Crush

Crush 2014
A Fine Wine Affair
Sunday, October 26, 2014
5 – 8 pm
Inn at Laurel Point

Crush ~ A Fine Wine Affair ~ returns for a fourth year as the Belfry Theatre’s fundraising event of the season.  The beautiful Inn at Laurel Point provides the perfect setting for an evening of fine wine, sumptuous catering, and exceptional company.

Enjoy fine wine tastings from more than 20 of BC’s best wineries.  Executive Chef Takashi Ito will dazzle your palate with exquisite cuisine paired perfectly with the fine wines poured by our vintner friends.

Wineries featured at Crush will include Arrowleaf Cellars, Bartier Bros., Bella Vineyards & Wine Caves, Church & State Wines, Covert Farms Family Estate, de Vine Vineyards, Eau Vivre Winery, Ex Nihilo Vineyards, Fairview Cellars, Glenterra Vineyards, Hester Creek Estate Winery, Inniskillin Wines, Lake Breeze Vineyards, Marichel Vineyard, Nagging Doubt Wines, Nk’Mip Cellars, Stag’s Hollow, Symphony Vineyards, Thornhaven Estates, Unsworth Vineyards, Upper Bench Estate Winery, and Wild Goose Winery.

The evening’s main attraction is a live Wine Auction of rare, unusual, or simply hard-to-find wines. Roshan Vickery of Kilshaw’s Auctioneers and  Vancouver sommelier Keith Nicholson join us again as auctioneer and auction host extraordinaire.  The live auction is a remarkable theatrical experience unto itself!  Whether you are an experienced oenophile or simply a lover of good wine, you will find a wonderful range of spectacular wines in every price bracket.

Also featured is a Silent Auction where you can bid on rare wines, luxury dining experiences, custom travel packages, and one-of-a-kind treasures and adventures.

Join us!

Tickets on sale now
$95 (includes a generous tax receipt)
Please call 250-385-6815 or order your tickets by clicking here.

Coming from out of town? A special room rate is available at the Inn at Laurel Point to make your Crush experience unforgettable. $99 for a room in the Laurel Wing or $159 for a room in the Erickson Wing. Simply call the Inn at Laurel Point at (250) 386-8721 and mention Crush.

Fine Wine Live Auction

With many thanks to wine expert Robert Moyes for writing the exciting previews of some of the fine wines featured in our live auction.

Torbreck Run Rig Shiraz: 2002 (Australia)
Donated by: Liquor Plus
A bold and vibrant Shiraz (or Syrah as they call it in France) that is lifted with just a tiny percentage of Viognier. This one comes from South Australia’s Barossa Valley, and is a flagship wine from David Powell, widely considered one of the greatest wine producers in the world. The Run Rig has an inky colour and power to match, with aromas and flavours of black raspberries, cassis, smoke and graphite. It features bold fruit from old-vine holdings, yet those luxuriant flavours are held in check by a European-style commitment to elegance and balance. Robert Parker adored this wine, bestowing it with 99 points before writing in The Wine Advocate: “Extraordinarily opulent and rich . . . it gets my nod as one of the most remarkable wines made in either the Southern or Northern Hemisphere.” CellarTracker rated this one in the mid-90s, with one scribe noting: “Lush mouthfeel, lots of dark fruit. Jammy, tasty stuff. I definitely loved it.” Throw in a long finish and this sounds like an unforgettable dinner companion.

Gaston Chiquet Champagne: 2004 (France)
Mission Hill Martin’s Lane Riesling: 2012 (Okanagan)
Mission Hill Martin’s Lane Viognier: 2012 (Okanagan)
Laughing Stock Amphora VRM: 2013 (Okanagan)
J.P. Brun Beaujolais Blanc: 2012 (France)
Black Hills Sequentia: 2005 (Okanagan)
Donated by Ernest Sargent
From an introductory flute of Champagne to a dessert wine to finish, this six-pack of premium whites is perfect to accompany a truly memorable dinner. The Gaston Chiquet Champagne garnered points in the low to mid-90s, with the Wine Advocate writing: “. . . bursts from the glass with terrific energy and sheer class.” We shift to the Okanagan for a great pair from Mission Hill: the Martin’s Lane Riesling and the Martin’s Lane Viognier, sophisticated and beguilingly aromatic wines. The Riesling has a nose of lime and peach that leads to lime flavours infusing a subtle core of minerality. The Viognier is intensely aromatic, offering orange rind and apricot. On the palate it’s a veritable fruit basket, with seductive notes of tangerine, apricot, nectarine and wild flower honey. We then move up the road to Laughing Stock, for a late harvest wine made the very old-fashioned way: in a terracotta clay amphora. This is a classic Rhone-style blend of Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne, and only 136 cases were produced. CellarTracker gave it 92 points, noting that it was, “A white wine for red wine drinkers! Very rich and aromatic.” And now it’s back to France for the J.P. Brun Beaujolais Blanc, a rare Chardonnay hailing from a region known for its light and fresh reds. It totally won over the folks at WineGeeks, who wrote: “On the palate it features a bracing acidity, with flavours of honeydew melon, grapefruit, lemon and gooseberry.” And let’s finish with the Black Hills Sequentia, a late-harvest dessert wine derived from Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Tony Gismondi rated this an 88, praising its “round, elegant, somewhat sweet style with light apricot, butter, lees, honey, canned pineapple, and floral flavours. The best yet from Black Hills.”

