For some, the tension was palpable last night at my American friends' place. As if it were a matter of life and death, they were sitting there, knees trembling, waiting for the first results of the president's election. The host, my wine-friend and political cynic, Sean, who affectionately calls me Klaus Kinski, and I him Werner Herzog in reply, had asked me to help him as a sommelier at his election party. For a colourful group of wine lovers, artists and philosophers he had prepared a gorgeous selection of wines as well as a tasteful Italian buffet from Trattoria "Casa del Gusto".
At my entrance I was offered a full glass of gewürztraminer. Not a tiny litle Alsace glass, but a serious Bordeaux Grand Cru size. I knew from that moment on that my skills as a sommelier weren't superfluous, and I poured my glass into 4 other ones. It will always be a guess for me, how on earth he thought of starting with this overripe Zind-Humbrecht Herrenweg Turckheim 2000. De Indonesian foodmarket was nothing compared to this one. But I could tell by the red cheeks of our guests that it was a heart-warming glass. The comparison with "Southern comfort" was applicable to the first results of Louisiana.
Time to intervene before it all would go wrong. got everyone gargling with Spa Blauw, and served a Dobogo furmint 2005 by Isabelle Zwack from Hungary. Not at all fair after the aromatic power of the previous wine, but gradually the taste came back. A gastronomical wine, that is served at Vyne by the glass. It always makes me laugh to serve this one blind; you hear the most ridiculous things, such as being a blend of riesling and chardonnay!
Then I served two white Burgundies. First a Saint Aubin 1er cru "en Remilly" 2006 by Domaine Langoureau, a fresher style, youthful, but with the unmistakable finesse of this top-terroir. Only a stone's throw away from Le Montrachet, so nothing one could complain about it. The tasting took the right direction. We continued that with a Meursault "les Narvaux" 2004 by Karel de Graaf, who owns 0,5 ha in partnership with Vincent Girardin. Minerally, sharp-edged Meursaults, no fat wine here, this is pure elegance, just like the maker himself...
After that moment, the Bordeaux were served. Sean had a fine number of 2005 cases received from London and Paris, and wanted to share some with us. Of course he will keep most of his wines for ageing, but even young, they were intersting to taste. I will summarize them:
* Clos les Lunelles (Cotes de Castillon). The absolute star in this rather obscure, but strongly improving appellation. Gerard Perse makes this wine for those who love full-bodied, fleshy, ripe wines. This one will throw many classified St Emilions in the shade. Intense colour, great length, Michel Rolland's influence is palpable. Not always my taste, but this wine is fine enough not to be tiring.
* Feytit-Clinet (Pomerol), very deep nose of black fruit, ripe, but with some well-structured tannins and new oak. Impressive.
* Grand-Corbin-Despagne (St. Emilion), somewhat more robust, smoky, strong, very deep. Not a seducer, but it has a future.
* Smith Haut-Lafitte (Pessac-Léognan). A mighty wine, already, while it begs for ageing. Beside espresso, smoke, ceder and licorice, many complex tones of blackcurrants, blackberries and spices. Even the bottle itself is a beauty with its french lilies.
* La Gaffelière (St. Emilion). Another monumental wine! To those who hadn't noticed yet: 2005 was a vintage, characterized by a perfect ripeness level and sweet tannins, supported by fine acidity. A vintage made for ageing, but now in it's youth already delicious! Plenty of spices, earthiness, smoke and dark fruit.
* Lascombes (Margaux). Not an easy one, the cabernet gives this one a less joyful, more structured character, but has a very good structure. Firm tannins, that are well-integrated in this intellectual wine. Every sip offers new nuances, firstly smoky wood and espresso, then slowly a perfume of blackberries and violets appears.
The first results were warning, but when Obama clearly seemed to be winning, we opened up a Pape Clément 2003. I like to call myself a Burgundian, but this generous Pessac-Léognan almost made me losing my religion. Intensely smelling of a simmering barbecue, earthy, with graphite and herbs. Not so much fruit, but a powerful body, lovely strong tannins and a finish that makes you dizzy.
After this Bordeaux session, we could use something different, Domaine Marcoux 2000 and Vieille Julienne 2003, both Châteauneuf-du-Pape, were our lucky choice. Port-like wines, high alcohol, ripenes, figs, sweet cherries and a touch of oriental spices. Not a bit tired, were these wines with great ageing potential. The atmosphere had been great all-night, but improved by every minute. I could finish my duty, so now it was time for me to enjoy a good glass. Sean served us Canelloni, an Italian dessert, with some half-bottles of "Sélection de grains nobles" gewürztraminer and pinot gris, all by Zind-Humbrecht. Timing was perfect this time! Intensely ripe, as sweet as honey, with refreshing acidity. Hard to imagine that this was a man-made product, and not God's nectar! The right partner for America's euphoria. It was late at night now and Obama triumphed. A memorable night!