“au revoir, 1970 la Tache!”

"au revoir 1970 la Tache", by Robert Leedy, watercolor on Fabriano Artistico 140 lb. Cold Press paper, 36" x 36", Collection of The Wine Cellar, Jacksonville, Florida.

“au revoir 1970 la Tache”, by Robert Leedy, watercolor on Fabriano Artistico 140 lb. Cold Press paper, 36″ x 36″, Collection of The Wine Cellar, Jacksonville, Florida. [click on the image to enlarge.]


The Painting

Vicki Dugan, owner of The Wine Cellar, commissioned me for several paintings to hang in the restaurant. For the first three, I borrowed bottles from her wine inventory to take back to the studio to paint in still life set ups I created. As we were looking for a specific Champagne bottle in the restaurant’s temperature controlled wine cellar, she pulled an old red Burgundy off the rack:

“How about a 1970 la Tache?”

“Wow,” I said, “you’ve actually got that on your wine list? It must be for a small fortune!”

“One hundred fifty dollars.”

“Sounds like either a mistake or an incredible deal.”

Vicki explained that the wine had been on the restaurant’s list for years and she was willing to sell it at that price for anyone wanting to enjoy it as it was getting quite old…my interest was already piqued and I began wondering who would be willing to go in on drinking it.

La Tache is a single Grand Cru vineyard in the sub region of the Côte de Nuits in France’s Burgundy region. It lies in the commune of Vosne-Romanée and the vineyard is under direction of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, a highly respected wine estate named after one of its other Grand Cru vineyards,  Romané-Conti, perhaps one of the finest wines in France if not the world. La Tache is not far behind. In addition to Romanée-Conti and la Tache, DRC produces seven other Grand Cru wines from vineyards – with the exception of a few planted to Chardonnay –  devoted to Pinot Noir. It is no method of chance that these are the finest vineyards in the world: any Frenchman will tell you about the unique terroir and go on to explain soil, climate, angle of the sun, and a specific grape variety’s predilection for special combinations of these aspects. No, it is not by chance that these vineyards just happen to produce great wines for these vineyards have been around since Roman times. They were later cared for by monks, coveted by royalty, seized by the Revolution and fought over ever since by the wealthy.

The idea of painting one of the world’s greatest wines was very appealing to me. I already had a plan…

The particular painting I had in mind actually started out as a drawing. Ryan Buckley, who does framing for me had some wonderful input. The piece was to hang in the front room of The Wine Cellar, an intimate sitting area adjacent to the restaurant’s bar. I wanted to do a large, contour drawing that would serve as a focal point in in the tobacco brown room. I planned on minimal shading / marks so that it would have a strong, graphic feel. Somewhere along the way, my color genes kicked in and I noticed I was adding watercolor washes. It was then I surrendered and went with a painting rather than a drawing.

I created a still life in my studio around the bottle of la Tache and photographed it. I really like the overhead view which deviates a bit from the traditional approaches. Working from a photograph, I began with a contour drawing. I then added value washes of a French Ultramarine Blue and Cerulean Blue mixture. While these washes were still wet, I injected local color. The blue provided unity while the local color provided definition as well as interest. Colors mingling within colors always provoke visual interest in the medium of watercolor. Working from photographs – actually, images within my iPad – allowed me to zoom in very close and see detail I might not otherwise notice as in the wineglass  and bottle reflections. It is within these passages where the painting takes on a sort of abstract feel; I am painting exactly what I am looking at while at the same time I am using a bit of inventiveness in color and shape. Blow these sections up on a screen and these abstract areas hold their own. I did a lot of re-glazing to increase the color saturation. The cherries are a perfect example. As long as the washes remain relatively transparent, there can be multiple passes of color which, in general, add a richness to the painting. This particular painting is a good example of the age-old question of when does one know when a painting is finished. There was a point in its evolution where the drawing dominated and there was a wonderful freshness – a sort of minimal simplicity. I pushed a bit further – and could have gone even further – until that little voice told me that maybe it was time to stop…

Ryan framed the painting beautifully. We both like simple presentations – not sofa-matching, color coordinating! I told Ryan about the bottle of la Tache and its price on the wine list. “Ask Vicki to put my name on that bottle – I think it is time to go have a dinner / wine tasting at  The Wine Cellar!”