Clos du Grand Puceau, St. Emilion: 2003 (France)
Donated by Matthew and Amy Mitchell
Saint-Emilion is a famed wine region located on the right bank of the Dordogne, and represents 6% of the wine-producing area of Bordeaux. One of the area’s Grand Cru bottlings is the Clos du Grand Puceau, which yielded a tasty vintage in 2003. Information on the winery isn’t abundant, but here are some comments on the wine in question. One fan from CellarTracker gave it a 91 and wrote: “Beautiful mature Bordeaux. Wish I had more.” A Canadian review, Rod Phillips On Wine, gave it four stars and a tasty rave: “This Merlot-based blend from the hot 2003 vintage is characterized by consistent fruit right through the palate, and a seam of vibrant acidity. The tannins are supple and easy-going and the components harmonize nicely.” And Vintages Review was also generous in its praise: “This cedary and integrated Merlot-Cabernet blend . . . offers an appealing mineral-rich profile with good intensity and savoury character.”

Château de Beaucastel: 2006 (France)
Donated by Everything Wine
Located in the southern part of the Rhone Valley, Château de Beaucastel is a widely respected producer of Châteauneuf du Pape, one of the most richly flavoured wines made in France. The estate dates from the 1500s and has been in the Perrin family for four generations. Their winemakers eschew chemical treatments, and use a very “hand-made” approach with their wines, which are matured in the cellar for extended periods. The 2006 vintage was certainly impressive, with CellarTracker awarding an average of 92 points. Comments ranged from “really excellent example of a Châteauneuf du Pape” to “silky on the tongue and through the finish.” One lad at Wine Align gave it top marks and this rave: “This is a gorgeous wine. Big, bold fruit, earth, smoke and leather . . . just . . . wow.” The Wine Advocate gave it a 95, with these comments: “The medium to full bodied palate provides a good concentration of juicy berry fruit countered by medium to high acidity and a medium level of velvety tannins. Wonderfully balanced.” And the Wine Spectator also bestowed 95 points, and these tantalizing remarks: “Powerful, with a round, almost creamy core of blackberry and raspberry fruit all layered with cocoa, sweet toast, mesquite and fig paste. Long and rich through the finish.” All we can add is, Where’s the roast lamb? And given that this is a one-litre bottle, please remember that it’s always nice to share with friends!

Château La Fleur-Pétrus, Pomerol: 1989 (France)
Donated by Art Barber
Situated just across the road from the beyond-legendary Château Pétrus, the relatively small estate of Château La Fleur-Pétrus produces fewer than 4,000 cases a year and favours a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. Despite being overshadowed by neighbours such as Pétrus and Lafleur, this is nonetheless one of the more celebrated châteaus in Pomerol, the smallest appellation in Bordeaux. In general, La Fleur-Pétrus is known for its finesse and a subtle feminine quality emphasizing grace over power. The 1989 vintage tended to receive compliments more so than raves. CellarTracker ratings ranged from 88 to 94 points (La Fleur-Pétrus owner Edouard Moueix has commented that there was a lot of bottle variation for the 1989 vintage). One big fan called this “a gorgeous wine at its peak . . . elegant and intense”; another, more representative comment, observed “palate is all cool elegance and finesse but with no wow factor.” The Wine Cellar dubbed it “Pomerol light” and gave it a decent 89 points. Robert Parker was very positive, bestowing 91 points and calling it “a very impressive, gorgeous . . . deep and very pure.” He also commented on its “notes of underbrush, dried herbs, caramel, sweet cedar, and jammy black cherries” before stating it would be fully mature by 2015.

