Many of you have likely heard of Vivino! It’s the social media app that lets you rate and review all your wines in a safe space where Alcoholics Anonymous doesn’t have access to!
One of “ us “ takes this more seriously than others and his name is Dana! Dana is a bit of a Bordeaux fan. He is currently rated on Vivino in the top 30 ( that means 29th ) on all of Vivino in the USA. He is also ranked in the top 10 for Bordeaux Left Bank Margaux in the USA. 👏
Dana recently approached his 1000th review on Vivino and whilst drinking heavily at Alex’s house the night before with Tim, Frank, Alex & myself ( of course the wives were there as well ) Tim said he would open a bottle of 2014 Chateau Haut Brion for Dana’s 1000th review to celebrate!
There are few wines from France that demand more respect than Chateau Haut Brion! As far as exclusive wines go this is pretty near the top of the list! CHB is a first growth classification from 1885 and a premier grand cru classe!
I’ve never had the privilege of drinking this wine so naturally, I jumped on board and invited myself and Jen! We all promised to bring something “ special “ from our own collections and my mind immediately jumped to my Chateau De Beaucastel Chateauneuf Du Pape 1998.
No doubt, that would have been delicious but after a bit of thought I felt it would be too far removed from the CHB Bordeaux Blend which turned out for 2014 was 50% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon & 11% Cabernet Franc! I had a feeling Alex & Dana would be bringing Bordeaux’s as well so I was leaning heavily towards a BDX blend myself.
As the ambassador of South African wine to my group of alcoholics - I mean friends, I hit Cellar Tracker to see what South African BDX blends I had in my collection! At this point, I was still torn about taking the 1998 CNDP or taking something else.
I found it! The perfect wine! It had to be rare, it had to be special and it had to be delicious!
On a recent trip to South Africa, we carved out a day to go wine tasting! We flogged the kids off on an excited aunt, got a driver from our hotel, and headed out for the day. One of the wineries they picked out for us was one called De Toren. After a tour of their vineyards and their winery, we were escorted upstairs to their private tasting room.
After tasting their only white wine - which was in fact their runoff of red wines called Delicâte, and also their 2 Bordeaux blends De Toren V & De Toren Z we were told about Book XVII ( 17, Pliny The Elder ). We said we’d love to taste it but sadly the wine, so exclusive they don’t pour it in tastings! We said we’d take a bottle.
The wine is so exclusive they only make about 1000 bottles a year. It’s typically a Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc & Malbec blend! At $199 USD it was the most expensive bottle of our trip with great wines averaging about $25 ea and some even less. I was puzzled to read it’s made in 200% new oak! At first, I was like what? WTF does that even mean and after a bit of research found the first 12 months of its life is spent in 100% new French oak barrels. after those 12 months, they transfer the wine into more new French oak barrels where it spends another 6 months!
That along with many other factors meant this wine was unique and rare and would surely impress the “ gang “. So it was expensive & rare but I had no idea if it was delicious! I knew the 2015 vintage had received 96 pts from wine enthusiast! The highest rating by a red wine from South Africa EVER.
I bit the bullet and took the chance on the Book XVII hoping everyone would be impressed and not kick us out! Alex also impressed with the bottle he brought! It was a Chateau Larrivet Haut Brion 2009. Apparently CHB neighbor! Dana also impressed with another Premier Grand Cru Classe Chateau Montrose 2014.
From left to right - Chateau Haut-Brion, Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion De Toren Book 17 XVII Pliny The Elder & the Chateau Montrose.
Right, let's get into some of the wine reviews. We started with the Château Montrose Saint-Estèphe (Grand Cru Classé) 2014.
After the Chateau Montrose, we moved onto the Château Larrivet Haut-Brion
Then... De Toren Book 17 XVII 2016
So, as you can see, we drank some wine that night. What are your thoughts on these wines? Have you ever had a completely unknown wine like the Book XVII that just blew you away? Have you had wines like the Chateau Haut-Brion that maybe didn't live up to your high expectations? We'd love to hear about them. Thanks so much for making it to this point. Happy drinking.