Hyde de Villaine Wine Tasting At The Beverly Hills Hotel
The luxury of a vertical tasting is the sense of sinking into a wine. The same winery, similar grapes but often such different results. It's a bit like having a friend that you have known through the various decades of life from the foolish teens to the mature forties. After the jump, my notes on the wines along with more photographs from the tasting and a few glamour shots of the Beverly Hills Hotel.
The great thing about the HdV Chardonnay wines is that they don't rely on the typically oaky and buttery approach that often characterizes California Chardonnays. They are created using no chemical fertilizers and aged in French oak barrels. The 2004 is still young but has a lovely sunny taste. The 2003 is a bit more citrusy with a light color with taste of green apple. The 2002 has the taste of a summer afternoon, peachy and floral but with a touch of underlying minerality. The 2001 is even earthier with a prolonged spice note and is perhaps the most appealing of the bunch because it is so multi-faceted. The 2000 is more of a classical Chardonnay with its taste of white fruit and its silky mouthfeel.
These reds back up the assertion that Merlot has been getting a bad name lately. The wines use a mix of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes (generally a 90/10 percent ratio). The 2003 and 2004 are both still young wines but have deep black cherry notes. The 2004 Belle Cousine would be a great wine for a summer barbecue because it's light enough to be very versatile. The 2002 has a very velvety feel with muted tannins and and woodsy finish. The 2001, which they are calling an "adolescent" wine has lacks complexity now but has the potential to be amazing. The star of the entire tasting was the 2000. People keep drifting back to this one for just one more taste. It's a wine you want to sit with, a Bordeaux-like showstopper that tastes of dark fruits and spices. It would make a lovely companion to a nice steak.
Some people have a Merlot bias. Me, I've got a Syrah problem. For the most part they seem too fruity for me. The 2004 was a prime example of this, a red fruit salad that bowls you over and then quickly disappears. The 2002, which they call the "Midnight Ruby" had the most explosive nose of the entire tasting. It was just bursting with with fruit and spice. The wine itself didn't quite deliver on the complete rich promise and may need some cellar time. The 2001 was more to my liking, it had a rich taste that was almost port-like in its appeal. They recommend pairing it with lamb but its got a subtle sweetness and complexity that could make it work with a variety of foods from cheese to chocolate.
The hotel entrance
A sideview of the hotel
The pool area as seen from the Sunset Room where the tasting was held.
The ceiling decoration of the Sunset Room.
The pathway to the famous bungalows
The steps of a bungalow