The painting is now in its home at The Wine Cellar and looks wonderful. The image size is 36″ x 36″ and the scale is quite surprising if you have seen images of it then actually see it in person. The image is graphic and quite impressive in the small room. I urge you to go have a nice lunch or dinner and check it out.

oh yes – the painting’s title reflects the bottle’s fate…

The Book

With the painting complete and the anticipation of opening and tasting the 1970 la Tache, some interesting things were happening: Denver author, Maximillian Potter’s new book, “Shadows in the Vineyard” was released just one week after I finished the painting. Quite ironical, I thought. The book is about an extortion attempt on the owner of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. A subject one does not read about that often. Where did this come from, I chuckled. Are the stars lining up or something?

The book goes something like this (and I am not spoiling anything because you get all of this on the book’s jacket):

One chilly January night in 2010, Monsieur Aubert de Villaine opens his mail and finds a mysterious (and frighteningly detailed) map of the famous Burgundian Grand Cru vineyard of Romanée-Conti and a note claiming that several of the old vines within the vineyard were drilled and plugged below the ground level with a substance. The note further threatens that  unless $1 million euros are left in a duffle bag in a specific vineyard, there would be dire consequences to these noble vines and the amazing wines they produce.  In the coming Spring, when the water and nutrients rose from the soil, the poison would be carried throughout the vine, killing it immediately. By the way, this is a true story…

"Shadows in the Vineyard", a new book by Maximillian Potter.

“Shadows in the Vineyard”, a new book by Maximillian Potter.

The money was delivered and the crook was caught. Not exactly a brilliant dude. Let’s say he lost a few grapes during the crush and he wasn’t carrying a full bottle… (yeah, I made this up, couldn’t you tell?)

So, it’s a straightforward, bumbled crime. Open and shut case. I have to be honest: How does one write an entire book about a story we already know the outcome of? And keep it interesting? I bought the book with a lot of skepticism towards finishing it yet it was a very relative subject and it would make great dinner conversation on a certain night…

“Shadows in the Vineyard” turned out to be quite interesting. Mr. Potter deals with the simple story with an even more complex background. He does a great job covering the history of the vineyard, a description of the wines, an interesting review of French royalty, and a great biography of the principal man involved with Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. He also provides a good look into the business of Burgundy’s négociant-éleveur and that of selling the world’s finest wine. There is a full lineup of characters from French kings and their mistresses to winemakers, police investigators, winery staff, greedy entrepreneurs and ill-fated, downtrodden chaps looking to make a quick euro.

Jack Daniels (the wine broker, not the bourbon) is mentioned many times in the book. Jack and his now deceased business partner, Win Wilson, made up the team Wilson-Daniels and were wine brokers from California. They were the exclusive dealers of DRC wines to the United States and had many dealings with the DRC Estate. They also have a portfolio of wines from around the world. Vicki Dugan knew them well and I remember spending an evening with them in Bordeaux in a chateau that David Cimino and his family rented for the duration of Vin Expo, a big, semi-annual, wine trade show. A handful of guests in the chateau’s grand, old kitchen collaborated on the evening’s dinner. We chatted while chopping vegetables and telling stories as the poulet rotis slowly cooked in the kitchen’s walk-in fireplace. We tasted great wines and everyone went their separate ways the next morning. Jack & Win were headed to Italy with their attorney to sign an exclusive deal with an Italian wine estate. I also remember having drinks with them as they hosted Tom & Dick Smothers (The Smothers Brothers Winery was once in their portfolio) in their hotel suite at Lake Buena Vista here in Florida many years back.

