I attended the pre-auction tasting hosted by Acker Merrall and Condit tonight. Tomorrow is their second HK auction, and they invited registered clients to sample some of the wines from the sale.
Being fanatics, my friends and I lined up outside the door half an hour before the start of the tasting. I know that at these tastings, there's never enough wine for everyone, so you have to get to the best wines first or else it will be gone.
But once the doors opened just before 7pm, I realized that I need not have worried.
The staff at the Shangri-La have been trained to pour just a few tiny droplets into your glass. My guess is that each standard pour is about 10ml (maybe a tad more), which means that a bottle would produce 70 pours or so. They had two bottles of each wine available, so this would serve about 140-150 guests.
Given the tiny quantity of wine in the glass, it was really hard to get a good sense of the nose, let alone an accurate measure of the palate. But here are the broad strokes:
2004 DRC Echezeaux - the very first wine I tasted this evening, and this set the bar high for the rest of the session. Wonderful open nose of smoked meats and prunes. A classic Burg through and through. A little acidic on the palate, but a wine that is drinking beautifully now.
2005 DRC Echezeaux - nose is much more closed compared to the '04, with a lot of smoke. You can sense the intensity but it's just too tight.
2004 Comte de Vogüé Bonnes Mares - nose was a bit smoky but otherwise not showing. Slightly acidic on the palate.
2004 Joseph Roty Charmes-Chambertin Cuvee de Très Vielles Vignes - one of the best surprises of the evening. What an open, gorgeous nose with lots of bacon fat and grilled meats! It's drinking so well I had to go back towards the end of the evening to get additional pours!
2005 Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays - nose had very high alcohol levels, with a bit of sweet fruit.
2005 Jean Grivot Clos de Vougeot - smoky nose with slightly charred bacon and a bit of sweet fruit. Very tannic on the palate.
2005 Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St.-Jacques - beautiful nose of sweet red fruits, smoked meats and sweet grass.
1996 Leroy Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Combottes - the first bottle was definitely cooked and smelled of stewed prunes. The second bottle was much better, with nice sweet nose of strawberries that was really enjoyable.
2005 Anne Gros Richebourg - nose was shut and I thought it was plasticky...a big disappointment.
2005 Bouchard Volnay Les Caillerets Ancienne Cuvée Carnot - pretty open nose, very sweet with animal fat and smoked meats. A nice wine.
1999 Beaucastel Hommage à Jacques Perrin - nose was funky and a bit vegetal, with some Oriental five-spice and stewed prunes.
1998 Guigal La Mouline - initial disappointing as there was not much on the nose and acidic on the palate. The second pour was much better. Third pour from the second bottle was amazing - sweet and classic Côte-Rôtie nose - and the wine is showing amber on the rims.
2005 Chave Hermitage Rouge - powerful smoky nose with a hint of chalk.
1983 Jaboulet La Chapelle - a bit disappointment with nothing but wet chalk in the nose. I've had many bottles tat were much better.
2001 Abreu Madrona Ranch - massive concentration, nose of minerals, iron, vanilla, sweet fruit and a bit of caramel. Really chewy tannins with a long finish.
2003 Sine Qua Non Syrah Atlantis Fe 203 1A - I finally had a chance to taste this, and all I can say is "Wow!" Massively concentrated with oads of sweet fruit, vanilla, minerals, iron, Oriental spices. The nose was just really fragrant and eventually almost Rhone-like.
1995 Latour - smoky, a bit of chalk, and ended up with some sweet fruit. Good but clearly inferior to the '96.
1996 Latour - very powerful nose with classic grilled meats, smoke, a bit of brett and sweet fruit.
1996 Margaux - a very good and classic Bordeaux with smoky nose.
2003 Montrose - a very tannic wine at the moment.
1989 La Conseillante - minty, smoky and sweet nose.
1986 Lafleur - nose of sweet candy.
1982 Lynch-Bages - pretty good classic Bordeaux with smoke and grilled meats in the nose.
1988 Lafite-Rothschild - nose was totally green peppers, vegetal and smoky. Pretty poor...
2000 Angelus - classic nose of smoke and ripe fruits.
1983 Mouton-Rothschild - classic Mouton nose of cigar smoke.
1995 Vega Sicilia Unico - nose was a bit smoky but after a bit of time, the core sweet fruit emerged.
I didn't get a chance to try the 1998 Harlan, because the second bottle was corked and withdrawn. Oh well.
And yes, you CAN get drunk from 10ml sips of wine, as long as you have many, many of these...