Château Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac: 1988, (France)
Donated by an anonymous donor
Not many people argue with Hugh Johnson when he says that Bordeaux boasts the highest concentration of great winemaking in the world. And even though prices for these iconic wines keep heading into the stratosphere, serious collectors will always be chasing after the glorious brand names of this fabled region of France. One of the most legendary producers is Château Mouton Rothschild, which makes the Medoc’s most opulent tipple. Since 1945, Mouton Rothschild has commissioned great artists to design a unique label for each vintage; 1988 was Keith Haring’s year, and the one-time street artist came up with a marvelously naïve doodle. But what’s inside the bottle is equally artful, and anything but naïve. The Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker was delighted with the vintage, opining: “The 1988 Mouton has an attractive aroma of exotic spices, minerals, coffee, black currants, and sweet oak. The bouquet is staggering. . . . will last 20-25 years.” Wine Spectator bestowed a rating of 94. And one of the writers at WineAccess got downright gushy about this profound Pauillac: “Great from beginning to end, this is what a Bordeaux should taste like. Awesome!” There was a pitched battle for an identical bottle at last year’s Crush auction, and here’s a second chance to get your hands on a truly superb wine.

Château Léoville Las Cases, Saint-Julien: 1988 (France)
Donated by an anonymous donor
Château Léoville Las Cases produces a Grand Vin of the same name that was ranked as one of the 15 Second Growths in Bordeaux’s official wine classification of 1855. The estate has nearly 100 hectares of planted vines, and the ravishing quality of their wine is partly credited to the area’s complex terroir. It is oft noted that Las Cases abuts the legendary Château Latour, and the Wine Spectator’s James Suckling is one of many claret connoisseurs who thinks that the “structured and racy” wines of Las Cases deserve promotion to Premier Cru Classé. And the redoubtable Hugh Johnson had this to say in his Pocket Wine Book about the wines produced by this renowned château: “Elegant complex powerful austere wines, for immortality.” But what about the 1988 vintage? The various wine experts at CellarTracker simply loved this wine, consistently giving it ratings in the 95-97 range. Their comments were appropriately effusive for such a high ranking: “. . . a magnificent experience. Cedar, pencil, tobacco, black cherry and spicy wet stones . . . bliss! What a fantastic wine! This beats the ’88 Latour hands down.” The Wine Advocate gave it 92 points while noting, “This wine continues to show brilliantly . . . rather classic Medoc.” And please note that there are two of these beauties at auction. Bet you can’t drink just one!

Château La Tour Figeac: 2005 (France)
Château Carbonnieux: 2005 (France)
Château Pibran: 2005 (France)
Château La Tour de Mons: 2005 (France)
Château Lanessan: 2005 (France)
Château D’Aiguilhe: 2005
 (France)
Donated by Ian & Gloria Back
Want to take a wine tour of Bordeaux, but just can’t face the hassle of air travel (including that $25 checked-baggage fee)? Here is the perfect chance to experience the vinous pleasures of half a dozen fabled regions of Bordeaux without having to go farther than your wine cellar. 2005 is considered one of the greatest vintages in a century. Here’s what’s on the tour. Château Pibran, a popular cru bourgeois estate in classy Pauillac, was championed by Wine Spectator with a 92 rating and this high praise from James Suckling: “There’s such beauty to this . . . the best Pibran in a long time.” Château La Tour Figeac is a Grand Cru from Saint-Emillon, from a small estate neighbouring Cheval Blanc; it earned scores in the 90-93 range, with CellarTracker handing out the compliments: “Full-bodied, rich, and very intense.” Château Carbonnieux is another Grand Cru, this one from the Pessac-Léognan region. Ratings spanned 88-91, with comments ranging from respectful to fawning (“Rich and sweet with dark fruit and oaky spice. A flattering first impression” – Decanter.com). Château La Tour de Mons hails from Margaux and its 2005 bottling earned a lot of 90 ratings. Comments ranged from “I’m very impressed with this wine” to “. . . shows lovely perfume to go along with the cedar and earthy notes.” Château Lanessan is a cru bourgeois supérieur in the Haut-Medoc region. The 2005 tended to score in the high 80s, attracting accolades such as “terrific value” and “overall, a pleasure to drink.” Considered one of the most beautiful vineyards in the Côtes de Castillon region, Château D’Aiguilhe earned a lot of 90 ratings for its 2005 bottling. Here’s what the Wine Advocate had to say: “Their finest wine to date . . . enjoy this superb, bargain-priced claret over the next 8-10 years.”