Maximillian Potter did excellent research and wraps the story into an interesting cuvée of vignettes and rich history. Even if you are not a wine geek, this book will hold your attention.

If you are interested in a good read, you can buy it from your favorite bookseller or either of these sources: Big Box Online Retailer OR  Small, Independent Bookstore (for every $100 spent in an independent bookstore, $73 stays in the community, compared to only $43 if purchased from a national chain; none of that stays in the community if purchased online.)


The Buzz…

One afternoon I needed to take a painting – a large acrylic on canvas – to check the size for another commissioned work that would hang over the wine cabinet which is actually a large, modified wooden sideboard. The painting would not fit in my car so I summoned an artist friend with a truck, Kevin Arthur, to help me take it over to the restaurant. Tony Wood, a fellow CoRK artist and good friend, went along for the ride. We sized the painting for the space on the wall and I picked up wine for my still life set ups – a bottle of Laurent-Perrier Brut Rosé Champagne and the 1970 la Tache. We left the restaurant with the painting and the expensive bottles. To show my gratitude for the large canvas transport, I suggested to Kevin that I buy drinks at The Grape & Grain Exchange, a San Marco watering hole nearby. It was one of those terribly bright and hot North Florida summer afternoons. As we parked, I turned to Kevin & Tony:

“You know, I cannot leave these wines in this hot truck – I’ll need to carry them inside with me. I hope they don’t mind. The management, not the bottles, that is…”

We went inside, found a table near the front and I carefully placed the bottles on a counter next to our table. I walked over to the bar and ordered our drinks. Bob Smith, the owner, who I had never met, walked in and stopped in front of the two bottles:

“Holy shit,” he said in the direction of the bartender, “whose 1970 la Tache is this?”

“Mine,” I timidly answered, “…actually, it’s not mine – it belongs to the Wine Cellar.”

We introduced ourselves and Bob’s smile grew bigger.

“What are you doing with it?”

“I’m going to taste it with some friends. Actually, I’m going to paint it first.”


“Yeah, it’s a pretty great story – we plan to….”  – I stopped in mid sentence as I had a future vision of Bob at a table, speaking to a waiter in The Wine Cellar:

“And I would like a bottle of the 1970 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti la Tache with my meal. I believe you were holding it for a friend of mine. He is sorry to say he could not make it tonight and has blessed me with the duty of cracking it open. Poor guy…he was really looking forward to this evening…”

I faded back into reality and Bob was waiting for me to finish my thought.

“…wait a minute…”, I suddenly announced, “I’m not going to tell you this story until I taste the wine next week.”

I gave him a nervous smile. Bob laughed as if he got my drift. Sort of.

Our tasting was set. Ryan Buckley, Matt Sisco & I would go into the Wine Cellar for dinner and taste the wine with Vicki Dugan. Matt is Ryan’s cousin and the wine guy at Whole Foods. He’s a bright young man who is passionate about wine and studying for his Master Sommelier exam. Matt was excited about the event and started talking about it. Thomas King works with Matt at Whole Foods – he’s the beer guy; Thomas is also wine knowledgeable and plans to take the Master Sommelier exam as well. Matt invited Thomas to join us for the tasting. Excitement was building.

Matt happens to be friends with Bob Smith. One day, Bob was in Whole Foods and Matt told him about the upcoming tasting of a 1970 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti la Tache.

“That’s funny,” Bob said, “there was a guy with a 1970 la Tache in The Grape & Grain just last week.”

“Had to be Robert Leedy, one of the guys I am tasting it with,” Matt laughed.

A few days later, I was in Whole Foods looking for cheese for one of the still life shots. I sought out Matt who has a vast knowledge of cheese as well as wine. Matt turned out not to be working that day. A young man walked over to help me. It was Thomas. We had not met up until now. We introduced ourselves.

