A Tour of Latour!

Superlatives tend to be gushed too readily. “The best ever,” “amazing”, “world class”, etc. But what can you say about the annual event at Hotel Beau Rivage in Geneve, where each year, a highly bespoke wine event, manages to  outdo rational expectations?

Last year, we tasted all the Bordeaux First Growths in the extraordinary 1947 Vintage. Added to their roster were Cheval Blanc, Mission Haut Brion, Gruaud Larose, Chateau Gillette and d’Yquem.

This year we were treated to a Vertical tasting of Chateau Latour…in particular legendary vintages like 1982, 1961, 1947 and 1945. What makes this wine tasting experience so special is a variety of truly “superlative” factors.

Usually only 10-14 people attend per occasion.

The Hotel Beau Rivage is the last privately owned hotel in Geneva. These wines were laid down when released and have never moved since. Zero bottle shock! The provenance is virtually guaranteed.

The evening began with a Deutz Blanc de Blanc Champagne from 2004 in magnum, with Foie Gras and Iberico ham among other canapes.

Led by World Champion Sommelier Enrico Bernardo (having won best Sommelier in Italy, then winning the World Sommelier award, past Chef Sommelier at Le Cinq at Hotel George V in Paris, and now running a highly innovative restaurant “Il Vino” in Paris — a wine restaurant in that you select the wine, and they compose the dinner around the wine —  tipped to be moving from one to two Michelin stars), we then tasted 2002, 1996, 1990, 1982 and 1978. The 1996  is currently quite delightful, (evocative of the ’66), the ’90 is currently not at its best but promises future splendors, the ’82 was a revelation, and the ’78 a real surpise — probably at its peak now.

We then had a “pause”, but what a pause! We had Amour de Deutz champagne from 1999 in magnum, with a few more Foie Gras and Parma frivolities.

We resumed the “serious” matter of wallowing in the glories of Latour. We moved on to the ’75, ’61 (exceptional and will only improve), ’53, ’47 (at it’s very best now — feminine and elegant), ’45 (powerful and intense, and still likely to unfold further in appeal and impact).

But this was just the beginning! We then repaired to a stunning dinner at Chat Botte (“Puss in Boots” believe it or not), one of the best restaurants in Europe arguably, finally recognized this year by the occasionally wayward Michelin inspectors. The menu follows.

Then to a private room where we had Cigars especially rolled by Davidoff for the occasion with 100 year old Audry Cognac. Magnifique! And for once, there isn’t the slightest hyperbole in attaching that appellation to the evening.

There was debate about favorite wines, meditation on life and it’s often furtive pleasures, sobering reflections of the year past, aspirations and hopes for the year ahead, the sharing of laughter and friendship and oenophilic and gastronomic pleasures.

While our party was not nearly so  expansive in mood as in past years, we dove into these rare pleasures with special gratitude for those we love, appreciation for those we serve in our businesses, and a sense of just reflection at the multi-faceted textures, challenges and opportunities of life.

La vie est belle! (Life is beautiful!)


Cream of chestnuts and skewer of scallops with white truffles served with Mario Schiopetto Bianco 2006 Venezia Giulia


Tartare of Cape langoustine with melanosporum truffles and Moulin de Calanquet olive oil served with Pouilly Fume Silex 2006 Didier Dagueneau


Ile d’Yeu cooked white, with Sologne farmed caviar served with Batard Montrachet 1983 Bouchard Pere et Fils


Small foie gras ravioli and wild pheasant with truffle consomme served with Corton Grand Cru  1971 “Clos De La Vigne au Saint” Louis Latour


Bresse chicken cooked in two styles, with forgotten vegetables (“truffier de legumes oublies) served with Chateau Lafite Rotschild 1945, Premier Grand Cru Classe de Pauillac


Chilled Delight


Macaroon surprise served with Chateau Gillette 1937, Grand Vin de Sauternes