Osoyoos Larose: 2009 (Okanagan)
Donated by Patrick (Paddy) Stewart
After 12 years at the helm of Osoyoos Larose, one of the Okanagan’s flagship wineries, Bordeaux-raised Pascal Madevon has recently passed the reins over to fellow countryman Mathieu Mercier, who was also trained in Bordeaux. Happily, Larose’s “grand vin” continues to be a polished and urbane palate pleaser, and the 2009 vintage boasts that characteristically boldly layered style and near-endless depth of flavour. Expect notes of coffee, chocolate, and spice emerging from a rich core of raspberry and plum fruit flavours. This is a true Bordeaux blend, containing mostly Merlot alongside Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. Not surprisingly from a serious Bordeaux-trained winemaker, this is designed for a long stint in the cellar – anything from an additional four years to a decade or more. But when the wait is over, this beauty will make a literally breath-taking appearance at the dinner table: it’s a Methuselah, complete with fancy wooden presentation box, whose monster bottle contains six liters of some of the Okanagan’s most lush and lamb-friendly wine. The Globe and Mail’s Beppi Crosariol gave this vintage a 92 and said that it “delivers in a way that few New World reds can.” John Schreiner, who contends that Larose can compete with some of the best wines from Bordeaux, gave it a 94. Consider this the centrepiece to a truly epic dinner party!

Nota Bene: 2004/2005/2006, (Okanagan)
Donated by Elaine Curling
Probably the Okanagan’s most coveted cult wine, Nota Bene (“take note”) is the flagship bottling produced by Oliver-based Black Hills Estate Winery. This is a Bordeaux-style blend that, unusual for the Okanagan, is dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon. The result is a wine characterized by a bold, stylish opulence that reminds many of Pomerol. This auction lot allows the lucky winner to have their own “vertical tasting,” meaning they can appreciate the differences between three sequential vintages. B.C.’s leading wine writer, John Schreiner, was at such a tasting – but for 12 vintages, lucky devil! Of the 2004 he wrote, “The wine begins with spicy berry aromas, leading to flavours of black currants, plum and cigar box.” The 2005 was his favourite year of all, and he enthused about the “seductive aroma of vanilla and cassis.” (He also liked how the wine delivered “a big spoonful of sweet fruit to the palate.”) The 2006 was also a hit, judging by these comments: “. . . full on the palate, with distinctive aromas and flavours of blueberry and cassis.” The WineCellar palates are also fans, rating these wines in the low 90s. They also advise proud owners to drink up soon!

Château Palmer, Margaux: 2005 (France)
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien: 1986 (France)
Donated by Scott Fowler
A cherished “third growth” from the Margaux region, which is noted for the subtly perfumed nature of its wines. Made from a blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 7% Petit Verdot, the dark-purple tinged 2005 has been universally hailed for its sweetness and opulence as much as its weight and power. Although impatient hedonists can start drinking this as early as 2017, it is expected to persist beyond 2045. The Wine Advocate was a huge fan of this vintage, lauding its delicious aromas of black currants, plums, and licorice while giving it a walloping 97 points. And International Wine Cellar noted that it was “compellingly sweet and explosive on the palate . . . downright massive, not to say decadent. A pure liquid confection.” Sounds like you won’t even need a dessert wine on the menu when you’re sipping this beauty!
Situated on two plateaus between Pauillac and Margaux, Saint-Julien is a very well regarded sub-region of the Medoc. And one of its most esteemed “second growths” comes from Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, one of the oldest wine-producing estates in the Medoc. With a mixture of 70% cab and 30% merlot, their flagship wine is concentrated, flavourful, and structured to age well for decades. The 1986 inspired Robert Parker in the Wine Advocate to write, “The Ducru possesses a dark ruby colour with purple nuances. Initially the bouquet is restrained, but with coaxing it reveals scents of lead pencil, sweet cranberry and black currant fruit nicely intertwined with aromas of steel, minerals, and earth. Rich and medium- to full-bodied, this is an intensely concentrated Ducru-Beaucaillou with formidable aging potential.” Oh, and he gave it a 92 and added that it could present well to 2030.