“Were you in The Grape & Grain last week?” he asked.

“Wow, word gets around quick. Yes, I was.”

Thomas told me the excitement was building over the forty-four-year-old wine.

A few days later, my ex-boss from Puerto Rico called when he saw the painted image of the la Tache I emailed him. David Cimino is President of Plaza Cellars in Puerto Rico and an old friend from way back. He hired me years ago when I was working in the wine business in The Virgin Islands. I moved to Puerto Rico and worked for him for a few years until Vicky & I moved to Brussels. We keep in contact and I am thrilled that David is now painting in watercolor.

I told him about the upcoming tasting of the 1970 la Tache.

“Holy shit,” he said [2 ‘holy shits’ alone prove that we are dealing with a wine of royal blood], “is this wine in your possession?”

“No, it’s at The Wine Cellar, the restaurant where we are going to taste it. They have it on their wine list for $150!”

“What’s wrong with it?”

“Nothing. It looks to be in quite good shape. Apparently, it has good color, no low-fill, cork seems to be OK and I know it has been taken good care of.”

I knew very well that the 1970 la Tache could have no better home than The Wine Cellar. It spent its days, years, and decades laying comfortably on its side in a temperature controlled wine cabinet. It was out of sight and most likely no one ever woke it from its sleep – except for that wild ride in the red pickup truck on that hot, summer day. Or, that hour in the bar standing on a counter. Then there was more standing in the artist’s studio – under those bright lights – next to those two wineglasses claiming to contain 1970 la Tache. Inexpensive, California Pinot Noir was a better guess. But as soon as the lights went out, the artist laid me down in a dark corner of his studio. He mentioned something about a guy named Tony who might accidentally drink me. The artist got me back to my home in The Wine Cellar as soon as possible…

I also thought back to the time after we moved back to Puerto Rico from Brussels; David gave me the very difficult assignment of going through Plaza Cellar’s 2,000 bottles + private cellar known as The Sanctum – to determine if the Bordeaux and Burgundies from the 50’s and 60’s were still in good shape. “Open them up and taste them,” he instructed, “and get some mileage out of it – you might want to invite some of the local restauranteurs and sommeliers to lunch in the Cellar and let them taste them with you.” A tough job, eh? I did just that and got a real education into the behavior of old red wines: Many of the Bordeaux bottlings were way past their prime – the fruit had fallen out and the tannins dominated. But there were some majestic stars in those wine racks. As for the Burgundies, many appeared to be in bad shape as many of the fill levels were at shoulder level or lower. Not a good sign. But most of them completely surprised me as they snapped back to life once opened. Beautiful floral bouquets, cherry aromas, rich, complex, full in the mouth with a good touch of acidity in the finish.  Amazing. I came away from that experience wondering if perhaps Burgundies might age better than Bordeaux – something contrary to what I believed up until then…

“I think that la Tache is worth a lot of money,” David said, “I may be mistaken but it might be as high as $10,000. Can you get a hold of it?”

I explained that we all had agreed to taste the wine together.  Probably not a good idea…

“Tell them you’ll give them $1,000 for the bottle. I can help you sell the wine through my contacts. I’ll verify the value.”

I thought about the idea but really felt there was an obligation to my friends to drink the wine; we all had a growing curiosity of its condition.”

David called back the next day. “I was wrong, it could go as high as $3,000 but that would be pushing it. I guess I was thinking of $10,000 for another, better vintage of la Tache.”

I was kind of relieved the wine’s value was not at $10,000. I  Googled the ’70 la Tache earlier and found a wide range from  $700 to $3,500. Still, wine investments are so subjective to varying conditions and it is very difficult to ever really determine a wine’s true value. Maybe the old adage holds true here – a wine is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. I’m sure there is someone maybe in Dubai or Hong Kong who would easily pay $10,000 for the wine but those people are probably hard to find. I guess it is akin to sticking to the comps in Real Estate: those little figures that bring your expectations back down to reality’s ground level. I went back to Vicki with this information and she was still good with selling it for $150. Ryan & I imagined that in a high-end New York restaurant, the wine would easily be priced at $2,500 or more. $150 and dinner at The Wine Cellar looked better and better.

