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Taste Top Bordeaux Without Going Broke: February 1, Chicago

There are three ways to taste older vintages of the top wines of Bordeaux. The first is to be wealthy enough to collect them, or to buy them at restaurants. The second is to pool your money with friends and buy a couple of bottles that you wouldn't ordinarily be able to afford. The third is to attend pre-auction tastings.

An often poorly publicized part of the high stakes wine auction market, pre-auction tastings are held by many major wine auction houses to allow prospective bidders a chance to taste some of the wines they will be bidding on in the auction. The fact that these tastings are open to the general public, often for a nominal fee, is one of the best kept secrets of the wine world. Such tastings offer an opportunity for wine lovers to sample wines that are not only incredibly expensive, but also often scarce.

Some auction houses are beginning to recognize the opportunity that such events represent for a wider class of wine lovers, and have begun to promote them more heavily. Such is the case with Hart Davis Hart Wine Company, who is putting on an annual event they call their Comparative Bordeaux Tasting.

On Friday evening, at the Newberry Library in Chicago, they will open 1995 and 1996 vintage wines from all of Bordeaux's first growths and 15 other top Chateaux for their guests to taste. Latour, Lafite, Mouton-Rothschild, Haut Brion, Margaux, they'll all be open and available for the tasting.

Here is a list of most of the wines that will be poured:

Château Margaux
Château Mouton-Rothschild
Château Latour
Château Haut-Brion
Château Lafite-Rothschild
Château Cheval Blanc
Château La Mission-Haut-Brion
Vieux Château Certan
Château Lynch-Bages
Château Pichon-Lalande
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou
Château Trotanoy
Château Léoville-Las-Cases
Château Cos d'Estournel
Château Léoville-Barton

For the average wine lover who has probably never tasted a bottle of Lafite (I haven't!), that lineup is quite an opportunity, and quite a value, even at the $275 price tag. Anyone seriously interested in educating their palate about what top Bordeaux tastes like should seriously consider attending. I most certainly would if I was in Chicago.

Hart Davis Hart Wine Co. Annual Comparative Bordeaux Tasting
Friday February 1st 2008, 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
Newberry Library
60 West Walton Street
Chicago, IL 60610 (map)

Tickets are $275 and must be purchased in advance over the phone by calling Marc Smoler at 312.482.9766 or e-mailing him at [email protected].

The nearest metros stops are: Chicago-Red and Grand-Red. A free parking lot is also available behind the museum.

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.