Comte de Lauvia Armagnac: 1934 (France)
Donated by Gale Penhall
Here’s a first for Crush: a vintage Armagnac from one of the great houses of France! As cherished as Cognac by many brandy connoisseurs, Armagnac hails from the region of the same name in Gascony in southwest France. This single-distilled spirit often spends more time in oak barrels than its more famous double-distilled cousin; as a result, say its partisans, what ends up in the snifter often has more finesse and roundness than its rival from Cognac. Gascony provided many gallant musketeers to the French king, and it’s not much of stretch to imagine a hint of swashbuckling panache mixed with pure elegance in this superb libation. Comte de Lauvia produces some of the world’s greatest Armagnacs, and has won innumerable awards at international tasting competitions. Their 1934 bottling is extremely rare and valuable as it is a non-blended single barrel vintage. Comte de Lauvia distills its brandy at a uniquely low strength to preserve more of its rustic character, resulting in a spirit of exceptional smoothness with intense flavours of prune, fig, wood, and forest fruits. Although tasting notes on some of their less expensive products are available online – and were impressive indeed – the 1934 is such a high-end libation that it seems reviewers are expected to buy their own darn bottle. Here’s your chance!

Pol Roger Brut: 1999 (France)
Donated by an anonymous donor
The monk who invented champagne declared, “I am drinking stars!” In the four centuries since then, enthusiasm for sparkling wine has only increased. The Champagne district – home to the world’s best bubblies – has many notable houses, and Pol Roger is certainly in the front rank. (It was Winston Churchill’s favourite sparkler, and Pol Roger currently holds the “royal warrant” as purveyors of champagne to Queen Elizabeth II.) Although their white-foil non-vintage bottlings make for a delightful tipple, Pol Roger’s vintage champagne is always a notable thrill to drink. The 1999, with its mix of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, is drinking very well right now, opulent and full-bodied, with a fine mix of minerality and racy acidity. As the Wine Searcher enthused: “The nose is full of expressive character . . . [and] the palate has a supple and creamy texture, engendered in particular by its soft and accessible mousse. In short, this is a delicious wine.” And given that champagne always seems to run out long before you’ve had enough, it just makes sense to buy this magnum and get ready for some serious celebrating!

Marilyn Pose #2, Red Velvet Collection: 2002 (California)
Donated by Paul Psyllakis, The Black Olive
Premium quality Napa Valley reds are sometimes thought of as sex in a bottle, but few have the truly tantalizing pleasures of the “Red Velvet Collection” series. This fancy, limited-edition release is a blended red that memorializes Marilyn Monroe via unforgettable label art while offering discerning palates a voluptuous intertwining of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The series began in 2002, so this is of particular interest to collectors. The Marilyn Pose #2 comes in an individually numbered magnum bottle complete with luxury packaging – highlighted by a provocative image of the soon-to-be-famous Norma Jean posing at her most uninhibited (drawn from the legendary 1949 photo shoot involving Marilyn, an expanse of red velvet . . . and nothing else). But let’s focus on what’s inside the bottle for a minute. According to NapaCabs.com this ravishing beauty has real star power: “Seductive aromas of fresh violets, blackberry, and cassis. It offers lots of fresh dark berry fruit flavours, with just a touch of chocolate and cinnamon.” The Red Velvet series is coveted and collectable – and not just for the unique, eye-popping packaging. A glass of Pose #2 should seduce even the fussiest oenophile. And what’s it worth to be able to boast you’ve had Marilyn over for dinner?

Dominus: 1998 (California)
Donated by Shellie and Mike Gudgeon, Il Terrazzo
Dominus is an iconic, Bordeaux-style blend from the Napa Valley that was created in partnership with famed Bordeaux producer Christian Moueix (Château Pétrus, Château Trotanoy). The property itself was producing wine back to the 1850s, and was regarded as a source of premium fruit in the 1940s and ‘50s. Moueix, a longtime lover of Napa Valley, began to develop the property in 1982 and became its sole owner in 1995. Not surprisingly, the flagship Dominus bottling has power and restraint: these are California wines with a distinct French accent. And they are a big hit with the critics. The Wine Spectator gave the 1998 vintage 91 points, and had this to say: “Earthy, elegant and refined Cabernet blend, delivering layers of currant, tar, black cherry, cedar, coffee and anise, all sharply focused and framed by just the right amount of tannin.” International Wine Cellar gave it a 90, and noted, “Aromas of cherry, raspberry, smoked meat, roasted tomato, earth and tobacco leaf. Silky and fairly deep, with slightly truffley chocolate and tobacco flavors. Finishes big but with suave tannins and a hint of licorice.” And the thirsty folk at CellarTracker gave similar ratings, and lots of praise. This comment was representative: “Nose of minerals, blackberry, and a bit of desert underbrush. In the mouth, elegant throughout; velvety approach and in perfect balance. Wow.” Indeed.