“David, I’m drinking this baby!”



Dinner & wine tasting at The Wine Cellar, Jacksonville, Florida,  August 26, 2014.

Dinner & wine tasting at The Wine Cellar, Jacksonville, Florida, August 26, 2014.


 The Wine Tasting

The big evening arrived. The five of us gathered in the front room – next to the painting – and tasted our first wine – the Franciacorta. We later moved to a table where Karen took care of us for the evening. We tasted two whites before the la Tache which were harmless as they would not interfere with our evening’s guest star. As for the lineup of reds, we decided to open the la Tache first as it would be much more delicate than the younger wines.

Here are the wines as we tasted them and notes I made plus some comments from the others:

  • 2004 Ca’del Bosco, Bosco Cuvée Annamaria Clementi (Franciacorta, Italy) – This Italian sparkling wine is very interesting and quite delicious though I was surprised at its suggested retail price of $150 (not in my sparkling budget!) But it was a very superb way to begin our evening! It is a blend of first pressings of select wines with an overall blend ratio of 55% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Bianco, and 20% Pinot Nero. The wine is aged in small oak casks for six months and undergoes malolactic fermentation. Only the best wines are selected for the final cuvée and then are aged further on the lees for seven years. Matt: “Nutty, oxidized, bready and vibrant! Earthy fruit like tamarind. Four Stars.” Thomas: “Toasted brioche with apricots. Definitely nutty, too, I get like sweet hazelnut creme. Complex and layered in its flavors. Four 1/2 Stars.” Robert: “Full, warm, yeasty presentation; well- balanced, nice.” Four Stars.
  • 2012 Donkey & Goat el Drado Stone Crusher Roussanne (Sierra Foothills, El Dorado, California, USA) – The odd little bird of the evening. Roussanne is a white grape variety of France’s Rhone region. This wine has a peculiar orange color as a result of extended contact with the grape skins.  Thomas: “I am getting pickle juice out of this!”  He later tempered his pickle juice by refining it as a “cucumber aroma”.  Robert: Very interesting. And I say that not in the way you do when you judge art or wine and have nothing positive to say…it was, in fact, downright interesting.” Thomas: “The Donkey & the Goat – I will definitely have to think about…”
    Robert Leedy

    Robert Leedy

  • 1970 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti la Tache (Côte de Nuits, Burgundy, France) – Our wine of the evening! Certainly one of THE top wines in France if not the world though if you put it on your bucket list, opt for a more recent vintage. And you need not be picky – even in so-so years, DRC wines are usually phenomenal. As mentioned, we could not resist the $150 The Wine Cellar had it on their wine list for. The bottle was opened. To add a bit of drama, the cork was delicate and broke in half. Wayne Shipley, The Wine Cellar’s long-time Manager, saved the evening by precise extraction that spared the wine of bits of moldy cork. At this point, one wonders if the wine is deteriorating as well. The la Tache was poured into our five glasses and it appeared to be in relatively good shape. The color was a bit towards the brick-brown but that can be expected of an old wine. I swirled my glass and took my first whiff: the salami smell hit me right away. Not a bad smell – as long as you like salami. The others all agreed about the salami nose. Thomas showed his healthy sense of humor by remarking, “yes, it smells like Cajun cooking.” I would imagine that might mean a bit of smoke as well?  Matt picked up glutamic acid – a soy sauce smell. For those of you laughing at our silly descriptions, this is what wine tasting is all about: locking into immediate sensations and trying your best to verbalize your experience. My experience with novice wine tasters is that you may not  know much about wine but you certainly can prove to have an excellent palate and a good sense of what is really good and what is merely so-so. My wife, Vicky, is a good example as she can easily pick out the stellar wines against the lesser breeds and grocery store swill in blind tastings. The salami nose was really growing for me. Matt: “Past Caramalized” – not in a negative sense.
    Thomas King

