I just returned from a fantastic weekend in Telluride, Colorado at the Wine Berserkers first annual Ski, Wine and Dine event. A group of ~35 friends old and new got together over three days to finally meet in person and share their passion for wine surrounded by the incomparable ski slopes and vistas of Telluride. In addition to wine tastings involving several notable producers, the event’s highlight was a comprehensive tasting of Krug Champagne led by none other than Olivier Krug himself. Everyone had a fantastic time, and I thought it would be fun to share some highlights of the weekend with you…
If you’re not familiar with it, Wine Berserkers is the most popular wine “forum” on the internet – an online community where people of all stripes from around the world go to share wine information (tasting notes, buying tips, producer information) and discuss issues of interest in the industry. Launched less than two years ago, Wine Berserkers has rapidly become the largest and most active community, with more traffic and content posted each day than any other site. Whether you’re an industry insider or long-time collector with loads of insight to share, or just curious about wine and want to have a place to read the occasional thread that piques your interest, Wine Berserkers is the best place to do so.
The event started on Thursday evening with an informal wine tasting at a local home. Everyone brought something interesting from the cellar (or several somethings interesting), and got the chance to get acquainted in person with people they’d mostly only ever “met” online in the forums. It was fascinating to finally put names to faces, especially with respect to meeting such personalities as Steve Saxon, Rico Thompson, Diane Elam, and Leo Frokic, among many others. The range and quality of wines people brought was nothing short of amazing – things like 1997 Jaboulet La Chapelle, 2006 Sine Qua Non Shot in the Dark, 1998 Louis Jadot Chambertain-Clos de Beze, and 1961 Leoville Las Cases were generously contributed to the cause, making for one impressive tasting table.
Friday’s events focused on highlighting a number of wineries in attendance. After a glorious day of skiing, several wineries hosted a group tasting featuring their top wines. Participants included Cameron Hughes, Foresight, Cabot, Talisman and many others. VinConnect participated in these tastings as well, pouring 2006 and 2007 Gourt de Mautens, as well as 2006 Domaine de la Vieille Julienne Reserve. The wines showed amazingly well, with gobs of fruit, great concentration and lots of structure – many folks were unfamiliar with these wines, but it’s fair to say that most were extremely impressed and excited to have a chance to purchase them through VinConnect.
Following the tasting, the group moved on to a sit-down dinner in downtown Telluride at 221 South Oak Restaurant. Dinner was a set menu with several choices, with wines from participating wineries paired with the courses served. Here the winemakers had the chance to rotate around the room and describe the wines as they were being served, putting them in context. The food was excellent (I especially enjoyed the pheasant and truffle ravioli, as well as the grilled elk loin), and the paired wines matched up extremely well.
Saturday, however, featured the centerpiece of the weekend’s scheduled events – a sit-down tasting of a range of Krug Champagne hosted by Olivier Krug himself. Over the course of 90 minutes, Olivier led a rapt audience through a tasting of 6 wines, while sharing many details about the estate’s history, philosophy, and winemaking.
The wines tasted were as follows:
Krug Clos du Mesnil 1998
Krug Vintage 1998
Krug Vintage 2000
Krug Grande Cuvee N.V.
Krug Rose N.V.
Krug Collection 1989
What an incredible experience! While all of the wines were exceptional, a few things stood out for me. First, I was surprised by the leanness of the Clos du Mesnil 1998, Krug’s flagship wine. There was tremendous minerality and great class highlighted by an incredibly long finish, but lots of acidity kept the fruit profile narrow at this stage. While the pedigree was evident, this wine will greatly benefit from aging and show much better in 5-10 years I think. The second was the opportunity to compare the 1998 and 2000 vintage wines. Krug emphasized that their focus with vintage wines is not making a single style, but making wine that allows the style of the vintage to show through. That couldn’t have been any more evident in the comparison, as the 1998 showed lots of mushroom notes over time while the 2000 was much more fruity and racy; both were great in their own way, but totally different (I preferred the 2000, my neighbor the 1998). Finally, the biggest highlight was the 1989 Krug Collection — clearly the finest Champagne I have ever tasted. The Krug Collection are vintage wines that have been held in reserve at the winery in pristine storage, then introduced to the market no less than 20 years after the vintage. This wine had it all – brioche, toast, lemons, minerals, smoke, and an extremely long, warm finish. My tasting note was summed it up in a single, final word – “Glorious!”
All told, the first annual Wine Berserkers Ski, Wine and Dine weekend was a tremendous success. Todd French and the rest of his team did a terrific job of creating, organizing and hosting the event. The weather was great, skiing and scenery unmatched, and the wines showed well. But best of all were the people. To a person, the Wine Berserkers in attendance were an incredibly diverse, interesting, generous and kind bunch of people, and it was pleasure to bond over our shared passion. I look forward to the second annual event next year, and highly recommend attending to anyone who would be interested.