Happy New Year 2017 of the Fire Rooster and the Debut of 2014 Bordeaux!

February 1, 2017


My warmest Happy New Year wishes to all of our Prime Cellar members, friends and co-workers. I wish you all safe travel as you head home to your families for the New Year.  


They say the Fire Rooster greets the day with great instinct; and that is definitely the case outside of metropolitan cities, in the countryside and in the heartland of America where a Fired-up Rooster doubles as the alarm clock! They also say that the Fire Rooster is very loyal, trustworthy and responsible at work. If this is the case I must have some Fire Rooster in me!


On Friday January 27th  2017 the UGC/Union des Grand Crus from Bordeaux and its 70 different Chateaux arrived at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco to pour their 2014’s to the trade and the customers of K&L Wine Merchants. It is always a fabulous event and it is always “my biggest day of the year”! As the Bordeaux specialist since for K&L since 1988 I make sure to shake the hand of every person from Bordeaux and thank them very much for coming to pour their wines. Bordeaux is a long way from San Francisco and it is a great opportunity for our customers to taste the wines for themselves before the wines arrive this year.  My problem was that I had the flu, but nothing short of hospitalization could keep me from this tasting with 350 of our/my customers in the room.


The 2014’s showed very much as I thought they would; wines possessing very pure fruit with nice elegance, great freshness, balance and good tasting. The 2014’s are not huge wines with big tannins. In my opinion the closest vintage comparison would be the underrated vintage of 2001; not a vintage of power but elegance; and a vintage that has given great drinking pleasure to fans of Bordeaux across the world.  My friend Sophie Schyler whose family owns the lovely Ch. Kirwan in the commune of Margaux thinks 2014 is a combination of 2001, for its elegance, and 2008 for its concentration and drive. Bottom line is great tasting wines that offer fine value in 2014!


So what do you do after tasting 70 young Bordeaux wines? Well, you go to dinner and drink “older Bordeaux”! That is exactly what we did at the quaint French Bistro Matilde in San Francisco. On the menu was Stuffed Pigeon, Duck Confit and Cheese, and to wash it all down we had a plethora of great, older Bordeaux wines. We cleansed and freshened up our palates with two outstanding 2014 dry whites from Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte and Ch. Latour-Martillac and then moved to the reds.


Starting with the delicious 2009 Ch. Giscours out of magnum we moved to; 2006 Ch. Cantemerle, 2006 Ch. Canon, 2001 Ch. Haut Bailly, 2000 Ch. Latour Martillac, 2000 Ch. Labegorce, 1998 Ch. Haut Bailly out of magnum was stunning, 1995 Ch. Leoville Barton, 1991 Ch. Palmer, 1991 Ch. Labegorce, 1990 Ch. Montrose, also a great one, 1989 Ch. Canon La Gaffelier, 1988 Ch. Mouton Baron Phillipe, and finished with 1978 Ch. Leoville Barton.


After a dinner with wines like these you realize that Mother Nature is fully in charge and that the differences in the vintages; is really the beauty of it all.

Celebrate the New Year with Rose!


I am huge fan of Rose’s made from all over world because they are so refreshing in warm weather and pair food wise with just about everything. I love Rose with grilled sausages and Sushi. Be sure to try the Rose from 31 Productions which is made in the Saignee method and bled from the bottom of the tank of the Toymaker wine after a few hours of skin contact. Made by Martha McClellan it features hints of just ripe strawberries and is strong, crisp, spicy and dry.


Cheers and Happy New Year!


Ralph Sands

PrimeCellar Consultant




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