Saturday, April 12, 2014

1989 Grand Vin De Leoville Marquis De Las Cases, Saint-Julien

On March 12th the 3-night, 12 hour per week, 17 week Intensive Sommelier Training course finally came to an end. While there was much rejoicing and celebration at the graduation our primary goal still awaited us – passing the Certified Sommelier Exam two weeks later on March 26th. We had each spent about $9,880 for the course (plus money spent on wine tasting for study) and over 200 hours in class.

The 16 people in the class started as complete strangers but we ended as friends. During the week following graduation, the week prior to the Certified Exam, the school offered two study nights led by one of the instructors, Alan Murray MS. These would be our last nights together as a glass and I really wanted to finish the course with a bang so on our last night I brought two bottles of a very special wine to share.

Certified Sommeliers are expected to have memorized not only the 1st Growths of Bordeaux, but the 2nd Growths and the top 3rd Growths as well. I won’t go into the history of the 1855 Classification of Bordeaux, it is a history that is well known and repeated numerous places elsewhere. What many may find surprising is that some of the so-called 2nd Growths of this antiquated classification system at times demand prices that are as high or higher than some vintages of 1st Growths. Thus among wine collectors these bottles can be almost esteemed, revered and nearly worshiped as much as the 1st Growths of Bordeaux, hence they are often referred to as the “Super Seconds”.

2nd Growths of Bordeaux (Deuxièmes Crus)

“Super Seconds” are in Red
Château Pichon Comtesse de Lalande
Château Pichon Longueville Baron
St. Estephe
Château Cos d’Estournel
Château Montrose
St. Julien
Château Ducru Beaucaillou
Château Leoville Las Cases
Château Leoville Barton
Château Leoville Poyferre
Château Rauzan-Ségla
Château Rauzan-Gassies
Château Vivens Durfort
Château Brane

So, on our last meeting as a class, Wednesday March 12th, I brought two bottles of the 1989 Grand Vin De Leoville Marquis De Las Cases. 

While we learned about and practiced decanting bottles of wine in class, we obviously only pretended to open aged bottles. So, it was a unique learning experience to watch Alan Murray MS decant these two bottles and see how gingerly he handled them and how much bitter sediment actually remains in the bottle, in this case about 1/2 glass.

My normal habit for this blog is to describe wines according to their fruit, earth, floral and spice characteristics followed by their structure – tannins, acid, body, alcohol, and length of finish. But such analysis is really only useful for learning to identify a wine in a blind tasting, which for learning about wine is my primary purpose. But I have found that when experiencing really great wines such descriptors fall short of truly conveying the attributes of the wine. But when I read wine critics describe fine wine their language becomes more poetic and vague leaving much to the imagination as to what the wine is truly like. So, while I’ll offer my description of the wine, the truth is sometimes it is like trying to describe the flavors of a beautiful sunset.

This wine displays indescribably delicious flavors of cassis, blackberries, tea-leaf, mushroom, and sweet pipe tobacco. It has very refined and well integrated velvety tannins, well-balanced acidity and a heavenly long finish. It many ways it seems very youthful but it was probably at its peak and would not benefit from any further ageing.

No comments:

Post a Comment