    Thomas King

    Thomas: “Charred bread”.  Ryan: “I’m getting pepper.”  The wine tasted incredibly in good shape. Vicki was amazed and confessed that Wayne seriously doubted the wine would amount to much. So impressed, she offered Wayne a taste. He too was impressed. We all agreed the weight of the wine was a little on the thin side. It was well-balanced yet you got the feeling this was a wine that, despite its obvious downward aging, was still holding on to its noble integrity and refusing to slip away into obscurity. Thankfully, I saved a good portion of my glass and looked around an hour later – the other reds were already poured and I was the only one with la Tache left in my glass. I learned long ago to taste these delicate creatures in intervals as they mingle with the modern-day air. My la Tache had changed drastically. Still holding on for dear life yet going through a wardrobe change to impress her guests.  Robert: “Weird, but I am getting grilled turbot with maple syrup.” Matt: “Reduced sweetness.” Everyone agreed there was a distinct fish-like smell though not in the negative sense. I teased the group that the la Tache was better than ever at this state. I even grabbed the younger Chambolle-Musigny, swirled it and claimed, “My God, the la Tache has even intensified in color – how incredible!” Not knowing that he was dealing with an equally strong sense of humor, Thomas quickly corrected: “That’s NOT the la Tache!” A good showing for our 1970 DRC la Tache.  Thomas: Five Stars. Robert: Four ½ Stars.

  • 2008 Ghislaine Barthod Chambolle-Musigny (Côte de Nuits, Burgundy France) – Chambolle-Musigny is a nearby neighbor to la Tache and it was interesting to have the two in the lineup together though the younger wine was thoughtfully placed behind the la Tache as it certainly would have overpowered the older wine – and our palates! This is a Premier Cru. Robert: “Brilliant color. Nose a little closed. Mouthful of cherries!! Very full in the mouth. Vicki: “Excellent, a lot of body.” Thomas: “This is perhaps the best Chambolle-Musingny I’ve ever had [it was also his first.] Four Stars.” Matt: “Huge fruit, good complexity. Red Life Savers, deep raspberry.” Thomas: “Definitely a candied thing going on.” Matt: “I’m thinking a flower shop where they had a raspberry fight.” Vicki: “The changes it made were wonderful; it is sad to finish this beautiful wine.” Again, the group finished their glasses and I still had quite a bit in mine.  Robert: Four ½ Stars.”
    Matthew Sisco

    Matthew Sisco





  • 2009 Roger Sabon le Secret des Sabon Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Southern Rhône, France) – Thomas brought this wine. He mentioned he opened it at 9:30 that morning, decanted it, and let it sit. He then poured it back into the bottle and let it sit in the cooler. We are tasting this wine at 9:20 pm.  Thomas: “Five Stars.” Matt: “Totally massive.”  Robert: ” Big, big, big. Four ½ Stars.” I held back on this one too and looked around to see I was the only one with it in my glass. “I must be losing my pro status – I am falling way behind the group.”  But luckily I witnessed a drastic transformation from a very forward, aggressive wine to a very soft, and round feminine style that was much more appealing to me than the earlier tasting.
    Ryan Buckley

    Ryan Buckley

    Vicki Dugan

    Vicki Dugan

  • 1999 Weingut Eugen Wehrheim Niersteiner Bildstock Riesling Berenauslese (Rheinhessen, Germany) – Another amazing wine of the evening. This was served with a wonderful cheese plate. Thomas scored this little gem from the closeout bin in an ABC liquor store for $13! Thomas: “Honeycomb, waxy, glycerine, soapy, white flowers, big pear, peach. The glycerine-y mouthfeel supplanted the risk of it being too sweet. Man, that was tasty!” Five Stars.” Ryan: “Grilled peaches. Robert: “Definitely honey. Honey squared. Five Stars.”  I later mentioned “a plastic inflatable pool smell and the others were quick to point out that possibly I was confusing it with another inflatable plastic smell…hmm…these guys are too funny.



