Luxembourg Culture – off the vine

Some of us continued our trend of getting out to local Luxembourg-ville events this weekend. Some of us had the stomach flu and had to stay home. Which would you prefer to hear about, loyal Bugle followers?

I’m going to guess that you chose option A: Anita goes to a wine tasting, not option B: Will is sick all weekend and jealous that Anita got to go to a wine tasting.

Indeed, I spent both Friday and Saturday night exploring the wonders of the Bordeaux and Aquitaine region with the Fédération des Vignerons Indépendants d’Aquitaine wine tasting. Our friends, Dick and Kristy* went to the event last year and raved about not only the awesome wine, but the reasonable prices.

I took the bus to the event after work on Friday, meeting Kristy and Dick. Since they had prior experience, they immediately informed me of the action plan. We needed to hit the great ones from last year first, before exploring. No wine was to be purchased on Friday night, as that was the tasting night. Wine would be purchased on Saturday. Since I was along for the ride, any strategy was a good one to me. So I grabbed my glass and followed along!

While I tried a lot of great wine and a few other items, I only purchased from two chateaus. (Will says it should be «chateaux» — what a snob.) I thought I would tell you a little bit each one and what I took home for the BBB&B wine cellar. Guests booking for 2011 may reserve any of the following bottles. (Supplies are limited!)

Chateau #1 is Chateau Haut-Chatain for their excellent Pomerol. Before moving to Luxembourg, I had never heard of Pomerol. It’s amazing – a simple blend of Merlot (90%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (10%).

[Ed. note: The name isn’t from the blend, but the region. That’s the way French wines are named.] [Author’s note: Will, you’re just sounding pompouser.]

We sampled the 2001 and the 2002. Both were terrific. Still, they were quite different. I was surprised to learn that they came from the exact same vines and have the exact same blend of grapes. Then I learned one of many of the evening’s fun facts: The summer of 2001 was much warmer than the summer of 2002, which gives the 2001 a more spicy taste (to me, at least).

Chateau #2 is Chateau de Bonhoste. This Chateau had a broader selection with three different Bordeaux that I fell in love with: the Bordeaux Rouge, the Bordeaux Superieur and the Bordeaux Superieur Cuvee Prestige. The Rouge was smooth and creamy, the Superieur a bit more spicy and the Prestige even more spicy and complex. The sellers were kind enough to speak English with me, so I learned the reasons for the differences. The Rouge is done in steel with juice and skins, but the skins don’t stay in for very long. The Superieur is also done in steel, but the skins stay with the juice much longer. The Prestige is done in oak, with the skins.

Basically, the more time with the skins, the more “spicy” the wine becomes – or at least that was what I got out of the conversation. Please feel free to tell me in the comments I got it completely wrong. Will, you may not “translate freely” from your silly Hachette guide.

With all this wine tasting, you need a snack. Does anything go better with wine than cheese? How about some duck? Not only was there a French cheese producer offering some of the most challenging and delicious cheeses, but there was also a French duck farm selling a multitude of items. While duck has never been my thing, this fell under the “when in Rome” category of life. Dick, Kristy and I split a duck sampler platter – two kinds of pate, duck sausage and the incomparable smoked duck breast. In fact, the smoked duck breast was so incredible that I purchased some for Will and me to share.

The cheese was incredible too. It was Ossau-Iraty which is far more special than I realized, as it is only one of two sheep cheeses that has been granted Appellation d’origine contrôlée status.

Personally, the goat cheese was a bit strong for me, but I loved the “vache et de brebis” – cow and sheep. I bought a chunk to bring home on Friday and more on Saturday.

Saturday night we were joined by two more friends, Pete and Kathy*, the owners of Sylvester. I enjoyed dragging Kathy to the two Chateaus that I was planning to purchase from. I needed a second opinion since my wingman Will was absent. Kathy agreed with my choices (and wasn’t nearly so supercilious). So I made the purchases. My biggest decision was how to decide between the two Pomerols. Both years were great – just different. Thankfully, I was spared the agony of a decision when the gentlemen from the Chateau suggested a split case – 3 bottles of 2001 and 3 bottles of 2002. Sold!

Since the wines from Chateau de Bonhoste were reasonably priced, I ended up with four cases: one Rouge, two Superieur and one Prestige.

Between my purchases — and Pete and Kathy’s — we needed a hand truck to get them to the car. Kristy and Dick chose to go back on Sunday and get their purchases, so we didn’t have to worry about room in the car on the way home.

This type of event is one of the many where Will and I would say “Oh, we should go….”, even mark our calendars … but then never leave the house. That’s the best part about friends: they drag you out to fun and enjoyable activities, which this was, in spades. I dare say that Will cannot wait for next year and I hope he is healthy and can join me…. although we will have to be careful to avoid over-buying!

* Names changed per the Bakker Privacy Protection Policy.

10 Comments to “Luxembourg Culture – off the vine”

  1. Dave said...
    9 February 2011

    Very cool, sounds like an awesome experience. It doesn’t get better than wine tasting in France, does it?

    How “corporate” was this event? I’ve never been to Napa, but I hear people complain about how corporate it is… Granted, people that argue that wine tasting is corporate are probably even pompouser than Will!

  2. Dave said...
    9 February 2011

    Also- This post reminded me to put Pearls before Swine in my RSS reader. Now that’s awesome.

  3. Amanda said...
    10 February 2011

    Oh, drat . . . I had heard of this event and forgot all about it. I understand there is a similar one for Luxembourg wines in the future.

  4. Laurie said...
    13 February 2011

    hmmm. too bad our impending trip will not include a tasting at the BB&B! schade…

  5. Anita said...
    18 February 2011

    Dave – you asked about the level of “corporate” – having never been to the California wine country, I’m not entirely sure what you mean. This event was pretty standard for Lux, but slightly smaller than I expected. Each Chateau had a small stand and they poured freely. They would chat about their wine and that was about it.

    It was the lowest pressure sales type event I had ever been too, which may be the reason I bought quite a bit of wine. Hopefully, I purchased enough to get a free pass for next year!

  6. Amanda said...
    18 February 2011

    Did you see that Cora is having an event soon. It’s on a Monday night after the store closes, I think. I got an invite in the mail.

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