Last Saturday I worked a private wine event with Ian Blackburn of LearnAboutWine.com. As always, the private events hold different challenges - logistics, specific agendas, trying to pour Champagne in large format bottles. You know, the usual.
This event was to support a local school - the organizers and hosts of the event are active in their community, and this is one of their ways of giving back. I'm not going to divulge what community or who the hosts were, because it was a private event, but I will say, the rich are different. Not in a bad way; just working from a different place of reference. This was the home to which they had downsized after their children had left the roost. It was a mere 6,000 square feet, 3 floors. My point of reference is my home in Burbank at 854 square feet. One floor. Their kitchen was larger than my home...sigh...I complimented our hosts on the amazing kitchen and they both said that they really don't cook.
I arrived early with a cooler containing 6 magnums of Champagne and California Sparkling wine and 30 pounds of ice, as well as 3 boxes of LAW wine glasses that JD and I had seriously polished earlier that day - using white vinegar to remove the mineral deposits left by a less than efficient dishwasher, large and heavy ice buckets, and various other supplies. Per Ian's instructions, I set up all the glasses and the ice buckets and waited for him to arrive from his Australian wine event at the Americana in Glendale earlier that day.
He and Dan S. arrived. We opened the first 3 magnums - 2 French and 1 California. Ian did his own blind tasting and made his guesses. The bottles had been previously covered in foil and numbered 1, 2 and 3 so that even he didn't know which wine was which while we were pouring. He and Dan did most of the pouring - those bottles were heavy, and my shoulder is just not right; I handed out the brochures about the blind tasting as the movers and shakers of the community arrived.
After all the guests arrived and had tasted all three wines, we asked them for their guesses, and then unwrapped the bottles. Among the guests, it was evenly divided as to which wine they thought was which. I suspect only a few actually got it right. The wines were:
Delamotte, Brut, Champagne, France NV - 92 points Wine Spectator
Tasting notes: Smells of fresh bread dough intermixed with buttery citrus; light to medium body, lingering effervescence with tiny pinpoint bubbles.
Schramsburg, Brut, Blanc de Blancs, Napa Valley 2006 - 92 points Wine Spectator
Tasting notes: Crisp and fruity with pronounced peach, apple and vanilla that taste a bit sweet offset by a very high acidity. Finishes clean and doughy.
Taittinger, Brut, La Francaise, Champagne, France NV - 92 points Wine Spectator
Tasting notes: Fruit and toast aromas; delicate structure on the palate with some small minerality, fruit and a nice clean finish.
One interesting note about the guests and the wines: Several guests were kind of snooty about French versus California wines, but the overwhelming favorite of the night was - to everyone's surprise - the Schramsburg. Yay, CA!!
At this point the guests exited to the venue where dinner was being served. Ian and his hosts had put together another amazing round of wines to go with the gourmet dinner, but I was not a participant and can only dream about the wines and foods the group enjoyed that evening. Dan and I cleaned up the tasting stuff; repacked the glasses, put away the hors d'oeuvres that the hosts had just left out, put the remaining magnums in the fridge, packed up Ian's car, and went to our respective homes.
I sat down with glass of red wine, some cheese and crackers, and reflected on the evening and what it would be like to be able to host such an event. Maybe someday.