Rochioli Little Hill Pinot Noir: 2012 (California)
Rochioli Chardonnay: 2012 (California
)
Rochioli Sauvignon Blanc: 2013 (California)
Donated by Brian Dunn, Smugglers’ Cove
Here are three new releases from Rochioli, a third-generation family-run winery with a reputation for superlative winemaking. Rochioli hails from the Russian River Valley, probably California’s most premium Pinot Noir region, and their 2012 Little Hill bottling is impressive indeed, earning 93-95 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. It also garnered a 93 from International Wine Cellar, which added: “. . . sweet black raspberry and cherry liqueur flavours nicely lifted by tangy acidity. Very good concentration.” The Chardonnay from the same year was also notable, consistently getting reviews in the low 90s. The Wine Advocate offered this mouth-watering assessment: “Lots of orange marmalade, caramelized citrus, honeysuckle and background wet gravelly minerality. Medium-bodied and loaded with fruit, it should drink nicely for 5-6 years.” Jumping ahead one year to the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc we find another savoury performer that consistently gets 90- to 92-point evaluations. The comments from the palates at CellarTracker ranged from “Crisp, dry, focused – beautiful summer wine!” to “Definitely one of California’s best SBs.”

E. Guigal La Turque, Côte-Rôtie: 2004 (France)
Donated by Liquor Plus
France’s Rhone region produces some of the most elegant and distinctive wines in all France, and this E. Guigal La Turque is truly spectacular. Guigal is one of the most golden names in the world of Rhone wines, and his La Turque comes from Côte-Rôtie, a prestigious red-wine appellation at the northern tip of the Rhone Valley. It is noted for its steep slopes, and the interesting practice of sometimes blending a bit of Viognier with their otherwise all-Syrah bottlings. (This vintage contains 7% Viognier.) Voicing frankly erotic enthusiasm for the 2004 vintage, Stephen Tanzer of International Wine Cellar bestowed 99 points before gushing, “Deep, sweet and fleshy, with concentrated cherry/berry flavors, nervy minerality and a broad, expansive finish.” The fine folk at CellarTracker also fell into a swoon over this Rhone beauty, giving it scores in the low to mid 90s. Their tasting notes ranged from: “Bacon fat, smoked meat, plum sauce, black cherry. . . . Still seems on the young side, but has finesse and balance to last and improve” to “Quite the majestic showing tonight . . . this is an archetype of Côte-Rôtie.” Irish fine-wine specialists Mitchell & Son noted that this “intensely aromatic, powerful and elegant” wine combined aspects of “virility” with “subtlety and femininity.” Sheesh, are these wine reviews or quotes from a dating website? Yum.

Oremus Tokaji Eszencia: 2000 (Hungary)
Donated by Everything Wine
For over 400 years Hungary has been delighting wine connoisseurs with Tokaji (Tokay), a gloriously concentrated and penetrating dessert wine that combines honeyed sweetness with a high level of acid. These wines are such a source of national pride that this “nectar” is mentioned in the Hungarian national anthem. Usually made from the Furmint grape varietal, Tokaji is derived via the “noble rot” process whereby a harmless mould desiccates the grapes and concentrates their sugars. In the case of Eszencia, the juice of aszú berries is added to the wine, resulting in an intensity of flavour that is almost unequaled. There aren’t many reviews available for something this rare, but some lucky devil at the Wine Spectator got his hands on a glass and was happy to award it 98 points. The comments are equally impressive: “Smelling like fresh peach and apricot, this intensely concentrated dessert wine is thick and supple, picking up hints of orange and butter cookie as it plays out toward the finish. Offers great texture and the sweetness is balanced by vibrant acidity. One hundred cases made.” This wine should be eminently drinkable until 2040 – but who wants to wait that long?

Chateau Mouton Rothschild: 1989 (France)
Donated by an anonymous donor
Georg Baselitz’s upside-down rams for the Mouton Rothschild 1989 label bring together the traditional Mouton emblem with the great historical shock of that year: the demolition of the Berlin Wall. He has added the words “Drüben sein jetzt hier” – “Over there is now over here”.
With a rating of 96 points from Wine Spectator, this wine shows so much ripe and decadent fruit on the nose, from dried berries and raisin to strawberry and sultana. There is a nutty, cedar undertone as well. Very complex and full-bodied, with lots of vanilla bean and ripe plum flavors. This is almost Burgundian in texture: so soft and so attractive, but then the Bordeaux tannins kick in at the end. What a wine. So much ahead in its life, but just coming around now.