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Chateau Cheval Blanc vertical tasting 1950 -2001
by Serge Birbrair

We were not supposed to be there. I posted about the event 4 months ago on the boards but when we tried to book it in January - the event was solidly booked. The day before yesterday we've got the call from www.winewatch.com that 2 people cancelled. Whoo-hoo, we going in!

The funny aspect of it as we found out yesterday, the reason 2 folks cancelled was they had a teeth cleaning the day before, and I took the call in...dental office, 15 minutes after teeth cleaning, while Sue was having hers! Bacchus works in mysterious ways.

The wines came from the cellars of "Dr. Bob", the The Great Wine Seminar founder, among other distinctions.

Reception wine:
2001 Chateau Smith Haut Lafite Blanc, Pessac-Leognan
Mineral, complex, herbal finish. The pairing with spicy BBQ shrimp was wrong, IMHO.

Flight One:
1950 Chateau Cheval Blanc
Young, a bit tannic, cedary and alas the last bottle Dr. Bob had. My pick of the flight.

1964 La Gaffeiliere
Too sweet for my taste.

1964 Chateau Cheval Blanc
Layers and layers, my #2. Will I get the last bottle at $1,122? No.

1970 Chateau Cheval Blanc
Green notes, bell pepper, I haven't finished the glass.

Flight Two:
"The Golden Decade"

1982 Chateau Canon
Excellent! Breath taking. "Wow" wine.

1982 Chateau Cheval Blanc
Sweet tannins coating the mouth, light hints of petroleum, this wine is still not ready and needs bottle time. Highly rated by Parker at 99 points (Sorry, James Suckling, the only scores and TN's provided in the cheat sheet were from Dr. Bob's partner in Beaux Freres) with anticipated maturity 2000-2015. It still isn't there in 2006.

1983 Chateau Cheval Blanc
My pick of the flight. 95 Parker points don't serve this wine enough justice. Yesterday it was just perfect.

1985 Chateau Canon
too sweet, seems to be the style of the Chateau.

1985 Chateau Cheval Blanc
got no notes from me and I don't wain quote Parker. Very rarely I taste what he tastes. I was too busy talking shop with Bob & Arlette Cataldo, the current organizers of The Great Wine Seminar in Palm Beach. (March 10- March 12)

1988 Chateau Cheval Blanc
So-so

Between the 2nd and 3rd flights everybody introduced themselves and what the group that was! Folks came from Bahamas, France, St Louis, Montreal, just to attend this tasting. Men and women split equally. Local Floridians were the minority. (no wonder we couldn't get a reservation in January!) I introduced myself as "My name is Serge and I am an alcoholic.." than I realised I am at the wrong meeting.

Flight Three:

1990 Chateau La Conseillante, Pomerol
Tannic and still too young.

1990 Chateau Cheval Blanc
Very Good!

1996 Chateau Cheval Blanc
Light, the "weakest link" of the flight.

1998 Chateau Pavie
"The bruhaha wine" of the flight, I marked my cheat sheet with: Concentrated WOW! Mouth watering beauty! 3 out of 16 attendees pronounced the wine corked. Gave me: "You are so lucky you don't feel it" shpils, but I stuck to my guns that that was one of the best Pavies I ever had. Surely enough, when we were leaving, in an hour, and "Bordeaux funk" dissipated, 3 folks had to eat the crow that wine was NOT corked at all. I wished I offered to finish their glasses while they were convinced they got the dud. I'll do that the next time.

1998 Chateau Ausone
Overly alcoholic, I didn't dig this one.

1998 Chateau Cheval Blanc
Still "green". Dr. Bob suggested we all re-try them in 2008 on their 10 years vintage anniversary and the motion been passed.

Flight Four

2000 Chateau Cheval Blanc
Huge, do not open the bottle for 15 years. I won't spend $682 for a bottle, as I am afraid this wine will outlive me and I'll never have a chance to try it in it's prime. Those who bought it as a "birth year " wine - I suggest you open it to celebrate your children Second Divorce, and skip the usual opening at 21.

2001 Chateau Cheval Blanc
1/3rd the price of 2000, but not 1/3 of a wine.

Dessert:
1990 Raymond-Lafon Sauterne
Classically good, even though I have to admit, I liked 2001 vintage we had earlier, more.

Overall impression:
Memorable tasting. The wines, the people, the food. We are very glad we "got lucky" and were there and the only thing was missing -
few board members who'd enjoy it and we could compare impressions on the spot live.

by Serge Birbrair


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