Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bordeaux Quartet Winemaker Dinner in Washington DC: Beychevelle, Guiraud, Latour-Martillac and Kirwan, USA/France

Picture: Annette Schiller, ombiasy PR and WineTours, and Christian G.E. Schiller with Sophie Schyler Thierry from Château Kirwan

More on ombiasy PR and WineTours:
3 Wine Tours by ombiasy Coming up in 2014: Germany-North, Germany-South and Bordeaux
Bordeaux Wine Tour 2013 by ombiasy

Calvert and Woodley organized a very special wine dinner featuring four fantastic châteaux, known as the "Bordeaux Quartet": Beychevelle, Guiraud, Latour-Martillac and Kirwan. The Quartet was founded in 2005 by Sophie Schyler Thierry from Château Kirwan.

Picture: Annette Schiller and Michael Sands, Calvert and Woodley

The dinner took place at the Park Hyatt in Washington DC and was attended by 75 Bordeaux lovers.

The wines were presented by three Guests of Honor for the evening:

Aymar de Baillenx (General Manager) - Château Beychevelle
Sophie Schyler Thierry (Co-owner and Director of Communications) - Château Kirwan
Wilfrid Groizard (Director of Communications) - Château Latour-Martillac

A Four-Part Harmony – The 4 Châteaux

Sophie Schyler Thierry: Four Crus Classés, doing away with competitive sentiment, have formed their own extraordinary quartet, united in their rigorous approach to wine production and in their passion for music, which first brought them together on the steps of Europe’s most beautiful theater, the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux. The Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux has taken the ties that bind these iconic Bordeaux wine growers beyond the professional realm, as a sort of "fifth musketeer" to the quartet of Sophie Schÿler (Château Kirwan), Xavier Planty (Château Guiraud), Aymar de Baillenx (Beychevelle), and Tristan Kressmann (Latour-Martillac).

Just like a great piece of music, if the wines of the Châteaux Kirwan, Guiraud, Beychevelle, and Latour-Martillac harmonize around the same notes of seduction, their delightful concord is thanks to the intense preparatory process required to stage any great work, from an opera to an international market, so that the shadow side of the production – in the cellar for wines, and in the rehearsal phase for a concert – can come to life in the glass or after the curtain goes up. The same spirit governs the two. And each one of these great crus and their prestigious terroirs has a part to play in this perfectly tuned quartet.

Pictures: Marlene Reddoor, Christian G.E. Schiller, Michael Besche, Cellar Master of the Washington, DC Commanderie de Bordeaux, and Annette Schiller, ombiasyPR and WineTours

Château Guiraud, Premier Cru Classé 1855, Sauternes

In 1885, this great property was consecrated premier cru in the classement impérial classifications. Guiraud, through its rigorous picking process, its quest for perfect balance and an elegant expression of the terroir, and its refusal to use chaptalization or cryoselection, is a steadfast advocate of the traditional methods on which its renown was built. The extraordinarily rich texture of its wines inspires both soaring superlatives and the most subtle of nuances. Honeysuckle, white peach, black tea, roasted berries… in some vintages, its deep yellow color intensifies the luxuriance of its aromas upon tasting. Château Guiraud is embodied in four people, the industrialist Robert Peugeot and three wine growers, Olivier Bernard, Stephan Von Neipperg, and Xavier Planty – another quartet unified by a credo of quality and the philosophy of the cru. Xavier Planty, a great lover of opera, is well aware that a certain Guiraud is associated with the orchestration and recitatives of the Offenbach operetta The Tales of Hoffmann, whose celebrated Bacchanale is in perfect harmony.

Château Kirwan, Cru Classé 1855, Margaux

The story of this cru begins in 1751, when Sir John Collingwood, and English gentleman, acquires the noble property of Lassale. It continues today thanks to Jean-Henri Schÿler and his three children, Yann, Sophie, and Nathalie, who now head the domaine. The property, located on the famous Cantenac Plateau, produces a generous Margaux whose 2007 vintage was entrusted to Philippe Delfaux (formerly of Château Palmer). The only "practicing" member of this quartet of great amateurs, pianist Sophie Schÿler plays only ranges that showcase wines characterized by potency, depth, and richness, playing arpeggios of nuance and finesse. If Mozart had tasted the wines of Château Kirwan, his Air du Champagne would have borne a different name, and, his Air de Margaux should have had a magnificent sustain on Don Giovanni’s palate, for he sings one of the shortest airs in the lyrical repertoire.

