Last week in Downtown LA, with my tasting group, we focused exclusively on Bordeaux for under thirty-five dollars. Nine wines were served in addition to a cache of empanadas, a large tortilla (an egg, potato and vegetable frittata), cheese and olives to tide us over while we sampled a fair smattering of wines from both banks of Bordeaux (the region separated by the Gironde estuary and the Dordogne river), the accompaniment to an Argentine repast.

We were underway by 7:30 p.m., waiting for our last members to carry in, each toting a different bottle that would need to be assessed—to the best of our ability—for purposes of establishing a tasting order. Tasting the wines in a reasonable order gives each wine roughly the same opportunity to show well, no jarring tannins to be followed by the lightest bodied of the bunch—we wanted to give no wine a leg up or diminish any showing of the wines. After our group methodically plotted the tasting we casually sipped ‘n spat through the pride of Bordeaux (in this order):

04 Ch. Saint-Valéry St. Emilion Grand Cru

05 Ch. Faizeau St. Emilion

07 Ch. Moulin St.-Georges St. Emiliion Grand Cru Classé

05 Ch. Carbonnieux Grand Cru Classé Graves

07 Ch. Beaumont Haut-Médoc

06 Ch. Saint-Hilaire Médoc Cru Bourgeois

05 Ch. La Tour Carnet Haut-Médoc

03 Ch. Cambon La Pelouse Haut- Médoc

03 Ch. Potensac Médoc

During the sampling we came up with descriptors that I had never heard before like the Ch. La Tour Carnet having a fragrance of bruised apple and an elegant mouth feel too. Olives were frequently thrown out as well; people were ascribing all the varieties (Kalamatta to Empeltre) to a vast array of wines we sniffed. We were in a different environment, but I was not sure from whence these lively pastiches originated!

The 2003 Château Cambon La Pelouse had an intense scent leaping from the glass, a synthesis of earth and fruit detected, with an emphasis on dried cedar like the inserts from Allen Edmonds Shoes.

Apart from the fragrances, quite a few of the Bordeaux hit the mark. The 2005 Château Carbonnieux was probably tied for first with my taste buds. I was stumped by the closed odor but on the palate the wine came alive with notes of blue and black fruits—not too ripe—, leather and lavender. It was elegant and rich with a long persistent finish. That was the wine I sipped most frequently and chose with the meal.

The 2007 Château Saint-Valéry from St. Emilion was wonderful in a different way. The first wine of the night is always a tough spot to be, no mark is established and it is really a sensory exam because the tasters have not come to. This blend, predominantly of merlot, showed supple tannins (soft on the palate) with blueberry sprinkled lightly along with aromatic dried herbs. It showed favorably.

The Château Moulin St.-Georges had a moderate perfume of plums and potpourri and on the tongue it had great structure with drying tannins and good acidity and tasty doses of fruit.

Like listening to Kelly Stoltz’s “Prank Calls” for the first time (or the 25th), the tasting brought a smile to my face, where my proudly stained purple teeth were emblazoned for all to see. The Argentine food married nicely with the Bordeaux wines and before I knew it it was 11 p.m. and I was down to 220 wines in my countdown, leaving downtown and heading west with pleasant memories of Bordeaux.