Impressive dinner party at Chateau Soutard
June 19, 2011
What a party! Vinexpo is a great wine fair, but the real attraction are the evening dinners if you can get an invitation… Highlighting many renovations in Bordeaux – at Cheval Blanc, at Petrus, among others – was the new cellar space at Chateau Soutard, a classified grand cru of St Emilion, which has an excellent terroir. A slightly underrated wine, it deserves the attention it got on 17 June. The occasion? A major renovation of its cellar space, complete with a sleek glass walled elevator taking you into the underground cellar.
Guests were driven the short distance by open air shuttles to the chateau where Romanesque figures – some dressed as gypsies, others as if from some 19th century adventure novel running about with perhaps stolen loot – enchanted. Roederer Brut Champagne flowed.
A few steps up towards the chateau, guests entered a massive open tent in which one was transported to 18th Century France. Louis XVI, perhaps.
Among the wines tasted: Chateau Soutard 1990 and 2000, and a mystery bottle which I thought was 1975 and turned out to be 1964, and perhaps the best bottle of the evening, still youthfully vibrant. Indeed, the 1964 was full of energy and substance. I have not had many 64s, but recall also enjoying a superb Lafon Rochet from St Estephe because they picked before the rains. It seems that the early ripening Merlot was the favored grape in that vintage, so it makes sense that Soutard was so good. I was a tad underwhelmed by both the 1990 and 1989. Even though they were served from magnum bottles, they seemed more tired than either the lovely 2000 (from a normal bottle) or especially the even more impressive 1995!
To the left of the entrance, the party featured an “African” theme, complete with a screen of jungle scenery and actors on stilts in African garb prancing about! And so many fine foods, served along with the 1989 from magnum, and the brilliant 1995: my runner-up to the best wine of the evening. A wine to seek out in fact.
To the right of the entrance, an Asian theme, complete with delicious shrimp salad and … massaging stations with light mood music. There the chateau featured double magnums of 2003 – spicy and rich, if a bit lacking in vigor – and 2006, somewhat monotone, but perhaps far too young.
Just an amazing gathering.
Who knows what this cost, probably a lot, thinking about not just the fine catering, but the actors , singers, dancers: fantastically festive. Financial support comes from a French insurance company which is part owner…
And there and then, after talking with various Bordeaux winemakers who were present about excessively high 2010 futures prices, I just forgot that and enjoyed the evening, reminded once again that no wine region anywhere in the world does a better job at promoting itself than Bordeaux: the Adult Disneyworld of wine, if ever there is one…
Many people from all over Bordeaux were present, and I got a chance to chat, including Michel and Dany Rolland, the famous enologists-consultants, Lilian Barton and Michel Sartorius of Chateau Leoville/Langoa Barton, Didier and Florence Cuvelier of Chateau Leoville Poyferre, Alain Vauthier of Chateau Ausone, Olivier Berrouet of Petrus, Olivier Bernard of Domaine de Chevalier, Annabelle Cruse of Chateau Corbin, Florence and Daniel Cathiard of Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Mathieu and Camille Cuvelier of Chateau Poujeaux and Chateau Clos Fourtet, Jean Antoine Nony of Chateau Grand Mayne … and many more.
Oh, and there was some comforting news: Vincent Priou of the fine Pomerol estate Chateau Beauregard released his 2010 wine at €22, so here a fine if rare exception to the very high EP 2010 prices… I drank to his good judgment. Not to mention to Chateau Soutard, whose price was also reasonable but especially for such a great evening. Thanks again!