Château Beychevelle, Cru Classé in 1855, Saint-Julien

Built in the 17th century, this fief of the Dukes of Epernon was restored by the Marquis de Brassier and expanded by the Heine family in the 20th century. This architectural gem, whose classical façade is crowned by a graceful pediment has now been restored to its original splendor, the site is an ode to classical elegance with its own unique charm, and is felicitously located by the route des châteaux. Its wines’ garnet color gives them gorgeous intensity and complexity, characterized by a complex nose, described in certain vintages as untamed and animal, at times qualified by a more vegetal register of undergrowth and damp earth. The property’s name refers to the shipping activity of a nearby estuary, and it is likely that the President of Beychevelle, Aymar de Baillenx, thought of Cosi Fan Tutte and its loveliest aria, "Soave sia il vento," when he became a part of this lyrical quartet.

Château Latour-Martillac, Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

This Graves, a cru classé since 1953, owes its name to the tower that decorates its Cour d’Honneur, a vestige of the small fort built there in the 12th century by Montesquieu’s forbears. It drew the attention of Edouard Kressmann as he was founding his firm in 1871. In 1934, it adopted its current label "of gold and sable," designed by Kressmann’s son Jean and consecrated by a 1929 red served at Buckingham Palace in 1936. The cellars were thoroughly renovated in 1989, and today Tristan, (general management) and Loïc (technical management) continue the family tradition. The white wines surprise with their delicate complexity and their remarkable aptitude for aging. In the tradition of the great Pessac-Léognan wines, the reds are an ode to harmony, balance, and elegance. Tristan Kressmann, the final partner in this quartet, bears a name that inevitably recalls the influence of Wagner, and his magical philter that, as Latour-Martillac, was for those mythical lovers nothing less than an elixir of love.

Chef Sebastien Archambault

Chef Sebastien Archambault of the Park Hyatt Hotel and its signature restaurant Blue Duck Tavern prepared a fantastic dinner for us.

Pictures: Chef Sebastien Archambault of the Park Hyatt Hotel and its Signature Restaurant Blue Duck Tavern and Christian G.E. Schiller at a Previous Occasion

Despite his French accent, Sebastien Archambault is a native, born in Texas, where his parents operated a small restaurant called Crepe Suzette. He returned to France with his family, cooking under the direction of Guy Savoy, Alain Ducasse and others. He later enjoyed a stint in Los Angeles' Andaz West Hollywood hotel and its RH restaurant. When Chef McBride decided to leave Blue Duck after about 20 years with the Park Hyatt Washington earlier this year, he called Sebastien Archambault his "ideal choice for my successor" in a release.

Named one of the finest restaurants in Washington, DC by Zagat, The Washington Post, and Washingtonian, Blue Duck Tavern features creative American cuisine crafted from the region’s seasonal ingredients. The centerpiece of the open restaurant is a wood-burning. Touches of dark oak, blue burlap, handcrafted furnishings and rustic wood tables create a warm atmosphere. The restaurant also features a private Chef’s Table seating up to 18 guests.

Menu and Wines

The wine-searcher average prices in US$ are in parenthesis.


Chef's Selection of Passed Hors d'oeuvres

Château Latour-Martillac Blanc 2011 (Pessac-Léognan) (33)

The annual production of Château Latour-Martillac is 20,000 cases of the red Grand Vin and 11,000 of the dry white. Of the second wine Lagrave Martillac, made from the estate's youngest vines, 4,000 cases of red and 2,000 cases of dry white are produced. The vineyard area extends 42 hectares, of which 33 ha are dedicated the red wine varieties, 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 5% Petit verdot, and 9 ha for white wine production of the varieties 55% Sémillon, 40% Sauvignon blanc, and 5% Muscadelle.

Decanter (18/04/2012): Very good lemony-honeyed fruit and good firm finish, it will gain complexity due to the structure. (16.5 points)

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Wilfrid Groizard, Director of Communications, Château Latour-Martillac

First Course

Seared Foie Gras Terrine
Orange Confit Cocoa Brioche

Château Latour-Martillac Rouge 2005 (Pessac-Léognan) (48)

Robert Parker (89/100): The generous style of wines from the Graves region south of the City of Bordeaux finds a perfect expression in this wine from the 2005 vintage. Generous and supple, smooth and welcoming. Ch La Tour Martillac is a good name in the Graves (now, of course, refined as Pessac-Léognan for the best communes), and one that carries Grand Cru Classé status for both its red and dry white wines. Arguably the estate was more famous for the latter in the past, but the reds have made very good progress in recent years and Michel Rolland is engaged as a consultant.


