicious food, the evening reflected K&L’s strong relationship with Bordeaux over the years. Clyde Beffa, along with Nancy Rugus and Ralph Sands, have all been an integral part of the event from the beginning. Each got up to speak at different times about their experiences with the wines and their relationships with the estates. Damien Barton-Sartorius, at 28 years old, was the third-generation from Château Léoville and Langoa Barton to attend and speak at this event. His father, Anthony Barton, had been a staple for years, and Damien continued with a similar easy charm and subtle humor. Following the main course, Frédéric Faye from Château Figeac and Petit Figeac also got up to share about his wines, all of which were showing phenomenally that evening.
An event like this is a reminder that there is no substitute for the tangible experience of holding, tasting, listening and discussing wines. It is the ultimate way to understand the vintage, the region, and the nuances in a glass. It is more than any book or article can provide. If you can, join us for the Union des Grands de Bordeaux (UGC) tasting at METREON this Friday. This another great opportunity to experience the 2016 Bordeaux wines, with over 80 different château owners and representatives pouring their wines from 5:30 - 7:30pm (cost $70/person). And if you can’t make that, then stop in the store on Saturday afternoon for our Bordeaux wine tasting (cost: $20/person). See our website for more details.