Chicago Tasting Monday: Australia to Bordeaux

This week started off with a bang.  Yesterday I was enjoying wine with football victories by the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints- Who Dat?  Then Monday I was off to two wine tastings: Landmark Australia at Trump Tower and Bordeaux at The Drake.  Now, despite all the controversy, I have to admit that not only is Trump Tower in an awesome location, but is a gorgeous structure and has beautiful views of the city.  The perfect spot for a wine tasting, where I was joyed to find 25 glasses of wine in front of me- six Chardonnays, six Cabernet Sauvignons and ten blind wines (those sneaky Aussies!). 

The wines were a great illustration of what Australia can do when they're not trying to conform to the American popular palate- big, fat, juicy, high alcohol, heavy oak.  The Chardonnays had bright acidity, minerality, balance (highest ABV was 13%) and youth.  Some of the highlights included Vasse Felix Heytesbury, Bindi Winegrowers Quartz and Leeuwin Art Series, which is one of the best Chardonnays in the world.  The Cabernet Sauvignons had extra varietal blending with Shiraz, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc lending extra spice, softness and floral notes to the earth, pencil lead and youthful tannins.  My favorites were Penfolds Bin 707, Yalumba "The Signature" and Henschke "Cyril Henschke".  Then came the ten blind tastings, which I was fortunately able to pick six correct, even with my rusty senses due to new dad hibernation!  Overall it was a very good tasting followed by a decent buffet with crabcakes, chicken florentine and mixed greens.  We were also treated to a few extra wines like Kangarilla Road Shiraz and Mitolo Jester Shiraz- excellent.

Next, after a brief stop to get some espresso, I was off to The Drake to indulge in a Bordeaux tasting.  The ballroom was packed with Bordelaise wines and winemakers, along with just about everyone involved in the wine trade: distributors, importers, restauranteurs, chefs, sommeliers, etc.  They also had wines from just about every part of the region: Cabernet Sauvignon based blends from the Left Bank, Merlot and Cabernet Franc based reds from the Right Bank, Sauvignon Blanc based whites from Graves and Pessac-Léognan, and sweet Barsac and Sauternes.  The 2007 vintage was being featured, which I consider a good vintage, in most cases, to drink early.  The tannins are not too tight and the fruit is coming through.  I liked Chateau Figeac, Chateau Pape Clement Blanc and Rouge, Chateau Grand-Puy Ducasse and Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande.  These wines exhibited great balance and structure, along with some aging potential from acidity, tannins and fruit flavor still waiting to break from the heavy earth notes.

I want to thank Landmark Australia, The Trump, Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux and The Drake for hosting myself and the Chicago wine community.  Looking forward to more tastings in the future!