Suckling Pig Porcetta
Roasted Root Vegetables

Château Beychevelle 2008 (St.-Julien) (105)

Berry Bros and Rudd: Château Beychevelle is a 4ème Cru Classé St-Julien wine property that boasts one of the most impressive châteaux in the whole of the Médoc. Its label depicts a beautiful galley with a large sail, as a consequence of its ownership in the 16th century by the Duc d`Eperon, Admiral of France at the time. The expression "Baisse-Vaille", meaning "lower sails", later evolved into the name Beychevelle. Today the property is owned by Grands Millésimes de France.

Pictures: Annette Schiller, Christian G.E. Schiller and Aymar de Baillenx, General Manager, Château Beychevelle

Beychevelle's 85 hectares of vineyards are located in the far south of the St-Julien appellation, just outside the hamlet of St-Julien-Beychevelle. The wine is typically a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. It is matured in oak barrels (50-60% new) for 18 months. It is renowned for its suppleness, smoothness and its rich, and sometimes chocolatey character.

Robert Parker - Wine Advocate- May 2011: This ageworthy, elegant, well-made Beychevelle displays copious red and black cherry fruit notes intertwined with dusty, loamy soil and oak undertones, decent acidity, moderate tannin and impressive intensity as well as length. Give it 1-3 years of cellaring and enjoy it over the next 15-18 years.

Château Beychevelle 2003 (St.-Julien) (122)

Jancis Robinson: With sweet black fruit, savoury cocoa and cedar wood on the nose this Beychevelle is a stylish and rich wine. “Mid crimson. Meaty, explosive, creates a very strong impression! Very full and opulent and round. Much softer than, say, Ch Léoville Poyferré but should give great pleasure. Made for pleasure in fact.” 17.5/20

Cheese Course

Chef's Selection of Gourmet Cheeses

Château Kirwan 2009 (Margaux) (75)

Sophie Schÿler: Everything in 2009 was perfect. The wine has incredible structure, especially the tannin structure. It’s definitely a wine you should buy now and keep in your cellar for a number of years before enjoying it at its best.

Château Kirwan 2000 (Margaux) (92)

WineTimes: The 2000 Kirwan is stunning with big bouquets and a very elegant palate. It has a smooth and velvety palate and is rather addictive! It’s delightful, which makes me question as to what Parker was thinking when he only gave it 90 points – oh, hang on, it’s elegant, feminine, drinkable and soft…that’ll be why he scored it so low as it was missing the overly extracted fruity and jammy nature the man has become known for giving high scores to.

Picture: Annette Schiller, Christian G.E. Schiller and Sophie Schyler Thierry, Co-owner and Director of Communications, Château Kirwan


Caramelized Pineapple Financier
Dulcey Cremeux, Raisin Honey Gastrique

Château Guiraud 2009 (Sauternes) (75)

This gem of an estate in Sauternes dates back to the 15th century. The vineyard currently covers 100 hectares. Château Guiraud is known for its organic approach to viticulture. 11,000 cases made. The blend of 65 percent Sémillon and 35 percent Sauvignon Blanc comes from 35- to 40-year-old vines. Four partners - Robert Peugeot (of Peugeot automobiles), Olivier Bernard (Domaine de Chevalier), Stephan von Neipperg (Canon-La Gaffelière and others) and Xavier Planty, the estate’s longtime general manager - acquired Château Guiraud in 2006.

Tim Atkin: The freshness of the Sauvignon Blanc is what makes this wine so bright and harmonious. Overall the blend is waxy toasty and stylish with oak vanilla spice and honeysuckle and grapefruit characters combining stylishly on the palate. Not far behind Yquem in 2009 and that is high praise indeed. Long elegant and refreshing. Residual sugar 139 grams per litre.

Château Guiraud 2003 (Sauternes) (82)

Lea and Sandeman: Enormously rich, on the verge of veering into sugary rather than roundly rich, slightly barley sugary. But this is still a very good wine in its big very sweet style.


Thanks for a great event!

Pictures: Aymar de Baillenx, Château Beychevelle, Cru Classé in 1855, Saint-Julien, Sophie Schyler Thierry, Château Kirwan, Cru Classé 1855, Margaux, Wilfrid Groizard, Château Latour-Martillac, Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan, Annette Schiller,  ombiasy PR and WineTours and Christian G.E. Schiller

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