A fantastic adventure at Wine Watch, wine merchant in Fort Lauderdale
Austin, the Instagrammer who had come to dine with my son in Miami, told us about a wine merchant in Fort Lauderdale, north of Miami, the Wine Watch. In addition to the cellar, there is a room with a kitchen where tastings are organized. And every Friday at 5 p.m., a bar is open where good customers from Andrew, the cellar owner, come. The rule is that everyone offers a bottle of wine and everyone tastes everyone’s wine.
We introduce ourselves, my son and I, a little early and we visit the cellar, very full, which includes wines of all categories, including prestigious wines. I am looking for possible wines for the meeting between amateurs and one of the storekeepers tells me about Pétrus, Krug, Selosse and I imagine that I will have to revise upwards my supply projects.
We go to the big room tasting, decorated with hundreds of lids of wooden cases of wines from all regions of the world. In the air hang representations of wine regions of all countries, made with wine corks. Thousands of plugs are used. A huge chandelier in the center of the room is also made up of corks and empty bottles serve as lamps. The ceiling itself is lined with planks of wine cases. All around the huge room there are bottles, the most prestigious in the Wine Watch cellar.
A good fifteen people are already hurrying to taste the wines presented on the bar counter and I realize that I have misunderstood what is exchanged in this informal tasting. Petrus and Krug will be booked for dinner tonight, which Andrew will explain to me soon.
I start to taste a white wine without knowing what it is. I find it very good, rich and impactful. It is a Domaine de la Tour du Bon Bandol 2011. It is really very pleasant. Wanting to define my contribution, I ask Andrew if he has old wines in his cellar. He shows me a Chambolle-Musigny Pierre Ponnelle 1969 and tells me that it is his year of birth, like that of my son. The level is very correct for a wine of this age. The bottle is bluish like the bottles of the war of 40, which prevents me from seeing the color precisely, but the bottle pleases me. It will be my contribution.
Andrew had previously told me that he doesn’t like old wines. No matter how hard I use my conviction, he will not change his mind. Andrew has a corkscrew with a long wick like mine so can I open easily the bottle of Chambolle-Musigny Pierre Ponnelle 1969. The color of the wine poured into a glass is very beautiful, and the nose is very engaging because it has a beautiful personality. The attack is very soft, velvety, the mid-palate is pleasant. It is the finale which is less flattering, short and dusty, dry. But the wine will improve, and even Andrew will find it interesting for a Villages wine. It is growing and a participant who owns a vineyard in the eastern United States will tell me that it is the greatest wine of his life. I drank the wine lees, very rewarding.
There are so many wines on the bar counter that I will drink only a few. A 2005 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape red is appreciated by many but not by me because it lacks precision, probably due to a bottle problem.
The proof is given by a Château Musar 1999, Lebanese wine of exceptional quality, noble, fluid and persuasive. A very great wine. Austin, for his part, bought a Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle Champagne in the cellar, which Andrew announces as the 23rd edition when this figure is not marked, the indication being given only from the 24th, which we drank recently with Austin. This champagne is spectacular, and a hundred cubits above the 24th. This champagne is rich, full, strong, lively. It is so good that instead of going to peck on the counter, I feasted on this exceptional Grand Siècle and with my contribution from 1969.
Andrew shows me the wines for dinner tonight and says: we have six wines and there are only two of us. I ask him the price of dinner. He gives it to me. I sign up with my son and I don’t need to talk long to convince Austin to sign up. So I bring Andrew three more place settings. He finds two others himself. There will be seven of us for an anthology dinner in the Fort Lauderdale Wine Watch cellar.
So this is a completely impromptu dinner of seven people, around Andrew the owner of the place.
It is his wife who cooks and here is the menu : charcuterie and cheese selection : fermin iberico de Bellota, parmigiano-reggiano / seared foie gras with sautéed wild mushrooms on brioche toast / Hoisin glazed king salmon over sautéed baby Bok Choy / duck confit lasagna with wild mushroom Pomerol sauce / chocolate creme brulée with raspberry coulis.
Andrew particularly cherishes Champagne Krug 1990 because it is his last bottle. He has Chimene’s eyes for him. I have them less because I find that this champagne is marked by too strong acidity. It is not impossible that Andrew exposed this bottle to unsuitable temperatures.
Champagne Selosse Lieux Dits Le Bout du Clos disgorged in April 2013 is also Andrew’s last bottle and he cherishes it too. This champagne is magic. It is of rare complexity. It is almost confusing. It is a very large champagne without concession.
The Champagne Salon Blanc de Blancs 1996 is wide, welcoming, with a magnificent balance. I am very comfortable with this champagne which I adore whose power is less sensitive than usual since it comes after the Selosse. We have fun classifying these three champagnes and the Selosse collects a lot of first votes. My classification is Salon, Selosse and Krug, because I have rarely had such a welcoming 1996 Salon.
Andrew had the glasses of all the reds served just under an hour before dinner and I notice an attention that touches me. I told Andrew that I love to drink lees. So there is in front of my place a double row of glasses, the big glasses having the wines and the small glasses placed behind having the dregs of the same wines. I greatly appreciate this sense of welcome.
Château La Fleur Pétrus 2000 is a very happy surprise. It has a density and a balance that I did not expect. It is a rich and large wine with a very rich grain of beautiful truffle.
Château Pétrus 2003 is also Andrew’s last bottle. The wine is not thunderous at all. He plays in discretion. And I find in him all that I love in Petrus, which is not in the affirmation but in the suggestion. This noble and complex wine is pleasant. He is a lord whose grace we admire. There are Petrus much more assertive, even very powerful. This one is the prince of suggestion.
Andrew, obviously in a good mood, added a 2015 Château Clinet, to form a trio of pomerols. He is obviously too young, but I find him a nice balance and already a nice statement. It is a pleasure wine that will chart its course later.
The 2003 Barolo Giuseppe Rinaldi is very pleasant and rich. In the room, I smell an insistent smell of truffle and Andrew tells us that one of the greatest successes of his tastings is the association of fries and truffles. He orders them for our table and the association of these demonic fries with Italian wines is magical.
The Barolo Giacosa Riserva The Rocche del Falletto 2000 is a very large Barolo. It is more capped than the Rinaldi but I have a preference for the more frank Rinaldi. The two Italian wines are sunny and charming, but my heart weighs the scales towards the Pomerols.
We will designate our favorites and the choices will be very varied, the barolos being almost equal with the bordeaux. I will put Petrus first and the only one who will be of my opinion will be Austin whose it is the first Petrus.
The food is excellent and I admire Andrew’s wife who does this beautiful cooking but also does the accounting and collects customer purchases. There is something very nice about the engagement of this couple who manage a real treasure.
Once again, Andrew’s generosity is shown in the following wine: a Malmsey Blandy Madeira 1880, a wine of rare richness, combining the characteristics of a sweet wine with a dry and peppery personality. It has a long finish and a nice balance. A very large Madeira.
My final ranking will be Pétrus 2003 and Salon 1996. Only Austin will have the same ranking as me, the Barolos and the Selosse collecting a lot of votes.
Andrew has an engaging personality. He has his convictions, like that of not loving old wines. We will see if we can organize some events with him in this warm atmosphere. I love adventures like this. Thank you Instagram for initiating the contact with Austin that led to the one with Andrew.