A lot of attention is always dedicated to Bordeaux—it proves to be a collector’s wine. These wines have a long existence in the bottle, depending on the vintage it can be kept for forty or more years without real strain (this is achieved in the proper cellar conditions). In rare cases Bordeaux (Chateau D’Yqeum – a prized sauterne) from the early 1800’s is still being consumed to this day. With this kind of staying power and the quality of these wines the excitement is not at all overrated.

The problem is educating a palate since Bordeaux does not directly correlate to budget. I really do not have enough money to go my local wine shop and purchase a smattering of these wines—even the more modest producers of Bordeaux can cost forty dollars, depending on the appellation—to perform random tastings so I immediately signed up to attend the class offered by Wally’s Wines.

My first official Bordeaux tasting took place last week, hosted at the prestigious and exclusive LA Sports Club. Wally’s holds a few classes to allow their patrons a glimpse into the world of wine and experience the nuances of particular varietals. This tasting was also attended by the Owner of Wally’s who gave a brief word about the 2009 futures of Bordeaux which helped to jumpstart the evening. Rising excitement.

This tasting gave all attendees the chance to sample 8 different producers (9 in total) of Bordeaux to experience the different expressions of “terrior” and in some cases—grapes. This class/ tasting was thirty dollars about half the price I would expect to pay for a couple wines being featured that night. The nine wines included a 2005 Blanc de Lynch Bages, 2006 Chateau Rouget, 2004 Chateau La Gaffeliere, 2004 Bahans Haut Brion, 2000 Chateau Kirwan, 2006 Chateau Leoville Barton, 1990 Chateau Lynch Bages, 2004 Chateau Montrose and a 1996 Chateau Rieussec (sauterne—or sweet wine from the southern part of Bordeaux).

Billed as a class—this tasting provided a little history of each region in Bordeaux and some broad strokes on the region as a whole. Clarifying the meaning of “first growths”—those estates of exceptional quality that also fetch top dollar consistently, the soils and conditions of each prominent appellation that produces wine and understanding the differences between the “left bank” and the “right bank” for all in attendance.

The instructor of Wally’s poured hearty glasses of each wine as her Power Point cruised through the seven prominent appellations. The generous pours lead to a more raucous crowd of enthusiasts who became reluctant to dump the contents of their Riedel glassware as the night wound down.  Buzzing slightly.

The class was informative; I raced to jot down as many notes on Bordeaux but a bird’s-eye view was trained on France’s major port. Instead, it was a colossal undertaking for my palate and senses.

The nose (bouquet) of these wines were vast and many. In some glasses an odor of manure and earth were detected while other wines yielded scents of ripe berries, plum, leather, tobacco and chocolate. The scents are closely related to the taste yet even the wines that gave off an intense earthy aroma were refined on the tongue. Some of the wines—as was pointed out were a tad high in tannins due to their age and nothing could illustrate this more clearly than tasting the 1990 Chateau Lynch Bages with a silky texture and long finish against a brash 2004 Chateau Montrose that despite youth still showed great structure and complexity.

It was an amazing experience to be able to try so many different varieties of Bordeaux, this class was not the history lesson I expected it to be (for that I will look to “The Oxford Companion to Wine”) however having experts walk me through the subtle flavors that exist in my stemware was beyond the worth of admission.