The 1st May saw private members’ club 67 Pall Mall in London host a special masterclass à la iDealwine, an evening of truly elegant fare.
67 Pall Mall needs little introduction. This Members-Only club enjoys one of the most fashionable addresses in London and is the British wine lover’s ultimate retreat. Patrick Schmitt MW, editor in chief of the Drinks Business magazine joined forces with iDealwine’s Angélique de Lencquesaing and Arthur de Lencquesaing to guide fellow oenophiles and special customers on a Tour de France. A sublime selection of French wines and valuable insight into the key trends and evolutions in the fine wine market made this masterclass one to remember.
A graceful venue merits a graceful wine and the evening commenced with a tasting of the majestic Cuvée Frederic Emile Riesling 2007 from Domaine Trimbach, a producer that has firmly established itself as the Riesling specialist par excellence in Alsace. This cuvée had a complex and mineral palate that some say can, in its best years, rival the flagship Clos Sainte Hune. It’s a wine that is perhaps best summed up by Hubert Trimbach himself: “concentrated not heavy; fruity, not sweet; bracing rather than fat; polite rather than voluptuous”.
The second wine of the night was for many in the room the star of the show: the Beaune Premier Cru, Vigne de l’Enfant Jésus 2005 from Bouchard Pére et Fils. The Asian market’s recent love affair with Burgundy and a few high quality but low quantity vintages have had an astonishing impact on this region’s performance at auction in recent years. Arthur gave an insightful overview of Burgundy’s transformative year: wines from this region now represent a quarter of wine sold through iDealwine at auction in terms of value. This Beaune Premier Cru was a prime example of why Burgundy is everybody’s darling: 2005 was an exceptional vintage and participants enjoyed tasting it at its drinking peak.
Next, what better way to appreciate the magic of the Loire than by tasting a Chinon from Charles Joguet? Joguet was the first winemaker in this region to produce single vineyard cuvées and his Les Varennes du Grand Clos 2009 was an example of the powerful and elegant wines from this exciting appellation. The natural wine boom currently gripping the market was previously unheard of at auction and interest in natural wine has propelled the Loire into the spotlight in recent years, garnering it a signifcant following amongst Asian and American enthusiasts.
It was Bordeaux’s turn next and participants got stuck into some blind tasting (the Saint Estephe 1995 Cos d’Estournel). Opulent and intense, this wine wowed everyone (even if they weren’t all sure what it was!) and provided a useful contrast to the more tannic and tight Saint Julien 1998 from Château Léoville-Barton. A look into Bordeaux’s recent performance showed that wine buyers are certainly not allergic to Bordeaux: grands crus from this region accounted for 47% of sales in value at iDealwine in 2017.
We then moved east, to the Rhône, where the Châteauneuf-du-Pape 1998 from Clos des Papes was carafed and ready to taste. Coveted by the American market who enjoy a high alcohol and full-bodied style, the Rhône has had recent success at auction. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a major player and this appellation produces more than the whole of the Northern Rhône combined! Wine Spectaor called this cuvée “the most seductive wine in the world”, and it certainly seduced us with its supple texture and spiced notes.
The Jura may only account for 1% of sales on iDealwine but three times more bottles were sold this year than in 2016 on the online platform. These wines are under the radar of many enthusiasts and the Vin Jaune 2008 from Château d’Arlay went some way to explaining why! The oldest winemaking château in France, this domain produces aromatic and complex Vin Jaune (not dissimilar to Sherry). A huge hit and a must try.
As the evening wound down, it was time to open an icon: a Sauternes Premier Cru Classé 1995 from Château Suduiraut. Full-bodied and concentrated, this was an exceptional example of a sweet Bordeaux that Arthur reminded everyone shouldn’t be pigeonholed as a dessert wine. Patrick confessed to being a great Sauternes lover, even in their youth with their pleasing primary aromas. But it didn’t finish there as we had one final, special bottle up our sleeve: the Rivesaltes 1958 from Château Villargeil. This Vin Doux Naturel may not share the same prestige as a Sauternes but it is a woefully underappreciated style of wine. Jancis Robinson describes Rivesaltes as “virtually indestructible” and “a brilliant bargain”. Indeed, where else can you pick up post war bottles at such quality and with such rarity at such prices?
An evening of exceptional wines enjoyed in wonderful company. We’d like to thank all the fellow oenophiles, customers and members who attended. See you next time.
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