Big night at The Wine Cellar - tasting the 1970 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti la Tache!

Big night at The Wine Cellar – tasting the 1970 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti la Tache!


The Dinner

The wines were meant to be the stars of the evening – but the food was  incredible and I cannot escape without describing the experience. Chef Enver Stermilli created several dishes especially for us. The combination of good food & wine is always a delightful experience.


We all seemed to be in a Burgundian mood so, escargot was a natural. We ordered Escargot Sauteed in Butter, Garlic, Shallots and Chives – Served in Saffron Creme Sauce with Grilled Ciabatta Crostini.

Ryan was big on ordering Steak Tartare, one of The Wine Cellar’s oldest remaining popular menu items. It was classically presented with onions, capers, mustard and a modern touch – a crisp flatbread.

Ahi Tuna Tartare – Tuna finely chopped and blended with Grilled Pineaple, Toasted Sesame Seeds and Scallions – Tossed in Rice Wine and Teriyaki Vinaigrette. The restaurant does amazing things with raw tuna and this is a great example.

Spicy Pureed Avocado Topped with Grilled Shrimp and Fresh Dill. This was a big hit and one of the items Chef Enver created for us.

Roasted Red Pepper Bisque – Thomas & I could not resist ordering this. Sounded like a good item for red Burgundies. And it was!


Vicki and Matt:  New Zealand Lamb Chops – Dijon, Parmesan, Herb Encrusted and Pan Seared.  Served Over Goat Cheese and Mint Polenta Cake with Baby Carrots and Asparagus, Finished with Mint Liqueur Cream Sauce.

Ryan and Thomas:  Grilled Filet Mignon – Served with Dauphinoise Potatoes, Asparagus.  Finished with Bearnaise Sauce.

Robert:  Rum Glazed Filet Mignon Topped with Crispy Onion Straws – Served with Dauphinoise Potatoes and Asparagus. – Wonderful!

Rather than dessert, a cheese plate seemed the best choice…


Saint Andre – France; (rich triple cream – creamy texture with hints of hazelnut and mushrooms)

Belton Farm Sage Derby – Great Britain; (Semi-hard, yellow cheese with firm texture – sage is added at the same time the cheese is made)

Corazon de Ronda Manchego – Spain;  (Spain’s signature cheese – nutty, piquant flavor – medium firm)

Humbolt Fog – United States (Goat’s Milk cheese made in Arcata, California – named for the ocean fog wich rolls in from Humbolt Bay.  Mold-ripened  with central line of edible ash.  Creamy, semi-soft and mildly acidic).

The cheese was served with fresh fruit and assorted berries.

The winning combination of food & wine had to be the salty Humbolt Fog with the smooth, honeyed Berenauslese.

Our dinner was a perfect setting for the wines we tasted. Thank you, Vicki Dugan & the professional staff at The Wine Cellar!


The Aftermath

It was rather sad to finish the ’70 la Tache. The end of an era. 2,690 cases of this lovely wine were produced and we were among the lucky to have experienced it – especially after all those years of aging. There is no telling how many are left in the world. My brief, somber mood is lifted by the great sense of camaraderie the five of us felt during the shared experience of tasting one of the world’s greatest wines backed by a meal full of delicious flavors and subtle surprises of taste. It was a fun, memorable evening none of us are soon to forget.

We saved the bottle and all of us signed the page of the wine list that the la Tache sat quietly on waiting for its final fate. Ryan is framing the two together and I hope it will hang somewhere in The Wine Cellar for posterity.

And there is always the painting to remind us of the evening.

Au revoir, 1970 la Tache!

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